How to Have a Productive and Fun Summer

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It’s finally summer. And since you know that you only have so many summer vacations left, you’re prioritizing relaxing and reconnecting with friends and family! It’s time to fit in everything that you couldn’t during the school year when you were too busy to even sleep. Now, everything is a little slower paced.

Except, soon enough it’ll be August, and none of your goals will be accomplished. This isn’t to say that you don’t have anything to fill your time now. You probably have a summer job or internship and are visiting old friends. But that doesn’t mean you have no chance of achieving some long-procrastinated goals. The truth is that you can have both, with some careful planning. Summer is the perfect time to have your cake and eat it too. You can read those books you were supposed to in high school (and now realize weren’t just a waste of time), travel somewhere new (so you’ll have something interesting to say to your new roommate), or lose that freshman fifteen (or sophomore 20, we don’t judge).

Write Down Your Goals!

It might seem useless, but writing down your goals makes it more likely that you will achieve them. Writing them down not only shows more commitment than simply envisioning it, but it also ensures that your goals will be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). While it’s easy to think things like, “I should read more this summer,” or “I should work out more during the summer, since I don’t have to get up early,” it’s a lot harder to come up with actionable goals. When you’re writing goals down, you’re forced to confront the fact that your goals aren’t very SMART. Instead, you’re more likely to write down something like, “I will read three novels this summer” or “I will work out five days a week for an hour.”

Perhaps most importantly, this will let you know see whether or not you’re overburdening yourself. If you have a goal list 10 pages long for the summer, this might not be a summer vacation, and that’s a priority too!

Plan Trips Ahead of Time

You’ve only got a couple more weeks until the end of summer, but you’re scheduled to work some extra shifts. That’s okay you’ll make some moolah right before the start of the semester — no problem, right? Until your friends call you about an impromptu camping trip, and you’re stuck between scrambling to get your shifts covered or missing out on one last hoorah with your friends.

It’s a crappy situation and one that too many ill-prepared college kids find themselves in. It’s even worse if you’re only in town for the summer because then the pressure is really on to both make money and spend as much time with friends as possible. It’s much easier if you plan out your trips in advance. Obviously, this can’t be a reality in all circumstances, but you should do with as many summer trips as possible.

Also, planning ahead for trips will let you account for your goals! Everyone accounts for work schedule changes, but keep in mind whatever schedule you have built around your goals as well. Of course, it’s not impossible to stay fit while traveling, and learning a language while traveling can be ideal! However, there might be some goals that you have that are more difficult to do, like making money to pay for tuition. Plans you have for those sort of goals might need to be accelerated when you consider travel plans.

Pad Your Resume

If you don’t have a job or internship, there are other valuable ways to gain experience. You can volunteer for various organizations, write for online magazines, or do online classes. The experience you’re looking for will depend on your niche, but this summer doesn’t have to be completely useless. You can use it to get ahead.

With this step in particular, though, make sure that this is an experience you will enjoy. Summer should be at least somewhat relaxing, and no one wants to start fall semester already burnt out. It’s important to pad your resume with experience, but it’s also important to take a moment to enjoy yourself.

Summer shouldn’t be a productivity wasteland, but deciding how productive you want to be is up to you. Some people see this as a great time to get ahead. Others just need to take a month and reset. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting absolutely nothing done. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing nothing, but accomplishments and experiences will make your summer, not Netflix binging. Focus on the end goals, and you’ll have your best summer yet.

8 Unconventional Ways to Spend Your Summer Break

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Our final papers are done, our exam notes are prepared, and we’re already busy packing up the dorm for the year. Summer break couldn’t come any sooner for us! But we don’t plan on spending it lounging around home. Instead, we’re putting our weeks off to good use by trying out these eight unconventional ways to spend your summer break.

 

  1. Going to School

Say what…? No, we’re serious. The summer is the BEST time to catch up on classes or get a headstart. Most universities allow you to take and transfer a certain amount of credits from other classes. With local community colleges open year round, you can save time and money by getting a basic biology gen ed out of the way or retaking a communications class.

 

  1. Volunteering Abroad

There are so many programs out there looking for college students to work and volunteer abroad. For example, you could work on a farm in exchange for room, board, and a small stipend. Or, you could spend your summer volunteering at summer camps in Europe or Asia.

 

  1. Couchsurfing

Now that our old friends are scattered throughout the US, it’s the perfect time to go on a road trip. Couchsurf from one friend’s place to another and see how far you can go before you need to reserve a hotel room. Recruit friends to meet new friends along the way. It’s affordable, challenging, and so much fun.

 

  1. Banking for the Next Year

College is expensive. We all know that. That’s why we have no shame in admitting that we will be side hustling our butts off this summer. From mowing lawns, babysitting neighbors, and making money freelancing, there are tons of opportunities for short-term, low-pressure jobs geared towards college students.

 

  1. Backpacking America

With your student discount, you can go or do anything for so much less. Amtrak trains offer student fairs, and many hostels require you to show student IDs to use them. In other words, with a small budget, you could see the country without breaking the bank.

 

  1. Making a Difference in the Community

Your time matters, especially when you put it to good use. This summer, give back and add some new skills to your resume. A few great ideas include working at a local animal shelter, tutor English language learners, or help out with charity races.

 

  1. Sticking Around Campus

Sure, it would be awesome to go home, but there are so many reasons why living on campus during summer break rocks. For one, you’ll be one of a few. Colleges empty out for breaks, so you’ll rule the roost. But there’s also opportunities to work in a professor’s lab, take on a campus job, or catch up on coursework.

 

  1. Interning for Future Career Points

Interning can seem intimidating, especially compared to relaxing on the beach, but it’s a huge deal for college students, and it could make or break your career path. Some popular college summer internship programs include working on a cruise ship, through the Disney program, or with nonprofits in your area. If you’re not yet up to interning, consider shadowing or requesting a mentor instead. It’s less pressure and more time to enjoy your break.

 

 

Making the Best of Your College Summer Break

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You’ve just gone through two semesters of classes, homework, meetings, and activities. At last, you’re moving out and heading home for the summer! There’s another side to summer vacation in college: you’ve just made all these great friends who you got to see every day, and now you all have to part ways for the next few months! The good news is, the first summer I had after starting college turned out to be my best summer yet, and this one is shaping up to be pretty great too!

Through these past couple of summers, I’ve made the best out of the time I’m spending away from the incredible St. Michael’s College by doing all of the following:

1.) Explore new places and try different things in and around your hometown!

There’s a chance that you and your friends had your own little summer routine in high school…you probably had your go-to spots and your usual weekend activities. Now, you have the perfect opportunity to branch out of that routine and try things that you’ve never thought of, even though they’ve been right in front of you this whole time!

After all, who knows how many summers you have left in your hometown! It’s important to explore as much of it as possible while you’re there. You just may find a new favorite spot!

Way back in the day, I went to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, MA a handful of times with my family. After not having been there in several years, I decided to return for a day trip last summer. It turned out to be a new go-to summer spot of mine!

Way back in the day, I went to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, MA a handful of times with my family. After not having been there in several years, I decided to return for a day trip last summer. It turned out to be a new go-to summer spot of mine!

This was taken at Mad Martha’s, a breakfast and lunch café on the beach in my hometown, Newbury, MA. Before my college summers, I’d only been a few times. Now, I find myself there almost every other week!

This was taken at Mad Martha’s, a breakfast and lunch café on the beach in my hometown, Newbury, MA. Before my college summers, I’d only been a few times. Now, I find myself there almost every other week!

 

2.) Be on the lookout for cheap (or better yet, free), fun things to do!

If you haven’t heard by now, your college years are all about watching what you spend. Maybe there’s a free local concert going on downtown, or a cool state park where you can park for a handful of quarters.  Either way, you’ll be happy you were wise with your wallet when opportunity knocks to do something a little bigger and pricier!

This is Oldies Marketplace, an antiques store in downtown Newburyport. Every now and then, I take a stroll through the aisles just to check out all their cool goodies! Fun and free!

This is Oldies Marketplace, an antiques store in downtown Newburyport. Every now and then, I take a stroll through the aisles just to check out all their cool goodies! Fun and free!

 

3.) Make plans to see your college friends!

Go ahead; plan a day trip or a weekend together! Even though you’re not seeing each other every day anymore, these summer circumstances make the times that you do see each other that much more special.

This also gives you the chance to show off your hometown (or maybe your home-state!) to all your college buds, and vice versa!

Just this past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a trip out to the iconic Portland Head Light near his hometown, Saco, ME. These past couple of summers, it’s been great being able to explore our hometowns together. It’s allowing us to try new things in our own hometown, and experience an entire new state in the other’s hometown!

Just this past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a trip out to the iconic Portland Head Light near his hometown, Saco, ME. These past couple of summers, it’s been great being able to explore our hometowns together. It’s allowing us to try new things in our own hometown, and experience an entirely new state!

 

Wherever you’re spending your summer away from school, I hope you’re making the best of it! Don’t be afraid to try something new and different, and do all the explorin’ you can!

To get a digital glimpse of how I’m spending my summer, feel free to follow me on Instagram @claire_cavanaugh!

Until next time, folks!

Tips to Relax During the Summer Break

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After months of finals, papers, meetings, and studying, summer is finally here! Your vacation should be spent rejuvenating both physically and mentally. Whether you are preparing for college or heading off to the “real world” in a few short months, these relaxation ideas will renew and revitalize you.

1.   Start a Meditation Practice

Need an instant pick-me-up? Meditation is your new best friend. The practice of training your mind to release stress or tension is not only healthy, but it will also set you up for success when you go back to the dorms this fall. A professionally led class can be a great way for beginners to understand how it works and to establish a practice, but if there are none available in your area, download a meditation podcast for a self-practice that’s accessible anytime, anywhere.

2.   Begin a Summer Bucket List Mission

If you’re the active type, write out your summer bucket wish list and get to it! It could include visiting museum you’ve been dying to go to or having a picnic with your friends. Big or small, include it all—you’ll be amazed at all that you can accomplish in three short months.

3.   Bring the Beach to Your Backyard

The beach is the ultimate destination for relaxation. But if you’re far from the coast or your budget doesn’t allow for a road trip to the ocean, bring the beach to your backyard! First, purchase an inexpensive lounge chair that is comfortable and portable (try to find one that could be reused in your dorm room as seating for maximum year round benefits). Next, pack a bag of beach necessities such as a good book, some sunscreen, and a fruity summer drink. Finally, take yourself to the nearest water feature. That may be next to your little brother’s kiddie pool or by a small lake or pond. Even if you cannot swim in it, just being by the water will revive your spirit.

4.   Take a Course for Fun

After 10 months of sitting in a desk year round, your mind is probably desperate for a break away from required coursework. However, just because you’re not forced to attend a class doesn’t mean you have to stop learning this summer. You can find great relaxation in enjoying a new subject that you have wanted to take. Many universities and community colleges use the summer to showcase “fun” or “fluff” classes like beginner guitar, level one languages, or film studies.

Bring along your friends to that art course, set up a regular beach day with your high school buddies, or meet up with your roommates to check off your summer wish list. Whatever you do to relax this summer, make it a vacation that will reconnect you with your goals and center your mind. With fall around the corner, it’s time to make the best of your time off. How do you plan to relax during the summer?

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Outdoor Workout Tips for the Summer

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Outdoor summer workouts offer a little bit of everything for everyone, from the casual fitness fan to the über athlete. Before you take your exercise routine outside of the dorm, make sure you know how to stay safe and enjoy the elements. These six steps will get you pumped up and ready to take your fitness regimen off the treadmill and into the streets.

Getty-459361009-woman_exercise_outdoors-Jordan Siemens

1.   Stay Hydrated

The summer sun is blistering hot, which can quickly cause dehydration. Fight back by ensuring you take in sufficient liquids. Even without working out, your baseline should be to drink eight cups of water each day. When you work out in the sun and heat, your body loses more water through sweat; failure to replenish this liquid can damage your stamina and performance, and can even lead to dangerous dehydration or heatstroke. To avoid these issues, take in at least 20 to 30 ounces of water before each half-hour workout. Drink another eight ounces per fifteen minutes beyond that time. However, remember not to overdo it, either—over hydration (drinking too much water too quickly) can lead to excess fatigue, fainting, and even death.

2.   Change Up the Times

Exercising in the great outdoors allows you to work on your body and your tan at the same time. But don’t forget that direct sun exposure can be dangerous, too! Heat stress can cause the body to break down, while too much direct sunlight can lead to vicious sunburns. Save your skin and your body by working out around sunrise or at dusk. Avoid mid-afternoon routines, as the sun is at its brightest and hottest between approximately noon and 3pm.

3.   Utilize Your Local Park

After Memorial Day, most parks and beaches are open to the public. Instead of bypassing your local park for a pricey gym where you’ll spend your exercise time cooped up indoors, take your workout to the park! Hang on the monkey bars, plank on the climbing equipment, and run laps around the entranceway. Get creative in how you construct your workout using interval timers and fun challenges (like how many pull-ups you can do on the swing set bars).

4.   Race Away

Summer season is race season for many areas in the United States. From 5Ks to ultra-marathons, signing up for whatever your distance or pace can keep you motivated to stick to your goals. Challenge friends by adding a bit of competition. Or put your running to good by raising money for a sponsored charity near and dear to your heart.

5.   Address Your Wardrobe

One of the most common reasons why people stop working out is because they are not properly dressed. In the summer, what you wear becomes even more important: your outdoor workouts require you to put on your best moisture wicking material to keep your outfits dry and ultraviolet protection layers to bounce the sun off your skin. Avoid black or other dark colors as well.

6.   Know Your Limits

While your vacation time is ideal for starting a fitness routine or trying out a new sport, your body is only as good as the time you give it to adjust and grow stronger. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast, will put you dangerously close to exhaustion, and it may lead you to quitting faster than you had planned. Listen to your body; it will tell you when it’s time to pull back.

The best way to fight back against the heat is to practice common sense with your outdoor workouts. Avoid the summer sun during the warmest days and stock your wardrobe with the most appropriate gear and clothing. Hydrate often and bring along a bottle of sunblock. By planning for the heat and embracing nature, your outdoor workouts are ready for the next level. Do you enjoy working out outside? Let us know your tips and favorite workouts!

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Five Fun Summer Party Drinks

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Imagine this: you’re lounging poolside with your bathing suit on, friends all around, and sunglasses on your face. What’s missing? A delicious summer drink, of course! Forget the cold weather drinks. Warm, sunny weather provides the perfect excuse to experiment with new punches, smoothies, and juices. So fire up the blender, toss in some ice, and get out your garnishes—these drinks are the best accessory for a great day of relaxing and socializing.

Watermelon Bowl Punch

mld104271_0810_punchbowl3_vertDrinking straight from a coconut is so last year. Take it up a notch by serving your sippers from a new source: a miniature watermelon! Cute, fun, and naturally sweet, the watermelon bowl punch is a huge crowd-pleaser, especially at small, intimate gatherings. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients:

  • 2 seedless, miniature watermelons, halved horizontally
  • 16 oz. of 100% lemon juice
  • 4 cups of strawberries (frozen or unfrozen)
  • 1¼ cup of sugar
  • Ice as needed

How to Make:

  1. Remove the inside of the watermelons using a melon baller or large spoon and set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine balled watermelon with lemon juice, strawberries, and sugar. For a cooler, slushier drink, add ice. Blend well.
  3. Pour into watermelon and serve!

Cucumber and Mint Water

cucumbermintspritzerThe summer is the time to get healthy. Don’t spoil your improved eating or hard work at the gym by serving sugary, calorie-heavy drinks. Instead, bring out water with a twist! This concoction takes the delightfully light taste of cucumber and combines it with a hint of mint for flavor that’s both refreshing and hydrating. This recipe serves two, so adjust accordingly for additional guests.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced and peeled
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 4 large mint leaves
  • 3 ½ cups of water

How to Make:

  1. Place cucumber, lime, and mint leaves in bowl. Mash with an ice crusher or fork (pieces of the mixture should still be visible).
  2. Put mixture in a sealed large-mouth water bottle or jug and combine with water.
  3. Seal and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Serve with ice.

A Berry Good Surprise

Mixed-Berry-CocktailBerries bring a tart sweetness that makes them ideal for creating a tasty, colorful drink. But they don’t need to be juiced or blended to a pulp to make that perfect refreshment for a sweltering day. Instead, you can surprise your guests with berried ice cubes that add a tangy zest to your typical summer fare. This recipe makes four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. package of blueberries or raspberries
  • 1 package of dry cherry drink mix
  • 48 oz. of cranberry juice
  • Amount of sugar required by cherry mixture (usually about ¼ – ½ cup)

How to Make:

  1. Place berries in an ice tray and fill with water. Freeze until cubes form.
  2. Follow the cherry drink mix recipe, but replace water with cranberry juice. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the “berry surprise” ice cubes and serve immediately.

Sophisticated Southern Lemonade

Kauck__MG_0876There is a reason lemonade is one of the most popular summertime beverages: it is both refreshing and delicious. But there’s no need to stick to the boring old recipes or resort to bland powder mixes. Instead, try this unique recipe, which adds vanilla and rosemary for a classy, adult taste that will get your party guests talking. Serves six.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of lemon juice (or 25-30 lemons squeezed)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 6 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans

How to Make:

  1. Mix rosemary, water, sugar, and vanilla beans in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Boil, then simmer for five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool (approximately 30 minutes).
  4. Using a strainer and another large pot, remove solid remains from the mixture.
  5. Mix in lemon juice.
  6. Add ice cubes and pour into pitcher. Serve cold and fresh for best taste.

Classic Peach Tea

Perfect-sweet-Peached-Iced-Tea-Perfect-for-summer-and-pool-days.Every summer, Southerners gather at their homes, on their porches, and in their backyards to enjoy a classic seasonal treat: peach tea. Peach tea is as delectable as it is pretty to look at, and this recipe is sure to have your friends coming back for refills. You’ll need a pitcher for this one, as it makes enough for 8-10.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large black tea bags
  • 9 cups of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 peaches, sliced (plus extra peaches for garnish, if desired)

How to Make:

  1. Place 2 sliced peaches, 1 cup of water, and sugar in a pot to boil.
  2. Lower heat. Use a spoon to gently smash peaches and dissolve sugar.
  3. Cover pot and let simmer on very low heat for 25-30 minutes.
  4. While waiting, brew tea using remaining water and black tea bags.
  5. After it has steeped sufficiently, remove tea bags and place tea in the refrigerator while waiting for peaches to finish simmering.
  6. Remove pot from stove and add to the cool tea. Add additional peaches for flavor and look.

No summer party is complete without a fun, warm weather drink. Treat your guests right with a refreshment that will quench their thirst. With these five ideas in your recipe book, you’ll be ready to serve up sunshine in a glass. Do you have a favorite summer drink? Let us know in the comments!

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