And that’s a wrap! My first year at university is well and truly over. It is incredible how much you grow and develop at university; not only on an independent level, but on a social one also. Yet, have you ever wondered how to continue maintaining a busy schedule and a productive social and work life? Here are 5 simple ways to ensure you don’t return to university in September realising you have wasted an entire summer holiday.
1. Get your academic work done ASAP!
If you have any assignments to complete over the summer, try to complete them within the first few weeks of the holidays so you can spend the rest of your time stress-free. You may find working outside really helps you relax and focus. Many of my friends find this an unusual method of working. In their defence, it is not advised to do any computer work outside with the risk of your laptop overheating if sunny. According to What Uni?, fresh air can work wonders on your concentration levels, helping you stay focussed and making you generally more productive. This compares nicely to the Journal of Environmental Psychology’s research which notes how energy levels increase by 90% in individuals who spend time amongst nature. Working outside might be just what you need in order to become more productive.
Whether this is in a supermarket, a pub or something in retail, a job will open many doors for you and demonstrate to employers that you are a career-driven individual. Other advantages of having a summer job include a development in confidence, broadening your contacts and most importantly, a job could give you the ‘competitive edge you need to get more and better jobs in the future’. If employers see you have had a job in the past and a positive reference to accompany it, you are much more likely to gain the job you are looking for. Experience is highly valued in the world of work.
Volunteering is a brilliant way to keep yourself busy, as well as giving something back to your community. Even just one day a week volunteering can make a massive difference. If you are considering this but are not exactly sure which area of volunteering you would like to go into, try thinking of somewhere that reflects your interests or anticipated career in the future, such as a library, school or charity shop. A research report survey from Tearfund on volunteering revealed that an astounding ‘75% of employers say that they prefer applicants with voluntary work experience’. If you are struggling to find employment, perhaps start with volunteering until you find some paid work. Leadership, communication and even listening skills can all still be gained and developed through volunteering. You will also probably feel a great sense of achievement in the long run, as well as it looking impressive on your CV.
I have never really been the sporting type, but have always wished I had been. However, last summer I endeavoured into taking 4 mile walks whilst listening to music. I even went on bike rides, too. These sports, along with swimming, running and even dancing are great non-competitive sports that are great for cardio, releasing endorphins and toning up. Group sports like football, rugby and basketball enable you to socialise and meet new people, and also develop your teamwork skills. If you are unsure on which sport is right for you on a personal level, the BBC's 60 second quiz can give you an idea of which sport will suit you best.
5. Most importantly, socialise!
Humans, by nature, are social animals. Thus, it is vital that we surround ourselves with people we care for and who care for us in return. Summer is arguably the best time of the year, so try and meet up with your friends and perhaps visit some places of interest to you. I have always found it exceptionally difficult to maintain the right balance between my work/study life and my social life. It seems that one can often overwhelm the other. However, a strong social life can improve sleep and brain power, and even make you live longer!
Try to keep in contact with friends from your university as much as possible. Making the extra effort to communicate and see your friends will make a world of difference to both them and yourself. It is essential that you maintain a healthy social life and take regular breaks from the world of work.
About the Author: My name is James Mayer. I am a 19 year old student studying a degree in English Literature and Politics at the University of York. I have just finished my first year. Amidst my studies, I enjoy reading, writing, listening to music and watching movies.