Freya Dunlop addresses the potentially anticlimactic period that is the university summer holiday, suggesting approaches we can take which we might make this season easier.
We spend the entire academic year looking forward to the summer: the holidays with our friends, parties every night, all those plans we’ve been discussing since we first met our uni friends. Why, then, do so many of us feel deflated when summer finally arrives? Why does it never quite live up to our expectations?
Particularly for us students, summers can be hard. Most of us end up back in our childhood homes, hours away from the friends we’ve made at university. It’s been months since the student loan dropped and we’re running low on funds and fun. As summer rolls on, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wishing it away, dreaming of university, our lives in Bristol, and the structure of studying and socialising once more.
There are several reasons why we might struggle during the summer. There is, of course, the pressure from social media. We should brighten up our insta feeds with photo dumps from our idyllic holidays and big nights out. Aside from this, with the weather getting better, the insecurities with our bodies which are perhaps easier to manage in the winter months, come to the fore. Many of us begin to feel self-conscious, with the pressure to show skin. Not to mention, it can just be very uncomfortable and sweaty!
Now that we’ve established summer can be tricky, what can we do to fight off the summertime sadness?
Personally, even if I have no plans for the day, I find it helpful to get out of the house, whether for a tiktok-popularised ‘hot girl walk’ or just a stroll around the block, I always feel better when I’ve moved a little and got some fresh air.
The next thing on my list would be friends. Even though my university friends are far away, we’re still able to use facetime to catch up, or update each other on our ‘tres musketeers’ group chat. It’s so important to stay connected with our friends even when we can’t physically be together.
I asked the That’s What She Said committee for their advice on enjoying the long summer, and these were some of their ideas:
“I like to write in a journal – basically I write to try to untangle my emotions and to make a record of what I’ve been up to.”
“I plan solo dates, put them in my planner and stick to them! I like going to the cinema by myself if there’s a new film I really want to see or reading in a park if the weather’s nice.”
“I call or meet with someone deliberately to express my feelings. My parents helped me a lot during this summer when I felt very lonely.”
“I make sure my room’s tidy, so I don’t fall into a sort of summer slumber.”
“I would plan to watch movies at the same time as friends in the evenings and during the day I would often go on walks in search of a treat like a supermarket houseplant or some chocolate.”
“I order a book from The Feminist Bookshop in Brighton – normally their ‘blind date’ books – and get really into it!”
“I like to read in the garden, cook for my family especially when they’re all busy, and in the evenings I like to put my headphones on and dance around the room.”
Another thing I try to employ is embracing the present. In April we’re so desperate for summer, sitting outside in the cold sun convincing ourselves it’s warm enough to forgo a jacket. Drinking iced coffees even when they make our fingers numb in the hopes of ushering in the new season. By the time mid-August comes around we’re spread like a starfish in our bed, trying to cool down, frustrated by the heat and wishing for the rain. We often spend most of the summer already mourning it, preparing for the return of our routines, stressing over the beginning of a new term and the arrival of Autumn. So, how do we stay in the present and focus on the summer without worrying about what’s to come?
Maybe the key to enjoying the summer is to embrace it for what it is; it may feel boring at times, with little to do between the family holidays and festivals, but we’ve been granted time away from the stress of university, warm weather, and the comforts of visiting home.
September rolls around, it always does, but in the meantime I’d like to make the most of my summer and focus on relaxing before the busy academic year.