Ten Tips For Surviving Suburban Summer

by Rebecca Isenhart

Photo via umd.edu

At the end of the school year, I pack up and head home to my suburban hometown in upstate New York. After months of jogging along the Esplanade, grabbing sushi and bubble tea in Chinatown, and window shopping on Newbury Street, it’s always a shock when my family winds down for their 10 p.m. bedtimes.  Now, at the beginning of my second summer at home, I’ve developed some survival strategies. H ere are the top ten ways I survive summer in suburbia:
10. Avoid the Netflix Vortex
Visualize yourself returning to school at the end of fall semester. True to Emerson form, your friends probably met celebrities, traveled Europe, published a postmodern commentary on the Occupy movement… and what did you do? Do you really want to answer, “I watched every Disney Channel and ABC Family Movie on Netflix.” No? Then quit hitting the “next episode” button and go have conversation with a human being. I promise, it’s fun when you get the hang of it.
9. Set Goals
Maybe you stopped taking music lessons after middle school, or never finished reading War and Peace, or haven’t cleaned out your closet since the fifth grade. What’s been pushed off your to-do list because of your busy schedule? Write down the things you wish you’d finished, or try something entirely new.  Set ambitious, but attainable goals and go after them. When the leaves start to turn, you’ll be a better you!
8. Get Creative
Take the free time we Emerson students never have during the year to come up with your next big idea. No matter what your major, the opportunity to break out of your routine and let inspiration strike can have big payoffs during the semester. Keep a notebook with you so you’ll have a bank of brilliant ideas to choose from a few months from now when all-nighters abound and you’d rather sleep than daydream. Get the wheels turning by creating something – photography, a short story, a blog, jewelry – anything you can dream up.
7. Brighten Someone’s Day
Eight months of the year, we sprint from class to extracurriculars and internships and Quidditch practice without time to take a breath. We spend all our energy just to keep ourselves afloat. This summer vacation, why not slow down and expend your boundless Emerson energy for someone else’s benefit? Whether you volunteer formally or just surprise a family member or coworker with a random act of kindness, you’ll never regret racking up a little good karma.
6. Reconnect
Quit stalking your ex-best friend on Facebook and invite him or her out for fro-yo. Chances are you’ve both matured and collected some fantastic stories since graduation, and a catch-up session can lead you to remember why you were partners in crime in the first place. Let the summer escapades begin!
5. Be Unlimited
Did reconnecting just remind you why you put the “ex” into ex-best friend? Don’t get discouraged. Old, unhealthy relationships from your pre-college era don’t have to bring you down when you’re in your hometown. Branch out and meet new people, whether it’s at the gym, a volunteer position, your summer job, or a coffeeshop. Being outgoing will bring new opportunities for friendship, adventure, and a satisfying summer.
4. Focus on Health
Sleep, diet, and exercise get pushed off the to-do list when projects take precedence during the semester. Spend the summer being mindful of your physical self, and treat your body well by getting enough sleep, being active, and choosing high-energy whole foods as much as possible. Recharging your metaphorical batteries will improve your mood and make your upcoming semester more successful.
3. Plan Something Exciting
If your days are mediocre, having something to look forward to can override the despair of working retail to pay off your student loans (mostly). Take a road trip to a friend’s house, see a concert, or take a few days off for a nature retreat. A summer at home can feel like a lot of work and not much play, so it’s important to make your vacation days count.
2. Save Up
When all else fails, think of the fun you’ll have in the fall with the money you saved from your summer job. Instead of hitting the mall for a retail therapy marathon, try working out or soaking up some sun (with SPF, or course). The natural endorphins will bring you out of your funk and leave your bank account intact for the fall.
1. Slow Down
Watch clouds and take a nap in the grass. Float in a swimming pool. Go for a nature walk. Listen to music. Try yoga. Whatever your strategy, being mindful and embracing your time off is far more valuable than wishing you could be somewhere else. In the end, the quality of your summer break, no matter where you spend it, is in your hands.
I hope these survival tips help you find the sunshine in your suburban summer! What are your strategies for finding your happy place?
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