Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Summer break is quite literally, a break: a period of time to break free from the rigid curriculum of school, to break free from your daily soccer practices, and to break free from any other structured activities that may be holding you back. It’s finally a time to explore your interests and improve yourself, whether that may be academically, physically, financially, spiritually, or more.

Though we may live in the land of the free, to be honest, nothing is truly free (#TINSTAAFL, anyone?). In a stagnant middle class family in an unforgiving economy, many of my summers days were wasted on watching TV, eating popsicles, and tweeting to no end. My classmates, on the other hand, were jet-setting away to mission trips across the globe, summer science classes at Ivies, or language immersion programs in countries that I’ve barely even heard of.

Little did Freshman Claire know that she had just as many opportunities as her huge-household-income friends did, with simply the majestic powers of the world wide web and a little creativity.

Expand Your Knowledge

Okay, okay, we know this is a break, and the very last thing you want to do is learn even more information. Try to view the few months of summer as another semester or quarter where you can create your own curriculum. Have you always been interested in computer science, but there aren’t any classes offered at your school? Do you feel confused whenever your World History teachers mentions non-U.S. geography? Perhaps your favorite pair of pants just ripped and you really need to learn how to sew ASAP?

There are many online platforms, such as EdX or Coursera, where you can take free online classes from universities from around the globe. Choose any subject; courses range from Vocal Recording Technology to Intro to Bioethics. If you want to learn at your own pace, some courses contain solely video lectures of which you can watch in your free time. If you want more of a challenge, some courses are structured, month-long classes with set meeting times and even homework, quizzes, and recommended readings. Another popular resource for all STEMers is Code Academy, an interactive platform offering free coding classes in HTML, Javascript, Python, Ruby, and many more.

If you truly need a break from the academics, get your craft on with Creativebug, or brush up on a foreign language with Duolingo. You could even search “how to ________” or “_______ tutorial” on Youtube and most likely get thousands of results for nearly any activity. Yes, sewing tutorials exist on the internet. Yes, I just saved you a new pair of pants. You’re welcome.

Expand Your Muscles

Summer break is all about taking the time to better yourself, and that doesn’t have to mean academically. Get fit with Blogilates and follow along with her free videos on pilates, cardio, and healthy recipes. If you sign up for her monthly newsletter, you’ll even receive a new workout plan/calendar every single month. Score! Another great option is downloading fitness apps like Nike Training Club or 7 Minute Workout, where you can choose from a variety of set workouts to get lean, get toned, or build strength.

Expand Your Wallet

You’re probably heard these before, but this is just a friendly reminder that classic teenage summer jobs exist: dog walking, babysitting, tutoring, lawn mowing, you name it.

Even after all the opportunities that I’ve just listed, still remember that it is a BREAK, and you have the right to binge-watch any Netflix show to your heart’s content. Take the time to celebrate that you’ve completed another year of school, and you’re that much closer to graduation. Hey, you deserve this. (But also, don’t take too much of a break to the point where you forget how to hold a pencil.)

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