Today is my last day of summer vacation. Monday, is my first day of a five year PhD program. This summer I had the privilege of 3 months of funemployment. I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and wish that everyone can have this chance to take time for yourself between jobs. It took a significant amount of planning and budgeting but I found some relatively inexpensive ways to make this summer the best summer of my life. I suspect that some other adult will have this opportunity of a free summer in the future and here are my recommendations based on personal experience.
10. Read for fun
Probably the single activity that I spent my time doing this summer was reading. I read some great books (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Beautiful Ruins, The Goldfinch) and some books that I didn’t enjoy (The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, White Teeth). I’ve always been in love with reading, but this summer I realized that there are some books that just aren’t that great. I try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day for fun reading. I have had a rule that I had to finish every book I read, but I’ve learned that it’s ok to not finish a book that you don’t like. The library lets you return books early and try new ones— for free!
9. Learn to code
At one point this summer I wanted to develop an app. I looked into free online classes explaining Ruby. I watch them. I tried it. I’m glad I don’t code for a living. I’m sure it’s a skill that will be handy at some point, but it was frustrating. I recommend this only if you want a challenge.
8. Get rid of things
Since I was moving, I decided to get rid of about half of my personal belongings. After going through my things several times, I don’t know why I didn’t do this annually. It got easier to figure out what mattered to me and what I was holding on to, just to hold on to. Such a fun adult activity!
7. Read for work
At work sometimes reports or other long articles would pop up when I was just too busy to read them. Typically, I would bookmark them and try to read them when “I had time.” I took this summer to read those articles dating back to 2006. I also read a number of books related to health policy. It was great. I remembered why I love working and made me so excited to start again.
6. Find a place you love and go there
I love coffee shops. This summer I decided to go to all of the coffee shops in DC. It was great to try places that I’ve never been before and revisit old memories and places from years past that I hadn’t been to in a while. I’ll miss living in DC and this was a great way to give it a final tour. I’ll post more on the data I collected at coffee shops in the near future.
For as long as I can remember, I sleep about 5-6 hours a night. This summer I attempted to get as close to 8-9 hours a night. I also napped occasionally when I could. WOW. Sleep is great.
4. Fall in love with working out
Sometimes, working out can be a chore and I’ve occasionally forgotten what having fun while working out can be like. This summer I went back to my childhood love of swimming and easily fell into doing laps for hours. The DC public pool system is one of the greatest uses of tax dollars in the city.
3. Travel to an area out of your comfort zone
As a vegetarian that doesn’t speak Spanish, Argentina was not on the top of my list of places to visit. But I’m so glad that I did. I plan to make the most of my standard 10 year visa to this beautiful country and hope to discover more of the culture and natural wonder that is Argentina. Plus, the US dollar is strong and you can eat WONDERFULLY for very little money.
2. See America
Sure, America is the greatest country on Earth. But how much of it have most Americans seen? I certainly hadn’t seen enough of it.
This summer, I went to 20 states and a ton of national parks. I did this with some of my closest friends (see below). America is so beautiful- from the most beautiful place in the world, Yosemite, to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, the Coast of Maine to the Deep South- each place has its own character and culture with wonderful people to get to know. Often when traveling in other countries people say that America doesn’t have a culture or cuisine of its own- it took less than a week of traveling around America to realize that this is very wrong. America is just too big to capture it all in one sentence or one bite.
1. Spend time with people you love
My friends are the best. I love them.