July

Here comes the sun

How can you make the most of your time off (safely), ensuring a productive and, most importantly, restful break? Poppy shares her tips.

After an unsettling spring term, it is finally the summer holidays – traditionally a time of travelling, relaxing and getting ready for the new academic year. But, like most of 2020, this is not going to be a typical summer, and we all have challenges to face.

Nonetheless, there are things you can do to make the most of your time off safely, ensuring a productive and, most importantly, restful break. Here are just a few suggestions on how to spend your summer but we would absolutely love to see what you get up to, so remember to use #BathSpaProud on social media so we can share your adventures.

Step one: relax!

I can't stress this enough. You've all worked so hard over the past year, be it as a student, staff, alumni or professional. 2020 has really thrown some curveballs, and you managed to dodge them for the most part. So, pat yourself on the back, make a cup of tea (or something stronger if you like) and take some time for yourself.

How, you ask? Well in all honesty that is up to you! We're all different, and one person's relaxing drive is another person's stressful hour in traffic, so I will try to provide a range of suggestions, but you do what feels good (so long as it's legal!)

Read

This is good for a range of reasons; not only can you transport yourself to a whole new world (preferably one without a deadly pandemic) but you can learn so many amazing things that you may not have thought of before.

I've been reading Good Vibes Good Life by Vex King, which highlights the importance of positivity even if you aren't in a particularly good mood. It is full of insightful anecdotes and enlightening quotes that help you understand the concepts being raised.

With the help of the Psychology and Sociology department, the library has released a whole reading list dedicated to the Black Lives Matter Movement so you can learn more about this incredible cause and understand how and what people are fighting for.

Reading is so essential, and it will keep your brain active while you're away from your studies, so don't forget to share some of your favourite books with us – we'd love to hear about them!

Exercise

It's common knowledge that exercise is essential for your mental and physical well-being, but due to gym closures, some people have found it difficult to keep up a fitness routine. Moreover, some people don't enjoy exercising and avoid it at all costs, so I suggest finding your balance.

Over the last couple of months I've made the most of walking. I hate running; you'll never see me on a treadmill, but taking daily strolls around the village has been delightful. I get fresh air every day, and it's a manageable amount of cardio. There is also an abundance of yoga and home workout videos on YouTube if you like something a little more blood pumping.

Step two: enhance!

Now is a great time to learn something new or refine a skill. Use some of your free time to focus on your personal development; it'll really help your CV. There's so much you can do from the comfort of your home (or back garden, if the weather's good). I've been really enjoying watching TedTalks and analysing the concepts raised to gain a better understanding.

The Careers team has also been running amazing "workfest" workshops targeted at improving employability, which, as a third-year, I have found very helpful as I begin to step into the realm of graduate employment. There's so much happening nationwide, from conferences about student experiences and leadership, to educating yourself and others on BLM. You can see a full range of events on the NUS Connect website.

Use this time to get involved; you don't even have to leave the comfort of your couch or change out of your pyjamas! For the first time ever, you can get involved in so many different activities without the cost of travel or the anxiety of a new place full of new people. So read interesting things, watch talks about new concepts and make the most of these virtual opportunities to enhance your skills and worldview.

Step three: prepare!

No matter what stage you're at in your university career – whether you're joining in September or graduating in July – there's lots of preparation for you to do for the coming year (academic or otherwise). Getting ahead of the game will reduce your anxiety, and there are a lot of ways to do this. Here are a few I suggest.

Read

OK, I've mentioned this three times now so it must be important. You won't receive your reading lists for your modules until September, but that shouldn't stop you reading around your subject or interests and educating yourself on different topics.

When I finished second-year, I spent all summer reading around the dissertation topic I was interested in, refining my materials until I found a usable niche. If you've just finished your university journey (first of all, WELL DONE, YOU LEGEND) you can get up to date on current affairs (and take it from me there are a lot of them) or find articles surrounding the field you intend to work in. This will help you stand out in interviews.

Organise

I love a list! Give me some pretty paper, colourful pens and glitter (why not!), and I'm in my element. But not everyone works in the same way, so find what works for you and create a strategy to stay on top of the admin bits you need to do.

For example, packing – I HATE packing with a passion but every summer I need to pack my stuff up and move to my new accommodation, so to make this easier I always have a list of things I need. If you like visuals, I made a video showing how I organise this task (cheeky plug I know, but at this point, I think I have earnt it!). But there are lots of different ways you can organise yourself over summer. I suggest trial and error to find what's best for you.

Finally...  

I hope this has helped or has at least offered you an opportunity to procrastinate all the things you should be doing. If in doubt, remember to REP Bath Spa! Now put down whatever electronic device you're using to read this and go enjoy your summer holiday – be it virtually with your friends or curled up with your family.

Stay safe and look after yourself.

Main image credit: Theo Box

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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