Summer break in the US usually starts in the mid of May and ends in the mid of August, three months! Some students spend it by taking internship, having part-time job, traveling, enrolling summer courses, or going home. How about me?
In this summer, I had neither an internship nor a part-time job. Taking internship looks tempting and advantageous, but I was hesitant to apply for it. I am on Master of Science path which means starting my thesis will be more aligned with my study plan than taking internship. Having part-time is tantalizing like shining pennies. However, due to scholarship’s terms and agreements, earning additional income will cut the monthly stipend. Instead of gaining more money, I would spend more energy with an insignificant increase in income.
So, what did I do? Well, in my humble opinion, these things successfully made my summer super productive because I didn’t just lay on my bed and scroll down my social media accounts.
1. Having Your Thesis Well-Established
Throwback to 2014, the last year of my undergraduate study. I ran out of steam during writing my thesis thus I took break by joining a project apart of my research. Eventually, I graduated at the beginning of 2015, one semester longer than normal bachelor’s degree study plan. Learning from it, I started to find a supervisor during spring semester because I must be self-funded if I spend more than two years to finish master’s degree. Thank God, by summer break began, I already kicked-off my thesis by joining a PhD student’s project and during these three months, I have built a solid foundation for my thesis.
For you who are taking master by thesis, spending summer by doing your research is the best option because you can focus more especially if you have no summer courses, even you can accomplish your master’s degree one semester earlier.
2. Enrolling Online Course(s)
I can be on a long school break, but I do not want to make my brain have a long break too. I must keep it work but with less pressure on it. Taking online course is one of the ways I took because there’s no course offered for summer term except research (for PhD and MS students) and directed studies and professional internship (for ME students) in my major.
There are many online course organizers you can choose. I have tried Future Learn, Lagunita by Stanford, edX, and Coursera. Future Learn is dominated by UK and Australia universities as its partners, while edX and Coursera are more American. They have similar features like discussion, homework, and assessment. Most of them are free and paid only if you want to receive a certificate of completion. Based on my experience, taking a certified course will give you more responsibility to complete it within the allocated time. They have abundant choices of courses. You can pick any that related to your study to support your school or anything new to broaden your knowledge.
3. Learning New Thing(s)
If you are busy during your school time, summer is a perfect time to learn something new and add more skills to your resume. Find the most interesting thing and suitable for you which can improve your professional branding. It can be accomplished by doing point 2 above. It’s even better if you keep learning until you are proficient on it although summer has ended.
I choose to learn a new language and it is Spanish. I started to learn it last year using Duolingo application. However, due to school activities, I did not regularly do that. As spring semester ended, I scheduled learning Spanish on my daily summer activities. In the mid of summer, I got a chance to practice it with local people in Spanish-speaking countries. This Fall, I join a Spanish course at Mays Business School to keep learning.
Living in the US for two years is so precious that every second of it is worth to spend with unforgettable and valuable experiences. I do love traveling and the US is a place full of amazing attractions, both human and natural.
For me, traveling is not just going to certain places. Traveling is an art especially if you have time and funding limitation. I enjoy every moment from pre-departure preparation, such as arranging the itinerary and hunting the cheapest ticket, to post-travel activities like archiving the photos. At the end, not only photos that I collect, but also lessons and stories of each trip. Also, I write my travel journals and post them in my personal blog to let them keep alive and inspiring for others.
5. Maximizing Your Hobby
I started to write since I was junior high school and then I launched a blog to share my stories. However, there is a hiatus between 2014 and 2016 because I had no idea and time to feed it. Upon arriving here, I resume my blogging and its stats reach the peak during this year’s summer.
If point 2 emphasizes on learning new things, point 5 is about developing your existing hobby or skill which may have been frozen for a while. Thus, summer is the right time to maximize yourself even you can make your hobby become a professional skill.
Now you know other options that you can do during summer break. Although those activities are not lucrative things to do, your summer still can be productive. Drop in the comment below if you have any other idea or you want to share your summer activities.
Mifrokhah is a masters student in the Geotechnical Engineering program.