By Lori Vetrano
Whether you’re fetching coffee at an internship, slaving over a hot grill for minimum wage or just bumming it indoors playing video games, there are plenty of fun, conventional and inexpensive activities for you to do to stave off boredom this summer. Take advantage of these last summers you have before entering the real world by making the most of your free time. Here are our 10 suggestions for enhancing your undergraduate summers:
1. Volunteer. Service doesn’t have to be solely a school activity, nor does it have to be tedious. There are plenty of fun volunteering opportunities that will allow you to give back to the community and have a blast at the same time. Back On My Feet, a Philadelphia-based organization, allows volunteers to run with the homeless to help them re-instill confidence so they can make positive changes that lead to employment and housing. Zumba Fitness’ charity drives are held all around the country where you can dance and exercise, all for a good cause.
2. Compete in a race/marathon. Difficult, dirty competitions such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Races are all the rage right now, and for good reason—how can you not feel like a champion after running through 10 miles of mud, ice, fire and obstacles? You’ll get in shape, bond with teammates and push beyond physical fitness boundaries. And two words: bragging rights.
3. Watch the many awesome flicks coming out this summer. An onslaught of great films are set to come out this summer, so be sure to save your money. “The Hangover III,” “After Earth” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” come out at the end of May, while “Monsters University” and “World War Z” will be the must-see films of June. In July, “The Wolverine” comes out and “The To-Do List” will surely provide some laughs in August.
4. Road trip. Okay, this one may be cliché and obvious, but your undergraduate summers are the best time for you to do this. Gather up your friends, pack light and drive through the country. Head to Florida for the weekend, or be ambitious and travel out to the other side of the coast. Visit the Midwest, or head up to Canada. Eat at all the local diners and restaurants and check out any places that have been featured on the Food Channel. Take plenty of pictures for Instagram, check in at the many cool places on Foursquare and make all your Facebook friends jealous by posting up all the places you and your friends visited.
5. Watch a meteor shower. Plan a special date or outing for your friends on Aug. 12, when a meteor shower will be visible in the night sky. This time, put your cell phones away, lie back and enjoy nature’s wonders in the company of the people you love.
6. Attend a concert/music festival. Again, another cliché—but how can you pass up hot weather, great music and dancing? Catch Jay-Z and JT on their music tour, scour for tickets for any of your favorite artists’ local concerts or catch as many of your favorite musicians as you can at a music festival. Hit up Gathering of the Vibes in Conn., Electric Zoo in N.Y., or Vans Warped Tour in various locations throughout the states.
7. Use Groupon/Living Social to your advantage. Groupon and LivingSocial offer daily deals on activities, food and vacation, so be sure to take note of emails from them and their websites. Save money on meals, get tickets for cheap and book hotels for discounts.
8. Restaurant week/food festivals. Need we say more? New York City has their annual summer restaurant week where participating eateries offer three to four course meals at a low price, while many other cities and states host fairs and festivals offering unique foods. Tuck into some funnel cakes, candied apples and plenty of ice cream!
9. Hit up an amusement park. One of America’s favorite summer pastimes; why not do it now while you’re still young but old enough to go without your parents? Head to Six Flags, Busch Gardens or any amusement park located near you. Have a competition with your friends to see who can ride the most rollercoasters in a row, or head to water parks to cool off. Tip: Go on a weekday, when it will be less crowded.
10. Actually intern/work/volunteer at the place of your dreams. As an ambitious Nationer, you’re likely working/interning at a place that will enhance your résumé for your chosen future career—but if that’s not your passion, then why not take this time to do what you love on the side? If you’re working at a fast food place just to earn money but actually love writing, find an online magazine where you can publish an article once a week. If you’re interning at a corporate office but love to dance, try volunteering at a local dance studio to see if they’ll let you take free classes in your spare time. Take art classes, perform in a summer time production, take an improv class—anything that makes you happy. But if crunching out numbers at one of the Big Four is your idea of unadulterated fun, then more power to you.