40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

Because we all know four months without college friends or classes is WAY too long.
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It's been less than a week since finals wrapped up at the University of Minnesota, and I, among many of my other friends, are already lost on things to do. Since January, our entire schedules have been filled with homework and studying. The new freedom summer brings provides endless time (in between our summer job shifts, of course) for new activities and things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do during the school year. Below is a list of 40 different activities to keep you entertained during your break and to ensure you make the most of your summer.


1. Learn a new language.

I highly recommend starting with Duolingo. It's an app that provides free language tutoring through a series of activities and exercises. It offers a wide variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Greek, Swahili, among many others.

2. Volunteer.

There's an endless amount of volunteering opportunities offered throughout every major city in the country. For example, many hospitals will accept volunteers, as well as organizations in Minnesota such as Feed, My Starving Children, or the Ronald McDonald House. Most positions only require an application but be sure to check for minimum requirements such as age or experience.

3. Read a book.

Go to a library and wander until you find a book you think you'll like. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

4. Watch a TED talk.

This is one of my favorite hobbies any time of the year. TED is a nonprofit organization that shares short, approximately 15-minute videos ranging from science to business to global issues. There's a topic out there for everyone.

5. Start a garden.

Even if you don't have any outdoor space, succulents and cacti are very low maintenance and still add a little "green" to your indoor space.

6. Go camping.

Whether it's at a campground or in your backyard, enjoy the technology-free time with your family or friends.

7. Paint.

If you're not an artistic person, go to the store, buy a set of Crayola watercolors, and just paint.

8. Take an online course.

Coursera and edX both supply free online courses from top universities such as Yale, MIT, and Harvard. If you're trying to further your understanding of a particular topic such as physics or biology, I suggest starting with these websites.

9. Bake brownies or cookies.

Most stores stock up on the prepared cookie or brownie mixes, but if you have the time and ingredients, try making them from scratch.

10. Fly a kite.

Kites are available on Amazon for $10-$15, and instruction videos are available on YouTube to help you get started.

11. Play board games.

Life and Scrabble are my go-to's.

12. Make a scrapbook of old memories.

If you have the time and a little extra money, I promise the end-product will be worthwhile.

13. Start a journal.

You don't have to go buy the fancy Moleskin journals or buy an expensive one from Barnes and Noble, a simple notebook will do the trick. Write down your thoughts and document your summer.

14. Go to the beach.

Enjoy the sunshine, but don't forget sunscreen!

15. Go fishing.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and one of them is most likely within driving distance. Take the time on a nice, calm morning, and go fishing.

16. Binge-watch a TV show on Netflix.

"The Office," "Friends," "New Girl," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Grey's Anatomy" are good places to start.

17. Start a bucket list and cross off one item every week.

The items added don't have to be spectacular and nearly unattainable, they can be little things, too. In other words, I'm not expecting you to go skydiving, swim with sharks, and go on a cruise all in one month.

18. Learn to rock climb.

Both indoor and outdoor rock climbing are available depending on your level of comfort and experience. Remember to take every safety precaution and have fun.

19. Catch up with an old friend over coffee.

Call the friend you haven't seen in three years and ask to catch up over coffee. You never know how much their life has changed since last speaking with you.

20. Have a picnic.

Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and juice, and find a nice spot with a view. Maybe bring a book for a post-picnic activity.

21. Meditate or do yoga.

If you're unexperienced in both of these activities, many YouTube channels provide instructional videos. I'll post a link to one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors here.

22. Learn a new instrument.

Whether it's piano, guitar, or even this $7.49 recorder from Amazon, try something new.

23. Discover new music.

Spotify and Pandora are great music platforms to discover different songs and artists. Keep checking your local venues and maybe attend a concert if possible.

24. Complete a puzzle.

You can buy puzzles online for around $10-$15. However, thrift stores and stores like Goodwill often sell them for less than $5.

25. Visit a museum.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minneapolis Institute of Art are two of the post popular museums in Minnesota. If you check their websites and other internet sources such as Groupon, you might be able to find a discount for admission.

26. Go to a comedy show.

I'm unaware of good comedy events around the country, but if you ever find yourself in downtown Minneapolis, check out Brave New Workshop.

27. Build a card tower.

If you're unsure how to do so, here is a link to instructions.

28. Reorganize and redecorate your room.

If you'd like a change in your life, try redecorating or reorganizing your room. Donate old clothes, books, or furniture no longer in use.

29. Marathon the entire Harry Potter series.

I challenge you to do this back-to-back with each movie, but I also realize that is 19 hours and 39 minutes of watching movies, not including snack or bathroom breaks.

30. Play with a pet.

It doesn't have to be your own. For a real adventure, check out the nearest animal shelter.

31. Start a blog.

Wordpress and Weebly are two online blogging websites that I highly suggest. Although it takes awhile to become accustomed to the platform, these websites are great because they're entirely customizable to the type of blog you wish to create.

32. Go for a bike ride.

Whether it's along the river or out on back roads, go for a ride.

33. Teach yourself how to juggle.

This might be easier said than done, but some videos on YouTube might be useful.

34. Take a bubble bath.

Some bubble bath or a bath bomb, music, and a good book will have you relaxed almost instantly.

35. Go to a farmer's market.

Support the farmers in your community and try buying local. With a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and flowers, there's something for everyone. The farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis is open Thursday's from 6am-6pm, while the Lyndale Market is open daily from 6am-1pm.


36. Exercise.

Go for a walk. Run. Bike. Do yoga. Play soccer. Just get up, and get moving.

37. Become a tourist in your own city.

Pretend you're from out of state and only have a limited amount of time to explore your city. Take yourself and your friends or family to the must-see places around town.

38. Color.

Adult coloring books have become an increasingly popular trend. Available online, Barnes and Noble, and Target, they're easily accessible. You can buy a book, some colored pencils or pens, and enjoy the relaxing day.

39. Spend time with your family and friends.

Whether it's a movie day or going out on a walk, put away your phone or laptop for a day and appreciate the people standing around you.

40. Enjoy all the time you have not worrying about studying or homework.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Pizzio // Unsplash

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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Reality Check: Snowy Winters Are Not As Magical As You Think They Are

Yes, it's white but no, you don't want to move to the north and shovel it alone.

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If you're from the North where you get hit by inches upon inches of snowfall every year your most had at one time enjoyed it due to the fact you could have a snowball fight, make angels or even attempt to make an igloo (If you ever successfully done that please teach me how) or most of all when school was canceled, delayed or dismissed early because the street where not in great condition.

If you are from a state that receives little to no snow every year you most likely have a different picture of what it like. Which may be like not being able to see the grass and having your version of Frosty the Snowman on your front yard where you dug up rocks and sticks and grabbed someone in your family scarves and hat because you didn't want the snowman to be cold. That when that is all done and your cheeks are rosy red and you just now starting to lose a little feeling in your fingers you finally head inside and enjoy a hot cocoa which may have some mini marshmallow or a candy cane while sitting near the fire under a fuzzy blanket to become warm once again before going out and doing it all again until your school decides to open up again.

I'm sorry to break it to you but most of the time it's not going to be anything like it. Most of us wish it would be but it sadly can`t.

What really happens when its snow is sometimes it is too cold to even go outside and do anything. Or it is not the right type of snow where you cannot build anything as it will not stay how you wanted it. The snow doesn't magically move, so you are probably going to be the one shoveling its meaning after a while your back will probably going to hurt from the repetitive motion and picking up something heavy and throwing it.

Yes, snow can be heavy especially after lifting up a lot at one time. After shoveling it once you may have to go out at least three more times during the day and repeat it depending on how hard the snow coming down. And after that, you will need to throw down either rock salt or cat litter to help melt the ice underneath or give you some traction when walking so you don't fall. Yes, those videos of people falling from ice are hilarious to watch but if you're the one who fell you probably won't be laughing. And those days off of school you will either make up during your spring break, other days off the school was going to give you or your last day will be pushed back until you reach 180 days.

So, before you go your so lucky to have snow and it must be so fun to play in or you probably get great photos because it looks so pretty. (I will agree to get great photos).

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