It's that time of year again, where college students across the country enter the home stretch of their classes and begin preparing for finals. Throughout the residence halls, you'll hear people say things like "okay, I honestly have NO idea how I'm going to bring all of this home" and "my mom is gonna freak out when she finds out that I'm bringing the futon home". But what you'll also probably hear is "so what are you doing this summer?"
You'll hear this from your roommate, from your neighbor, from the girl who sits next to you in your discussion section, maybe even from your RA. And while you might want to answer with something cool like "traveling around Europe" or "working an internship at a Fortune 500 company", you might answer something more along the lines of "um, I'm actually not really sure yet". And that's okay.
Nowadays, there's definitely a lot of pressure on us college students to spend our summers adventuring abroad or working impressive internships. But not everyone can afford the airfare, and not everyone is lucky enough to be hired by a renowned company.
Maybe the closest you'll get to a fabulous vacation is a weekend family bonding camping trip, and instead of an internship, you're working for minimum wage at your local coffee shop. If this sounds like your summer, don't worry.
If you're not going on an amazing vacation, that's okay. Not everyone is able to go abroad all summer long, or even for just a week. You can still find ways to take vacation time without paying big bucks. If you live close to a beach, plan a beach day or weekend with your friends.
If you live near the mountains, get a group together and go hiking. Wherever you live, there's someplace nearby where you can go for a little adventure. If the only vacation you'll be going on is a family road trip, find ways to make it fun. You're never too old for the license plate game or board games.
When it comes to summer jobs, it can sting to watch your friends work high-level internships with impressive salaries, when your job is an unpaid internship or a minimum-wage part-time situation. If you're making minimum wage, try to save up what you earn, and find things to do that won't break the bank -- a lot of major cities have lots of free activities that can be discovered with a little online digging.
If your internship is unpaid, I know how frusturating it can be, working hard for practically nothing -- yes, getting credit is nice, but at the end of the day, it can feel like you have nothing to show for your hard work. While working for no pay is no fun, remember that your boss will still be observing you, and that they might just invite you back for a paid position next summer if you're a hard worker.
At the same time, as hard as it might be, try not to get angry with your friends who are experiencing the summer you wish you were. While it can be frustrating to watch them explore the world and make a serious income, remember that sometimes, these things are due to pure luck. Your friends probably aren't doing these things to hurt you, and if they were in your position, they would probably be just as frustrated.