When you think of summer, you think of the 2-3 most carefree months of the year. Nice weather, lack of responsibilities, hanging out with friends, being outside, and most of all, no school... just to name a few of my favorite things about the season. But, with this huge amount of free-time, it is important to realize that this is the perfect time to refresh and prepare yourself for the upcoming school year, or just catch up on your own well-being. If I am being honest, last summer I really did nothing. I would hang out with my friends everyday, spend (too much) money on fast food, and worked some quiet shifts at work with my best friend. I think the word, "productive" is the last thing you would use to describe Summer 2018. That being said, now that I am in college and there are a ton of things to worry about and no time to do them, it is a huge relief to know I can get ahead once the school year ends and I have more time for me. Here are a few things I plan to do to be my happiest and most content this summer, along with doing a ton of relaxing.

Take a summer course at a local college.

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This course does not even need to be at a local school... you can take online classes through your university, too. Both are great (and cheap) options to get ahead on Gen Ed's or major requirements. Taking 1-2 easy classes can get you ahead on credits while not stressing you out too much, as you do not need to put forth too much effort.

Get to the gym!

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I was pretty good about going to the gym at the beginning of the year, and then life got busy and I stopped going. The few times I was able to squeeze it in, though, it was the most satisfying and stress-relieving feeling and I always leave wondering why I don't go more often. Memberships are not that expensive and its a good way to keep yourself in shape and active through the summer months.

Pick up a summer job.

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This summer I will be working at my same summer job, but I also plan to pick up a babysitting job. With so much time in the day, a couple hours of shifts a week is super doable and a great way to make money that you can spend when you hang with friends, or going into the next school year. Instead of sleeping all day, if you find a job that you at least don't mind going to, you will be productive and making money.

...or an internship.

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Internships are amazing for college resumes. Applying for an internship somewhere, or even a shadowing experience will be super rewarding and also look really good for your major. And there is no better time than summer to pursue one! I definitely will be looking into opportunities around me that will allow me to gain some experience and prepare for my business school application next year.

Explore the outdoors.

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I spent wayyyy too much time inside last summer. It was a great time with friends, but something I think I want to make sure I do more of is spending time outdoors this summer. Many of us are vitamin D deficient in the winter months due to lack of sun exposure, so putting your phone down and going on road trips to parks with friends, swimming at the beach or hikes up mountains is good for your physical health and the soul.

Study abroad!

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This is not something I will be doing this particular summer, though it is definitely an opportunity I plan to pursue in the coming years. Over the summer, at least at UMD, there are shortened study abroad opportunities for those who either do not want to commit to a full semester, or simply do not have the time. Imagine getting credit while relaxing in Italy, Spain, or Greece?! Definitely something to consider, and a worthwhile experience.