Creating a First Semester Bucket List

Many of us may remember when we were younger (circa 2015) and scrolling through Pinterest, looking at the most aesthetically pleasing picture ever: The Summer Bucket List. An array of bright rainbow colors and bubble letters covered the page with the perfect spacing and details. Unfortunately, my middle and high school attempts to create my own summer bucket list were far from this picture, but the idea always stuck.

Times may be different, but I've recently realized how important it is to make the most of every day. So, one day I decided to jot down some ideas in my phone notes of things I want to do this semester, creating my own bucket list. It is far from the Pinterest lists I remember, but it gives me something to look forward to completing with myself or my friends. This bucket list leans more towards activities in Washington, D.C. but it can be interpreted to fit wherever you are in the world! 

Here's my First Semester Bucket List:

  1. 1. Take Weekly Walks

    The idea of a walk may bring us back to the odd, repetitive months of April and May in quarantine, when the one thing to keep us busy was a walk down the street every day. But getting outside is incredibly essential not only physically, but also for our mind. While we are fortunate enough to attend school online, screens can be draining.

    Also, most American University students are in Washington, and without UPasses it can be difficult to get into the city. So make night, morning or afternoon walks a part of your week so you’re not stuck in your room, apartment or home every day.

    Bonus: walk with someone you want to get closer to or haven't seen in a while! The endless walking brings a feeling of comfort and being present, letting the conversation flow.

  2. 2. Hit Up Coffee Shops and Study Spots

    This is a BIG one. With online classes, it can be super easy to get stuck inside in the same spot. Before you know it, the week has gone by and you haven’t gone outside at all. It is also tricky with locations being closed or restaurants solely having takeout.

    Actively looking for a new location and getting out of the house is a great feeling. For Washington readers, Tatte has just opened; the Starbucks on New Mexico Avenue has indoor seating outside of the actual Starbucks; and Doubles, Compass Coffee, and Phillz (curbside pickup) are a few of my other favorites.

    Even better, the Dav and the Bridge have opened up for takeout, bringing an excellent opportunity to grab an Iced Dirty Chai to study with on the quad or at the outside tables! Just like weekly walks, it's super important to get out and have a change of setting. Not only is an iced coffee delicious, it's even better to have while you study outside of the house.

  3. 3. Visit the Monuments

    This may be a given, but visit some monuments! Being a student in Washington won't last forever. I still haven't visited a few monuments myself (don’t get mad at me), so I plan on crossing this off of my list soon. While this is an obvious bucket list item, it can easily be overlooked, so make sure to just do it.

    Bonus points for visiting the Lincoln Memorial at sunrise or sunset!

  4. 4. Go on a Hike

    Woman standing

    I'm a HUGE outdoor person and I love a good hike. Whether it is a nature trail or a hike an hour away, hiking is a great thing to do this semester. Hikes are physically and mentally challenging, but they’re also refreshing. Especially if you are in Washington, it can be hard to be in a city space every day.

    Some ideas in Washington, D.C. are the trail in front of Foxhall Avalon, Rock Creek Park, Glover Archibold Park, Harpers Ferry National Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

  5. 5. Try Watercoloring

    Watercoloring outside with a friend is one of my favorite activities. Not only is it super relaxing, but it doesn't require a lot of artistic ability and it has beautiful end results!

  6. 6. Go on Picnics

    This is a huge one! With picnics, you can get outside while socially distancing and having a nice time with friends. Just grab some snacks, drinks and a towel and head over to a park.

    Some great Washington spots are the National Cathedral, Logan Circle, Meridian Hill Park, AU Quad, and Triangle Park!

  7. 7. Write Letters

    I love writing letters. Of course I can text someone, but taking the time to write something to someone you talk to every day or haven't seen in a while is so special. Make your own stationery (bonus points if it’s made from the watercoloring you did!) and write someone a hello. This will make their whole week and be a unique, intimate way of communication away from the world of technology. 

  8. 8. Get Some Brunch

    Who doesn't like brunch? Dressing up nice after taking online classes in sweats is refreshing, but more importantly, the endless options of delicious food are so much fun with your friends.

    The Coupe, Chef Geoff's, Bar Pilar, Barcelona Wine Bar, and Ambar are great Washington spots with outdoor seating!

Cute artsy picnicI encourage you to make your own bucket list for this semester, even if it's just in your phone notes. There are so many things a lot of students haven't gotten to experience yet that we still can, despite all of the recent changes.

Take each bullet point on your bucket list as a win. We're all doing our best, because one day we may look back to where we are right now, wishing we were still there.