10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer at Home

After another school year at our home under the Dome, the time has come for us to finish exams, pack up our dorm rooms, and drive off into the sunset, ready to enjoy a few glorious months of summer. As my good friend Nicki Minaj once said, “Let’s go to the beach, each, let’s go get away.” And that’s what a lot of Domers may be doing during the coming months. Or, they may be heading to a big city ready to tackle an internship. But if you think your summer is going to be more “Summertime Sadness” because you’ll be staying at home for the entirety of break, you probably aren’t alone. I, like many of you, am heading home at the end of the week, and my summer is going to contain lots of hours of work instead of fun summer trips. (Although I can’t complain – I really love my job. But a beach trip wouldn’t be too bad, either.)

Just because you’re stuck at home for the summer doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun and make the most of your time away from Notre Dame. Here are some ways to make this summer one to remember.

1. Read a good book (or several)

One of the things I miss most when I’m at school is reading for pleasure. With all the textbooks and supplementary reading assignments, I have no time or energy to pick up a book I actually want to read. A summer at home is the perfect time to catch up on your reading list. What better way to travel to far away places (without having to drop big bucks on plane tickets) than with a good book? My favorite thing to do is wander through the aisle of a library or bookstore to find my next adventure, so once you get home head to your local Barnes and Noble and grab a good read.

At a loss of what to read? Why not start out with Her Campus’s own Her Campus Guide to College Life? It’s never too early to prepare for another year of school!

2. Start a new TV show

Finally we can spend hours watching Netflix and not feel guilty about it! Summer is the best time to start watching that TV show you’ve been dying to watch but just never seemed to have time to start. There’s nothing wrong with a few TV binges during summer vacation – especially during rainy days! (Some of my personal favorites are Game of Thrones, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Once Upon a Time, and Friends.)

3. Try out those DIY projects you’ve pinned on Pinterest

I’m guilty of having a huge Pinterest board full of DIY projects I’ve never even attempted to make, but while you’re away from school, why not try your hand at a few crafts? Whether it’s a pretty canvas for next year’s dorm room, homemade high-waist cutoff denim shorts, or DIY gifts for your buds with summer birthdays, the next few months are the perfect time to channel your inner Martha Stewart.

4. Explore your hometown

Even if you’ve lived in the same town your whole life, I’m willing to bet there are some nooks and crannies of town that you’ve never been to. Is there a family-run restaurant you always drive by but have never actually tried? A park with the prettiest flowers that you haven’t been to in years? A biking trail you’ve never ventured out on? If you have extra time this summer, step out of your comfort zone and try new restaurants, explore new shops, and wander through the wilderness of your hometown.

5. Get physical!

As Domers, we understand the value of great weather – especially after toughing it through some of the nastiest days of winter in South Bend. Use warmer temps to your advantage by taking your workout routine outdoors. We don’t always get to take advantage of outdoor sports while we’re studying or avoiding being outside in less-than-ideal conditions, so this summer try your hand at a new activity. Play tennis with a friend, swim laps at your local pool, take a bike ride on a trail, go for a run on scenic road, or strap on your boots and go on a hike! Soak up the sun (with sunscreen of course) and make the most of the beautiful weather of the summer months.

6. Become a pro chef

Okay, maybe you won’t become a pro in one summer, but try your hand at cooking to prepare yourself for the real world, where there won’t always be dining halls with food galore or Flex Points for your favorite Subway lunch.

Explore your mom’s recipe box or find some creative ideas from the Internet (again, Pinterest is a great place to look), grab a friend, and try them out! Don’t be discouraged if you’re not successful at first – practice makes perfect! (Try watching the movie Julie and Julia for ultimate inspiration.)

7. Road trip with friends

This is always at the top of my summer bucket lists. Last year a group of my friends and I road tripped to the nearest Six Flags theme park and had a blast – one of my favorite days of summer 2014. Do some research for hidden gems in your area. It’s always fun to go to a city for the day if you live near a big metropolis, but the most interesting destinations are off the beaten path. If you’re a fan of music, check the web to learn about artists playing near your area this summer. Like riding the tallest and fastest roller coasters? Go to a theme park for a day. Love to shop? Head to the nearest outlet mall! Grab some friends, a car, and get on the road!

8. Volunteer

If you’re always itching to make a difference in your community, why not donate some of your free time to a great cause? Love kids? See if there’s a volunteer program at a local day care or if there are volunteer opportunities at your local park district. Also check out for volunteer opportunities soup kitchens, hospitals, or see if an elderly neighbor could use some help cleaning around the house or mowing the lawn. Does it seem like your closet has multiplied since getting to college? Go through your drawers and closet this summer and donate the clothes and accessories you never wear to Goodwill. 

9. Reach out to future ND students

Do you know someone from your high school or another school in your area that made the awesome decision to be a Domer next year? If so, get in touch with them before you head back to school in the fall. I know I had nearly a hundred questions about college and Notre Dame, and I was lucky enough to have cousins that already went here to bother with all my questions. Reaching out to incoming freshmen will ease their nerves and help them answer any questions they have - plus they'll already know a friendly face on campus before arriving on campus! 

10. RELAX!

Let’s be honest – we work hard all year balancing schoolwork, extra-curricular activities, jobs, and social lives – we deserve a break! A problem I’ve had in the past years is the nagging feeling like I should always be doing something over summer break – going to the pool to sunbathe and socialize, taking exciting trips, or doing something that didn’t involve my living room couch and a television remote. There’s no shame in kicking back for a little R&R this summer. Use it as a time to sleep to make up for all the all-nighters you pulled the past year, enjoy some me-time, and catch up with hometown friends and family.

Enjoy your summer, collegiettes!



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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (provided by author), 11