What Summer Sixteen Taught Me

As much as we love not having to do school work every day for three months, summer is a time when we travel back home and spend more time with our parents than our best friends we’ve spent every day with for 16 weeks. I strongly believe that summer is a time of growth and gain. While some may not like it because the temperature is too high, summer will always be my favorite season for learning more about life than academics. This was my first summer fresh out of the teen years and there are a few things that I’ve learned, whether it be about health, relationships, or even self-discovery.


Don’t say ‘no’ to trying new things. I have an unspoken tradition that I have to have a near death experience before the summer ends. Last summer, I was hiking too close to the ocean and this year it was diving into strong tides. While I don’t advise you to test your ability to stay alive, I do advise you to try something outside of your comfort zone. Maybe that means learning to swim in a community pool or even pushing your regular three mile hike up to the five mile scenic view. Summer gives us more of a stretch of freedom, so take the opportunity to experience something that doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes you find a little piece of yourself in something you’ve never tried before.

Have your own private spot for days to get away. My (not so private) private spot is a rock jetty that surrounds a small part of the beach and creates a natural wave pool for surfers. It’s the perfect spot to see a nice sunset everyday and it’s quiet and large, so even when there are people around it still feels like you’re alone. I would drive down there every time I wanted a break from anything that was going on at home or with my friends. It’s great to find a place where no one knows you go to whenever you’re stressed or looking for some perspective and relaxation. There’s nature all around us on campus and there are many places to explore whenever you need a break from the school year.


Make strong connections with others, even if you won’t be around forever. One of the toughest things about attending Behrend is the decision to stay or transfer to University Park. Leaving Behrend for the summer after my sophomore year was painful when I realized that I had friends who wouldn’t be welcoming me back again in the Fall. While some of my friends can’t sit with me in the dining hall today, I still spent the summer speaking to them as if they would continue this adventure with me. It made me realize that we have to understand that our friends are busy and we all have different goals but everyone has some reason to be in your life. Don’t be afraid to become friends with the person next to you for the fear that they will leave, but allow them to make you feel and learn more than you would have without them.


Your family will always be your family. For most of us, college is the first time that we are experiencing time away from home. While some think that it is exciting, others are overcome with missing their siblings and parents (and dogs). But going home for the summer gives you an opportunity to once again experience everything you were missing, like shopping trips with mom and baseball games with dad. Yes, you are gone for the majority of the year, but you can go on knowing that they will always be there to see you through and cheer you on from miles away. You’ll appreciate the time you are getting to grow into who you want to be, and your family will always be there to accept you back and catch you if you fall. Yes, being away for so long can change your outlook, and it can be frustrating when your parents don’t know how much you have changed, but it is a time for you to transition from their little girl to a successful woman. Despite what challenges arise, they are proud of the independent person that you are becoming.


Your memories are more important than your aesthetic. I love taking pictures, whether it be on my phone, my polaroid, or a digital camera. Everywhere I go is a new place to find something beautiful to capture. I also love the process of lighting and editing photos. One thing I noticed more recently was that my friends and I enjoyed the view for a few minutes and quickly captured the moment for our social media accounts. Then, when we didn’t capture a nice enough photo, we would spend ten minutes retaking it. I did learn to take better photos in the process, but I also learned that the photo I want to share with the public is not equivalent to the memories I can make when I am actually present. A picture is great to remember what has happened but it loses its sweetness when you exploit it. Try to keep the love associated with the picture rather than the just the beauty of the image.


Plan accordingly. I always worry about being stranded or getting sick on the road. Summer is the time when we want to take a day off and drive to a new place because we have the time to do so. Always carry extra water, you never know when the temperature will rise high enough for you to be dehydrated or suffer from heat exhaustion. Make sure you don’t sweat out more than you consume. I’ll also mention that you should get familiar with your car. Know how much a gallon of gas can get you and how long it takes for your car to overheat. Download apps that can help you with your adventures too. Life isn’t fun when you confused a park’s hours or when you suddenly can’t get home on that quarter tank you have left.


We each have a timezone that we’re working in. Great things can never be rushed. Although sometimes we are given a timeframe of when we should have an internship, a job, a degree, or a family, not all of us can complete this at the same time. See, what are the odds that you and every other person your age will be on the same wavelength and schedule?  Some things are out of our control and sometimes we don’t even want to complete what others expect us to. If you don’t want kids or if you don’t want to work  in your hometown, do not worry about what others will say, but be grateful for your capabilities and your options. It’s hard to look at someone who looks like they have it all figured out, but I assure you that most of us are guessing here. The summer can be your break from the race or it can be your time to catch up.


Everyone uses their summer break in a different way, but summers are useful to all of us. I’m grateful for my summers while I can still celebrate them. I say we reflect on the positivity it can bring.

Pictures: Instagram