What makes summer ‘summer’? I’m sure many people would immediately point to the glass of Pimms they’re knocking back, or the pack of Calippos in their trolley, or simply reel off a string of swearwords about how much they love wasps. A British summer is, at best, tabloids shouting about the HOTTEST HEATWAVE SINCE HEATWAVES BEGAN, or at worst, tabloids shouting about the WETTEST SUMMER SINCE LAST SUMMER (as is usually the case). Diminishing Britain’s June-September to one obnoxious bold-print bark isn’t wholly fair; however, it does usually come down to whatever’s cast on us from above.
Surely summer is more than feigned surprise at the latest forecast, though? As someone with Norski blood, I love the cold, so I find summer largely disagreeable. I’m sure it’s not all down being Norwegian, as I can’t ski and think Gudbrandsdalsost tastes disgusting. Nonetheless, summer to me isn’t about Pimms, or Calippos, or wasps. It’s not about the sun or The Sun. For me, summer is about time. Cue the collective audience eye-roll indeed, but I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree.
As students, we’re still lucky enough, most of us, to have three shiny months of do-what-you-want paved before us for at least two years guaranteed. The feeling once you’re back home is usually “woo summer!” before pressing play on Shaggy’s Summertime and pretending you’re in Jamaica, not about to pop over for a cup of tea with your Aunt, who happens to live on the same cul-de-sac. It is honestly a great feeling though, because suddenly all these things you planned during your, err, revision can actually be done. You can watch all six seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. You can create a papier-mâché lizard family. You can think of more try-hard-quirky ways to spend your time than the examples I’ve written here. Or you could just do some ironing – guess your mum wants a little help now you’re home, huh?
But we do have time to do these things. That’s the point. Summer, for me, means time because we can do what we want, to a degree. Or for our degree. Or forget that we’re doing a degree at all. The best thing I did last summer, between my First and Second Year at Lancaster, was go Interrailing. A friend from home and I travelled from Paris to Palermo, and we only managed ten days, but it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Interrailing is the classic student trip, and even if you can only do Benelux, the beautiful thing about it only being the beginning of August means you still have a good six weeks at least before you need to be back on campus. This means you’ve got plenty of time to up sticks and go, and hopefully you have the luxury of deciding when this will be.
Time doesn’t necessarily mean travel though. It is one of the best opportunities you have to get away, true, but it’s also one of the only times you have to make some serious money. Granted that twelve weeks behind the checkout, talking to customers about their holiday that you’d like to go on, isn’t your number one choice of summer activity. However, it does get you earning, and provides cushioning for the year ahead, the future or both. It’s a smart strategy, and if you get employed at a relevant place to your desired career, it can do wonders for your CV.
Please don’t stop reading just because I’ve mentioned those letters. Summer SCAN isn’t here to lecture you on term time content, as frankly how future-focused your summer is is your decision. Not to say that’s not the case once we hit October, but right now is a chance to holiday from all this pressure, and we all need a break. Maybe you are mid-internship, in which case congratulations and I hope you have an amazing time. Maybe you’re reading this whilst in South America, in which case I’m very jealous, and keep on travelling. Maybe, like me, you’ve just been trying to earn some money to help fund next year, which is just as important and means that you can get yourself a couple of new things as per the ‘treat yo self’ mantra.
Maybe, like I was a few years back, you’re doing nothing. To be honest with you, and to whip out the violins, I was pretty lonely and riding the comfort eating wave like nothing else. I spent most of that July sat on the sofa gorging on crumpets (they are unrivalled) and watching the Tour de France. Did I feel sorry for myself? Absolutely. Looking back, was it a waste of summer? Absolutely not. I had food. I had shade, like all Scandinavians need to thrive. And I had hope, in the form of the sideburns of Sir Bradley Wiggins, whose win – which I watched, crumpet in hand – made me proud to be British. Or Norwegian. Whatever.
Summer is about time, yes, but it’s not just about how much you have, it’s about how you use it. And if you don’t like how it’s being used, then do something about it. It’s impossible to get it wrong. BRB. I want a crumpet.