What are university students doing over the summer?

Submitted by seeta.bhardwa@… on Sat, 07/20/2019 - 15:51

You’ve finally made it. You’ve handed in your final assignment, taken that last exam and now all that stretches in front of you is three glorious months of summer break. 

But as a student, there can often be pressure to make the most of your summer break and go travelling, do an internship and get a head start on next year’s reading list, while still finding the time to relax ahead of the new academic year. 

Just remember that the summer is yours to shape any way that you want, but if you’re unsure how you want your summer to go, here are some ideas from students.

Subhas Yadav, PhD in comparative literature, University of Hyderabad

As the summer draws closer it brings delight and relief to students. But this does not always mean the same for the students in graduate courses. In fact, summer often brings more work, planning projects to coincide with supervisors’ office hours. Generally, I try to explore new readings or try to send a few articles to journals and then relax for a few days before the semester begins.

However, this year I received a scholarship to attend a PhD summer school at Heidelberg University. I am delighted to have this opportunity because it will combine rigorous academic sessions with intercultural interaction among participants, and at the same it will be a perfect summer holiday in the historic and scenic city of Heidelberg.

I have also planned to explore the cultural landscape of Frankfurt, the city of Wolfgang Goethe, en route to Heidelberg. As a student of comparative literature, what could be more appealing than spending time in Goethe’s world? He is the proponent of world literature after all. 

I am also looking forward to trying some new cuisines in the hosting cities, sipping on local drinks, and exploring these new places. Just thinking of this sojourn takes away the worries of reading and academic work.

How university students are spending their summer - Heidelburg

Gloria Lui, psychology, Durham University

As my three years at Durham University come to an end and my graduation ceremony approaches; this summer, everything will change. The slight pressure of knowing that come September/October I will not be returning to university scares me a little. But, like me, most finalists will have been planning this moment from the minute their final year began.

Apply for a master’s? Check!

Write countless applications to different jobs? Check!

Look at ridiculously expensive plane tickets to travel the world and then proceed to look at how much student debt I’m in? Check!

So, what am I actually doing this summer? First, I am treating myself to a holiday on São Miguel and then I will be spending some quality time with my family.

For all the finalists out there and the students coming into their final year, please do remember that after your final exams you need a well-deserved break.

Once my holiday is over it will be time to step into the adult world. I will start my job as a health care assistant, in order to gain relevant experience for my future applications to study clinical psychology. This opportunity will give me a chance to apply my knowledge from lectures and will show whether this is really what I want to pursue in the future.

Unfortunately, a finalist’s summer is not filled with as much sun, fun and beaches as one might hope. But this summer will be my first step into the real world and I can’t wait.

Holly Plews, French and German, University of York

I write this surrounded by three bags of rubbish, a couple of clothes bags headed for local charity shops and a pile of precisely folded underwear. I, like many others, have embarked on the life-changing process of the KonMari Method of decluttering; an attempt to declutter the mind after an arduous second year at university.

Although academically successful, the past year has challenged me emotionally, so this summer break is an opportunity to focus on things that “spark joy”, and I started with decluttering the space around me.

I also want to make time for a little bit of an emotional clear-out. I plan to do this by reconnecting with family and friends without worrying about my next assignment dangling precariously above me. I am going on holiday with family and planning a short trip with friends. I will read, rest and recharge my batteries.

I will continue to develop the charity Free the Flow as the momentum gained over this last year must not be lost and, with the University of York behind us, we will continue to drive this project forward to continue expanding to and encouraging other universities to join the movement.

I have a year abroad next year to plan for and I am eager to become a citizen of Europe because I will be working in Austria and France. This challenge will be both exciting and daunting as I leave university for the world of work – all in a different language. And that is why my decluttering, my clear-out, my R&R begins today and my focus this summer will be on making space for the future. 

Mehul Parekh, law, De Montfort University

For me, summer brings unparalleled eagerness to embark on an adventure. While some people like to kick back, snooze and have a relaxing summer, I like to travel and broaden my horizons. However, I must emphasise that this passion for travel will be the main reason I will be seriously sleep-deprived.

My hectic travel plans start with a long weekend in Belgium, followed by a few days at home unpacking and then repacking my bag for another weekend retreat to Wales.

August will mark my first trip to Canada, followed by two weekends at Warwick Conference Park attending various conferences. For the most part, I will be spending my time away from home and when I am at home I shall be getting precious amounts of much-needed sleep.

However, this summer will be slightly different, because while travelling I shall also be focusing on researching and writing my master’s  dissertation, which is due in the first week of September. This means sneaking or rather, forcefully cramming, bits of reading and research into all the small gaps of time I can possibly find. I guess it will teach me the art of time management.

With such a busy schedule, and despite being seriously exhausted, for years to comeI will look upon summer 2019 as being one of my most fulfilling ever.

What university students are doing over the summer - Canada

Joe Peck, liberal arts, Yale University

Before this summer, I had never travelled west of New Jersey. Then, earlier this summer, I flew from New York to Des Moines, the capital of Iowa, to start an internship with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign to become president of the United States.

The reason I was asked to go to Iowa was very simple: the first voting of the Democratic party’s primary process takes place in this state. So, in order to have a strong start in the voting season, any Democrat vying for the presidency must have a strong showing in the Iowa caucuses on 3 February 2020.

After a 24-hour period in Des Moines, where I and the other interns were trained in campaign fieldwork, data analysis and event organising, I drove to the rural town of Manchester, in the heart of Trump country. Since then, I’ve been living with a local Elizabeth Warren supporter and working mainly from my living room.

Given the small population of Iowa and the even smaller population of Democrats in Manchester, the work I am doing is incredibly relational. It is my job, as a representative of the campaign, to go to local party meetings, to support events run by Manchester Democrats, and to listen to the opinions of those I interact with.

My job is to feed back all of what I hear to Campaign HQ so that they can alter their campaign strategy accordingly. In the process, I must ensure that no door is left unknocked, no phone unrung, and that every single person knows exactly what Elizabeth Warren believes in.

Given that it’s Iowa, being here has given me the opportunity to meet other politically minded students and presidential candidates at local events. Already I have had the pleasure of speaking to both New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and former vice-president Joe Biden at an Independence Day parade.

Raphaëlle Soffe, social studies, Harvard University

My brain feels like it’s about to explode...protest after protest, event after event, newspaper after newspaper; Hong Kong is fast-paced and filled with opportunities. Initially presuming that my summer would be spent sunbathing on a beach in Hong Kong, I have found myself caught in a cycle of busyness. And reading has been my primary pastime.

For the past two months, I have been in Hong Kong for a Harvard Summer School run by Harvard faculty, taking the following classes: “Migration and Globalisation Perspectives from Hong Kong” and “The United States and China Opium War to Present”.

The programme has been an intense and informative experience, with the Hong Kong protests frequently feeding into class time and my final essays.

I made the decision to spend a summer focused on academia and knowledge growth. I turned down internships in Parliament, and across media outlets. And I must say, I have thoroughly enjoyed my summer of embracing my inner bookworm.

Read more: How to get ahead on your university application



Summer marks the end of one academic year, and can often feel like a vast expanse of time to fill. Take some inspiration from these students on how to spend your summer months