The weather has been consistently in the 60s in the past week here in New York, so I think it’s about time I officially say goodbye to summer 2016 (which, like I said in a previous post, was my last long summer vacation ever!).
Like a true ambitious school-loving gal, I’ve actually never really had a completely free summer vacation. I went to “nerd camp” a few summers in middle school where I actually had a ton of fun — I got to stay in college dorms, make new friends, and take classes in college subjects that weren’t typically taught in middle school (I took a class on deductive reasoning once, which I thought was really awesome as an 8th grader and I thought I was so cool when I learned the “therefore” symbol!). In high school I was always busy with extracurricular activities. Then, in college, I either took summer classes (this was necessary for me because I had two majors and a minor, none of which fulfilled my pre-med requirements so to finish all of those I had to take some classes over the summer!), volunteered, or worked in a lab.
This summer was a little different because I was always hyper-conscious of the fact that this was my last extended summer break. I wanted to be productive and learn a lot through my research (I’ll write more about this in a separate post in the future) and shadowing (there’s very little time for shadowing during the school year), but I also wanted to make sure I wouldn’t feel burned out for what I knew would be a tough upcoming second year. I spent a lot of time with my college friends I didn’t get to see that often during first year because I was too busy and went on a few weekend trips and vacations. Overall, I felt like I had a truly great summer where I was productive since I spent a lot of time in clinic, doing research, and shadowing, but I also felt like I balanced it well by planning out my weekends with friends. Second year has been so crazy busy since it started that summer feels like it was a lifetime ago, but the good thing is I didn’t feel burned out to start off second year! I miss the free time I had but alas, reality calls!
Just because I chose to keep myself busy over the summer doesn’t mean that everyone should spend every spare time of their summer breaks doing the same. Even though I was always doing something “productive,” I still found summers relaxing. In general, I always like having a schedule to adhere to (even when I’m on vacation I make very detailed itineraries because I need things planned out!), so it was better for me to keep myself busy somewhat and have something tangible to do every day. I still made time to have fun, and just being in the mentality of summer “vacation” is a liberating feeling. Too often I think pre-meds feel like they need to do whatever everyone else is doing, and like I wrote about before in my post on choosing to be a non-science major in college, I think people should do whatever they want to do and whatever feels right. Even in medical school, I know people who didn’t go the traditional research vs global health work in the summer after first year and instead chose just to relax at home, and I think this is perfectly fine — spend your summers how you want, not based on how you think it should be.