In the more or less 22 years I’ve been in school (and this includes nursery all the way up to law school), I have never not experienced the beauty of a summer break. I love summer. The sun’s always out, the sky’s always blue, birds are always chirping — it’s a season of endless possibility. Summer is a checkpoint, a pause button in the never-ending stream of crossed calendar boxes, doodled National Bookstore planners and whatnot. Obviously, I have yet to graduate from the dreamy half-life of the unemployed, which is why summer can still evoke all these fuzzy feelings in me.
Yes, the heat is debilitating, and the dryness in the air so pervasive I sometimes think about dunking my head in an icebox. The terrible heatwave causes drought which dries up our crops which sorely inconveniences our farmers. People are more likely to pick fights with dehydrated MMDA enforcers on the streets. Things shrivel up and die.
In the long years I’ve been in school, I have never not experienced the beauty of a summer break, except for now. My professor said it best when she dismissed us before Holy Week: “I’m still seeing you in a few days? Oh, God.”
Welcome to the academic calendar shift. Since the UP system already had a headstart, what with last year’s four-month-long term (not summer) break, we are now reaping the fruits — an April and May spent making the physiologically confusing commute/drive to class. Other universities are only just beginning to recalibrate their own schedules, which means that fresh high school grads and other college students are, right now, on the cusp of four delightful months of oblivion.
But first, to backtrack a little. The rationale behind the calendar shift is the internationalization of our student body, to make it easier for foreign students to take units here, and vice-versa. Or to be a bit more militant about it, it’s to further the so-called commercialization of our education, to keep it in line with foreign standards. Sadly, the debate regarding the pros and cons of the schedule shift has been rendered moot with its actual implementation, and I know of more than a few hearts broken by the irrationality of said shift.
While news remains silent on whether we’ll ever get to use “summer break” as proper terminology ever again, as part of the initial pool of lab rats, I feel it my duty to impart a thing or two I’ve learned from last year’s four-month-long break.
There will never be enough time.
Four months equals 122 days. That’s around a third of the whole year. It is a loooooooong break, mind you. But there will not be enough time to go on a marathon of all your TV series, to meet up with all those friends you’ve lost touch with, to read all the books on those “100 Books Before You Die” lists, to try a new sport or exercise program for any sustained amount of time, to immerse yourself in what you feel are socially-relevant activities, to go on road trips and beach trips and food trips, to binge-drink one week then sleep ’til noon the next.
You only think you can cram everything in, but you cannot. Like the myth of Sisyphus condemned to uselessly keep pushing the same rock up a mountain, only to have to do it all over again, even your favorite TV show will lose meaning if that’s all you have to look forward to during the break. The point is, manage your expectations. And maybe make a list of things you’d like to accomplish while you still have your freedom in its full, unadulterated glory.
It’s shocking how real life will bite you in the ass.
Having never experienced anything akin to the kind of humdrum, clock-in-clock-out office work I see my younger siblings subjected to, my one regret in those four blissful months was not taking the time to learn about internships. Or writing proper résumés, for that matter. Now that I’m at my quarter-life, with friends getting married and my own siblings already feeding their own bank accounts, it’s a funny thing asking my little sister to give me tips on job interviews and how to dress up for one. Funny, but humbling as well. Now, at the height of summer, I’m stuck in the library, cramming for class. Our term break just means the start of legal internships, which means goodbye to those halcyon days.
Not saying I didn’t have a blast during my four months. I traveled twice, climbed a mountain once, attended a summer Asian History class for fun, caught up with old friends, made some new ones, destroyed my eyes speed-reading through the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. But time suddenly crept up and tapped me on the shoulder without my realizing it.
Is it human nature to always fixate on what we could or should have done? Maybe. But since you’re in for an eventfully long term break anyway, then for what it’s worth, divvy your time between the shamelessly fun, and the mindfully relevant.