Keep Your Mind Sharp During the Summer (For College Students)

DSC_4657Summer is usually a time to take a much needed 2 1/2 – 3 month vacation from the rigors of college life. But what happens ends up being is ample time to kill off some brain cells and forget the concepts we spent all semester studying. By all means, go and have some fun, but it couldn’t hurt to throw in some educational stuff in there, too.

Go for a walk. Or a run. 

It is scientifically proven that exercise not only feels good, and makes you healthier, but it also keeps your mind sharp. A healthy cardiovascular system means that your brain gets enough blood pumping, which helps you to remember and focus better. If you go a step further and walk or run for a cause or competition (or both, which is fun), then you get to experience the unforgettable joy and pride of helping other people. Want bonus points? Search for the articles that back up how awesome exercise is for your body. Biology majors and anatomy/physiology types will love this.

Go to a Museum

This is a pretty fun way to spend a day with someone special and have a nice outing, plus you’ll forget you’re actually learning. It’s different and if you have to go in a new city to go to one, then you get to make a day out of it, too. There are many museums for art, history, culture, and pretty much anything you might be interested in. Some of the smaller ones are free, and others only require a donation — or you can pick up free passes at your library. Another perk is the AC! Don’t know where to go? Just do a quick Google search for museums in your area.

Go to an Aquarium or Zoo

Like museums, aquariums are a great way to spend a day with one or two good friends or a date, and they are actually pretty fun and interesting. Plus, who doesn’t love sea animals? Some aquariums will offer special things like “feed the sea lions” or an Imax movie about dolphins and sharks. Zoos offer similar perks, but it’s also fun because there are many exhibits and different animals to see. Going to the zoo is a great place to have a picnic (and it’s cheaper than buying food there).

Watch a movie in a foreign language 

Subtitles are allowed, of course, so you know what’s going on, but you’re brain is able to get a workout while watching a movie. By both reading the subtitles, and listening to words in a new language, you’re working out your brain double time. There are a ton of great foreign films just waiting for you to explore them — so don’t be scared to branch out of your comfort zone. If you’re into a second language or if your major is Spanish or Chinese, then you can turn the subtitles off  (or don’t look down) and try to see if you recognize what they’re saying. You will learn language faster if you immerse yourself in the language and hear other people speaking it properly.

Learn online – for free!

There are a ton of websites available to help you in your research, but why save them for school? There’s educational websites for every type of major and interest, and you may even get a head start in some of your school courses if you learn some great concepts during your own time and pace. So next time you’re bored online, why not do something relatively productive? Here’s a brief list, Google for more:

There’s obviously many more, but this list is just to get you started.

Write in a Journal

Writing helps you to process information and decompress from the day. It is a repetitive, soothing activity and usually done during quiet times or with soft music. You can drink a cup of coffee or tea, and write without fear of deadlines or editing. It is also a great way to form to-do lists and goals, and to reflect on your innermost thoughts and behavior. And the more you write, the better you will be, and the easier it will be to think of ideas for future papers. Even just 10 minutes a day will help.

Read, and Read Some More

Reading is obviously the best way to keep your mind sharp during the summer, but I’m not really talking about the steamy romance novel you read at the beach. Sometimes it is good to read an intellectually stimulating book. For one, you learn something new, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Biographies are very entertaining if you choose the right author (and a person who influences or inspires you), and you can learn a lot about their success or life lessons. Fiction can also teach you great words, and how to evoke emotions with the words you choose. Expand your vocabulary and you’ll always get good grades on your papers. Stuck in a literary rut? Try something completely new and out of your element. You’ll diversify your writing and vocab, and you might find that you love Shakespeare, just not in a school setting. You can even read the classics for free if you download a Kindle app on your mobile device or PC.

This is just a short list of ideas, and most of them are free or cheap. Anyone else got any more ideas they’d like to share?

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