1. Learn how to use a grill
Grilling is part of the idyllic American summer experience, so grab your propane, charcoal or natural gas — if you’re feeling adventurous — and throw down whatever suits your fancy. Lately, I have seen people getting more creative with their grilling techniques and pushing the limits to what you would normally think could be grilled. From pizza and roasted kale to french toast — I cannot lie when I say that it is surprisingly good — the possibilities are endless. Just don’t forget to turn off the grill when you’re finished with it!
2. Go for a walk
Gosh, I sound like my mother right now, but she makes a valid point. My three-week Netflix binge must be balanced with some outdoor time, and there is no better way to do that than with a leisurely walk around the neighborhood. Walking is simply underrated — the amount of dogs I have pet has increased exponentially since March 2020, and I do not plan on slowing that trend. And even if petting dogs isn’t your thing, outdoor walks are scientifically proven to help brain functionality and reduce stress, so you will be able to reap some benefits either way.
3. Do a summer cleanout
Summer cleanouts come in many shapes and sizes, and they are a perfect way to get away from the hot summer sun. Organize files on your computer, rearrange your bedroom and detoxify your space. This is the perfect time to build that Ikea furniture that has been sitting in its box in the corner of your apartment for the past seven months, and you’ll finally be able to rid the moldy forgotten fruit from the back of your fridge. A summer cleanout is a great way to feel rejuvenated — I can attest from personal experience that the satisfaction from removing all the Cookout receipts from my car was simply heavenly.
4. Make a smoothie
Sometimes the best way to cool off on a hot summer day — and to efficiently use up any ingredients on the verge of expiration — is to just mix up a bunch of produce, ice and your choice of liquid in a blender. I am personally jealous of people whose smoothies always seem to hit the ideal consistency. Mine always end up tasting more like fruit with the occasional sneaky ice chunk waiting to surprise me through my reusable straw. Regardless, there are so many great recipes out there, which leaves you with little excuse to not use up the surplus of fruits that you and your roommates impulsively bought last week.
5. Read a book
Reading books seems pretty old-fashioned nowadays, but it is a great way to take a break from the technology that seems to be increasingly consuming our everyday lives — I’m talking to you TikTok. Escape in an adventure novel, feel the love with a wholesome romance or experience how words alone can give you chills with a classic horror. With so many options to choose from, it’ll be hard to make a decision on what to read. Maybe the easiest thing to do is return to those books that you were supposed to read back in high school. And yes, I’m telling this to myself as well because they might have actually been really good books.
6. Look at the stars — or fireflies
There is something magical about looking at the stars on a warm summer night. I can’t really explain the feeling, but it brings back memories of summer camp with my childhood friends. Sometimes the best way to look at the stars is to lay down on a warm driveway, which serves as your concrete cradle for imagination. Summer campfires under the stars, with the chirping of cicadas, the gentle flicker of lightning bugs and some good music in the background — talk about a memorable summer night. Add in “Fireflies” by Owl City, and there’s your recipe for nostalgia!
7. Support your local businesses
As more and more of the population becomes vaccinated against COVID-19, we are starting to see the return of farmers’ markets and the reopening of local stores and boutiques. Show them some support! Helping out your local businesses not only helps foster a sense of community, but it also encourages the growth of distinct local flavors that make each of our hometowns special. So shop local! It can reduce your environmental impact and make your hometown a more sustainable place.
8. Get a summer job or immerse yourself in your internship
Getting a job has always had its appeal for college students when we repopulate our hometowns for the summer months, especially as it is a great way to get out of the house and make some much-needed cash. If you choose to do so, try to work at a local business! Summer jobs are a great way to foster new friendships and connections since the pandemic may have severed many. And if you are lucky to have secured an ever-elusive internship — gain that experience, speak to upper management and create change. You never know what life lesson the working world may teach you before we head back to Grounds in the fall.
9. Watch a summer movie
Summer movies always leave me in a good mood, especially those movies that bring back memories of childhood. Disney classics — like “Camp Rock” and “Teen Beach Movie” — and summer comedies — especially “Mamma Mia!” — are the perfect solo watch, and they remind us of simpler times. So grab the popcorn and turn on the TV because the movies await. Personally, I would recommend watching these movies on those rainy summer afternoons, as these are the best times to take a break and relax with a film.
10. Enjoy a sunset
Cotton candy skies and sun-kissed landscapes can be found nearly anywhere, and the summer months make sunset-watching an ideal activity. A summer sunset has a special place in human culture, and it is an experience that should be cherished dearly. Beaches, mountains and urban landscapes are all perfect places to watch as the gentle glow of the summer sun fades and the crickets begin their summer songs. Notably, though, our very own Charlottesville boasts some picturesque locations for watching the sun set. So cozy up wherever you are able, and get ready to be amazed by the beauty of our sky.