Summer school musings

Think back. Think way back to high school. It’s May, it’s 20 degrees outside and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s a perfect day to relax outside and maybe attempt to get that elusive tan, right?

There’s a catch, though: you have an essay due the next day.

For many people, the perils of warm weather schoolwork seem to be nothing but a distant memory.

Back in high school, summer school meant you were either a slacker or an overambitious keener. It was a relatively taboo phenomenon. Since I fell in neither category, the only previous exposure to summer school I had came from Saved By the Bell. However, as a result of changing programs halfway through my undergraduate career, summer school suddenly became not just an option, but a necessity.

I’ve always been an independent learner, and with that in mind I thought signing up for an American history correspondence course over the summer would be a fun change of pace from traditional in-class academia.

It was with this optimism that I started my first day of tank top academia from the comfort of my parents’ living room in Bolton, Ontario. I couldn’t wait to fill my head with stories of revolutionary battles and political power play. I had visions of studying while lying on my backyard deck listening to my iTunes playlist, and I thought with a month and a half off before I started my summer job I could even get ahead with my readings. Besides, I was living at home. What else did I have to do with myself?

Surprisingly, home had a lot to offer. I began reconnecting with high school friends who also found themselves stuck at home and found various means of escape by visiting friends in other cities. I never went anywhere without my courseware and textbook, but there was certainly no time for studying on the road. Even while I was at home, I discovered the joy of mid-afternoon showers and began to enjoy the bitchy banter of The View.

What can explain my recent flirtation with summertime slackerdom? I blame it on excessive free time. As university students, we are constantly told to be busy and productive in order to become successful. This culture is especially prevalent here at Queen’s, where we have high academic pressures and we’re also expected to load up on extracurricular activities. It was through a taste of carefree, unemployed bliss that I reacquainted myself with the idea of rest—something I forgot existed during the school year. However, I also learned its dangers. The more time you have, the less you get done. It’s a sad but true paradox.

Now that I’m about halfway through my course, I’m proud to say that I’ve almost caught up with my readings. I’m not ahead like I had planned, but I guess I can’t be too hard on myself. After all, it’s summer.

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