What can I do for the next 5-6 weeks?
July 16, 2014 9:43 AM   Subscribe

I chose not to go on vacation with my family (to their native country that I've been to before) to take summer classes instead. My summer session 2 class filled up and I got screwed out of a seat. Now, I'm stuck here (NYC) with nothing to do for the rest of the summer. Help me not lose my mind and fill this time up.

I'm definitely feeling bitter that I opted out of going away for essentially no reason now. I am inclined to depression/anxiety, and the lack of routine that has just fallen into my lap is really stressing me out. I work part-time, usually Fri, Sat, Sun, but my job is very laid back/slow and is the type of place where I can study/read/etc on the job. It's ideal for a student, but right now I have no immediate responsibilities. So even that is pretty much equal to "down time." Additionally, I'm free Mon-Thurs, when the rest of the world is not. I'm on a reverse schedule from my friends, all of whom have grown-up jobs.

I don't want to wither away in bed, sleeping, eating, and watching Netflix. I know that I will do this if I am left to my own devices. I feel like I can use this time to my advantage and make it into something very therapeutic and/or productive, but I must plan it out accordingly b/c of the depression.

I also know that I will be very busy come fall, and I don't want to look back on this as time wasted. I've considered studying for my fall classes, but I haven't even finalized my schedule and I don't have the syllabi for anything yet.

The only things I can hazily come up with that I enjoy and can easily access are:
-yoga (but it only takes up a small portion of the day)
-going to the beach (alone--so I could be doing something there!, an hour away, but don't mind either of those things too much)

I also have this gnawing feeling that I'm being overindulgent and lazy/spoiled if I don't do something important. For example, I really like DIY stuff so I was thinking of painting some furniture that I haven't gotten around to. I've also been dying to take guitar lessons. But I can't bring myself to do these things without guilt.

There is a professional school entrance exam that I have to take in 6mo to 1yr, and I wonder if I should start studying for that? I don't even know where I'd start! I was planning on taking a prep course to guide my studies, but of course that's not til fall.

I thought about going on a trip. (Close? Far? Alone? Idk!) Maybe 3-4 days at some nature-y hiking place where I could do yoga and relax and meditate. But part of me feels like I should go somewhere more faraway and exotic, bc I'll never have this time again. I have a friend I've been meaning to visit in LA, and another in Chicago.

So basically, my problems are:
1) lack of daily routine
2) lack of concrete plans of any sort

I think part of the problem is that all of the things I've thought of doing have no time/schedule commitment. So I've spent a day and a half day dreaming and being overwhelmed by all the possibilities of what I could/should be doing.

Help me implement some sort of routine but also make use of this gift of time that has been given to me in a meaningful way!

(If you couldn't tell, I have ADHD as well, which is why this may seem disorganized. Sorry for that.)
posted by DayTripper to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There is a professional school entrance exam that I have to take in 6mo to 1yr, and I wonder if I should start studying for that?

posted by John Cohen at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2014

Are there any other summer classes? Hard to believe that there aren't any other ones available.

Other possibilities:

-Other part time jobs? That way you are making more money and saving some money instead of spending it!
-Meetups to learn a new hobby (and they're free!)
-There are some awesome parks in Brooklyn. Read a book there?

Another thing to keep in mind is to curb loneliness. I get lonely when I am around only myself for a while. So maybe do activities with other people.
posted by pando11 at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2014

Are there things that you can do to strengthen your application to the professional school for which you'll be taking the exam? What about doing some volunteering, shadowing, or something else that will make you a better applicant?
I don't even know where I'd start!
Most students get a prep book and work through that. You can check a couple out from the library, find the one that you like best, and then buy that one. Khan Academy is also getting into the test prep business.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2014

Write a book. Check out NaNoWriMo for resources, set it in NYC, go out half of the time and explore interesting places, spend the other half writing about it.
posted by jeffkramer at 9:58 AM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: Extra info:

The exam is the DAT-- most people say to study for a concerted 1-2 months rather than a long time.

No other summer classes that are relevant, and it's too late to enroll. I looked at every possible class I needed. Nothing.
posted by DayTripper at 10:00 AM on July 16, 2014

Take advantage of of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's sliding scale admission and go until you've seen it all.
posted by hollyholly at 10:01 AM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Also: "I also have this gnawing feeling that I'm being overindulgent and lazy/spoiled if I don't do something important. For example, I really like DIY stuff so I was thinking of painting some furniture that I haven't gotten around to. I've also been dying to take guitar lessons. But I can't bring myself to do these things without guilt."

You have all this time to fill; why not fill it with stuff you won't get around to when you're busier? You can be busy in the fall with or without painted furniture or beginning guitar skills, so I say choose "with".
posted by hollyholly at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Take a jewelry-making or metalwork class! Some dental schools say they like to see that, because it uses the same kind of hand skills that dentistry does. Plus, it'll be fun.

I totally think it would be helpful to you to take a half-hour or so every day and start studying for the DAT, even if it's just going through your textbooks and notes from your bio and chemistry courses.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd make a list of events/places you want to go, a really long list, or a calendar. Then I'd make a deal with myself that I would do at least one activity a day. I also find it really hard to live without structure so I would recommend trying to stay on a schedule as much as possible, get up at a set time, get dressed leave the house on a regular basis.

I'd include going to see Shakespeare in the park (you can line up super early for hours for free tickets), seeing free outdoor movies, and exploring lessor known museums. There are also a ton of free events in parks right now - Bryant park has free yoga, there is free kayaking at a couple places as well. I would also suggest coming to a mefi meetup, trying out stuff on meetup.com or checking out NY Cares for short term volunteer opportunities. You could also look into stuff at the YMCA the 92nd street one has a bunch of different workshops and classes and you may be able to find something fun.

Enjoy your time off, there will come a time probably soon when you'll wish you had it and there isn't anything wrong with being indulgent for a few weeks.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This is pretty similar to my situation right now, except that I'm a recent grad, and no one is hiring recent grads, so I'm actually unemployed. No schedule x 1,000,000.

I've been trying to wake up around 7 a.m. every day. I'm more productive if I eat something and shower right after waking up. Once a week, I text the few friends I have in the area to see if they want to go kayaking or bowling or whatever. If they're free, yay! Set up plans! See friends! Eat pizza!

Otherwise, I choose two activities for the day off my list of activities: Apply for jobs! Cook something from scratch! Work on programming project! Think about getting back on the song-a-week wagon! Play Mass Effect! Work on application to the local state school for moar education, in case I don't have a job by September! Go outside and drive the car to the grocery store! Go to the gym!

And so on. You're in NYC, so you have more options (museums! nice parks! free kayaking!). I struggle with motivation when I'm outside of a work situation, so for me, anything accomplished is great. Choosing two activities to accomplish helps me avoid the "lost and overwhelmed" feeling that would otherwise eat up my entire day. Don't see "learn how to play guitar"-type activities with guilt, as long as you're actually engaged.
posted by topoisomerase at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would use this time as self-improvement. What do you need to be a better version of you? What are skills you have always wanted, but not had time? This summer is the summer where you look back in a few years and think, look what I did and what I learned. Let go of the guilt. Your whole life, you have only you. Make your inner self rich and experienced.

Here are some examples, besides guitar and furniture painting: whittling, swing dance, baking pastries, rock climbing, meditation. Pick one or choose your own, and learn it for a few days, or take one lesson. Onto the next one. This lessens the overwhelming pressure of needing to do all of the things. One at a time, a quick survey. You don't need to become an expert, just get exposure.
posted by umwhat at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2014

Could you take an online class and then transfer it to your school? Lots of schools offer online classes with rolling enrollment.
posted by jabes at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about some volunteer work? This is prime vacation time and a lot of places will not have their regular workers around. Places like a food bank, soup kitchens, etc always need fill in help. Also I recently got an email in my area looking for summer camp counselors for a charity based non-profit to work with kids for a few weeks. It would be a regular schedule and can still be a resume type activity.
posted by maxg94 at 10:52 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Great for your mental health (lots of structure, busy-ness, a warm glow and new life experiences if you choose right) and others who need your help will benefit.
posted by penguin pie at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Of course, you can get a different job, but you've already thought of that, so...

Your travel ideas sounds fun!

Is this the summer you get fit?
If you have some money, get a gym membership! More money? A personal trainer!
No money? work out in the park either by yourself using a plan from, say, NerdFitness.com, or join one of the many free bootcamps on parks. Or join a running club. Or Yoga in the park... All of these things feel awkward the first 2 or 3 (or 8!) times you try them, but by the end of the summer, your family won't recognize you. It also does a lot for depression and anxiety and self confidence.

DAT is dental right?
You know what hours dentists work? The ones you don't! I bet one of the 8,000 dentists in NY could use an ambitious office administrator. You'll mostly take phone calls and ask people to take a seat, but you'll also be hanging out with real professionals. Who needs to study when you're already reviewing charts? (okay, you should still study, I guess).

And, for real, free kayaking!? That's a full body work out with new friends!
posted by jander03 at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: How about some free online courses?

Coursera is a wonderful, free resource that offers college courses on a schedule, so you can browse classes that are starting soon, or have recently started. There are a lot of classes to choose from covering a wide range of subjects from actual colleges around the world, so maybe you can take one that's related to the classes that you were planning to take? Or even one that just sounds interesting! It's interactive (the classes run on a schedule, so others are taking the class the same time as you), so you're not just going through some boring modules with little incentive to keep with it. Rather, the classes I've taken have assignments, due dates, grades, online discussions, etc...and you can be as involved as you want to be. I doubt they're transferable, but they may help you keep your mind sharp and occupied!
posted by sweetpotato at 11:45 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You need you make yourself a schedule. Look at M-F on Google Calendar. Start blocking things out. Yoga 3 days a week - put it on the calendar. "Home projects" (furniture painting, etc.) on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Monday afternoons - adventure (beach, museum, etc.). Make a reading list and a to-do list. Block out 1 hour a day for reading. Plan your trips to LA and Chicago. Hold a dinner party. Get lunch or dinner with friends two days a week. Every Monday make yourself a to-do list for the week, and block time on your calendar to do things.

Of course laying in bed watching Netflix feels gross - but it sounds like you need a structure and a plan for getting motivated each day, not just more ideas of what to do.
posted by amaire at 11:54 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would just like to point out that what you should do is enjoy yourself, guilt free. Paint furniture, read books, hike, go to the beach, watch Netflix, whatever you want to do with this six weeks. If having a schedule on a calendar makes you feel better, sure, but make sure this calendar is filled with things you want to do, not have to do.

Let me tell you why: the number of opportunities you will have to spend X weeks doing nothing but what appeals to you is likely to be the next X weeks. It is really, really hard to create that time as a post-graduate, employed adult. Don't feel like you should be doing more; roll around luxuriously in this wonderful chance to do less.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:14 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some great ideas in here. I want to echo DarlingBri on this point: please set aside a few days to paint your furniture. It’s not unimportant. It’s creative, you won’t have the time come fall, and you like to do it. When you’re done, you will have tangible, beautiful evidence that you weren’t just sitting around avoiding decision-making (which I totally get).
posted by Ryon at 3:52 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Go with learning to play the guitar. That's something that takes actual work, with actual homework, and will have an actual result. Take a class in it or get some cheap lessons, and practice. You will be so glad that you did!
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:17 PM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: thanks guys!!! great advice as always
posted by DayTripper at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2014

Adding a late thought here, from the perspective of a college adviser. Is it possible someone will drop this course, leaving an open seat after the first day/week? Maybe you can still get into the class late and stay on track.

Although I think the ideas upthread are much better, but I like lazy summers. :-)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:13 AM on July 17, 2014

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