What should I do this summer?
February 28, 2008 12:26 PM   Subscribe

What should I do this summer before heading off to grad school?

I'm graduating in May and heading up to UToronto in August for grad school. I was originally planning to head up to wherever I got accepted for grad school, find a place to live, and work during the summer, but I can't work in Canada (I'm American).

I've already done a good bit of world traveling, and considering my financial situation will be pretty tight, I'm not really planning on doing any more this summer, unless it could be done very cheaply. I think teaching English sounds interesting, but I've looked around and there doesn't seem to be any place hiring for only three months. I don't care about earning much money, but it would be nice to have at least my living costs covered.

So, what kind of options does a fresh university grad have for spending an interesting three months this summer? I'm not doing any internships (I'm switching majors for grad school and wasn't able to secure an internship in the new field). I'd love doing some kind of volunteering or teaching abroad as long as I could cover living costs (I'd be OK with losing the cost of my plane tickets). If it helps, my undergraduate major was in electrical engineering(although I would really prefer not doing any more EE stuff) and I speak Mandarin Chinese fluently and Russian somewhat OK. I'd love to spend another summer studying languages, but that tends to get expensive.

Alternately, is there some way for me to work in Toronto? I've looked at the Immigration Canada website, and it seems I'm not allowed to work until I start my degree in August, and then only on campus.

Thanks, AskMe!
posted by pravit to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Road trip across the USA. Seriously. If you can scrounge up a grand or two, and have a vehicle with good mileage that you don't mind sleeping in, go west and just hang out in every national park you can.
posted by notsnot at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding road trip. Whatever you do, relax and have a good time so that you're fresh and ready to go when you get to grad school. I did research all summer before starting grad school and found that I was really burned out for the first six months of grad school or so.
posted by pombe at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2008

Take the train (or, less expensive option, the bus) starting from Vancouver, and travel across Canada to Toronto. You'll see a lot of different geography as you move from the west coast ocean through the Rockies, across the Prairies, and you'll have a nice introduction to the country that will be your home while you're a grad student.

[On preview: I agree with pombe. Grad school is a slog, and you'll want to be rested and relaxed before you start.]
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:23 PM on February 28, 2008

If you decide to do a cross-country train trip, check out Amtrak's Multi-Ride Tickets, "which allow you to ride multiple times within a set amount of time, are available in monthly, ten-ride, six-ride and two-ride options." I have a few friends who got one-month passes during their post-college summer, and they really enjoyed traveling around the country visiting people. They also got a lot of reading done, as you can imagine, because the train trips take a fair amount of time. You should know yourself well enough to know whether you would enjoy or hate all that downtime.
posted by vytae at 1:30 PM on February 28, 2008

This is going to sound dull, but sleep and relax. Enjoy doing nothing. That would be my honest recommendation.
posted by Silvertree at 1:41 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I took an awesome road trip the summer before starting grad school. I wouldn't trade that for anything. But if that is out of the question, I'd move to some beach town, get a low-paying, no responsibility job scooping ice cream, and just hang out on the beach during my free time. Grad school is long and difficult, I definitely would do something relaxing for 3 months before starting it.
posted by kms at 1:53 PM on February 28, 2008

camp through the southwest. Zion, Bryce, Arches, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Bandolier, Antelope Canyon, Carlsebad caverns, Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Joshua Tree national park, Goosenecks. etc etc etc
posted by Large Marge at 2:11 PM on February 28, 2008

Move to a great place and find a job doing something menial that you'll probably never do again. Many resort (and I use the term very broadly) towns have lots of locals who live in cheap housing, often together, and the vibe is very laid back and there's always a house party / bbq / etc. to attend after you get off of your various shifts. You won't have a ton of money saved up at the end (probably), but you'll cover your (very small) nut. Here are some options that would be very appealing to me. You should modify them to fit your interests / proclivities / tastes in lovers:
  • Move to Key West, get a restaurant job. Learn to fish off the docks. Work on a Hemmingway beard.
  • Move to Moab Utah and work as a mountain biking guide
  • Move to Maui and surf (my #1 pick)
  • Go work in a National park (Yosemite, Yellow Stone, Zion, Bryce, Joshua Tree). Learn to either climb trad or whitewater raft. Watch out for bears.
  • Fly to the Caribbean... Get a job on a mobster's huge yacht.
Don't take a roadtrip unless you plan on doing lots of visiting. Grad school can be kinda isolated and lonely. Do something social. And definitely do something different -- try to never use your EE background for 3 months. It will do you good.
posted by zpousman at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2008

kms beat me to it. so yeah. scoop ice cream.
posted by zpousman at 2:21 PM on February 28, 2008

Get a cheap flight to Hawaii and camp. Free camping all over Maui and Kauai.
posted by tiburon at 2:22 PM on February 28, 2008

Be a counselor at a summer camp. YMCA camps, 4-H camps, Fresh Air camps ...

Here's a link from google ... one of many.

It might be your last chance to do something outside your chosen field.
posted by headnsouth at 5:43 PM on February 28, 2008

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