My Freshman Summer: Prioritizing Needs over Expectations
What to do over first-year summer could look totally different for everyone. It's a time of transition and exploration, where everyone has their own unique set of priorities and goals. So, when people ask me, "What are you planning to do this summer?", I can't help but feel that it's a misguided question. There is no "the" thing you should be stressing over doing between your first-year and sophomore years. It's about what you need and what will bring you fulfillment.
Personally, I have made the decision to stay at home in Istanbul for the summer. I have no plans for working or taking up one of the wonderful internship opportunities through various academic centers of Dartmouth. Here is how I arrived at that decision and a few examples of things I have heard my friends are doing over the summer to give you an idea about the myriad of ways to spend first-year summer.
First, I assessed what I needed from this summer going forward. For me, living with my parents back home and feeling their presence for three months was important. I do not get to visit my family often. When I do get to visit them, I make sure to devote my full presence to spending time with them. At the same time, I also wanted to work on a few tangible skills I never got to specialize in prior to college. I am planning on taking French lessons, going to the gym on a regular basis, and possibly even signing up for dance lessons just for fun!
A few examples of what my friends are doing include taking classes at Dartmouth over the summer, joining a study abroad program in Italy or the Baltics, interning at a company serving their pre-professional aspirations, or like me, going back home to family and taking a step back for themselves. All of these options are equally valid; you just need to prioritize and communicate your personal needs as opposed to thinking about what you are "supposed to do" over the summer. Recentering your focus in this manner is hard in a world driven by productivity obsession, but I can assure you that choosing your needs over what the world bombards you with is always more fulfilling.
As you contemplate your first-year summer plans, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Take the time to reflect on what you truly need and what will bring you joy and growth. Whether it's spending time with loved ones, exploring new skills, or pursuing a pre-professional opportunity, make sure it aligns with your personal aspirations and well-being. Ultimately, the first-year summer is a valuable time to recharge, discover yourself, and prepare for the journey ahead. Embrace the freedom to choose and prioritize yourself.