Get the most out of your university summer holidays

Dossing the summer vac away should not be an option, when there's so much more you could be getting up to, says Helen Vaudrey

Let’s face it. As soon as winter rears its ugly head, all we can think about in Britain is the summer ahead. Whilst we trudge to seminars in the wind and rain; freeze to death in under heated halls of residence and sport minimalist clothing for nights on the town in sub-zero degrees, summer is never far away from the mind of many students.

But how can we make it one to remember? If you don’t fancy the family holiday to Wales and are looking for a bit of adventure after spending the best part of a year stuck in lecture halls and communal kitchens, then here are a few opportunities for you to look into.

Summer camp

One of the most popular choices for students has to be Americamp. Every year, thousands flock to the shores of the United States in an excited frenzy, for nine weeks of work, play and travelling.

Upon arrival, you will undertake the role of support staff or camp counsellor. If you opt to become a camp counsellor, you will impart wisdom on to the happy campers whilst pretending to be a professional in things like canoeing, horse riding, and any other sport you tried once or twice when you were at PGL. This makes you an expert; obviously.

You will become a wise and responsible camp counsellor and will lead the children and yourself on a nurturing journey of self-discovery. Either that or you’ll be throwing yourself off the canoe in a last ditch attempt to escape. The hardier of you however will relish the activities and new challenges presented to you every day and will adopt a hard-working, fun-loving attitude to life in the states.

An added bonus of Americamp is that you will receive a salary of up to $1,845 (you read it right!) for all your hard work. This will give you the opportunity to exuberantly and gleefully spend it all on tourist attractions, treks and bars before you’ve outstayed your welcome and are deported.

Working holiday

Workaway is one of those programmes that will spark fear and trepidation in your parents and bundles of enthusiasm in you. It is a website that allows individuals or even families worldwide to post volunteer opportunities on their website for travellers to apply to, in exchange for food and accommodation.

Sure, these people are essentially strangers, but if you put time and effort into finding the right host and get to know them as much as you can before travelling out, you will have yourself an experience that you'll remember forever.

The type of work you are expected to do for each individual host varies, but typical duties include eco projects, housework, gardening, conservation projects, voodoo worship [not really - ed.] and child care. Sometimes a mixture of everything! The standard working hours expected of volunteers is 25 hours per week. However, due to the high volume of hippy hosts looking for travellers to generally come and skip around their eco projects and plant a few trees; the hours aren’t that concrete.

Volunteer for something real

If you like the idea of volunteering abroad but are looking to work on more challenging projects then organisations such as Real Gap, Original Volunteers and BUNAC should cater towards you. The volunteering programmes available are diverse and extremely rewarding. If you have a love of wild animals coupled with a desire to get your face ripped off, then there are plenty of wildlife conservation programmes for you to get involved in; from monitoring cheetah and buffalo to sacrificing yourself to lions and cubs in South Africa.

Shot girls

Are the words responsibility and commitment foreign to you? Then look into club promoting and ticket selling opportunities in the party capitals of the world (also known as the chasms of hell). If you can see yourself luring drunken girls into awful clubs for free shots of juice and misery in Ibiza, then get your applications in now. Life will be a nonstop party from dusk till dawn and you’ll earn money along the way.

Girls who like a good time may prefer the dancing or jelly girl jobs on offer in places like Zante and Ayia Napa. This is code word for flirting and pretending not to be offended when Geordie guys wearing too-tight tank-tops accidentally spill their drinks all over you. If you’re a crafty jelly girl you can accidentally pour the entire contents of your drink tray over their heads in return. But be careful, you’re on commission, so save this for only the most deserving of morons.  If you’re a dancer, a surreptitious high kick to the groin will suffice. You will need to be thick skinned and extremely confident for these kinds of jobs. But the fun you have will easily make up for the bad days.

Festivals

If camping out, music and beer is more up your street then volunteering at festivals is a great way for young people to take a practical and (most importantly) free approach to enjoying summer. In exchange for two or three shifts behind a bar you will receive free entry to a festival of your choice, plus free meals and drinks. Volunteering at festivals proves that you don’t need to break the bank or jet set around the world to get the most out of the holidays. Of course, you may have to put up with the unpredictable British weather, but when you’re dealing with bottles of urine being thrown at you by raucous unwashed crowds, why would the rain matter anyway?

What you choose to do with your summer relies solely on your character. Ok, and a little on your bank balance too. Whatever your personality and budget, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to explore. So, go on, reward yourself. You’ll regret it when you’re back in your lecture halls in September with no summer stories to tell. After all, no one wants to hear about your excursions in Wales...

Helen Frances Vaudrey is currently in her first year of Salford University studying Journalism. She blogs here, and tweets here.

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