Summer holidays have gone on so long I've run out of stuff to do...

Columnist Eleanor Doughty discusses the aimlessness of the summer vacs

Eleanor Doughty
Friday 09 August 2013 12:34

I was going to write something about students this week, but I decided not to. I got distracted. You can blame my candle.

You see, it’s bent. Warped and leaning, like that famous European tower. It is one of those straight up and down flavourless candles that has its own holder with a thumb ring, just in case you need the loo in the night and the ‘leccy has gone off. The poor thing has been deformed by the sun because it has been so obnoxiously warm recently. It’s the kind of hot that reduces grown men to shorts in the work place. The kind of hot that means half my wardrobe is defunct. And that won’t do. Apparently, it’s been summer. Who knew?

Perversely, I began writing this as the first of the rains began. A drop of rain hit the deckchair I had acquired on Embankment where I had been enjoying a Magnum in the usual way. A Magnum and a can of San Pellegrino are what summer holidays are for, if you’re in the city. If not, then do refer to my National Trust to-do list and Enid Blyton’s back catalogue.

All of this made me think about time off. Two days off a week is great – personally I’d campaign for Wednesdays too, to break it up – there’s a generally nice balance between work and play, if you like your job. Which I do, luckily. But university time off is something else entirely. This coming term I’m in for two mornings midweek. I will have five full days off, with room to spare. Of course, I’ll be holed up somewhere reading but on face value this is gulp-worthy.

So the real reason that I wasn’t going to write about student life this week is because I don’t much feel like a student. I shan’t bore you with the guff concerning how long my spring-summer-and-autumn hols are, but this year I’ve been off more than on.

I haven’t been in a classroom since March, my tutor is away and the library is shut at the weekend. And academics aside, I haven’t felt like the sort of person who studies for a living, for a while. On Saturdays I hoover, on Sundays I buy flowers. And this week I became the owner of a new fridge. I’m only half-complaining – it’s been a scream but knowing there’s nearly two months more of this marathon is tiring. Returning to college shall be the holiday.

Idle Sundays aside, my summer education has been extra-curricular. My brain has been sharpened in other ways. My favourite of the new skills I’ve acquired is meal planning: yesterday I remember to defrost the chicken so I got to eat that night. Sometimes, I even plan two days ahead! Last summer I suffered at the hands of my own culinary disorganisation.

I think I’m one step closer to being an adult. The most valuable thing I have learnt is that this summer is the last one I’ll ever have. After 20 years, play dates and month-long European excursions are on their final leg. Soon, the education shebang will be over too, and the real world won’t wait. So hop to it kids, remember to pick up your post and change the loo roll. You can’t be Peter Pan forever.

Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She probably won't follow you back.

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