When I imagined the build-up to Summer 2020, I pictured a High School Musical-esque scene. All eyes on a slow-moving clock. Students pounding the desks as a chant of "Summer. Summer. Summer" erupts in the classroom. The bell finally ring and notebook paper is thrown in the air like graduation caps as we run for the exits.
As a senior in high school, I had a lot of bittersweet plans for my last summer with my high school squad. Endless sleepovers, a spontaneous road trip, and instagramable memories made up my summer to-do list. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has shaken up our lives with its dramatic entrance and we are forced to embrace the unexpected. We all know the importance of staying indoors during the current health crisis, even after lockdown is being ceased, in order to safely return to normalcy in the coming months.
So, while it may already seem like we are in an extended introvert's summer vacation right now, I do have some special summer plans I would love to share in the hopes that you too are inspired to make the most out of Summer 2020!
Some assembly but no extra effort required.
1) The Online Concert Experience
Being in a packed stadium and jamming along with your music idol at a concert may seem impossible while social distancing. With major world tours such as that of K-Pop group BTS and Justin Bieber's Changes being postponed indefinitely, as well as the cancellation of hardcore festivals like Coachella and Tomorrowland, destination live concerts may not be possible.
But what about hosting one in the comfort of our own homes?
Virtual concerts are a popular alternative, especially since Lady Gaga's online benefit, One World: Together at Home. Be sure to check out the Billboard Music website for more information, as well as your favorite artist's Instagram stories for live-at-home music sessions! String up some fairy lights, hook up your high-bass speakers, bring out the glow-in-the-dark sticks, and keep a group Zoom call running for the DIY concert experience.
2) Find Happiness & Study Love Online
When my dad told me that he was taking a course on happiness online, I may have looked at him a little weirdly. However, it turns out there is an online learning site that features a popular course on finding happiness called 'The Science of Well-Being' from Yale University, amongst other interesting courses such as Modern Art and the evolution of Love.
If you are a college student looking for a non-academic, yet educational program or a high school student looking for some socio-cultural enlightenment, an online course from a prestigious institution may be for you! Try to stick with light subjects, and since the courses are self-driven, you can access the content as per your schedule. Plus, most courses are free!
Right now, I'm planning to use my summer months to improve my French. Working on my french accent, which still sounds like that of a very lost, very confused American tourist and expanding my vocabulary are my main language goals. Learning a new language or fine-tuning a second language by yourself is not so difficult with resources such as Duolingo, bilingual news sites, and online grammar help. Just remember to stick with it!
3) Quarantine Fixer Upper
How about a lockdown-style summer renovation? We are spending a lot of intimate time with our homes during lockdown, so why not revamp the indoor comforts? Nothing screams summer more than camping out, and it doesn't necessarily have to be under the stars (unless you have a fancy LED projector or glow-in-the-dark stickers).
In my house, we created a sleepover style setting in the living room for the hot summer months. We have used our single mattresses to create a plush, Moroccon style lounge area. Imagine lots of floor cushions and poufs with prime spots in front of the T.V. for movie marathons. Tik Tok videos also provide creative ideas for indoor blanket forts or theatre-style seating. Take advantage of having no guests to impress!
4) The Outdoor Experience
While embracing the couch potato lifestyle 24/7 may seem like the only sane way to get through isolation, it is recommended that we all experience fresh air and natural light whenever possible. And with the summer sun bearing down upon us, enjoy the warm weather by sunbathing in your backyard or balcony but don't forget the sunscreen!
One of my favorite parts of the summer is the drive-in movies and outdoor theatres. Try creating the movie experience in your own backyards by placing beach chairs, bean bags, and rugs as seating, while using a projector to watch your favorite films. It is also fireflies and fireworks season, so bring out the sparklers, rig up the barbecue and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. If you only have a balcony like me, create an outdoor reading nook and surround yourself with enough potted plants to create a garden escape.
Also, if you live near hiking ranges and walking trails, check your community announcements to see if they are open to the public and take a trek!
5) Vlog Diaries and YouTube Fame
My photo gallery is filled with funny videos of my family's antics during the lockdown and I am planning to create a personal vlog and video compilation of all our comedic moments over the summer as a keepsake for the future! It is a sentimental idea, but if you are like me, ever ready with a camera, this is a perfect way to enjoy all the family bonding time.
I'm also a singer, and since all my summer recitals have been canceled, I'm planning to upload acoustic covers on YouTube and Instagram in June. As nerve-wracking as it can be to present your talents on a public forum, if our current situation has taught me anything, it is to have a carpe diem mentality!
6) Summer Fruit Baskets
With the comeback of seasonal favorites like mangoes, watermelons, berries and peaches, I cannot wait to make my famous mixed berry smoothies (the secret ingredients are chia seeds and honey), fruit mocktails and lemon ice tea!
7) Online Sleepovers
Falling asleep over a Zoom call may not seem thrilling, but my friends and I have made our online sleepovers worth every minute together. Through Netlfix parties, prank calls, multiplayer Ludo, karaoke sessions, we have recorded every embarassing moment for future reference. As a result, the distance between us becomes insignificant.
8) Travel Experiences
While summer plans for a roadtrip to a beach town with my girl gang have been cancelled, I am using the summer to bucket list all the places I cannot wait to visit when possible. If you are missing the surf and sand, there are livestreams of the ocean view on popular West Coast beaches, as well as virtual tours of cultural landmarks around the world.
9) College Planning
With only four months left for me to leave for college, I will be using the summer to mentally and physically prepare myself for the Fall semester. As an international student abroad, I am using the grace period to connect with students in my program, roommate hunt, collect study resources, get insider information from graduates and find out all that my new city has to offer, so that I will feel at home when I arrive. With inspiration from Pinterest boards and VSCO feeds, I am already planning the aesthetics of my future dorm room!
10) Learning to Be Productive
With all this free time, it may seem like we can procrastinate and get away with it. While it is important to use this much-deserved summer to destress after an unprecedented end to the school year, it is also important to be productive. Motivate yourself to find an activity that excites you, broadens your perspectives or employs your skills, so that come September, you can be proud of all that you have accomplished during these turbulent months.