Recipes for a Fulfilling Summer

It’s been a while since my last blog post. As I have now begun the latter half of my last quarter at UCSB, I feel it’s time to get off my butt and do something about this heinous crime of neglect. I’ll admit, I have been having an absolutely terrific time at UCSB, and I have numerous mixed feelings about approaching the end of it.

I’m not sure I’m ready to write extensively on all of them (or any of them for that matter…). When I come to terms with it, I’ll be sure to relate them as well as I can. I think any of my readers who are from my home university, and are about to go on the year abroad as well; or are looking into education abroad in general from wherever, the end of your time abroad is an unavoidable prospect. An unpleasant, unavoidable prospect.

By no means should it hang over your head from the get-go, of course. Seizing the opportunities that arise, and creating opportunities for yourself, are far more important. This should not be forgotten when you embark upon a year abroad.

Instead, for the moment, I’d rather talk about how people generally understand that huge block of potential we call the Summer Holidays, back home in the UK. This is because it is something I am also contemplating at this time of the quarter. I don’t know how you all feel, but planning for Summer is a pain. There is always so much you could do, yet those holidays have a habit of just slipping right by you. It’s depressing, but I always feel I could make more of Summer.

Acknowledging that makes me want to rectify this situation for 2013. Therefore, here are two polar opposite ways of approaching the Summer holidays, in recipe form. There are many other recipes out there, and who knows, I may write others if these are successful. Both have their distinctive merits. However, it may well be the case that a fusion of the two would be highly satisfactory too. Bon appetit!

The Solidly Sensible Summer

Ingredients:

  • A hunk of work experience and/or an internship
  • Lashings of reliable income
  • Stacks of savings
  • A couple of CV-enriching strings to your bows

Preparation:

  • Begin seeking employment or other beneficial work experience early, and leave applications to mature very early on, well-ahead of Summer.

Directions:

  • Upon successfully garnering a relevant internship and/or employment, engage with said task enthusiastically and confidently, culminating in a rich, useful experience.
  • If possible, draw income from the sumptuous experience, and place said finances into a secure place, a bank perhaps.
  • Deftly draw the most beneficial of these experiences from the overall whole, and construct into CV-enriching points, ready to add to your future job applications at a later date.
  • Meanwhile, maintain the deposited funds as much as possible during the Summer. Ageing these will be of use to you in the future, when petrol costs keeps rising and you realise numerous other expenditures loom on the horizon: such as books for that final year of university, or your Xbox Live membership which needs renewing in September. Preparedness is next to awesomeness, don’t forget.

Cooking time:

Several hours per day. Generally, work experience and internships will weigh in heavily against your free time. For all of those early Friday mornings at the office, there’s a Student Night at Lola Lo’s on Thursday that may have to be foregone.

Entire cooking process may well take up the entire Summer.

Temperature:

Socially-speaking- Very low to Low at most times. However, bursts of high heat will be required to maintain your sanity, potentially.

Notes:

The dedication and commitment required for this Summer recipe are not inconsiderable. Please do not undertake lightly. However, the end product is a highly rewarding dish, and should not be dismissed lightly.

Credit: http://www.commercekitchen.com/

The Socially Sizzling Summer

Ingredients:

  • Dozens of social events
  • A pile of petrol receipts
  • Numerous nights of debauchery
  • A couple of festivals
  • A large amount of sand
  • A generous overdraft
  • Several television series to catch up on (NB: Brand or type is unimportant here, but this recipe would highly recommend Breaking Bad, The Wire, Homeland, or The Walking dead).
  • A handful of lazy days, filled with very little at all.

Preparation:

  • Before finishing your last term at university, ensure you have all the necessary people lined up to contact, as soon as that last exam finishes.
  • It may well be the case that this recipe will require a steady in-flow of cash to fund it. Select either enriched pre-existing savings, or a secure a summer job, to help fund your activities. When selecting the job, ideally it shall be flexible, well-paid, enjoyable, varied and require relatively few hours of work on weekends. IE no job that existed for a young student ever.

Directions:

  • This recipe can largely be improvised, and quantities of the ingredients are usually dependent on the personal preferences of the Chef. Personal discretion is recommended here. This recipe tends to require minimal direction, and can quite often snowball delightfully of it’s own accord. 
  • During the cooking process maintain an open mind and schedule. Unexpected developments or social opportunities may arise at any given time.

Cooking Time:

Between 2-5 days per week, depending on the number of servings required. Depending on the size of said dishes, individual cooking times may vary. Here is a list of suggested cooking times for individual dishes:

  1. “A quiet one down the pub”: 2-4 hours, depending on how long you have to wait for that-one-friend to buy the rounds, who reliably never does.
  2. “Beach trip”: 4-7 hours, depending on several variables such as:
    – Temperature
    – Presence of rain (always a factor in any recipe for Summer in Britain)
    – Sunbathing tolerance
    – Supply of beers
    – Did you remember the frisbee?
  3. “Mildly-Disastrous Camping Trip to Washed-Out British Seaside Town”: 3 days to a week.

Notes:

Do not neglect the Socially Sizzling Summer for too long at any one time. The Sizzle may well just… fizzle out. Input is required, and often you may need to seek outside input. Sous chefs and other friends should be wielded effectively to propagate a fertile environment for social events to proliferate.

While an enjoyable dish, the Socially Sizzling Summer may well be devoured very quickly. Moreover, negative repercussions of this dish have been know to include the following:

  • Significant debt
  • Hangovers
  • Sunburn
  • Lost possessions at festivals
  • Parental frustration
  • Loss of brain cells
  • Did I mention debt?

However, please bear in mind that this dish may well bear some delicious fruits as well, including:

  • Unforgettable experiences
  • Touching the hand of that singer as they jump down into the crowd in front of the main stage
  • Brilliantly perceptive and insightful conversations in takeaways at 4 am, which you may or may not be able to recapture
  • Rekindling your love for Pinkman
  • Enjoying a cold pint on a summer’s evening, next to the BBQ 

Credit: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8155/7215313684_8608af2fc3_z.jpg

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California Countdown

I had meant to write a post exactly 4 weeks before I fly out to California, but I was away from home and a computer, so that scuppered my good intentions. It seemed like a good time to talk about how I was feeling, what was happening with the year abroad etc. So now I’m writing this post with LESS than 4 weeks till take off, which is crazy. I know this time will flash by, and that’s equally exciting as it is scary. Quite a few of my course mates are now at their respective universities across the Pond, and I’m getting twitchy to start my own journey and experience.

The anticipation for my time in California has definitely intensified in the last week or 10 days. That feeling has been there all summer, and it’s been a process of balancing this and meeting people/ spending time with and visiting family/ sorting out formalities for the year abroad/ working to earn some money. So it has been a strange summer really, juggling all that has made me feel I can’t get it all done, see everyone I wanted to, do everything I had planned. But I’ve done all I could given that I was being pulled in various different directions, and that’s just how it is. The only major concern I have with regards to the summer is that with work (I have had two jobs this summer, my regular work at a beach cafe, and recently some extra work doing some labouring with a stone mason to renovate a house as he knows I have done physical work like that before) I haven’t had the chance to meet some people at all yet, and others I haven’t seen as much as I’d like to. I’m worried I’ll lose contact with some of them, but hopefully the last few weeks and the opportunities that Facebook/Skype offer will remedy that.

However, summer isn’t over yet, and I still have a lot left to look forward to: a family holiday in the Dordogne, a childhood friend’s 21st birthday, a farewell party which I’m only just starting to organise, and other bits and bobs. Moreover, I have been speaking to another Warwick student who is going to UCSB as well (who also happens to be in the Dordogne at the moment, not far from where I’ll be, how freaky is that!? Small world), and she seems really motivated and positive about it all, which is fantastic. She’s going to be arriving earlier than me as well, so at least I’ll have a tour guide who’s already been through exactly what I will be going through in those first few days of adjustment. I hope it goes smoothly, without major hiccups, for all of us!

There’s not really much left for me to do at the moment, and my to-do list includes:

  • Get the address for the nearest T-Mobile branch in Isla Vista/Santa Barbara, so I can sort a stateside rolling contract ASAP when I land.
  • Get the address of the “Student Hotel” at UCSB which will be my immediate crash pad before moving into Tropicana Del Norte.
  • Google some of the main locations in and around the campus Isla Vista that I will need to know about: supermarkets, ATMs, the health centre etc.
  • Exchange some sterling into dollars for those (most probably expensive) first few days, where taxis and takeaways will be the name of the game.
  • Double check the forms and identification etc I’ll need for entering the States. There has been some talk on a Facebook group for British students studying in the US about horror stories where incoming students haven’t gotten the Visa page of their passport stamped, and have faced frustrating legal problems because of this small error by the airport staff.
  • See if any of my reading lists have been released (so far, only two of my 4 classes have released them) so I can try and get them cheaply before flying across, to save myself some hassle in the States.

Basically they are just final checks that need seeing to, so I’m as prepared as I can be. I know a lot of my course mates are much more pragmatic than that, and some of my friends are going over without having sorted accommodation, and plan to wing it a lot more than myself. Admittedly, some of them (those going to Argentina, for example) haven’t really had much of a choice, but I still admire them for undertaking all that! I have to feel as prepared as I possibly could be, otherwise I freak out a little. Not that I envisage that I can foresee every tiny development or unexpected twist, and I’ll deal with them as they arise. However, I don’t think being organised before big events like this is a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination!

But overall, it’s an exciting time. The beach, the surfing, the weather, the parties, new people, new cities, and new classes all await me. 25 days left to go. California, prepare yourself!