If you were on the road a lot this summer, only the simplest thoughts of going back to work, to your academic work, with writing deadlines, many books to read and even more pressure to finish a book or to apply in due time for a new tenure might give you nightmares. Especially if you also used the summer as an opportunity to spend more time with your family, readjusting to the daily job (working in academia is a daily job too, albeit many of those from outside might assume that it has a stronger spiritual aura that may detach them from simple bureaucratic chores), for instance leaning in to say ‘good bye’ to your dear ones for the long hours of the work day can be a painful experience.
But what can we do to get in better intellectual shape as soon as possible? As usual, it is important to focus on the glass half-full and think about the good lessons learned that can perhaps be repeated in the near future.
The summer holidays are a good opportunity to catch up on your reading. Of course, as an academic you might read a lot, but the kind of lectures you will carry with you for the summer can be completely different of what you usually read. Now is the best time to catch up with the latest novels or volumes of poetry, or maybe some international political theories that you were so curious to find out more about. The next time you have off, you will maybe set up a ‘want-to-read-list’ in due time and thus, you will be able to cover as many titles as possible.
Remember that hobby course you always wanted to take? Two hours of knitting or photography or pottery or Chinese painting or creative writing? Possibly you could do it as a family? Now is the right time to do it! Be sure that you made the reservations, as probably many would plan to do the same this summer, and go for it! As usual, challenges outside your comfort zone are valuable incentives for your further academic life.
Travel to that place that you always wanted to visit. It might require an additional financial effort and maybe an extra-job, too, but travel is one of the most wonderful things in the world. Especially nowadays, when we have the privilege of fast transportation and low cost airlines, it would be a pity to do not do our best to see as much as possible of this world. Whether you are the urban type or the nature lover, spending one full vacation on the road will make you feel completely different when you return home. Visiting a completely new place, maybe putting on trial your newly acquired linguistic skills, learning every single moment something new about culture and history or simply enjoying a pleasant moment while visiting a park or looking at the sea, there will always be something that will start changing your life and your perspective on things.
These are only a couple of suggestions that could turn your summer into a success, that will bring you back to work in the autumn more determined than ever to prepare for a better experience the next time. The return to normality will make you a bit nostalgic, but now you have the energy and determination to permanently improve. Life without vacation can be sad, but a wisely spent vacation can change your life for good.
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