15 Ways to Keep Your Brain from Melting this Summer

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School’s out for summer, school’s out forever. No, Alice Cooper, not forever. Unless you stay (sort of) in school mode, you’re going to fall flat on your face by the time fall semester rolls around. Scout’s honor. Check out 15 (bizarre) summer survival tips to ensure your brain doesn’t turn to mush in the heat.

1. Go to the movies as a critic, not a drunk

Yes, Pitch Perfect 2 counts. A movie can be a stress reliever, laugh fest and brain workout all wrapped in one sexy Zac Efron package. It’s also an unbeatable excuse to stuff your face with buttery popcorn. During the car ride home, talk about how the movie could have been bumped up to a 10 out of 10, or think up your own sequel. Maybe you’ll be the next Spielberg.

2. Read an academic journal every day 

If you’re a math major, look at the American Mathematical Society’s journal. If you’re an English major, pick any major newspaper (I recommend the Huffington Post). There’s a journal for every academic field so no excuses. Commit yourself to reading one article per day and challenge yourself to bring it up in conversation at least once. They’re a quick and easy read and who knows? You might even learn a thing or two to help you one up that annoying J Crew vest girl in all your poly sci classes.

3. Create a fierce familial puzzle competition

Whether it’s an actual puzzle or a brainteaser like sudoku or crosswords, it’s a fun workout for your brain. Turn it into a competition with your mom and put some cash on the line. I personally like the online versions of everything because they tell you when you make a mistake. In a crossword, a letter turns red if it’s wrong– but I’m (almost) never wrong.

4. Make your grandparents famous

Ask them to tell you stories about growing up or the historic events they lived through. If you play your cards right, they’ll probably take you to Panera (old people love Panera), which means stories, family bonding and mac and cheese. Dreams do come true. If you’re the creative type who can outmatch that sleepy, full feeling that makes mac and cheese eaters everywhere want to die, write up one of those oral stories into a creative nonfiction piece. After some serious editing, submit it to your school’s newspaper (or to CM!).

5. Take your friends on an educational field trip

You don’t need to go on an epic vacation to learn something from traveling. Study up on a local monument. Learn everything you can about it and turn it into a field trip for your friends. Spout out facts on the drive up and play teacher once you’ve reached your destination. If you’re feeling ballsy, give them a pop quiz on the way home. Treat them to ice cream if they pass.

6. Get a job that you don’t deserve

Babysit. Sack groceries. Fold clothes. But doing anything and everything to get your butt out of the house is for middle schoolers. A real challenge for fresh college students like yourself: apply only for jobs you’re not qualified for. At all. See if you can tailor your resume and adapt your skills to stretch yourself to fit into an uncomfortable position. Hello, New York Times. Worst-case scenario, you become a resume-building god, which can only help you post-grad.

7. Take lessons that you (might not) Hate

Time to actually complete one of your 700 New Year’s resolutions. But this summer, do something that you would not have been caught dead doing in high school. If you used to make paintings out of your own drool in art class, see if your local art center offers classes. If you’re a huge couch potato, then hit up your gym for kickboxing or hot yoga classes. You’ve got three whole months with no obligations, so why not make Transformation Tuesday your everyday reality?

8. Reorganize… everything

This one sounds boring, but trust me, it doesn’t have to be. Crank up the tunes and turn it into a dance party. Come up with a new system for your closet where you organize by something really specific or draw up plans to rearrange your furniture to create better feng shui. You may even have so much fun that you’ll clean other parts of the house, which will definitely make your mom happy.

9. Pay with exact change

Finally use all that math you learned in high school. Getting rid of all the coins you have lying around makes you feel like you’re saving money and it makes your pockets and your wallet lighter. Challenge yourself to pay with exact change as often as possible.

10. Mow the lawn in morse code

Use your spatial awareness to create perfect lines on your lawn, or draw a cool picture in the grass. Maybe you spell out messages in hopes that NASA (or more realistically Google Maps) will see them. Another thing that will make your parents happy while keeping your brain from softening.

11. Bake a cake with a non-Pinterest recipe

Following directions is an important skill in life. Even if there are only three steps, the future of your cake-eating happiness depends upon you following them exactly as they’re written. But to spice up life (literally?), alter the recipe in a weird way and see if your creation still tastes good. Take out the eggs. Add sriracha. Substitute brown sugar for regular sugar. Baking is sort of like chemistry meets magic. The good and (maybe) bad news is you get to eat it when you’re done.

12. Pack for someone else’s camping trip

Survival skills are still skills. Take a cue from the Survivor playbook and pitch a tent with your friends in your backyard (a real campground is only for non-sissies). But don’t just build a fire, cook up some hotdogs and tell ghost stories. Play a game where everyone packs for someone else. In addition to the essentials, pack some super whacky stuff, like a rubber duck or some wiffle balls and see what your friends can do with it.

13. Make a budget

See if you can do this without your parents’ help (or asking your math major roommate to do it for you). Balance your checkbook like a real grown up, manage your paychecks and figure out how much you can spend each month without overdrawing your account. Welcome to adulthood, brain.

14. Scrapbook you and your roomie’s wall of shame

Compiling your memories into a pretty book is fun and creative. You’ll have so much fun looking through old pictures and ticket stubs and arranging them in appealing ways that you won’t even realize how much thinking you’re doing. But don’t pick those perfectly posed pictures. Take all your screen shots and compile your friends’ Snapchat nightmares into reality.

15. Create your own drinking game

If you’re like my family, you’ll take any excuse to turn something into a drinking game. Switch up the rules to your favorite childhood game (we like Risk) and make it alcoholic. And you thought things got competitive before….

Senior at Boston College. Future high school English teacher. I laugh, eat, and talk too much. My main loves include the Boston College Marching Band, peanut butter, pandas, country music, and Breaking Bad.

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