It’s my final day of eighth grade. I’m sitting in a desk I outgrew long ago, surrounded by the classmates I’ve seen transform from cute little kindergarteners to pimply, angst-ridden teens. The room is silent, except for the rustling of papers and zipping of backpacks as we gather our belongings. We are entranced. The clock, ticking oh-so-slowly toward our freedom, has all of us spellbound.
Then it starts.
“Summer,” someone whispers.
“Summer,” another repeats.
“Summer!” This time the exclamation is louder, less bashful. Soon the murmur turns into a chant, the chant into an epidemic. The entire room is crying “Summer! Summer! Summer!” as our last seconds in McPherson Middle School slip away.
The bell rings, and we explode out of our seats and into the hallway. Papers are thrown in the air, girls hug and squeal, boys pound each other on the back and act far more macho than they truly are. An entire building full of people, and none of us have a care in the world. With only a few exceptions, we’ll go home to a school-free, work-free, stress-free summer full of trips to the Sno Cone Shack and the town waterpark. Or, for a lucky few, maybe the beach or Disney World.
Ah, the good old days.
True, summer still means the end of late-night papers and frantic cramming. It still means sunshine-filled days and warm, adventure-filled evenings.
But for those who stay in Glenside, summer also has its drawbacks.
If you’re staying in Glenside for the summer months, it’s more than likely for one reason: work.
Maybe you’re from a tiny town with no work opportunities (like me). Or, maybe you got lucky and landed that dream internship in Philly. No matter what, there’s one fact that is universal for every college student I’ve ever met: you’re broke. So that probably means you’ll not only be working one job, but two, or even three. Good-bye free time, you’re in for 50- to 60-hour weeks, sore feet, and the ever-present smell of those burgers you were just flipping.
Of course, long hours do have their upside: fat paychecks. You’ll have all this money to blow….and no time to blow it.
You’ll soon discover that perpetually working isn’t all bad, though. During the school year, free time is soon filled with parties and low-key hangouts. Then summer comes. It’s time to party, right? Wrong. If you stay in Glenside for the summer, you’ll soon discover the biggest drawback: loneliness. The first few weeks of May you’ll spend waving your friends good-bye as they head off to whatever place they used to call home. Sure, there might be a few weekend visits or spontaneous late-night road trips, but for the most part, you’re in this one on your own.
This won’t be my first summer spent in Glenside, or my last. But for those of you who are staying here for the first time, here’s a pro tip: focus on yourself for a change. You’re going to have a lot of time to think, whether it be late at night when you’re alone or the middle of the day when you’re mindlessly folding jeans. So use that time to do some self-exploration. College is about growth. Your values shift, your aspirations are challenged, and your relationships seem to change overnight. You might be surprised at what you discover, and who knows–maybe your summer in Glenside won’t be so bad after all.