Moving back home for the summer can be almost as terrifying as exams. A huge reason why so many of us applied to study at the University of Manchester is the city itself. It’s vibrant, inclusive, and feels like something new and crazy could happen at any turn off from Wilmslow Road.
As lucky as we are to be able to call this city home during our studies, due to The Landlord Special ‘You-must-pay-us-over-summer-but-you-can’t-live-here’, summer usually means taking the XLR flyer down from your wall, and going home. I would like to acknowledge that it’s a privilege to have a home to return to and, of course, a lot of students live at home during their studies. However, just the pause in studies alone affects everybody’s routine. So, let’s return the stolen pint glasses from Friendship and try to work out how we are going to survive summer back in our childhood bedrooms.
Realise that it is normal to find summer challenging
There is a lot of pressure for summer to be the best time of the year. In fact, pretty much every song, film, and TV show asserts this to be fact. However, it is a huge adjustment to go from being with your friends 24/7 and the business of the exam season to living at home with your family with no real structure.
Moving away for university brings a new sense of independence, and suddenly being required to slot back into the family dynamic can be challenging. The sooner you acknowledge this tension, the sooner you can find a middle ground for you and your family to create a new way of co-existing. Remember, they have gotten used to you not being there just as much as you have gotten used to not being there!
Consider volunteer work to fill your time
Summer can, of course, be a chance to earn some money but with students’ limited availability, a lot of companies don’t want to hire you for only a few months. So, if you haven’t been able to find a summer job and it is a viable option – don’t discount volunteering opportunities.
It isn’t too late to get in touch with local charities and see if they need an extra hand for a month or so, with many people going abroad in these months you could be really helpful! Additionally, companies like Workaway can help you find reputable volunteer opportunities abroad. Many places like hostels and farms will offer you accommodation and food in return for a few hours of work a day.
Prepare yourself for bumping into people you would rather forget about
It is easy to exist in an echo chamber at university, and having to spend time with people who don’t hold the same views as you can be difficult. Try as hard as you can to be ready to deal with the different viewpoints from family members and old friends who don’t share the same political views as yourself, and the cohort you have found at Manchester.
Similarly, brace yourself for bumping into your secondary school enemy, or ex-boyfriend’s Mum at the corner shop and practise a one-line response you can rattle off before running away. Usually, a simple “I’m well, uni’s great, Mum’s fab, thanks!” will do.
Try to remember, those are not your people anymore. You don’t have to regress into toxic relationships just because you’re all back in the same town. You have grown and changed, and that is a good thing.
Address the awkwardness of dating
Whether you’re in a relationship, or in your single era, don’t let being at home stop you from having a sexy summer! Of course, individual circumstances can massively affect this, but if you feel safe and comfortable to do so, try and address the topic of dating.
You shouldn’t have to halt your romantic life just because you are back under your parents’ roof. There is a mature and measured way you can broach this conversation which might help make your parents see you as an adult. You could try casually mentioning the name of someone you are dating, or, ask outright “How would you feel about me having someone stay the night?” And, if all else fails, just re-learn which door is the least squeaky for sneaking people in/out.
Make note of things you can only do at home
No matter where you live, there must be one thing you simply can only do at home. Whether this is cooking breakfast without having to scrape your housemate’s congealed leftovers off of the hob first, or a local park which just slightly outshines the beauty of Platt Fields.
Maybe there is a local café which you miss or a friend who you have lost touch with. Try to rack your brains for things you used to enjoy before you moved away and see if they still hit the spot.
Now, saving the best for last: be gentle on yourself. You have just finished a year of university, and it is okay to be exhausted and sit on the sofa for two weeks straight rewatching Gossip Girl.
You don’t need to have a dream internship lined up or use this time really wisely to save money for next year. You don’t have to have three separate friendship groups that all want to go on holiday with you.
This summer, you can just be yourself and use this time to recover from the highs and lows of student life. Try to enjoy whatever shape this season brings for you, and you’ll be back in 256 before you know it.