This semester, I’m working for Boston.com — the regional news and information website of the Boston Globe — as a full-time co-op. As daunting as a 9-5 might seem, it’s actually pretty surprising how much free time I end up with at the end of the day.
No assignments, no studying, no papers; I leave all the work at the office to complete the next day when my shift begins. I think I can confidently say that I’ve mastered the art of spending your free time effectively. (NOTE: I reiterate effectively, as the following may not necessarily be the most productive. Word choice is key here.)
If you ever find yourself in a lull between classes and homework, it can be aggravating to remember how you used to spend your free time all those weeks ago during winter break. Here are a few recommendations so you don’t spend all your free time simply figuring out what to do:
Binge a Netflix/Hulu show
This brings me back to my original point on how this post is meant to teach you how to spend your free time effectively, not productively. I’m sure this is already an option that comes most readily to us busy college students, but it’s hard to search for a good show to watch amid the vast collection that these streaming services offer. So far, I recommend New Girl for some light-hearted humor, but some other classic comedic shows to binge include Friends, Parks and Recreation and The Office. In terms of more dramatic options, I would recommend Black Mirror, Stranger Things, Shameless and Handmaid’s Tale. Yes, none of these options are particularly hidden gems, but I’ll add in my two cents to attest to the quality of these shows.
Start a blog
Blogging is not just for the Insta-famous or technologically-ept! I can claim that as I, myself, actually maintain a travel blog. It began as a way to show my family back home what I’m up to here and it’s still rather new as I only have one post on there (shameless plug: check it out at farawayfrias.wordpress.com), but I hope to add more to it once I study abroad. Your blog doesn’t necessarily have to be travel-related like mine, but it can revolve around anything! Food, music or even just a compilation of your thoughts — anything is a good enough theme. Even if you don’t want to start your own website, go to medium.com to get a taste of that blogging life without jumping all in.
This might be a very niche frustration, but something that I’ve always struggled with at the beginning of every new school year is finding a planner. If you’re anything like me, my planner is my lifeline; I write everything in it — to-do lists, grocery lists, reminders, assignments, recipes, future plans, even book and TV show recommendations. I have a very specific idea of the organization that my planner needs, and nine times out of ten, the planner I end up doesn’t meet all of my needs. That’s when I decided to take matters into my own hands and try bullet-journaling. It’s a hassle, yes, but the amount of creative freedom that comes with bullet-journaling makes it worth.
Learn how to cook
I’m not entirely sure how much this will pertain to most students, but I live in an off-campus apartment this year, which means cooking is a very large part of my life now. Previous to this experience, my culinary expertise spanned no further than instant ramen and scrambled eggs. I think it’s safe to say that so far all of my recipes are no more than glorified versions of basic foods — I use fancier spices now alongside salt and pepper — but all you need is a pan, a hot surface, and a determination to be self-sufficient and you’re well on your way to making a gourmet meal.
Go to the gym
Again not entirely sure how much this will pertain to most students, but I have recently gotten back on my health kick, probably thanks to the new year. But truth be told, it’s really not as bad as society makes it seem. Sure, there are health nuts and fitness gurus surrounding me while I struggle to pick up a four-pound weight, but don’t let them phase you. You’re there to achieve your own goals, no matter how big or small they are. My goal is pretty small — being able to climb the three flights of stairs to the Globe office without getting entirely winded — but it’s enough to keep me going back. And you’d be surprised how fast those two hours at the gym can fly by when you’re
Do arts and crafts
Arts and crafts can cover a wide variety of projects, but it’s still a nice way to spend your time without being glued to technology. Most of my crafting efforts have been put towards decorating my apartment with painted glass bottles and pressed flower canvases, but to get more inspiration, get yourself a Pinterest board of ideas today.
Search for work on BU’s Quickie Jobs page
Something that I think a lot of BU students might not be aware of is the Quickie Jobs page under the Work tab on Student Link. We’re college students, so obviously we like to make money where we can. Well, this page can help you with that, offering quick odd jobs to help you make a fast dollar. There are various opportunities posted, from babysitting gigs to research studies. If you have a free moment to spare, it doesn’t hurt to make a bit of cash on the side.
Read a book
To some, this must come as an easy option, but to the more technologically-inclined, it’s an outlet to give your eyes a rest from all that blue light. Currently, I’m reading a book by BU’s very own Professor Mitch Zuckoff, 13 Hours. And you’d be surprised how many other professors have interesting published books. You can rent books from Mugar Library with your BU ID, but if nothing there suits your fancy, it’s easy and free to register for a library card at the Boston Public Library right outside the Copley train stop. So really, you don’t have much of an excuse not to read.
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in this bustling city, from local animal shelters, retirement homes, and even right on campus. It always feels good to give back, and it’s just a quick Google search away to find opportunities. If you’re looking for a more accessible option, check out the Community Service Center for some on-campus volunteer work.
And, most importantly of all, the best way to spend your free time is to just relax. Light some candles, draw yourself a bath, and settle in with a good book. And if you’re not a bath person, I recommend getting some string lights and snuggling into a big blanket to watch a good movie. Any way that you can take a moment for yourself, do it, before the grind catches up with you and you have to return to reality.