12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

During the winter months, everyone around me sees a winter wonderland with snow angels, igloos, and hot chocolate. I see a death trap with black ice, wet socks, and poofy jackets that make me look like a marshmallow. I’d gladly take the hot summer any day. When you go to a college in a region that experiences all four seasons, you don’t actually get to enjoy the summer on campus with friends. In New York, it starts getting chilly around October, and even when spring officially begins in March, we often still have cold weather through May! But I think we’re finally starting to see more sunlight and more gorgeous weather, which hopefully isn’t just a fluke. That said, it’s the perfect time for hanging out with friends and making memories. Whether you’re chilling with friends from your hometown who you haven’t seen all year, or you’re meeting up with your new college pals you saw just a few weeks ago (though, it feels like a year), here are some ways you and your friends can have some fun this summer.

1. Attend a free outdoor festival.

Be on the lookout for food and art festivals in your neighborhood. I go to school on Long Island and there’s always some sort of festival happening around the spring and summer — the Oyster Festival, Lobster Festival, music festivals. You can get into these festivals for little to no money, and you can spend as long as you want and try everything you see. A quick search on Google for fun festivals in the area should give you some ideas.

2. Go to the beach.

This can be a meticulously planned day-long trip or a spur of the moment stop for an hour or so. You can never go wrong with taking photos while your hair blows in the breeze, or building sand castles and collecting pretty rocks. If you decide to go for the entire day, make sure you come prepared with sunscreen, water to keep you hydrated, and cute sunglasses so you look as sharp as the sun.

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

3. Go for an ice cream run.

Well, unless you or one of your friends is lactose intolerant. In that case, go for a dairy-free ice cream run. One time, my friends and I stopped by this ice cream shop in town that was known for having the best ice cream in the area and it was SO good! Turn it into a journey for finding the best place for soft serve. You can also never go wrong with hitting up a childhood favorite for a vanilla cone with sprinkles.

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

4. Make ice cream together.

On the other hand, if you’re really feeling your inner culinary genius, try making your own ice cream at home. I’ve done it when I got bored of eating whatever’s from the store, because it’s so easy to really customize it and turn it into something of your own. If you’re going for a plain vanilla ice cream, simply whip up some heavy whipping cream until you see peaks (but not butter!) and mix in condensed milk. Freeze and you’re ready to eat! From there you can add whatever toppings and things you want, and you can turn this activity into an ice cream party for you and your friends.

5. Have a picnic in the park. 

It has been my dream to have a picnic photoshoot. You can invite as many friends as you’d like, and you don’t have to worry about there not being enough space because you’re outdoors and there’s certainly room for everyone. It can be a potluck-type of picnic where everyone brings some food or drink item to share so one person doesn’t have to do all the work.

6. Go for a run and turn it into a routine.

This is perfect for hanging out with friends from your hometown. You can plan a daily or weekly run through the neighborhood with them to make up for not being able to see each other all year. This is a great way to reach any health and fitness goals with a buddy. And if running isn’t your cup of tea, you can always walk or get creative and do outdoor yoga.

Related: How To Make Time For Going To The Gym In College

7. Have an outdoor photoshoot. 

I used to hate taking pictures of myself in high school, but when I started blogging I began taking photos more and, well, sometimes I needed to be in them. Now I love, love, LOVE having photoshoots with friends and I always have so many ideas for them. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to fun photoshoots I want to do, and you don’t even need a fancy DSLR — an iPhone would be great for the job. You never know when you’ll need a really good photo of yourself!

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

8. Attend an outdoor concert. 

Check to see if there are any free concerts happening in your area this summer. I know in New York City, there are free concerts happening throughout the summer for various artists. This is a fun way to get to see a singer you really like without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket. And afterwards, you and your friends can hang out ad grab a bite to eat at a local shop. Be sure to check out my concert checklist for tips on what to bring with you!

9. Have a pool party in your backyard. 

I recently got a lip-shaped pool float from my internship and it’s so cool and so pretty and I’m dying to get it in the water. I don’t know how to swim, so I guess it works for me. But if you’re just using an inflatable pool in your backyard, you don’t really need to know how to swim, and you also don’t have to drive to a public pool. Blow one up that’s big enough for you and your friends, fill it with water, grab some sodas or even some fancy *adult* beverages and chill.

10. Attend a conference together. 

I know conferences sound boring, but there are actually some really cool ones for millennials that you can look into. They’re great ways to hang out with your besties, meet new people, and forward your career while learning new things. Her Conference is definitely my favorite. I went last year and had a blast, so I’m obviously super excited for this year’s. Pick a conference together, but also remember that you may need to book tickets in advanced.

By the way, if you’re curious about my Her Conference experience, be sure to read my post on the 19 things I learned from it.

11. Go on a tour of your city. 

While I visit New York City more often than I visit (the dentist? my neighborhood library? office hours?) I still have never gone on an actual tour of the place. I’ve always thought those red double decker tour buses looked cool, but I’ve never hopped on one for sightseeing. This is a cool idea for you and your friends, especially if you don’t always go to your nearest metro city. You might even discover a few new favorites.

Related: The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan Part One: Basics + Battery Park

12. Hit the highway for a road trip. 

A road trip can be anywhere from Brooklyn to Montauk, or from Vermont to California. It’s all up to you and how long you’re willing to tolerate all your friends in one cramped car. Just kidding. But a road trip would be the perfect way to catch up with hometown friends or make new memories with college buddies. All you need is a car, a friend who can drive, and the wind in your hair.

What are your ideas for hanging out with friends this summer? 

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8 Ways to Stay Close With Your High School Friends – Guest Post by Alyssa From Living In Full Bloom!

How to stay close with your high school friends

Hey there! When you graduate high school, you and all your friends are going to be going in different directions. You all have your own lives and your own goals, and most of you will probably be moving away from your home town. This doesn’t have to mean, however, that you can’t be friends anymore! My three best friends and I all went in different directions, and we are still very close three years later. With these tips, you too can stay in contact and remain close with your high school friends!

Keep in mind that it is possible that you may grow apart and realize you simply aren’t the same people you were before – and that’s fine! These tips are focused on helping you stay in touch with those friends that you still feel connected to and want to maintain a relationship with!

1. Make a Facebook group chat with your best friends.

You can share anything strange and exciting that’s happening in your life, just like you would have in person! The Facebook group chat I have with my best friends is still used almost daily three years later!

2. Another fun way is through snapchat!

I make an effort to maintain a “snap streak” with my high school best friend, which means we each snap each other at least once a day! This lets you see a different side of each other’s lives through photos instead of words!

3. Call and text each other!

My advice is to strive to communicate with your friend at least once a day. Even just one text or snapchat! If you start to forget, you may suddenly realize it’s been two weeks before you talked last – and that is how friendships start to fall apart!

4. Snail Mail!

While this isn’t for everyone, I know most people love getting mail when they are in college! Exchange addresses and send each other letters every month or so – add a few stickers, or photos, and just share your lives! Handwriting letters to someone definitely makes you feel closer to one another!

5. Skype or other video chatting services!

Sometimes when you really need to talk to someone, texting or calling just isn’t enough. For me, I can more easily share personal things with my best friends from high school, because they have known me longest and I feel comfortable with them. I tell my best friends everything about my life, and when I really need to talk I know I can always turn to them!

6. Visit each other at school.

One of my favorite things to do is visit my friends on their campus, or have them visit me! Have them bring a sleeping bag (those dorm beds are not meant for sharing), and have a sleepover just like you did in middle school! Show them around your new home and introduce them to your new friends! College campuses almost always have fun, free things to do – my school for example has a gorgeous art museum and a free planetarium!

7. Make plans for holidays and breaks!

During your first few years at school, you will probably be spending your holidays and breaks in your home town, so coordinate with your friends and make plans to hang out while you are all home! Once you permanently live in your college town this may get more difficult, so enjoy it while it lasts!

8. Go on vacation together!

Make a plan with your best friend(s) to go on a road trip or go on vacation together over the summer. Last summer I went camping with my three best friends for a weekend – it wasn’t very expensive and we had so much fun! This summer I am going on a road trip with one of them – a bit more pricey, but definitely worth it! It’s important to make new memories with your friends, not just depend on your times together in high school!

So, with these tips, you should be ready to move away to college without worrying about losing any of your best friends! With just a bit of effort on both sides, it can be easy to stay close (and become closer), even from hours away! If you’ve gone through this before, what advice would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Copy of signature - Alyssa

Guest Blogger: Alyssa Larsen 

About Alyssa

Alyssa Larsen is the writer behind Living in Full Bloom, a blog focused on helping collegiate and twenty-something girls thrive and live to their full potential in the years before, during, and after college. She is currently a junior at Ball State University, and loves history, reading, traveling, going to concerts, and late night dance parties.

You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

7 Surprising Lessons I Learned During The Fall Semester

It’s that time of year again – the time of year when we can rot our brains on Netflix, wake up as late as we’d like and breathe a sigh of relief (unless you failed, like, half of your classes and still haven’t told your parents yet!) This is probably the second greatest time of year – after Christmas and the holiday season, of course. I’m talking about winter break. I actually took my last final just over a week ago and, might I add, it felt ah-mazing to walk out of there knowing I won’t have to touch another chapter of Java programming for (probably) the rest of my college career.

After finals, some of us were probably at that stage where we contemplate everything that went on during the fall semester – just before hitting the grief stage where we wonder what could have been if we had just gotten up for class every morning like we promised ourselves we would at the start of the semester. Looking back at my fall semester, I can definitely say that I’ve learned a few lessons that you can’t be taught in the classroom.

  1. Your quiet, comfy room can be the worst place to study. My room used to be my ultimate sanctuary – at home and away at college. I could get anything done in my room no matter how much attention the task required. But then my mini fridge filled with delicious food happened. Then my warm bed in a cold college dorm happened. Then the tiny piece of paper on my desk that wasn’t bothering me at all but I felt the need to get up and throw it out happened. Simply put, my dorm was just the perfect breeding ground for distractions. I found my new favorite study spot: the Starbucks at my college. In my opinion, it’s the best place for me to study and get things done. The dim lighting actually doesn’t make me want to fall asleep because I’m not a fan of bright light (I’m basically a vampire), there’s light noise that isn’t overwhelming and I’m not inclined to get up and do things for no reason. Realizing this helped ensured that I didn’t just squander the free time that I had.
  2. Saying ‘no’ to a friend is a little easier than we might think. Fun fact about me: I tend to look at a situation from all possible perspectives in order to determine the best course of action. I’m pretty much a really reasonable person. This being said, it boils my blood when I can see that someone is being completely unreasonable – especially when it’s a friend! I don’t appreciate having to work hard to be where I am and then someone else purposely slacking off and literally expecting me to make their life easier. Um, no. You’re barking at the wrong tree, buddy! I’ve had my fair share of saying ‘no’ to friends this semester, and it is actually easier than you might think it is. I know you don’t want to disappoint that person because they’re, like, you’re bff, but saying ‘no’ isn’t the end of the world. Honesty is the best thing you could give someone and if they don’t appreciate it or insist on putting you in an unreasonable situation, they can find a new friend (but they probably won’t find one as good as you are because you’re awesome!)
  3. Asking questions can sometimes lead to more than just answers. Quick story: I had been reading articles from a completely cool platform called Odyssey and I wanted to know how their open submission process worked. If I was able to submit an article and have it published on their site I’d be super psyched! Now, I know that you 8 times out of 10 will not receive a response when you contact sites through email and such but I decided to take a chance on this. A quick response lead to a phone call, which lead to me becoming the Editor in Chief of the newly established Odyssey branch at my college! I truly expected nothing as amazing as this to happen as the result of a simple email. It just goes to show that you don’t lose anything from asking a simple question. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  4. Staying connected to people is a big responsibility. I met so many cool new people this semester who I really would like to get to know better and become friends with, but to be honest, that’s actually a lot of work. When you have your own classes to worry about, meetings to attend, articles to write and edit and a full staff to manage, any amount of free time you have would like to be spent watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix, or even just sitting in your bed scrolling through Twitter. Sure, I have tried to grab dinner with some people sometimes (because we all have to eat, of course) but even then, we all have very different schedules. I took a lot of evening classes this semester so when some peoples’ days were ending, mine were just getting started. Sadly, it seemed as though my social life could only accommodate my immediate friends even though I really wanted to make new friends.
  5. Netflix can be kryptonite – even for the best of us. I never understood when people talked about being “addicted” to Netflix. Just stop watching and get your butt up and do some work, I used to think as I rolled my eyes at my friends who were seemingly complaining about nothing. But then, I got into a few really good shows – I mean, really good shows. And when I wasn’t doing work I wanted to pick back up where I left off on Netflix. I never imagined that I would be that person because I have always been extremely studious and never let things get in my way. Yes, Netflix is a cool way to chill, but you’re picking a very deadly poison if you can’t control yourself long enough to realize that you might have an exam you need to study for. Might. 
  6. Everyone should stop believing in multi-tasking. I used to think that I was great at multi-tasking, no matter what I was doing. I have literally, in the past, baked cupcakes while cooking dinner, listening to music, helping my brother with homework and doing my own assignments. Easy-peasy. Piece of (cup)cake. But then in college, the work got more intricate and therefore required a more fine-tuned focus, in some cases for an extended period of time. I realized that I could not write a 10-page paper while scarfing down pasta and listening to Katy Perry. I mean, I could, but that’s just not the most efficient way to do things. Sure, you might be killing two birds with one plate of spaghetti, but truthfully, the more divided your attention is, the lower your performance on your tasks will be. Yes, eating food does require attention. Yes, listening to music does require attention. Focusing on one thing at a time made my life way simpler!
  7. Everything happens for a reason. Another quick story: When I realized early this semester that I wanted a career in writing, I went to the job and internship fair at my school (every single one of them) in order to seek an on-campus writing job. It’d be a great way for me to get my work out there, learn some new things and practice. I applied for many positions but there was one in particular that I had really wanted. The position consisted of a student writer producing articles about technology at our school. Awesome! I felt I was a very strong and versatile writer so I applied and, plus, the woman who would have been my boss seemed very impressed with what I could offer. A week went by and I hadn’t received any response. I emailed the woman (thank God for business cards) and I was told that the position had been given to someone else. I was sad but I pushed forward. That’s when my story from #3 happened – Odyssey. I was psyched to be an editor. I had the complete power to hire new writers and oversee everything. One day I received an application from a girl and, wouldn’t you know it, it was the same girl who got the writer position I had wanted a few months earlier! I was now her boss! Wow. I was stunned by this interesting twist of fate. So you see, not everything will work out on the very first try, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Things happen for a reason – and often, really amazing stunning jaw-dropping reasons!

What did you learn this semester?