Cover Story

Spend your vacations wisely

A male and female student during high school art class
Photo: © Cathy Yeulet / 123RF Stock Photo

It is that time of the year when gruelling exams have finally given way to the last day of the semester. Students feel a mixed bag of emotions. Happy to not have to wake up early in the morning for school, and sad that they would miss their friends during the semester break.

The excitement often lasts for only a few days, and then the feeling of boredom sets in. Lack of routine and creative ideas to spend the vacation often results in waking up later than usual, distorted eating schedules, binge-watching TV shows, hours spent aimlessly in front of computer screens or mobiles. All these activities lack the much-needed intellectual and emotional stimulation that would encourage gainful experiences and keep boredom and routine at bay.

Let’s look at a few ideas on how you could spend your summer vacations doing intellectually-challenging and emotionally-stimulating activities. It is important to consider the following first, before you look at busying yourself with extra-curricular activities:

1. Reflecting on the past semester

This means that you take stock of your actions and your results of the past semester. Ponder over the questions that are listed below and devise suitable plans for the next semester.

How do I feel about my previous semester? Was the semester hard? Did I manage my time correctly? Did I balance my study and fun time?

Did I do well in my previous semester? If not, why? If yes, how do I continue to strive to do better every time?
Is there anything that I could improve about myself? Maybe I need to be more self-confident, maybe I need to be more assertive? Am I afraid of failing in a task?

2. Goal setting

This aspect focuses on taking “Actions”. While you thought over your previous semester, you may want to do a follow-up on your reflections. You may want to devise goals and plans to achieve in the next semester. You need to devise “Progress Goals” — a roadmap that helps you achieve your goals.



  • “I want to become more confident at public speaking”.


  • I will practise a speech every day in front of the mirror,
  • I will then perform the speech in front of someone,
  • If I make mistakes, I will not let myself get disheartened. I will try again.

Once you have devised Process Goals, you are more likely to feel geared towards achieving your goals. While you are at it, don’t forget to enjoy your vacations, too. Pick any of the recommended activities from the list mentioned below. Ensure that you pick activities that you would truly enjoy so that you are more likely to engage in them often. While you are at it, try to choose activities that incorporate social and physical activities as well. And these activities would help you enhance your personality and social skills.

1. Invest your time in card games, board games and jigsaw puzzles

These games are not only intellectually stimulating, but also encourage social interaction. You could request your parents for a ‘Fun-hour’ with them; it is a good way to encourage family time and bonding. You could also invite your cousins or friends over for a get-together to play a game of cards or board games.

2. Reading

The best way to begin is to pick your choice of topic (it could be current affairs, history, legendary icons, etc.). You could read and research that topic and have a discussion with your parents and siblings about your research. This would not only improve your knowledge, it would also encourage you to practise your verbal communication skills. Another way to develop your love for reading is to pick a fiction or non-fiction book and reflect on what you loved about that book or how that book has influenced you.

My top 5 non-fiction book recommendations:

Muffin cups used as planters
3. Gardening

Planting and gardening are activities that nurture your emotional well-being. Try to grow a coriander plant, a chilli plant, curry leaves plant, or germinate sprouts. These are the easiest to garden.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to cut fresh coriander leaves from your pot to add to your mom’s food?

Buy bags of potting soil, seeds and pots and make a fun and creative garden on your balcony or house lawn.

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Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at

Prof. Sherene Aftab

Prof. Sherene Aftab is a passionate counsellor and enthusiastic lecturer. Her expertise lies in the areas of personality development, career and relationship counselling and stress management. You can reach her at