Picture this… after a manic eight weeks (more if you’re a super-keen student, rower or unfortunate fresher) of trying to balance essay deadlines, torturous tute sheets and revision as well as trying to appear sociable, fun-loving and care-free, you stumble upon a curious event: The summer vacation. As eighth week was beginning, so too were many students’ dreams of freedom, of a few precious months without the nagging thought that there was still one book left to read and one problem sheet to complete. Complete and unmitigated anxiety-free bliss. Right?

But now we’re well into the holidays and some of us are left wondering what we’ve done with our time thus far. Here’s but a cross section of what you’ve been getting up to.

The “Mini Gap Yah”

Thanks to the YouTube phenomenon, those of us who went straight to university (the rise in fees pushing the majority of this year’s second years to do so) are now familiar with the strange event that takes place when post-6th form students jet off to exotic, oriental places. Perhaps you thought that after the first two terms of first year, the oh-so familiar conversation starter of “well, when I was in (insert vaguely unpronounceable country here)…” would have long disappeared from your peers’ lexicon. How wrong you were. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the “mini gap yah”.

Forget a whole year of your life, for this summer only you could be bottle-feeding starving orphans in Ghana, being henna-tattooed on a moonlight beach in Thailand or eating spit-roasted guinea pigs in Chile.

So when October rolls around, beware of paying too many compliments to your friends’ tan, attire, or bizarre hair style – unless you want to hear about the trek they made through the outback, thorns ripping open their clothes and tearing at their bare skin before they reached a camp of indigenous natives whose children proceeded to weave for them a new pair of trousers out of camel hair and bamboo shoots, the very ones in which they are now standing before you.

Money, money, money – the working life

Like ABBA, towards the end of term the Oxonian begins to consider all the things he or she could do, if they had a little money, especially once the student loan has run out and it looks like things might be getting dire (i.e. you can’t afford those shorts/sunglasses/beers). Suddenly the feel of cash in your wallet and the revulsion you feel at begging your parents for another tenner spurs you into action. Returning to a previous part-time job, picking up something new or doing odd jobs here and there; almost every student’s at it. Prizes for the most bizarre.

Spare a thought though, for those students struggling through internships or work experience, rarely seeing daylight and without a pay check to show for it. Respect them; fear them -one day they will be smirking at your pitiful attempts at photocopying when you eventually end up in the workplace.  At least they have Cherwell’s work experience tips to get them through!

The couch potato

We now come to our final holidaymaker. A fairly rare specimen, it must be said, amongst the Oxford contingent. It spends its time indulging in the most primal of activities (eating, sleeping etc), that is, with the additional of modern technologies. It is never found far from its phone, laptop or television, and even the microwave is often only a few metres away. Always a fall-back option, this method of vacationing has been tried and tested by many a student, with the inevitable conclusion that it simply cannot be beaten.

After these tales of travel and work and sleep, what, you may be wondering, is a Cherwell reporter going to be undertaking this summer? I like to think of my vacation as a happy medium between all of these stereotypes: there’s the mini gap yah (admittedly only to Normandy to au pair), the work (being PAID for said au pairing) and naturally, a sizeable amount of vegetating (hooray for lie-ins!). Happy holidaying, fellow Oxonians.