Living the Alternative: Things to do this summer you’ve always wanted to try

Sarah Ross

Welcome to Finals Week, where it seems points are made up and sleep doesn’t matter. It’s a week of sweat, blood, tears, and caffeine, but we all know that it is just the gate keeper for the real prize: summer vacation. We all have grand dreams for summer: late nights out on the town, early morning coffee with your partner or best friend, the possibilities seem endless. However, for many of us, those plans always fall short when we enter the post-school coma that seems to last into July.

So, before you wake up and find your summer wasted away, why not make a bucket list of things you want to do? Those things you’ve always wanted to try but have been too busy, afraid, or scattered to do? Make a list of 14 things you want to do, and try to accomplish one a week. For some inspiration, here are my suggestions for the 14 things you’ve always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to. 


Elliot Newey longboards down a steep road.
CSU graduate Elliot Newey competes in a downhill longboarding race. Photo courtesy of Elliot Newey/Sanctum.

1. Learn a new sport

We all have that weird sport that we’ve always wanted to try. Swimming, rock climbing, mountain biking, longboarding, the Colorado summer has good weather for all kinds of passions. For me, I want to learn how to longboard this summer. I’ve talked about attempting to learn in a previous post, but the summer air and free time will have the open roads calling me name. 

2. Change your body physically

Many people have something they don’t like about their body. Maybe they want to be healthier, more fit, more lean, get stronger, there are many health and body related goals out there. Many people give up by the summer because they feel it is too late to try and pick up their New Year’s Resolutions again, but summer is the best time to get into it. The weather is great for running and outdoor exercise, and the gyms are at record lows, some even offering discounts. So go sweat the summer away, and start getting the body and gains you want. Want advice on living a more active lifestyle? We have a blog for that. 

English major Jordan Farr, freshman, shows off her multi-colored locks. For many students, wacky hair color is a way to express themselves and to stand out as unique individuals. Pastel-colored hair is an increasingly rising trend on campus. Photo by Jenna Fischer.
English major Jordan Farr, freshman, shows off her multi-colored locks. For many students, wacky hair color is a way to express themselves and to stand out as unique individuals. Pastel-colored hair is an increasingly rising trend on campus. Photo by Jenna Fischer.

3. Change your body aesthetically

Changing your hair, getting a piercing, finding time and money to get a tattoo, these are all things that are hard to do when you have a college schedule and a college budget. Plus, many places of work do not allow crazy hair styles, piercings, or tattoos while in uniform. So why not take your time off to try and experiment with that hair color you’ve always had in mind? Or just chop it all off? And I’m sure your boss couldn’t contest to a harmless thigh tattoo that no one would see. Go for it!

4. Get more organized 

Being unorganized is what often leads to the biggest stressors in a college life. Research has even shown that when your life is in a disarray physically, it can make you more mentally scattered and stressed. So make a list and clean up your life. Reorganize the house and apartment. Clean all those weird places you’ve put off, or even the common places (I’m guilty of letting those dishes pile up). Even if it’s not your physical space, clean up your cyber space. Clean up your desktop, organize your files (physical files and papers for school are a good idea too), or maybe go online and clean up your social media life. Do what you need to to feel on top of it. 

5. Get professional

When was the last time you updated your resume? How about LinkedIn? Or your cover letters? Maybe it’s time to spruce up your professional life. Whether you have an internship over the summer already, aren’t getting a job, or are waiting for the fall to look for an income, your future self will thank you. While you’re at it, maybe invest in some new interview clothes, a padfolio, and some business cards. It doesn’t hurt to look over-prepared when you walk in to a fancy interview. 

Boxer puppy Murphy plays in the show at City Park Tuesday afternoon. The snow is expected to continue through today, making this the largest snow storm of the year.
Boxer puppy Murphy plays in the snow at City Park.

6. Get a pet

Getting a new pet can be a handful when you have school, studies, friends, and work to balance in the school year, but with the extra time in the summer, why not get a new friend? Pets have been shown to lessen stress in college students, and the sunshine will give you lots of opportunities to walk your dog (or cat, that’s a new trend) or to just lounge around with your new furry friend and try to train them to pee in a box or a grass patch. 

7. Learn a new skill

Get a hobby! With all that free time, why not learn guitar? Or take a painting class (or just keep going to the wine and paint classes downtown, I don’t judge)? Learning something new will help your mind stay healthy and sharp for when classes start in the fall, and trust me, these types of classes are much more fun. 

Road Trip (via YouTube)
Road Trip (via YouTube)

8. Get out of town with friends

You know that road trip you’ve always dreamed of? Renting a van or a bus and just going as far as you can drive to some small town where no one knows you with your three best friends? Or maybe the camping trip up in the mountains, where you go until your cell phones run out of service? Now is the time. 

9. Have a picture perfect night in

We’ve all seen those picture perfect Tumblr posts: trees draped in blankets with a movie projected on one of the sheets, fairy lights filling the trees as friends laugh around a backyard fire pit, marshmallows being roasted while everyone laughs in glee. Why not make that night a reality for you? Don’t you deserve it after all the hard work of the last year? 

10. Have the ultimate night out

Or, if low key nights aren’t your style, or you feel like rain-checking the slow evening lifestyle, you could go out on the town. Make a list of five things you want to do, and try to do them all. Maybe hit up the three best bars after dinner and a movie. Maybe you go bowling, then hit the town for window shopping, then end with dinner and then your favorite ice cream place, hitting up the liquor store on the way home. There are endless combinations, just make it a memorable night.  


Leaving the plane in formation.
Leaving the plane in formation.

11. Try something outside your comfort zone

This could be anything. Think cliff jumping. Or sky diving. Or ziplining over a canyon. Do something that you have always been afraid of (within reason, be safe) and feel that adrenaline kick in through your veins. With this mentality, it will be a summer of firsts, and a summer you won’t forget. 

12. Spend 48 hours alone

Sometimes, we feel like we cannot do anything if we do not do it with others. But sometimes, doing things by yourself can be very rejuvenating (extroverts, hear me out). Try doing everything, for an entire weekend, alone. Go to your favorite coffee shop and treat yourself, and then go see that weird movie you were too afraid to ask others to. Listen to your guilty pleasures playlist in your car or on the bus, and spend the evenings pampering yourself, whether it’s a binge night of Netflix with a cold one or actually pampering yourself with long showers and self-care routines. Make two days all about you. It will feel magical, I promise. 

CSU Alumnus Rachel Sinton (24) reads a book in the recently planted garden in front of the UCA on Tuesday. Photo by Ryan Arb
CSU Alumnus Rachel Sinton (24) reads a book in the recently planted garden in front of the UCA. Photo by Ryan Arb

13. Read some books, just for fun

The majority of the population actually does like to read, but after teens reach adulthood, we have very little time for it. So now that you have the time, take it. Did you know the CSU library has a fiction section? If you’d rather not return to school during your time away, get a local library card and check out a few. Sometimes, turning your mind off and letting another’s words guide you can be soothing. 

14. Volunteer

There are some things in life that will always make you feel better. I have found helping others is one of the best ways. Try the FoCo Cafe, or the Fort Collins food bank, or one of the many summer camps around the state. Sometimes, volunteering can be a highlight not only in your day, but in your year, or in your life. Give it a try. 

What does your summer bucket list have on it? Will you take any of my ideas? Let us know in the comments!!

Collegian Blogger Sarah Ross can be reached online at or on Twitter at @HowSarahTweets. Read more of her content on AltLife or at under Music. Leave a comment!