Student reading a book on a bench on campus.

Summer Session: A Mini Retreat

Written by Lydia Hall

One class, five days a week, hundreds of pages to read: the perfect way to start the summer. People talk about learning languages through full immersion, so why not Hemingway and Fitzgerald?

When I heard there was going to be a summer class on two authors I have loved since high school, I had to take it. I didn’t need the credits, but for the past three years I had heard great things about summer classes, and it was time to test it for myself.

Each day consisted of a three-hour class, then a walk home, a homemade lunch, and a reading for the next day while lazing in the sun. Dr. Ben Whalen taught the class and directed discussion flawlessly. We dove into the ideas together and fed off each other’s thoughts and questions. I discovered the joy of being part of a group that wants to discuss the same subject so badly, they skip the first three weeks of their summer to do it. Everyone who takes a summer course is invested and interested and brings a unique perspective to the room.

Every morning we would discuss what we had read the day before, and I would return home at noon eager to continue reading. During the school year, procrastination is almost expected (at least of myself), but I found myself getting right to it over the summer. Dr. Whalen led the class with excitement, which made me more excited to keep reading—and I had the time to do so! I would continue drawing out little details, trying harder to see the bigger picture. Add to that days of beautiful, sunny weather spent reading at Baw Beese. It can be the most calm and fulfilling of lives if you let it be.

My summer class shaped the way I lived each day, and has helped shape the way I finish my work now in the new school year. I am much better at sitting down and reading. I know I can easily read 150 pages in a day, so if I have a fraction of that for the next class—easy. All it takes is planning out time and sitting down with no distractions. This advice, which I have heard my whole life, simple as it sounds, did not hit me until summer session.

Summer session also helped me remember that I am more than just a student. I am a person.  I remembered to take care of myself. I slept adequate hours, cooked healthy meals, and went on long walks. I had the opportunity to understand the town when it wasn’t filled with students. I distanced myself from the busy college atmosphere while still studying and learning. And though life was solitary enough, there were still people around to hang out with.

Sometimes you need to back out of life and focus on one thing. If you have to take a summer class, choose one you love. If you don’t have to, try to anyway. It was the best, most productive vacation of my life.

Lydia HallLydia Hall is a senior studying English and classical education. When she is not reading or researching, she loves to spend her time searching for Bigfoot or experimenting with superfoods.

Published in November 2018