jump to navigation

What I can do this vacation June 24, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in littlerockers.

Sometime earlier this week one of my acquaintances, who is just finishing his Class XII, wrote to me asking for suggestions on what he could do over his 2-3 month long vacation that students get around this time in their career. I might as well have written a short little mail but I thought I would take this as an opportunity to think somewhat aloud and put my thoughts on record. So if my friend doesn’t find any of this useful, at least someone else will – either to reflect on or perhaps act on !


Man finally got down to writing something!!


Holidays ! So you have a problem of plenty ! When I first read ur question I thought it was a casual rhetorical question and thought I wasn’t supposed to take it seriously ( still not sure if ;)) ..but when u chimed in again I realized that u probably expected me to get back to you on that one.


A disclaimer before I begin. After reading this you might realize that much of what I wrote doesn’t apply to you for some reason !! You might tell me this is not what you have in mind but then I don’t know you nor do I know your interests and temperament well – so I may be way off the mark as I write much of this. Besides what I mention about what NOT to do is probably as important as what I consider to be possible things you could do !


So lets see you done with ur XII !! My first thought would be to just take it easy – do anything except reading any technical or anything to do with what you will end up doing for the next few 3-4-5 years…I remember some people who at this stage were picking up engineering books from siblings and seniors etc. and trying to get a head start in the engineering program. Now if they look back they realize how stupid and ridiculous it was. In fact I even remember one of my college mates who was reading up 2nd year core engineering curriculum ( 1st year is common to all ) within a month into college because he was ‘interested’ in electronics. (It was obvious to the rest of us what lay beneath). One of the consequences of this was that he screwed up his grades in the first few tests in the first year itself – finally sanity prevailed and he returned to being just normal.


Engineering is not at all a hard program as you will discover as you go and there is all the time in the world to do well academically, get good grades and a good job. Developing an abiding interest and a research attitude etc. might take more effort but there is nothing that could quite justify that you turn to doing academic stuff in the next 2 odd months.


So what else would you do then? Before we go there, lets put this in context. This is one of your unique vacations in life – another of this kind rarely happens again and most people I know tell me they would rather have spent it better than they did. There is uncertainty yes, but there is absence of clutter too – which will likely fill every vacation that you might get within the years that span your academic program (BE/MBBS/etc.). They either tend to be too short or you might want to or have to do some projects/internship somewhere. If you are staying too far away from home, you end up coming home which itself is a big event. You are happy to come home and take it easy…so little else fills your time. Vacations where you come home are different from this one – where you are at home all the time.



So lets see what someone in your situation can do:


1. Do Nothing –


That is like taking a reaaal break – plan nothing because vacations, unlike work are not to be planned – that is the fundamental assumption behind such vacations. I try to think of what I did in my vacations over the years at school. Most of them were spent in mundane activities – getting up late, an hour of swimming, meeting someone somewhere, devouring old issues of the Readers’ Digest in the local library, gobbling magazines and newspapers end to end. Those days of course we had no internet else I would have perhaps been online all the time like you appear to be now!! Not entirely wasteful I must say but nothing memorable that stands out. And this is how most people spend most of their vacations and this is how many semester vacations go – taking a real break doing nothing but watching TV, reading magazine and newspapers and meeting an odd friend. ( who may or may not be odd ! )


But then maybe its not what you are looking for.


What do I expect from a vacation after all? I think I have one word – memorable. Vague isn’t it – what I mean is they have to stand out, stand out not just out of your work times but from every other vacation. How they could be memorable is another thing – depends on that individual itself. It depends on what you have/haven’t done before and would rather do ! So what are the other options :



2. Travel – around


Nothing new – we do this all the time. My vacation June-July 2004 was memorable for the amount of travel I did – Manipal-Pune-Nagpur, Ajanta, Mahabaleshwar, Bombay,Goa – a whole 10 odd days. Not much compared to what I know about others but compared to what I had done ever before. I don’t remember anyone ever regretting having traveled unless of course you fall ill or the place sucks or certain other externalities exist. But every travel leaves you richer and with some perspective on something you had known nothing about. At this age its unlikely your parents let you do this alone, but it doesn’t have to be alone – friends, cousin, extended family etc. is all welcome.


One of my friends went around India meeting her relatives many of who she had never met before and many who hadn’t met each other. At the end of that 3 month odd vacation, she put together a family tree, one that never existed before.



3. Volunteer/Community service


Sounds weird isn’t it! This is a concept that hasn’t taken off in India in a big way yet, but its something of a rage in much of the west. Well, ‘rage’ is not the right word because it’s always been around. It’s not a fad – especially the Americans are one of the most philanthropically oriented people in the world The way I see it – philanthropy is not about being rich and giving money, it’s an attitude that enables you to think beyond yourself and devote some of your energies and time to a cause that is not really your own.


You really have to explore what and how exactly you will accomplish this in Manipal/Udupi –that itself will be a big lesson in going out and dealing with a rather unstructured world. What would be something that you can enjoy doing and will be of help to someone else? In my case it would perhaps be teaching. At that stage i.e. post. Class XII, I would consider volunteering to teach kids in a school I know that is near my place. One of the friend’s father, a retired banker goes there everyday and I would talk to him and have myself enrolled as a volunteer. If I get 3 months in Manipal today, I would consider asking Little Rock if they can have me in some capacity as a honorary visiting teacher/volunteer.


I know this is hard – this is not as glamorous an option as a world tour or adventure sports. But this is perhaps the only original option I can offer – everything else is tried and tested ! I don’t know of too many people who have the courage to take up this as an option. For, new as a concept it is, it raises eyebrows among your seniors – parents and relatives – and more likely invite ridicule from your peers. Sad but true. So this is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea – not something you do for the heck of it, something you do only if you find something enjoyable to you and useful for another.



4. Travel – To somewhere


An alternative to traveling around the place would be to go stay somewhere for an extended length of time – away from your current context. If you live in a village/town, stay in a metro and vice-versa. A chance of context is an invaluable experience and that is primarily what you seek out of a vacation, that is what makes a vacation memorable. Typically people to grand parents place, other visit extended members of a family for about 2-3 weeks. I personally would consider visiting a close friend who lives farthest from the my current location!



5. Do those little things that you won’t get time for later


There are some things that demand your attention in a weird way – it requires you to be at some place on key working hours on weekdays –or something that requires a disciplined schedule you cant muster later. Maybe its some official stuff that needs to be made, may be taking driving lessons, fitness – typically the time lots of people start gymming etc. There are certainly several other options you have in this category but I can think of any right off the top of my head.


I don’t think I have anything really radical ideas for your vacation plans and in that I don’t claim to have solved your problem! But I have been of the opinion that baring rare cases, if you haven’t enjoyed a vacation, if you haven’t had a good time, it’s mostly because of your own ability to find something that interests you.


Go find it !




1. Advice, Philosophy | Statistical Insignificance - May 20, 2010

[…] Advice, Philosophy Posted on May 20, 2010 by Sharath Rao 1. I am a sucker for advice. Apparently of the kind that is too late to be as relevant as it can be. Here is some advice for undergraduate students. Mankiw has some for graduate students. And then there is advice for someone who is 20 and wants to make it big in the world. Long ago I actually wrote up some advice for somebody in his late teens who has 2-3 months to kill. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: