My first year at UCR, I was bored just about every day of the week while I was on campus. I didn’t drive, so I had to be dropped off early and picked up late by my parents according to their schedules. I also had a really weird and ugly schedule. As a result, I ended up spending tons of time on campus, and I had no friends (well, I did, but they were always busy with jobs or activities or just not being on campus). Being generally antisocial, I had to find stuff to do on my own, and today, I’ll outline some ideas of things you can do if you’re bored this summer, based on how I kept myself entertained when no one else was really around. I’ll assume you have at least a little bit of money (but not too much) and that you don’t really want to leave home.

1. Put together a project

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If you’re feeling disgusted with yourself for sitting around watching TV and eating junk food (I’m not judging here), then I would recommend finding a useful way to put your energy to work. Obviously, you could get a job or an internship or find a volunteer opportunity, but if you actually want to enjoy your time, then come up with a project that involves something that appeals to you. This should be an activity you enjoy, but still requires you to spend your time on it instead of other things.

For example, I’ve tried (but never actually completed) designing a board game about running a 20’s-style gang; I’ve tried writing a novel (twice); I’ve tried to learning a little bit of Finnish. Now, I’m bad at sticking to things, and I’ve always had distractions arise since I live at home with several siblings, so I might be a bad example here. But barring such circumstances, I’d say putting time into a project of your own has several advantages: You won’t feel like you’re being lazy, you’ll feel like you achieved something when you finish it and you simply won’t have as much chance to be bored.


2. Break out a book

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If you don’t like to read, then just skip this section — but then if I were you, I would ask why you’re reading a newspaper in the first place. Now for the rest of you who are still reading this, I want to point out that libraries are your friend if you are sitting around bored. I’ve ended up learning a lot about the War of the Roses and the Mexican-American War because I went searching through the shelves in Rivera and found books about them.

With libraries, you have an enormous selection of reading material at your disposal, and it’s all free (as long as you are prompt in returning them so you’re not hosed paying late fees). You don’t have to worry much about disliking what you’re reading, since it’s not like you paid money for it. You get out and about — if only for a little while — when you go to get a new book or return an old one. You can work a visit to the library into your weekly schedule; if you live at or near UCR, you can even walk to Rivera for a book. Not to mention that finishing a book is more satisfying than finishing a TV series or anything like that, and you get to say that you spend your time reading, which makes you sound educated, am I right?


3. Get in the game

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There’s always stuff to do online, for good or ill. Now, you could spend your time on social media or binge watching things on Netflix, and those aren’t bad options, but I for one advocate an alternate way of entertaining yourself — video gaming. I got through many a long afternoon playing Civilization in one of the HUB lounges. Now, “video games” is a very large label, but it’s pretty easy to get into some form of video gaming, unless you lack a computer, in which case you’re facing a bit of a barricade (since you’d have to buy a computer or a game console in order to get started). But let’s assume you have a computer; even a cheaper one will often do the job. There are literally thousands of games available, more than you could ever want or hope to play (and it might be worth noting that there are many free-to-play ones online, and many more are cheap).

You can find pretty much anything that tickles your fancy — puzzle games, rhythm games, adventure games, visual novels, strategy games, role-playing games, horror games, sports games, and all kinds of shooter games. You’ll find all of the above made by developers big and small. You’ll find games for playing alone, with a team or against one or more people. You’ll find easy-going games that don’t demand so much of you or your computer, or something that is frustratingly difficult that you obsess over beating (and you feel accomplished when you do). It’s simple: There’s something out there for everyone to play online. All you have to do is determine what might interest you and look around for something that fits the bill. And once you do find something, I promise you’ll sink more hours into the game than you’ll be proud to admit.


4. Miscellaneous advice

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Always keep a deck of cards close, and learn how to play solitaire; it can be tedious after a while, but it is an entertainment option that would survive an apocalypse (assuming you do as well). Go drive around and explore the city, and see if anything new catches your eye; and if you don’t have a car, your taxes are paying for public transportation, so you can use that too. Or if all else fails, you can walk around and explore. If you don’t know how to cook, consider taking some time to learn a few recipes, even experimenting with new things; you’ll have incentive to get it right lest you ruin your food and starve, and maybe your skills will be called if you get good at it.

Being bored and friendless isn’t what I’d call an ideal experience, but if you approach it with the right mindset, it can provide a valuable lesson. You’ll learn what you truly enjoy doing, because if you end up feeling bored doing something, then odds are you don’t actually enjoy it. You’ll become self-sufficient and won’t depend on anyone else to keep you busy. And most importantly, odds are you’ll find someone who shares the same things entertaining, so if you want one, you can probably find a friend out there.