I used to think summer school was for nerds and burnouts, and one might argue I’m currently both of those things. And so, in the spirit of being a nerd at heart and a degenerate with nothing to do in reality, I’m sitting posted up in Starbucks forcing myself to learn. This is part of my whole “Do Things” mantra for the summer. Also I think if I watch another episode of 30 Rock my brain may atrophy, and then I’d really never get a job. Except maybe in Congress… ziiiing. Jokes, jokes, there are plenty of lovely people with functioning brains working in Congress.. maybe..
What exactly does my summer school entail? Stellar question.
Because my French skills are deteriorating at a laughable rate, I’m forcing myself to start reading in French and watching French movies more (no English subtitles allowed). I downloaded L’Etranger for my kindle to ease myself back in, and then got Madame Bovary in French as well, hoping that because I’ve read it in English I wont be quite so lost in it. What’s great about the Kindle is that it has the option of downloading an extra dictionary so that you can automatically look up words as you read. It’s not the best dictionary in the world, but it’ll do for now.
I’m also determined to learn some Spanish, and as I’d mentioned my aunt was kind enough to lend me her Rosetta Stone. The only problem is I need to fix my disc drive before I can use it… but I’ll get around to that soon enough.
Pointless Standardized Testing
A staple in all school curricula, I figured my summer wouldn’t be complete without it. For anyone out there studying for the GRE, I recommend the Princeton Review book to study. I got it on the recommendation of a friend, and it’s definitely served me well thus far. I find that if I make flash cards for the words I don’t know as I go through that helps as well. I may be getting garrulous and loquacious in my posts, but I’ll be doing it with panache.
A friend asked me what I’m using to teach myself HTML/CSS. Well, I’m doing it the good old fashioned way: a big ass book and some trial and error. Figuring I needed a few more real world skills, I got the book HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites and I’ve found that I really like the way it’s set up. I got through the HTML section in a day, partly because I knew some of it already. But what I liked was that the book breaks things down into simple diagrams and explains what every tag or piece of code is supposed to do. Then there are snippets of code at the end of every chapter that you can write up and try yourself; I usually made slight changes to see what would happen and whether I could do it on my own. I definitely recommend this book to total beginners like myself.
Finally, there’s nothing I like quite as much as a good book in the summer. I’m trying to strike a balance between contemporary fiction that I haven’t been able to read in the last few years, compelling non-fiction, and classics that I’ve been meaning to get around to. I recently read The Art of Fielding, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a summer read. Though it’s centered around a college baseball team and sings to anyone who loves the sounds of a ball cracking off a bat, the characters are compelling enough to make it a good read for baseball lovers and non-lovers alike. I’ve also read some Hemingway, Julian Barnes, and just started in on a Steinbeck collection. I suppose it’s cheating to include all this reading in my “summer learning,” but I figure it’s better for my mind than my Game of Thrones binge. Anything that’s not pure pop is making it’s way into my summer school category.
I’m going to try to stay on top of all the things I’m doing, and it’s been a good way of keeping myself busy so far. And as I sit in Starbucks, I’m reassured by the two grey-haired men discussing Ulysses that I can continue to be a lifelong nerd if I so choose.