Summer, School Year – What’s the Difference?

Hello there! My name is Lindsey, and I am a senior Neuroscience major and Linguistics minor. I haven’t posted on the blog yet – I had to send my laptop in for repairs a few weeks ago, and after receiving it yesterday I have finally regained sanity (as is the life of a college student). This summer, I am doing research through SURP funding about language processing and the effects of orthographic neighborhood size on lexical access (don’t worry if that doesn’t mean much to you – it didn’t to me a few weeks ago!). But that’s about all I can tell you about my research so far, so let’s talk about something else.

Me dressed as Princess Mononoke last HalloweenAlthough I am a rising senior here at Pomona, this is my first summer on campus. I am not sure what drove me away the past two summers – maybe the heat, maybe the monotony of staying at school during my coveted break. But I’m here now and enjoying it considerably more than I expected. After a few weeks on campus, I’ve been able to get my head around what’s so different about Pomona in the summer, as compared to during the school year. So that’s what I’m going to tell you all about over the next several weeks!

Let’s begin with the obvious choice: the amount and type of work. Although this may not be true for all Pomona students, during the year I spend most of my week nights working (or at least pretending to). I don’t often plan to go out during the week, let along leave my room. Sometimes even running to the dining hall for dinner is a luxury of time, on the bad days. But I do my work through the week, and once the weekend arrives I reward myself! (My own personal rule: no work on Saturdays).

But now here’s the summer. There’s no classes, no homework, no professors requiring you to write lab reports or study for tests. There is just research. Research that rarely extends past 5pm, and does not dare to invade the weekend. So far, I’ve done my fair share of reading and the boring kind of research – looking up articles on the internet. But I have also learned a lot about research methods in Psycholinguistics and even designed my own experiment. I’ve been running subjects for that experiment for a couple weeks now, and soon I’ll be finishing up and starting another experiment for my senior thesis. But there is one common trend – once I leave the lab, I get to fill my own time. And so far, that has been a nice change.

My beautiful suitemates on another Adventure DayI now swim three times a week, read for pleasure (imagine that), and have seen more movies in theaters than any normal person should. My suite leaves Claremont at least once a week for our planned “Adventure Day”, and I even cook my own food. I’m also getting pretty darn good at Mario Kart. None of these things I do during the year! And in reality, I needed the extra free time to catch up on my sleep and sanity.

But this is not to say the school year is all doom and gloom. There’s something about the intensity of finishing a project less than an hour before it’s due, or going out with your friends on a night you should be working on a paper, that truly defines college. And you don’t really get that in the summer. During the year, I may sometimes be counting the days until I can sleep in, or cursing a professor for a project I don’t want to work on, but a little too much to do gives you the drive to succeed, which is something I think every Pomona student lives for.

So I’m loving the summer here. The transition at the beginning of the semester is going to be a little rough, but I look forward to diving in to my studies again.