By Yara Al-Wazir
It’s that time of year again: graduation ceremonies, finals, proms topped with decisions on housing, accommodation, and universities. Each decision seems more overwhelming than the next, and emotions quickly build up, and are woven into a mesh of excitement. If you do anything this summer, squeeze your way out of the mesh and do every little thing that you ever dreamed of. Do something extraordinary.
1- Get a job
You’ll be living on your own, and that’s great. But with this great freedom “comes great responsibility” (as notoriously quoted by Superman). Nothing teaches you independence and working with tight deadlines like challenging yourself to getting a job at a firm, without using wasta. Look at great ventures such as Loyac, who offer summer internships, or even Al-Shaya’a. If you love working with kids, keep an eye out for applications for counsellors at Movenpick’s KCamp. See if you can volunteer your time at organisations like Equait or INJAZ. Whatever it is, train yourself to honour commitments, deadlines, and work with people. You’ll need it.
Considering we are a nation of self-proclaimed foodies, having this on the list may be pointless. Nevertheless, it’s something I miss about Kuwait. Grab a copy of bazaar’s Dining Guide and go to every single restaurant in the list. From cupcakes to tandoori, everything tastes better when eaten on your home turf.
3- Shop for supplies
Everything from stationary to kitchen equipment and spices, I have no shame in admitting I carried it all with me from Kuwait. Once your palette is used to a certain flavour, it’s difficult to change it, and it’s the tiny things that can make you feel horribly homesick. For me, it was the vanilla essence I use when baking. It took me months before I accepted that I wouldn’t find an ethanol-free one in the UK.
Once you start moving into your dorm, your time will be precious and you’ll want to spend it all with family. You’ll also realise that you’ve forgotten all the knick-knacks and you’ll spend hours trying to find your way around the new city to find a department store that has exactly what you’ve forgotten, and then spend hours trying to find a way to carry it back (unless you’ve overcome the Transport Dilemma I wrote about in bazaar March 2013).
4- Shop for clothes
Before being awarded your degree at university, you must become an expert at laundry procrastination. It’s simply right of passage, so it’s no surprise that you’ll need a lot of clothes. But be practical at the same time; find pieces that are versatile enough for you to dress-up or dress-down, depending on the occasion. When shopping for winter clothes (yes, winter seasons do exist in the real world), think of practical fabrics that will keep you warm despite being light, like Angora or Merino wool.
5- Conquer one of your New-Years’ resolutions
Again, this comes back to the purpose of number one on the list: commitment. Once you can conquer that, you can conquer the world, and that’s a great goal to have when you start college.
Depending on your mind-set, your New-Years resolution may have been to lose weight in time for college. You’ve got three months to do that, and with Ramadan starting early July this year, there has never been a better time to shock your system into shape, literally. Motivate yourself by buying clothes a size smaller, and making sure you fit into them by the time you’re ready to board your flight.
Of course, if one of your New-Years’ resolutions was to get into college, then well done.
6- Ride a camel
For no specific reason, it’s internationally accepted that camels are our preferred method of transport. Camels are really fun to ride, and it’s always a great story to share. A bit of a random one on this list, but it’s all in good fun, and a fantastic way to confuse people when they see your actual car.
7- Be a tourist in Kuwait
Whenever someone asks me what there is to do in Kuwait, the first thing that comes to mind is “eat”. While that may be true, Kuwait has an abundance of touristic attractions and activities that are often swept under the building-bricks of the array of restaurants and malls that overcrowd the country. Spend a week and do everything from visiting Kuwait Towers, to exploring the Memorial, Islamic Calligraphy, and Modern Art Museums. They also serve as great distractions from the summer heat.
8- Soak up the sun
Play volleyball on the beach, go tanning, have a barbeque – do whatever you want in the scorching 50oC weather while you can. Especially if your chosen university is in the UK where it snows in April. You’ll miss it.
9- Spend time with your family and friends
Your mother may spend the three months of summer attempting to coerce you into not moving away using her incredible food; your father may give you seemingly never-ending lectures about ‘representing the family name and the country well’, and your younger siblings might start raiding your room and closet a few months early – it’s okay. Use this time to get closer to your family. Find out things you never knew, and see what their college experiences were like. Find a group of friends to join you to complete everything on this list. It’ll bring you closer before distance tries to tear you apart.
10- Do something that’s not on this list
Be creative. Do something different – something that you’ve always wanted to do. Camp on Failaka Island, maybe?
Yara Al Wazir is an activist and student currently based in the UK – her monthly column reflects on her experience of moving away from the familiarity and comfort of Kuwait, to the UK in pursuit of a university degree. She can be reached via twitter on @YaraWazir.