Wrapping Up Summer 2015



Summer for me this year has been full of firsts, and has been completely different from any summer before it. I’m going to talk about some stand-out parts of my summer, and a bit of what I’ve been up to!


As some of you may or may not know, I was working machine this summer. I’d been working for my neighborhood YMCA branch as a lifeguard since last August, but I’d decided that I didn’t want to spend another summer sweltering in the sunlight. I switched within the aquatics department to be a swim instructor, and have absolutely fallen in love with the job. I get to hang out with kids aged 3-13 all day, with an adult or two mixed in. I’ve met kids who light up my day, who tell me “You’re my favorite swim teacher!” and that makes me GLOW. It’s been especially interesting for me because after being a competitive swimmer for long, I’m finally using the knowledge I’ve gained to help other people. I’ve also learned countless lessons as a swim instructor: patience, how to reprimand kids, how to teach kids social behaviors (like you don’t insult people or laugh at them when they mess up), and that no job is solely the job description. Being a swim instructor is part teaching kids how to swim, part life skills teacher, and part babysitter. But it’s also one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve been blessed with an incredible staff and great kids.

I’ve also been working in my first retail job at Barnes and Noble! It’s been nice to go from the Y, where I’m outside and in a bathing suit, to an indoor air-conditioned building where I’m wearing business casual clothing. My managers and co-workers are a joy to work with and make work way more fun. I’ve been able to sell THREE copies of Jellicoe Road, and a couple other YA books I adore, as well as make multiple staff recommendation cards for the teen section. I’ve learned the skill of using a cash register, how to make small talk, how to deal with customers who complain about store policies, and the beauty of saying “Let me get my manager for you.” I’ve been able to work in the Children’s department and help parents pick out books for their middle school kids, and suggest gifts for people visiting family. I’ve learned what it’s like to work for a national company, and all the benefits it gives you (I can transfer when I go to college!)

But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from both of my jobs has been confidence. I feel like I’ve grown up more in the past three months from these two jobs than I have doing anything else. I feel more confident asking for what I need, sharing my thoughts, and talking to adults than ever before. I’m so thankful I was able to work both of these jobs this summer, and that I’ll be continuing employment with both of these incredible places of work!


I’ve been learning Italian this summer! I was taking an online class from Wellesley College, and although I wasn’t able to finish (I simply did NOT have enough time and they way overestimated how long everything would take) the course gave me a fantastic base in the language. A background in French has been incredibly helpful in learning a lot of the grammatical rules and some nouns, and I’m starting to see how all these languages fit together. Since I’ve given up on my Wellesley class at this point, I’ve started doing Duolingo! If you are interested in learning a language and haven’t checked out Duolingo, I would DEFINITELY recommend it. They have both a web app and a mobile app, and although both are great, the web app is fantastic. There are some more features on it that make the learning experience even better! The way they set up lessons on Duolingo works so well for my brain. You go through mini-modules (pronouns, animals, possession, food, etc) and there are four or five blocks in each module. The blocks only take like five minutes, and you can get through a ton of material fairly quickly, something I adore. You learn nouns in context (there’s never straight vocab) so you get an idea of how to use words, there’s an oral component, translation, and the option to test out of lessons if you already know them.

I’m hoping to take some conversational Italian classes this year outside of school, and study Italian in college – I’m so much more passionate about it than French, which is so weird to me. I’m also learning at a much faster rate, which baffles me. Yay for Italian!


2015-05-09 19.34.23Sadly, I haven’t gotten as much reading done this summer as I had hoped. I was so busy with work, Italian, and spending time with my best friend before she goes off to Princeton in the fall *sobs violently in the corner* that reading wasn’t on the top of my list. I still read some incredible books though, and even got reviews up! This has made me SO proud – I’ve had at least three posts up EVERY WEEK this summer. GOOOO ME! I’m hoping to keep up my content amount through the year, but I’m thinking it will go down due to my course load. I’d hoped to get some reading and reviews together for the start of the year, but with the amount of summer reading I still have to do *cries* I am not sure it’s going to happen.

(Plus, I reread Jellicoe Road for my birthday. As you do.)


Since I’ll be a senior this year, I’ve also spent a lot of time this summer thinking about college. I’ve gotten my list down to about thirteen schools (I’m still narrowing it down – don’t worry, I’m not crazy!) and I’m passionate about the schools on my list. I’ve drafted some essays *cough cough* only two *cough cough* and thanks to my incredible school, I’ve already applied to community college and gotten my ApplyTexas and CommonApp applications fairly ready to go! I’m so pumped for the coming year and college application journey.


As I’m writing this, I’m getting ready to go to Boston! I leave for Boston on the 13th of August, and come back the 17th (when this goes up). I’ll be visiting four colleges while I’m there, eating pizza and ice cream, and frolicking around museums with my incredible mom. I’ve never been to Boston before, so I’m incredibly excited to see the city!


What’s been different this summer? A lot. It’s the first summer where I’ve been able to drive, the first summer in a couple years where I haven’t had club swimming practices every day, and my first summer where I was working the entire time. I’ve spent barely any time at home aimlessly looking at my computer (which I’m proud of) and I’ve been hanging out with my friends more. I’ve been eating healthy, focusing on being happy, and taking care of myself! So, in addition to all the things up above, it’s been a happy summer.

I’ll miss you, summer!

What have you guys done this summer? Share your summer highlights in the comments below – I want to know!



    So much love.

    I can’t believe you worked so crazy hard this summer, chica!! I am STILL in awe of you and all your hard work and dedication. Working just one job this summer, and not even every day at that, has really worn me out, especially because some days I just want to be lazy and do nothing (which is NO BUENO). I’m so excited to hear that you’ll be continuing both in the future- and I really would love to see a post or something about how you manage to keep up with it all! I’m a little nervous for this upcoming year since I’ll have to be driving my siblings around to their stuff along with everything else.

    I’ve kinda been focusing more on my friends and such and not as much on reading/blogging lately, and I agree, that’s totally something to be proud of. 😀 While I love the Interwebz, it’s important to get more real social interaction and all. 😉 Crazy that your friend is going to Princeton soon!! I have a few friends that leave next week and I’m so sad because we got so close last year. Growing up, man. It hurts. But the fact that you also managed to post three times a week every single week?! *bows down*

    Lol at the fact that you’re way ahead of me on the college application process.

    Hope you’re having fun in Boston!! Your Snapchat pictures = beautiful and I’m already insanely jealous that you’re there. 😉

    I’m so glad you had an amazing summer (although I’m still partially in denial of the fact that it’s over. nope. not over.). Here’s to an absolutely AMAZING school year (AND TO MEETING UP NEXT MONTH OMGGGG). <333

    • ((um comment queen over here))

      Thanks for all your sweet words, Anee! I still don’t know how I did it, but the year sure did fly by because of it. Thanks for all YOUR support this summer. I couldn’t have done it without you! <3

  • Jen

    GIRL I AM SO FREAKING PROUD OF YOUUUU. You’ve had a crazy summer, but you’ve learned so so much and I’m just *HUGS*. That’s so cool that you can transfer to different B&Ns at different locations!! And girl you were on fiyaaah with the books/reviews/blog posts this summer even with your busy schedule, GO YOU!! *fist pumps* I’m excited for your college apps and the acceptance letters to come in the spring <3 WILLA YOU ARE WINNING AT LIFE RIGHT NOW. I LOVE YOU OKAY BYE

    • JENNNNNYNYNYNYN HEY GIRL. Thanks so much for all the support this summer! I’m so excited for YOU to start college and start a new chapter of your life. And I hope that offer for me to visit you at UW still is on the table…. *hugs*

  • willa, i love this post! it sounds like such a great summer for you and damn if i’m not motivated to make the rest of my summer as productive as yours. kinda insane how you’re still able to have at least three posts up with all that you’re doing!

    jen basically summed up my reaction to this post in her last sentence. you really are winning at life! and motivating me to get my life in shape too haha.

  • Willa, you had a great summer. Working with kids is super fun because they’re just SO CAREFREE! They don’t know what the heck is going on in the world and it’s just great!! I applaude your perseverance in learning a new language. I’ve been taking classes for Mandarin for so many years now and I suck so bad at it. You would expect me to be able to hold a decent conversation but nope! Glad you had a good summer. If only it didn’t end…

    ~Kaitlin @ Next Page Please!

    • Ooh Mandarin! It seems like SUCH a hard language to learn, so I completely get why you’re not great YET. You’ve still got so much time! Keep practicing 🙂 Thanks for commenting, chica! *hugs*

  • Sam

    AWW IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAD AN AWESOME SUMMER. Your job at B&N is goalsss. (I’m too young to work there…but…one day….) & I hope you had a great time in Boston! You seem so damn productive and motivated, once again, GOALS.

    • MY NEW BESTIE SAM! Hey you. Thanks so much for all those compliments – I’m so NOT productive and motivated all the time… You don’t want to know how much time I spent drowning in the internet this summer. Thanks for stopping by! *hugs*

  • Holly (nutfreenerd)

    YES Jellicoe Road is one of my favorite books EVER. I reread it every summer because I love it so much. Best of luck with your senior year! 🙂

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