"I want to do as much as possible this summer. That's why I signed up to go to Spain," the 20-year-old says. "Spending a whole year locked away in my room was a motivation for me to go across the world."
Along with traveling abroad, he has a jam-packed agenda: He's looking forward to attending concerts and planning beach trips with his fraternity brothers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Bland isn't the only one making up for lost time. You've probably already heard the term "Hot Girl Summer" floating around, which describes a time full of fun, partying and confidence. Many young people are over-compensating for the lack of socializing during the pandemic with booming social calendars, and they want to let loose with a wild summer.
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When Carolyn Xenalis moved to New York City for her internship, she made it a priority to explore the city, meet new people and make it the best summer of her life.
"Living through a global pandemic has made me truly not take for granted the time I have to interact with others, visit new places and make new memories," the Westbrook, Connecticut native says. "So I knew the moment (the pandemic) was over, I was going to have the best time of my life."
Xenalis has one motto for this summer: Never say no to an invite — whether it's a walk through the park or drinks on a Tuesday night. Even something as mundane as a Monday night has turned into a weekly “Bachelorette Mondays” at a local bar for Xenalis.
"It was a challenge getting through moments of 2020, but making this summer the most fun, wild, memorable summer proves our ability to not just bounce back but come back stronger and better than ever."
This same reason is why Bland chose to travel out of the country. After being stuck in North Carolina, he felt inspired to meet new people and try something "totally different."
"I keep hearing things like, 'You're missing out on the college experience.' And that struck a chord for me. This is my youth, you know? I want to live it up," he says.
For others, it's time to focus on self-care
But not everyone is craving that Hot Girl Summer. Others, like Erica Huang, are in no rush to jump back into the of pre-pandemic social life.
"The pandemic helped me realize that superficial activities like excessive partying and drinking aren't so important after all," Huang says. Instead, she's been "treating herself" by creating DIY art, going for relaxing bike rides and reading.
"I think it's best for my mental health not to just rush into social interactions since I would find it too overwhelming," she says.
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Natalia Seliger, 21, says she's also making sure to focus on herself this summer by following her exercise and diet rituals.
"Journaling, limiting time from my phone, working out and writing affirmations in the morning — these are the things that make me, me. That's what keeps me going, keeps me inspired," the Los Angeles, Calif., student says.
Wilson Moore also doesn't "plan on going wild." The stressors created by his university's online learning format allowed him to realize that he needs some relaxation and self-care this summer.
"I’m finally able to use my free time however I want and de-stress from the quarantine lifestyle of 2020," he says. "Really this summer is just a nice return to the normal life that we experienced before the pandemic and is something that most people have been anxiously waiting for."