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Summer has the quality of being an entity of its own, completely separate from all other seasons. The liveliness of spring is replaced by a gentle ambiance in which it is completely acceptable (and encouraged) to be lazy, carefree and spontaneous. Calendars are not useful anymore, for time is no longer counted by days but rather by the number of impromptu plans that lead to fun adventures and memories.

This notion of summer is wonderful and divine, but, to be honest, it is also pretty idealistic. While it may not be possible for those of us taking summer classes at UC Irvine to fill all our days with this notion of a lazy summer, that does not mean that we should fall victim to boredom either. It is possible to create your own version of an idealistic summer during the free time you have. Instead of going back to your apartment after class or staying on campus during your study break, go out into the area around Irvine and let it be the setting where your summer adventures can take place.

If you’re feeling creative, Color Me Mine, a decorate-it-yourself pottery studio, should be on your list of places to visit. The nearest location is in Tustin near a shopping district called The Marketplace. After picking out a ceramic from their selection, which includes a variety of choices from bowls to Disney figurines, you can pick your paint colors and then relax and let your creative juices flow. After you finish painting, your final masterpiece can be picked up in a few days after it has gone through the glaze and fire process. Pricing depends on what ceramic you pick and a general studio fee of ten dollars, which on average, does not make a trip to Color Me Mine cost any more than dinner and a movie.

The Metro Pointe is a shopping center located right off South Coast Drive in Costa Mesa and is worth a visit. You can find great deals shopping by going to Nordstrom Rack, which can be thought of as an outlet of Nordstrom stores, and Loehmann’s, which has many designer brands priced for less. Bargain-hunt to your heart’s content.

To fuel yourself up this summer, try to explore the restaurants around UCI, especially those in Newport Beach. There is a Sprinkles Cupcakes on Avocado Avenue, about a ten minute drive from campus.

Gelato Paradiso, just next door to Sprinkles, is a gelato shop that not only has delicious flavors, from banana to hazelnut and chocolate to pistachio, but you can also get some to go in their cooler bags.

For lunch, C’est Si Bon, a bakery with a name that is French for “It’s so good,” is a great place to try. Located on Riverside Avenue, C’est Si Bon has a variety of sandwiches, a great assortment of pastries and some of the most delicious baguettes that come fresh out of the oven on white and whole wheat. Its location also allows you to buy some lunch to go and head over to the beach.

Remember, it’s summer — you’re in southern California, and UCI is less than fifteen minutes from beaches like Corona Del Mar and Newport. Take advantage of this and head on over and soak up some vitamin D. A picnic on the beach with friends or a swim in the ocean is a wonderful way to spend your time. Regardless of what you decide to do with your free time in Irvine this summer, remember that what it all comes down to is your attitude. If you want to have a wonderful summer, believe that you can have it anywhere, even if you are taking summer classes and living on campus.

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