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Culture Trip Week 8: Summer

Freedom from the endless academia lies in sharks, teen drama, and Stevie Wonder


With exams finally over, I find myself constantly looking forward to not only the next trip to Revs, but also summer (especially after daydreaming about it throughout my revision).

While the academic responsibility lifts, and the temperatures increase, my thoughts are with nothing but picnics at Grantchester, beach trips and barbecues. With the looming hurdle of exams over, the only thing left is to look forward to the months of (optimistic) sunshine and good times. To fit this mood, here are my best recommendations for what you can be watching/reading/listening to in order to create the best atmosphere to enjoy the end of the academic year:

Film – Jaws

Image credits: Daisy O’Connor screenshot from YouTube (Jaws [1975] – Get out of the Water scene | Movieclips)

A classic of summer, Jaws is a must-watch. As someone terrified of sharks, I am ashamed to say that I do find this film vaguely scary, but I keep going back to it again and again.

It follows a police chief, a marine biologist and a professional shark hunter as they hunt down a human-eating great white shark as it targets beachgoers at a summer resort town. The elusive shark, with its accompanying music, make it impossible for me to go for a summer swim without the sense that there might be another rogue shark lurking nearby. The music is classic, and the endless beach scenes get me excited for summer. Mixed in with iconic lines and moments, this film has moments that keep you at the edge of your seat, but at the end of the day, it is a fun, exciting watch.

TV – The OC

Image credits: Daisy O’Connor screenshot from YouTube (The OC | Trailer | GlowingAprilSky)

A classic 2000s show, along the lines of ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘One Tree Hill’, the misadventures of Ryan, Seth, Marissa and Summer are fun, gossipy, and drama-filled. It follows Ryan as he gets involved with the wealthy community of Orange County, California, when he gets taken in by Sandy Cohen’s family. The area is filled with shifting loyalties and teen drama but also has the heartfelt story of Ryan finding a family and friends. Amazingly 2000s, this show is witty, cute, and feels real. With beach-front views, Californian sun and random road trips to Mexico, it fits the bill, and after all, what is summer without a good teen drama to keep you going?

Album – For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder

Image credits: Screenshot from Spotify

The endless summery, feel-good vibes of this album make it perfect for summer. A perfect soundtrack to accompagny a barbecue, beach picnic, or drinks in the park, this album never fails to put a spring in my step. ‘Sunny’ is a classic, and while it is about a new romance, it feels very apt to apply it to the end of a Cambridge year, with a window of fun away from the academia opening. ‘I Don’t Know Why’ has the perfect vibe for a late summer evening, relaxing with friends after a day in the sun. Released when he was just 18, the album feels youthful and light, like the perfect summer, and is sure to get the beach senses tingling.

Book – Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

For anyone who got distracted from exams by binge-watching ‘Daisy Jones and the Six,’ this book is perfect. From the same author, the 80s summer feel is impeccable.

All taking place at a celebrity summer party which gets out of hand, it follows a famous surfing family and their own personal conflicts. The perfect beach read with a bit of depth, it is heartfelt with tender romances, but it is neither deeply emotional nor overly gossipy, making it a fun and quick read. Also, I could not mention this author without also suggesting ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, a fantastic book that, although less summary, should definitely go on any reading list!