• Wed, Jun 25 - 2:49 pm ET

The Biggest Differences Between Hollywood Summer Vacation And Real Life Summer Vacation

Grease Summer Nights

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It’s summer, which means students are finally out of school and ready to bug you at any give time of day, as opposed to only after 4 PM. Whether you’re currently enjoying your summer break or you simply remember having one once many eons ago, I think we can all agree it’s not exactly the experience the movies make it out to be.

If a movie character were asked to keep a journal of his or her day-to-day summer experience, it would probably be full of exciting stories and interesting lessons learned. In real life, though, keeping a summer journal usually involves either documenting your meals or procrastinating for three months and then making something up the night before the new semester starts. Here are just a few differences between the Hollywood summer experience and the normal, nonfiction summer experience.

1. You don’t get to goof off at your summer job.

Wet Hot American Summer

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If you’re able to find a job at all, it’s most likely not going to involve hanging out with your friends and slacking off all day. When movie characters get summer jobs, they’re very summery things like as camp counselors or lifeguards or amusement park employees. In real life you’re either listening to people complain about not wanting ketchup on their burger or filing things at your dad’s office.

2. You don’t have a whirlwind romance.

Dirty Dancing

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If you do experience any kind of summer fling, it’ll probably just involve making out with your friend’s visiting cousin at a birthday party or flirting with the guy making slushies at the movie theater. You won’t fall in love with someone from the wrong side of the tracks, your parents won’t forbid you from seeing them, and you won’t have a tearful goodbye.

3. You still have to think about school.

Recess school's out

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When was the last time a kid in a movie had to read ten novels and complete a hundred-page math packet before the new school year started? It’s always “Yay freedom! No more responsibilities until until next semester!” And don’t even get me started on the movie characters who are about to start college. Why aren’t they spending their time making detailed lists of all the toiletries they’ll need to bring with them and shopping for extra-long duvet covers?

4. You’re more likely to vacation with your family than your friends.

Eurotrip vacation

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Oh, you want to go backpacking with your friends around Europe? Good luck finding a week when you’re all available and paying for it all on your own and making sure everyone’s parents have given permission. Most likely you’ll be getting food poisoning on a cruise ship while your little brother tells you to “stop hitting yourself.”

5. Summer doesn’t “change” you.

To Do List Aubrey Plaza

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You’re not going to “find yourself” over summer vacation. The biggest change people will notice in you when you go back to school is that you cut three inches off your hair and got a particularly bad sunburn. Has “coming of age” ever happened to anyone outside a movie?

6. You spend very little time at the beach.

Teen Beach Movie

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Unless you live on the coast, you’re probably not going to be swimming or surfing or building sand castles all that much, if at all. And that bathing suit you bought to wear to the pool? You’ll probably never use it because you can’t be bothered to shave your legs.

7. You have zero adventures.

Stand by Me dead body

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You won’t find any dead bodies or aliens or treasure maps. You’ll mostly just wake up at 2 PM, watch TV, call your friend to hang out but get no answer, try to read one of the books on your list but fall asleep after five minutes, wake up and eat something, watch more TV, eat more things, stay up until 5 in the morning on YouTube, then fall asleep and repeat the next day. What an adventure.

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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  • Alana Vincenza

    Even though I’m 23, I still want one really perfect summer coming-of-age adventure that the movies have promised me. It really sucks I’ve already come of age.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      I actually don’t think I’ve come of age yet. I’m still waiting hear folk music playing over a meaningful moment in my life. Then I’ll know it’s happened.

    • Lackadaisical

      I’m in my late 30s and haven’t given up hope or stopped waiting. One day I shall come of age in a dramatic way filled with cool clothes, beautiful people and soft and emotional music.

  • Olivia Wilson

    My ridic expectation of an annual summer fling is directly correlated to how many summer movies I’ve watched in my life.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Curse you for that, Mary-Kate and Ashley.

  • Lackadaisical

    For us in the UK a huge difference is that ours start a month after yours. Kids slog away at school during a heat wave filled July and then as soon as the kids break up the weather gets wet and a bit cooler for August (or at least it often has for my kids holidays but that could just be bad luck). All the glorious July weather in the movies is spent in a classroom. While we have barely started our holidays when you guys start talking about back to school the 1st September start date is little compensation for missing much of the summer holiday weather.

    Also summer camps that are part of the right of passage in American kids holiday movies don’t really exist here. The advantage of a small island is no-one in England is too far from the sea so everyone tends to go to the beach a bit, but they just aren’t as glamorous as the beaches on TV. It tends to be a bracingly cold sea on a beach with too many sharp pebbles followed by fish and chips on the seafront.

    • tSubh Dearg

      It’s similar in Ireland except our schools get longer holidays than yours. The kids in secondary school have all been finished (except for the state exam years) since the beginning of June and the primary school are all finishing up this week. We don’t have summer camps either, but we do have the rite of passage known as Irish College, where teens go to speak only Irish for 2 – 3 weeks and engage in various outdoor activities and learn crazy old songs about the fair tomorrow in the County Clare. These do result in some romantic entanglements or at least “will you shift (snog) my friend?” requests.
      Also being a small island nation like yourself we also go to the overly pebbled beaches to swim in either the freezing cold Atlantic or the slightly less freezing cold but slightly more radioactive Irish Sea. I’m guessing you guys possibly don’t make the same jokes about getting super powers from Sellafield that we do!
      Oh how I miss my 3 month long summer holidays!

    • Lackadaisical

      I knew a guy from the town near sellafield. He made the same joke but was more concerned with barrels of toxic nasties from nearby chemical plants or some such thing. I live in North Yorkshire so for us it is the cold North Sea.

    • tSubh Dearg

      I don’t think there are any warm seas around the British Isles. Maybe we should push off and move to being off the coast of Spain or something?

    • Lackadaisical

      I am now imagining us literally pushing off to warmer seas by making huge poles and punting all off the Britis Isles to nestle in the corner between France and Spain or perhaps park next to Portugal. If Iceland fancy middling and unexciting weather instead of proper cold they would easily fit in our old spot.

    • tSubh Dearg

      This sounds like a great plan! I like the idea of being nestles in between France and Spain rather than off the coast of Portugal. We’d probably get more protection from Atlantic storms there.

      If Iceland wanted to move they’d have to leave their volcanoes behind as I’m not sure the neighbours would want them any closer than they already are.

    • Lackadaisical

      I assume that the volcanoes would be like calling a gas fitter in to seal off the pipes to a stove or gas fire when you remove or move them, just with a bit more volcanic ‘splodey death. They certainly can’t bring them to the new place as we are only moving down the road, so to speak, and Scotland would still be their neighbours but much closer. I can’t see Scotland or France wanting Iceland to move in with loud and unruly volcanoes erupting all hours. We can leave them our drizzle and fog to compensate for the lack of lava.

  • Rachel Sea

    Sounds good, sign me up for a summer break, please.

  • http://twitter.com/MARvelous_inc L.M.S.

    Number 7 speaks to me on a spiritual level.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      It’s how all the cool kids spend their summer.

  • jen27

    One summer I worked in a beach club (alongside my twin brother) and there was this super cute guy and we totally flirted (and by flirted I mean he insulted me for reading books during work and I thought it was cute because he was hot and I was 16) and then he kissed me while we were sheltering under a gazeebo during a flash storm and then he pushed me away and said “I can’t. Your brother would kill me and it would ruin our friendship.”

    Back then I thought I was having the most romantic star-crossed romance in all of summer history. Now I realize that guy was just kinda a douche….

    • Jill O’Rourke

      Oh my goodness, you nailed so many of the summer movie tropes in one experience!

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