Pizza doesn’t have to be the only cheap…I mean…cost-effective aspect of a college student or intern’s life. Cheap (but classy) clothes, cheap furniture, cheap fun…it’s all relative. You work hard to build your career, maintain good grades, and stay afloat with your personal life. You deserve some time for fun.
But, alas, there’s a big question to be asked: how can I have fun without spending money?
I go to a school in a very wealthy area. If you’ve never heard of Naperville, IL, look it up. It’s pretty spiffy. In many ways, I’m the poor kid on the block. I’m okay with that, though, because it teaches resourcefulness. Lack of funds, plus high cost of living in this area, has brought up some unique sources of fun.
Sledding this time of year is a must. To up the ante (and cut out some cost), cafeteria trays make great make-shift vehicles. Our cafeteria no longer has trays, but every winter someone seems to produce a caf tray from some magical hiding place. Bundle up, grab some friends, find a hill, and slide down it. You’ll be glad you did.
Board games have made a come-back lately, too. While my days of Family Fun Nights are long past, games like Blurt, CatchPhrase, Sorry, and Life are once again part of my social life. (In fact, I’ve been accused of cheating at the game of Life more than once. Apparently, it’s frowned upon to marry another player, instead of an anonymous blue peg. I, however, liked the combined income and joint effort.)
Physical activity can be pretty good fun, too. In the last year, I’ve developed a fond appreciation for walks. Grab a friend or two, or go alone. You never know what you’ll see, and a lot of schools have scenic campuses, or are near a nice area. We have the Riverwalk and miles of beautiful residential area here. At Illinois State University, there’s a wonderful bike trail. It’s a good way to have low-key fun. It relieves stress big-time. If you’re by yourself, enjoy the atmosphere and clear your head. If you’re with other people, simply chat. Sometimes easy, simple conversation is forgotten in the mix of life. Other great physical activities are games like frisbee (best played at night with a glow-in-the-dark frisbee!) and pick-up games of soccer, basketball, and football.
My big, personal secret weapon for stress relief? Pet stores. Here, we have quite a few pet stores who are very open to letting college kids play with their puppies. It helps the animals socialize, and helps the college kid fight back impending emotional breakdowns. In the last two years, countless puppies have helped usher away massive amounts of stress. In fact, just about any furry baby animal does the trick for me.
I’ll admit, in my rush to become a professional, fun can sometimes be forgotten. I’ve spent plenty of nights wanting to pull my hair out because of “all work and no play.” I’ve promised myself to try to avoid that from here on out. So, next time you’re feeling fried or stressed out, step back, take a breath, and put things in perspective. Everyone needs fun. If you’re anything like me, you’re in a pivotal point in your life. Overtaxing yourself now could end up hurting you in the long run.
So…go grab some friends, some board games, some cafeteria tray, or some puppies…whatever suits your taste. Then, go have fun.