Quiet Night In: Believe it or not, you can have fun in college without partying
College: work hard, play hard, right? Between the studying and the partying, it’s easy to get a little worn out from all the action. Even serious partygoers need a break from the late nights every so often. And for those who prefer not to drink in college, there are still tons of things to do on and off campus. Here are a few suggestions for those looking for a quiet night in, away from the library and the party scene.
The tried-and-true quiet night in? A movie night of course. Rent some DVDs or check out what’s on TV with your roommates. Start a tradition of watching some ridiculous show, like Gossip Girl or The Hills every week, even if just to make fun of it. Host an Oscar- or Golden Globes-watching night in your common room. Many schools have free movie showings if you don’t have a TV in your room. If you’re feeling more active, get someone with a video camera to film you and your friends putting on your own cinematic masterpiece—next YouTube hit, perhaps?
Enjoy the free stuff
College costs a lot of money…but you’ll be surprised how much they give away for free once you’re already there! Universities will often host events geared toward offering students an alternative to drinking on weekend nights—from carnivals and dance lessons to the truly bizarre (like mechanical bulls and sumo wrestling). There’s usually free food and giveaways at these types of events too, which is always a good reason to check them out. Your RA might also host “study breaks” with snacks and movies. In addition, a lot of schools get frequent guest lecturers on various topics, which can often be interesting, but at times under-attended, because of the abundance of things to do on campus. College should never be boring, so make sure you don’t miss out on all your school has to offer.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s more to your college town than just the campus. You spend so much time in class and with friends that the campus often becomes a self-contained bubble. So if you’re looking for a break from partying that will also get you out of your room, try exploring your college’s town. There’s probably more to it than that one little strip of bars and restaurants that you’re familiar with. Discover some of the unique shops, and find out what the local specialty is—whether it’s an ice cream flavor, hand-knit mittens, or a giant greasy burger challenge that could make you famous at the local deli. See if your town has any historical sites or tourist attractions to visit, and check out some of the local papers for info on concerts and plays.
It may sound lame or cheesy at first, but game nights can be some of the most fun you’ll have with your college friends. Games like Taboo, Scattergories, and Apples to Apples will get everyone active and enthusiastic, and help you get to know some of your new friends even better. And even old classics like Charades can be hilariously embarrassing. Feel like doing something more involved? Host a dressy poker night, or a costumed Rock Band tournament.
Support your friends
You know all those Facebook invitations you keep getting from friends to see their band/a cappella group/theater troupe/squash match/debate team/art show? What better time than a quiet night in to RSVP “attending,” and actually show up for once. Even if you don’t know the people that well, you might discover a newfound love for improv comedy or modern dance and decide to try it yourself…or at least not to miss any other shows while you’re at school. There are constantly student performances going on, and it always means a lot to your peers to see people in the audience. So cure your boredom and take in some culture. Your friends’ secret talents might surprise you.
Keep in touch
Remember all the people who wrote long messages and “keep in touch” in your high school yearbook? Oh right…you did have a life before college. Catching up with old friends, whether to share gossip, life updates, college stories, or just the latest silly video you found online, is always fun. Video chat on Skype and give each other tours of your new dorm rooms. If you’re studying abroad, or just far away from home and all your friends, you could start a blog to keep people posted on your latest adventures.
Make a difference
There are always opportunities to give back close to campus. Most schools have organized volunteer groups and service fraternities, but if you’re not up for the commitment, there are usually sporadic volunteer opportunities to be found as well. Like working with kids? Ask if you can work once a week at a local preschool, or help middle schoolers with their homework. Want to be active? Sign up for a weekend Habitat build, or help at the local soup kitchen. Really miss your puppy? Walk dogs at the animal shelter. There are always chances to help out in your college community as long as you take the time to look, and volunteering is a great way to meet similar-minded people from school who you might not have run into elsewhere.
If you’re feeling more ambitious than a simple “quiet night in” and you’r e looking for an escape, check into traveling to a nearby city. Go to school near New York, Philly, Chicago, LA, or another interesting city? When campus starts feeling a little boring, like it’s just the same old thing every weekend, it might be time to skip town and see what else the area has to offer. If you already go to school in a big city and you’re tired of the hustle and bustle, head home with a friend who lives in the suburbs to enjoy some peace, quiet, and home-cooked meals.