You’ve probably heard the term before. The infamous “college bubble.” It’s so easy to stay on campus all the time when your friends, classes, activities, and dining options are all within walking distance.
However, venturing outside the comfortable, familiar “bubble” of campus and exploring a nearby town or city can give students the opportunity to branch out and avoid feeling as though they are trapped on campus. Chances are there’s public transportation that leaves from campus and it’s only a short bus or train ride to civilization (bonus points if your campus is within walking distance of a college town or city).
So take one day during the weekend, pack a bag, grab some friends, and explore!
Here’s some fun (and relatively inexpensive) things you can do in most college towns and definitely in cities:
1. Go to a museum.
This one is pretty obvious and gives you the chance to learn about new topics outside of the stuffy lecture halls found all over campus. Museums often offer discounted admission prices to students so be sure to bring your student ID along with you, even when off campus! And don’t just limit your trips to art, science, and natural history museums; try finding a few of the more “offbeat” museums in your area, such as The Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas or the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.
2. Explore a nearby park.
Sure, you and your friends love hanging out on the quad on campus, but there are most likely nearby parks that can be just as relaxing and refreshing. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring a park, big or small. See if there are any botanical gardens or zoos close by and enjoy reconnecting with nature for a little while. Also, see if there are any activities offered in the parks, like a guided hike or a local arts and crafts festival.
3. Go out to eat.
Is there a restaurant in the closest town or city that everyone and their mother rave about? Go check it out and take a (much needed) break from dining hall food. This can be especially fun if you are not from the area that you are going to college in and gives you the perfect chance to try some of the authentic local cuisine. You can even start a tradition where once a month someone picks a new restaurant to try out till you find a favorite.
4. Go to a farmers market.
When the weather is nice most towns or cities will have their version of a farmers market. These can be fun places to explore and buy some food that’s not normally offered on campus. Use this as an opportunity to stock up on fruits and veggies. Most likely there will also be stands with samples of everything from homemade chili to baked goods so take advantage of these as well for some delicious free food!
5. Find second-hand stores.
I was going to include “go shopping” but then I remembered that we are all somewhat broke college students always looking for a deal (or even better, free stuff!). So go find the nearest second hand or thrift store in your area and shop till you drop! Options usually range from local Goodwills to independently owned thrift stores and you can find great deals in either. These stores are ideal for finding interesting clothes (even if you have to sort through lots to find one or two amazing pieces), pieces that you can add to a costume for the next themed party, or even used furniture for an apartment. Even if you’re not in the market for anything in particular, going to thrift stores with friends can be a fun way to explore the area and you can even turn it into a game (first one to find an item with a name beginning with a random letter, who can find the weirdest item in the store?, etc.).
If you can, try to get off campus at least once a semester. When you are caught up in classes, activities, and binge watching the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, it can be easy to forget that there’s an entire world out there waiting to be explored! Try to break out of the campus “bubble” every once in a while, find something you want to do off campus, gather your friends, and go do it!