When you first get to college, everything from decorating your room to getting a cup of coffee at the campus café is exciting. But as soon as everyone settles in and begins their regular schedule, the everyday, mundane tasks of college life don’t seem too special. It’s so easy to get caught up in the typical, stressful student routine that sometimes we forget that college can be educational and fun. Below are 10 things every college student should do this year that are sure to create lasting memories.
Indulge in late-night off-campus food adventures
Staying up to study for a test? Hungry after that party? College is the prime time to indulge in some midnight food cravings off campus. Especially if your campus is surrounded by a “college town,” many food places catering to students will be open until at least midnight, if not later (24-hour diners FTW). Another popular food adventure is food trucks, which are fast and affordable. After college we may not have the luxury (or metabolism) to just leave our homes in the middle of the night to satisfy our food cravings. Take advantage while you still can!
Cook a meal with your friends
Another food-related college bucket list item is cooking with your friends. Up until this point in your life, you’ve probably had a parent or another adult cook most of your meals for you. Unless you live off campus and/or did not purchase a meal plan, you probably still eat food that other people have prepared. When you have some spare time, try your hand at cooking an entire meal with your buddies. It will be a funny learning experience (not to mention helpful life skill) that will show you how much time and energy it actually takes to prepare a healthy, satisfying meal.
Sit in on a random class
Most professors will not mind if you sit in on their class for a few sessions, even if you are not officially enrolled in it. (And if you e-mail them or stop by their office hours to ask permission, you might strike up a meaningful conversation about why the class interested you in the first place. Can you say, “Hello, potential mentor”?) If you go to a big school where class sizes are a couple hundred, no one will even notice. Sitting in on another class you’re interested in but couldn’t quite fit into your schedule is a great way to learn something without all the stress of worrying about tests or grades. My roommate, an Engineering student, once sat in on my international relations class, which gave her a different perspective on things outside of her usual physics lab classes.
More and more students nowadays are studying abroad, with some colleges even requiring their students to go abroad at least once in order to graduate. College is the perfect time to travel and study your passion before you’re tied down by a career. Also, living alone in a new country will basically force you to become more mature and worldly as you adjust to life in another culture. Luckily, most colleges will allow a student to go abroad for the same price as they would pay at their home institution, so there is almost no excuse not to embark on this amazing adventure.
Related: All the Study Abroad Advice You'll Ever Need
Participate in/watch a protest
As we take classes that expand our worldview and develop our own morals and ideals, we become more politically and socially aware. Historically, college campuses are places where major social change movements have begun. College students are generally very passionate people who are excited to rally for a cause they stand for, which includes holding organized on-campus protests. Although you may not be very interested in politics or feel very socially aware, reading about on-campus protests and talking to people who are participating in it can really open your eyes and help you reflect about the issues around you. When my school held a week-long sit-in in response to poor faculty and administrative action, I began to talk to people despite my fear and I grew so much in awareness and knowledge about the social issues directly affecting my community.
Get an on-campus job
If you are on work-study like me, the first thing you did at college was probably get an on-campus job. Working part time, even if all you do is the grunt work, teaches you dedication and perseverance. Sure, it may not be super meaningful to your future career, but internship recruiters and future employers will appreciate the fact that you could balance school and a job to support yourself financially. Working my two on-campus jobs has taught me a lot and gives me some extra spending money so I can go out with my friends.
Splurge at your college bookstore
I remember the first thing I bought at my college bookstore: my expensive $50 college sweatshirt. After that I looked around at all the college-logoed binders, pillows, clothes, and other school supplies and decided that it was just too expensive. People say to stay away from the bookstore for a reason, after all. However, buying one or a couple of expensive items from your college bookstore is okay and can be quite memorable years after you graduate. So if you are a really frugal college student like me, know that it is okay to splurge every once in a while.
Karaoke is a great social outing that can be an alternative to the typical college party. Many places offer an hourly room rental complete with a karaoke machine and a flat screen TV to sing your stresses away. Don’t worry if you aren’t good at singing, as most rooms are soundproof so only you and your friends will be able to hear you. Although it can be pretty expensive if you go at night, many karaoke sites offer a special happy hour during the late morning to mid-afternoon.
Visit a friend on another campus
It’s time to get into your car (or bus or train) and actually go visit that friend you said you would see when you graduated high school. Visiting a friend on another campus not only gives you the chance to catch up, but it allows you to see and experience life at another school. Your friend may even treat you to some food with his/her leftover meal plan money.
Write letters to your closest friends, professors, and people who have influenced you most during your time in college
This is probably the most meaningful thing on this bucket list. Writing heartfelt notes to the people who have made a genuine impact on your life is one of the most touching gifts you can give them. Even if not all the memories were positive, tell them how you’ve grown together and how you are glad that you met them. When I’m feeling down, I still read my old high school yearbook messages and try to remember the strong friendships I’ve made over the years.