By Madison Gillespie
Fall symbolizes many new beginnings at the University of Illinois: the start of a new semester of college, the start of a new football season and for some, the start of new relationships. Perhaps I’m a bit predisposed to this notion because my own relationship began in the fall, but I truly believe there is something about this season that’s great for romance, old and new. The real challenge facing UIUC students, however, is coming up with dates that are both fun and innovative, because let’s face it – college students have limited options. Time, budget and transportation often do not work in the favor of college students, so creating a date plan can be hard with these constraints. Fortunately, this article is designed for those stuck in a date idea rut. Here are some quick and affordable date ideas for you and your significant other to try out on campus.
Since I already mentioned football games, it seemed appropriate to bring this up as my first idea. Whether you are a fan of football or not, attending the games is a great way for you and your boyfriend or girlfriend to spend time together while showcasing your college spirit. What happens during the game makes for perfect conversation, and with so much going on, chances are you two will have plenty to talk about. Feeling passionate about the game will make you more likely to feel passionate about other things too, like each other. So don coordinating orange-and-blue ensembles and check out a football game or two. Chances are you will both have a fun and festive time.
Another sport that you and your date could try out – and actually participate in – is bowling! The Rec Room in the basement of the Union has its own alley, which is perfect for a date since it’s easy to access. Bowling is one of those activities meant for dates; it is so laid-back that anyone can have fun doing it, regardless of whether or not they’re averaging 200 a game. It’s an extremely casual sport, so that eliminates the pressure of dressing formally, and there is plenty of time to socialize between frames. Plus, there are a lot of ways to make bowling more entertaining – bowling with bumpers, for instance, or attempting to throw the ball in a different manner (such as grandma style). If you ever have the opportunity to double date, bowling would be excellent for that as well. Form teams and try to see who can come up with the highest score!
Dinner and a movie are a classic date combination, and fortunately, the Illini Union has you covered if this is what you had in mind. Grab dinner at a restaurant along Green Street and make your way to the Union for weekend film night! Friday and Saturday evenings in the Pine Lounge, special screenings of hit box office films are played free of charge for students. Free popcorn is also provided upon admission, so you and your date will not have to worry about sneaking in snacks. The film lineup is posted throughout the Union and in residence halls across campus, making it easy to decide when to plan your date night. One important recommendation I would make, however, is to get to the movie 15 minutes early. Many of the films shown draw a large audience, so you do not want to run the risk of being locked out due to the lounge becoming filled.
Or, if you would prefer a more intimate setting to watch a movie, you could always have a cozy night in with a private film showing in one of your dorms. Grab a bunch of warm blankets and your favorite snacks, snuggle in bed together and pull up a favorite movie on a laptop (or television, if you have one). It’s a perfect excuse for quality cuddle time, and you have more freedom to watch a movie that you and your date will really like.
For the more active couple, a fun bike ride could be the perfect date. UIUC has miles and miles of campus and bike trails to traverse, so there is no better place for a biking date than here. Going biking is a great way to stay healthy and fit (and combat that infamous Freshman 15) while spending time with the person you care about, so it is beneficial to everyone.
The Quad offers plenty of green space, so you could always have a date there! Get a large blanket or towel, spread it out over a nice patch of grass in the sun, and just lie down and relax. From there, you and your significant other could curl up and sleep together. You could bring food and drinks and have a picnic. You could bring books and read together. You could even toss a Frisbee around for a while, or attempt to feed one of the many squirrels scampering about. The opportunities are pretty much endless.
I hope these suggestions are beneficial in coming up with fun and creative date ideas of your own. Just remember, the most important part of a date is having a good time.Don’t stress out over every little aspect that comes to mind, because chances are, you and your boyfriend or girlfriend can have a great time doing anything.
All photos taken by Madison Gillespie