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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

The Best On-Campus Dates (For When the Dining Hall Just Won’t Do It)

High school hook-ups and “dates” were easy: they occurred during premeditated (and often unauthorized) get-togethers in someone’s basement where everyone discreetly filled their Solo cups one quarter of the way with vodka, parents provided the snacks and there were rooms designated for couples if they dared to slip away from the party for a little while.  These dates required little planning and little money – perfect for pre-collegiettes™, but much different from what we know now!
We’re in college now, where snacks get delivered by the Domino’s guy no earlier than 3a.m., and Solo cups are half filled with vodka – so naturally, the dating and hook-up game has changed too. Now it’s up to us, as individuals – and not our party-planning friends – to maintain the relationships we develop with guys. And that means going on real grown-up dates (once you’ve passed the “hooking-up” stage nonsense). But with restricted access to the world beyond our college campuses (whether it be you don’t have a car or your bank account is almost empty), it can be hard to make these dates feel special and romantic – especially if you’re forced to resort to the campus dining hall. Keeping things interesting between you and your guy will often require a little bit of creativity and a healthy sense of humor.
5, 6, 7, 8!
A lot of schools have PE requirements, so why not enroll in a ballroom-dance-style gym class with your guy? You’re always guaranteed a partner, and you’ll get a chance to laugh with (or at?) him as the two of you try to figure out the steps. If you’ve taken dance classes before, this could be an opportunity to help him learn something new. This kind of setting will really allow you to loosen up around each other and give you some material to impress your friends with at the next party.

Taste Test
Walk to the nearest CVS or grocery store and pick up some baking mix and disposable tins/bowls. If you’re into arts and crafts, make this project a little more creative by buying colorful squeezable icing tubes to decorate cupcakes or cookies with. Otherwise, slice n’ bake chocolate chip cookies or velvety brownies are easy, gooey and just the right amount of messy – just don’t let him get away before cleanup.

A huge all-school football or basketball game may not be so romantic, but it’s definitely something fun to do together. Get decked out in your school gear – face paint and pigtails with ribbons included – and cheer on your team with the rest of your classmates and friends. Whether you’ve been dating for years or are just getting started, a big sporting event has so much energy and hype that it’s almost impossible not to have a good time. Pre-games can also be a chance for you to socialize with his friends and vice versa – just take it easy on the beers and make a good impression!

Take the name to heart here: it doesn’t have to be early (1 or 2PM will do) because breakfast food is perfect for any time of day. If your school has a nearby brunch spot that’s a favorite among visitors and students, a Sunday morning brunch with him can be relaxing and leisurely. Share a huge stack of pancakes or get your own omelette. Enjoy spending the late morning/early afternoon hours with him before you both realize how much work you have to catch up on. 
Shop ‘Til He Drops
Hit up the bookstore together to stock up on textbooks, and, of course, new school apparel. He can help you carry the heaviest items on your list – and you accomplish an otherwise boring task while getting to spend time with him. Be sure to go when it’s not too busy, so you don’t get swept up in a chaotic frenzy of notebooks and pens.  And as you get side tracked by those cute new sweatpants, consider this date a test-run for real shopping trips to the mall.

Caffeine, Please!
As school gets underway, set a weekly time to meet for morning (or afternoon if that suits you) coffee.  Choose a day when neither of you has early classes – or if you both have unbearable 8AMs, maybe this could make it a little better? – and treat it as a little pick-me-up. Consider this a built-in caffeine fix that allows you to spend just a half-hour or so with him to catch up with each other’s busy lives – just make sure you both stick to it!

A Walk In The Park
If you consider your campus a park, or your school really does have a park, take a walk through it. There can be a lot to look at and admire on college campuses, and as busy students, we don’t always take time to appreciate their beauty. Taking a stroll on a clear day can be a pleasant reprieve from your day-to-day routine and opens up the floor for conversation about everything and anything that comes to mind.

Bring Out the Blanket
Before or after your campus tour, grab a to-go lunch and lay out a blanket on the quad to enjoy your midday meal. A picnic can be a rather romantic date and a playful one at that (not to mention amusing if you’re both into people-watching). If you like physical activity, bring a ball or a Frisbee to throw around after you’ve eaten.

Art Appreciation
The campus galleries and museums that you always walk past are not just for art history majors. They’re there for everyone to enjoy and take advantage of (and are usually free!). He may object, but there’s no doubt that you can both learn something and engage in some sort of conversation about it – there’s a chance he might actually like it!
Between the chaos, the bad food and the dorky trays you carry that food on, the dining hall is the one place to really avoid while on a date. Coming up with other exciting things to do with your guy may seem difficult, but you don’t need to look very far beyond your campus boundaries. There are plenty of options – and some may end up being more romantic than you think! The next time you make plans with your guy, get creative and do something different. Dates don’t have to include lavish dinners or fancy clothes – they can be much more accessible and more conducive to a student-sized budget.  Getting crafty with date choices will also allow you to keep your relationship exciting, as well as discover everything your college campus has to offer.

Lauren Kaplan is a senior majoring in English and Dance at Emory University. She is originally from New Jersey, and has loved living in Atlanta for the past three years. Lauren thinks most fondly of her two favorite places - her childhood camp, Camp Wayne for Girls, and Margate on the Jersey shore - from which she has derived a love of friends, family, and the beach.