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Around Town on a College Student’s Budget

By: Katelyn Six, Section Editor for Block Beat (

Everyone has that one friend who always suggests doing the most expensive things on the planet, “just for fun.” That pal that says things like “Let’s go skiing,” or “Let’s go to this concert, the tickets are only 200 bucks! That’s pocket change!” Yeah, right. Sadly, most college students are on a pretty tight budget, but there are countless fun, inexpensive activities to do right around the neighborhood. 

1. Catch a Flick at the Movies

One popular activity is going to the movie theater to catch the latest rom-com (romantic comedy). But, after you pay for the ticket, overly-buttered popcorn, drinks and a box of Snow Caps you’ve spent close to $40! Now, what if I told you, you could get a similar experience for less than 5 bucks? Just hit up the local library, pick out the movie you want to see (yes they have new releases, not everything in a library is old and covered in dust), then stop in 7-11 to grab a bag of movie theater buttered popcorn paired with a $.99 Big Gulp and a bag of Reese’s Pieces. The experience of knowing you cheated the movie theater trick and saved $35…priceless.

2. Partake in Bowling Bliss

The next low-cost activity for a college student on a budget doesn’t even require you to wear street shoes. Bowling is not only budget-friendly, but it’s also a classic way to showcase your athletic aptitude with friends or a date on a Friday night. The perfect place to bowl a strike? The UIC Student Games and Bowling Center, located at 750 S. Halsted St., between Polk and Harrison. This bowling alley is open seven days a week and is fully equipped with 16 lanes, 16 billiards tables and even an arcade! So, how much does it cost for a night of pin-knocking? The prices will have you rubbing your eyes in amazement. At $2.50 for UIC students, $3.00 for alumni and faculty, and $3.50 for guests and general public, and a shoe rental for only $2.00, bowling is the perfect way to spend a chilly Chicago evening without breaking the piggy bank. The billiards tables are $5.50 per hour for UIC students, $6.50 for alumni and staff, and $8.50 for guests and general public. For UIC college students that is less than $5 a person for a night of bowling with friends.

3. Whose Line is it Anyway?

Remember when that friend who wanted to go to a concert in which the tickets were monstrously expensive? Well, this next activity is almost like that, but without the hefty price tag. The iO Theatre in Chicago is a great place to go for entertainment on a college student’s budget. Located in the heart of Wrigleyville, at 3541 N. Clark Ave, iO is an improv theatre with two stages of shows every night, two full bars, and a full-time improv training center. There are shows seven nights a week, and most are only $5 for admission, so you’ll likely leave with some dough left over for a pizza. One of the $5 shows is Felt on Wednesday nights at 8pm. And another popular one is TJ & Dave, also on Wednesday nights at 11 p.m. Watching the improv shows at iO theatre is not only extremely amusing but also affordable.

4. Slip on Some Skates

For those brave souls who love to venture outdoors (even when it’s frigid), the McCormick Tribune Ice rink in Millennium Park is a great place to go ice-skating at a reasonable price. If you didn’t get a chance to get your skating on during winter break, it’s not too late. The rink is open for ice-skating through March 9, 2014. The best part is that the rink is free and open to the public, so all you have to spend is $10 for the skates (if you do not already have a pair). Monday through Thursday it’s open from noon – 8 p.m., Friday it is open from noon –10 p.m., and on the weekends it is open from noon – 9 p.m. So gather a group together or that special someone and skate the night away!


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