For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Sep 11 2016
by Mia Renee Cole

5 Affordable and Unique Dates for College Couples

By Mia Renee Cole - Sep 11 2016

Last weekend my long-distance boyfriend came down to my school to spend a few nights with me. I was so excited to see him and couldn't want to spend the weekend with him, but one thought was on my mind: what were we going to do? I knew we'd both be exhausted - I'd had a full week of classes and he had worked all week too - but I wanted to go on memorable dates with him that were just a little more than Netflix and Chill.

So I thought of a few places on and near my campus that would make good, affordable dates for us to enjoy. And then it crossed my mind - why not write about these dates? Why not get his input and share our experiences with other, broke college students who need ideas that don't have the innuendo of "chill" attached to the end of them. I presented the idea to Harley and, though I thought he'd be incredibly reluctant but willing to do it to please me, he didn't seem to have any problem with it (key word being "seem").

Here are the five dates Harley and I went on while he was visiting me in Chapel Hill, with a few honorable mentions at the end.

1. Take a Walk Around Campus

The first night Harley arrived, we took a stroll through my campus so I could show him around. We focused on the area closer to my dorm and I pointed out the different areas that I had classes and Chapel Hill's more famous buildings and monuments (Wilson Library pictured above). This stroll through campus could mean something different for different couples. For long-distance couples, this is a great opportunity to show your significant other where you live and study. For couples that go to the same school, just a relaxing walk through campus, holding hands and talking about your week/day, is still a great way to bond and enjoy your time together - without distractions. I would suggest going on your stroll in the evening when it's cooler - plus you'll get a different view of campus than you normally do when rushing to class during the day.

Mia's Rating: 4/5 (kinda chilly)

Harley's Rating: 5/5 (new experience, learned new things)

2. Go to the Farmer's Market

Saturday Morning, Harley and I decided to give the local Carrboro Farmer’s Market a go. Overall, it wasn’t the most fun date we’ve been on, but between our late arrival and Harley being hangry, it was ultimately kind of our fault. If we had arrived earlier and eaten breakfast before going, I think it would have been loads better. The market itself was crowded, but full of energy with lots to do and see. I’m sure if it were less crowded and we weren’t in as much of a hurry to feed the boyfriend, we would have enjoyed some of the local coffee and pastries as we roamed through all the vegetables, fruits, flowers and goods. We lapped the market twice, I bought some pretty fall flowers for my dorm room, and we scooted out. This date was entirely free (this is by choice, of course, because I did buy something) and a different environment than campus - it was refreshing and a great way to get out of the dorm Saturday morning.

Mia's Rating: 3/5 (Hangry Harley)

Harley's Rating: 3/5 (wasn't bad, kinda small)

3. Grocery Shopping & Making Dinner Together

Okay, so we didn’t actually make dinner. Between all of our dates and his traveling to see me, we were both exhausted by the end of Saturday. We still decided to go to the Weaver Street Market, a local co-op, to pick up a few groceries and dinner for the evening. I love co-ops because they always have neat vibes and cool food to look at, but the biggest downside would be the high cost of items there. We only bought a few things, but it was still an experience to grocery shop together - especially since the Weaver Street Market was incredibly crowded. Though we didn’t make dinner together, we did sit down and eat it - TV turned off, conversation turned on.

Mia's Rating: 4/5 (wanted to actually make dinner)

Harley's Rating: 4/5 (relaxing, calm and comforting)

4. Visit an Art Museum

After the farmer's market (and Harley was fed), we checked out Ackland Art Museum, right off of my school’s campus. It’s a small museum with free admission, and super easy access for students without cars. I was expecting to have to drag Harley through the museum like a child on a leash, but it turned out to be pretty fun. They had a neat exhibit about America and a large chalkboard wall to draw on. We spent time playing with chalk and Harley enjoyed taking selfies with the busts (below).

Mia Renee Cole

Mia's Rating: 5/5 (entertaining)

Harley's Rating: 4/5 (not a fan of art)

5. Build a Fort

Building a fort is a fun way to make late-night movie watching less like Netflix-ing and Chilling. However, it proved kind of hard to build a fort - as Harley put it, we lacked the "proper materials" to build a fort in my dorm. He mentioned needing a broom, though for what I'm unsure. We created more of a canopy above my bed (shoutout to my roommate's scarf that we totally used) and it fell down...a lot - partially because we used tape, partially because the AC vent blows air directly on/over my bed. Either way, the fort/canopy added a warmer, more romantic tone to the night that was a subtle, yet well appreciated difference.

Mia's Rating: 5/5 (cute aesthetic)

Harley's Rating: 5/5 (something about "quality time" with me)

Honorable Mentions

There were couple of things I'd had planned for us to do but they went undone due to weather and lack of time. One of my initial ideas was to go on a picnic at my school's gorgeous arboretum, using food bought at the farmer's market. Due to the hurricane sweeping the southeast, though, rain had completely soaked the ground for the entire weekend. My school is also lucky enough to have a Planetarium on campus, and I thought it might be fun to go view a show there. Most of the shows during the weekend were targeted towards kids unfortunately  so it wouldn't have been ideal for us. If you have a Planetarium on or near your campus, though, it would be a great place to utilize for romantic, star-viewing nights. Picnics are also cheap and make for great Instagram pictures.

I have to say, these dates were different from our norm, but they were totally worth it - especially with their price tags. Three of the five cost us absolutely nothing. The Farmer's Market only cost me because I decided to buy something, and dinner was cheap. It was all worth it, and it was a great way to welcome Harley to Chapel Hill. I think our next step is to figure out affordable and cute dates during the winter - Peppermint Mocha, anyone?

Lead Image Credit: Mia Renee Cole
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Mia Renee Cole - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mia Renee is currently the Senior Editor with Fresh U and a student at UNC Chapel Hill, where she is studying Spanish and French. In her free time she enjoys knitting, photography and drinking hot tea while writing on her personal blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @miareneecole or her blog at!

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