This year will be the final year of my undergrad studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Although I plan to have a busy, memorable, and fun final year, I wanted to share a bucket list that could maybe serve as inspiration for incoming freshmen.
If you are one of these incoming freshmen who are fortunate enough to just be beginning their college experiences: know that you really are fortunate to attend this university. It really is a special place. On this campus are thousands of brilliant, kind, fascinating people, and you may have the pleasure to meet some of them. Take advantage of every day you can wake up and be a student at this university, because it gives you a lot of opportunities that you may never see again. Make your own bucket lists, so you can make some amazing memories of your own.
My UIUC Bucket List:
1. See something out of the ordinary
Last year Vice President Joe Biden was visiting our campus, so I left the library I was studying at to go see him drive by in his car. An hour later, I was standing on the quad looking at a camel, and hundreds of students were lined up so they could sit on the camel for a few seconds. It can happen.
2. See a concert at Foellinger Auditorium
I never had class at Foellinger, but the first time I stepped into that building, I was seeing Nate Ruess perform, about a week after I had the chance to interview him over the phone. Since then I’ve seen more bands and performances there, and I think it’s pretty unique that celebrities come and perform in the same place many people have their freshman lectures.
3. Sit in Block I
We may not always win, but I guarantee you will always have fun sitting in Block I, the football student cheering section. Hey, card stunts are something that our school is known for. And even if our team isn’t that great, the Marching Illini are. If we do happen to win, there’s nothing better than after the games when the football team stands in front of Block I, and everyone has their arms around each other singing “Alma Mater.”
4. Get really involved with a student organization
I really think this is more of a requirement to make your UIUC experience worthwhile. Get involved with something that takes up a lot of your time, challenges you, lets you meet new people, and is something that you’re passionate about. For me, it was getting involved with Illini Media, and I really can’t imagine what my college experience would’ve been like without it.
5. Take a class just for fun
It could be out of your major, out of your comfort zone, or out of your area of experience. Bonus points if it’s all three. But let it just be something you enjoy, and a class that you look forward to — and if you’re looking for suggestions, I’d take ATMS 120 (Severe and Hazardous Weather).
6. Sit on the Quad and do nothing
Just sit there. Without a laptop, without your phone, without a book or anything. Sit there and watch people go by and revel in the fact that you’re sitting on just about the most college-y looking grassy quad that has ever existed.
7. Listen to a performance at the Courtyard Cafe
In the Illini Union courtyard cafe area, there’s a little stage and sometimes, if you’re lucky, someone is performing. Sometimes it’s open mic, but one Tuesday when I was done with class I went to sit there to do some studying, and this great jazz group was performing. It was loud and pretty much everyone in the room was entranced.
8. Get a milkshake at Courier Cafe
Although it’s not on campus, Courier Cafe is one of my favorite places to go, specifically for their desserts and milkshakes.
9. Attend a guest lecture or public speaker
10. Go to sporting events other than basketball and football
Hockey, softball, and baseball don’t draw the same crowds as our popular Big 10 sports, but they do draw a crowd.
11. Attend Holi in the spring
Spend a day outside with your friends acting like a kid, throwing colors and playing with water guns. Asha UIUC puts it on every year, and I went this year for the first time — it was a blast.
12. Study abroad
I never got the chance to go abroad for an entire semester, but I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Belgium and Paris and a week in London with some of my best friends. There is no other experience like exploring a new country for the first time with good friends.