Welcome to the party

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Column by Robert Valentine, senior lecturer of advertising

There are those who come to a college campus with the idea that they are about to begin a four-year party. With luck, they might stretch it to five or even six years.

They are right.

Of course, it all depends on your definition of “party.” Those who think that college provides you with freedom from parental oversight (true) and a cloak of invisibility on Saturday night (false) will likely be disappointed. Nonstop parties have a habit of producing Monday morning headaches and mid-month economic distress. Going to class is easier.

The real party is the profusion of new experiences that come flying at you with little or no cost except for a wee bit of awareness and the initiative it takes to go outside.

A few of the festive elements of college life are worth mentioning. Let me start with the usual suspects.

First, there are the athletic events. From football to soccer, volleyball to baseball and softball, Murray State has a school or club team to entertain you when you need something to do. Admission is often free, and the people on the court or field may be friends or acquaintances, which makes it more fun.

You are, of course, a member of a residential college, and your college often has a team that is in competition with other intramural teams. Games are usually shorter than NCAA-sanctioned competition, and the level of play may not be quite as intense as the kind scholarship athletes provide, but it’s just as much fun to stand on the sidelines or in the bleachers and cheer for your team—or you can play on a team. That’s fun too, and just as free.

You are aware, of course, your residential college also has free programs almost every night of the week.

Sometimes it’s a lecture or demonstration; sometimes it’s a game. There are usually light refreshments, too, as well as a chance to meet new people or allow new acquaintances to grow into friendships.

Less well-known are the arts. Budgets don’t always permit widespread publicity for plays, recitals and art exhibits, so you have to keep your eyes open. Bulletin boards, posters, sidewalk chalks, The News and some digital media can help—your effort will often be rewarded.

A play at the theatre (there are two of them) is a great date. Admission is free with your ID, and the shows are quite good. Most first-timer audiences are amazed at the quality of performance and spectacle, and you might have some friends in the cast. Did I mention it’s free?

I continue to be stunned every time I go to a concert or recital. Murray State has a long reputation as a music school, and the people who emerge from the rigorous programs in vocal and instrumental music can back up the hype. From opera to classical to jazz, these folks will light up your evening. Get a group of friends and head off to the concert, and you’ll have plenty to talk about over coffee (or something) after the last note fades on the night air.

The international film series is one of the best-kept secrets at Murray State. Films that would cost you $20 a ticket in Santa Monica or Chicago are yours for free on selected Saturday or Sunday nights. The Curris Center TV Lounge may not be the Shubert, or even the Maiden Alley, but it’s a short walk from wherever you live, and the films are just as good there as they are in Manhattan.

And that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Open your mind, and open your eyes; the party has already started, and it’s free. Wait five years and the same stuff will cost you $25 a pop somewhere else. Do it now and you save money, meet people and have a great time.

Welcome to the party!