by Samantha Buoye
It’s Saturday night and the school week has yet again come to a close. We probably just lost another football game, and the Knights are ready to celebrate. UCF students, most of them intoxicated before they even stepped into the bar. Bottom shelf liquor sloshing in their cups, a pool of collective sweat on the dance floor, a synchronization of hundreds of barely legal college students grinding on each other to the latest top 40 song remix. This is the college scene. It’s what is traditional, expected even of young people during their first years of independence after high school, but it is not necessary in order to enjoy your time in college.
There is another group of people doing an entirely different thing. They are what society has deemed “homebodies:” people who prefer to stay in or at home. In college, the term tends to extend to anyone who doesn’t want to get black out drunk downtown every weekend. On that same night, you might find a homebody on the couch with their pets, roommates, or significant other, curled up with a book or their latest Netflix addiction, possibly sipping on a bottle of beer or a glass of wine from their fridge. This is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your Saturday night (and in my opinion, much more enjoyable), but somehow being a homebody during college is a stigma, and the term itself has negative connotations.
The biggest assumption about homebodies is that they are boring, uninteresting, against drinking alcohol, or antisocial. While this may be true for some, it is not for most. However, these preexisting judgments can be hard to work against, especially as an underclassman. In college, there is a huge pressure to be in the first group of people that I mentioned: the partygoers (or should I say partybodies). It is, after all, “what college students do.” They drink until they puke, Instagram their Walk of Shame, and brag to all of their friends how hung over they are, only to repeat the cycle again the next night. If you aren’t one of the first fifty to burst through the local bar before 10 PM for free cover, are you even really in college? Won’t you regret not having fun? Where else will you get a drink? How are you going to meet anyone?
When these questions are posed, a college homebody might feel very isolated, odd, or out of place, especially at UCF. With over 60,000 students, it is easy for someone to feel lost in the sea of strangers on campus, but it does not have to be this way. As a senior, I can say that I have, at one point or another, felt this this way. When I first came to UCF, I thought that clubbing was just what everyone did and was what I was expected to do in order to socialize. I have dragged myself out to clubs and packed college bars and drank Long Island Ice Teas until I was puking out of my roommate’s window on the car ride home—more than once. It is not the answer. You do not need to go to Library to get a drink, make friends, or meet your soul mate. There are so many ways to have fun here in Orlando that don’t require sacrificing your comfort or dignity. Here are a couple ideas:
Grab your friends, roommates, or classmates and an assortment of card and board games, including, but not limited to: Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, Smart Ass, Clue, and Loaded Questions. (This can quickly turn into drinking game night, which is normally just as fun.)
Pick up a hobby
Start running, biking, walking, knitting or crocheting, painting, drawing, writing, gardening, yoga, quilting, embroidering, photographing, puzzles…most of these can be done with alcohol, as well.
Go to the movie theater (and if you feel like having a drink, there are at least three theaters in Orlando that have bars or table service)
Eat and drink local
There are so many great places in Orlando to eat and drink. Local places are often smaller and more intimate, making it easier to talk with friends. Grab a beer at Orlando Brewing Company, coffee at Stardust Video & Coffee, or tea at Dandelion Communitea Café.
College is an incredible time in your life and it normally comes with newfound independence. Living on your own for the first time is exciting with a continuous stream of new information, both in class and in what you hear from other students. You will learn so much about yourself before you graduate and step on that Pegasus stage, and you will take so many memories with you after you leave.
You do not have to spend every weekend drinking and partying to make it memorable. As I prepare to graduate, I mostly regret the nights spent trying to appease and conform to everyone else. They are not what made me who I am now, and they will not be the stories I look back on fondly. I will remember the friends I have made and the nights we spent together, just a bunch of lame, odd, uninteresting homebodies. I wouldn’t change those memories for the world.