There's plenty of fun to be had in Columbia, Missouri, don't get me wrong on that.
With football and basketball games, an insane bar scene, one of the best recreation centers in the country (even when it's always overpopulated), a beautiful downtown filled with quaint little shops and plenty of outdoor activities like Devil's Icebox, you can find fun activities just about anywhere you look. There's something for everyone. But for my money, the best way to spend your time is to travel to areas other than the college town you now call home.
Let me make an exception here; if you're new to Columbia, spend as much time exploring it as you can. Check out as much as you can while you're here for these four years, but use that first year to your advantage. Fall in love with this City and campus.
For me though, some of the best weekends I've had in college have come from traveling. For this past spring break, a couple of my fraternity brothers and I planned a trip to Colorado. We bounced around from Fort Collins to Estes Park and wrapped things up in Boulder, hiking, checking out breweries, eating at places we'd never seen before, and just exploring new areas in general. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I had such a great time that I planned another trip over the summer with my friends from back home.
Getting out of the Midwest is an important thing to do, especially if you're someone like me who grew up in Kansas City. While there are some perks to living here, to go to new places where the culture is slightly different than the one you are constantly surrounded by is an amazing experience.
No offense to mid-Missouri, but there's some prettier landscapes out there. For example, In the past year alone I've been to Colorado twice, Houston twice, Jamaica, and Memphis. I've got plans to visit Alabama, Nashville, Cabo, and hopefully Europe in the next year.
Understandably, this is an option that isn't for everyone. However, you don't have to be flooded with cash to make this a possibility. I spent less than $350 on both trips to Colorado. With services like Airbnb, affordable lodging is easier than ever to find. Instead of flying, hop in the car with your friends and save hundreds of dollars. It's easier than ever to find good travel apps or websites. Budgettravel.com compiled a list of the ten most useful travel websites that can help you get started.
One last piece of advice. It's best to take these kinds of trips with your friends. While it is absolutely beneficial to do it on your own (and in some ways, may be more worthwhile from time to time), doing it with a group of your close friends is rewarding beyond belief. From the planning stages, to the long hours in the car, to the feelings you get when you arrive at your destination and begin to delve into your new environment, sharing those moments with your friends is the way to go.
Again, Columbia is a great town. Spend as much time as you can getting to know it. But if you're willing to spend a little extra money, then pack up your things, grab some friends and head to a part of the country you've never seen before. It's well worth it.