Every college freshman is encouraged to take advantage of the events, activities and pastimes that are available at his or her college or university in order to fill his or her free time. Freshmen at the University of Illinois are told nothing different; there are hundreds of different activities to take part in throughout Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding area. No UIUC student can come close to doing all of them at least once before graduating, but they are capable of doing the following seven activities.
1. Attend Quad Day
Quad Day is a tradition that occurs at every university in the nation before the start of fall classes. It’s a chance for registered student organizations, or RSOs, to showcase themselves to students, especially incoming freshmen. Most students will accomplish this activity as freshmen when they look to join a club that fits their interests, but students can also attend as sophomores, juniors, seniors or even graduate students. Regardless of class, students will leave the Quad with giveaways and with information on the clubs that exist and what activity or theme they are based upon.
2. Join a student organization
On Quad Day, students will typically interact with a few different RSOs that attract their attention and will leave the Quad with the information of when those RSOs meet for the first time of the new academic year. How many first meetings a student attends varies, and some students will determine that some RSOs looked interesting on Quad Day, but are ultimately not for them. But students will typically find at least one RSO that is worth maintaining membership in. Through RSOs, students will meet new people and make new friends, bonded over their mutual interest in that RSO and its activities.
3. Hang out on the Quad
When it isn’t Quad Day, but the weather is warm and sunny, students typically flock to the Quad in late summer or early/mid spring, often with their friends, to take advantage of the weather. On these days, any of the following activities can happen on the Quad, often simultaneously: spikeball, walking tightropes, relaxing in hammocks, homework and suntanning. Students who own dogs also tend to bring their furry friends to the Quad in addition to meeting with their human friends.
4. Selfie with Alma Mater
Located near the Quad is UIUC’s most iconic landmark: Alma Mater. It is a common occurrence for students and campus visitors to get a picture with the statue, either taking a selfie or having a passerby take a picture for them. Students especially like to take pictures with Alma when she is decorated for a special occasion. For example, Alma is dressed in a graduation cap and gown every May, and it is tradition for graduating students to get a picture with Alma while wearing their own graduation regalia.
5. Rub the nose of Abraham Lincoln’s bust
Almost every UIUC student has at least one class in Lincoln Hall, located on the southwestern part of the Quad. Located inside is a bust of the building’s namesake: Abraham Lincoln. It is tradition for students to rub the bust’s nose whenever they need luck for an exam. As a result of this practice, the nose is more polished that the rest of the bust, appearing gold in comparison to the blackish-brown of the bust.
6. Eat at a campus restaurant
While living in University Housing, students typically enjoy meals in the dining halls, but this eventually gets repetitive and students grow tired of eating here. Some students eventfully move into apartments and make their own food, but this can also become repetitive. Students often eat out at campus restaurants on Green Street, like Legends and Maize Mexican Grill, to change up their eating habits.
7. Attend Fighting Illini sports events
Collegiate athletics are an integral part of major universities, and the University of Illinois has 21 varsity athletic teams that compete under the Fighting Illini moniker. Most Fighting Illini sporting events are free for students to attend; the only sporting events that students have to pay to attend are football games at Memorial Stadium and men’s basketball games at State Farm Center. But students are offered exclusive season ticket packages at reduced prices, and these packages allow them to sit in the student sections: Block I (known for its halftime card stunts), Orange Krush (often ranked among the best college basketball student sections in the country) and smaller student sections for non-revenue sports. Because of the unpredictable nature of sports, fans can never be sure about how a game will conclude; the Illini have pulled off upsets at home in the past, leading to students storming the football field and basketball court.