How to have a social life when you’re broke

Coming to Spain has drained my entire bank account.

The plane ticket was more than $1,000 and additional travel has easily exceeded $500. With the dryness of my account, I have to learn new ways to get the most out of my experience here in Europe while balancing my social life. Here are some low-cost(but fun!) activities I’ve discovered:

1. Take a stroll around town

Over Christmas break, my family and I averaged walking seven miles per day in Italy. With the beginning of school, I quickly missed the exercise. Then, I remembered that on Wednesday, Sagunto holds its weekly market (a twenty-minute walk and the trip adds up to five miles of walking). one week in January, I suggested to a few friends that we go to the market. Almost every Wednesday since, my friends and I have made a trip to the market.

2. Watch a good movie

Netflix is a great resource to watch movies or shows with friends. It’s not free, but it’s affordable and has given me many wonderful memories. Almost every weekend I invite friends into my room so we can hang out and watch a movie. Last semester I even held a weekly TV show marathon. Kaylin, my roommate in Spain and a friend from Union, and I would push our beds together and invite other girls to watch Netflix via my computer.

3. Hang out in La Frontera (our student center)

This center has couches, a foosball table, piano and a projector with a screen. The school hosts many activities including films dubbed in Spanish such as Planet 51. Many students do homework in there because it has the best Wi-Fi on campus. One night, as I helped a friend with homework, we ended up getting distracted by random stuff, just laughing at jokes and procrastinating late into the night.

4. Enjoy nature

Our little campus is situated inside a half circle of mountains which opens out into the coastline twelve miles away. Behind the girl’s dorm is a trail leading up into the mountains. I personally haven’t trekked too far, but my brother has. What I have done is gone up the mountain with four of my girl friends for a photo shoot. With my DSLR camera, we took turns posing under the golden sunlight. With music playing in the background and great company, we ended doing more laughing than actual photo taking.

5. Go to the beach (or Pawnee Lake)

Sometimes it costs a taxi ride, and other times the school takes us on Friday. At the beach we sit on the sand, play in the water, have volleyball tournaments, and just have a blast. During the last beach trip we took it was too cold to swim, but Kari, a new friend from Andrews University, and I sat on our towels and watched the rolling waves.

Although Spain’s culture and landscapes are different than Lincoln, Neb., the students are basically the same. We are all young adults trying to make the most of our twenties by figuring out life and discovering new things.

It’s possible to enjoy life without spending a lot of money. For instance, Union has a wonderful student center  and the Wi-Fi at Union is better than what I have experienced all year in Spain. Union may not have a beach nearby, but it has Holmes Lake and Pawnee Lake. Lincoln may not have mountains, but it has the Capitol Building, Pioneers Park, and many beautiful bike trails.

There are so many things you can do when you’re broke, especially in Lincoln. Go experience them and drag some friends along.

Melissa Ratter is a senior english language arts education major studying abroad in Spain.