Arts & Culture

How to Broaden Your Cultural Horizons in College

You’re going off to college, and it feels like the world is opening up to you. College is a great opportunity to expand your horizons for music, art, travel, film and more. College campuses tend to facilitate access to a huge diversity of arts and culture, and beyond that, many cultural institutions offer student discounts. The best way to learn is to dive in, and below are some of the ways you can take the plunge.


If you think of travel as spending a week at a resort or assume you need thousands of dollars to go abroad, think again. As a student, you have some terrific opportunities to travel at a very low cost. You may be able to study abroad by directly enrolling at a foreign university for less than it costs to attend your own university for a year. Be sure to find out whether credits will transfer. You may still be able to use your student loans as well. If you haven’t taken out any loans yet but think you may need to, check out a private student loans interest rate. These can vary widely, and a lower rate can significantly lower your debt later. Another option may be working abroad. Several countries offer work visas to American college students. Visit your university’s study abroad office to learn more.

Free or Low-Cost Campus Culture

From art shows that display the work of fellow students to world-class musicians on tour to talks from authors and more, college campuses generally offer plenty of opportunities to leave your comfort zone and explore. The key to enjoying this is to not put any pressure on yourself. Maybe you don’t know a violin from a viola and decide that you don’t actually care to, or perhaps you’ll come to the conclusion that you really don’t like much contemporary art. On the other hand, your college might have a film series that introduces you to a world of foreign cinema that is entirely new to you and that you fall in love with. Try to go into experiences with an open mind, and don’t worry if you don’t particularly enjoy something. There’s always something else interesting going on another night.

Off Campus

Offbeat culture flourishes in many college towns that would otherwise be too small to support it. Take a chance and go see a band you’ve never heard of play, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, see what happens on an open mic night at your favorite local venue. If you’re attending college in a larger city, your opportunities expand exponentially. From comedy clubs to theater to concerts and more, it’s likely you won’t have the time for everything you’d like to do. What you shouldn’t do is let a lack of money stop you. You might not be able to afford the top acts you’re familiar with, but remember that every comedian and every musician started small. It’s never a waste even if you go to a show you don’t enjoy. You’re still learning more about what’s out there and what your taste is, and sometimes it can be more interesting to figure out why you didn’t like something than why you did.

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