As a student, it is important to take time to decompress and have fun with your friends. Give yourself permission to celebrate the end of a hard midterm season or a packed week. Whether you are just starting to make friends in university or hang out with old friends, these entertaining activities will help you form closer bonds and relieve the stress of a demanding university life.

1. Escape Rooms

In escape rooms, you work together as a team to solve clues, decipher hints, and find your way through multiple rooms within a time limit. Escape rooms are often used by companies as a way to strengthen relationships and teamwork skills of their employees. So why shouldn’t they build the same skills and bonds for you and your friends? They do and it’s loads of fun. Escape rooms come in a variety of difficulties and suggested numbers of players. Typically, groups of 4-10 is the most popular size, however smaller groups can partake—it may just be a bit harder to escape. Escaping will test your problem solving skills and ability to think outside of the box. Solving clues often involves the very elaborate piecing together of puzzles and problems. I am often blown away by the creativity of the people that set up escape rooms. Escape rooms are especially fun around Halloween when they become extra spooky. 

2. Climbing Gyms

The great thing about climbing is that unlike many other sports, you can go in a group with beginners and experts. Climbing gyms do not segregate advanced and beginner routes, so your whole group can stay together while trying different routes. Climbing gyms usually offer rope climbing and bouldering. Rope climbing is a bit more technical, so bouldering is a great alternative if none of your party has experience. Bouldering involves climbing short but difficult routes, where you fall onto mats if you can’t make it to the top. I prefer bouldering, as it involves short bursts of strength rather than longer periods of endurance involved in traditional climbing. Climbing is a great workout and you will surely have sore forearms and fingers the day after. More experienced members of your group can help the novice climbers, and climbers with similar experience can work together to solve tricky routes.

3. Board Games

Board game cafes or bars are always a blast and a perfect way to bond with your friends. Depending on how you are feeling, or how old you are, you can choose a bar or cafe option—though some places offer both. We have all become so consumed with video games and technology (myself included) that we have forgotten how fun board games can be. Whether you’re playing a serious strategy-based game or a light-hearted, casual game, board game cafes are sure to keep you entertained. Often there is a small cover charge to use their wide array of games and you have until closing time to sample as many as you want. Time flies when you’re having fun with your friends, and I’ve often been forced to leave when the cafe closes.

4. Karaoke

Karaoke places are judgment free zones, so even non-singers like me can muster up the courage to sing. Singing a group song is an awesome way to bond with friends and to become more open and comfortable with each other. Make sure that you get in early, as later in the night wait times to sing can become very long. At first, it can be intimidating to sing, but after hearing a couple of groups sing and set the bar incredibly low, you gain confidence. 

Go out and have some fun! University should be among the best days of your life. Enjoy it while it lasts. Reward yourself after a long week of studying! It is important to keep a close group of friends, and these activities can help bring your friend group even closer together. Along the way, it’s quite likely you’ll make some new friends too.

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