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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Going for broke

    Over-drafting your bank account blows. After coming back from break with a negative account balance, I decided that I desperately needed a lifestyle change.

    Determined to begin that very moment, I grabbed one of those colorful maps with the “”Monopoly””-style coupons bordering the edges from the Student Union Memorial Center. At first glance I thought I had found my answer – nearly every square had, in bright red, bold letters, that beautiful word, “”FREE!”” Upon closer evaluation I realized it was a trap. “”Free Cupcake! … with the purchase of a brand new car!”” “”Free sugar cube! … when you order your coffee!””

    I went around the entire edge of the map looking for anything that was purely and simply free. Finally, I came across two legitimately free offers. Right around where Boardwalk and Park Place would be was a coupon for a completely free tan as well as an absolutely free pregnancy test and ultrasound! Hot damn.

    Perhaps the tan would help me get the ladies and then I could use the free ultrasound a couple months down the line. Overall, this map was useless to my poor predicament. It was then that I decided, come hell or high water, I was going to live for two days without spending a penny. And I wasn’t just going to sit on my ass watching “”Searching for Bobby Fischer”” for the 30th time (R.I.P. Bobby). I was going to get out into the land of the free – to experience ultimate freedom, if you will.

    So, last Friday morning I headed off to campus in search of the American Dream. My first stop was the UA Mall. The Mall is a great place to find free stuff – merely for half-listening to someone speak about religion, or politics or rushing – you can often acquire anything from food to a Frisbee. On Friday it was the Barack Obama campaign that would supply my first taste of freedom – a Nature Valley granola bar. Another opportunity to get something for nothing was the credit card offers. Just for putting false information on a piece of paper you can get free T-shirts, mugs or pizzas.

    My next goal was to find something to do. The UA and the surrounding area supply a plethora of free activities. The first step is going online to the UA Web site and looking at the calendar of events. (The ILC on campus offers free Internet to students.) The calendar shows many activities that will take place around campus on any given day.

    The first thing I checked out was the Center for Creative Photography. With exhibits rotating on a fairly regular basis, you can always find something interesting here. Today the exhibit was “”Making a Photograph: Iconic Images and Their Origins.”” Also on display was a collection of photographs of beautiful women from the sixties, where I spent most of my time looking at the photo center.

    Most nights around campus are also packed with free things to do. Coffee shops on East University Boulevard and North Fourth Avenue have open-mic nights on various days of the week. Bentley’s on East Speedway Boulevard has an open-mic every Friday from 7:30 to 10:45 p.m. This was the first stop in my evening of freedom. Bentley’s generally has cool acts, but to be honest, I can’t say that I was entirely impressed by the night’s lineup.

    After the second acoustic gospel singer hit the stage, I bailed out to search for something a little more edgy. I found myself at the Casbah Tea House on North Fourth Avenue. For a little more exotic taste, the teahouse features belly dancing every Friday and Sunday starting at 8 p.m.

    Another great way to save money during the school year is to invest in a bike. This saves money on gas and generally takes less time than trying to find a place to park. Believe it or not, there is actually a way to acquire a bike essentially for free. My first stop on Saturday was at the Bicycle Inter-Community Action and Salvage, BICAS. By volunteering a certain amount of time at BICAS, you can earn credit that you can then exchange for a salvaged bike or bike parts. You don’t need experience to volunteer, simply a willingness to learn and have a good time. BICAS also offers free tube patches to fix leaking tires. Since I had been riding with a slow leak in my tire for weeks, I took advantage of this trade and then headed off to the UA Museum of Art.

    This was another on-campus activity that I was impressed by. Surprisingly, UAMA is home to many great works including original artwork by Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein. Aside from the famous works, the museum also houses great artwork from local artists.

    From the art museum I hopped back on my bike and headed over to Himmel Park near East Speedway Boulevard and North Tucson Boulevard. There is nothing like wasting away a day in the park, plus, taking the free Frisbee that you got on the UA Mall can offer endless entertainment. Complete with tennis courts, pool and “”Hippie Hill,”” Himmel Park is a must when you can’t afford anything else.

    As the day wore down and stars filled the sky, I found myself again wandering the campus for freeness. Unbeknownst to me, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, 1601 E. University Blvd., has a telescope that is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The telescope on this particular night was manned by an exuberantly friendly older gentleman, whose enthusiasm and knowledge of the constellation he was showing made the visit well-worth the price tag. In fact, I would have paid double.

    If there is anything I learned in my two days of living for nothing, it’s that you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. From dumpster diving, party crashing and checking out venues that have free or cheap shows, the options are endless – if you’re willing to look for them.

    Be sure to check out the slideshow of Otto’s adventures here.

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