Column: Live like a champ while spending your summer in Chambana

By Steve Contorno

If you’re anything like me, you had this conversation with your father after signing your first lease:

Me: “Yea, it’s great. It’s got a balcony facing Green Street. It’s across from Domino’s AND Papa John’s. And it has central air. All the essentials.”

Pops: “How long is the lease for?”

Me: “A year.”

Pops: “A year as in a school year, or a year as in 12 months?”

Me: “Uhhh … a year as in (scramble to read lease) 12 months.”

Pops: “Well, what are you gonna do for those other three months?’

Me: “Uhhh.”

Pops: “So I’m going to be paying for you to rent an apartment you won’t even be living in for three months?”

Me: “Well, I’ll come down on the weekends … “

Needless to say, Dave was not happy paying for me to have a party pad during the summer. And I wasn’t too keen on having some random individual live in my apartment, sleep in my bed and eat whatever food I left for my return in August.

Thus, the Summer of Steve was born.

Staying in C-U last summer was a unique experience I am glad to have been through. Sure, the better parts of campus are bombarded by townies and local high schoolers camping out Cold Stone pretending to be college kids. For better or worse, the town is a little quieter, bars and restaurants are much less crowded, and Country Night at Kam’s, sadly, ceases to exist. With only a quarter of campus still occupied, summer definitely has a different feel.

But it’s a great option if you too got stuck into a 12-month lease and aren’t a big fan of subleasing. Here’s why:

IMPE and CRCE are dead

If you hate waiting for machines or a pickup game of basketball, the summer is a great time to get started on your belated New Year’s resolution to lose a few pounds. Pickup games of basketball are a little harder to come by, and if you aren’t taking classes the University charges you a fee to use its facilities for the second summer session. But, if you pay the fee it’s well worth your time. The lap pools also are wide open for a good part of the day. And if you’re trying to get in shape for the beach season, fewer people will be there to judge you when you slap the 10-pounders on the bench press.

Perks of living alone

Getting the freedom to walk around your apartment without pants, in a cowboy hat, blasting country music with the windows open, while watching the Cubs and drinking milk out of the carton is something everyone should experience. But if you have roommates, they might not like you participating in such shenanigans, especially if they hate country music. Chances are, you’ll be the only person to stay in your apartment, meaning you get the opportunity to live on your own for the first time. Coming from a house where I shared a room with two brothers, being able to call 850 square feet my own was quite liberating. And, it’s a nice break from the roommates so you are refreshed when you have to go back to splitting a fridge three ways.

Get a job

With most college students gone, almost everywhere is looking to hire. Make some good cash churning out quality hours at any number of the local bars, restaurants, book stores, etc. Plus, you get a leg up on everyone trying to find a job that first week after move-in. There are also plenty of internships available on and off campus. I had an internship in Champaign and rode my bike through the downtown area every day. Other than the occasional downpour or 95-degree day, it was a great way to stay in shape, make some money and get experience in the workforce.

School’s out for summer … unless you take classes

I chose not to take classes and work an internship and at The Daily Illini over the summer. But the University is known to have a wide range of classes available for its two summer sessions. If you failed a class or need to make up some credits, taking a few courses over the four- and eight-week sessions is a great use of your extra lease time.

Monday is the new Wednesday

Unless you desperately need to load up on summer hours, campus is a party every night and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy it. Sure, there are a lot fewer people, but if you find the right place to go, it will seem like campus is still hoppin’. Plus, rarely is there cover at the bars, the nice weather makes the late-night walks around town pleasant and, like the first few weeks of your freshman year in the residence halls, people are out looking to make new friends, mostly because you won’t know many other people down here.

There are plenty of other great reasons to stay down here this summer – people visit on the weekends, busses back to the ‘burbs are a lot cheaper, traffic is better, pools aren’t as crowded; the list goes on. Take advantage of your na’ve mistake of not looking closely at your lease and enjoy the summer in Chambana.