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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Perspective: Hanging out with friends doesn’t have to dent your wallet

Finding a time when your schedule lines up with friends’ can be as rare as last week’s solar eclipse — and just as exciting. But it’s even rarer to escape a hangout with friends without blowing cash. You shouldn’t have to spend money to maintain friendships.

Everyone deserves a “third place,” somewhere to socialize outside of an academic or living environment. Think about the places on campus where students hang out. Grabbing Gelbucks or getting lunch at Western Market can add up quickly, and even places with meal deals or discounts can be pricey. From the hottest clubs and restaurants in D.C. to coffee shops and bakeries, money always seems like a prerequisite to spend time with someone.

During my first year at GW, I wanted to connect with people and familiarize myself with campus and the city. After all, GW brings people together from all over the world, including people of different financial means. I didn’t think that having friends would become expensive, but meeting new people meant I would inevitably spend money from my own pocket or dining dollars on GWorld. And like many students, I have tight pockets due to my financial situation, which could be awkward when I didn’t want to spend money.

When I opt for just water or a slightly smaller meal when I’m out with my friends, they ask me, “Are you sure that’s all you want?” or “Do you need me to cover part of your meal for you?”. Usually, I give in and get a meal to avoid their questions. In other cases, I budget my day around going out to eat, not buying food or snacks throughout the day to make up for the cash I spend with my friends.

Even if you follow through on not spending much, it is isolating to sit there with just a drink while the rest of your friends chow down burgers. Friendships must be maintained with quality time, so it’s not like you can refuse to hang out with your peers. But not everyone can spend the same amount of money, especially when the price of dining out keeps ramping up.

While there’s not much we can do about the prices of coffee shops, bars or restaurants in the District, we can normalize cost-free plans with friends. Lately, my friends and I have walked on the National Mall to discuss our classes, families and summer plans. Between D.C.’s free Smithsonian museums and GW’s U-Pass program, my friends and I have spent great days out on the town without spending a cent.

Find a quiet corner of campus, whether it’s someone’s apartment, dorm room or even a communal campus space, where you can sit in comfort and gab about the latest episode of a show or a movie. Back at home, my friends and I hang out in my best friend’s backyard while catching up on our lives since we left for college.

GW and D.C. aren’t like high school, with its after-school activities or lunch periods that made socializing easy and inexpensive. But my friends and I can try to stay on the same page about where and how we plan to spend time together. So, instead, check in with your friends about the potential costs of a planned outing before going out.

There’s nothing wrong with spending money on outings with friends or treating yourself to special occasions. But there are plenty of ways to have fun with loved ones, and not all of them come with a price tag.

Andrea Mendoza-Melchor, a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication, is an opinions writer.

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