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University students wile away free hours with sports, friends

April 22, 1997

Becky Collin, a Greenville junior, and Jessica Bialkowski, an Itasca, Ill., law student, Rollerblade at Indian Springs Park.

By Cindy Szelag

Focus Magazine contributor

Students at the University, or any university for that matter, have plenty of activities to fill their days. If they are not in class, they are doing homework for class, attending a meeting of a student organization or working to make a little spare cash. As students prepare for the end of the semester or possibly the end of their college career, there are more responsibilities than usual. Most students are kept busy studying for finals, preparing for the MCAT, registering for the next semester or making sure their graduation announcements are mailed on time. If they are lucky, they may experience a phenomenon that usually eludes the college student: spare time.

In the rare moments when University students do get spare time, what do they do with it? Most students reacted to that question with a slight chuckle as if to indicate they did not know the meaning of the phrase. A few others said they do occasionally have some time to themselves in the midst of their busy lives.

'I like to work out, read, swim, talk on the phone or watch TV,' Tiffany Berry, an Arlington freshman, said. She said she does not have a lot of free time, but she has enough to make her happy.

Jeff Dietzel, a San Antonio sophomore, said he exercises sometimes during his free time as well. He said his classes and fraternity activities take up most of his time, however.

'If I ever have spare time, I watch SportsCenter, play basketball or play pool at the clubhouse in my apartment complex,' Dietzel said.

Physical activities such as working out, running, bicycling or aerobics were a popular way for students to fill their time and alleviate some of the stress associated with college life. Some also play an intramural sport with their organization to help blow off steam. Non-athletic games such as pool and darts are also popular. Other students said they liked to simply rest by reading or watching television in their dorm rooms or apartments.

When they are not doing homework or other class activities, there are other students who participate in more social activities. Several students said they enjoyed going to clubs, watching movies, shopping or just talking with their buds when they got a chance. Brenda Newell, a Mesquite sophomore, said she does not have much free time, but she likes to spend what she does have with others.

'I go to the movies, watch TV or hang out with friends,' Newell said.

Dating, or trying to get a date, is another popular activity that students engage in on the weekends or other times when they are not in class. Many students said they spent a good portion of their spare time at least thinking about members of the opposite sex.

Some students use their free time to catch up on their sleep after all the late nights of studying. Dave Herin, a Corpus Christi junior, said he likes to sleep if he has a few minutes. He said he does not have very much time to himself at all right now, but when he does (and he is awake), he and his roommates challenge each other to a little video game competition.

'We enjoy playing our Atari 2600,' Herin said. 'We play Frogger, Pac-Man, Yars Revenge and Missile Command.'

Although he does not have a job, Herin said he is trying to make sure he does not need one for a while. 'I spend my free time staying out of debt,' he said.

Derek Crunk, a Valley Mills junior, said he spends most of his time between classes sleeping. He also likes to eat and watch television. Unlike most students, Crunk said he has more time than usual right now because he is taking only 11 hours.

'I think I have a lot of free time, but I don't think I make good use of my spare time,' Crunk said.

Some students do make good use of their time by sacrificing it to help others. There are numerous organizations on campus and throughout Waco always willing to accept student volunteers, no matter how little time they can dedicate. Many University students also participate in religious activities such as Bible studies or youth groups through their local church or ministry center.

While some students strive for better spiritual lives, others further their academics when they have free time. Daniela Pedini, a Plano sophomore, is currently enrolled in a workshop to improve her reading and studying skills so she can study more effectively and have more time for other things in the future. Study groups and tutoring sessions are additional ways that students fill time and see the benefits on their grade reports as well.

Other students spend most of the time they have consciously avoiding anything that has to do with school or grades. Jay Hudec, a Plano senior, said he is 'exceptionally' busy right now because he is studying for the MCAT and taking care of other pre-med affairs such as getting teacher recommendations and applying for medical school. 'I spend a good amount of my free time procrastinating,' Hudec said.

Hudec said he and his friends also enjoy going to stores such as Super Wal-Mart and Toys 'R' Us when they do not have other things to do. He said that just laying back and 'goofing off' in the stores helps to take his mind of all of the stressful things in his life.

Another stress reliever, Hudec said, is his radio show on KWBU. While it is part of a class, this laboratory is a good way for students to spend their spare time preparing for their future careers.

Involvement in classes, labs and professional societies gives students the opportunity to have fun while building skills and a résumé and provides an alternative to sleeping or watching television. Regardless of the activity, however, University students see spare time as time to be put to use.

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