But treating your lovely lady (or guy) to a Grande Fiesta platter at Taco Bell is pretty much as good as it gets around here. Marcie Dierks '08 agreed: "Dates at Olaf consist of awkward Caf dates or walking to Hogan Bros., and neither of those happen until you're practically married. No one ever dates to get to know each other."
The reality at St. Olaf (and seemingly a lot of other schools) is that we college kids just don't date. That's not to say we don't pair up. In fact, for non-daters, we're pretty good at enjoying romantic endeavors. For single people, there's the ever popular and relatively unfailing random hook-up. If you're really bold, you may even ask someone over to your room to watch a movie. For those in actual, official relationships, there are a few more options: the Caf date, the Cage date or the Pause date. Also, making the jump from the single life to a full-fledged relationship is a rather shaky one.
"I notice that it goes from 'hanging out' to semi-serious relationship, with really nothing in between," Bridie Goodwin '08 said. But seriously, we can do better. Yes, the random hook-up is cheap, quick and easy. Yes, the ritual Caf date is comfy and reliable. But with a little direction and planning, it's possible to leave our cocoons of laziness and emerge as intelligent, purposeful and creative daters.
In truth, we are surrounded by amazing dating opportunities. If you look around, you will notice 3,000 other 18 -- 23-year-olds. This means that you have instant access to a more than ample dating pool. Take your pick. Yes, you probably know a lot of them already. But there's no doubt that you'd like to know a few of them better, and that's what dating is all about. Suck it up and request to spend some quality time with one of your peers. At best, it could lead to something more. At worst, you'll at least take a step up in classiness and have a good time, especially with some of these classy date ideas.
One of the greatest dating stand-bys is sharing a meal with another choice individual. But rather than settling for the same old chicken strips and egg rolls from the Cage, why not mix it up a little? Just downtown in Northfield we have Chapati Indian restaurant, Sweet Lou's Waffle Bar and several coffee houses. If you're feeling creative, pick out some fresh, seasonal, organic foods at Just Foods Co-Op and have a picnic by the river. Goodwin recommends feeding the ducks while you're at it. For the 21 and over crowd, Dierks recommended sipping wine in the Tavern lounge with the sunset for a backdrop, or you might try heading down the road to Dundas, where Fermentations Wine Bar and Bistro serves fresh French cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients.
If you're looking to venture a little further off the Hill, your options are nearly endless. For the Ole couple that wants fine dining on a budget, our nearest Olive Garden lies just to the north in Burnsville. If you're looking for something a little more unique, Minneapolis is filled with some of the top-ranked restaurants in Minnesota. The Capital Grille, Nicollet Island Inn Restaurant and Jax Café were ranked high on the list among CitySearch's fine dining guide. Two of Goodwin's favorites are Chiang Mai Tai in Uptown and The Dakota, a jazz bar and restaurant on Nicolett Mall.
If you're on a diet, or just are sick of trying to chew and talk at the same time, there are several options still available to you when it comes to classy dates. Our campus itself offers some excellent venues practically made for connecting with your crush. There are our nature trails that run behind the dorms and soccer fields. You may have noticed that secluded bench perched on the top, backside of Old Main Hill, lined up perfectly for watching the sunrise or stargazing. Just across the river at Carleton, you can find the Carleton Japanese Garden, and on the first Friday of every month, the Carleton Goodsell Observatory is open to the public. If you're feeling a little preppy, look no further than the Northfield Golf Club.
For a little culture, St Olaf, Carleton, and the Northfield Arts Guild Theater are constantly presenting plays. For those of you with a car, the Sakatah Singing Hills, a recreation area that offers trails for hiking, roller-blading, biking or horseback riding, are just down the road near Faribault. Further away, in the Twin Cities, the opportunities for class and dating continue. There are special student prices for plays at the Guthrie. For a dose of history, Goodwin likes to take the walking historic trail down by St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis. You might consider splurging on good tickets to sporting events like a Twins game or the races at Elko Speedway. Take in a little right-brain food at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts or the Walker Art Museum, the latter of which offers free entrance on Thursday nights and first-of-the-month Saturdays.
So why not try it out? Take the dive and find a date. Get to know someone better and have a little classy fun.