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Please your honey without a lot of money

Valentine’s Day plays up images of romance, a nice dinner date at a high-end restaurant with music lightly playing in the background, a box of nice chocolates, red roses and Cupid. Snap back to the reality that most college students probably cannot afford a nice dinner out or a dozen roses. So what can students do?

Plenty! The USF campus and surrounding areas offer an abundance of things for couples do to on a tight budget. For a less-expensive date, head out to the USF Waterfront Park and take a canoe or kayak out for a mere $3 an hour. According to the Web site, the waterfront is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. Just be sure to bring your USF Student ID card, as at least one is required to take out a canoe or kayak.

The USF Botanical Gardens, located on campus near Bruce B. Downs and Pine, offer a great place for a stroll or an afternoon picnic between classes. USF sweethearts can stroll the gardens for free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Phyllis P. Marshall Center offers a great place to teach a date how to shoot pool or enjoy a fancy dinner at Top of the Palms. Be sure to make reservations first, because the restaurant tends to book up quickly.

On Wednesday, the Campus Activities Board is presenting “The Grudge” at Movies on the Lawn at 9 p.m. on Crescent Hill in case you and your honey cannot see a movie together. How can you top a free movie and popcorn?

If going off-campus is more your style, why not catch a movie at the mall? The price is cheap, costing no more than $6 each for any show with a student discount. Matinees and twilight shows, which are shows between 4 and 6 p.m., are cheaper. Some great movies that opened this weekend, such as Hitch, with Will Smith and Kevin James, and, if a chick flick is more your style, The Wedding Date, with Debra Messing, are ideal. The Boogeyman, with Barry Watson, guarantees some scares and the opportunity to bury your face in your date’s shoulder.

Going to play miniature golf is always a fun way to bring out the inner child in you and your date. Be sure to take the camera to document the fun you’re having. After you’re done imitating Tiger Woods on the course, put the camera to good use and take pictures of cool buildings and places you see during the rest of the night. Taking pictures will be a way of remembering the time you spent together.

There is also a bowling alley right off of 56th Street. AAA members can receive a buy-one-get-one-free game offer. You can save some money and have a great time laughing at each other’s gutter balls and how great you look in bowling shoes.

If you want to go for a nice drive, there are some great beaches within less than an hour from campus. Why not catch a sunset and bring along dinner? There are also several beachside restaurants that offer a casual and cheap cost, in case picnicking is not your thing.

A home-cooked meal is always a nice, romantic option as well. A spaghetti dinner is a cheap way to make a lot of food. You can easily buy a two-person meal of pasta, sauce and bread for under $10, and all dorms on campus have some sort of access to a kitchen.

Give your significant other a small gift if you want. A simple card, homemade or bought, can mean a lot and not cost a bundle.

So how are fellow Bulls spending Valentine’s Day? Amanda Ohlen, a freshman, is planning on “going to Clearwater Beach, having a nice dinner with my sweetheart and going on one of the ships around the harbor after dinner.”

“When we get back, we’ll be going out to the clubs in Clearwater,” Ohlen said.

Sophomore Casey Wilson is planning on “bringing a meal to the beach with my boyfriend and hanging out together.”