5 fun things to do this Fourth of July on a student budget

Fourth of July celebrations
There are many fun activities that international students can participate in to celebrate the Fourth of July for free (or nearly enough) Source: Alex Edelman/AFP

If this is your first time spending the Fourth of July celebrations abroad as an international student, you might be wondering how you should spend this significant day in US history. Before we delve into that, it’s important to know why the Fourth of July is celebrated and what it symbolises.

The Fourth of July — also known as Independence Day has been a federal holiday in the US since 1941. According to History.com, the tradition of Independence Day goes back to the 18th century — specifically July 4, 1776. Two days before, the Continental Congress voted in favour of independence. On July 4, delegates from 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson — and with that, the birth of American Independence occurred.

Since that day, the Fourth of July has been celebrated with parades, fireworks and concerts, but may include much smaller and casual celebrations — which include family gatherings and barbecues.

Now, as an international student, you don’t have to subject yourself to buying expensive concert tickets or dining at fancy eateries while on a tight student budget. There are many ways you can enjoy the Fourth of July celebrations for free or without breaking the bank. Here are five fun activities you can do no matter which part of the US you’re living in.

Fourth of July celebrations: Fun things to do


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Join a barbecue on campus

A Fourth of July celebration wouldn’t be complete without an all-American barbecue. You can consider organising one with your friends, or joining in on the celebrations with your dorm or collegemate.

If there’s a bigger barbecue celebration on campus grounds, you could join them too. From enjoying the piquant and savoury American dishes consisting of hamburgers and hot dogs to nice cuts of meat such as brisket.

Join a Fourth of July parade

Whether your university campus is in a big city or in a small college town, there’s bound to be a Fourth of July parade nearby.

Besides seeing marching bands, decorative floats, and huge balloons, you can likely expect to see plenty of other activities in the vicinity too, such as barbecues, firework displays, and live music performances.

Watch some patriotic movies

If you’re not the outdoorsy type and would like to spend the Fourth of July in your dorm room or in the common room, why not consider watching a few classic movies that capture the essence of American patriotism with a friend or two? Get some red, white and blue popcorn to get into the spirit of America’s birthday!

Among the collection of Fourth of July movies you could watch include:

  • Forrest Gump
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Glory
  • Independence Day
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington


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Have a picnic

Not up for a big BBQ with lots of people? Why not have a quiet picnic with some close friends on campus grounds or at a nearby park?

You could pack some treats such as sandwiches, salads, creamy dips or red, white and blue desserts and have a nice Fourth of July picnic outdoors.

Don’t forget to slap on some sunscreen!

Check out the fireworks

Fourth of July celebrations

Fireworks displays typically end a Fourth of July celebration on a high note. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

The Fourth of July celebrations always ends on a high note — with a mega fireworks display at night.

Be among a sea of cheerful faces and embrace the wonderful atmosphere filled with people in high spirits.