Hello and welcome.
I don't see any reason as to why you can't be creative whilst still offering your betta a lovely home
Someone on the forums modified a large gumball machine to house a betta with a built-in filter known as a sump hidden in the cabinet the 'aquarium' sat on. Here is a link to the topic: http://www.bettafish.com/showthread....umball+machine
A sump may be out of the question for a college student as it requires some DIY and can get expensive but the above is a wonderful example of a creative home that is safe, secure and healthy for the betta. Some people use different manners of storage containers for their bettas and I imagine that you can use almost anything as long as:
* It can hold at least 2.5 gallons of water
* It has enough surface area to allow the betta to have access to air (bettas breathe atmospheric air like humans)
* It can be safely heated (bettas are a tropical fish and require a heater set between 78 and 82 degrees F to thrive)
* It won't bow or break when filled with water (think acrylic or glass with a decent thickness)
* It can house some form of decoration whether it be the form of hiding places or multiple plants (artificial or real, bettas require stimulation and hiding places)
* A lid (bettas can jump quite a distance so a lid is needed, a small space to allow oxygen to move through is good too)
You don't have to have a filter in a tank smaller than 5 gallons but you should do a 50% and 100% water change every week to prevent toxins building up thus poisoning the fish; filters can be used in aquariums smaller than 5 gallons but they require a process known as cycling and as this can take several weeks it may be better for you to just do the water changes, the choice is yours at the end of the day though
You can always get an aquarium if you'd like, there are multiple types available: rectangular, cubular, bowfronted, wavey but as you said, you want something creative. I'm not sure how other members will feel about this and while it isn't something that I'd personally do you can get particularly large, sturdy cookie jars. The jars usually come with a lid and if tested thoroughly (by filling with water) may be suitable for a betta -- just make sure you can clean it well and access it. The lid will need to be kept off-centre very slightly to allow heater cables and oxygen to pass through.
Or, you can stick with a regular aquarium, get some compact fluorescent lights and plant the living daylights out of it -- that's always a unique and creative endeavour in itself. The live plants, once actively growing, will also help to maintain water quality so you may never need to do a 100% water change.