Let’s face it: the IU-Bloomington campus is huge. At almost 2,000 acres, it can be quite a challenge to navigate, even for those of us who have lived here for over a quarter of a century. To ease the load a little, here is a quick guide to navigating IU:
First, it’s OK to walk around with a campus map. Yes, people will probably laugh at you as they walk by, but they were in your shoes once too. I’ve lived in Bloomington my whole life and despite that I still get confused as to what the building codes mean. After 25 years, I still look at the map – it’s OK!
Second, explore the town! I know graduate school life is busy (especially your first semester), but take the time to get to know Bloomington – it’ll save you time in the future when you need something specific AND you can be the one to suggest that awesome burger joint or cocktail bar when your friends are looking for a cool place to hang out. Bloom Magazine is a great place to find information about local restaurants, shops, and more. Conveniently, it is free and can be found at many local establishments (I usually get mine from Bloomingfoods on Kirkwood).
Third, ASK! I personally love to share my own personal taste and insights about IU and Bloomington – whether it’s about a good place for lunch or where to find information about how to find classes. I can’t think of anyone whom I’ve asked for help who hasn’t been excited to share what they know. When it comes down to it, people love to help (especially Hoosiers!). So find someone who knows their way around the university and the town and let them be your guide and encyclopedia.
Finally, watch Breaking Away! I would venture to say, it’s an unspoken requirement for any IU alumni to have seen that movie. It will help you appreciate the university and the town, and see what the campus looked like over 30 years ago. The film is delightfully entertaining and full of little bits of wisdom, and I guarantee it’ll make you appreciate the pains of growing up.
Navigating IU may seem like a daunting challenge at first, but as you grow to know the campus, the people, and the town, it’ll gradually feel like home. Just keep seeking out new places, things, and people to explore and your appreciation of IU and Bloomington will deepen. The best advice I can give you about navigating IU is how former IU Professor Oliver Field often concluded his letters: “Onward!”