5 Ways to enjoy the (campus) Staycation


Who isn’t excited to have a little time off? But often as graduate students we don’t have the option to bail on teaching and graduate responsibilities during breaks. Whether it’s because traveling is too expensive or have an approaching deadline for a project you will, on occasion, find yourself in town during a school break. Staying in town when the majority of the student body vacates can seem disheartening, but have no fear, here are five hidden ways to enjoy your campus staycation.

1) First, appreciate the silence. Ok maybe not complete silence, but the bustle of cars, buses and people everywhere tends to settle down during long breaks.

2) Remember that you’ll have a more flexible schedule. The demands of seminars, attending meetings and/or teaching courses are reduced (if not eliminated) thus allowing you to be more flexible with your days. Perhaps you can take the opportunity to sleep in or leave campus early.

3) Get out and explore the town! Our schedules are always jam packed, so we rarely have free time to explore. Go ahead and try a new restaurant. The wait times are usually non-existent during long breaks, so treat yourself to that new place you’ve been wanting to try. This is also a great time to catch a movie, go to the gym, library or other campus hotspots that can feel overpopulated during regular semester hours can be easier to manage during the breaks.

*FYI* Check operating hours as businesses may adjust times or close for repairs due to fewer patrons.

4) Resources are abundant, whether trying to use the campus printing, valuable office space, or the machines that always seem to be taken. It is highly unlikely you are the only one around, but there are far fewer people everywhere making it easier to access shared equipment.

5) Lastly, you are not alone. There are tons of other grad students in the same boat. Plan to meet up with people you don’t get to see regularly because of your busy schedules. So use the time to reconnect with old buddies or if you’re new to campus, use it as an opportunity to make new friends.

Self-Care in Nature around Bloomington

Sometimes grad school can get tough sometimes and it happens to everybody, no matter what they say otherwise. Everyone has felt a little overwhelmed or out of place during their time in grad school. In order deal with this, it is important to have self-care for yourself. Self-care can mean many things to each individual person.

I recommend spending time outdoors. Here are some of my favorite places to go.

Leonard Springs

It is nice to go at different seasons because you can see the landscape change especially in Fall, Autumn, and Spring.

Griffy lake

There are easy to moderate trails available at Griffy Lake. There is a very popular trail by the parking lot that is a good trail to do for your first time. If you want a more solitude trails I recommend one of the shore trails (look online for map). I recommend hiking in the Fall and the Spring.

If you are not a hiking person then I suggest renting a Kayak or canoe to spend some time on the lake. I think the rentals are closed for a portion of the year, so check online.

Brown County State Park and Nashville

They are right next to each other. Start your day with a small hike and finish it off with half a day walking around the small town. It has a lot of tiny shops of almost anything you can think of.

Playbills and Ticket Stubs !

Photo from business week.com

Photo from www.businessweek.com

Putting down my books on a weeknight can be difficult and turning off my laptop on the weekend can be even harder. Breaks are necessary for a graduate student in coursework, studying for qualitative exams, writing proposals, and dissertating. I wrote a previous blog about the Musical Arts Center and the performances featured there, which are usually student centered including ballets, operas, and orchestral concerts.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I discovered exactly how amazing the IU Auditorium is. Working as a Co-Chair of the Committee for Fee Review (a committee of students across IU Bloomington campus that reviews the fee allocation for all student groups and auxiliary units on campus) I met Doug Booher, the Director of the Auditorium and learned some very important things about this institution on campus. It is an award winning and nationally recognized university auditorium, as well as being a top student employer on campus.

The yearly calendar of events and performances is impressive to say the least and student pricing is pretty great too. I’ve seen Bill Maher‘s stand up and most recently the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at the IU Auditorium. There are even season ticket options to make sure you take those necessary breaks and enjoy a play, musical, dance concert, or public lecture!!

My Favorite Thing about IU

I think one of my favorite things about IU is the sheer amount of activities to do in Bloomington!  I have a lot of interests, and I have a pretty adventurous spirit.  I like to try new things, and Bloomington has a lot of great opportunities to explore.  Even better, student discounts and free events are the best!  I just recently went to an Itzhak Perlman (check him out playing Schindler’s List theme) for $20 on a student discount.   Just on one campus, you can experience D1 sports teams, world-renowned musical performances, art exhibits, cultural festivals, indie bands, and much more.  When I need a break from academics, I can pick and choose what types of events I can spend an evening with.

Some great links that I check out from time to time:

The IUB events calendar: http://events.iu.edu/iub.html

Athletics Calendar: http://www.iuhoosiers.com/calendar/events/Musical Performances: http://music.indiana.edu/events/

Bloomington Community Events: http://calendar.bloomingtonscene.com/


Getting Involved – Graduate Student Organizations

Once you get into graduate school and arrive on campus, you’ll probably take a little time to get settled into the town, your program, and your routine.  After that though, what then?  Well, fortunately there are number of great student organizations that you can choose to become a part of.

As a graduate student, you are automatically eligible to join the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO), the official campus-wide student government body for graduate and professional students.  There are also programs such as the Emissaries for Graduate Student Diversity that work in a more focused manner to promote a more specific interest, such as diversity.  Some of these organizations are specific to graduate students and gives you a chance to interact with people outside of your own department, which is always a great opportunity to broaden your horizons.

SPHSG Fall2013 Group Photo 1

The 2012-2013 School of Public Health-Bloomington Student Government Council

Each individual school and department is also likely to have its own student government organization, which is a great opportunity to get involved, get to know other students and faculty, and share your input on a variety of topics that are important to your experience while here at IU and for future students.

Beyond organizations such as these there are innumerable other clubs and organizations that encompass almost any interest.  Many of these are open to both undergraduate and graduate students, so it’s a good opportunity to get to know more people beyond just graduate students.

When it comes down to it, getting involved is a great opportunity for you to balance your work and schooling with something that you’re passionate and interested in.  You can also meet many great new people and develop personal and professional relationships that can last far beyond school.  So go ahead and take a look to see what’s out there for you, who knows what doors will open when you get involved in a graduate student organization.


2013 was a banner year for challenges.  There were losses:  first, in February, the unexpected death of the husband of one of my best friends; and second, in July, the sudden and unexpected death of my own sister.

Of course, there were the additional challenges associated with these deaths – supporting my friend as she reeled from her loss and the stress resulting from my own family’s struggle with decisions regarding the withdrawal of life support measures after my sister’s catastrophic injury.  Continue reading

A Tale of Two Cities

As a disclaimer, this post has nothing to do with the book.

Image courtesy of Google Maps. Edited by Tiphani D

Image courtesy of Google Maps. Edited by Tiphani D

I am a Kansas City native (from the better, more functional Missouri side, not the dark, desolate Kansas side), and I used to be a fair weather fan; I didn’t want to be there when I was in high school, but when I went off to college and  then graduate school, I missed it terribly. What can be said…often times, the adult longs for the crib as it were; recalling a place where life was all about coloring, watching Disney movies (without analyzing it down to the pixels), and eating cereal, laden with refined sugar.

I almost didn’t trust myself on this topic, due to the extreme bias it permits me to take, without really having to provide any empirical evidence, or legitimate scholarly insight. However, I will attempt to make this post somewhat informative, in that it will hopefully assist as a guide for how to get through the “This city is (insert colorful adjective, noun, or noun phrase here)” inner dialogue, that will without question, plague your mind at least twice a week.

Continue reading