Navigating IU

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).

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A must see for any IU student/alumni. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

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!”

Fall in Bloomington

Fall is finally here in Bloomington!  So far the season has brought the usual cooler temperatures, changing leaves, mid-term exams, and darker beers.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m enjoying every bit of it.  Fall is definitely my favorite season.  I always found it paradoxical that as the leaves on the trees fall and much of the plant life fades, the students at Indiana University are just getting their feet under them, settling in, and discovering all the new wonders of Bloomington.  It’s a strange juxtaposition how student life blossoms as much of the natural world fades and slows to prepare for winter.

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Hiking in Brown County. Photo courtesy of Amy D.

It is an appropriate contrast however, given the wealth of opportunities that each new academic year brings.  This is truly an exciting time of year when the outdoors is beckoning for us to enjoy it and new avenues of involvement, study, and leadership open up as we roll into a new school year.  I was fortunate this past week to have to chance to meet several promising prospective students at the Getting You Into IU event hosted by the University Graduate School.  Over the course of dinner at Uptown Cafe, I heard many inspiring stories from students across the country that truly touched me and for that I am grateful.

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Dinner at Getting You Into IU 2013. Photo Courtesy of Aminta M.

The tales that some students shared truly humanized some of the challenges that are faced by first-generation college students and highlighted the hard work that students across the country are putting in to set themselves up for success after their undergraduate studies.  While they were thanking me for showing them around, I was bursting with thanks to each of them for inspiring me and renewing my enthusiasm for graduate school, helping others, and sharing stories and experiences with others.  I am excited at the prospect of having some of these students join our ranks here as graduate students and wish all of them the best as they continue to consider their options for graduate school.

Cooking! Affording grad life through eating.

Cooking in graduate school. Photo courtesy of

Through my assistantship, I am fortunate to have a stipend.  However, I am not rolling around in cash, and my stipend is just enough to feed me, house me, and have a little lift for entertaining me (movies, dinners with friends, and yes, shopping).  Yet, I have to be Continue reading

My Favorite Place in Bloomington!

After living in Bloomington for two years, I’ve found a place that feels like home! That place is the Black Film Center/Archive located in the basement of the Herman B. Wells library on campus. After spending an entire semester conducting research in the archives, I became a part of the family this past summer as a Graduate Assistant. Continue reading



Bowling Green Falcons vs. Indiana Hoosiers                    10  -  42 Photo by L. Gregory Campbell

Bowling Green Falcons vs. Indiana Hoosiers
10 – 42
Photo by L. Gregory Campbell

You’ve read a million chapters, completed assignments, and conquered your email inbox. What’s next?

College football Saturday is here. Put on your cream and crimson and grab your student ID (I’m assuming you already purchased your student season tickets). Walking to the stadium be sure to stop by tailgates hosted by departments, graduate student groups, and fellow classmates. Play a round or two of cornhole and begin your walk into the stadium.

Often graduate students become isolated in their research and work, it’s nice to take a Saturday and enjoy some football. I realize that football may not be everyone’s cup of tea…so college basketball is just around the corner.

Take all of this with a grain of salt as these are the confessions of a PAC 12/ Trojan alumna.

Why come to IU?

If you are checking out this post, you should be scheduling a trip to Bloomington soon! Indiana University Bloomington has high caliber academics and a vibrant campus life and community.

If you are a fanatic sports fan, join us at the football tailgates and basketball game watches. Don’t forget to buy your season tickets to see the game live too! You will love the atmosphere in Assembly Hall. WOW! The cheers and screams exhibit our school pride! Also, don’t forget our championship soccer and baseball teams. Most sports events are free of charge for students!

If you aren’t into sports, the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music has amazing ballet and opera productions. Watching a show in the Musical Arts Center is like being at the Metropolitan in New York City. Really! Don’t believe me, come and check it out yourself! Also, our IU Auditorium has traveling Broadway shows and concerts, and don’t forget the Union Board events in the Indiana Memorial Union. I’m watching a movie there tonight in Whittenberger Auditorium!

A short stroll off-campus through our front door – the Sample gates – brings you to Kirkwood Avenue. A downtown vibrant with ethnic food, nightlife, shopping, and leisure activities is a good excuse to take a break from studying. Festivals and events line the streets during the spring, summer, and fall. Don’t forget the Farmer’s Market at Shower’s City Hall.

If you are an outdoors person, go hiking in our rolling forests and watch the leaves change colors in the autumn. Brown County, one of Indiana’s most beautiful places in the fall, is only a short drive away. Check out boating and fishing at our lakes, and if you are a novice, check out and be a member of IU Outdoor Adventures.

IU and Bloomington is filled with fun activities to keep you busy! Come for a visit and you will feel right at home! See you soon and GO IU!

The Lotus Festival

Every now and then I find myself thanking or apologizing to my future self.  Eight years ago I visited Bloomington with my seminar group for dinner and the Lotus Festival our freshmen year.  There were so many great performers that evening and I was truly impressed by the ambiance of the city.  Walking around at one point I remember thinking to myself “I would like to live here one day…” Continue reading

Love nature, art, and microbrews?

One of the Nashville shops selling trinkets and homemade snacks. Photo courtesy of

Nature, art, and microbrews are just a few minutes away in Nashville, IN.  This quaint little town is located about 15-20 minutes west of Bloomington in Brown County.  I especially love going to Nashville, IN Continue reading