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As I write, rain is pouring down outside. The weather has reached 60 degrees, the first sure sign that winter is coming to an end. I expect that the cold will return, but the seasons are surely turning. All of this water will soon swell into blossom on trees across campus and the arc of the Sun across the sky will slowly expand and render the days mild and warm once more.

More good news: the new Graduate Student Lounge in Duncan Student Center is now a frequent haunt of the reclusive and perpetually-working graduate student. It has become something of a natural habitat for this strange species, thanks mainly to large windows, comfy chairs, and an abundance of one of its primary sources of energy: coffee (to say nothing of peanut butter sandwiches). Time has certainly confirmed my opinion that the Lounge is the best space in Duncan – there is just something about the sunlit ambience, the colors of the furnishings, and the smell of coffee brewing that makes it possible to rest, even while studying.

The space is far from perfect, of course. At lunchtime and after five o’clock, fitness classes begin in the gym directly above. All of the electric outlets are now functional, though the lockers remain half-assembled. And yes, the occasional stray (or unscrupulous) undergraduate does make off with a peanut butter sandwich.

All in all, however, the Lounge is a pleasant place. Importantly, it is our place – not a home, perhaps, but a space nevertheless to which we belong.

Welcome.

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It’s deep winter in Michiana. The sky is cloudy, your fingers are numb, and the latest glacial air mass has transformed our campus into a winter wonder-if-I’ll-live-to-see-grass-again-land. Rumor even has it that woolly mammoths migrating from Canada have been spotted outside the city!

At times like these, only one thing can warm your frosty innards: food, delicious and piping hot. We’ve already given you some good suggestions on where to find it in previous posts (see especially this one on cheap restaurants) so today’s will focus on eight Mishawaka restaurants not previously featured on Ask the Salmon or on the Grad Life website.

So lash your sled dogs together and zip on your snow pants. It’s time to dine!

Diner on 12th
1212 E. 12th St.
Website

This little diner has sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and baskets on the menu, all of them as cheap as they come. They are particularly known for serving a life-changing ham sandwich.

Pasquale Rulli’s
904 Division St.
Website

Reasonably-price, family-owned, authentic Italian diner. What more do you need to know? Not to be confused with Sam & Mary Rulli’s Pizza in Elkhart.

OneFourteen
114 Lincolnway East
Website

A modern gastro-pub serving hand-crafted burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sides, all made with fresh ingredients. The best news? It doesn’t come at a premium in price.

Taste of Asia
5327 N. Main St.
Website

Chinese and Thai food for dining in and taking out. No frills, low prices–but delicious.

Oliva’s Bar & Restaurant
327 Union St.
Website

Family-run Italian-American diner open for lunch and dinner. Check out their daily specials!

Macadoo’s Family Restaurant
2108 Lincolnway East
Website

An unpretentious American diner known for its breakfast and brunch, especially for biscuits and gravy.

Kristin’s Cafe
303 E. 4th St.
Website

Another hole-in-the-wall American breakfast diner serving up large portions at low prices.

Scoobie’s
223 N. Main St.
Website

Rock-bottom prices for a delicious, American-style lunch and dinner–sandwiches, burgers, pizza, pasta, and more. “Get Toasted at Scoobz!”

As always, check out the Grad Life website and TripAdvisor for more restaurant suggestions in South Bend, Mishawaka, Granger, and beyond. And don’t worry: spring is only two months away!

 

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Grad Life’s New Home and the Graduate Student Lounge

As winter break comes to a close, I’d like to invite you on Grad Life’s behalf to visit us in our new space on the south side of the Duncan Student Center’s second floor. Over winter break, Grad Life moved from a small space in the back rooms of the Main Building to a brand new office overlooking Legends and the Stadium Lot. This office is the new home of both Grad Life and the GSU.

Our office also looks into a stupendous lounge intended just for graduate students! The lounge, arguably the best spot in Duncan, has a wall of windows facing DeBartolo Hall and is filled with comfortable couches and chairs (including two rockers!) and tables for studying. There are also a number of day lockers, as well as a small kitchen area for graduate student use, which includes a sink, microwaves, free coffee, and, in case you forgot your lunch, supplies for making peanut butter sandwiches. The lounge’s conference room will also soon be available for reservation.

You can come check out the new lounge and our office during the official Duncan Student Center Open House on Monday, January 15, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. For more information on Duncan, see the university press release regarding its grand opening.

Smith Center for Recreational Sports

One of the new student center’s star attractions is the Smith Center for Recreational Sports, which will be fully operational on January 15. The entrance to the Smith Center is on the third floor, but is only accessible from the stairwell and elevators on the north side of Duncan. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself on the main floor of the Center, among dozens of state-of-the-art treadmills, ellipticals, and other cardio machines, most of them with individual monitors. On either end of the long room, you will also find fitness and personal training rooms, a basketball court, locker rooms, weight machines, a free weight area, and the SYNRGY 360 system, which amounts to an adult jungle gym with TRX resistance-training capabilities.

On the fourth floor, accessible from two stairwells inside the Smith Center, there is a 1/6 mile track with areas for stretching and numerous additional cardio machines and lockers, as well as another jungle-gym type apparatus. The Smith Center also boasts a climbing wall and a bouldering wall, both of which can be reached by a separate entrance on the second floor of Duncan.

There is much more to see in the new student center, however, so come take a look for yourself.

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It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas! Or perhaps it will once this week and next have passed, with all the intensity of final projects.

And blessings on your winter break. Rest is a wonderful thing: treasure it while you have the time. Be present to those whom you love. Eat good food and take time to do what you enjoy. These things, in the end, are more important than what we are doing at school. Our career is only a part of who we are, and that part changes throughout our lives. But fellowship–leisure–delight–these go to the heart of being the human person you are.

Grace and peace be with you in this Christmas season. May the God and Father of all people touch your heart with joy.

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This is the last in our series of blog posts on living on a graduate student budget in South Bend. We’ve covered grocery stores, movies, local thrift stores, and restaurants, and past posts have featured such under-utilized money-saving resources as the local public library and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Check out these and other posts on Ask the Salmon for tips on saving cash in Michiana.

In this post I want to draw your attention to one of the best ways to save money if you are a married graduate student: the spousal ID card offered by the Graduate School (Business, Architecture, and Engineering students will have to contact their administrative assistants for information specific to their schools).

Current graduate students who are married can get their spouse a Notre Dame ID card by filling out the form on this webpage and submitting a scan or copy of their marriage certificate per the instructions. After that, there is a $5 fee for the card itself, and then your spouse has access to at least five on-campus services (though individual departments and programs may choose to extend access to additional services–talk to your department’s administrative assistant).

These services are as follows:

(1) Access to all student activity events and student-only events at Legends.
(2) Free entry to all RecSports facilities. Who needs a gym membership? Your spouse can even take fitness classes! (3) Access to the university library system, including the ability to request and check out books. Instead of logging into their library account with a NetID, spouses use the NDID number on their ID card.
(4) The ability to use Domer Dollars and to load a meal plan onto the card.
(5) Free transportation on all Transpo buses. This is a perk for all who have a Notre Dame ID card. Just show the bus driver your card when you get on, and you’re off! This makes getting around South Bend a whole lot easier for those with transportation restrictions. Check out the Transpo website for schedules and routes.

And now you know! All of this is available to spouses for the very reasonable fee of $5. Don’t pass it up.

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I devote the final post in the Arts and Culture series to what is probably the oldest art of all: dance. There are not many opportunities these days to see true, artful dancing, but a university town has more than most. The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is a great place to see ballet and other forms of dance either on stage or on film. This season’s highlights include visits to the stage by UZIMA!, Jessica Lang Dance, and the Grand Rapids Ballet.

Here are some other places to check out in South Bend and in Chicago.

Southold Dance Theater

Southold is home to a pre-professional ballet company drawn from the Michiana area. Much of their work is comprised by education, but they do put on two performances each season in the Morris Performing Arts Center. The first is a performance of what is probably the most well-known ballet of all time: The Nutcracker, a staple of the holiday season, to be performed three times on December 9-10. Tickets start at $20. In May, the company will also be putting on Don Quixote.

Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is a world-class professional dance company that is based in Chicago. If you are willing to make the trek to the city, you can see some of the best performers in the United States during one of their four performances every season. Naturally, they will be performing The Nutcracker throughout the month of December, but they also have other worthwhile performances in the spring. $15 student rush tickets are available in limited numbers on the day of each performance; otherwise, tickets start at around $35 apiece.

Of course, the Joffrey isn’t the only ballet company in Chicago. Other venues to see ballet (and many other types of performances) include the Harris Theatre, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and Hubbard Street Dance.

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Chicory Café

Located on the corner of Michigan and Jefferson in downtown South Bend, the Chicory Café serves a smorgasbord of Cajun-themed foods, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most sandwiches are less than $7 and most entrees  less than $9. Nearly the entire breakfast menu is under $5. The food is delicious and the venue is charming. One visit will surely turn into many more!

J.W. Chen’s

Between Studebagels and The Salvation Army Family Store on South Bend Ave, you’ll find J.W. Chen’s, a local favorite for MSG-free Chinese cuisine. Most dinner plates come in below $10 and there is a full range of lunch specials for $6 or $7. The owner, Jean, takes orders herself and regularly recommends dishes to her guests based on their preferences.

Mango Café

Across the street from J.W. Chen’s is the small Mango Café, specializing in Venezuelan food and burgers. With a large number of vegetarian dishes, sandwiches, and Venezuelan specialties (including cachapas and patacones), most of which are $9 or less, this is one South Bend eatery that is not to be missed.

Allie’s

Allie’s is open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast (served all day) and lunch. The full breakfast menu includes all of the standards, plus a bit more, with sandwiches, salads, and burgers for lunch, all for under $10 and often much less. Allie’s also serves a $10 Polish dinner all day on Saturday. The restaurant is located on Mishawaka Ave just east of IUSB.

Girasol

A hole-in-the-wall, cash-only, carry-out joint serving Salvadoran cuisine, Girasol is known especially for pupusas, tamales, and horchata. Although you’ll have to take your food elsewhere, expect to spend somewhere in the range of $5 for delicious, homemade food.

Nick’s Patio

At Nick’s Patio, near the crossroads of Ironwood and South Bend Ave, you can eat 24 hours a day. Breakfast and lunch are affordable, with most options coming in under $9, including breakfast casseroles, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, sandwiches, and burgers. Many of the dinner plates, with sides and bread, are also available for reasonable prices.

Toscana Pizza and Pasta

Near Nick’s Patio on Ironwood, Toscana serves a small menu of Italian entrees and sandwiches for $10 or less. Their specialty, however, is pizza with a Chicago-style thin crust (only the personal size is under $10). Carry out your pizza or enjoy it on site–no matter which way you slice it, the Italian family who runs this joint serves up some delicious food.

Cambodian Thai

Lovers of Thai food (and who isn’t?) need look no further than Cambodian Thai in downtown South Bend, where there are only two options over $10: a whole fish, steamed or fried. Soups, curries, noodles, and specialty plates are all on the menu, as well as decadent Thai iced tea and coffee.

Blaze Pizza

For less than $9, Blaze Pizza serves an 11″ personal size pizza with all the toppings you want: that’s one price for any toppings. The word is that the joint has some deficits when it comes to customer service, but the food is still delicious, especially for the low price.

Evil Czech Brewery

While it may surprise some that Mishawaka’s Evil Czech Brewery made it onto this list, there are two simple reasons: Burger Box Monday and Taco Tuesday. Evil Czech is a craft brewery that serves a variety of delicious American and pub foods, well worth a visit even on days when they don’t have specials. On Mondays, however, they run a special on burgers: $10 for the burger plus fries. Tuesday’s deal is even better: street tacos for $2 each.

And they are good.

Fiddler’s Hearth

Yes, this is number eleven. But Fiddler’s Hearth is a true classic of downtown South Bend. Here, you can eat the Salmon of Knowledge for dinner and gain its wisdom for yourself! This family-friendly restaurant serves all manner of Irish pub fare, features live music, afternoon tea parties, and a self-playing pianola from 1955 that was willed to the family by a Notre Dame alumnus. Not everything on the menu is under $10, but be sure to ask about the 10% discount offered to students (and spouses!) with an ID. And don’t forget about their Sunday breakfast and brunch buffet. This is one South Bend establishment that you’ll want to visit before you graduate.

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Art is as old as human culture. Making, or craft, is one of the characteristic human activities, and art is its highest form. It gives visible and tangible form to what is true about the world and the human condition. Art means something. It invites us into contemplation, into an encounter with what we may find praiseworthy and moving, entertaining and pleasing, or perhaps threatening and discomfiting. An encounter with a great work of art leaves no attentive viewer unchanged. In our time, a museum is often the primary setting in which this encounter takes place, though this was not always so. However that may be, here are three places in the vicinity of Notre Dame where you can take a few hours to enjoy this aspect of human craft and culture.

Snite Museum of Art

The Snite is Notre Dame’s own on-campus museum of fine art. Open every day of the week, the museum offers free admission to all comers. The collection is impressive, its particular strengths including a collection of Rembrandt etchings, 19th-century European artwork, Mesoamerican and Native American art, and traditional objects from modern African groups. This is only the beginning of the collection, however, which also comprises numerous sculptures, decorative artifacts, photographs, and pieces of modern art. The Snite also welcomes families and offers fun museum guide packs for children ages 4 and up. This is a great way to spend one of the (many) cloudy days to come this winter. Check the museum website for current exhibits and upcoming events.

South Bend Museum of Art

The SBMA is located in downtown South Bend, inside the Century Center on MLK Blvd. Admission is free, though a donation of a few dollars is recommended. The museum has a number of pieces from local, regional, and nationally-recognized artists, mainly from the 19th-century onward. The Museum also runs numerous classes and workshops for adults and for children of all ages, including painting, drawing, ceramics, and fiber arts, as well as drop-in drawing sessions and open studios. For graduate students interested in taking classes as a group, these are a great candidate for utilizing a Grad Life GO Grant!

Art Institute of Chicago

If you are taking a trip to Chicago, the city’s Art Institute is well worth visiting. With a massive collection of artwork and artifacts of all sorts and provenances, the Art Institute can easily fill up a visit of several hours—or several days! Children ages 13 and under get in for free and students are eligible for discounted tickets. If you are planning on visiting multiple museums in the city over the course of a few days, you might also consider purchasing a Chicago CityPASS, by far the most cost-effective way to see the main sights in Chicago. See my post over the summer on visiting Chicago for more details.

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Who doesn’t love an evening at the movies? Of course, viewing feature films outside of your own home can be a bit pricey. Not to worry, though! In South Bend, breaking the bank is strictly optional. Here are the places you’ll want to go:

Cinemark 14

Every seat at the Cinemark in Mishawaka is a luxury recliner, making it the area’s nicest movie theater. Posh doesn’t mean pricey, however, as full-price tickets still run well below average: $8.25 for adults and $6.50 for children. But that’s before the discounts! Adult matinees are $7.25 and, if you are a morning movie-goer, the day’s first showing of each movie is always $5.40. Moreover, any adult ticket can be had for $6.80 if you bring your student ID with you to the box office. Best of all? Tuesday is discount day: $5.25 tickets all day long. The theater also regularly runs broadcasts of operas and plays and hosts special film events. Check out their website for the latest.

Wonderland Cinema

You may have thought that the Cinemark was deal enough, but the best is yet to come. The Wonderland Cinema in Niles is the cheapest place to see a new release in Michiana. And while there may not be luxury loungers in the theater, it’s still a nice place to for watching a movie. Here is the deal: evening tickets sell for $5, matinees for $4, and before noon, you will only pay $2.50. As if that were not enough, the concessions are far more reasonably priced than at most theaters, with most selling for less than $3. On Monday through Thursday, you can even bring in the theater’s plastic popcorn bucket for a fifty-cent refill.

Student Union Board Movies

Generally, the Student Union Board serves the campus’ undergraduate population, but graduate students can take advantage of their programming too. One of the Board’s monthly events is a movie night, when they show a new release in the theater-style DeBartolo 101 classroom. These showings take place at 8:30 pm and 10:30 pm on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night each month. To see a movie in this classroom-turned-theater, it only costs $3 per ticket. Stay in the loop by looking at the SUB website or keeping your eyes peeled when perusing the Week@ND newsletter.

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

As always, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center is your on-campus location for all manner of theatrical events, and the Browning Cinema has an eclectic and first-rate slate of films lined up for this season. This year, movies in the RKO Classics series (not to be confused with Classics at the Browning) are free for students at Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, and Holy Cross, while the Sunday Family Films are free for children 12 and under. All other films (with the exception of National Theatre Live and Live at the Met broadcasts) are usually $4 per ticket for students. For this price, you can gain admission to an assortment of new and well-loved films (including the Lord of the Rings trilogy next week!). As always, the DPAC is an opportunity not to be missed.

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Arts and Culture: Theatre

Plays are a powerful mode of story-telling. Nowadays, our usual experience of narrative is through the medium of a screen, whether streaming a television show or enjoying a movie. Plays engage us in ways that are similar to film, but also in ways that are significantly different. No two performances of a play are the same. The varying emotions, energy, and character of actor and audience lend every performance a dynamism, particularity, and tangibility that often elude film. Don’t settle for reading Shakespeare in English class! You must see a play of his performed to understand his appeal and his brilliance.

Drama is also a traditional activity. Plays abounded in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, perpetuating a tradition that goes back to the semi-religious performances of the Greeks and, beyond that, to the oral recitation of poetic narratives and to the communal performance of religious ceremonies. To participate in drama, as an actor or an audience member, is to participate in something very old and very human, something impossible for the screen (or even a book!) to capture or replace. Here are a few places to see some plays, both in South Bend and in Chicago:

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Of course a Notre Dame student’s go-to place for theatrical drama is the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. At the end of every summer, the DPAC hosts the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. This year’s Festival included a community company’s performance of various scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, the performance by the Notre Dame Touring Company of Twelfth Night in locations around Michiana, and the centerpiece performance of Much Ado About Nothing by the 2017 Professional Company. Each year, DPAC also hosts Actors from the London Stage, a program that brings professional British actors to perform Shakespeare on stages across the United States.

This year’s Shakespeare Festival may be over, but there is plenty more drama in store at the DPAC. ND Theatre puts on several productions each year by the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre and the Browning Cinema broadcasts National Theatre Live performances from the National Theatre in London. Check out the DPAC website for the latest schedule. Make sure that you sign in with your student account to access discounted student tickets!

Morris Performing Arts Center

Located in the heart of downtown South Bend, the Morris serves as a venue for all manner of theatrical and musical events, including several touring productions of major Broadway shows. This year’s season includes Motown, A Chorus Line, and The Phantom of the Opera. Tickets can be somewhat pricey, especially since the Morris does not currently offer discounted student tickets. Still, shows like these are prime candidates for utilizing Grad Life’s GO Grants program, which can help to defray the costs of social outings for groups of Notre Dame graduate students and post-docs.

South Bend Civic Theatre

The other main local option for drama is the South Bend Civic Theatre, a community theatre company that puts on a number of plays each year and runs educational programs for children and adults. You can attend shows, participate in classes, or even audition for your own role in an upcoming play! Regular tickets are $20-22 each, but student rush tickets are available for $10 on the day of each performance. Attending or participating is a great way of getting involved in the South Bend community.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Finally, if you are willing to make the drive, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre offers $20 tickets to all patrons under the age of 35. They regularly put on professionally-produced works by Shakespeare and other playwrights in three different venues on Navy Pier in downtown Chicago.

Of course, there are many more opportunities to get in on the drama in Chicago! Check out the performances taking place through The Chicago Theatre, The Lookingglass Theatre, The Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Broadway In Chicago, and many more.

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