3 things I wish I’d known during my first week at Notre Dame

The first week of grad school can be both exciting and stressful. Not only are you jumping into a full load of coursework, research, and/or teaching, but you’re also learning to navigate a new campus. Even simple tasks can become a pain when you’re trying to figure out where things are located or how the system works. So, with only two more weeks (!!) until the semester begins, I thought now would be a good time to share a few bits of knowledge that would have made my life a little easier during those first few weeks on campus.

  1. You can check out an umbrella from the library! After being caught without a rain jacket or umbrella during the torrential downpour that occurred during last year’s orientation, I will pass on this key piece of information that might have saved me from a very soggy trip home. If you find yourself stranded on campus during a downpour, head for the circulation desk at Hesburgh Library and ask to check out an umbrella–all you’ll need is your ID card. Bonus fact: the Library also lets you borrow other handy equipment including phone chargers, laptop stands, and international outlet converters!
  2. Time your coffee runs carefully. If you’re taking classes, there may be times when you have just 15 minutes to get from one building to another and refuel with some precious caffeine. Unfortunately, the same holds true for most of the students campus. Waddicks (on the first floor of O’Shaughnessy Hall) and Starbucks (in LaFortune student center) are notorious for ridiculously long lines between classes. So if you’re not constrained to a class schedule, it’s best to avoid the rush-hour headache altogether. But if you’re in a time crunch and you really need that boost to get you through your next class, it pays to familiarize yourself with the options along your route—you can scope out some of them in advance on this page (the listings under “Express Locations” are all possible options for caffeine on-the-go).
  3. How to print on campus. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it took me several days to figure this one out . . . I was coming from a university with a totally different system for graduate student printing so I foolishly ignored the PrintND signs posted all around campus. At Notre Dame, graduate students can print anywhere on campus using personal laptops, mobile devices, or campus computers. If you’re using a laptop, you’ll need to download the correct drive from the OIT website in order to get started. After that, you can simply hit print and then locate a nearby printer (they can be found in most buildings on campus). You’ll just need your student ID card to access your print queue. All grad students receive a yearly $35 printing credit that is automatically linked to your account. Click here for detailed step-by-step instructions on how to set up your devices and print your documents. You’ll also find instructions posted above most campus printers.

Owning a Pet in South Bend

For those of you moving to the South Bend area with a furry friend in tow, you may be wondering about the best places for exercise, supplies, pet sitting, etc! I’m a dog owner, so this post may be *slightly* skewed in that direction, but some of this info will be useful to those of you with cats (or lizards, fish, hedgehogs, etc.) as well.

Official Stuff

Once you arrive in South Bend, make sure your pet has the required licenses and vaccines. You can find that information here.


Dog Parks

There are two dog parks in the area. Niles Ave Bark Park is conveniently located near downtown South Bend. One word of caution on this dog park: the “big dog” area is not super secure—the wrought iron fence leaves room for a medium-sized dog, s/he could probably slip under the fence or between the rails! So if your dog has a need to test boundaries like mine does, be sure to keep a close eye on them or use the little dog area, where the fence is reinforced with chicken wire.

Mishawaka also has an off-leash dog run, located in Prickett Marina Park, which borders the St. Joseph River. This is a much larger park, with a more secure fence, so there’s a bit more freedom to run and play!

East Bank Trail
My dog Luna enjoying the views on the East Bank Trail


Walks and Hiking

There are plenty of parks and walking paths in the area. My go-to spot is the East Bank trail, a paved, multi-use path that connects Angela Blvd. (near campus) with the downtown area and boasts some great views of the St. Joseph River. Bonus: the trail passes right by the Niles Ave dog park. Most hiking spots in the area allow dogs on-leash (just make sure to check the rules before you go!). Check out David’s post, Summer in South Bend: Getting Outdoors, for some ideas.


Pet Stores

If you need specialty pet supplies, there are several stores in the South Bend/Mishawaka area. Pet Supplies Plus is within walking distance of campus and they offer washing and grooming services. A little further from campus, you can find both PetSmart and PetCo. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, Two Dogs and a Cat is a boutique style pet store located in nearby Granger, IN.



If your busy schedule keeps you away from home longer than you’d like, or if you’re out of town and need someone to come hang out with your pet, I recommend Amber’s Pampered Pets. She and her team offer walks, home visits, and even sleepovers! She has fit my dog into her schedule at the last minute several times. Plus she will send you photo updates and might even feature your pet on her Instagram.