Biking Around Notre Dame

In this special guest post, Jessica Schiltz a Graduate Orientation Ambassador, breaks down the bike options for getting to all the best places. 

The beauty of our campus is undeniable, with the sprawling quads, carefully lined flower beds and the grassy expanses, artfully lined with paved sidewalks. The winding paths and acres of lawns and landscaping are however, less than desirable when you need to get somewhere fast. The University of Notre Dame is approximately 2mi2 and navigating on- and off-campus can be time-consuming.

In order to optimize your daily routes consider acquiring a bicycle. Purchase options are always available at the wholesale retailers in Mishawaka, but if you’re looking for a deal that isn’t in a store, or on Craigslist, every year Fischer O’Hara Grace (Graduate Student Housing) hosts a bicycle raffle at the start of fall semester. Not sure if you need a bike right away? No problem, Notre Dame hosts an Old2Gold sale that includes donated campus bicycles. (Side note: graduate students who work year-round should remember to visit ND Security Police (NDSP) in Hammes Mowbray Hall in May to pick up a summer tag for their bike, so that your bike doesn’t get removed during this annual clearing!) You can also hunt for deals at the annual spring Bicycle Swap through the Bike Michiana Coalition, where you can haggle for mountain, road, and cruiser variants.

It is highly recommended that you register the ownership of your current or newly acquired bicycle through NDSP. This improves chances of recovery if lost or stolen, or possibly placed on a tree branch. To prevent damage to your property and nearby leafy perennials, consider purchasing a U-lock rather than a cable lock and, if on campus, secure your bike to a bike rack. Also two quick pro tips: once summer is over, and winter quickly approaches, NDSP is willing to store bicycles for free, keeping them safe from the ravages of freezing temperatures and salt. Oh, you have a popped inner tube? Need a new chain? Proform Bike Shop is the closest place where you can get help on maintenance and repairs.

Can’t afford the purchase of a new or used bicycle? Consider LimeBike. These bright key-lime green cruisers are dotted across ND and South Bend. Download their mobile app on Google Play or the App Store to set up an account and ride for 30 minutes for only a $1.00! Plus, if you sign-up with a valid ND (.edu) email, you can get a 50% discount. Plus, if you know you’ll use LimeBike frequently the LimePrime Students program is $14.95 a month that includes 100 ride credits. So, if you are sick of two-ten-ing (walking) everywhere, waste no time and go find a two-wheeled ride!

Living Cheap in South Bend: The Spousal ID

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.

Living Cheap in South Bend: 10 Restaurants Under $10

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.

Living Cheap in South Bend: Let’s Go to the Movies

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.

Living Cheap in South Bend: Food

We all have to buy food, and cutting costs in this area is one of the best ways to maintain a budget. Martin’s may be convenient for its near-campus location, but you’ll find that the best prices on food are found elsewhere in town. Here are a few locations to check out that may not be familiar to students from out of state.

Aldi

Aldi is, to put it mildly, life-changing. They have all the staples you need to stock your pantry and they have them for cheap. Low prices, however, need not mean low quality. Run by the same company that runs the upscale Trader Joe’s, many of Aldi’s products contain simple, wholesome ingredients, and they even stock some local produce. Before you go, however, you’ll need to know a few things that distinguish Aldi from other stores. First, to get a cart, you’ll need a quarter, though you’ll get it back if you return your cart after loading your car. Second, you’ll want to bring along reusable shopping bags. If you forget, you can always pick up empty boxes for free in the store or buy bags for five cents apiece. Thirdly, items like produce are not sold individually, but in bags or boxes. That produce is cheaper per pound than at most stores, but you buy more of it at once. All of this helps Aldi to offer its customers lower prices on basic goods and contributes to the relatively high wages made by the employees.

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Thyme is a farmer’s market-style grocery store, stocking local, organic, natural, and specialty foods. As a result, many of their products are somewhat more expensive than elsewhere (though not as much as you might think!). Their produce and meats, however, are often available at a very competitive cost, so check their weekly advertisements for their latest sales.

Meijer

This Midwestern store has everything at a reasonable price. There are groceries, household goods, office supplies, electronics, pharmaceutical products, outdoor and garden supplies, and far, far more. If you need it for cheap, chances are good that it’s here.

Living Cheap in the Bend: Thrifty does it

One of the most effective ways to save money is to buy things used rather than new. And I’m not just talking about books! You can also save a great deal of money by purchasing clothing, kitchenware, appliances, and furniture second-hand. Here are five places to do just that in South Bend.

St. Vincent de Paul Society Community Store and The Salvation Army Family Store

Stop by and browse the ranks of used clothing, housewares, toys, appliances, and furniture at the Vincent de Paul thrift store in South Bend, all priced to sell. Here, the proceeds from your purchases will benefit the Society’s charitable activities. Many of the items are vintage, but this store is a great place for stocking a kitchen on a budget, buying cheap appliances, and replacing clothes without breaking the bank. If you already have more than enough stuff in your house, the Society also accepts all manner of donations. The store is located on the corner of Ironwood and South Bend Ave, and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 AM – 7 PM.

Alternatively, you can pay a visit to the Salvation Army Family Store, also located on South Bend Ave. Money from your purchases here goes towards the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers, helping those suffering from addictions. The store is huge and they have anything that could be donated. Check their sign for daily specials on certain items. The Salvation Army store is open from 9 AM – 9 PM on Monday through Saturday. They also accept almost any kind of donation, from small items to furniture to automobiles.

Old2Gold

Old2Gold is Notre Dame’s own university-wide yard sale, benefiting a number of local charities and service organizations. Throughout the school-year, Old2Gold volunteers accept and sort donations, mainly from students, in preparation for a once-a-year sale that takes place in the summer. Most items, including appliances, housewares, furniture, non-perishable foods, bicycles, clothing, and many other things, are priced at under $5. Although the 2017 sale has already taken place, be on the look-out for the date of the 2018 sale early next summer.

ND Surplus

You won’t find furniture and office supplies for a cheaper price than at ND Surplus. University departments routinely donate old furniture, electronics, housewares, and other items. Faculty and staff can buy things throughout the week, but on Wednesdays from 1 PM – 3 PM and Thursdays from 11:30 AM – 3 PM, the Surplus Store, located at 925 N Eddy St, is open to the public. In the meantime, you can browse their inventory and prices online. You will be surprised at what you can find: besides furniture and storage cabinets, they often also have desk organizers, tablecloths, lamps, computer accessories, and even cleaning supplies, overhead projectors, and televisions!

Arts and Culture: DPAC

If you enjoy musical events, first-rate cinema, dramatic performances, or superb voices, look no further than Notre Dame’s comfortable and elegant DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Every semester, the Center hosts a variety of musical artists, both classical and contemporary, frequent showings of films, both time-honored and newfangled, powerful dramas from past decades and from the cutting edge, and scintillating organ recitals. Discounted student tickets are available to all performances, and the lower prices are good both for your own tickets and any additional tickets you may choose to purchase. Below, I have highlighted some of the many events from the 2017-2018 season. Although the annual Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival is over for now, there are still many other opportunities to partake of the performing arts throughout the coming school year.

The Presenting Series

The Presenting Series comprises the main musical events of the season at the Performing Arts Center. A variety of talented artists, many of them internationally-acclaimed, will take the stage and, thanks to some generous funding, students can see them for far cheaper than would be possible at any other venue. Highlights include the Grammy-award-winning band Quetzal, talented baritone Nathan Gunn, Gospel singer Irma Thomas and the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Grand Rapids Ballet, former lead voice for Celtic Woman Chloë Agnew, and world-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman. Make sure to log in with your student account to access discounted ticket prices. Make your purchase over the phone with the box office and they will sell you tickets for the astounding price of $6 apiece if you purchase them to three or more events at once. Compare this to the regular ticket prices at the DPAC (often up to $40) or elsewhere (often up to a few hundred dollars) to see the same performers, and you will begin to understand what a fantastic deal this is.

Browning Cinema

$4 is the normal movie ticket price paid by Notre Dame students at the Browning Cinema. That would be news enough, but it gets better. This season, the Browning Cinema is also running a series of classic films that are free for students at Notre Dame, Holy Cross, and St. Mary’s, as well as a series of Sunday Family Films that are free for all children 12 and under. In addition to movies, the Browning Cinema also shows National Theatre Live broadcasts from the Royal National Theatre in London and Live at the Met broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City (both are $16 for students). While these tickets are a bit more expensive than those for movies, they are still cheaper than what you would pay elsewhere. These broadcasts grant you access to the best artists and productions in the fields of drama and opera, all from the conveniently-located comfort of the Browning Cinema. For all Cinema events, concessions are also available: $1 for popcorn and $2 for a variety of candies.

Family Events

In addition to the Browning Cinema Sunday Family Films, free for children 12 and under, the DPAC also hosts a few other family-oriented events. Two of the Presenting Series events are intended for children and families, and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra will be performing the delightful Peter and the Wolf in March.

Other Events

In addition to all this, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra regularly performs at the DPAC, as well as professional and regional dance companies, and Actors from the London Stage, who will be performing a unique production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure in October. The DPAC also hosts professional organists, sacred music concerts, student music recitals, ND Theatre, and a variety of other artistic performances.

Where else can you enjoy so many world-class performers and artists in one nearby space? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see and hear the best of music, drama, and film, all on campus, and all without emptying your wallet.