Ask the Salmon: On Winter Break

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.

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.

Arts and Culture: Art Museums

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.

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.

Graduate Student Appreciation Week Guest Post: Mae Kilker

It’s easy to forget in the day-to-day bustling life on campus that Notre Dame is not just an undergraduate university. Graduate Students make up a third of the overall student body here, but you don’t see them tossing beanbags, setting up hammocks, or throwing the pigskin around on the quads in the same numbers. They don’t live in the Hogwarts-like residence halls scattered among the classroom, lab, and office buildings. Brace yourself, but many grad students have never been to a home football game. (Gasp!)

Nonetheless, grad students do leave the lab and the library to participate in campus events, and I think we’re all better for it. While it’s important to focus and make progress on your research, you’re missing out if you never enter into the stream of the campus community.

My favorite memories are also some of the strangest things I’ve done on campus:

  • Brazilian samba dancing in the LaFortune Ballroom with the ND Club of Brazil. They make it look so easy!
  • Learning just how hard it is to flip a hamburger on a 4-foot-long grill when I volunteered for the GSU concession fundraiser before a home game
  • Watching my childhood favorite, The Princess Bride, at midnight in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with free popcorn!

There were some awkward moments, too, like at the Rec Center Zumba course where everyone else clearly knew who Shakira was and how to dance like her – and I clearly did not. But that made me laugh, too, which is just like exercising. Right?

I’ve explored many different features of campus: the Snite Museum, the Basilica, the Grotto, lakes, golf courses, and the near-constant flow of graduate student workshops, lectures, receptions, etc., offered by my department or other organizations. Yet I’m constantly surprised by what else is happening here – like when the Wonder Woman movie played in Washington Hall, with free cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes courtesy of the Student Activity Office. Or what I’m looking forward to later this week, the Grad Student Appreciation Week “Dogs & Dogs” event on the North Quad. Hot dogs and therapy dogs? What’s not to love?

Grad Student Appreciation Week reminds our grad students that you are ND, too. We’re glad you’re here, and we’d love to have you join in the fun. After all, I can’t be the only one dancing so weirdly in public….​

 

Mae Kilker is a doctoral candidate at the Medieval Institute and the Assistant Program Director for Professional Development in the Graduate School.

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.

Back to School with Ask the Salmon

School is back in session for the fall! For some of us, classes have begun again; for others, we are getting back to our school-year research schedules. Campus is crowded and coffee lines are long once more, and football season will soon be in full swing. It may take a little longer for all of us to settle into a regular schedule for the semester (it usually takes me a few weeks), but now the real work of graduate student life begins.

With the onset of a new semester, Ask the Salmon will be introducing two new blog series geared toward grad students, to be published on alternating Fridays. The first will be a series on the performing arts and entertainment, and will feature various venues for attending concerts, plays, and other shows, as well as for viewing art on campus, in South Bend, and in Chicago. Special note will be made of opportunities to purchase discounted student tickets.

The second series will be called Living Cheap in the Bend, and will feature tips, tricks, deals, and must-knows for living life on a graduate student budget. Although it’s much easier to live well on a low income in South Bend than in most other parts of the country, it can still be tricky. Fortunately, Notre Dame and Michiana offer an abundance of ways to cut costs if you are willing to do a bit of looking around.

As always, of course, feel free to submit your own questions and look for our answers on the blog. In the meantime, may the beginning of your fall semester be propitious!

Summer in South Bend: The End of Summer

This summer blog series began by arguing that leisure is an indispensable part of living a human life. Now, the school-year is upon us, when we’ll find ourselves hemmed in by a perpetually growing list of obligations, always haunted by the sense that we should be doing more. The more we accomplish, the longer our resumes; the longer our resumes, the better our job prospects. We are constantly looking to the next step in our careers, the next project, the next thing to do. Meanwhile, our work becomes toil as we do it more and more for the sake of what we’d rather be doing instead.

Leisure is different than toil. Toil labors for the future; leisure awakens us to the present. Leisure is about delight and contemplation, about thanksgiving and rejoicing. When we enjoy something, it directs our gaze to what is present, toward our companions and neighbors, to the things and events unfolding before us. How rarely do we rest like this, receiving what exists as a gift!

The goodness of the world, which we recognize in leisure, is indeed a gift, for nothing good exists of necessity. We may need food, but food does not have to be delicious. Every person, both friend and neighbor, exists as we know them in large part due to a contingent series of choices made by them and by other people. Parks, books, movies, bicycles, restaurants, beaches, board games, and basketballs: none of them had to be. Nudge our Earth a little closer to the Sun, tilt its axis a smidgen, make a change ever so slight in the chaotic discs of rock and gas that formed our solar system, and none of them would exist. Nothing in the universe is so unlikely as our living world and the people within it.

Yet there they are before us, all the things we enjoy and all the people we love. Against all odds, some deep root within the world keeps springing up, bearing delightful and nourishing fruit. Despite the wickedness of our bedraggled human race, the sun and stars still shine, rain falls on the ground and on our faces, and the earth brings forth our food. Exploited, ignored, cursed, our world still feeds us in body and in soul.

Only love could be this generous, giving good things without measure to both the deserving and the undeserving. Love is the living energy that hums and crackles in the fabric of the cosmos. It is the mover of what moves, the sower of what blooms, the being of what is. Love makes the world. God poured forth the ever-given light, and having made all that exists, he called it good. He loved the world.

Leisure is also, in the end, about love. When we set aside our anxious and busy thoughts to look around, to enjoy what exists, and to have compassion on our neighbors, we affirm those words of God. We also call the world good. We give thanks, and we learn, once more, to love.

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.