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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.

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Today is the first day of Graduate Student Appreciation Week: a full week, sponsored annually by Grad Life and other university departments, to show a bit of love to one of Notre Dame’s most underrated populations. At an institution whose resources are primarily devoted to the education of undergraduates, graduate education may seem to be an afterthought, and graduate students may perceive themselves as less than full citizens of their university.

But even a cursory glance at Notre Dame’s Mission Statement shows that this is not so. In this statement, the university dedicates itself to “the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake”.  This aspect of the university’s mission is rooted in the Catholic tradition, which affirms the preciousness of truth, wherever it may be found, because in coming to know the truth, we also come to know God. Faith affirms that God has revealed himself through Jesus Christ his Son, whom St. John the Evangelist calls the logos: the word, the principle of wisdom and rationality that sets the cosmos in order and gives life and being as a loving gift to all creatures. As we explore that cosmos and its creatures, we come to understand the principles of their order and the principles by which we ought to order our own lives and communities for the purpose of perpetuating and amplifying the divinely-given goods of life in the world.

As students, our primary method of doing this is through learning and research. As the Mission Statement goes on to say, “Notre Dame also has a responsibility to advance knowledge in a search for truth through original inquiry and publication. This responsibility engages the faculty and students in all areas of the University, but particularly in graduate and professional education and research.” This places graduate students right at the heart of the university’s enterprise, since it is they who are being trained to carry out the tasks to which the university is dedicated.

While it is to be hoped that this learning and inquiry is in itself reward enough for the long hours of work that graduate students pour into their vocations, it is still nice to be appreciated. And that’s what this week is all about.

Check your inbox each day for a schedule of events and for the daily deals and discounts that our campus partners are making available to graduate students. You can also view the entire week’s schedule here. Each of Grad Life’s daily e-mails will also feature a profile of a current graduate student, highlighting how his or her work supports the mission of Notre Dame.

So, happy Graduate Student Appreciation Week! Enjoy what’s on offer, and keep up the good work.

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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.

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One of the best things about being within reach of Chicago is having ready access to the highest level of classical musical talent in the nation. Back in 2008, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was deemed the best in the nation, and today it remains one of the premier American orchestras. In addition, the Chicago Lyric Opera regularly puts on some of the best productions in the country, including the talents of internationally-acclaimed singers from around the world. Tickets for the Symphony are regularly priced in excess of $100 and tickets to the Lyric can cost as much as $300 or more. Fortunately for you, both venues offer student tickets at a spectacular price.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

220 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 294-3000
Website

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra sells students tickets for select shows at $15 apiece, and offers the option of purchasing multiple tickets for a show. In addition, if you purchase tickets as a student for any concert on the day of the concert, you will pay 50% of their normal price. Season subscriptions are also available to students for 50% off or more. In order to prove that you are a student, you can either pre-register your ID with the Symphony Center online or bring your ID to pick up your tickets from the box office on the day of the show. Not a bad deal for some of the greatest music in history, performed by some of the best musicians in the nation. Individual tickets and subscriptions are on sale now.

Lyric Opera of Chicago

20 N. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 827-5600
Website

The Lyric Opera offers student tickets for $20 each to certain performances as well as a student subscription to three or more operas through their NEXT and NEXT Now programs. If you want tickets to an individual performance, you must subscribe (for free) to NEXT and, when tickets come available, you will receive a notification, at which point you can purchase your tickets. NEXT Now is the subscription option, and has some distinct advantages. You can still buy tickets for $20 apiece, but you must purchase them in advance for at least three performances. The advantage is that you can buy tickets for any performance and you don’t have to wait until dates come available. In either case, if you are fortunate, your tickets may be on the main floor of the opera house, where your neighbors will have paid five to fifteen times what you did! Individual student tickets and subscriptions are already on sale. If you have non-student friends, the Lyric also offers a membership program for young professionals (ages 21-45) that makes $35 tickets available to them. The opportunity to see vocal performers this talented for a price this low is not to be passed up lightly.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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The perks of living in South Bend are many, and one is our proximity to the city of Chicago. One of the biggest cities in the United States, Chicago has something for everyone: museums, theaters, city parks, restaurants, and all manner of opportunity for adventure. If you are looking for food, music, or a just a stroll around the bustling downtown, the city is only a couple of hours away.

Getting to Chicago

The first step is to get to the city, a task not as easy as it may seem. The time it takes to travel to downtown Chicago by car from South Bend can vary from a low of 1 hour and 45 minutes to a high of 3 hours, depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic you encounter. If possible, you will want to avoid entering or leaving the city during the morning and afternoon rush hours, though you could hit traffic at just about any time of day. There are two major routes to Chicago from South Bend: the I-90/I-80 toll road and the I-94 interstate. Taking the toll road may save you some time, though probably not very much, and it will cost you a few dollars. Usually, taking the toll road is a better option for those who need to travel through the city to another destination.

If you are driving to the city, you’ll also need to locate a place to park. Be prepared to pay at least a few dollars though, since free parking is non-existent in downtown and other tourist-heavy areas. While there are numerous parking lots and garages near to many of the main attractions, some can be quite expensive. The best way to find an affordable and conveniently located parking spot is to use an app or website ahead of time (SpotHero and Parkwhiz are two popular options), so that you know where you are going and what you’ll be paying to park.

If you would rather avoid the headache of negotiating potentially heavy traffic and finding a spot to park, you can also take public transit from South Bend to Chicago. The most cost-effective and convenient option is the South Shore Line, an electric commuter train that runs from the South Bend airport all the way to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. The trip takes between one and two hours, and a one-way ticket will cost you $13.50 (less if you plan to get off before Millennium Park). At many stations in the city, you will be able to make an easy transfer to a bus or to the metro. Given that the cost of parking downtown for a whole day can easily exceed $20, taking the train is not a bad option. By transferring to the metro from the Van Buren or Millennium Park stations, you can also get to either of Chicago’s major airports. (If you are just looking for transportation to the airport, you might also consider the Airport Super Saver bus service, which runs at all hours from South Bend to both of Chicago’s major airports)

Once you have made it into the big city, getting around is not difficult. You can always drive in the city, though traffic and Chicago drivers can make things a little crazy. On the other hand, downtown Chicago is very walkable, and for locations in other neighborhoods, you can also take a bus or the metro. Check out current schedules, routes, and fares on the Chicago Transit Authority’s website. Various bike rental services are also available, including Divvy, the city’s official bike rental system. They have numerous docking stations throughout the city where you can rent a bike for 30 minutes at a time with your credit card, or you can buy a day pass online before you go.

Things to Do

There is no end of things to do in Chicago, and any claim to an exhaustive list would be spurious. Below are a few suggestions for major attractions, but if you look around, you will be able to find just about anything you could want to do.

Museums and Zoos

Museum of Science and Industry

Field Museum

Adler Planetarium

Children’s Museum (free admission Thursday evenings, first Sundays)

Chicago History Museum

Shedd Aquarium

Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission)

Since tickets to these museums and to the Shedd’s Aquarium can be expensive, and since only the Field Museum offers student tickets, the most cost-efficient way to see multiple museums is to purchase a CityPASS (about $100 for adults), which gives you admission to five attractions in the city over the course of nine days, often with add-ons included. The pass includes admission to Shedd’s Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Chicago Skydeck, and your choice of either the Planetarium or the Art Institute and either 360 Chicago or the Museum of Science and Industry.

Arts and Culture

The Art Institute of Chicago (small discount for students)

The Newberry Research Library

Lyric Opera of Chicago ($20 student tickets, discounts for ages 21-45, rush tickets)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra ($15 student tickets)

Chicago Shakespeare Theater ($20 tickets for students and young professionals)

The Chicago Theatre

Food

Chicago, like every big city, has great food. Although the city is best known for deep-dish pizza (with Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Pequod’s, and others all contending for the title of best) and hot dogs, you can find any other type of food imaginable if you are willing to look for it. For example, you might check out Cafe Ba-ba-reeba! for tapas or visit one of several Glazed & Infused locations for specialty donuts. If you are into coffeehouses, try Big Shoulders or The Wormhole. Pubs, cocktail lounges, and bars abound, as do restaurants serving Mexican, Korean, BBQ, Mexican-Korean BBQ, and foods that don’t belong to any category at all.  With dozens of “best of” lists available from far more knowledgeable sources, providing yet another list here would be a futile exercise at best.

Other things to do

Check out one of the numerous independent bookstores in the city, go to a Cubs or White Sox game, walk along the lake-shore, visit some of the city’s many neighborhoods, take an architecture tour, do a Big City Scavenger Hunt, or check out one of the city’s many bars and pubs, where you can hear the blues, watch some improv, or get a tropical tiki cocktail. In short, you’re not going to run out of things to do while visiting the big city of Chicago.

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Need a little caffeine boost or a change of scenery? As you figure out your workflow this semester, consider integrating an occasional, or maybe even frequent, visit to some of these awesome local coffee shops. Most of these places have no problem with grad students coming in and setting up shop for a few hours (or more than a few…)

Here are some that took me a while to discover:

  • Zen Cafe – With a cool industrial vibe, this local roaster has a huge space perfect for spreading out and studying.
  • Top Heavy Cafe (Niles) – Just a quick drive north of campus, this extremely modern cafe features hipster quality drinks with minimalist design features. There is also a delicious pizza place just up the street from Top Heavy. They are also open on Sundays!
  • Electric Brew (Elkhart and Goshen locations) – This cafe has a great eclectic vibe complete with bikes hanging from the ceiling and burlap bags hanging on the walls. The coffee is great and they are also open on Sundays.
  • Union Coffee House (Buchanan, MI) – This bright little coffee house features both tables and couches to study in maximal comfort. They have both vegetarian and vegan eats as well!
  • Cafe Tosi (St. Joe, MI) – About 45 minutes from South Bend, this beautiful beach town has a charming French style cafe with delicious (seriously delicious) eats and endless cups of Joe. I love driving up to St. Joe on the weekend and working in some research time at this charming cafe after a dip in Lake Michigan.

And here is the classic list:

  • Chicory Cafe – A favorite among grad students, Chicory is the only New Orleans themed cafe in South Bend. They have a wide range of caffeinated options, as well as excellent Mac N Cheese and Po Boys.
  • Chocolate Cafe – A South Bend classic, this cafe seems to have it all – ice cream, cake, caffinee, a wide variety of sweets, and hearty food as well! You haven’t really been to South Bend if you haven’t visited the Chocolate Cafe
  • Starbucks – Several locations to check out. If you want to use the rewards program (i.e. free refills), you will want to go to a stand alone location. My favorites for studying are the one north of campus just past the toll road, the one on South Bend Ave right by school (although this one can be crazy during exam time), and the one south of school on Ireland road.

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