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.

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!

Best places for a Cup of Joe (or tea)

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.

Things I Wish I Knew: A Letter to Incoming Students

I graduate in one week with a MA in Peace Studies from Notre Dame. The two-year program has provided amazing opportunities to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet, there are things I wish I knew before coming to the program. I hope they help you in your journey as an incoming student.

  1. Your department or cohort is who you will spend the majority of your time with. The downside is that you do not have as many opportunities to get to know others in different departments. The upside is that you often become very close to those in your program. For an extrovert like me, I tried to overcome this by attending events for graduate students and meeting undergrads at football games and other campus-sponsored events. I also happened to have a few classes with undergrads and enjoyed conversation over coffee and lunch. Additionally, I contacted different professors, faculty, and administrators who I thought would be interesting to get to know and asked them out for coffee.
  2. Sometimes you will feel overwhelmed by the amount of readings, assignments, and papers you have to do. During my first semester, my professors assigned about 500-700 pages of readings each week. Remember to take a deep breath and prioritize your to-do items. Eventually you’ll develop tactics to manage your assignments.
  3. There are a lot of free events, lectures, activities, and food giveaways on campus. I discovered this fairly quickly upon arrival, but think it is important to share. Notre Dame brings in amazing speakers, ranging from Heads of State to activists. While you may be tempted to skip out on certain events because you have a lot of work, consider attending some of these each year. It is also a great way to meet other people and take a break from work.
  4. There are a lot of wonderful resources on campus-from the Rec Sports fitness facilities to the Hesburgh Library and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC). Take advantage of the resources they offer, from kickboxing class and Kung Fu, to foreign language support.
  5. Notre Dame offers a variety of funding opportunities for research and presenting at conferences. Although MA students are not eligible for the same opportunities as Ph.D. students, I was able to secure funding to present at conferences in Italy and Spain. Consider looking at the Graduate School, Nanovic Institute, Institute for Scholarship and Liberal Studies (ISLA), and your home department.
  6. While academics are an important part of your grad school experience, don’t forget to enjoy your time on campus. Because Notre Dame’s academic programs are rigorous, it’s easy to focus all of your attention on maintaining a high GPA. While there is nothing wrong with striving for academic excellence, remember to keep things in perspective. You will develop life-long friends, be mentored by amazing faculty, and get to spend several years at one of the foremost universities in the nation. Remember to enjoy the sun after all the snow has finally fallen, meet new friends, and grow as a person.

Enjoy your time learning, growing, and experiencing all the wonderful opportunities Notre Dame offers.

Go Irish!

Tamara Shaya