Running & Other Adventures in the Bend

Guest post by Kelly Heilman, Ph.D. Candidate in Biological Sciences

Spending time outside running, hiking, and generally exploring has always been my preferred form of stress relief. When I moved to South Bend, this was no different. Could South Bend be a good place for an outdoor adventurer, you ask? While we don’t have mountains to run up and ski down, I discovered an active running community and several unique recreation opportunities in the area. From running, to backpacking, and exploring the region’s outdoor resources, I’m listing my favorite opportunities that I wish I had known about earlier in my Grad Life here at Notre Dame.

If you don’t see your adventure sport of choice featured below—don’t fret! Some friends in my department & I co-founded a graduate jogging group (see JOGS below) because we realized there were no social running groups that currently served the needs of graduate students. So, if you would like to see a new group on campus, chances are you are not alone! Get out there and have an adventure!

South Bend Offers an Active Running Community and Recreation Opportunities Such As Running, Hiking, and Backpacking
Organized Running & Adventure Groups:

JOGS (Jogging Organization for Graduate Students): A new SAO approved club that for ND Graduate Students interested in jogging! We host at least 2 runs each week (Runs this semester are on Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm), and our goal is to create a fun social network of Joggers/runners on campus. Email jogs@nd.edu for more information!

Fleet Feet Pub Runs: Every Wednesday evening Fleet Feet hosts a 5k pub/social run around ND campus, leaving from O’Rourkes on Eddy Street. You get to meet a lot of different runners (who run a lot of different paces) & several people often hang around O’Rourkes afterwards.

South Bend Adventure Club: Informal adventure group in the region whose members organize hikes, backpacking trips, kayak outings, and much more. I have organized some ski events & a Backpacking trip in the Ozarks with this group. The group’s Facebook page is how events are organized.

Local Parks to Explore:

St. Patrick’s County Park: Local favorite with some fun running trails, as well as many community events. They also offer cross-country skiing (including rentals) in the winter!

Potato Creek State Park: State park in Indiana with hiking & running trails, mountain biking, and a small lake. 

Warren Dunes & Grand Mere State Parks: Two different state parks in MI with sand dunes you can hike up, access to Lake Michigan, and some trails through the woods.

Get outside & adventuring!

Is It Procrastination or Is It Self-Care?

Guest post by Megan G. Brown, Ph.D., HSPP, Interim Director of the Rev. James E. McDonald, C.S.C., Center for Student Well-Being.

 

With your research constantly hanging over your head, do you ever feel like normal life activities such as exercise, hanging out with friends, or reading fiction are procrastination? Or maybe you have an advisor who gives you the impression that if it doesn’t relate to your research, you shouldn’t be doing it! It is true that good things can be used to escape from doing the hard things. But how do you know when you are procrastinating or when you are practicing self-care?

 

There isn’t an easy answer, but there is an answer. And it starts with a question. Who or what is important to you? If your research and why you are doing that research is on the list, then you are off to a good start.  But there are other things and people on that list as well, right? (I hope so!) What about friends, family, health, adventure, faith, laughter, “me”, to name a few possibilities? These are the people and things that energize us in life. When we move toward them, they provide meaning and purpose even if they cause stress at times. (They are stressful because they matter!)

 

Friends, Family, Health, Adventure, Faith, and Laughter Can Provide Us with Purpose

 

But if you are anything like me, you are never always moving toward who or what is important to you because stuff shows up and gets in the way. And the most challenging stuff that gets in the way is on the inside: fatigue, guilt, insecurity, fear, sadness, stress (to name only a few). When these gremlins rear their ugly heads, I automatically do some stuff to try to get rid of them. I watch Netflix, take a nap, get snippy with people, or eat chocolate (or some combination of these). Most of these activities are not bad, but it is a matter of timing and purpose.

 

So the second question is, Does this activity move me toward who or what is important to me or does it move me away? Often, when we do something to escape uncomfortable feelings within ourselves, the activity moves us away from our values, not toward them. In the moment, the activity feels great; we are comforted and soothed. That’s why we continue doing it and why it is so automatic. It works! But how do we feel after watching three hours of Friends while consuming the box of chocolates that was for a friend’s birthday gift?

 

Feelings Such as Fatigue, Guilt, Insecurity, Fear, Sadness, and Stress May Move Us Away from Activities and People We Value

 

The key to knowing whether something is procrastination or self-care isn’t how it makes us feel, but whether it is moving us closer to who we want to be, what is best for us and who/what is important to us. It takes some practice, but there is evidence that suggests that just asking, “Is this a toward move or an away move?” can slow us down and turn off our autopilot so we make better long-term decisions. Research also suggests that contemplating our values increases resilience and decreases stress.

 

Research Suggests That Contemplating Our Values Increases Resilience and Decreases Stress.

 

Both of these happen in one simple question, “Is this a toward move or an away move?” Try it! You may be re-energized to keep working on your research because it is what is most important to you or you may end up taking a much needed, guilt-free nap.

 

 

Life and Living Well

I’ll begin by stating the obvious: grad school is hard.

As graduate students, we are familiar with the toil of prioritizing and accomplishing our to-do lists. But grad student to-do lists grow faster than grad students can work. We’ve always got a nagging feeling that we ought to be doing something productive right now.

Part of what helps us tolerate long hours of labor and high expectations is knowing that it’s temporary. Only a few years of suffering; then comes the really meaningful work. We’ll land the job we desire, and then our life can really begin.

But we spend so much of our lives in this mindset. As an undergrad, we looked forward to grad school – that’s when I’ll finally get to do what I really want! And as high-schoolers, we looked forward to college – finally, a chance to be out on my own!

And then Master Yoda suddenly pokes us in our (metaphorical) ribs: “All his life has he looked away – to the future – to the horizon! Never his mind on where he was! Hm? What he was doing! Hmph. Adventure – heh! Excitement – heh! A Jedi craves not these things.” (The Empire Strikes Back) And somehow, in the words of a weird, shrivel-faced puppet, we recognize the truth: we can spend our whole lives looking forward to the next thing, believing that our life hasn’t begun yet.

But the fact is – it has. Life isn’t in the future. It’s happening right now.

And if life has meaning, it must be somewhere in the present. It must be here and now: in the friends and neighbors who, by chance or providence, surround us; in our own hearts and spirits, calling us to pay attention, to look – to really look! – and to listen – to really listen! Our life may not be what we’d like – but it is – it exists. And that’s good.

Work hard, then, but don’t be deceived – the meaning of your life isn’t all in what you produce. It’s in your relationships. It’s in who you are.

Listen to people. Bless them and tell the truth with humility. Don’t rush. Stop. See the living world around you. The beauty of it all is that life’s not useful- it’s just good. It’s all the gift of God, who didn’t need to create anything at all.

But he did. He willed the world to be. And he willed you to live so that he can love you. He’s already given you all that’s necessary for happiness, free, no strings. It’s there if only you have eyes to see – if you only ask him.

Trust God’s love. Hear his voice. Enjoy his grace. He is the meaning in the present moment. He is the Beauty in the beautiful. He is the Goodness in all that’s good.

Grad Life Program Highlight: GO Grants

Have you and your grad student friends ever wanted to go to an event, but couldn’t quite bring yourselves to fork over the cash to pay for it? Next time, Grad Life may be able to help!

One of Grad Life’s ongoing programs is the GO Grant program, sponsored by the Notre Dame Graduate School. Groups of current Notre Dame graduate students and post-docs (and their guests) can apply for a GO Grant to help cover the cost of tickets or entrance fees to events around Michiana. If you have a group of six to twelve graduate students (and up to one guest for each student) collectively coming from at least two different academic departments, you’re eligible to apply for up to $300.00 per group to help subsidize the cost of the event you have in mind. This program is meant to support graduate student participation in local events in order to promote well-being and foster community.

All you have to do is fill out a short online application with a description of the event and a brief argument for why your group should receive funding for it. Eligibility requirements and other policies are spelled out in full on the Grad Life website, but here are the basics.

  • The money can only be used to cover the cost of tickets or entrance fees to one-time events – it is not for covering the cost of food, beverages, alcohol, transportation, recurring classes, etc.
  • Submit your application at least one week ahead of time, since every participant will need to fill out and submit a waiver form.
  • It’s okay if the total cost of the event will exceed $300 – you can use the GO Grant as a subsidy.
  • No applicant or attendee may be the beneficiary of a GO Grant more than once a semester. If you were part of a group that received a GO Grant in January, you can’t be part of a group that receives a grant for the rest of the spring. Check the website for specific dates.
  • Only adults (over 18) are eligible to receive funding.
  • Afterwards, your group will need to submit your receipts, a short survey, and a photo of the group at the event in order to receive reimbursement.

It’s as simple as that! So next time you and your friends feel like fleeing the library and getting some recreation, you can think less about cash and more about fun. Apply now!

Grad Life Moves to Duncan Student Center

Grad Life’s New Home and the Graduate Student Lounge

As winter break comes to a close, I’d like to invite you on Grad Life’s behalf to visit us in our new space on the south side of the Duncan Student Center’s second floor. Over winter break, Grad Life moved from a small space in the back rooms of the Main Building to a brand new office overlooking Legends and the Stadium Lot. This office is the new home of both Grad Life and the GSU.

Our office also looks into a stupendous lounge intended just for graduate students! The lounge, arguably the best spot in Duncan, has a wall of windows facing DeBartolo Hall and is filled with comfortable couches and chairs (including two rockers!) and tables for studying. There are also a number of day lockers, as well as a small kitchen area for graduate student use, which includes a sink, microwaves, free coffee, and, in case you forgot your lunch, supplies for making peanut butter sandwiches. The lounge’s conference room will also soon be available for reservation.

You can come check out the new lounge and our office during the official Duncan Student Center Open House on Monday, January 15, from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. For more information on Duncan, see the university press release regarding its grand opening.

Smith Center for Recreational Sports

One of the new student center’s star attractions is the Smith Center for Recreational Sports, which will be fully operational on January 15. The entrance to the Smith Center is on the third floor, but is only accessible from the stairwell and elevators on the north side of Duncan. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself on the main floor of the Center, among dozens of state-of-the-art treadmills, ellipticals, and other cardio machines, most of them with individual monitors. On either end of the long room, you will also find fitness and personal training rooms, a basketball court, locker rooms, weight machines, a free weight area, and the SYNRGY 360 system, which amounts to an adult jungle gym with TRX resistance-training capabilities.

On the fourth floor, accessible from two stairwells inside the Smith Center, there is a 1/6 mile track with areas for stretching and numerous additional cardio machines and lockers, as well as another jungle-gym type apparatus. The Smith Center also boasts a climbing wall and a bouldering wall, both of which can be reached by a separate entrance on the second floor of Duncan.

There is much more to see in the new student center, however, so come take a look for yourself.

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: 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.

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.

Arts and Culture: Great Music in Chicago

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.

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.