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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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!)
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?
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.
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.
If there is one book I wish I read at the beginning of my graduate studies it is Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks by Wendy Laura Belcher. Although Belcher provides a detailed plan for completing and submitting an academic article, she also offers honest, useful, and more importantly, realistic advice which is applicable for other sorts of writing such as seminar papers, notes for comprehensive exams, dissertations, and even creative endeavors.Belcher acknowledges that scientific writing generally has other parameters, so she mainly addresses scholars in fields such as the Humanities and the Social Sciences.
Here are some of my favorite suggestions from the book:
Identify your feelings about writing.
Are you experiencing guilt, fear of failure, impostor syndrome? It is actually very common to have negative feelings about writing. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and even talk about them rather than repress them.
Prepare a realistic writing schedule.
Work on a writing schedule and anticipate weeks when you might not be able to write.
Pick a time of day that works with your other responsibilities and habits. Consider if you are a morning or an evening person before deciding on the best time to write.
If you cannot write at the same time every day, try to come up with a regular pattern for your schedule.
Make writing social.
Writing does not require isolation. In fact, it should be done in community. Join a writing group or attend a writing class. A good conversation about your manuscript will help you think further about your argument and will teach you how to respond to feedback and criticism.
Writing every day will give you a higher sense of progress and accomplishment. This will keep you motivated.
Writing binges are painful and will leave you feeling exhausted.
Do not wait to write. Do not wait for:
The last minute
Big blocks of time.
Do not wait until all of your research is done to start writing.
It is not possible to read every book which might be related to our topic.
Start writing and this will help you determine what information you actually need.
Leave holes in your manuscript. These can be filled up later.
Approach writing and thinking as simultaneous tasks.
Rejection is common, do not take it as a measure of your worth. The best writers get rejections as well, but they persist.
Overall, Belcher’s book encourages graduates students to persevere, even when we feel we do not have the time to write. She also offers practical solutions to common internal and external obstacles. If you would like to know more about her approach or if you are interested in following her 12-week plan, you can find her book at the Hesburgh Library. (The Spanish edition is also available for online access).
Did you enjoy Belcher’s book? Do you have any more questions about it? Ask the Salmon! Submit your questions to email@example.com or go to the Ask a Question tab at the top of this page.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
One of the great achievements of American culture is, undoubtedly, the public library. Many of us have childhood memories of checking out books from our own local library (or bookmobile!), picking out a video to watch at home, or participating in a summer reading challenge. When I was growing up, libraries still stamped due dates on book covers, audio-books were called “books on tape,” and only the morally corrupt didn’t rewind their movies before returning them. These days, the American tradition of public libraries is still strong, though they now offer the use of computers, Wi-Fi, DVDs, and even online streaming. Libraries still serve as a shared space in which worlds of knowledge and culture are open to all who come in the door, where anyone with a card can enjoy a small space of quiet delight in something for its own sake.
St. Joseph County Public Libraries
South Bend’s public library fully lives up to this great tradition. Ranked in the top ten libraries in the nation for medium-sized towns, the St. Joseph County Public Library is the product of a great deal of care and investment on the part of the community. There are ten branches throughout St. Joseph County, eight of which are in the city of South Bend, including the Main Library downtown (304 S. Main Street). All of the locations have numerous books and other materials, but the Main Library is the branch with the most extensive collection. Here, there are three floors of books and magazines of all sorts, housed in a quiet and pleasant facility with plenty of space for sitting and a large room devoted to children’s books, where you can also check out toys and games.
Movies and Videos
You’ll find, however, that books are only the beginning of this library’s resources. On the third floor of the Main Library, there is a collection of audio-books, movies, and video games, as well as a small sitting area with a television for viewing DVDs. The collection of movies at this library is impressive: there are numerous copies of most new releases and a plenitude of movies from all eras of cinema. All of these can be checked out for only 50 cents a day, a combination of price and selection that cannot be beat by any rental service in town (or online, for that matter!). Many films and videos of all genres are also freely available for check-out via online streaming.
Museum and Park Passes
But that’s not all. The library also has passes available for check-out that provide free admission to local museums, such as the Studebaker National Museum, the Oliver Mansion and History Museum, and the Wellfield Botanical Gardens in Elkhart. These passes can be checked out for free for a week at a time. Additionally, you can check out (also for a week) an Indiana State Parks Pass, which will waive the entry fee at all Indiana state parks, including the nearby Potato Creek State Park and Indiana Dunes State Park.
At the Main Library, teenagers and adults over the age of 14 can also utilize Studio 304, where all manner of equipment for print, audio, and video projects is available, including recording rooms, printers and scanners, an assortment of high-tech cameras, and computers with design software. For 10 cents per gram, you can even use the library’s own 3-D printer.
As if all this were not enough, the library also hosts exhibits and events for all ages, including LEGO building sessions, story-times and activities for children and toddlers, monthly game tournaments for teens and adults, a summer reading challenge for all ages, and various other free events. In August, for instance, they will have an exhibit on Alexander Hamilton, an Intro to Tea, and a viewing party for the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21. The library also has many online resources and databases, including access to Consumer Reports online, guides to home improvement and legal forms, and resources for researching local history and family ancestry. Many of these can be accessed at home through a library account and all can be used on one of the many library computers, laptops, and iPads available for check-out.
How to Get a Card
All of this is made available free of cost to those with a library card. Notre Dame students can get their own library card at the Hesburgh Library circulation desk and can have books from the public library delivered there for pick-up. Family members will need to visit one of the St. Joseph Public Library locations in order to receive their cards. Note that, at the public library, you will need to present a photo ID and proof of residency in St. Joseph County. But where else can you get all this for free?
All of which only confirms what we were taught years ago: