For almost a year now I’ve had the honor of being a university tour guide. That means I’m lucky enough to spend a few hours a week talking about how amazing the University of Iowa and Iowa City is. Because I spend a lot of time with potential students and their families I’ve been asked a lot of questions. Some quite random like – do people fall down the hill a lot in winter, others a little more common. Being able to answer these question in person is always great as it can ease the minds of nervous students and their parents. But for those who may not have traveled out for a visit yet I’ve decided to answer some of the most common questions.
- Would you say the academics at Iowa are hard?
This question can be quite hard to answer in a few sentences and it really depends on the student and what they choose to study. There are two things I always love to answer with though. Firstly, I think no matter who you are the transition from high school to college classes can be hard. That’s just the reality of being in a completely new environment with a completely different learning style so don’t worry if it takes a few exams or even a whole semester to figure out what works best for you. The second thing I always say is that if you pick a degree or path that you are passionate about it will never be impossible. Sure you will have classes that are hard and seem like they will never end, but if you enjoy what you are studying than you will get through them. I found that very quickly when I changed my major. Being a nurse I hated almost everything I studied and ended up really struggling, the minute I was in a major I loved I began to succeed. Sure the constant pile of papers to write and readings to analyze were hard but I enjoyed them so they never seemed as bad as even a chapter of reading for nursing.
- Do you feel safe on campus?
While I don’t always get asked this question, I think it is a very important one to address as I think it is a priority of a lot of parents when their children are looking at schools. I also believe that it is important to answer this question with 100% honesty. Yes, I do feel very safe on this campus. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say that I have never been worried or been on high alert when I walk home late at night, but that’s not because I go to school at the University of Iowa that’s because I am a young female living in the world we live in today. I believe the University and local city have done an amazing job of trying to make the campus and city of Iowa as safe as possible. There are a lot of precautions in place like the three police forces that work and patrol the university and Night Ride which allows students to be driven by an off duty police officer after 10pm. Things like this do make the campus a very safe place to be.
- Do a lot of people have cars at Iowa?
Unlike the first two, this is a pretty easy question to answer. As a freshman, I’d say it’s about 50/50 chance that students will have a car. Because quite a few students are from Iowa or neighboring states they will sometimes bring a car from home, but if they are like me and out of states chances are a lot smaller. What I always like to point out with this is that you don’t need a car on campus. The University of Iowa is an amazing walking campus and is not even close to as large as it looks on a map. Most of my walks between classes are 5-8 minutes. And if you need to get somewhere further away we have things like our Cambus system and public Iowa City transit.
- What is military science?
Although most people won’t ever receive a minor in military science, this question is one I get asked quite a lot. Military science is a minor that I receive by completing my school’s Army ROTC program. I like to talk about this though, because combining it with a Communication Studies degree and Event Planning certificate shows just how diverse your studying can be at Iowa. You never feel like you have to be put into a box.
- Being from California, do you find the winters really rough?
A lot of the times this question turns into a dad joke, but still it is quite valid. Coming from Southern California, I’m not used to cold weather, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t adapt. Going into my third year I can officially say that I am used to Iowa winters. In fact I can say that I actually love them. While a solid 60 degrees every day was nice, once you get the proper winter clothing – especially those hand warmers, you’ll adjust really quickly and soon fall in love with the winter wonderland that Iowa City becomes.
- Are there things to do for people who don’t like sports?
This question comes up a lot after we discuss the athletic facilities at Iowa. While sports can be seen as a large part of student life on campus, it isn’t the only thing students get involved in when they aren’t focusing on academics. If I wrote about everything you could do on and off campus, I would be writing pages so I will just focus on some of my favorite alternatives. While our athletics are amazing, the arts at Iowa are just as spectacular. Whether you are watching a fellow student perform for their end of year assignments or watching a professional performance like Mamma Mia! at the new Hancher Auditorium there is plenty to do. If you are wanting to experience life outside of the university I always recommend students head downtown to the PedMall. There are plenty of local shopping and food to try. Take it from someone who has eaten their way through Iowa City, you won’t run out of amazing options. Being in Iowa there is also so many outdoor activities to do. A lot of students will head down to MacBride Lake or the Coralville Reservoir to do some exploring outdoors. No matter what you enjoy doing in your free time, the University and surrounding areas will have something to offer.
- Is it better to live on the West side of the East side of campus?
While I may be a little biased when answering this question, as Burge Hall will always be home, I think I can answer this question pretty fairly. Although it can seem like the two sides of campus are vastly different and everyone always wants us tour guides to say one is better than the other that just isn’t the case. Sure they have some differences but nothing drastic. Firstly the East Side is only a few minutes closer to the center of campus so you really don’t have to worry about the “longer” walk. And while East Side is closer to downtown Iowa City, West Side is right next to all the action during football season, and the student wellness center – for those students who are always sick. As for dorm life, they are pretty much all the same. Both have a brand new dorm that you can reside in and both have amazing dining facilities. As a tour guide this is the point in the answer that I am obligated to tell you that there is one huge difference in the two marketplaces. East Side serves hard scoop ice cream while West Side serves soft serve. So if you really can’t make up your mind which side to live on, which ice cream do you prefer? And if you really can’t decide I’d say go with Burge because I had the most amazing time and we all know that it is secretly the best dorm out there – in my opinion.
If you have any other questions about life at the University of Iowa feel free to comment down below. I’ll be happy to answer them!
Until Next Time