Eating Your Way Through Iowa City

While I am all for the resident hall market places and cooking at home, sometimes it can be nice eating out. And because I take my blog posts very seriously and want to give readers the best advice and options, I took it upon myself to try out some different places in downtown Iowa City to find the best places to eat on a college budget. Oh, and I dragged my roommate along with me.

  1. Mosley’s: Hidden a little further from the main downtown eateries this authentic BBQ is pretty amazing. With a cute little outdoor patio that’s perfect for the summer nights, good deals on BBQ sandwiches and the best bacon Mac & Cheese you can’t really go wrong.
  2. Heirloom: While I am never one to shy away from the calling chocolate its own food group, having a healthy salad filled with greens can be nice every once and a while. This IC staple connected to the downtown Java House location has its house salads as well as a full build your own bar so you can let your creative salad juices flow. If you’re not in the mood for a salad I highly suggest their soup and sandwich combo – especially when it’s cold in winter!
  3. Bread Garden and Market: while this place isn’t always the cheapest, they have the most amazing fresh food bars where you can build your own plates and fill them with almost anything you can imagine. They also have a lunch special everyday which is only $5. Maggie and I find this a favorite location during the warmer months when their patio is open and you can people watch on the PedMall.
  4. Dumpling Darling: Even though this restaurant only opened a few months ago it has already become a popular eatery for Iowa City locals. Located in the heart of Iowa City, dumpling darling has everything from classic dumplings to brunch specials on Sundays that always hit the spot after a long Saturday cheering on the Hawks. And what makes it even better? You can get dumplings as a flex meal in the Main Library “Food for Thought” café.
  5. Airliner: While this location is famously known for the discovery of Ashton Kutcher, I think it is more famously known by college students for its $1 slices of pizza on Sundays. – Need I say more?
  6. Bruegger’s: I have to admit that I spend way too much of my time here. With salmon cream cheese, my favorite iced coffee and free WIFI, this location is my go to study spot in the mornings. While this is my favorite spot to hang out before classes I will warn that lines get long, especially at “breakfast” time on the weekend – which is really 11am.
  7. Cortado: This new local coffee and sandwich shop right across the street from the Pentacrest has started to become a popular spot for students. With some really good sandwiches and endless coffee/tea options it is a great place to grab a bite. Only downside- there isn’t WIFI so you can’t get much computer work done.

Until Next Time

Happy Eating!

Commonly Asked Questions

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

Go Hawks!

A Thank You Letter

A year ago I wrote a “thank you” letter to my freshman year. I was on my way out of Iowa City heading home for summer break and I just had to put in words how amazing that year had been. Coming back for my second year at Iowa, I was worried it wouldn’t be able to top everything that happened while I called Burge my home. A year later I am sitting in my apartment getting ready to head home for yet another summer and I can honestly say that sophomore year was filled even more moments I will cherish for years to come. So here goes another love letter about another year I’m so thankful for.

Thank you for my studies. Although making the change was hard for me, and I had tons of people telling me I was crazy, becoming a communications major has allowed me to find new passions and actually enjoy going to classes – which I didn’t know could happen. If it wasn’t for the opportunities Iowa has given me I would have never made the switch and found a career path I’m actually excited about. Not only have I found a major that I love, but this year has helped me find a passion for event planning, and of course military science. There aren’t many places you can come up with a combination like that, but Iowa has allowed me too.

Thank you for ROTC. If you had told me before I came into college that I was going to get up every morning at 5:30 to workout and then choose to spend a weekend in the woods without real food or a shower I would have laughed in your face. Now I do it week in and week out, even crazier? Most mornings it brings a smile to my face. The people who I get to do all of it with are some of the most dedicated, hardworking and caring people I have ever met. The cadre I have been blessed to call my leaders have believed in me way more than I ever believed in myself. Hell I accomplished things in this program that I never, not even in my wildest dreams, thought I would have accomplished. It has taught me skills beyond just the army that I will be lucky to carry with me through the rest of my life. I could go on for hours about what this program has given me, but most of all I’ll say thank-you for the people I have because of this program. Sounds cheesy but they are my best friends and the ones I want to spend all of my time with, even if it is at Camp Dodge.

Thank you for letting me explore. When I first told people I was going to Iowa they asked why I would leave everything in California.  Funny thing is, coming to university here – which really could be considered the middle of nowhere – has allowed me to travel to upstate New York for Thanksgiving, small town Iowa for a weekend away, and 6 southern states for Spring Break. Never in my wildest dreams did I think coming to the middle of the country would allow me to see every other part of it.

Thank you for letting me share. Over the past year, I have been able to share my love for Iowa with so many other people. Becoming a tour guide has allowed me to walk around campus a few times a week, making awful jokes. But it has also allowed me to meet some of the funniest, most positive people on this campus. Being surrounded by people who love Iowa and are just as loud and crazy as me makes my job feel as far from a job as possible.

Finally, thank you for being Iowa. I don’t know how to put into words what this place has done for me in the past two years. I am now officially half way done with my college career, and continue to know that this has been the best decision I have ever made. Coming here allowed me to walk my own path, and figure out where I’m going. It has taught me to just be spontaneous and just enjoy where I am in the here and now. It has allowed me to get up every morning with a smile on my face and no other places has done that quite like Iowa has. So thanks for being the corn-obsessed, flat, Midwest nice, Hawkeye loving state that you are.

 

Here’s to two more years that I’m sure will be even more memorable than the last.

Until Next Year

Go Hawks!

Thoughts of a College Student

  • Yay! Red cups are back
  • But the leaves are gone…
  • Wait, why is it still getting colder?
  • I CAN’T DO IT
  • Can school be over now?
  • Summer bodies are made in the winter so GYM!
  • I really want pie
  • I just want a hug from my dog
  • Wow I really miss my dog
  • I just saw a dog that looked like my dog and almost cried
  • I’m going to start studying for finals early this year
  • I’m not going to start binge watching a new series
  • Wow this series is SO good
  • I don’t want to study, I’m dropping out I don’t need a college education
  • Just kidding I really need to focus on my schooling
  • I just want my dog
  • And homemade cooking
  • Wow can it be winter break already
  • Wait but then I can’t see my college friends for a whole month
  • Only 3 weeks.. YOU CAN DO IT
  • Just focus for finals and then you can relax when the semester is over
  • This is all too stressful I am going to take a nap

 

To all those college students out there, only a few more weeks until our minds are filled with thoughts of homemade meals, 2 ply toilet paper, and naps instead of completely pointless finals knowledge. Just keep pushing through and use caffeine whenever necessary!

Until Next Time

Go Hawks!

The Reality of Being Away from Parents

The Reality of Being Away from Parents

Although most teenagers hate to admit it, it is pretty true that most of us would be nothing without our parents. Coming to college it seems that every student is excited to finally be away from their parents with complete freedom, but after a year and a half of being on my own I have come to my own conclusions. It’s great….sometimes.

  1. You can do whatever you want. There have been so many times I will be eating dinner at 11pm or at the library on a week night feeling guilty because I think I have a curfew or should be updating someone on my whereabouts but then I realize that I have no one to report too and the only people who would notice my absence are my roomies and let’s be honest they are normally with me anyway.
  2. Laundry, food, money. Being on your own, especially when you are in an apartment and without meals being cooked for you, you realize just how much your parents did for you around the house. Not only are you now doing school and having a social life, but you have to cook and clean so that you can be a normal human. You realize very quickly that groceries get expensive… my advice when the parents are in town USE THEM! What better way to catch up then over a quick trip to the grocery store?
  3. You become stronger. Yes it is hard not having your parental support system right down the hall 24/7 but I do believe it makes you a stronger individual. You still know they are just a phone call away, but being on your own makes you push yourself and realize that you can get through more difficult moments than you thought.
  4. Sometimes you just want a hug. Going off that, sometimes all you want is a hug from the ‘rents and your dog and being over 3,000 miles away can make this difficult. Phone calls are a good substitute but not quite the same.
  5. You realize just how lucky you are. This may not be how everyone feels, but being away from my parents has helped me realize just how amazing they really are. There are so many times where I have caught myself thanking my parents under my breath, because they made me do laundry and clean before I even came to college or because they helped me grow into a strong adult who can get through bad days, and above all because they gave up so much more than I’ll ever be able to understand just so that I could pursue a dream and get a college education.

So yes being away from parents has its perks and its downfalls, but above all it just makes me realize how much they mean to me. So coming from a college student who has to go four months without getting that hug or being able to say thank you in person I have one piece of advice. Don’t forget about them. Don’t get so caught up in the amazing experience that is college that you forget about the two people who helped you get here. They are still the ones that put everything down when the crazy nights out are gone and you are up to your head in books and midterms and just want to cry. Call them- just take a second to say hi and thank you I promise they will get a smile from it.

Until Next Time

Go Hawks!

Why Stay?

When I tell people where I’m from, the reaction is always pretty similar. In fact, ask any student that is from a state not in the Midwest which question they dread most and it is “why did you come to Iowa”. (I promise it’s even better when you and your roommate are both from a coast so you both have to listen to each other’s explanation about 100 times a day.) To be honest I’ve gotten used to the question and have a pretty good scripted answer or two, but a few weeks ago I got asked a question that really stumped me. While in an interview for a job here on campus I got asked “why stay?”. In my head it seems pretty self-explanatory why I stayed, but then I realized that they couldn’t see in my head, nor could they see the crazy jumps I make from one thought to another so somehow I was going to have to put my shambles into words. Honestly my answer in the interview was a complete mess I think I said something about the people I’ve met, and sure that’s true but now that I am spending more time thinking about it, I realize I have even better reasons for why I stayed. I stayed here because it never crossed my mind that I belonged anywhere else, because I know I didn’t. I stayed because I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I just wanted to be here… like all the time.

It’s funny, when I decided to switch my major, my parents wanted me to make sure that I was making the right decision. And again in my head it made complete sense, but for some reason I couldn’t quite explain it to them and then one day I realized something. Before ever coming to college I had originally gotten admitted to another nursing program before I got admitted to Iowa’s and yet I still committed to Iowa without hesitation. I committed on the off-chance I was never going to be able to graduate with a nursing degree, because I wanted Iowa that bad. Looking back I didn’t pick Iowa for nursing, I picked Iowa because I didn’t want to go to any other school, and well I stayed because I still don’t want to be at any other school. I wake up every morning beyond happy with the decision I made for school. I come to school knowing that I’ve made a home and a family here. I stay here because I have met people I wouldn’t have met anywhere else, I have found a version of myself I never would’ve found anywhere else, I have found a happiness I never would’ve found anywhere else.

So why stay? I stay because not once, not even when I am at home with strep throat just wanting my parents and my dog, have I ever considered not being here.

Until Next Time

Go Hawks!

Fact or Fiction

Hi There! It’s been a while, but I’ll just blame it on the midterms and lack of sleep.

Going to school in Iowa I hear a lot of stereotypes about my school and this state, especially when I go back to California for winter or summer break. After dropping two emotional and intense blog posts a few weeks ago I decided to have some fun fact or fiction items from someone who lives in Iowa 9 months of the year, and loves it year round. (Too cheesy? – yeah probably)

  1. We bleed Black & Gold wherever we go. (Fact)
    We don’t care if it’s not a game day, we don’t care if we aren’t even in Iowa City a Hawkeye fan will make it known that we are a Hawkeye fan. No matter where you go around campus you will see hundreds of students and residents wearing black and gold. Let’s put it this way, if you don’t bleed black and gold you can get out of here.
  1. Iowa is Flat (definitely fiction)
    Anyone who lives, or has lived in Iowa City can attest for the fact that Iowa is most definitely not flat. There is at least one hill in Iowa and it happens to be smack-bam in the middle of our campus. If you walk up that hill once every day or 365 days you have successfully climbed Mount Everest, and although I’m not a mountain expert I know that they are certainly not flat.
  1. All we do is party (Fiction)
    I mean sure, we like to work hard and play hard but that doesn’t mean we aren’t well-rounded people. Any student you meet around campus, will be involved in some type of extracurricular or student organization. Not only are we involved in them, but you best believe we are passionate about them. I guess you could say we are just great at multi-tasking.
  1. “Iowa Nice” is a thing (Fact)
    People talk about Southern Hospitality, and considering I’ve never lived there I can’t speak on the truth behind it. But Iowa nice is most definitely a thing. The people in this state know how to treat people right. They are always respectful and kind, they are always ready to lend a helping hand, and it’s because they just want to. Don’t expect a hidden agenda because there isn’t one. And coming from someone who grew up in a completely different state environment, it is contagious.
  1. Iowa is actually the Hawkeye State (Fact)
    I’m pretty sure even the State fans know this.
  1. Iowa is a fly-over state (Fiction)
    This place, in the middle of “nowhere” is more special than you would think. Iowa and Iowa people have a special place in my heart. The memories created here make it so much more than just a place on a map. It makes it a home, and place where the friends I have made are so much more; they are family. There is a beautiful feeling when you come to Iowa that makes this place so much more than a fly-over state. And anyone who spends more than a minute here knows that.

 

Until Next Time

Go Hawks!

Letter to my Freshman Year

Dear Freshman Year,

When I first came to Iowa I’m not going to lie you scared me. Being without my family so far away from home was something so new to me. 10 months later I want to say thank you.

Thank you for bringing me my best friends. Small dorm rooms and late nights have brought me friends that I will have for a lifetime. They are the people I want to spend every waking minute with. We never run out of things to talk about and continuously found ourselves on the floor of our halls laughing at the stupidest things. They are the people that know everything about me. They have become my Iowa family and I am forever grateful that we were brought together by Burge.

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Thank you for teaching me to push myself. When I graduated high school I thought I had learned everything there was to know about success. Then I came to college and it hit hard. Countless all-nighters and tears on the phone with my mom later I have learned just how strong I really am. I have learned that college is hard, but putting in the time and effort will pay off.

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Thank you for football. When high school ended so did my cheer career and anyone who knows me knows just how hard that was. But, because of Iowa my football withdrawals were short lived. I cannot describe the smile that I got on my face every time I was able to walk into Kinnick and be in my “happy place”. I cannot describe all the memories that I got to make in the 12-0 season that was my freshman year.

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Thank you for sisterhood. Being a part of Alpha Chi Omega has brought me more than I could ever imagine. Lifelong friends who I know I will have by my side no matter what, a passion for equality and domestic violence awareness, a new love for the color purple, a beautiful castle as a home and too memories to mention. Alpha Chi brings a smile to my face every day and I am forever grateful for the countless jokes in our group chat to the crazy mental breakdowns when we have been trapped in the house for what seems like days for recruitment practice. These 150 girls have truly become my sisters and I am so excited for countless more hours and memories together.

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Thank you for allowing me to grow as a person. When I came to college I was alone and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. After spending a year in Iowa City I have become a person that I am becoming proud of. I have become an adult who has learned so much about what I want from life and where I am going. You have allowed me to become independent, you have taught me that it is ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, and you have taught me that everything you want is on the other side of fear. I have gained so much knowledge during my year as a freshman and I can’t wait to learn even more over my next three years at Iowa.

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Finally, thank you for helping me to create so many memories that I will cherish forever. The people I have met, and the things I have done have been amazing and I cannot describe just how in love with Iowa I am. A year ago I accepted this school, deciding to go out of my comfort zone and create new experiences and I can honestly say that it is the best decision I have made. I can’t wait for my next three years here where I know countless memories will be made.

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Until Next Year

Go Hawks!

Where Did the Time Go?

Well hello there! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. Coming back from Spring Break meant one thing, school is coming to an end. Crazy to say that my first year of college is almost over. It sounds cliché but I honestly still feel like I just moved in yesterday. Being here for five months I have learned a lot of things. Although I am no expert I thought I would share what I know now.

  1. It’s completely acceptable to not have your life together… Let me put it this way I have worn my minion slippers out in public on numerous occasions.
  2. You aren’t a morning person. No matter how early you used to get up for high school, college time is different. 8ams now feel like 4ams and 10:30 classes are almost still too early. My schedule next semester has been updated for this change.
  3. Iowa is good at football. I know we all know this but I thought I would just remind anyone reading. 12-0 regular season.
  4. Winter actually means winter. Even though people have told me that this is mild and I’m still surviving. Winter here is not 65 degree weather with sun. But, I’ll admit spinning around in the snow is still fun, even when people look at me like I’m crazy.
  5. Diploe-Dipole bonds are the second weakest bonds. This fact is courtesy of my roommate Mags Dull. You probably didn’t care about this and don’t actually find it important, but honestly neither do I.
  6. You WILL be broke. No matter how much money you have you are always broke. Especially at the beginning of the semester when you are pretty much taking out a mortgage to buy books.
  7. You will have the most amazing time ever. No matter where you go, the experiences you have will be second to none. I have been here for less than a year and I can say I have made lifelong friends (shout out again to Mags Dull) and have learned more than I could have imagined. The amount of growing up I have done here is substantial. I am so grateful for being able to have this experience and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Until Next Time

Go Hawks!

 

 

15 Things to do as a Freshman

Less than 3 months from now I will no longer be a freshman. I am still in denial about how quickly this year has gone. Although it’s not over yet I have created a list of 15 things you have to do before your freshman year comes to a close. Many of these are do-able at every college but some are specific to the best university ever created (it’s Iowa if you didn’t know).

  1. Tailgating
  2. Go to a game at Kinnick
  3. Eat at both Burge and Hillcrest
  4. Have an all-nighter during midterms or finals
  5. Go to Java House
  6. Get a photo with Herky
  7. Go to kick-off @ Kinnick
  8. Take at least 1 class that isn’t required for your major
  9. Go to a $3 CAB movie
  10. Order pizza at 2am (Gumby’s or Mesa counts and is preferred)
  11. Cry over the cost of books at least once
  12. Touch the brain rock before an exam
  13. Shop local downtown
  14. Go to the museum at MacBride
  15. Wear pajamas to class or the dining hall

Until Next Time…

Go Hawks!