Hidden Gems: an all inclusive guide to places you didn’t know existed

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the hottest (let’s be honest, with this weather it’s the coldest) spot to find fun new places on campus. My personal favorite finds are a good place to find the perfect cup of coffee, but today I’m going to focus on the little hidden gems on campus that you have to check out.

The first thing that instantly came to mind when making this post was my favorite hidden study spot. The first one isn’t too hidden, but it’s Wild Bill’s Coffeeshop. If you’re looking for a quiet, cozy spot to buckle down and study or grab a snack with friends between classes this is the perfect place to meet. Situated in North Hall next to Stanley, this place is the perfect central location for a quick cup of caffeination. Although it’s not a secret, this place is often overlooked when it comes to places to study!

The second “hidden gem” I’ve found on campus are the napping stations. That’s right, you heard me correctly…napping stations. If you head to the Hawkeye Room in the downstairs of the IMU you will find out about this amazing luxury advocated for by Student Government. Sleepy between classes but can’t make yourself walk back to your bed? You’ve found your new favorite place.

Ever wonder what the giant staircase leads to in Burge but too afraid to look? Don’t worry, because I scoped out this cool, underground (pun? I think so) spot for you. If you’re looking for a  hidden place to study for hours interrupted, this place is totally for you. Unbeknownst to most students, there is a ‘old-school diner’ room in downstairs Burge stocked with little tables and vending machines. When the library scene gets to repetitive, I totally think this is the best place to go. My friends coined it the “circus room”, and you HAVE to check it out to see why (hint: it’s not your typical room).

The next hidden gem is a little bit off campus but totally worth the walk. If you’re ever looking for a great excursion with friends, this corner of town is the place to go. All within sight you get Bluebird diner, The Haunted Bookstore, and Artifacts. Although the first two are well-known favorites of Iowa City locals, Artifacts is the true hidden gem of the street. Artifacts is a is a small antique shop that is the type of place you could go a million times and always find something new. I would totally recommend looking around after getting some delicious breakfast at Bluebird Diner (I mean come on, look at these pancakes!).

 That’s pretty much it from me! Have you checked out any of these fun places? If not, what other secret places on campus do you love to show your friends?

Dear Mom & Dad: an open letter to my parents

Dear Mom & Dad,

They always say that parents are excited to send their last kid off to college. They say that the “empty nester phase” is the most fun, and that you’ll soon find yourself sitting on a beach with a fruity drink in hand once you ship your youngest off to college. But just in case any anxieties still existed, I wanted to write you guys a little letter to remind you that you’ve prepared me to spread my wings at college.

1. Through example, you’ve taught me to be selfless. You’ve taught me to put others before myself and to care deeply about those around me. I know that love can cure all things because of you and that the best people are the type that will sit with you after a long day with a cup of hot coco or a bowl of ice cream. You’ve taught me that you shouldn’t leave the house without a positive attitude. Thank you for this. You know I was nervous about making new friends, but you’ve taught me to not only be a good person but a good friend, too. You’ve taught me to do things for others without expecting reciprocation and reminded me that there’s no time in life for spiteful people. Thank you for this.

2. You’ve taught me to be fiercely passionate, and that if I want something badly enough and work hard enough that I will be able to get it. Thank you for always supporting my education and rooting for me from the sidelines. You’re the best cheerleaders, even if we’re 300 miles away from each other. Thank you for always tolerating my (near obsessive) love of reading and encouraging me when I decided to make it into a career. You’ll never understand how important it is to always know that my support system believes in me.

3. You’ve taught me to never apologize for “me time”, which is something that has honestly saved my sanity throughout the first semester of college. Whether it be setting aside time on Sunday to watch a football game instead of studying or saying no to going out with friends for some R&R, I really appreciate you instilling self-regulation within me. You know I’m a people pleaser, but you’ve taught me that one of the “people” I should be “pleasing” is myself.

4. Thank you for always reminding me, even when I rolled my eyes at you, not to wish my life away. Thank you for reminding me that everyday I am making memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life and that, even though it’s okay to be excited to grow up, that I only get to be young once. I think this has given me a deeper appreciation for every memory I make on campus and reminds me to sometimes say yes to things that I’m nervous to encounter. Thank you for giving me the chance to stay a kid for just a little longer.

5. Most importantly, you’ve taught me that home is in the people, not in a place. When I moved to Iowa a whole 5+ hours from you, I thought that I would be begging you to come visit me. You taught me that the “missing” can be cured by a quick phone call and that love travels easily across state lines. Thank you for being my home.

Thanks for being the best friends a girl could wish for.

Your little girl, Cal

How To Fix Homesickness + Why It’s Okay To Miss Home

Hey everyone! Recently the homesickness has really settled in for me. While I love campus, I have been missing my old coffee shop, my parents, and not having to shower with shoes on. 🙂 I have found a few tips and tricks that have worked for me to help adjust to campus living and curb the homesickness.

1.Call Your Parents, Dang It

I know, I know. You are probably sick of them asking you if you’re eating or if you’ve cleaned your sheets (“yes mommmm”), but they miss you too! Even if it’s a quick 5 minute conversation while walking to class or a skype call while you’re folding your laundry, hearing each other’s voices will do you both some good. Plus, getting to hear about what’s going on at home will make you feel way more connected. Plus, if you have a cute dog you get some quality screentime with them!

2. Find Something on Campus That Reminds You of Home

This one may seem odd, but something that really helped me feel more at home on campus is finding something on campus that reminds me of home. Whether this be a coffee shop that serves lattes that are just like home or a cozy study spot that feels like a place in your old neighborhood, the familiarity will make that foreignness of campus a little less awful. For me, my small town manufactures manhole covers (weird, I know) but every time I see my home town’s name while walking to class I can’t help but smile.

3. Make Your Dorm Like Home!

No, I’m not recommending you to clutter up your space like your kid brother does or paint your walls barbie pink. Now that my room finally feels like my space, I actually enjoy coming home to my dorm room every night. I hung up an obscene amount of fairy lights, put cozy blankets everywhere, and put up pictures of my family and friends. These little changes were just enough to make the space feel super welcoming and mine. For a quick personalization of the bland dorm walls, try printing out some pictures of your friends and family or print off some of your favorite inspirational quotes from Pinterest. When my walls are filled, it feels less like a jail cell, lol.

4. Find Your “College Family”

This may seem super cliche, but finding a group of people on campus who you consider your “college family” will really help make college feel more like home. The perks of living on a big campus is having so many options for friends. They may not be the first person you meet, but finding people with the same interests as you will make you not want to leave campus. Luckily for me, I found my group of people who love having movie nights, keep dominos pizza on speed dial, stay up all night playing video games, and honestly care about my wellbeing as a person. Having this group of friends who I can eat in the dining hall with or cry over homework with makes the transition to college a lot more bearable.

5. Allow Yourself To Feel Sad!

This may seem a little silly, but allowing yourself to have time to miss home is a good thing! You don’t always need to be busy, happy, and productive at college! Taking a night to throw on your favorite high school tshirt and looking scrolling your instagram is OKAY! At the end of the day, transitioning to college is BIG leap, and everyone’s homesickness is going to catch up with them eventually (mine hit when I got a cold…Why can’t my mom send her chicken noodle soup via mail!?), and thats A-okay! Just let yourself feel your feelings and eventually the heartache will lessen. I promise!

That’s all for now!

Are there any good tips you’ve found help cure your homesickness? Comment them down below!

Callie’s Campus Café Crawl: Prairie Lights Cafe

Welcome to my highly-caffinated life.

When thinking about the change that comes along with going to college, most people hate the idea of leaving their family, their friends, their comfortable bed, or their beloved pet. Although I get these gripes, my mind was the most worried about finding a new staple coffee shop. Being born with the incapacity to “go with the flow” birthed the idea of going on a sort of crusade to find my new favorite coffee shop in Iowa City. With my backpack full of textbooks and half-crushed granola bars, I headed off to find my new favorite study spot.

As a preface, I am not a black coffee kind of girl. I wish I was the type of person to throw on a black turtleneck, grab my cup of black coffee, and head to the nearest poetry slam, but in reality I want my coffee to taste more like vanilla creamer than anything else. Because of this, for most of my escapades I will try what I would coin as “wuss coffee.”

Customer Service: I always tend to base my favorite coffee shops off of how nice their workers are. I’m super happy to say that Prairie Lights had some AWESOME customer service. When walking up the counter, I was greeted by a very friendly guy who was able to point me towards the right direction for a caffeinated drink that didn’t taste like black coffee. The other worker chimed in some suggestions as well, and I really felt like they valued me as a customer.

Atmosphere: I LOVE the atmosphere of this place. The fact that I am only a couple feet from stacks of books makes my English major heart beat faster, and the ability to sit amongst the various genres creates a creative space for hanging out.

Noise Volume: When I was there I didn’t notice any music playing. I can appreciate this type of setting for studying/listening to your own music and not being bothered by the overhead track. Despite the lack of music, there was a lot of volume from people talking. This for sure isn’t a “quiet” study space, but with headphones in I could cancel out most of the chatter.

Seating: It seems to me that the window seats in the actual bookstore are always taken, but there were plenty of spaces to sit in the coffee store. I will say, there aren’t many huge tables for group work, but I’m sure you could move tables together if you needed to! There is one larger tabletop group table, but it was reserved when I got there. 2-4 seated tables are the norm.


Menu: I really liked the menu options here! It seemed like there were lots of things I would want to try, and I’m a pretty picky eater/drinker. I appreciated how many tea options were on the menu and there were a few food options, although not a ton. Also, for the above 21 crowd, there were beer and wine options available.

My Drink & Rating: The drink I got was a Black Rider. I gave it a 4.5/5 stars. I really enjoyed the drink that I got! I was super glad that I asked the barista what to order because the drink was really pleasant. I was nervous to branch out, but would definitely order this again when I go back! This drink is really great when you need a warm, caffeinated pick-me-up but want it to taste sweet and delicious, too. Plus, the latte art was beyond cute and made my little aesthetic heart soar.

Friend Rating: I brought my boyfriend to Prairie Lights with me. He got a vanilla latte and gave it a 4/5. He said it tasted nice and is a good vanilla latte if you’re looking for one.

Would I Go Back?: YES. I love that you can sit anywhere upstairs in prairie lights and the “local bookstore” vibe the entire experience gave off.

Has anyone been to Prairie Lights Cafe? If so, any favorite drinks from there?

Check out their website!