The Ohio State University, famous for its famed football team, its world-renown medical research programs, and the big, bright “Block O”, has now become the largest university in America in 2007 (after wrestling with the University of Texas for several years).
Being a part of the Ohio State college community is a lot to handle, considering the tradition, the broad academic options, and the thousands upon thousands of people who attend the school. Knowing the ins and outs of the mini-metropolis can certainly give you the edge in doing your best in class, while also giving you a leg-up on comfort away from home. In getting comfortable with the behemoth mini-city with the heart of Columbus, it’s imperative for students to know about the following things to boost the Buckeye experience: the nearby restaurants and lounges; the campus hangout/study spots, the best dorms (a huge one); and the most enriching clubs to join.
Certainly, a college kid’s life revolves around books and class times, no? But you have to eat sometime! At Ohio State, the South Campus is really where it’s at when it comes to college dining. On the edge of the campus on Neil Avenue lies what is known as The MarketPlace-a campus-run dining place that offers an abundance of culinary options. The “Place” (as it is sometimes called) offers a dessert café that serves herbals smoothies, pastries and coffee, no doubt; the East-West station serves its customers with Asian stir-fry that has students and staff alike waiting in lines for its wok-cooked entrees for hours throughout the day; the Panini station allows for those looking for a deli-style sandwich or a stuffed wrap to have their taste buds sufficed; and with the addition of a pasta/pizza baking area, customers can have their appetites nulled if they want a bit of Italian eatery.
Just as well, if the MarketPlace doesn’t fit the bill, nearby Catfish Biff’s Pizza on 11th Avenue can always satisfy, with the upstart Pesto restaurant on High Street lurking to fulfill your heart’s (or stomach’s) desires.
While the MarketPlace has plenty to offer in terms of eating options, its front room has much to give in space for students looking to spend an afternoon with the books. Filled out with an assortment of couches, sofas, and comfy chairs, the public is welcome to sit and read, sit and eat, or just sit, period. If you want some time to yourself or a more private setting to relax with friends, High Street is also the home of Caribou Coffee, which aside from coffee has high stools and tables, more comfortable chairs, and quasi-dim lighting for peace and quiet. The Baker Hall West arts dormitory offers its special performance space, which allows for its art/architecture students to find a place to perform, study, or congregate for campus activities.
Speaking of campus hangouts, a bit more north of campus and you’ll find the Mirror Lake Café. Once a local bar, it was converted more than a decade ago into a juice bar/deli, similar to the MarketPlace (which just opened in 2004). The difference is that while the Place offers wireless Internet service, Mirror Lake affords its customers to use the house computers, set among the dining area for students in-between classes and looking to maximize their study on the go. While the University Library is always a viable option (and logical choice) in getting your study sessions going, the university also has more than 20 other libraries spread throughout the entire campus, including the North and West Campuses.
One of the most stressful aspects of the campus life as an underclassman, though, is your dorm situation which revolves around these questions: Where am I living? Is it a good location? Is my roommate going to be compatible with me? Is where I’m living a good environment for what I’m studying?
In the end, it’s all about being in the best living situation at the Columbus campus dorms. If you’re an eclectic, laid-back sort of student and you enjoy being around a plethora of diverse people, the aforementioned Baker Hall complex may be right for you. Actually one huge building with separate wings, Baker is divided among its East and West locations extending from the corner of 12th Avenue to the nearby Emerson and Hale Halls (specializing in undergraduate student life and African American student resources). Baker West shares arts-related students while Baker East houses students whose studies focus primarily on government.
The North Campus offers the University Honors/Scholars students a place for more intensive study and silence at Neilwood Gables and the revisited Archer House, reconstructed especially for Honors/Scholars students. The West Campus is home to OSU’s famed twin towers in Lincoln Tower and Morrill Tower. Both towers are home to many of the university’s student-athletes and sit next to the newly-constructed RPAC fitness center, which is the largest fitness facility in the entire country, thanks to a series of construction stages that will complete the vastness of the RPAC within the next five years.
To round out the Buckeye experience, many students leave home yearning to feel a sense of community where they live, and one of the best ways to fulfill that empty feeling is to join a campus-related club. The majority of OSU’s dormitories/on-campus apartments offer student hall councils/student senates, which allow for students living in their respective locations to plan hall events, meetings, and allocate funds which best serve the campus communities. Many other dorms are affiliated with specific concentrations as well, and those affiliate groups also hold meetings similar to the hall councils.
Just as well, much of the student populace in the OSU community are from rural cities and towns throughout Ohio and many of those people are Anglo American/white, often leaving other students of other ethnicities feeling out of place. With respect to the culture shock, there are ethnicity-based groups that seek to encourage those communities to feel more at home and even call for others outside of those particular ethnic groups to attend and learn more about one another. The Multicultural Center brings all students of all backgrounds together to organize campus-wide activities, events, and campaigns, while African-, Asian-, Native-, Latin-, and even Appalachian Americans are represented in smaller councils throughout the Columbus Campus. Allies For Diversity also contributes to the cause, bringing LGBTs and physically challenged campus youth (as well as international students) together in concordance with the OSU theme of unity.
So when armed with the knowledge of the OSU culture and atmosphere, don’t hesitate. If anything, slowly take the time to familiarize yourself with the locale of the myriad buildings and hot spots, find out where you need to be when you have to be there, and use your time wisely in and outside of the classroom. After a few weeks, Columbus’ colossus of a college starts to feel a little more like home…which means that you might be a bit more comfortable and happy in the end.