Nine UMass freshmen share their favorite campus spots

A guide for prospective (and current) students

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Collegian File Photo

By Laleh Panahi, Collegian Staff

Dear prospective students,

A year ago, we were in your shoes. Starting college is intimidating, and as incoming students, we were unsure of what to expect from the University of Massachusetts. Some students came from out of state and were even less familiar with Massachusetts’ climate and geography. After some exploration, these students felt at home and optimistic about the offerings on campus.

Finding your favorite events and activities at UMass certainly requires some initiative, but hopefully this reflection by current freshmen will provide some comfort and reassurance.

  • Anna Logan: Franklin Dining Commons

Despite living in the Commonwealth Honors College, Logan is eager to make the 15-minute trek across campus to Franklin Dining Commons. With ice cream flavors ranging from cookie dough to cotton candy, chocolate peanut being her personal favorite, a meal at the dining hall affectionately nicknamed “Frank” can brighten anyone’s day.

While munching on Frank’s amazing grilled cheese, Anna admires the graffiti art that surrounds the Central Residential Area. She notes that during dinner, the sunlight illuminates the homey, cozy atmosphere of this dining hall.

  • Jack Galligan: Durfee Conservatory

Conveniently located right outside of Frank, Durfee Conservatory is one of campus’s hidden gems. This greenhouse, which houses tropical plants and succulents, provides the perfect escape from the minutiae of everyday life.

At the entrance of Durfee, there is an assortment of miniature cacti, and there’s a rose garden toward the last section. Most notably, there’s a koi pond in the center of the conservatory, with tropical trees towering over the sides. Galligan’s favorite spot in the conservatory is the corner bench in the middle area where he can read and observe the koi fish.

  • Lea Luetjens: John W. Olver Design Building

If you’re looking for the best coffee on campus, Luetjens insists you should head over to the John W. Olver Design Building near Isenberg. An architecturally modern structure, the design building boasts natural lighting, clean open space and comfortable chairs that surround one of the cafes on campus. The atmosphere is calm and peaceful for studying. The rooftop garden at the top of the building is also conducive to good conversation with friends and makes for a great on-campus date spot!

  • Juliette Perez: The University Museum of Contemporary Art

As a first year, it’s easy to be intimidated by the formidable concrete structure that is the Bromery Arts Center, but the building holds some of the best events UMass has to offer. Perez is enticed by the the University Museum of Contemporary Art, which is free to enter and showcases work from renowned artists like Picasso and Nicole Eisenman.

The museum staff members are extremely approachable and friendly, and Juliette often exchanges interpretations of the artwork with them. As a bonus, sometimes free posters of the art are given out to students. These are proudly on display in Perez’s dorm room to commemorate her visits.

  • Danielle Marrocco: Battle of the Bands          

The highly anticipated Battle of the Bands event showcased the talents of local bands on campus, bringing the rock scene all together. This event, which took place in March, featured iconic bands like Track Meat, the Baxbys, Rustbucket, The Lights and Upstairs District. Marrocco fondly remembers everyone singing and dancing as the bands competed in the black box theater.

  • Zack Gotobed: Pizza party for physics majors

Studying physics is intense, but the pizza party for physics majors left Gotobed more confident in his major. This event, which took place in April, was an opportunity for students and professors to engage and converse more casually and amicably. Gotobed said professors were relaxed, funny and approachable, and he was able to learn more about their work and careers. He left the event with stronger connections and is eager to delve into his major over the next few years.

  • Amelia Talluri: The Recreation Center

The Recreation Center is a cornucopia of all things active. Its hours are convenient, so Talluri can go at 7 a.m. or 10:30 p.m. depending on her class schedule. Amelia specifically enjoys weightlifting, but there are also free, student-taught fitness classes, offering activities like ballet, Zumba and spin. Students often gather at night to play volleyball or basketball in the gym, and the smoothie bar upstairs makes for a delectable post workout reward.

  • Jacqueline Wu: Fine Arts Center concerts and shows 

The Bromery Center also puts on amazing concerts and shows, and Wu, a talented cellist, appreciates the opportunity to see working professionals for free in a variety of different art forms. Recently, Wu enjoyed “Olvidados,” a play about Mexican repatriation written by UMass professor Elisa Gonzales. She also regularly attends concerts put on by faculty members, like the Jazz Faculty Concert.

  • Rosa Stalzer: The willow tree by Southwest Residential Area

Stalzer doesn’t have to venture far to reach her favorite part of campus! The willow tree, which is only a few minutes away from her dorm in Southwest Residential Area, holds strong sentimental value to her. This tree, conveniently located between Hampshire and Berkshire Dining Commons, makes for a great picnic spot. When it’s warm out, she’ll grab lunch with her friends, play music, take pictures or study under this tree. Outdoor basketball courts are nearby, and the spot is a great place to socialize and meet new people, especially at the beginning of the year.

Laleh Panahi can be reached at [email protected]