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Campus Spots Freshmen Must Visit After the Pandemic

My heart goes out for the freshman missing out on their college life this year. As a sophomore, the memories and new experiences of my first year are still fresh in my mind. I certainly faced difficulties, but alongside those hardships were encouraging peers and times of fun. Rutgers University has a large campus and student population, and with that comes many places and activities for relieving stress. These spots were essential for me when I needed to take a break away from academics, and are locations that I miss the opportunity of going to. For freshmen, here are some recommended places on campus to visit after the quarantine is over.

Rutgers Garden

With gazebos, streams, and wide green areas, this 180-acre space is an ideal area after being stuck in quarantine. The garden is divided into different areas, each one having its own unique features. One cool place to visit is the “Asian Hillside Garden,” which has plants of Asian origins including beautiful Asian magnolias. Another is the “Evergreen Garden,” a spacious and lovely designed lawn area for relaxation. The garden’s most well-known feature is the “bamboo grove,” where a narrow pathway surrounded by towering bamboo stalks gives off a mysterious atmosphere. The garden is great for students because of its relieving nature and free admission. Furthermore, this area serves as a learning and research environment for Rutgers students. There are events throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to tour the garden while visiting its Fall and Summer festivals!

Breakfast at Harvest

Out of all the various places to spend meal swipes on, Harvest is my favorite dining spot. Harvest is located at the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, so it may be out of the way for people not living on Cook Campus. However, definitely go if you happen to be nearby! Harvest’s lunch options are great, but the ideal time to visit is during the morning when it is not as crowded. Quietness contributes to the tranquil atmosphere created by the area’s interior design. The modern-styled building, with its transparent windows near the dining area, allows for the sunlight to fill the room. I find that it's a calming place to catch up on homework in the early hours after grabbing breakfast and a freshly brewed coffee. My go-to is a bagel with cream cheese and yogurt topped with sliced almonds, blueberries, and cinnamon.

Passion Puddle

This spot provides a tranquil view when walking on the sidewalk near Douglass Student Center and the Red Oak Lane bus stop. This scenic area should be visited at least once per season, because the foliage around the pond changes accordingly. The leaves turn yellow and orange during the fall, and are lush with green in the spring and summer seasons. Other than being a photo spot, Passion Puddle is a nice place to socialize or read a book on the bench facing the pond. It is considered to be one of the most romantic spots on campus along with the “Kissing Bridge”, also located on the Cook/Douglass campus. According to a legend, if a couple walks around the pond three times, they will stay together in the future.

Rutgers Esports Center

The Rutgers Esports Center is a recent addition to the campus, and it has a lot of interest due to the large gaming community in Rutgers University. Freshmen of this year lose a lot of opportunities for face-to-face socialization because of quarantine. When students are able to come back on campus, this space will be a great way to connect with people and bring those with common interests together. The center will provide the equipment, including different consoles that come with its own selection of games.

Restaurants/Bubble Tea around College Ave- Downtown New Brunswick

Something I miss most about being on campus is trying the different eateries off campus. New Brunswick has its own diverse food scene, which is a short walk from campus. The downtown area near the College Ave campus is an especially popular hangout spot for students, most crowded on Friday nights. Some of the best restaurants there include Tacoria, Destination Dogs, and Ramen Nagomi. For dessert, one of my favorite things to get is bubble tea. Whether as an end-of-the-week treat or a pick-me-up after a tiring day, refreshing myself with the sugary drink was always worth the 4-5 dollars out of my wallet. Getting bubble tea was also a social activity, as “do you want to get bubble tea?” or “want to check out the new bubble tea place?” became a common thing to ask among friends. My personal recommendations for bubble tea on campus are Gong Cha, Utepia, and Noodle Gourmet. However, these are not the only options around, so try for yourself which is the best!

Art Exhibits (Zimmerli Museum and Mason Gross School)

Want to view an impressive art collection for free? Luckily, such a museum exists right on campus. The Zimmerli Art Museum is next to Voorhees Hall, just across Scott Hall on the College Avenue campus. Their permanent collections include thousands of European, American, and Russian art in various mediums such as prints, sculptures, and paintings. There are also temporary exhibits showcased at the museum, so you may want to visit the museum more than once during the year. The best time to come is during its most popular program: “Art After Hours”, which occurs on the first Tuesdays of each month. Starting from the evening, there are music performances, exhibition tours, and refreshments available for free. It is a great place to enjoy some live jazz music, enjoy snacks, and take a break from academics. Another option is to go to the Mason Gross School exhibits throughout the year, where students display their projects. These spots will help new students learn about the art scene around campus.

Now that I am living away from campus, I have a better appreciation for these places which have given me memories during my first year. Hopefully, freshmen will also soon be able to partake in regular college life when the campus becomes safe from a pandemic.

Miriam Kim

Rutgers '23

Miriam is a student at Rutgers University working towards English/Information Technology and Informatics majors. Her top interests are creative writing, traveling, and literature.
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