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Cameron Smith / Her Campus

A Weekend in SLO

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Experiencing a new college atmosphere was bizarre, and led to some realizations about my own college town and experience.

Over spring break, I got to visit one of my best friends at their college, the University of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. This was my first time visiting someone else’s college and getting to experience what a student’s experience at a different school was truly like, rather than just walking around the campus. This trip not only made for a fun weekend, but also led me to realize how different UW-Madison is from other schools.

One of the first things I noticed was how different every campus’s layout is. I realized that UW-Madison isn’t laid out like a traditional college campus. Most schools, like SLO, have their campus set up as its own separate community within the larger city. UW-Madison’s campus, on the other hand, is very spread out and is integrated into the city and its existing geography.

Campus culture was also a huge difference—even the little things were surprising. In Wisconsin, we all often drink Bubbl’r and go to the Unions for lunch or to study. SLO, however, prefers the drink Yerba Mate for energy. Within my first few minutes there, I realized that everyone unanimously drinks and enjoys Yerba, as one would here with Bubbl’r. 

Along with that, SLO doesn’t have a student union. There’s a library (and only one library) for studying, but that’s about it. There’s also only one dining hall, which is strange compared to the many dining hall options I’ve had all year at UW-Madison. SLO’s dining, however, had more chain options like Subway and Chick-fil-A where students could purchase food with their dining money, rather than the singular Starbucks location here that thankfully takes my meal plan. I also loved trying out my friend’s dining hall. I spend so much of my time here at Gordon’s that I needed to try SLO’s dining hall. And though the food was good, nothing can beat the iconic freshman year Gordon’s aesthetic.

Seeing all of these differences was interesting, but certainly not the best part of the weekend. The best part was being able to experience life at a different college. I went on a hike by the campus, which was super nice. It’s something I wish I could do more of here. We do have the Lakeshore path and Picnic Point, but those are pretty much the only hiking areas accessible without a car. And, sadly, they just don’t compare to a huge mountain. 

I also got to explore San Luis Obispo’s downtown, which was super fun. Rather than being right on campus, people have to take a bus to get to downtown, which is a bit of a bummer. However, the actual downtown is super cute. It has many adorable cafes, stores and even favorite chains like Barnes and Noble and Bath and Body Works. I got to try a matcha cafe, a little shop that exclusively featured matcha drinks. Everything was delicious! And I got to see the local mission, and favorite local stores that reminded me of a clothing version of Madison’s Anthology. Even just seeing the sunset was super fun.

Getting to experience life at Cal Poly SLO was very enjoyable. Seeing all of the things I thought were normal here but weren’t considered normal at other schools was entertaining—as was the weekend itself. But if anything, my trip taught me how much I loved UW-Madison. Even with all of the benefits of Cal Poly SLO, nothing beats the proximity of downtown Madison, our beautiful lake and, of course, Strada pizza. 

Andrea Brehovska

Wisconsin '25

Hey! I am a psychology major with a digital studies and textile and designs certificate at the University of Wisconsin! I am originally from Prague, Czech Republic, but I grew up in the Bay Area, California! I love to travel, explore, and fashion. And my favorite colors are yellow and red!