Explore CU during your time on campus


Cameron Krasucki

Foellinger Auditorium sits on the south side of the Main Quad the morning of June 26. New students should explore what Urbana-Champaign has to offer during their time on campus.

By Rohit Jammu, Assistant Features Editors

After over a year of experiencing online schooling surrounded by four walls, coming in to the 1700 acres of the University  campus can be an exciting or even overwhelming feeling. I spent quite a large chunk of my freshmen year living in the University campus bubble. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I fully woke up to the full reality that the University campus actually laid cradled on the border of two whole towns, namely: Champaign and Urbana.

Although I still haven’t seen everything the C-U area has to offer yet, looking back, I still wished I had started going beyond the reaches of the campus area earlier. So, whether you’re excited about everything you can now explore, or overwhelmed by it, here are some of the nicer places I discovered over my time here that you should visit.

The Japan House, located on the southeast edge of campus has different experiences to offer people at different times. Around the first two weeks of April, the cherry blossom trees explode into bunches of blush flowers attracting large crowds for as long as they last. In September, the Japan House Matsuri festival brings food, live music, shops and fireworks. And all through the year, the Japan house stays open to anyone just looking for a peaceful walk.

Another spot of surprising calm amongst the hustle of a university lifestyle is the stretch of land that is Helm’s Park and Boneyard Creek Second Street Basin. Located above Campustown but below downtown Champaign, Helm’s Park offers a few benches, a large amount of green, a basketball court and a park. And Boneyard Creek Second Street Basin offers a large pond, a colony of superior geese and ducks and a constructed scenic waterfall whenever they do turn it on.

Further north is downtown Champaign like a world of its own. Downtown Champaign’s almost European-inspired street architecture like the street lamps, trees, red brick in the pavement brings a much-needed change of scenery. The rest of downtown Champaign and all its stores, cafés, restaurants and little secrets are for you to explore.

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    All the way up north at the edge of the Champaign area is Walmart and the surrounded stores. While it doesn’t serve as a full-scale metropolitan city mall, you will find almost everything you might want like Pet Smart, Costco, Macy’s and much more here. Although you might need to ever go there with all the resources available closer to campus and the most obvious option of delivery, a trip to a Walmart or any of those stores with the right company can be more fun than you’d imagined.

    While the South, North and Main Quad are all nice places to kill time, the Main Quad takes the lead just because there are always people passing through or killing time just like you. The Illini Union being on its north end proves to be a consistent source of coffee from the Starbucks and doubles back as a nice place to get work done between classes as well.

    Downtown Urbana, located to the east of the campus, is its own experience with the Lincoln Square mall and Urbana’s Market at the Square being another place to escape from campus walls. The rest of Urbana still has much more to offer scattered across the area — you just have to search.

    Coming in to college, four years may seem like a long time to explore the surrounding area and any other places you may want to visit. But with all the work that comes with college, time will pass by in the blink of an eye so make sure you make the best of your time here.

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