Five helpful secrets to know about UI’s campus

Freshman year at the University is a time for exploration and discovery. For me, there were a few nuances of campus that would have improved my first year had I discovered them earlier. Here’s a short list of five things I wish I would have known going into freshman year:

1. Setting up Internet in the dorms

For some, this may have been a no-brainer, but I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who struggled with setting up the dorm room Internet on move-in day. Students moving into the newer dorms in University Housing, Nugent Hall or Bousfield Hall, should skip this section, as these tips won’t apply. 

For almost everyone else, dorm rooms will not have Wi-Fi available. Instead, each room comes with a small hub and a special cable that connects the hub to the room’s wall jack. Personal wireless routers are technically not permitted, and although I’ve never heard of anyone having their door kicked in for having one, an Ethernet cable is the only rule-abiding option for connecting to the hub. Because of this, my first piece of advice is to buy an Ethernet cable that stretches at least 14 feet.

It seems excessive, but both dorm rooms I’ve lived in had a wall jack on the opposite side of the room from where I studied. Cables can be purchased at the Illini Union Bookstore, as well at the front desk of many residence halls. Secondly, some dorms have its jack located on a small white box attached to the wall. These boxes have a jack placed dead center on the front that, surprise, will not connect to the Internet. The correct jack is hidden on the underside of the box on the left.

I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to figure that out.

2. Post office hidden right in the center of campus

Altgeld Hall, the building with the large bell tower on the corner of Green and Wright streets just off the Quad, houses a small post office. For many, it will prove more convenient than the office on Third and Green streets. To find it, walk down Wright Street until you see a large blue mailbox next to Altgeld Hall. The post office is located just inside the door closest to the mailbox. With short lines and a friendly and helpful staff, I have had nothing but good experiences using Altgeld’s post office.

3. Two bike repair shops close to campus

Baker’s Bikes, located at 1003 S. Lynn St. in Urbana, is a family owned bike shop that offers affordable, fast repairs, in addition to selling new and used bikes. On foot, it’s a bit of a hike from campus. However, the Green bus makes a stop a few blocks away. Don’t let the distance be a deterrent, the service at Baker’s is fantastic, and everyone working there is knowledgeable and welcoming.

The Bike Project of Urbana-Champaign, located at 608 E. Pennsylvania Ave., is a less traditional bike shop that gives students a chance to work on their bikes themselves, and it also sells used bikes. Co-op members are given access to the shop’s garage, including tools, parts and the help of knowledgeable staff. For students interested in fixing, or learning to fix their own bikes, the Bike Project is an excellent option.

4. Make an appointment before visiting McKinley

McKinley Health Center, located at 1109 S. Lincoln Ave., is an amazing resource for students. Among other services, students can pick up various health supply kits and receive treatment from doctors and nurses. But for people like me, who rarely get sick, navigating these services when you finally feel ill can be challenging.

The best tip I’ve picked up from the doctors in this regard is to make an appointment before visiting for a check-up. There are two wings patients are sent to depending on whether they have made an appointment, and the wing for walk-ins is by far the most contaminated. This is where many students with advanced flu, strep and mono symptoms end up, because they already know they’re sick and came in to get treatment.

If you’re just going to McKinley to see if that sore throat is something more than just a cold, make an appointment so you don’t expose yourself to a wealth of different illnesses in the process.

5. Roof of Krannert Center is accessible

And you’re actually allowed to. The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts sits at 500 S. Goodwin Ave. in Urbana, and boasts an impressive schedule of concerts and plays. But for me, the most enticing part of the building has always been its rooftop.  Had some upperclassmen friends not shown me the staircases on either side of the building leading up to the top, I’m not sure I would have ever noticed this quiet little getaway in the middle of campus. 

And not to worry, the Krannert Center roof is open to students. Just don’t tell anyone; it’s a secret.

Scott is a junior in FAA. He can be reached at [email protected]