5 Must Have Apps for UW-Madison Students

I won’t openly admit to being smart-phone obsessed, but if you observed me for an extended period of time you would realize my phone is more than a phone to me. It’s my reading material, my alarm clock, my entertainment, my camera, my bank, my weather guy, my personal trainer, my to-do list, and my music player. My yellow iPhone 5c even has a nickname. One time my boyfriend called it, “Banana Phone,” and it has been named so ever since. So if you see a short blonde girl around campus muttering under her breath, “Where on earth is my banana phone?!” know she’s not *that* crazy.

I’m sure many of you can say the same thing about you and your phone (minus the nickname?). Since starting college banana phone and I have found some great apps that make your phone even more useful while you are out and about on campus. This is my list of six apps every student at UW-Madison should have, and they’re all free!

1. Hooked 

Hooked is an app where you can find deals for the restaurants around you. The deals only last for a couple of hours, and they change throughout the day. You’ll see deals for cafes and coffee shops in the morning, lunch/dessert places in the afternoon, and bars, grills, and pubs in the evening. You go into the restaurant to claim the deal, show the cashier your phone, click “GET HOOKED,” and boom, savings.

the hook

This is what my Hooked looked like around 2pm, just in time for lunch. Don’t worry. I’m obviously going to claim the BOGO beer deal too.

I LOVE Hooked. I only downloaded it because there was a stand on campus last summer and the guy running it said he’d give me a cookie if I did. Best decision I’ve ever made (besides choosing UW-Madison, duh). The deals Hooked has have been used as a major factor when deciding where I’ll eat lunch.

Plus, it’s only on three campuses: the University of Texas, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin! Download it. Feel special. Eat food. Save money.

Watch the Hooked Facebook page for new business and special deals too!

2. Google Maps

The UW-Madison campus is a little over 900 acres. You might end up a little lost from time to time, but that’s okay. With the Google Maps app you can find your way around. I probably use this app the second most out of all of my apps. Why? Because I am lazy and refuse to memorize the bus schedule.

All UW-Madison students have already paid for a bus pass through their segregated fees, so you simply have to grab your WisCard and go get one! To see where to pick up your bus pass check out this bus pass FAQ. With Google Maps it’s so easy to figure out which bus I should take and when I should be at the bus stop to catch it. This app is my life.

the bus pass

That blue dot is me. Hi, me!

Open the app, type where you want to go in the search box, click the little blue bus icon the lower right hand corner (don’t worry if it’s not a bus, you can change it on the next screen), and you can see all the buses going to that location. You can set it up to depart or arrive at a specific time too. So feel free to plan out your trips in advance if you want. Easiest way to find a bus route. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s very accurate.

3. My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal allows you to track the calories you’ve eaten and the calories you’ve burned. If you have a FitBit or similar device you can sync it to the app and it will count the calories you’ve burned while wearing it. Based on what you’ve eaten, it will show you the percentages of the macro nutrients you’ve consumed like protein, carbohydrates, and fat.


My entries don’t always look this good – trust me.

Add other people who know who use the app. Friends can create a little healthy (hahah.. ahh) competition! You can also get access blogs, recipes, and partake in discussions with the rest of the My Fitness Pal community.

4. Mobile UW

Mobile UW is the official UW-Madison app. It was recently updated (can I get a hallelujah?!) and now has a more interactive, user friendly interface. It offers features that are nice to have at the touch of a button while you don’t necessarily have access to a laptop or desktop computer. thecamp

It has a feature where you can track the buses, but, honestly, it doesn’t work as well as using Google Maps. You can also access a campus map, which is handy when you know the name of the building but not the address (this actually happens somewhat often on a campus this size). Search through a list of campus events, log into your MyUW or Learn@UW, quickly access emergency numbers, read UW news, and more.

5. Moocho

The Moocho app lets you pay for food on your phone. Every time you use Moocho you get points that earn you deals and rewards. The more you use Mooch the more you save!


I just use Moocho whenever I would already make a purchase. Spend the money you normally would, but get free stuff along the way. You can use it at fast food places, grocery stores, gas stations, tanning salons, and other shops around campus.


Do you have a favorite app? What’s your phone’s cool nickname? Comment!


The Dating Game – Your Freshman Roommate Options

Ahhh, roommates. You love them, you hate them, you contemplate labeling all the food in the kitchen, so they stop eating your Girl Scout cookies, and that’s only in the past hour.

If you are incoming freshman for 2015-2016 living in the University Housing residence halls, there are three different options you can choose in hopes of finding “the one”. Psst… You can select your option in the ‘Roommates’ tab of your My UW Housing after you sign the contract. You have until May 7th to choose one.

Throughout my years at UW-Madison I have found the roommate shenanigans to be a lot like dating. Yes, dating. Let me explain.


1. The Random Roommate

If you choose to do a random roommate, it is completely random. You get paired together based on how the random assignment process places you, nothing else. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what your major is, when you signed the contract, or anything else. Fate simply pairs you together.

This is a lot like when the nerdy girl in all the movies accidentally bumps into the popular quarter back in the hall way and he drops all his books. It was meant to be. Sometimes they fall in love and ride on horseback into the sunset, sometimes the popular guy ends up being a jerk.


So it is with the random roommate. It’s a little risky, but sometimes you can’t trust yourself to get right. You have to let fate do it’s thing. You’re going to have to learn to get along with many different types of people now that you are an adult. What better time to start out than right away with a random roommate?

2. The Preferred Roommate

A “preferred” roommate just means you want to live with someone you already know. In order for you to get paired together you have to make sure that you and your preferred roommate both request each other in the ‘Roommates’ tab’ AND you both have to rank the residence halls EXACTLY the SAME. Seriously, if you don’t rank them exactly the same the computer won’t believe you actually want to be roommates, and you probably won’t end up in the same room. If you do everything correctly, it’s almost a shoe-in. There’s no guarantee, but it’s pretty close.

This is the Ross and Rachel phenomenon (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about). Girl and boy met. They become friends. After a long while they finally begin to date. However, just because they were friends first doesn’t mean the relationship works out.

ross and rach

My junior year I asked one of my friends to live with me and she said no. I was stunned. Why wouldn’t she live with me? She said that we were too good of friends, and she didn’t want to risk not becoming friends if we didn’t get along as roommates. It may sound crazy to you, but this is a real thing.

Being someone’s friend and living together are completely different scenarios. If you’re picking this option make sure you are prepared to not let a few passive aggressive roommate squabbles get in your way. Better yet, just be open about things that bother you!

3. The Matched Roommate

The third option is roommate matching through a University Housing sponsored app on Facebook called RoomSync. RoomSync allows you to fill out a profile about yourself and answer some general questions like, “What time do you go to bed?” RoomSync will fill in some details with your profile picture and some of the ‘About Me’ information. Don’t worry, no one will have access to your Facebook profile unless you add them as a friend. So no more worrying that they’ll be able to scroll through your history and make fun of your eight grade haircut.

After you are done making your RoomSync profile it will add you to the app, and you can start messaging potential roommates! Once you find someone, you have to both request each other in the ‘Roommates’ tab’ AND you both have to rank the residence halls EXACTLY the SAME. Basically, the same drill as the preferred roommate.

Not surprisingly, this is very similar to the world of online dating. You can shop around and message people until you find someone think you’d click with. Many students idealize RoomSync because they think that if they selected their own roommate online there won’t be any problems. But think about it, does everyone on Match.com end up married?


Make sure your RoomSync profile is as honest as possible. Because, come on, how clean and organized are you really?

Also try to communicate with potential roommates on other mediums besides RoomSync. You could email, text, Skype, SnapChat, snail mail, tweet, talk on the phone, or whatever the cool kids are doing these days. Talk to them for at least a couple of days before you decide anything.

Don’t worry about it too much.

Roommates are one of the biggest concerns for incoming freshman, but don’t fret. Roommates must go through a “Roommate Agreement” within the first month of moving in that help them start conversations about issues before they happen. This not only prevents a lot of issues, it also gives you something to reference if something does happen. You will discuss things you probably haven’t even thought about yet.

  • Who is going to take out the garbage?
  • Are you allowed to eat their food?
  • Can you borrow things without asking?
  • Should you listen to music on your headphones or can you listen on your speakers?
  • Do you have to ask before bringing other people into the room?

The more seriously you fill this out, the better your roommate experience will be!


If you are an incoming freshman what option are you thinking about choosing and why? What do you think will be the hardest thing about sharing a room? As always comment below or feel free to tweet at me, @SierraLivesey. But seriously, tweet at me. I want my followers to think I’m cool, ’cause you know, I am.

Res. Hall Insights: Kronshage Hall

Kronshage Hall – Lakeshore Neighborhood

The first thing you need to know about Kronshage Hall is that it isn’t one big building. It is, in fact, eight buildings. Imagine you took an eight floor high-rise, pulled the floors out one-by-one, and arranged them around each other. Each of the eight buildings is called a “house” and all of them together is considered Kronshage Hall.


If you live in Kronshage you have access to all eight houses, not just the one you live in.This is what makes it the only “double whammy” dorm. Meaning, you get the small intimate “the family away from your family” vibe within your house because each house has one big study lounge/den. It won’t take long for you to meet the other 74 students.

Plus, you get the big community feel because it’s common for students to venture into other Kronshage houses and hang out or study in their den! Kronshage Hall is among the most populated dorms with 600 students living in all eight of the houses. First one to meet them all wins!

Also, if you haven’t noticed yet, Kronshage is nestled right up against Lake Mendota. Hammocks, picnics, and Frisbees or snow angels, ice walks, and snowball fights are a must, depending on the good ol’ Wisconsin weather. The Lakeshore path lies between Kronshage and Lake Mendota, and it runs along the lakeside east until it hits Memorial Union and west until picnic point. That way if you have class on the Southeast side of campus you can feel free to hit your snooze button a couple extra time and cruise down the Lakeshore path.

Freshman Population

Kronshage Hall is mostly freshman, like 95 to 97%. With the double whammy set-up you can decide to kick it (the cool kids still say that, right?) with your house fam or go out and meet some potential new besties.

Room Style

All the rooms are doubles and are typical for what most freshman live in on the UW-Madison campus. The only difference is that Kronshage rooms have a build in dresser/vanity right into the wall. It makes the room look bigger and gives you a little extra counter and storage space. A win-win for sure.

The furniture in all dorm rooms are stackable or loftable and allow you to customize your room to what will suit you and your roommate’s needs. There are a million and five ways to make your room feel like home.  Take a peek at some of the main bed options you have.

kronshage hallkronshage hall 2

kronshage hall 3

Renovations taking place Summer 2015 will add individual room heat controls. Wisconsin winters have got nothing on you.

Want a more in depth look at a Kronshage room? Watch Cavan James’, a student who lived in Kronshage in 2013-2014, Cribs style video of his room. Watch it!


Each floor in a house is either all men or women, and each floor has one bathroom. The bathrooms are in a community style set-up where they are shared with the other people on your floor.

As I’ve said before, I know those words immediately send you running in a panic. You’re going to have to trust me, they don’t live up the the massive negative hype created about them.

In fact, I would go so far to say that I met a good number of new friends in the bathrooms. If you don’t eventually say hi to that one other person in the bathroom brushing their teeth before the 8am class you both thought would be easy to get up for because, “Hey, I got up earlier than that for high school,” every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then you’re full of baloney. You obviously both have a lot in common.

brushing teeth

The community bathrooms have about five shower stalls, toilet stalls, and sinks. The showers are in separate lockable stalls, so you can maintain your privacy.There shouldn’t be any issues with having to wait as college students we’ve all got some wacky schedules which spreads out the traffic enough that there tends not to be a “bathroom rush hour”.


You will never live in cheaper lake front property than at Kronshage Hall. Some of the best rooms on campus are Kronshage corner rooms with a lake view, especially for freshman.

Kronshage is located within a less than a three minute walk to two of the six dining halls, Four Lakes Market and Carson’s Market and less than two minutes away from Steenbock library. Get ready for some football because Camp Randall is only a few jump arounds away.

Reader Questions

Did you live in Kronshage and want to share your experiences? What residence hall do you want to hear about next week? Maybe you have another pressing question you want answered, comment on this post or tweet at me, @SierraLivesey. I would love to hear from you!

The Lesser Known Evil: The Sophomore 15

A dramatic lifestyle change like starting college can make it very difficult to maintain your weight. Especially when mom isn’t making you those wonderful well-balanced meals anymore. However, the popularization of the ‘freshman 15’ has made many new students hyper-aware of their eating habits/work out routines their first year of college and, in turn, has helped them keep the weight off…

…at least until sophomore year.

That’s right, folks. The sophomore 15 is real, and it will sneak up on you.

What are two big reasons the sophomore 15 strikes?

How do you to avoid it?

Great questions.

1. More responsibilities.

My freshman year I wanted to get used to the swing of things. I took 13-14 credits and only worked on Saturdays. I had a lot of extra time to do whatever I wanted to dedicate time to. Many students choose to fill that time with studying, participating in student organizations, and working out. Many other students choose to fill that time with napping, browsing the internet, and maxing out their WisCard at the dining halls.

Admittedly, I was not one of the students who avoided the freshman 15. I was used to running track and playing basketball throughout my high school years, so motivating myself to workout was something I never had to do before. Plus, I was used to eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. When I got to college I stopped burning calories and started burning through pints Babcock Dairy ice cream.

babcock hall mocha macchiato ice cream pint

The dining halls sell pints of Babcock Dairy ice cream. Beware.

The point is, freshman year most students have many opportunities to work out throughout the week, whether they choose to do so is another matter. Sophomore year even those who took time to be active and work out freshman year may struggle. Why? Because there is simply less time!

Sophomores usually work more hours, maybe even have an internship, and are taking more credits. The number of free time hours is scarce. You find yourself spending your free time doing *gasp* responsible things like cleaning your room or paying your bills. Because let’s be honest, the clothes sitting on your floor have basically been acting as a second layer of carpet for the last three months.

How can you make time to work out?

When my sophomore year started I slowly forgot about the routine I had created that summer. In November I noticed the weight had been slowly creeping back. The truth was clear. I hadn’t been active basically at all, but I felt like I had no time to go to the gym.

I decided to plan out my whole life for Sophomore year. I planned out when and the number of hours I would be in the library, the gym, relaxing, all in advance. That may not sound super glamorous, but my grades improved and I felt a lot more in control. Sooo, make a schedule and stick to it! Buy a planner that breaks down each day into hours or print off your class schedule from your Student Center.

Hourly Planner

Do you have any breaks in your classes? Plan to go to the library or get to the gym during that time. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done if you spend little amounts of free time being productive instead of sitting on your phone. Literally plan your whole week out by the hour. You’ll find it much more motivating to go to the gym if you feel like you’re SUPPOSED to be there rather than hoping you decide in the moment to go.

2. Cooking sucks.

If you’ve gotten your own apartment sophomore year, you’ve already started to miss eating at the dining halls for so cheap. All the food options allow you to choose your own adventure. Channel your inner Leslie Knope and get waffles and whipped cream or take a trip around the salad bar.

What are you supposed to do now? Cook for yourself? Cooking means you have to plan out the meal, prep, and clean. Plus, how do you even do it? It’s much easier to go out and pay for someone to make your food for you.

As easy as it is, eventually your body (and your wallet) realize that maybe you should give the employees at Five Guys a chance to forget your order.

How can you make cooking easy?

For the love of Bucky, buy a crock-pot (also known to some people as a slow cooker)!!!! These things work miracles. Plop a few ingredients in it, go to bed or go to class, and come back to a fully cooked filling meal. Let’s weigh the options here, 1) prep for an hour and clean fifty pots and pans or 2) prep for ten minutes and clean one pot.

Plus, it’s easy to make it healthy. Here’s a recipe for Pineapple Salsa Chicken from the Skinny Mom Team. It only has five ingredients and the only real directions are ‘dump ingredients into pot’, so no excuses. Find more yummy and healthy crock-pot meals on Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes, the free mobile app. It will even explain the nutrition break down of each meal! You could even sign up for Pinterest and search for what you want to make.

Pineapple Salsa Chicken. Photo courtesy of Skinny Mom Team.

I know what you’re thinking. What do you eat when you’re out and about running back and forth from class to the library to class? This is when you learn the art of planning ahead and packing your lunch.

Lindsay, a dietitian who writes The Lean Green Bean blog, has a great post about packing healthy lunches. Streamline her idea by preparing a whole weeks worth of lunches before it starts. Spare an hour of Sunday evening to get everything ready so you aren’t temped to leave your lunch at home.

Make some healthy sandwiches whether they are the classic pb&j, a cold cut, or something more creative, and put them in the freezer. Not only can they stay there until you need them, they will keep fine in your backpack until you’re ready for lunch!

Buy individually wrapped snacks or put them into snack baggies yourself! Aim to put about 100 calories of each snack into a separate baggie. Small Tupperware containers make it easy to pack dipping sauces, hummus, salsa, and peanut butter. The options are almost endless.

You’ve probably heard all this advice before, but that’s because it works. Just do it!


Do you have any tips or tricks that help motivate you to work out and eat healthy? What was your experience like with the freshman or sophomore 15? What is your favorite flavor of Babcock Dairy ice cream? Comment below!

5 Times UHS Can Help Even When You’re Not Sick

UHS is an acronym for UW-Madison’s University Health Services. When most students think of UHS they think of, “that place I go to when I’m sick.” Yes, UHS is the place to go if you’re not feeling well, but they also can help you out when you don’t have the sniffles.

1. Try meditation if you want to improve your mood and help your brain function better.


Meditation is a quick, easy, and free way to boost your mood and productivity every day. UHS offers hands-on classes to help you get started. Classes are held at Union South every Wednesday at noon. No registration is needed, and it’s free!

If you can’t handle the commitment of being at a certain place at a certain time (don’t worry, I’ve been there too), check out their online ‘Meditation on Your Own’ sound bites, and try it at home.

2. Try nutritional services if the employees at Wendy’s know your order or you can’t find motivation to exercise. 


Wouldn’t it be great if someone could tell you exactly what to do to get in shape? How many times have you downloaded a fitness app just to let it sit there and haunt you?

UHS has all kinds of nutritional services that can help you be healthy as a student. They will help you make a plan to change your habits, create meal plans, exercise, how to cook healthy, and even  more. Plus, it’s free!

Schedule an initial visit by calling 608-265-5600 and selecting option #2.

3. Try Let’s Talk if you are stressed, homesick, having troubles with friends or family, worried about grades, or ANYTHING.


Let’s Talk is a UHS program made for students who need someone to talk to, want to see what it would be like going to counselling, or would just like some perspective.

UHS counselors go to a different locations around campus Monday through Friday so students can visit them to talk without an appointment. Check the Spring 2015 schedule!

Let’s Talk is for one-time or infrequent visits. If you speak with a counselor at Let’s Talk and decide you would like to try ongoing counseling call UHS to book an appointment for ongoing counseling at 608-265-5600. Ongoing individual counseling is free if you’re a student!

Interested, but still have questions? Check out the Let’s Talk FAQs.

4.  Try acupuncture if you have discomfort from stress, not getting sleep, or too much partying and/or studying.

party cat

Everyone’s heard of acupuncture, but what does it actually do? Tiny needles only about the size of a human hair are slid in between where your muscles connect. The needles are rounded and so tiny your brain doesn’t register pain.

According to UHS, these needles block pain and release endorphins, so you feel a little tingly during the session. But you leave relaxed and somewhat exhilarated. A great way to perk up after pulling an all-nighter for Math 221.

There is a small fee of $20 per session (cash only). Remember, if you don’t try it in college, when will you?

Call UHS to set up an appointment at 608-265-5600.

5. Try message therapy if you are feeling anxious and want to concentrate better.

kid concentrate

If you are a student and you are anxiety free with amazing concentration skills, please enlighten me I have been having a hard time since season three of House of Cards was released. Being anxiety free and able to concentrate is like the students’ version of the fountain of youth.

While the fountain of carefree concentration hasn’t been found yet, think about this alternative: massage therapy.  UHS massage therapist, Heather Simmons, is able to tailor the massage to you! Relax, target a specific pain, or increase your circulation.

Fifty minute sessions are $40, and you can schedule an appointment by calling 608-265-5607.

Want your parents to spiff up your care package? Drops some hints and have them send a massage gift certificate. Call 60-265-5607 to purchase!

Res. Hall Insights: Chadbourne Hall

Chadbourne Hall – The Chadbourne Residential College

The first thing anyone needs to know about Chadbourne is that the whole building is apart of the learning community called the Chadbourne Residential College (CRC). If you don’t know what a learning community is check out my previous post, “Which Dorm in the Best One?” aka University Housing: The Basics.

The CRC focuses on creating an intimate liberal arts college feel in the middle of the large research university that is UW-Madison. Living in the CRC gives you the opportunity to attend events that will engage you in the UW-Madison community, grow your professional skills (gotta pad that resume), and meet other students. They’ve gone to hear Neil DeGrasse Tyson speak, had Harrpy Potter marathons, and held conversations about hot button topics while everyone sips hot chocolate.

Check out other past events here! 

You can also take classes that take place right inside Chadbourne and are available only to students within the Chadbourne community. Not only are class sizes smaller with more recognizable faces, you can feel free to strut into class showcasing your new pjs.


Don’t feel overwhelmed at all the stuff going on either. Attendance is not mandatory because, well, you’re not in first grade anymore. If you having a busy week or are not really interested in one of the events, there’s no obligation.

Freshman Population

With Ogg Hall becoming exclusively for upperclassmen next academic year in 2015-2016, Chadbourne will likely have a huge number of freshman. Potentially up to 80% of the whole building could be freshman. With almost 600 students total, that’s still a lot of new friends to meet.

Building and Room Style

While the building has a traditional dormitory style (all double rooms separated into wings) recent renovations give the hall a more updated feel. Each floor now has three bathrooms and each room is air conditioned.

The double rooms are typical for what most freshman live in on the UW-Madison campus. Stackable and loftable furniture allow you to customize your room to what will suit you and your roommate’s needs. Heck, feel free to switch it up in the middle of the semester if you want! Take a peek at some of the main options you have.

chadbourne hall 2 chadbourne hall

Yes, the closet spaces look small (they’re about 3 feet wide and two feet deep), but don’t freak out yet. You can bring your own furniture when you move in. Bring hanging shoe racks, under the bed storage, and get your Pinterest on. Of course, be sure to get the okay from your roommate before you bring that two story shoe rack you made to hold your collection!


Chadbourne has a community bathroom set-up. I know those words immediately send shivers down your spine, but bare with me. Each floor has three wings which are either all men or women, and each wing has its own bathroom. This means that you will be sharing a bathroom with 20 other people. Again. Contain your fear for a moment.

The community bathrooms have about five shower stalls, toilet stalls, and sinks. The showers are in separate lockable stalls, so you can maintain your privacy.There shouldn’t be any issues with having to wait for a sink to brush your teeth or a shower in the morning. As college students we’ve all got some wacky schedules which spreads out the traffic enough that there tends not to be a “bathroom rush hour”.

Rheta’s Dining Hall

Chadbourne was built with Rheta’s (one of the housing dining facilities) attached to it! That means it’s time to scroll back up  to rewatch that gif. You’re going to need study/practice if you’re strutting into class AND Rheta’s in your pjs. Don’t worry. You have plenty of time if you start now.

Rheta’s is a medium sized dining hall that has seven food “stations” . Think of it like a food court with seven different restaurants. Plus, it has a grab and go convenience store called the Flamingo Run, so you can buy things to stuff in your mini fridge and other odds and ends like band-aids or ibuprofen.


Smack dab at the bottom of Bascom Hill you really can’t ask for a better location. Of course, that does mean walking up Bascom Hill is pretty much unavoidable. The humanities building and the business school are just across the street, and College library isn’t more than three blocks.

Reader Questions

Did I get something wrong? Did you live in Chadbourne and want to share your experiences? Want me to break down a specific residence hall next week? Comment below!