Res. Hall Insights: Elizabeth Waters Hall

Elizabeth Waters aka Liz Waters Hall – Lakeshore 

Liz Waters is what I like to call the “Hybrid Hall”. Is it Lakeshore or Southeast? Is it freshman or upperclassmen? The answer is, Liz Waters has it all.

The first unique thing about Liz Waters is actually the building itself. It’s practically a labyrinth.  The setup helps keep the freshman all together and makes it seem like an all freshman hall.


Freshman Population

Liz Waters is about 40% freshman, and they are all kept on the same portion of the building. With 500 residents total, that’s still 200 freshman close by to be potential BFFs! There are upperclassmen as well, but they are all kept on the same floors in another part of the building.

Room Style

Rooms in Liz Waters are unique (and I like to pretend a little bigger than most). You could walk down one floor and see many different variations. This makes them a lot of fun to decorate and make it into your own space. Liz Waters is the only hall that has coverings over the closet spaces.

liz waters 2 Liz Waters

liz waters 3 liz waters 4

The stackable furniture allows 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.


Despite how unique Liz is in all other ways, it does have community style bathrooms. Like I have preached on this blog, community style bathrooms are not that bad. It was one of the things I worried about the most before my freshman year started. Would I get over my shy bladder syndrome? Would I be able to shower in the morning without waiting? Did I need a shower caddie? Were they going to be clean? The answer to all these questions is yes.

Remember, 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 a because as college students we’ve all got some wacky schedules. This spreads out the traffic enough that there tends not to be a “bathroom rush hour”.

To top it all off, they are cleaned once a day by the facility staff. Can I get a hallelujah!?



The location of Liz Waters may arguably be the best of all the halls. It sits right on the top of Bascom Hill, the center of campus. Technically, Liz Waters is in the Lakeshore neighborhood, but it’s kind of in a neighborhood of its own. No matter where your class is it’s only a short walk away.


Enjoy the lake right outside your door, take a quick stroll down Bascom Hill and hang out at the Terrace or shop on State Street! The closest library is College Library. The closest dining facility is actually right inside the building, Liz’s Market. But be aware! The Liz Waters dining hall is being closed for renovation in Fall 2015, but will reopen in Spring 2016.

Reader Questions

Did you live in Liz Waters 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!


What the Heck is a WisCard?

Your WisCard is a fancy name for your student ID card. It has a picture of you, your name, and your campus ID number on the front, and the back looks just like the back of a debit card. In fact, your WisCard is basically a university debit card. Money can be loaded on to it and used for a variety of different things on campus.You can load money online, by snail mail, or in person. It’s so easy to do, I’ve seen students do it on their smart phone while they are in line!


You probably won’t look as fly as Bucky. Sorry.

Your WisCard is an essential part of your life on campus, especially your first year. The title question really should be, “What isn’t your WisCard?” But let’s stick with the plan, “What the heck is a WisCard?”

1. Your Meal Plan 

UW-Madison doesn’t have a meal plan where you pay a certain amount of money before you come to campus and it earns you a certain amount of “meal swipes” throughout the year. Instead there is a ‘a la cart’ or pay-as-you-go system.

This is how it works. If you live in the dorms and have money on your WisCard you can buy food at the housing dining facilities with a 30% reduced rate on everything you purchase. (P.S. If you don’t live in the dorms, you can still get a 5% reduced rate.) I really liked this method better because it could adapt to my daily schedule easily.

For example, if I was running late to a 7:45am exam, but I couldn’t make it through without something in my stomach, I could run through a dining facility and buy an apple and a granola bar. I would only be paying for an apple and a granola bar. Plus, I could come back 50 minutes later (after acing the exam, duh) and buy a bigger breakfast if I needed. I wouldn’t have to wait until 11am for my “lunch swipe” to kick in having wasted my “breakfast swipe” on the apple/granola bar combo. Or even worse, I wouldn’t have to risk trying to cook on my own.


Basically, if you want to eat 15 tiny meals a day, go for it. If you want to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, no one is stopping you.

You can use your WisCard at the Wisconsin Unions, but the reduced rate is 5% no matter if you live in the dorms or not.

2. Your Laundry Card

If you live in the dorms, you use your WisCard to pay for your laundry. No need to collect quarters or begrudgingly trade in your last fiver. The laundry rooms have a device that looks like the debit card scanners at most stores. You can swipe your WisCard type, in the number of the washer you are using, and your done!

In case you were wondering, washing is $2.25, and drying is free! Which trust me, you’ll come to appreciate in the Wisconsin winters when you don’t have to walk to class with wet hat and mittens.

With University Housing’s online service, Laundry Alert, you can stalk the washing and drying units to see which ones are empty and make sure you don’t waste a trip when all the units are full. Laundry Alert will also text you when your clothes are done! So feel free to get absorbed in your homework nap without worrying about leaving your clothes in too long.


3. Your Printing Card

The dorms and most of the 42 libraries on campus have computers students can access that are hooked up to printers. You can print off of them for the small fee of 7 cents for a black and white page and 60 cents for a color page. You guessed it, you can pay for it right off of your WisCard.

Because these printers are so convenient I have never had my own printer during my time as a student. I hate paying for ink, and I also hate getting the stupid thing to work.


I avoid both of those by using the university printers. As this is 2015, most professors are using online drop boxes, so you don’t have to print too often. However, there are a few that will want things handed in as hard copy. Again, the university printers save the day.

4. Your All-Access Pass

There are some libraries where students need to show their WisCard to get in. Namely, Memorial Library and College Library (after midnight).


You may also need your WisCard to prove your identity at midterms and exams for some of the bigger classes. Make sure you have it with you when shopping or eating out too! Most places offer student discounts, and it never hurts to ask.

5. Your Debit Card

If you have a checking account at the UW Credit Union you can  attach your checking account to your WisCard. This effectively levels it up to a WisCard-debit card hybrid.


Rest assured if you lose it you can cancel it online.

See more information about the UW Credit Union program here.

Still Curious?

If you are longing to learn more about the mysteries of the WisCard search no further. Check out a list of FAQs on the WisCard website.

Res. Hall Insights: Witte and Sellery Hall

Witte and Sellery Halls – Southeast Neighborhood

Witte and Sellery Halls are two high rise residence halls about a block away from each other on the Southeast side of campus. The buildings themselves are completely identical, typical dormitory style halls. Both have 10 floors and are broken up into two separate towers connected by the first floor. Seriously, these two halls are EXACTLY the same.

There are a number of learning communities located in these buildings. Witte Hall has the Multicultural Learning Community (MLC), and Sellery Hall has the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community (ERLC), and Creative Arts and Design Learning Community (The Studio). Each of these learning communities are one floor within Witte and Sellery. Check out the links to learn what each community is about and what kind of support, events, and programs they have.

Freshman Population

Witte and Sellery both have mostly freshman populations, probably around 95% freshman. Like every other mostly freshman residence halls, they are great halls to meet lots of new friends.

Room Style

All the rooms are doubles and are typical for what most freshman live in on the UW-Madison campus. What’s unique about Witte and Sellery is they both have two room types, a two-window and a three-window room. There is no real advantage or disadvantage between them, and there are a ton of cool set-ups you could do with either.

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. It’s so easy to set-up many students change their room around once or twice a semester. Here is a peak at Witte and Sellery’s bed styles.

Two-window room in Witte Hall:

witte hall 2witte hall

Two-window room in Sellery Hall:

sellery hall 2 sellery hall


Witte and Sellery are co-ed by room which means every other room could be either male or female students. The bathrooms are in a community style set-up where they are shared with the other students 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 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, Wednesday, and Friday, 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”.


Witte and Sellery Hall are located closer to State Street and the Kohl’s Center. The closest study spot is the S.A.C. located just across the street. Gordon Commons is the largest dining hall on the Southeast side of campus and is located right in between Witte and Sellery.

There are sand volleyball courts by Witte and basketball courts by Sellery. The SERF which is the recreational facility on the Southeast side of campus is also right across the street.

Reader Questions

Did you live in Witte or Sellery 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!

How to Successfully Struggle Through Finals

Finals week is creeping up ever so quickly, but if you haven’t started thinking about them yet you’re in good company. My first year on campus I tried to “just wing” finals week. ‘Cause you know, how different could it really be from high school?

Please, don’t take the same approach. Adding even just a little bit of structure can really help keep you sane and focused. On this post I will be rambling about how you can successfully struggle right on through finals week and come out unscathed, but it might involve *gasp* studying.

1. Check each of your classes’ syllabi (yes, it’s right I looked) and write down the date and time of the final in your planner or on your calendar.

indy jones

This should be done about a month before finals week, so do it right now! Don’t worry, just leave this tab up and come back to read the rest later. But really, simply writing down and visually being able to see how close or far apart all of your exams are is super helpful to structure out your time.

Another good reason to do this early is because you can ask your professor to reschedule an exam if you have three or more within 24 hours, and it helps your case the sooner you notify them there is a problem (trust me).

2. Write down in your planner/calendar when you will be studying for what exams.


If it works out, I like to allow for whole days to be dedicated to studying for one class. Jumping between two or more subjects when it isn’t necessary makes me lose focus.

It may be different for you though. Think about how you best study and write down on what day and time period you will be studying. Writing it down in advance does wonders for your motivation when it comes time to actually get up and go to the library.

3. Know where you stand (or don’t) in your classes.

donald duck

Either calculate your current grade or ask your professor/TA to do so for you. Know what you need to earn on the final in order to get a grade you’re satisfied with in the class. More times than not, knowing what I need to score on the final exam has made me a little less stressed and has given me more motivation to achieve it.

4. Study strategically. 

communtiy study

What I mean is: consider the context of the exam to figure out how you can best study and use your time. Perhaps one final exam is worth 50% of your grade, and it’s mostly short answer/essay style questions. You may want to take more time studying and use studying methods where you practice reciting or writing out the whole answer. Maybe another final exam is worth 25%, and it consists of all multiple choice questions. In this case you may want to designate less time studying and use a studying method like flashcards.

Of course, also factor in what you need to score on your final exam to get what you want in the class.

5. Have a study buddy or two or three.

adventure time nice

Having a friend to study with can be a great reality check. They can remind you get a breath of fresh air and walk around every once in a while. You can take turns manning your table at the library during bathroom breaks and coffee runs. Plus, you can help motivate each other to get to the library in the first place.

Remember to pick the right kind of study buddy. There are some of my friends who I study great with and there are also some where we end up looking through her ex-boyfriends pictures on Facebook within fifteen minutes of sitting down. Know what friends are good study buddies, and don’t be afraid to turn down the others.

Reader Questions?

Do you have a fool-proof study tip? Have a pick-me-up library snack that never fails? Let me know, and I may include it in a future post! Feel free to comment below or tweet me @SierraLivesey.

Res. Hall Insights: Leopold Hall

Leopold Hall – Lakeshore Neighborhood

Leopold Hall was built in August 2013, so it’s the newest residence hall on campus. There’s quite a few amenities to impress you right off the bat: temperature controlled rooms, carpeting, a walk-in closet, and less students per bathroom. What more could you want? No doubt you’ll be doing a happy dance in your spacious room.

carlton dance

Freshman Population

Leopold Hall has some freshman, about 50%. It has an interesting dynamic because most of the upperclassmen are going to be located on the first and second floors which are general housing spaces and most of the freshman live on the third and fourth floors which are a part of the GreenHouse Learning Community. The GreenHouse in Leopold provides a unique experience for freshman, you can enjoy the luxuries of an upperclassmen hall without sacrificing the community feel of a typical freshman hall.

GreenHouse Learning Community

There is a big focus on sustainability in Leopold. It recently achieved the LEED gold certification, which basically means it was built and designed to keep the Earth in mind.  In fact, there are solar panels on the roof that supply energy to heat the water in the whole building as well as a 1,000 square foot green house on the top floor that grows food for the dining halls. That’s why Leopold Hall is home to the GreenHouse Learning Community.

If you are interested in sustainability, conservation, environmental issues, gardening, or even if you just like to eat, the GreenHouse would be a great fit! Students in GreenHouse will learn to grow and cook their own food in all seasons. In the past they’ve made biscuits, fruit leather, dumplings, kale chips, curry, and other mouth watering goodness…


Events in the GreenHouse vary from visits by influential environmental professors and scientists from campus, cooking healthy lunches at local schools, workshops to learn carpentry, painting, and bicycle maintenance, canoe trips, and ice walks.

Remember, if you’re an incoming freshman and you rank a learning community as your first preference you will get invited to select a room from within that learning community online! So you would skip the random assignment process, get to know what your room assignment was early, and have more control over where you end up. The perks never stop.

Room Style

Like all newer residence halls, Leopold has a little bit bigger rooms with a few more amenities than the older typically freshman populated halls. They have individually controlled room temperature, walk-in closets, carpet, and higher ceilings. Keep in mind that all these extra amenities do mean that the cost rate for rooms in Leopold are a bit higher than others. Check out the rates for 2015-2016 if you want to see the differences.

leopold hall 2 leopold hall

All beds in Leopold are loftable which means you can put the beds in different arrangements without stacking them on the other furniture like desks or dressers. You can see what the different bed arrangements look like in Leopold Hall here!


Bathrooms in Leopold are what University Housing calls cluster style. Each floor in Leopold is coed by room, which means every other room could be either male or female. Every eight rooms are arranged in a cluster together. Each cluster shares two bathrooms, one for women and one for men. There ends up being about 8 to 12 students that share each bathroom.

Within each bathroom is two toilet stalls, two shower stalls, and two sinks. These bathrooms are kept open and are not accessed by key or WisCard. That way if your cluster’s bathroom happens to be full, feel free to wander to the next closest cluster on your floor.


Leopold 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 Leopold 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!