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.

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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

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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.

Bathrooms 

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!?

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Location

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

officespace

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).

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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.

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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:

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Two-window room in Sellery Hall:

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Bathrooms 

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”.

Location

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!


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…

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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.

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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 

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.

Location

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!


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.

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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.

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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!

Bathrooms 

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”.

Location

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!


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.

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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.

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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!

Bathrooms

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.

Location

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!


“Which Dorm is the Best One?” aka University Housing: The Basics

“Which dorm is the best one?” 

This is probably the most frequent question I get asked on tours, and it’s a question I can’t exactly answer in one word. There are nineteen residence halls aka “dorms” on the UW-Madison campus. They may all be unique, but there is certainly no clear winner.

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You will read all sorts of things about which residence hall is the best and what type of students live in them. I’m here to tell you to take those hall stereotypes with a grain of salt. No specific building is going to be able to give you the “Wisconsin Experience” or help you meet friends. What will make your first year memorable is the people you meet and the things you do.

From my experience, freshman have the best experiences in halls that have mostly freshman living in them. Everyone has their doors open, are taking the same classes, and are as eager to meet and fit in as you are. Upperclassmen (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) tend to have things more figured out and are less likely to be ready to make a whole new group of friends.

With my spiel out of the way, here’s the low down for those of you who are as clueless as I was.

A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

There are two “neighborhoods” on campus, Lakeshore and Southeast. As the names suggest, Lakeshore is located by Lake Mendota and Southeast is on the southeast part of campus. Both have about the same number of students. Lakeshore has more residence halls packed close together with less students in each building, and Southeast has less residence halls farther apart with more students in each building.

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I know there is a huge stereotype that if you want any kind of social life you should life in Southeast. Guess what? The housing assignment process is random, which means that there are going to be as many students in the Southeast that want to go out on weekends as there are in Lakeshore and as many students in Southeast that want to stay in as there are in Lakeshore.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with liking one neighborhood over the other. Just rest easy knowing your Wisconsin Experience will remain intact either way. That’s what I love about UW-Madison the most. There are so many students here you are bound to find exactly where you fit into our large community, no matter where you live.

Learning Communities

A learning community is a tight-nit group of students within the residence halls. A learning community can make up a floor within a hall, a couple of floors, or even the whole building. The students that live in the learning community are all there to explore the topic/theme of the community with each other and other experts on campus.

What’s nice is that you don’t have to be majoring in the topic to live there! A lot of students use learning communities as a chance to learn about something new or keep active in a hobby or interest they have but don’t want to major in.

There are ten learning communities within the residence halls. Find the right one for you!

Psst… Students that rank a learning community as their #1 preference get to select a room online from within that learning community rather than go through the random assignment process. It’s a lot like picking a seat on an airplane.

Res. Hall Insights

Every week I will dedicate a post to explaining the nooks and crannies of one of the nineteen residence halls. What the bathrooms look like, how the rooms are set up, what percentage of freshman live there, and what makes it unique.

This week I’ll be giving you the insight on Chadbourne Hall so stay tuned!

Reader Questions

What stereotypes have you heard about certain residence halls? What is the thing you look for most in a residence hall? If you live(d) in the residence halls what was your favorite thing about them? Leave a comment or tweet at me, @SierraLivesey. I want to know what you think!