Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a senior at OU? Here are some memories

When I graduated high school, friends and family encouraged me to have the best time at college, and live it up.  They told me college was going to be the best four years of my life.  I think it’s safe to say I had fun.

Coming to college, I honestly couldn’t tell you how scared I actually was.  I had never been away from my family or friends for that long of a period, I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t know how long it was going to take to make new friends and get adjusted to life away from Cincinnati, but I knew if I didn’t think about it too hard, I could make new friends pretty easily.  Luckily, I was rooming with a friend from high school and it wasn’t long before I made, arguably, the biggest and best decision in college – joining a fraternity.

Many students adapt to the new environment and figure out what their favorite places on campus are sooner rather than later…especially in Athens!

As my time at Ohio University is running out, it’s hard not to look back at my four years here on campus, and think about all of my friends that I have met.

When I look back at my time here, there are so many different memories, good and bad, that pop into my head.  There are some that make me want to stay in this little town forever, and some that make me glad I’m leaving.  I’m going to remember strolling all the way back down to west green freshman year after a night uptown and grabbing some chicken and waffle, then only eating half of it and waking up to the other half the next morning.  I remember sophomore and junior year living in my fraternity house.  Honestly, there are too many stories to even reminisce on.  But, what I will say is some of the best memories I had were sitting in a friend’s room on a Saturday or Sunday morning trying to figure out what exactly happened the night before.  Senior year was probably the most interesting year I’ve had in college.  For the first two weeks of school I had no interest in being there, I actually wanted to go home a few times.  I don’t know why I was feeling like this, but I was.  Maybe it was because deep down I knew it was my last year, but I don’t know.  But it turned out to be the best year I’ve had on campus, but it comes with a price.

Being a senior, you get asked the same two questions about 10 times per minute.  “So, are you going to miss Athens?” and, “What are your plans after graduation?” Honestly, I can’t answer the first question with a straightforward reply.  In my four years, I haven’t been away from Athens long enough to know whether I’m going to miss it, besides Christmas break and summer. But will I miss hanging out with friends every weekend? Absolutely! What I won’t miss is having the same routine every weekend, going to the same bars every Friday and Saturday night.  To me, it just gets old after a while.  I also won’t miss the politics on campus.  I was never a very political person until this year.  It’s safe to say it brought out the worst in me.  But I think I get more annoyed with the second question.  I’m in a complicated situation right now.  I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do after graduation.  Not only do I not have a job lined up, but I’m not too sure on what I even want to do exactly, but I think I have enough confidence to figure it out before the stress mode kicks in.  It’s a work in progress.  It just gets a little annoying answering the same thing over and over and over.

Obviously I know how I feel about leaving, it’s a whole mixture of different emotions, but I also think it’s interesting to see how other seniors feel, and how they are going to remember OU.

When talking to different seniors, some in Greek life and some not, there were a few different trends that I noticed, most of which I could relate to.  You could notice some of the bars the younger students would go to, as well as those of the older students.  But, along with some of the favorite bars, you also notice some of the places people liked going to as a freshman and how that differed from their senior year.

 

After talking to these seniors, you notice that OU is a special place not only for partying and going to the bars, but also meeting girlfriends and creating lifelong friendships.  It’s these memories that people will cherish forever and take with them after college.

My personal favorite is listening to the different bars people went to as freshman and how they slowly transitioned to the different bars as they got older.  Most of the people I know started off at Red Brick, but quickly transitioned to The Crystal, or “Stal”, which is the popular spot for Greek life.

The Crystal bar via Pinterest

Once you start talking to a current OU student, or even an alum, about where their favorite spots Uptown are/were, you start talking about the amazing dining spots.  There are so many different spots to grab a bite to eat Uptown, sober or not sober.  Let’s just work our way down Court Street.  If you start at the very beginning right next to campus, you can grab some Chipotle on one side of the street or if you’re in a hurry, you can pick up some Wendy’s.  Then work your way down the street a little more and you’ll find Bagel Street Deli and Brenen’s, two more OU gems.  A little further down you’ll run into an OU favorite, Big Mamma’s.  I personally never got hooked, but I think this is where some people’s paychecks went every weekend.

Big Mamma’s Burritos

After you pass Big Mamma’s you’ll run into the heart of Court Street and the other favorite eateries.  You’ll find Wings Over, which for some is quite delicious drunk and sober, which is simply a win for everyone.  Once you turn the corner by The J Bar, which is known to many alumni as “The Junction”, you’ll find my two personal favorites, Souvlaki’s and O’Betty’s.  I was introduced to O’Betty’s my freshman year and immediately fell in love.  Since my freshman year, the only thing I have purchased from there is the cheesy fries.  It’s a mix of fresh, crispy fries with melted cheddar cheese and topped with shredded cheese.  It’s a little pricey but most nights that I get it I’m not too worried about it.

O’Betty’s very cheesy fries via Food Spotting.

Ryan Lysaght, senior studying communication studies, has had a very different and unique college experience than any other student.  As a senior, Lysaght has spent four years in a fraternity, and has been a student football manager for OU.  His freshman year, he pledged into Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity, and then a semester later accepted a job with Ohio University Football.

Ryan Lysaght (pictured with the whiteboard) sits with his fellow managers before a football game.

“One memory that I won’t forget from college is during spring semester of my freshman year, I started working with the football team and the first day I went in for my interview, and they put me to work right away, and now four years later I’m now going to be doing this as a career,” Lysaght said.

Its memories like this that people will be able to remember forever and speak about them when they’re older.  He also said joining the fraternity has given him so many different memories, skills, experiences and other things that he will be able to take with him and utilize after college.

He said some of his favorite experiences would probably be setting up and organizing events through the fraternity.  He described some of those experiences as learning how to fail fast as a group, but learning how to get through the adversity and figure out what went wrong and be able to turn it around and make it successful.

“Dealing with the fraternity, holding events and hosting them, creating them from scratch and learning from those experiences and figuring out how to host a successful one has been some of the best times,” he said.

When he isn’t helping organize different events for the fraternity or running through practice with the football team, he likes to hang out Uptown with friends.

Broney’s Alumni Grill via Another Food Critic

“My favorite place to eat would probably be Broney’s on Tuesday nights for loaded margaritas and quesadillas,” he said, “I’ve gone for the first 13 out of 15 weeks in the semester, and I plan on finishing the semester strong.”

As we’re counting down the days, all of the seniors are now thinking back on all of the memories we have over the last four years.  The countless of hours we have spent studying…and the countless hours we have rewarded ourselves at the bars.  We’re thinking about the all the friendships and relationships we have made that we will take with us after school.  Leaving home to go to college hasn’t been easy by any means, but it definitely has been worth it.  I wouldn’t have traded coming to Ohio University for anything.  It’s all of my friends, professors and memories that make me proud to say OU OH YEAH!

Donkey, Brenen’s, Court St. Coffee jolt java junkies

The hardest decision students must make during their time in college has nothing to do with choosing their major or making career plans. For students who spend hours upon hours of time on campus, the most important decision they will make is where to buy their coffee.

This may sound like an exaggeration, but the truth is that coffee is an integral part of the college experience for many people. Some don’t start drinking coffee until they get to school. Some can’t function without their morning latté. Even tea lovers and pop drinkers can agree that caffeine is what keeps the college engine running smoothly (maybe aside from something along the lines of “hard work and dedication”).

Athens is the perfect college town: a place where people from all different backgrounds can come together to bond over their love of knowledge and coffee. Court Street is home to so many different shops, eateries and personalities. There are a lot of options for where to fill your OU travel mug, but the culture of a coffee shop is much more than just who has the best macchiato. Students and faculty visit these shops to fuel up on caffeine as well as study, eat with friends and colleagues, and attend shows.

Donkey Coffee, Court Street Coffee and Brenen’s are three of the most popular places to enjoy the full coffee shop experience. Each shop has its own personality, a fan club of regulars who will support it over the others, and at least one unique feature to pull people in. The differences between the shops are what make the regulars so loyal to their café of choice.

Megan Geldien, a sophomore, visits Donkey Coffee, 17 W. Washington St., about once a week. She grabs a drink then finds a place to sit and get some work done. She describes the atmosphere at Donkey as “cozy.”

“It’s a good place to focus and have a quiet place to study,” Geldien says. As she studies, Geldien usually sips on a chaider, which is a combination of chai tea and apple cider. The chaider is her favorite drink, but she gets coffee from time to time. “I like getting the coffee here because it’s a local place. They participate in fair trade. It’s an all-around good deal.”

Sitting in Donkey Coffee is a lot like sitting in someone else’s grandmother’s house. Comfy chairs and couches can be found alongside wooden table-and-chair sets that seat two to four people. This is the place you come to for your soy hot chocolate and organic black bean salad. When you get your order “for here” at Donkey, you will receive your snack or beverage in reusable ceramic dishware. Artwork from local artists hangs on nearly every inch of the paneled walls of the shop. In the back lounge, there is a bookcase full of board games. Of all the shops on Court Street, Donkey is possibly the most talked about. Students and faculty rave about the cool vibe and friendly faces found there.

Maddy Stees, a sophomore and self-proclaimed regular at Donkey, says the place has an “organic” vibe. “There’s just no bullshit about it,” Stees says. “It’s got just a really great college-coffee-shop vibe and the people there are just really, really fun and some of the goofiest people I think I’ve ever met.”

At Donkey, you may encounter a barista wearing a kilt, and if it’s not too busy, someone behind the counter will probably be singing. The shop has a way of making its customers feel comfortable, especially when it’s cold and snowing outside and you are tucked in a corner chair by the window, sipping organic herbal tea.

Donkey is known for its open mic nights on Thursdays as well as other performances that are frequently hosted in the back lounge on the first floor, where there is a small stage and a fair amount of sitting room for show-goers. Geldien appreciates these performances, especially the music nights on weekends.

Where Donkey Coffee is inviting and cozy, Brenen’s (38 S. Court St) is classy and perhaps a bit intimidating.

If you’ve never been before, Brenen’s has a way of making the new customer feel out of place. Maybe it’s the green and black color scheme, or the look of the dark wood floors, but there is a very hip feeling about the shop. When you first walk in you might think, “I am not cool enough for this place.” But the people behind the counter will be especially nice to you. If you look lost they will smile. After about the third visit, once you’ve had a chance to sit down and get settled, you will realize that, actually, you fit right in.

Brenen’s doesn’t feature a lot of elbow room during busy hours. The small tables and chairs are narrowly distanced in a food-court-style setup, and although there is not a lot of space to work with, high ceilings and large glass windows give the shop an airy, open feel.  Several large menu boards advertise various specialty drinks and, at the back counter, food options. On an average day, you will find people stationed in front of their Macbooks, headphones in, clearly focused. Some small groups of about two or three will be chatting over soup and sandwiches. The place has a classy feeling, like the cool coffee shop you might see in a movie. And even if you find the buzz of the place too distracting to study, you may still want to stop by for the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste.

Erin Belka, a junior, visited Brenen’s one afternoon to meet with a friend for lunch. She was drinking from a Court Street Coffee cup. “I went to Court Street before class [because] it’s close to Copeland,” Belka said. She and her friend agreed to have lunch at Brenen’s because of the soup and sandwiches served there, and Belka hadn’t finished her morning coffee before arriving. But she said she comes to Brenen’s every once in a while, and she does like their coffee. She even brought her parents to Brenen’s for lunch during Parents Weekend one year. “A lot of professors recommend it,” she said.

There is definitely a belief that Brenen’s is the professor’s coffee shop. Nick Paumgaertel, a Brenen’s employee, said the customers actually are about “half and half” (professors-students). “But compared to other places to eat, I see more professors and faculty here. I think it’s ‘cuz the owner is friends with a lot of them.”

According to Paumgaertel and a lot of OU students, the coffee isn’t really what draws people to Brenen’s. A lot of people come for the food. Kate Blyth, a regular customer and student, said the reason she chose Brenen’s was because, on that particular day, they had potato soup, “and they have free WiFi.” Of course, Donkey offers free WiFi as well — it just wouldn’t feel like a coffee shop if it didn’t.

With food as the focus, Brenen’s is a bit different than the average coffee shop. If the cozy-coffee-nook vibe is what you’re after, Court Street Coffee (67 S Court St.) is more your speed.

Michelle Frantz visits Court Street Coffee an average of once a week. “I love Court Street because I’ve never tried a drink from there that I don’t like,” Frantz says. The Mayan Mocha, which is like a regular mocha but with cinnamon and almond flavors, is her favorite beverage, hot or frozen. “They have a lot of options, especially with drinks that have more unique flavors than the average cup of coffee.”

The Mayan Mocha may be one of the most noteworthy beverages served at Court Street but it is not even advertised on the shop’s menu. The neat list of beverage options posted on the store’s website is identical to the one hanging on the wall behind the short, crowded countertop inside. This list is simple, and not all-inclusive. But some of the most creative beverages one could order from this small café are not posted on the menu. Instead, large posters featuring each beverage and the unique flavor combinations manifested within them are posted all around the shop. Some of these posters hang on the wall in sleek glass frames like movie ads and others decorate the base of the main counter, much like wallpaper.

Court Street Coffee is one of the smallest coffee shops on Court Street, located across the street from Chubb Hall and next door to Copeland Hall, home to the College of Business. Coffee-lovers who spend a lot of their time in Copeland stop in to Court Street to grab something classic like iced coffee or a fancy specialty like the Red Velvet latté. There is not a lot of seating in the little shop. About five tables in the aisle at the back of the store can seat somewhere around 10 people, then there’s a couch and some soft chairs in the front of the store, a high counter with bar stools on one wall, and three more tables to the left of the main counter. There are a couple seats just outside the building for those days with nice weather. If about 30 people go to study in Court Street Coffee, there will not be room for anyone else to sit. For this reason, some find that Court Street is the best place to study.

Lizzy Knapp, a senior, likes to come to Court Street to study if she can score one specific little table in a corner of the shop. The corner table is behind a wall so she can’t see anyone in the main part of the shop; it’s not completely isolated, but still closed off enough so that she feels productive. Knapp prefers the atmosphere of Court Street to other coffee shops. “It doesn’t feel super crowded, or like there’s too much going on on the walls that I could get distracted [by],” she says. Also, “the WiFi is better here.”

If you can find a place to sit, Court Street is warm and welcoming. The atmosphere is calm enough, even during the rushes, that you can focus on your work. If you have a big exam coming up and need a change of scenery from the library or your dorm room, something about the vibe at Court Street is super motivating. Perhaps it’s the orange walls or the sound of the espresso machine, which is never more than a few steps away.

Probably due to the limited seating options, a lot of people sweep through Court Street on an average day, but most grab their drink and leave. Something about the shop, though, keeps the same people coming back. For some, it’s the location — near College Green, next to Copeland, across from Chubb. For others, it’s the quality beverage that they can’t get enough of, or perhaps the new specialty they’d like to try.

Lindsey Cohagan, a senior and regular of Court Street Coffee, has never been to Donkey. “People think Donkey is the best atmosphere,” she says. “I like sitting here.” Cohagan says she prefers to get her coffee from Fluff, which is closer to the end of Court Street, but she visits Court Street Coffee regularly for her vanilla latté, “mostly ’cuz it’s next to Copeland and I’m always in Copeland.” Like Knapp, Cohagan also has a favorite seat in the shop: one of the small tables along the wall in the very back of the shop. Since it’s located in the back, in a hallway behind the main counter, she doesn’t think a lot of people even know the seats are there. The table is big enough to sit only two people, or one student with a lot of books.

Of all the places to get coffee uptown, Court Street is the least likely to disappoint. They have so many different beverage options, from fancy mochas to sweet smoothies. If you want to try something unique one morning, or are just looking for a quick stop on your way to class, Court Street is the place to go. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you like, there is definitely something on the menu for you. And, like Frantz, you might find that you like just about everything they serve, on and off the menu.