The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, has one of the richest histories of any public university in the country. In 1785, UGA received its charter from the state and now takes pride in its claim of being the first public university. This school is older than the Constitution of the United States of America and has thus accumulated some impressive quirks and aspects.
UGA has several options as far as dining halls go, each one having its own unique personality. My personal favorite is Snelling. Snelling is open 24/7, always has pizza and has the nicest staff you will ever meet, including Ms. Sandra. Ms. Sandra works in the front of Snelling, scanning student IDs as hordes of hungry college kids rush in. She makes sure to hug every single person who walks through her gate and is well known by students and staff alike. The other dining halls include Bolton, which is known for playing the best songs during the day, O-House, which has a large variety of meal choices and a café, The Niche, whose pizzas and calzones are a student favorite despite it being on the Health Science campus, a few minutes from the main campus, and The Village Summit, aka ECV (East Campus Village), which serves smoothies every single day. In addition to all the dining halls, UGA also has several cafés and chain restaurants on campus, including Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks and Panda Express, that all accept Paw Points, credits that are included in select meal plans.
UGA is home to two popular museums. The first is the Georgia Museum of Art. The museum was officially deemed the state’s official art museum in 1982 and stands as one of the many prides of Athens. With plenty of exhibitions to choose from and free admission, the Museum of Art is loved by many. The second museum on campus is the Georgia Museum of Natural History. It is home to a statue of an orca whale that’s mounted on the side of the building and lovingly referred to as “Free Willy” by the students of the University. The museum also houses over four million items, making it one of the largest museums in the southeast United States.
Some of the most beautiful places on campus are the multiple gardens hidden across campus. My favorite is the Founder’s Garden, which has the most beautiful blooming flowers, pieces of art, a small path, benches and a koi pond. Other gardens include the Latin American Botanical Gardens, which is full of foliage commonly found in Latin American countries that tend to thrive in the Georgia heat, and the Trail Gardens, a particularly large piece of land with countless plants that is used for research and teaching on campus. These gardens are the perfect on-campus getaway for stressed out students to sit and relax in the beauty of the campus.
There are so many breath-taking sights to see on the campus of UGA that it’s only fair that not all of them are well-known. Some are more popular, like the fountain on Herty Field, while others are tucked away as lesser known sights. Of those, my favorites are the big hill in the back of Whitehall Forest and the flowing creek at the social work building. The University owns a chunk of wooded area a few minutes from the main campus called Whitehall Forest. This land is used for classes and the ROTC at the university. The archery club team also practices on the large hill at the back of the land. The view from the hill stretches on and on over the abyss of trees and makes for a stunning view. The creek at the social work building is one of the underappreciated views on campus. It is the perfect place to sit out and have deep conversations while the water trickles through the rocks in the background.
Any student or faculty member at UGA will tell you that the traditions of the school are some of the most special and primary aspects of the school. The two most popular traditions at UGA can both be found on the north end of campus, not far from downtown Athens. The first and most well-known tradition includes the Arch. The Arch is probably the most respected object on campus and is even found on the state’s flag and official seal. The Arch represents achievement for every individual student at UGA since only those who graduate can walk under it. There are plenty of rumors that you’ll hear about what will happen if you walk under the Arch before you graduate, the most popular being that you will not graduate (either on time or at all depending on who you talk to).
The next tradition is to ring the Chapel Bell. The Chapel Bell has had many jobs in the past. It would signal class change for a while, once served as an air raid siren and was originally used for religious services. Nowadays it is rung during times of celebration; winning football games, passing a class and even just having a good day are all valid excuses for ringing the bell and letting all of Athens know that it’s time to celebrate.
The passion of the students and faculty at the University of Georgia remains one of its most amazing features. Every student falls in love with UGA, and Athens in general, from the moment they walk onto campus till, and beyond, when they walk under the Arch after graduation. More than anything, it's these people who make UGA one of the greatest universities in the country and make me proud to be a Dawg!
Lead Image Credit: Jenna Franke