For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
Display screen shot 2017 05 24 at 10.26.39 am
May 24 2017
by Jenna Franke

A University of Georgia Freshman's Guide to Athens, GA

By Jenna Franke - May 24 2017

For those of you who have had the pleasure of calling Athens, Georgia, your home, you'll most likely have noticed the great number of stickers that say, “Athens, I love you,” on them. The city that is home to the University of Georgia captivates students, permanent residents and visitors alike with its charm. It’s a perfect set-up, from its vivid night life scene to its endless supply of activities to do all over the town. It’s so easy to fall in love with Athens, especially due to all of exceedingly impressive points that make Athens special. Going to UGA has provided me with the ability to witness some of these points firsthand. 

1. Music

New Realm, Photo Credit: Hayden Huggins

Athens is well known for its music scene. Almost any person living in Athens can tell you that this is the home of the world-famous rock band R.E.M. as well as other popular groups. In fact, the band The B-52’s formed here in 1972 and their hit song, Love Shack, was based on a real building in Athens. But if you’re more into underground artists, Athens is a great place to find your next favorite band. If you’re into strong female musicians, rock band Larkin Poe have played a couple of shows here. If you’re a hip hop person, the city holds the Athens Hip Hop Awards annually. One band in particular that I have had the pleasure of seeing live is Christian rock group New Realm. New Realm consists entirely of Athens residents and regularly does shows around the town. They have an amazing stage presence, give off such a good energy while preforming and are just honest and genuine artists. This makes them a solid embodiment of the Athens music scene and what it is meant to be: full of talent and a strong passion for their art. One of the best things about the artists that Athens produces is that, no matter where they go in life, they always consider Athens home.

2. Sights

Murmur Trestle, Photo Credit: Jenna Franke

Athens is home to some really cool places, from the beautiful flowing streams of Ben Burton Park to Tree That Owns Itself. Yes, you read that right. The Tree That Owns Itself is a tree off Finley street that technically owns itself. Supposedly, the owner of the tree, Colonel William Henry Jackson, had such fond memories of it that he deeded the tree property rights to itself and the eight-foot radius around it, therefore no one can ever cut it down. The town of Athens also has what’s known as the Murmur Trestle, the railroad trestle that appeared on the cover of the R.E.M. album “Murmur.” It’s located in Dudley Park and is a popular attraction for music fans as well of daring college students who commonly climb the steep hill up to walk out on the remainder of the tracks themselves. The unique attractions found in Athens make it so perfect for curious and adventurous college students. It's impossible to get bored with so many interesting things to do.

3. Places to Eat

Two Story, Photo Credit: Jenna Franke

Athens is home to plenty of great restaurants. If you like cheap and delicious tacos, Sr. Sol is the place to go. If you’re more of a quiet café person, Two Story located in Five Points has an entire floor of the café devoted to a quiet and relaxing environment. The Last Resort is a more upscale restaurant, with delicious food and even more delicious cheese cake. Athens is also home to Zombie Coffee and Donuts, the perfect place to get fresh donuts AND donate to charity, as Zombie gives away 5 percent of their earnings to a different local charity voted on by customers every single month. If you like quirky places, then Rook and Pawn is perfect for you. It’s a self-described “board game café” where people, mostly the students at the university can hang out, get a bite to eat and a drink and play some board games. They have so many choices to choose from, I swear they have more board games than Toys-R-Us. If board games aren’t really your thing, then you can try the Wonderbar, a bar downtown that has plenty of video games to choose from. You can play while you drink, eat and overall just enjoy time away from studies.

If you already don’t believe me about how amazing Athens is for students of all ages, take it from some people who actually live here.

Katie, a rising masters program student at University of Georgia:

“In Athens, every day just hanging out can look different, meaning there’s so many different things to do that I don’t think it’s easy to become bored. You can drive out to the Iron Horse or go downtown and listen to music at multiple venues, there is a variety of local restaurants to enjoy and multiple parks ... I just love all the different atmospheres the town has to offer. There is always something new to explore!” 

Jacob, University of Georgia, class of 2017:

“Athens is great, not because of its beauty, but because of its fluidity and openness. It always surprises you with new discoveries to be had, new people to meet, and new things to do. It has this wonderful knack for steering you to where you need to be or who you need to be with. It is your first love and your last love.” 

Jessi, rising sophomore at University of North Georgia, Oconee campus:

“Athens is a beautiful town with something for everyone. There are always new restaurants to try, parks to explore and events going on. It is family friendly but also a fun place for college students. There’s an abundance of culture with the art museum and the converts at the school of music (at UGA) this is open to everyone. There’s just always something fun and exciting going on.” 

Flynn, rising sophomore at University of Georgia:

"I really like Athens because it's a home away from home, as cliche as that sounds. I was coming into college after the death in the family and I was devastated. I was able to recover because I felt at home and had some great support systems that generated within the first few months i was here. I'm really glad I'm in Athens over just about anywhere else. I knew some people here from high school but I met even more amazing people just about everywhere you could think of (since living in Athens)." 

Lead Image Credit: exploreathens via Instagram

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Jenna Franke - University of Georgia

I'm a second year student at University of Georgia majoring in Environmental Economics & Management, with a double minor in Environmental Law and Spanish. I consider myself to be a connoisseur of popsicles, baked goods, and pancakes. My best friend is a guinea pig named Athena and my hobbies include archery, playing guitar, reading, and listening to music.

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