IU'S Declassified College Survival Guide

As an incoming freshman last year, I have a lot of experience to share with the new incoming class, and all the do-s and don't-s of IU, this is just basic common sense you probably should know about life on Bloomington campus. But, then again, you're college freshman and probably know little to nothing about how to survive on a campus.


There are about 4 websites you should definitely know about going into your freshman year of college:

  • Oncourse - This is basically a homepage for your classes, homework, grades, etc.
  • Onestart - This is where you sign up for classes, pay your bursar bill, buy season basketball/football tickets, and other important things.
  • AIT Service Portal - when you want to look up housing, when you want to report a lost/stolen ID, when you get a package in the mail. It's a catch-all for any question or complaint you have.
  • First Year Experience - tells you what you can do on campus as a freshman. USE THIS. I still do, it's awesome for information.

Other Bonus Websites to get to Know:

  • IU Box - can't seem to find that flashdrive you ALWAYS lose? IU has it's own system where you can safely keep all your files in one place. Seriously, check it out.
  • IU Ware - so, IU does this awesome thing where they pay for computer applications and you get to use them, anywhere, anytime, on your own laptop (or theirs), for FREE. You can download it here.
  • Amazon - cheap books and other school necessities
  • IU Hoosiers (Athletics) - support your favorite team and find out anything you want to know about IU Athletics!
  • IU Auditorim - basically, this is where all the cool performances happen on campus and it's pretty awesome
  • IU Cinema - feelin' artsy and cultured? Catch a SUPER cheap awesome movie at the IU Cinema.
  • IU Theater, Drama, and Contemporary Dance - want to impress a super awesome girl on a date (or appreciate the arts yourself because you're an awesome human being)? this is your one-stop shop for all things cultured.
  • IU Opera and Ballet - woah, want to evolve into a SUPER artsy and cultured human being with the ability to impress people at the drop of a hat? Check out an opera or ballet. Warning: this is only for SERIOUSLY cool people who actually appreciate life and the arts. You have been warned.


You should automatically assume most people have no idea where anything is in Bloomington. Welcome week and the first weeks of classes there will be people stationed at major areas to help you get to your classes. Ask them. You could also use that handy map they gave you at freshman orientation as well, or you can be smart and go look for you classes in their buildings before the day the class starts, but that's just thinking too far ahead, isn't it?

Food and Caffeine:

If you’re on the student meal plan, you can literally eat in any food court or c-store you want, and even some café’s around campus. If you’re in true desperate need during the weekdays, I happen to know that the Wright Quad Cafeteria, the Gresham Food Court at Foster, and the Eigenmenn C-store all open at 7 a.m, and the Wright C-store, Wilkie C-store, and El Bistro at Read all stay open till midnight. The link HERE will tell you exactly where you can use those meal points. There are certain restaurants around campus that take Campus Access cards as well, which is money you can put on to your student ID, and most restaurants can tell you whether or not they do accept IBucks and UBucks.

Student ID:

Your student ID is your life, so basically if you don’t have one you’re dead meat. Your student ID lets you not only use your meal plan and IBucks or Ubucks, but also allows you to get into your on-campus residence, allows you to go to both the SRSC and WIC (on-campus gyms), ride the busses, check out library books, go to athletic events as a student, and purchase discounted software off of IUware, IU Auditorium tickets, and IU Cinema tickets. DON'T LOSE IT, AND KEEP IT SAFE. 

Getting sick:

People get sick ALL THE TIME on campus because you’re constantly in areas with a lot of human traffic and contact, especially in the dorms. They’re basically human-disease petri dishes. Getting sick at least once your freshman year will happen, especially during weeks like midterms and finals week when your body is under a lot of stress from all the studying you have to do.

Bonus tip:

Your medication/antibiotics won’t work if you pull all-nighters or rage all night long at a friend’s house. Tone it down for a week or two, I promise if you don't do that your tiny cold will turn into walking pneumonia.

Walking safety:

You’ve been walking most of your life, yet for some odd reason when you get to college the social etiquette of life completely loses all meaning. Sidewalks do exist at IU, as do cross walks. Please use them and pay attention so as to not get hit because literally everything else on campus is probably going faster than you.

Bike safety:

This is probably the easiest, most efficient, and cheapest way to get around campus. But everyone will hate you for it. Cars will hate you for going too slow if you use the streets, and walkers will hate you for going too fast on the sidewalks. If you have a bike, please announce your presence to people walking, a simple “Hey! Behind you!” will suffice so that you don’t plow someone down. Wearing reflective or bright clothing at night if you’re biking in the streets is a smart idea too so that those large hunks of metal going about 40-50 miles per hour don’t accidentally RUN INTO YOU.

Bus Safety:

If you plan on using the bus system, it’s pretty awesome and convenient because they basically go everywhere around campus. The time schedules are on the IU website, and conveniently enough, IU has a bus tracking system to see where the buses are. Be warned though: the buses tend to be late, and can be early as well. If you also plan on using buses in the winter, don’t be afraid to get cuddly with complete strangers because bus capacity is reached.

Car safety:

If you have a driver’s license, you know the rules of the road. Odds are I don’t need to tell you how to drive a car. However, if you do use a car on campus know that people do jaywalk ALL THE TIME and you will be held responsible for hitting them. Also, weather in Indiana is crazy and it could leave your windshield frozen over with ice, or leave your street covered in half a foot of rain. Be prepared for this in case you live far off campus and have to get to class in time.

Bonus tip:

If you aren’t used to driving in a city, familiarize yourself with the concept of ONE WAY STREETS. These magical objects are streets where cars only go ONE WAY, which means if you’re going the opposite way, someone will crash into you. Bloomington has a fair amount of these.

Party Hopping:

If you’re going to a party, go in a group. Walk in a group. Drive in a group. Take a bus in a group. NEVER GO ANYWHERE ALONE. Don’t talk to people you don’t know. Always make sure you have a way to get home, or that you’re friend made absolutely certain you can stay there the night. We’ve all heard of too many scary stories and you don’t need to be another one of them. Enjoy yourself, and don’t be dumb. Parties are more fun in a group.


Don’t accept any food or drinks from people you don’t know. If you get into a situation where someone has been drinking too much and you’re concerned for their life, Indiana passed a law called the “Lifeline Law” where you will maintain immunity from any charges if you call 911 and cooperate with the officers when they arrive to the scene. DON’T BE DUMB.

Emergency Call Boxes:

The IU Bloomington campus has many specially marked outdoor pay phones and emergency call boxes. In addition, all residence halls have phones at their main entrances that can be used for emergency calls. By pressing a button on the emergency call boxes, you are immediately put in direct contact with the IU Police Department. IF YOU ARE A WITNESS TO AN EMERGENCY PLEASE DON’T FREAK OUT, REMAIN CALM, AND DON'T BE DUMB.

If anything I'll leave you with this: be safe, use common sense, and don't be dumb. You're about to have the best years of your life ahead of you.

About The Author
Alexandria HestonInformatics, Digital Art Cognate, Class of 2017

Hi! My name is Alexandria Heston. I am currently studying towards a double major of Italian and Informatics, with a cognate in Digital Art. I enjoy to express myself through art design and dance, and in my free time I like reading and rock climbing.

I also enjoy many activities at IU like going to operas at the Musical Art Center, kayaking around Griffy Lake, and just eating out with friends at all the 4th Street restaurants!

I am currently involved with many groups on Bloomington Campus, such as VegIU, Ballroom Dance Club, and the IU Italian Club. I am also an initiated sister of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, and a blogger for WeAreIU.com!