Marcelle Hutchins— Alumna Contributor.

   Congratulations and welcome to your first year of undergrad at UMF. Now that you’ve been accepted, what’s next? Having just graduated from UMF, I know a thing or two about getting through four years of undergrad. Whether it’s joining a club, volunteering opportunities, restaurant reviews, or weekend travel experiences, UMF students are constantly involved.

   For anyone considering joining a club or an organization, the most important thing to do is choose one that matches your interest. At UMF, students will find clubs and organizations that include Sustainable Campus Coalition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), UMF Dance Team, UMF Fooding Club, UMF Hockey Club, UMF Cheerleaders, Writers Guild, The Journalism Club, Phi Alpha Theta, Health Club, Girls Talk Teen Voices Club, Men’s Rugby Club, Outing Club, Rotaract, Student Senate, Student  Theatre UMF, and among more.

   With more than 50 different clubs, said UMF alumna, Kat Kent, “Joining a club is a great way to continue pursing your interests.” Kent added that “the easiest way for new students to see what kind of clubs and organizations we have at UMF is to attend the club and organization fair that happens on the beginning of every semester.”

   UMF student Kaitlyn Clifford agreed with Kent on joining clubs. Kaitlyn, whose passion for tennis and dance continued onto college said she “loves to play tennis and dance” for UMF. “These are all the things I did in high school. When I came to UMF, I joined the dance team, tennis club, and rehab. I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve made a lot of friends.”

   For students interested, or those who want to create a club and need to know how to, Maya Kasper, Assistant Director for Student Involvement said to see her. “It is very easy to create one if it does not exist. If you don’t find something that you like then come see me,” said Kasper.

   Located on the lower level of the Olsen Student Center, the Landing is a place for students, faculty, and Farmington community to come together and participate in a variety of events. Managed by the Center for Student Involvement, “The Landing offers a wide range of diverse opportunity,” said Kasper who went on to say that at the Landing, “students can play video games such as Wii or playstation. Also, the landing is known for hosting open-mic night, popcorn cinema, visiting writers, and yoga classes.”

   UMF weekend adventures and excursions program offer students a variety of weekend travel experiences. More important, the trips provide a chance for students to explore other parts of New England. From a Bruins game to a day at Fenway Park, to a Boston cruise and a musical performance in New York, students go to numerous locations. “We take students to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland,” said Kasper who noted that trips can cost up to $20.00. While it seems that money is an issue, “it’s really quite affordable,” said Kasper.

   If you’re looking to improve your health, fitness, and well-being, located on the other side of campus is the Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC). The FRC offers a wide variety of programs and events. For example, group fitness classes such as Pilates, Guts and Butts, Cycle, Zumba, and Boot Camp are taught every day—unless the instructor is unable to teach, classes are free and open to all students.  Some intramurals at UMF include co-ed indoor soccer, co-ed Arena football, co-ed Volleyball, co-ed flag football, co-ed kickball, co-ed indoor ultimate frisbee, and men’s and women’s basketball.

   “I recommend trying group classes or even going to intramurals. Even if you don’t think you can do something, at least try it,” said fitness instructor, Amanda Mullane.

   Also, through the FRC, the outdoor recreation program  provides students with all types of outdoor adventures  such as horseback riding, Saddleback hike, snowshoeing, white water kayaking, UMF high ropes course, sugarloaf  zip-line, and overnight camping trips.

   Student, Chelsea Lear-Ward said she was happy to take advantage of the program “because it’s a great workout. Whether you’re hiking Tumbledown or snowshoeing, getting outdoors on a Saturday morning is one of the best things you can do on campus!”

   One advantage of living in a small town is the ability to walk to most places. Whether it’s to the movie theater for dollar movie night which happens every second Tuesday, or Reny’s for setting up dorm rooms, downtown area has a few restaurants, shopping buildings, farmer’s market, and community events.

   “Farmington House of Pizza has great burgers. Also, they’re cheap and have good service,” said student, Aaron Burr.

   For Prachawit Lew, an exchange student from Thailand, Thai Smile, a restaurant that offers authentic Thai and Japanese cuisine, is his favorite place to eat in Farmington. “Sushi is what I order when I’m there. I love raw fish.” And if you’re lucky, added Lew, “they might give you free Crab Rangoon and Pad Thai if you’re a regular costumer, like me.”

   Among Thai and American cuisine, you will also find Dunkin Donuts, Amato’s, the Homestead, Wicked Gelato, the Roost, Soup for You (cash only), Arkay Pizza, and Java Joe’s corner café.

   “If you like ice cream, you have to go to Gifford’s. Homestead has the best pie, though it’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it. Wicked Gelato’s is really good and so is Soup for You,” said Sarah Otley, Intro Librarian Loan Person.

   By now, you’re probably asking, what about professors and setting up meetings with advisors? Though they might intimidate you, said,  student Max Eyes, “don’t be afraid to know your professors. There are so many professors willing to help, it’s up to you to make that move.”

   Professor of English, Patricia O’Donnell welcomes students and said, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. UMF is a supportive community, when you encounter a problem, don’t be afraid to talk with your advisor and professors.”

    Another important piece of advice, said O’Donnell, “is to go to class. Always. Don’t miss one class. If you go to class and if you turn work in on time, you will succeed.”

   So, as you see, there are lots of things to do, no matter how small your town is. The key is to not be afraid.

   “It’s not going to be like high school told you what it would be. It’s not going to be strict. It’s going to be better,” said Eyes.