The ultimate UB freshman bucket list

All the things you need to do before the end of your first year in Buffalo

Last semester, I wrote a series of columns called the “Buffalo Bucket List,” a list of things to do before graduating from UB.

But what about things to do before the end of freshman year?

College is an exciting first step into one of the most important times of your life. College is when many of us experience independence for the first time. It’s a time to grow and learn about yourself. This can be all overwhelming so it’d be nice to have a road map to that first year.

That’s where this list comes in.

By following a freshman bucket list, you can work on getting the most out of your first year of college. Here we go.

No. 1: Join a group

Joining a club, Greek organization or any other campus group can go a long way in solidifying your connection with UB. Groups are a great way of making friends with a wide variety of people.

The Student Association has more than 100 clubs ranging from Archery Club and Glee Club to Amnesty International and American Sign Language Club. Club information can be found on posters throughout campus, on the SA website, or in the SA office in the Student Union.

There are also student groups outside of the SA, such as the popular skiing club known as Schussmeisters. These groups can be just as valuable in building relationships and skills as SA clubs.

For me, The Spectrum has been that group. I joined in the beginning of my sophomore year, but I wish I had joined it freshman year. Being in a group of ambitious individuals has allowed me to find my own ambition and it can do the same for you.

No. 2: Pick a random class

College is a time to explore new things. What better way to find something you didn’t know you were good at then by taking a random class?

My random class was a creative writing class. UB’s creative writing classes are designed for non-English majors to venture outside of their respective classes, according to Joseph Hall, a professor in the program.

No. 3: Party on South Campus

The area surrounding South Campus, known as the University Heights, is the main place to go for partying. Open house parties and nightclubs make South Campus a lively area on the weekend. Be careful, however, as the parties can be a bit sketchy.

Everyone has a South Campus story. One student told me about how a sewage pipe burst in the basement he was partying in. Another told me about his semi-regular habit of jumping through different backyards to escape the police.

Don’t blatantly ignore the law or completely disregard common decency, but partying on South Campus is an experience everyone at Buffalo has. It’s just something you have to do at least once.

Remember: don’t drink anything you can’t identify and always party with friends.

No. 4: Go to a Bulls game

Whether basketball, football or any other sport of your choosing, UB has you covered. The Mid-American Conference, UB’s conference for all sports except women’s rowing, may not be the most exciting or biggest conference in the country, but it sure is exciting to see a last-minute touchdown or a buzzer beater to win it all.

The football team has struggled in recent seasons outside of its 2013 bowl season, but the men’s basketball team has made massive strides as the team reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time last season.

But don’t forget about the other teams. The women’s soccer team and the men’s tennis team reached their first NCAA Tournament last season as well. The women’s basketball team got to the MAC semifinals last year and the men’s soccer team just got a product of Real Madrid Academy.

UB Athletics has been making strides this past few years and it’s starting to really show. Why not go out and see your fellow students play?

An awesome bonus – it’s free.

No. 5: Explore downtown Buffalo

If you’re from downstate New York like me, you’re probably thinking Buffalo is nothing compared to New York City. While New York City is obviously bigger, more famous and probably more entertaining, Buffalo still has plenty to offer.

From the Theater District where you can catch shows such as Newsies, Annie and The Book of Mormon, to the Anchor Bar, the birthplace of the famous Buffalo wings, downtown Buffalo has a lot to offer. The recently updated waterfront offers free concerts, food and drink and outdoor events all summer long.

Isabelle Caneda, a sophomore business administration and computer science major, described downtown Buffalo as “a pretty spectacular New York City surrogate complete with restaurants, art galleries, a soy candle shop and hipsters.”

No. 6: Go to Fall/Spring Fest

SA puts on two big music festivals every year: Fall Fest and Spring Fest. SA is able to attract well-known artists to campus since UB is such a large public school. The festivals are paid for by your mandatory student activity fee of $94.75, which is set to be raised $10 per semester starting this fall. You might as well go, seeing as how you’ve already paid for them.

Previous acts include Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Steve Aoki, Outkast, the All-American Rejects and most recently Young the Giant.

Even if you aren’t a huge fan of the acts, the show is still a great time to hang out with friends and students. And again, it’s free.

No. 7: Take a trip to Canada

Donald Eagles, a professor and director of Canadian Studies and a native Canadian said we are “fortunate in Buffalo that an international experience is readily available locally.”

You should plan to capitalize on that proximity by taking a trip to the Great White North. You can head to the lovely Niagara Falls for a cheap and quick trip abroad. Toronto is a bit further but is an international world-class city that should not be missed.

Did I mention the drinking age is 19 in Ontario and 18 in the province of Quebec? You’re welcome.

No. 8: End the year with Oozefest

Oozefest is the last hurrah for many students at the end of the year. It’s a huge mud volleyball tournament played with around 1,500 students and alumni each year. It’s a UB classic ranging back to its roots in 1984 when it was originally called “Oozeball.” Get a team of friends together and end freshman year by getting down and dirty (in the mud).

Dan McKeon is a features desk editor and can be reached at