For thousands of upperclassmen, the first week of school represented a return to normalcy following three COVID-19-filled semesters.
But for UB’s freshman and sophomore classes, the start of the semester marked the first time many had ever stepped foot on campus.
As the days get shorter and the calendar flips to autumn, here are some suggestions from the staff of The Spectrum about how to make the most of the fall semester:
Best class to take
As a longtime rap fan, freshman year was an exhilarating time thanks to the course Hip-Hop and Social Issues. It wasn’t what any of the students thought it would be; rather than employing a predictable curriculum, professor Mopelolade Ogunbowale teaches about mainstays like Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z and rap from every continent. Ogunbowale imparts the power and history of rap music, both as a beautiful form of cultural expression and a tool to give a voice to the voiceless.
- Alex Falter
Best professor at UB
As a graduating senior, the list of terrific (and terrible) professors is long and winding. But Charles Anzalone, an adjunct who teaches ENG 212, or “How to write like a journalist,” takes the cake for the best professor at UB. He pushes students outside their comfort zones, takes the time to ask how their days are going and even plays music and occasionally showcases his singing skills. It’s hard not to be drawn to someone who genuinely cares about his students’ success.
- Hunter Skoczylas
Best place to grab a bite on campus
Favorite place to eat seems like a stretch, since the normal litmus test for on-campus dining ranges from inedible to tolerable. But the best food on campus can be found in the Student Union at Bravo Pasta at Pistachio’s, where students’ carb-filled dreams come true. The wait may be long, but the personalized pasta dishes and breadsticks are worth it when students are craving a meal two times the size of their head. Ordering ahead on the GET app will save students time, but remember: those order slots fill up quickly. It’s hard to go wrong with penne pasta with chicken, spinach and vodka sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese.
- Natalie Doller
Best place to grab a bite in the Commons
Ever since dating a boy as a freshman who worked in the kitchen of La Rosa, the pizza place has become a personal favorite. A classic example of a western New York pizza joint, La Rosa serves pizza by-the-slice, but also offers appetizers like chicken tenders, pasta and garlic knots. As a Rochester native, the WNY slice has become all-too-familiar: a doughy, possibly undercooked square — and western New Yorkers do love their square cut pizza — with a thick layer of cheese covering a thin glaze of marinara. La Rosa’s slices — thinner with more sauce and cut in a triangle — are closer to a traditional New York style slice. Nestled in the Commons between Kung Fu Tea and the Korean Express, it’s a quick walk from the Student Union when the Moe’s line extends out the door.
- Reilly Mullen
Best place to grab a bite in Buffalo
If Anthony Bourdain taught viewers anything, it’s that the best restaurants aren’t always the most expensive steakhouses or the made-for-TV joints. Sometimes, it’s the small spots that are the cheapest and most delicious. Enter La Divina, a small Mexican restaurant on Delaware Avenue. While its classic chicken, beef and tacos are all delicious, it’s the shop’s special menu that gets people. Customers can enrich their meal with some adventurous options, including tripa (gut), lengua (beef tongue), pescado (grilled tilapia) and even ribeye steak. Even birria fans can find their favorite beef broth here for only $3.75! Boasting delicious quesadillas and savory tacos, La Divina is the place to go for any self-respecting foodie.
- Alex Falter
Best place to find quiet
Baird Point, or “the ruins,” as some prefer to call it, is the best spot to find some quiet at UB. To get there, simply walk toward Lake LaSalle behind the CFA — students can’t miss the tall stone columns. It’s the perfect spot for reading, doing homework, listening to music and enjoying the sun. Its proximity to the water also makes this destination a nice escape from the noise of a campus routine. Perhaps the best part about this place is that it’s a short walk to the Student Union and the Commons, but far enough to be a peaceful escape.
- Jack Porcari
Best thing to do on campus
Basketball at Alumni Arena’s triple gym is the best on-campus activity at UB. Students of all skill levels are able to dribble, pass and shoot at a D1 facility. Featuring an enjoyable vibe, the gym is a great place for friends to get together for intramurals or a casual shootaround.
- Anthony DeCicco
Best way to find headspace
Dealing with the overwhelming number of students and trying to prioritize mental health are some of the many things freshmen deal with as they enter UB. Now a senior, it’s important to reflect on lessons learned. Personally, the easiest way to attain success is to get organized in classes as early as possible. College throws so many curve balls that at minimum students can plan for classes even when they can’t plan for anything else. Equally important is finding time away from classes and friends to mentally reset and be alone. Being removed from the people and places who may be contributing to one’s stress can drastically improve one’s headspace. Lastly, students should remember to give themselves the grace to feel down, make mistakes and seek help when needed. Students are only human.
- Julie Frey
Best Buffalo activity
After visiting Downtown Buffalo, Canalside and Niagara Falls, students should convince their friends with cars to make the hour-long trip south to the Griffis Sculpture Park. Located in northern Cattaraugus County, the 450-acre park features 250 metal statues, all sculpted by local artist Larry Griffis Jr. Visitors can pose for photos with metal butterfly wings, climb atop metal castles and enjoy the scenery from the back of a praying mantis sculpture. Students should go sooner rather than later; the fall foliage makes this semester the best time of year to visit.
- Grant Ashley
Best hidden spot
Now that students are back on campus, the age-old problem of finding the perfect bathroom to do one’s business is once again a priority (because let’s face it — a six-stall restroom in the Student Union isn’t ideal). Enter the best hidden spot on campus: the basement of O’Brian Hall. Here, in the same place that future lawyers toil over exams and lecture notes, the holy grail of campus bathrooms resides: a single stall toilet. Located just around the corner from the elevators, this bathroom is guaranteed to give users that extra bit of privacy they can’t find anywhere else. The fluorescent lights, large number of mirrors and yes, only one toilet, greet visitors to a serene bathroom experience. After taking advantage of this little gem, visitors will vow never to use the stalls near Moe’s again.
- Kara Anderson
Best hiking spot
The Queen City may be flat, but the towns surrounding it — especially to the south and the east — aren’t. Located a little more than an hour away, in Gowanda, Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area is a fun, challenging spot featuring a beautiful canyon and incredible rock formations. Check out the moderate, 2.0-mile Valentine Flats Trail, or spend the day in the gorges, where you can waddle through the water and soak up the fresh air.
- Justin Weiss
Best fall activity
The Buffalo metropolitan area is littered with farms offering all kinds of fall-themed entertainment. The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence is home to the Pumpkin Palace, where patrons can choose from a selection of hundreds of pumpkins which are sold at 50 cents per pound. Smith’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Lockport allows patrons to pick their own apples for $1 per pound, and offers an assortment of refreshments like fresh pressed apple cider ($6 a gallon) and apple cider infused donuts.
- Reilly Mullen