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Hidden charms

Maija Gustin | Monday, November 14, 2011

On Friday, Nov. 4, The Observer ran an editorial about campus-community relations. The key takeaway was that they are not very good and could — and should — be much better.

I’ve been at this University for nearly three-and-a-half years and it was only after moving off campus this year that I really began to explore South Bend beyond trips to Meijer or U.P. Mall. Take a lesson from me — don’t miss out like I did.

Students love to complain about South Bend and how there is nothing to do, but how many of you actually go into the community looking for something beyond some bars, restaurants and grocery stores?

South Bend is a community with real people that need activities and entertainment as badly as you do, so it is obviously out there, even if it seems hidden away to the student body.

Scene started a column this year about things to do in South Bend that you might have missed. Since my first edition about the South Bend Farmer’s Market, we’ve also covered the concert venue Subkirke and a local pumpkin patch.

We’ve barely touched the surface of what South Bend has to offer, but hunting these places down and checking them out has opened my eyes to the many great things in South Bend.

A few weeks ago, I went shopping on the south side of South Bend, an area I’ve never really ventured into. Imagine my surprise when I saw picturesque winding streets lined with beautiful trees and stunning old homes. No, I wouldn’t go there just to hang out, but I can only imagine how beautiful those streets will be when lit up with lights come Christmas. I’ll be back.

It’s like we’ve become trained not to expect such charm from the city we live in. Well, it’s there.

Another piece of South Bend charm? Fiddler’s Hearth. I write about this local Irish pub often enough that you might think they’re paying me to publicize it — they’re not. Fun whether you’re 21 or not, Fiddler’s is about good food, good drinks, good music and a great time for students, for “townies,” for visitors, for everyone.

This isn’t an ad for Scene’s “Things to Do in South Bend” column and it’s not an ad for Fiddler’s. It’s my testimony that South Bend is actually a fun place to live — fun beyond Grape Road restaurants and a night at Finny’s or Feve — and that you’re doing yourself a disservice by not exploring it.

There’s a great bakery on South Bend Ave. across from Goodwill that has a rotating selection of homemade breads. There’s a used bookstore started by Notre Dame alums with a fantastic selection up closer to Granger. There’s a tea room downtown for afternoon tea. And you all should have heard of the South Bend Chocolate Company.

Take a chance and explore your city, because it is your city for these four years. Don’t waste them by pretending there’s nothing beyond the Notre Dame bubble.

Contact Maija Gustin at mgustin@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.