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Things You Won’t See Touring Campus

It’s that time of year again when many of us are fervently trying to finish applications and polish that last sentence on the personal statement. Yes, ’tis the season of applications!

Regardless of what you’re applying to—whether you are a high school senior applying to go to college or an undergrad applying to graduate school—making your application the best it can be is what everyone strives toward in this situation.

Soon you’ll hear back from all the places you’ve applied to, and after that you’ll likely plan a visit to campus. Maybe your parents will be walking with you, listening to the things the tour guide in front is talking about. But how much of what the guide says do you actually remember when you go back home? And what are some of the things they might neglect to tell you?

Below you’ll find a list of things at Rochester I don’t remember the Meridian (tour guide) mentioning when I visited campus. But don’t worry, they’ll still be here for you to discover the next time you’re on campus… hopefully to stay!

The tunnel


On your campus visit, the Meridians surely take you through to see a particular part of campus: the underground tunnels. As the University is built on a variety of levels, the tunnels are the refuge of students, staff, and faculty alike when the sunlight outside starts faltering and temperatures drop.

But have you seen the tunnel?

Located right below the Eastman Quad in front of Rush Rhees Library is colloquially known as “the tunnel.” It’s not only a way to get from one end of the quad to the other, it is also a place in which people advertise their clubs and other events happening on campus. The way in which this happens isn’t what you would expect, however; instead of hanging up flyers, groups of students get together and paint the tunnel walls themselves. That way, while you’re on your way to and from class in the winter, you’ll also get the gist of all the things that are happening on campus.

Level B stacks

Shelves of books in a dimly lit level of the library

As a student at the University of Rochester, I’m often asked about the library. We have around 13 libraries that are either located on campus or are affiliated with us. And this might get a little confusing, but coming here as a student, you’ll soon learn that although there are quite a bunch of libraries everywhere, there is one to rule them all: Rush Rhees Library.

Having recently been renovated at the front part, the library not only looks like a cozy place to get some studying done, it is also riddled with spaces (like the Level B stacks) where you might run into some pretty strange books. I myself have found entire series of hundred-year-old volumes written in languages such as Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, German, and Sanskrit, just to name a few.

The next chance you get to explore Rush Rhees on your own, get lost in the forest of stacks and see what you can find.

The Carillon

u of r

Probably during the first week of classes as an undergrad, you’ll find out that at certain times, and especially at the top of every hour, you’re likely to hear bells tolling on the quad.

Large bells or little bells, the tunes you’ll hear will often be familiar, ranging from the theme songs of Harry Potter to Game of Thrones. As you rightly guessed, what you hear are not church bells, but rather someone playing the carillon. This huge contraption of an instrument is located at the very top of Rush Rhees, and will soon become what you’ll hear in your inner ear when you’re at home and missing your friends at college.

Robbins Library

Another thing that is located in—yes, you guessed it!—Rush Rhees Library. This library, although not located as far up as the carillon, is one of the highest places you can go, not including the higher level stacks of Rush Rhees.

What is particular about this library is that it also functions as a little museum. There are display cases on the lower level, showcasing old books and artifacts left-over from the Middle Ages. How these things make it into the patronage of the University, I have no idea. (Maybe you can find out!) But they are cool to look at, when you have a free minute or take a break from studying!

River Level Interfaith Chapel

Another cool place to check out is the River Level of the Interfaith Chapel. This huge space is used for more informal gatherings for a variety of groups that operate in the chapel (e.g., campus meetings, yoga, receptions, etc.)—and when these take place, food is served, more often than not. This space is not particular because of what is there (mostly just empty space), but rather lets you experience an incredibly gorgeous view of the river when the sun hits the windows at just the right angle in late August or early September. Worth it, I’d say!

I hope you get a chance to explore these places either when you visit or when you arrive as a student. And maybe you’ll find a few hidden gems of your own….

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