Aerial View of campus at night time with the Carillon tower lit up in the center

Back to school: Insider tips for life as a Laker

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Watch your step! Legend has it that walking "the wrong direction" under the Transformational Link sculpture will result in failing your exams and never graduating from the university. The towering blue structure by artist Gary Kulak, which stands in front of Au Sable Hall, has lived on campus since 1990. The origins of the story are unknown, and you'll see most students completely avoid walking under the Transformational Link at all.


Unknown to much of the Laker community is the secret code that lies on the exterior walls of Zumberge Hall. The building, now housing administrative offices, was once the library. A contemporary addition was done in 2012, which features blue and white window panes. Scott Whisler, senior project manager for Facilities Planning, said the architects put in a sneaky pattern into the glass, which spells out G-V-S-U in Morse code. Do other buildings on campus contain secret messages? We'll never tell.

Person lays down in the snow and makes a snow angel

Lake effect snow is no joke. Metro Detroiters might think they understand harsh winters due to their Michigander status, but West Michigan winters are a different beast. You’ll meet these blizzards face-to-face when you’re walking to your classes, but have no fear. 

Having a clear mental map of campus will help you create the most efficient walking path to get around on a blustery day. Take some time to practice the route to class and find which buildings you can cut through to keep out of the cold. For example, if you are in the Mary Idema Pew Library and need to get to Mackinac Hall, the best path would be to take the underground tunnel from the library to the Kirkhof Center. Then, take a short walk outside, cut through the Padnos Hall of Science, exit near Fresh and arrive at Mackinac Hall. 

Winter at GVSU is more than just surviving the elements. With the arrival of snow also comes the opportunity for many winter activities, such as sledding, ice skating and skiing. Back in the day, the Allendale Campus used to have its very own ski hill near Lot D. Though that may no longer exist, plenty of fun can be found on campus even when the temperatures are less than comfortable.


As a first-year student, you will often find yourself in "Freshmanland,'' the unofficial name of the first-year housing area surrounding Kleiner Commons. There are many places in Freshmanland that are common gathering areas such as the basketball courts and Kleiner itself. However, there is much more to campus and the surrounding area than just Freshmanland and it’s a good idea to venture out!

Popular spots on campus are the Arboretum, located near Au Sable Hall, and the Kirkhof Center. These places were most likely pointed out on your first campus tour. What probably wasn’t mentioned on your tour was that located just past south campus is Grand Ravines Park, which hosts beautiful walking trails and an expansive dog park. 

3 a.m. cookie delivery

To the west of campus and conveniently located on Rapid bus route 37 is Meadows Golf Course. Here, you can golf at the public course or you can stay off the course and hit the running trails.

Past Meadows Golf Course is 48th Avenue. This is the main thoroughfare for off-campus apartments as well as GVSU’s Greek Life housing. In addition to apartments, you can also find restaurants and shops such as Insomnia Cookies, which delivers warm cookies to your door until 3 a.m., perfect for all your late night snacking needs.

After you’ve explored Allendale, hop on the Laker Line and head downtown Grand Rapids! Here, you will find GVSU’s Pew Grand Rapids and Health campuses, home to our engineering, business, health programs and more. The hustle and bustle of city life offers countless shops, eateries and experiences to check out! Many Lakers love the Downtown Market for a bite to eat or Eastown to check out the quaint shops.