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Freshman

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photo by Kamrin Baker/The Gateway

Kamrin Baker
Online Reporter

If you looked into colleges in Nebraska, you heard of the Huskers first; it’s guaranteed. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a great school with the spirit of 1,000 suns and a huge Greek life program, but it’s no UNO.

You chose The University of Nebraska at Omaha, not because it is a much smaller version of Lincoln, with no football team and only a handful of sororities and frats. You chose UNO because it’s a beautiful, opportunistic, inclusive campus that can offer you exactly what you need. We are the Mavericks: independent thinkers, explorers and risk takers.

So, welcome! Before you start your college journey, allow me to guide you through the wonderful world of Omaha and all we have to offer. Even if you grew up here and you’re just driving down Dodge Street to take classes, UNO is filled with special curiosities you’ll be lucky to uncover.

1. The entire city is your classroom.

I know that this cheesy slogan is kind of lame, but it’s so true. Of course the campus itself is wonderful, but even in your first semester, you will be able to explore different nooks and crannies of Omaha doing research, interviews and hands-on learning projects. So many professionals you encounter will be UNO alumni and will share your Maverick pride through all your endeavors.

2. Participate in Durango Days.

Durango Days is our version of Welcome Week, but I’m going to assume it’s way better. The week entails free lunch every single day, a million opportunities to get new t-shirts, sunglasses and hats, constant activities and opportunities to meet new friends, coupons to basically every local business, movie nights, petting zoos, soccer games and more. Of course, you won’t be able to do it all, but the best part is that you have four years (or more!) of Durango Days. I fed myself for practically the entire month of September because of all the coupons I received. And I still wear all my t-shirts to the gym.

3. Ah yes, the gym!

The recreational facilities on campus are glorious. Right now, the building is called HPER, but there is supposed to be a name change, so don’t be surprised if it’s different on your first day. HPER has your usual athletic equipment, but we also have a full rock climbing wall and boulder, mindfulness center, indoor track and sauna. We also have a top quality counseling and medical staff standing by to help solve all of your problems. You’re welcome.

4. Get used to hearing “It’s a Small World.”

I’m not kidding. This song is played from the Bell Tower multiple times a day, and although lovely, can become very slow and ominous when the sun sets. If nothing else, you get to visualize yourself in the Happiest Place on Earth each day you go to class.

5. Speaking of the Bell Tower, don’t step on the bell.

When you walk under the Bell Tower, there is a mosaic-type fixture on the ground where you walk. You can walk anywhere, but the big superstition is that if you step on the bell, you’ll fail your next exam. I’ve tempted the fates since I got here and haven’t failed any tests, but you know, I’m not going to say any bad stuff about whatever ghosts haunt this place. That’s bad luck.

6. The shuttles take forever and will shake your entire being. It’s all going to be fine.

I know the university is trying new techniques for parking and shuttle services, so this might be different once you’re enrolled, but right now, get ready for the speed bumps when you’re on a shuttle from Scott to Dodge Campus. Miss Linda is the best driver, however, and Welton plays the best songs with his aux cord, so that makes up for everything.

7. Buy stuff from the bookstore!

I know we already went over free t-shirts, but nothing compares to the high-quality products in the bookstore. UNO has an awesome bookstore staff and managerial faculty, and all of our shirts, leggings, hats, ANYTHING are super cute and comfy. I straight-up put “anything from the bookstore” on my Christmas list this year, and I love being able to have something to wear to school spirit-centered events. Plus, my sister is a grad student here, so I know the perfect stuff to get her for the holidays.

8. There is absolutely stuff to do on the weekends.

A lot of people get whiny about the lack of Husker games at UNO, but there’s still so much cool stuff to do around here! Campus events are going on constantly, and if it’s not hockey season, you can explore the city on Friday nights. Aksarben Village is practically your backyard, and the Old Market and Midtown aren’t too far away from campus, either. God bless the 20-minute commute to literally anywhere you want to go.

9. Take advantage of Baxter Arena.

Baxter is our newest development at UNO, and it’s so cool! Because we cut out the football team, it gave the university a lot of freedom to focus on our hockey arena. There is also free ice skating and skate rentals all the time for students, and a lot of cool famous people LIKE BARACK FREAKIN’ OBAMA come to speak here.

10. Actually, take advantage of everything.

There are so many gorgeous buildings and establishments on campus that are designed specifically for your use. There’s a movie theater in Scott Hall that you can rent out for your own date night or for a late night Hocus Pocus viewing around Halloween. Some of these gems are hidden away, and it’s the most fun opportunity to uncover them and make your own memories around them.

11. Everyone is SO nice.

I’m not exaggerating. I was really nervous to come to college and have to work my way into other people’s lives and hearts, but at UNO, everyone’s already accepting. Any adult or faculty member I meet is always so thrilled to meet me and have me study as a Maverick. Some students are awkward or not exactly aligned with my personality, but they’re still always so polite and friendly. In our Community Engagement Center, the bathrooms are filled with kind Post-It notes and Sharpies. Kindness is thrown around like confetti — and you get to be a part of that.

12. And the dorms. The dorms are SO nice.

I don’t even feel comfortable calling them dorms. I live in an apartment. Everyone, except those who live in Scott Hall, will live in an apartment format dorm with a full kitchen, living area and bathroom. Some buildings even have balconies. I have a hammock in mine and I get to watch the sunset whenever I have a second to breathe. I don’t even have to share a bedroom! If you’re coming to UNO, you definitely already know this, but don’t take it for granted. Your college life has been made so much easier because of your living situation, and that is priceless (or about $500 a month, but it’s fine).

13. Get the curly fries in the Student Center.

They taste like Arby’s and they’re only $1.79. It’s so tempting to get them every waking moment of my day, but I try to settle on once a week. I’m just saying, it might make your entire month just eating a little boat of those. Plus, the student center is newly renovated and gorgeous!

14. Read the Gateway.

This is a bit of a shameless plug since I write for the school paper, but READ IT. The Gateway is hot off the presses every single Tuesday and updated on the website daily. It’s so important to stay up-to-date on campus news, and the journalism department of UNO, though small, is incredibly brilliant.

15. Visit the Planetarium.

I still have yet to take a tour/watch the stars from the Planetarium, but it’s prided as one of the coolest and most educational attractions at UNO. There are shows on the weekends and demonstrations for various science classes, and I’m sure you could recreate that one scene from “La La Land.”

16. Watch the forensics team do their thing.

MavForensics was just ranked No. 6 in the nation, and if it were up to me, I’d rank them even higher. These students are incredible speakers and performers and come from all over the nation just to participate in our forensics program.

17. Wear black, get loud.

In case you were concerned about a lack of school spirit or sporting events to attend, wipe that off your plate. Our athletics are very well-supported and do very well. We were also just recently named the Best Student Section in America by the NCSSA. Our hockey team has made it to the Frozen Four and this year, our basketball team was a mere game away from making it to March Madness. No big deal though.

18. Your MavCard is your literal key to everything.

My sweet roommate — bless her heart — loses her MavCard all the time. It costs $10 to replace each time, and without it, you can’t park, get into your dorm room, print, buy things, check out library books, get attendance points in certain classes or get into the gym. So protect that child and don’t worry about the picture on it. It’s like getting your driver’s license: no one looks good in their MavCard pic.

19. Don’t make any sound on the third floor of the library.

The third floor of the library is the silent floor, which I’m guessing isn’t super rare among universities, but know that they mean business at UNO. If you’re someone who keeps your phone on vibrate, laughs at innocuous things in the middle of reading or studying, or opens chip bags during the quiet parts of movies, maybe stray further away from the third floor. Don’t be disrespectful, because it’s just wrong and you’ll get dirty looks.

20. Be proud to be a Mav!

No matter where you go, what you do, who you meet or what you get involved in, all facets of UNO are well-built and welcoming. Find your niche, find your people and find who you are meant to be. You won’t discover all the answers in your first year, let alone your first week, but we’re all here to help you along the way. Welcome to UNO, and no, it’s not funny to make the card game joke anymore.

In all seriousness, I hope this campus finds you excited and alive, because we are so thrilled to have you in our little diverse community. And for real, look for my byline in the Gateway.

Go Mavs!

Note: This article was originally written and published by Kamrin Baker for Fresh U.

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Ray Koch
CONTRIBUTOR

Razvan Grigorescu. If you don’t know his name now, you will by the time his tennis career is finished at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

It’s been a rocky season for the UNO men’s tennis team, as they finished the regular season with an overall record of 8-13. But even with an average record, UNO tennis has caught the eye of many local sports fans. That’s because of a particular freshman that is impossible to ignore.

From Constanta, Romania, Razvan Grigorescu stands 6 foot 3 inches tall, and has already made an impact on campus. He’s also ranked 66th nationally. Did I mention he’s just a freshman?

Yes, a 19-year-old from half-way across the world has taken scouts, and the entire Summit League by surprise.

Grigorescu uses his length to get to any ball on the surface. Couple that with tremendous power and precision, and you may start to question if you’re watching Andy Murray playing. Moving effortlessly all over the court, Grigorescu displays footwork and court awareness of a player far beyond his years.

Though tennis in college is a team sport, it’s hard not to get caught up in the individual accomplishments one can achieve. Grigorescu has an opportunity to go deep in the Summit League Conference Tournament and beyond. Even if the team as a whole is not able to progress far into the tournament, Grigorescu can still bring the Mavs success.

That doesn’t constitute, however, that the ultimate determiner of success for UNO’s season doesn’t lie in the racket of Grigorescu. No matter what happens the rest of the season, the Mavs will settle for a different victory–keeping Razvan Grigorescu for three more years. Being the face of the program for the duration of his stay at UNO may seem like it’s asking a lot for someone that is still a teenager. Then again, not many teenagers strike this much attention in their first college season in a foreign country.

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Photo Courtesy of Jenna Hynek’s Instagram

Jessica Wade
OPINION EDITOR

Some people spend years searching for their passion, discovering that one thing that drives them to late nights, early mornings and—in freshman Jenna Hynek’s case—punk rock concerts.

Hynek found her passion while crowded near a stage during a Swingin’ Utters concert. The concert began with 15-20 people in the audience and ended with upwards of 40 peo-ple packed into a small room. Hynek had to battle to keep her spot near the stage.

“Someone’s fist comes flying out of nowhere as I turn to look to my right. I got punched in the face and slammed up against a speaker,” Hynek said. “I looked to see who had just body slammed me, it was a middle-aged man who came flying out of the mosh pit with a mohawk and facial piercings. I ended up losing hearing in my left ear for about four days and at that moment I knew—I had sold my soul to punk rock and music photography.”

Hynek’s love of concert photography evolved from a love of writing. Since a young age she planned to become a writer, and after starting high school, she joined her school’s magazine where she learned to write with a purpose.

“I was around such creative and talented people the last four years of my life that I basically just started trouble shooting pictures at concerts one night just to see how it would work and I fell in love with it,” Hynek said. “Since September I have taken pictures at roughly 16 shows.”

Hynek has always stayed in and around the Omaha area. She stresses how phenomenal the music and arts scene is in Omaha, and that many musicians who got their start in Omaha make it a point to return.

The more recent concerts she’s attended include Jon Bellion and Asking Alexandria, her first metal concert, and her second time getting kicked in the face by a crowd surfer.
“I was in the front row looking in the tiny little viewfinder of my camera when something bumps my back,” Hynek said. “I turn around to look at what it was and it was a crowd surfer right behind me and all of a sudden POP! The surfer’s foot kicks me right in the face and gives me this horrible bloody nose.”

Although she only just discovered her passion for music journalism, and despite occasional hit to the face, Hynek hopes to turn her hobby into a career. She said that music is a big part of her life and no matter how famous the musician or how crazy the crowd, the experience is rewarding.

“I get to be around something that I love and watch other people have the time of their lives on stage while I have mine in the front row with a camera in hand,” Hynek said.

Hynek’s photos can be found on her Instagram @jmhynek.musicphotos.

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coat-drive

Charlotte Reilly
CONTRIBUTOR

The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Freshmen Leadership Council is hosting a winter clothing drive. This is in collaboration with Lutheran Family Services and Nathan Hale Middle School and will help refugees and their families.

Lutheran Family Services welcomed and rehomed refugees from all around the world. Many of these refugee families are unprepared for their first Nebraskan winter and do not have coats, hats or gloves.

Emily Bradley, the vice president of UNO’s student government and head of the Freshmen Leadership Council, explained why she believes it’s important to help refugees in the Omaha area.

“I think it really goes back to what UNO’s mission is and what the school stands for. We are a metropolitan university. Omaha is our campus,” Bradley said. “It is really important that we reach out to our community and that we constantly try to improve that and make their lives better.”

Bradley said this is the Freshmen Leadership Council’s first big project. Besides working to help keep refugees warm this winter, the project is also designed to help UNO students and Nathan Hale Middle School students through a two-way mentoring program.

UNO freshmen have an upperclassman mentor and are mentors to Nathan Hale middle schoolers.

The project also teaches UNO freshmen about the timeline of completing a project—how early plans have to be made and who to contact. Next semester the freshmen will be splitting into groups and coming up with their own projects.

Renata Valquier Chavez, a member of the Freshmen Leadership Council, said she joined because she “wanted to be able to have a positive impact on a larger scale on campus.”

“My ultimate goal is to help the people around me, and by being part of the Freshmen Leadership Council, I can give a voice to the voiceless,” Valquier Chavez said.

She said being a member has improved her communication skills and allowed her to demonstrate her leadership abilities because members have to be accountable and self-reliant.

This project has given Valquier Chavez the experience of working with others to improve the lives of community members, which is what Bradley said is her favorite part of the project.

“My favorite part of this project is that it engages these freshmen with the community,” Bradley said. “Part of UNO’s mission is that we come up with creative ways to engage and improve the lives of people in our community, and I think that this gives FLC the experience of doing.”

The Freshmen Leadership Council will be accepting donations until Dec. 3. There are five locations for donation bins, including the Milo Bail Student Center, Mammal Hall, Scott Café, Criss Library and HPER.

The clothing drive started on Nov. 3 and the Freshman Leadership Council has already collected several boxes full of clothing items such as snow pants, hats, gloves, scarves, coats and winter boots.

People who donate will be entered into a prize raffle. The prizes include a $100 visa gift card, UNO décor signs and a $20 outdoor venture center gift card or yoga pass.

For every hat, glove, or scarf one raffle ticket will be entered into the drawing. For every youth, small or medium coat, four raffle tickets will be entered. For a large or extra-large coat, three tickets will be entered.

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