I enjoyed my time at Appalachian State University, but there are definitely a few things that would have made it easier to plan for. Here are some things you should know before you get to App State’s campus.
1.) The Weather
Do not be fooled by the tour, which you will most likely take on a beautiful summer day. Sure, they’ll warn you about the hard winters, but you’ll probably picture fresh sheets of clean, “Instagrammable” powder.
This will happen exactly once a year, on the first snow of the season, which unfailingly falls before Thanksgiving and sometimes before Halloween. After that first day or two, alternating periods of snowfall and sunshine will keep the campus in perpetual, gray-brown slush that gets tracked inside, smearing every hallway and soaking into every carpet.
Worse than the precipitation is the wind. In a brilliant feat of architecture and landscaping, the buildings of Appalachian’s campus are laid out to create a kind of wind tunnel that somehow blows directly into your face no matter which direction you try to turn.
Spring is lovely but temperamental. When the temperature reaches 50 degrees, the students declare a mini-summer. During my time there, one week in March we got snow on a Monday, highs in the 70s that Tuesday, and a flash flood that Wednesday.
2.) The Food
Appalachian does not have a traditional meal plan system. Your meal card does not grant you entry twice daily into the cafeteria for nourishment. Everything sold on campus is à al carte, coming off a declining balance on your App card that can be used at the cafeterias, the overpriced on-campus mini-mart, and the bookstore. The upside is you have a lot of variety to choose from, although healthy options are limited. The downside is you will run out of money unless you eat off-campus virtually every day.
Central Dining Hall is the biggest and newest cafeteria, so naturally it has the most choices and arguably the best food, although 90 percent of the time, you’ll come here for the Chick-fil-A.
The student union has a café called Cascades. This is your best bet for healthier choices and quick snacks. They also do smoothies and frozen yogurt. Across the hall is Crossroads, the best place to get coffee and chill out.
The other dining hall is named Trivette Hall. It’s older, and the food is often mediocre, but they make a good breakfast. It also features a McAllister’s Express, which is pricey but definitely worth it. Trivette also has the virtue of being the only cafeteria on the west side of campus.
If you’re interested in Appalachian State University, check out our story on campus food at ASU.
3.) The Housing
There are about twice as many students as the dormitories can hold. Lots of students live off campus for the extra square footage and to avoid the crowding factor, but it’s hard to dispute the convenience of living on campus.
Most of the dorms are typical college accommodations: a single, tiny room to share with a complete stranger. The older buildings are downright horrid. The newer ones can be nice, but living space is still an issue. In my opinion, the best dorms were in Newland Hall. The rooms are some of the biggest on campus, it’s centrally located, and each room is part of a two room suite with an attached bathroom no sharing a shower with the entire floor.
4.) The AppalCart
You can walk to Wal-Mart from Appalachian’s campus, but you will not want to walk back all that way carrying your groceries. That’s why Appalachian runs the AppalCart (get it?) bus system, your completely free public transportation solution. It goes most places you want to go in town. It doesn’t run too late and is often off schedule, but it makes running errands fairly convenient.
You can bring your car with you, but most students drive like complete maniacs and parking is a hassle. If you’re lucky, you can get a permit for the on campus lot for an exorbitant price, but most permanent parking is at a lot so far off-campus you have to take the bus to get there anyway.
5.) The Movies
A student run program shows movies in two different on-campus theaters, all for one dollar. The Greer Theater shows new releases, usually the week before they are released on DVD. You can see blockbuster movies for a buck, and each week the first five people to perform some action advertised on posters around campus get in for free. I’ll watch anything if it’s free. I even went to see the fourth Twilight movie for no other reason.
The Greenbriar Theater plays “old” movies. Sure, they’ll play Casablanca or Charlie Chaplin films, but increasingly, they’re showing 90s films as well, cult favorites not quite old enough to be classics, like Jurassic Park or Pulp Fiction. There’s no way to get in free, but worth a dollar for the cinema experience.Peter Hasselberg, an English major with very mixed feelings, graduated App State in 2013.