By William Harvey ’18


The Amherst campus from above (© 2015 AboveSummit)

This year, make it your goal to do the unexpected and break the habits of your everyday life. Whether you’re visiting Amherst for the first time or hoping to find something new on campus, here are 15 things you should do in 2015 at Amherst.

1) Visit the Beneski Museum of Natural History.

Dinosaurs are awesome. Your 8-year-old self knew it, and deep down you know you still agree.  Along with full-scale dinosaur fossils, the Beneski boasts one of the world’s largest collections of fossilized tracks, including “Noah’s Raven,” the first dinosaur fossil found in North America.

2) Warm up at the Schwemm’s Coffee House fireplace.

The Schwemm’s open-pit fireplace attracts lots of visitors to the Keefe Campus Center on cold days. More than just a heat source, the Schwemm’s fire is a socializing event. The friendly atmosphere and small, close tables encourage open discussion.

3) Attend a Mr. Gad’s performance.

Every Monday at 10 p.m. in the Friedmann Room of Keefe, Mr.Gad’s House of Improv throws an hour-long show of short- and long-form comedy. Even without a script, the students in Gad’s will make you laugh and maybe even shed a tear for the characters you see on stage. Be sure to line up a few minutes early, because seats go quickly.

4) Partake in a Marsh Coffee Haus.

Marsh Arts House is off the beaten trail, in terms of both location and community. An artistic hotspot of student life, Marsh holds a biweekly Coffee Haus, where students demonstrate their performing talents. Acts range from poetry slams to Indian Bollywood dances and are entirely student-run.


Amherst’s Yūshien Garden (photo courtesy of Jessica Mestre ’10)

5) Take in the sights of the Yūshien Garden.

Filling a cozy spot between Webster Hall and Kirby Theater, the Yūshien Garden is a great visit during the more hectic parts of the semester. With its lush foliage and exotic style, the “Garden of Friendship” is an excellent place to take a breath and escape the stress of academic deadlines.

6) Stop in for coffee at the German theme house.

Held in Porter House on Tuesdays from 8 to 10 p.m., the Kaffeeklatsch is a treat for those looking to partake in German culture. With free food and silly German jokes, these weekly parties have it all. All visitors are welcome, regardless of their proficiency in German.

7) Do some reading in Frost Library’s lower levels.

The quieter lower levels of Frost are among Amherst’s best-kept secrets. Frost boasts a proud collection of exciting novels that you may not expect to find in an academic library. Classification nerds will also enjoy exploring C-Level’s shelves.   Did you know that Melvil Dewey, class of 1874, devised the Dewey Decimal System while working as a student library assistant?

8) Peruse the Mead Art Museum’s galleries.

With a rotating selection of art, the Mead will always have a new exhibition to enjoy. Take the time to get to know each collection —you may walk away with more knowledge than you bargained for.

9) Take a walk through the Wildlife Sanctuary.

Nestled behind the tennis courts is a long, winding path that leads through some of Amherst’s wilder grounds. Protected from the sun by overhanging tree branches that let in a cool breeze, the walking route is great for exercise. Some would say it’s even a bit romantic.

10) Take a statue selfie with Henry Ward Beecher or Noah Webster.

Nothing is quite as impressive as a Facebook profile picture featuring you and the “Most Famous Man in America,” Henry Ward Beecher of the class of 1834. Amaze your friends, astound your parents and startle your history professors with this piece of almost-living history. Also available for your social media pleasure is a statue of Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, located behind Frost Library.

11) Doodle in Merrill Science Library’s whiteboard classrooms.

An often forgotten spot on campus, the Merrill Science Library classrooms feature whiteboards as far as the eye can see. With a bountiful supply of dry-erase markers, these classrooms are just as useful for studying as for drawing Godzilla. Just be sure to wipe the slate clean when you’re done.

12) Study Arms Music Center’s unique architecture.

Architecture buffs will find more than beautiful melodies and concerts to enjoy in the Arms Music Center. The building is a case study in the mid-20th- century style known as brutalism, which emphasized a rugged appearance.


The view from the War Memorial

13) Pay respects at the War Memorial.

It’s always worth remembering the alumni of Amherst who gave their lives to protect the country and school they loved.

14) Visit the Multicultural Resource Center.

Looking to gain insight into other students’ cultures? Want to further explore your own? The MRC, in the Keefe Campus Center, can help you do both—and you might just meet the cutest puppy on campus, Daisy.

15) Ask Robert Frost’s statue for new-semester luck.

Rumors say the statue, near the College’s War Memorial, is able to bestow upon you the success of the famed American poet.  Try visiting before exams. At the very least, you’ll have walked the road less travelled.