Just the Bear Facts

To help you get your bearing in Grad School.

Month: August 2016

A Thriving Community

Despite some setbacks, Waco’s rejuvenation continues to be as strong as ever. New businesses are popping up all over town with tourists exiting I-35 by the thousands. A special part of the city, however, is how its full-time residents support their local businesses, as much as its visitors. There were a few extra-tasty openings over the summer that we are more than excited to check out (probably more than once). Here are the five that we’ll most likely visit by week’s end:

Alpha Omega and Pinewood Roasters

The dual-business team renovated a building on Franklin Avenue on the outskirts of Downtown that had sat vacant for over 50 years. Pinewood Roasters rivals Common Grounds and Dichotomy with an impressive specialty coffee menu, while Alpha Omega serves up some of the best Mediterranean food this side of Gibraltar. Mmmmm.

Brü Artisan Coffee

It’s no secret that Wacoans like their coffee and that the city is becoming a destination for coffee lovers and businesses, alike. Brü is located at the new Market Centre, which consumes the ground floor of the historic Praetorian in Downtown. Where is their espresso bar located you ask? Well, in the building’s century-old elevator, of course. It has to be good!

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Hey Sugar

Hey Sugar is a real treat for all of your senses! The brightly-colored shop sits on an ever-expanding Austin Avenue in Downtown and offers wide-eyed visitors hundreds of candy, soda, and ice cream varieties. We’re scared to go for fear of never being able to leave.

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Magnolia Flour

The Gaines’s positive influence on the city is incredible and their next business venture, Magnolia Flour, is a bakery already receiving accolades. Once we muster up enough guts to brave the crowd at the Silos, we’re going to make sure to stop in and get one of Joanna’s chocolate chip cookies. Just like anything else from the Fixer Upper couple, I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.

Oh My Juice

Located in the same shopping center as Spice Village, Crickets, and Ninfa’s, Oh My Juice provides an option for those looking to refrain from the caffeinated and spirited beverages. OMJ offers delicious, cold-pressed, fresh-made juices and smoothies, as well as salads and acai bowls for those looking for a healthy alternative from the burgers and nachos.

By Matthew Doyen

Ten Events We’re Looking Forward To this Semester!

While some may count down the days to Winter Break, there are still many events to look forward to Baylor and in Waco between now and December. Here are our top nine:

Orientation (August 17)

There’s nothing more exciting than welcoming over two hundred new graduate students into the Baylor community! Students will gather at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center to begin their day with a hearty breakfast, while meeting their new cohort and GSA representatives. Energetic and informative sessions that are led by graduate school staff members and current students will follow and a President’s Reception (more food!) at Moody Library will conclude the beginning of 250 new adventures.

Traditions Rally (September 1)

The Traditions Rally is always held the Thursday before the first football game of the season. The main event is a headliner concert that has seen Phillip Phillips and Brad Paisley make their way to Waco in the past two years. Free and open to all, we’re excited to see this year’s headliner, Aloe Blacc, perform and, of course, the fireworks!

David McCullough Lecture (September 26)

The Beall-Russell Lectures in the Humanities was established in 1982 and has grown ever since. This year, we welcome renowned historian and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, David McCullough. Held in serene Jones Hall in the McCrary Music Building, McCullough’s lecture, The Incomparable Advantage of Intellectual Curiosity, is free and open to all students to attend.

Cultural Arts Festivals (October 1-2)

The arts have been gaining momentum in Waco and may have hit an all-time high when a proposal for a cultural district was sent to the Texas Commission for the Arts. The Cultural Arts Festival brings together local artists, writers, and scientists for a celebration on the banks of the Brazos in Indian Springs Park at the very beginning of the fall season.

Open House (October 6)

In October, the Graduate School will proudly host its first ever Open House. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet faculty and current students, learn more about the admission process, and tour our beautiful campus. If you’re thinking about Baylor for your next step, then this will be the place to be!

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Homecoming, Part One: Pigskin Revue (October 13-15)

A Homecoming tradition since 1958, the enormously-popular Pigskin Revue showcases the winning acts from the Spring’s All University Sing competition. With three shows throughout the weekend, performances are complex and colorful Broadway-style musicals. Remember to get your tickets as soon as they become available because they go fast!

Homecoming, Part Two: Homecoming Parade (October 15)

A tradition unlike other any: Baylor’s Homecoming Parade. Since 1909, the Baylor Band and elaborate floats have strolled down Waco’s streets during one of the oldest and largest homecoming parades in the nation. It’s sure to draw an extra-large crowd this year as last year’s edition was cancelled due to inclement weather and we will definitely be among them.

Baylor vs TCU (November 5)

A game unlike any other: Baylor vs TCU. The last time the Horn Frogs came to town was in 2014 when Baylor erased a 21-point deficit with only 11 minutes to play to pull off a stunning 61-58 victory that is still talked about ‘round these parts. After a heartbreaking double overtime loss last year in Fort Worth that was played during a Texas-sized rainstorm and without our first seven or so quarterbacks, we expect nothing less than last minute dramatics from the 2016 rendition, as well.

Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Corey Coleman (1) catches a touchdown pass over TCU Horned Frogs cornerback Ranthony Texada (11) during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving Dinner (TBD) and Christmas on Fifth (December 1)

Two of the best and most loved student activity campus programs are focused around the holidays. The week before Thanksgiving Break, all students and their families are invited to a free turkey feast that takes place on Fountain Mall. A few weeks later, we are treated to a tree lighting ceremony, live nativity, and concert during Christmas on Fifth. These are two events that should not (and will not) be missed!

By Matthew Doyen

Nine Things to Know before Your First Semester in Waco

You know that a new year is upon us when the moving trucks start to out-populate the professors. It’s always nerve-wracking and a little scary moving to a new place, but fear not because we are here to help! We’ve compiled nine things that we thought would be handy for newcomers to know before moving to Baylor University and Waco, Texas.

If you hear someone yelling sic’em, then know you’re around Bears.

It’s a weird thing that we often yell that while sounding better than the hook’ems and gig’ems of the world, makes less sense. It usually is accompanied by a Bear Claw and originated from the football field, but has since become appropriate for just about anything Baylor. It’s meaning is essentially a mixture between admiration and excitement, and you’ll be saying it before you know it!

If you want a glimpse of our most famed alumni, then head to the Silo District.

To be honest, you’d have a better chance of seeing the Gaines’s picking up a pepperoni pie from Shorty’s than through the swarms at Magnolia. The Silo District still has a lot to offer, though. Stores like Magnolia and The Findery are bringing both tourists and fashionable home décor to the city. Also, Shorty’s is real good.

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If you love history, then you came to the right place.

Waco is a place of immense history that is restored, refurbished, and treasured. In fact, both Magnolia and The Findery are housed in nearly one hundred-year-old buildings. A block away is the Dr Pepper Museum, which showcases the town’s most famous invention. If you’re not impressed there are many more museums, as well as historic houses, hall of fames, and a National Monument.

If you’ve never had a Dr Pepper float, then enjoy having very happy taste buds.

A place that loves its history also strives to keep its traditions. In the Student Union, Dr Pepper Hour, which occurs every Tuesday afternoon, has been happening since the fifties. The Dr Pepper (also, never use a dot after the Dr in Dr Pepper!) floats that are served there are a heavenly combination of vanilla ice cream and the carbonated good stuff. After you’re first taste you’ll already be asking for seconds.

If you are still hungry after your delicious float, then don’t worry.

I thought I’d play a fun game where I visit a different restaurant every time I go out to eat. It’s been a year and I’m still nowhere close to the bottom of the list, which, like my appetite, is ever-expanding. There is everything here! Southern, Thai, BBQ, Vietnamese, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, Czech (kolaches!!) and American to name a few. The real struggle won’t be finding a tasty meal; it’ll be deciding what really great restaurant to go to for dinner tonight.

If you need to take a walk to digest, then head to Cameron Park.

Driving, walking, biking, running, riding, hiking through Cameron Park transports you to another world. The trees are lusciously green and overgrown providing shade from the beating sun. Lovers Leap provides an excellent view of the surroundings from its elevated position on top of one of the only large hills in the area. The Riverwalk catches the breeze from the Brazos River to make for a perfect destination year-round.

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If you see a tortilla floating in the Brazos, then head to the Suspension Bridge.

If there’s still a small glimmer of light left from the sunset on your way home, then you just may see something in the corner of your eye floating in the water that looks like a lily pad. Then, you see twenty more. Don’t be confused, it’s just a tortilla from another one of Waco’s strangest traditions. People throw them off of the Suspension Bridge hoping to land them on one of the old train track pillars a few yards out into the water. Why? Because it’s oddly enjoyable and you are bound to eventually agree!

If you like to stay out after the sun goes down, then walk two blocks south to Downtown.

Waco is a small town that has a lot of big city amenities. On the first Friday of every month, businesses Downtown stay open for longer hours to provide an opportunity for strolling on Austin and Franklin Avenues. There is a movie theater with excellent food, concert venues, restaurants, coffee shops, and more popping-up seemingly every other day. Once here, you won’t be thinking that there’s nothing to do for too long.

If you ever feel lost in Waco, then know you’re around family.

The best thing to know about Waco, though, is how friendly and welcoming the people are to life-long residents and newcomers, alike. Despite all of the city’s hard times, it’s still truly the epitome of Southern comfort and, quite frankly, you’ll never want to leave.

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So, welcome, sic’em, and don’t throw away that last tortilla!

By Matthew Doyen

Graduate Student Orientation

Perhaps the first time that you will meet your fellow cohort and step onto Baylor’s campus is the morning of Graduate Student Orientation. I remember making the walk across campus on the morning of my orientation one year ago. Admittedly, wearing my best pair of jeans and trying not to sweat through them was a challenge not only because I was so nervous, but also because of the humidity from a mid-August day in Texas. However, upon arrival, I quickly realized that everyone else was glistening, as well, and that everything was going to be fine. I had my first conversations, along with some awkwardly quiet moments, with people who would later become some of my best friends. Orientation acts as the unofficial starting point of your time in graduate school, which is an exciting time that will undoubtedly lead to many great moments, memories, and friendships. Luckily, the graduate school’s staff and current students help create a welcoming atmosphere that eases those uninvited jitterbugs and butterflies.

The program will begin with a Chick-fil-a breakfast at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center, continue into addresses and breakout sessions, and conclude with an impressive hors d’oeuvres-styled lunch at the Moody Library and refreshing Dr Pepper floats in the Incubator. The entire schedule for the day has been released and you can check it out below:

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Enjoy this iGrad comedic sneak peek that was provided by the university’s Theatre Arts Department and we will see you on the 17th!

By Matthew Doyen

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