Cowley: Get Off Campus and Explore


Jack Gambassi

A man stands outside of Randy’s Records Shop on 900 S and 157 E in Salt Lake City on National Record Store Day, April 22, 2023. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Elle Cowley, Multimedia Managing Editor


Going from high school to college is a massive shift. For many students, it’s their first time living away from home. For me, not only did I live away from my parents for the first time, but I also moved out of state to attend the University of Utah. I have family in the valley, but my previous experience with Salt Lake was limited to week-long trips once every summer. I chose the U without getting to tour it or Salt Lake properly, so I went in blind.

While living in the dorms, I ran into a couple of issues. Living on campus made it hard for me to separate myself from school. My dorm felt like an extension of school, making it much harder to relax. Even on my days off, my brain stayed in school mode. For the first couple months of school, when I did meet up with friends or classmates, we often met on campus since that was the easiest option. The combination of being new to the area and living on campus made exploring the city feel out of reach, but I came to learn that isn’t the case at all.

Learn to love where you live, as it’s beneficial to get out and explore.

Why Should You Get Off Campus?

I don’t regret my choice to go to college, but I don’t think I need to tell you that college can get incredibly stressful. According to the American Institute of Stress, eight out of 10 college students regularly experience bouts of stress. Dorm living means never properly leaving the source of anxiety, since where you live is where you study. Commutes provide valuable space to disconnect from work and school roles, but living on campus doesn’t give you time to relax and put school away.

Numerous studies show how studying in your room or in bed is bad for you. Dorm environments can significantly impact your mental health, whether through a blending of school and personal life or a lack of privacy. Leaving and finding spaces to study off-campus can give you a much-needed break.

Oh, So Many Places to Go!

If you’re new to the area, it’s hard to know where to even begin. It’s easy to tell people to get off campus when you aren’t new to the area. So, I wanted to share a couple of places I found my freshman year of school that helped me learn to love Salt Lake.

Dig Through the Record Bin

I’m a sucker for record stores. Finding new ones to visit when I moved here made me feel more at home in my new city. My favorite spot by far (other than digging through the record bin at Savers) is Randy’s Records. They have a great selection of used and new records that rotate in and out. Every time I go, I always find something new to pick up. A favorite find of mine would have to be the pink and green copy of MF DOOM’s “MM..FOOD” I picked up for my boyfriend. Finding a place like Randy’s to fuel a hobby I’m passionate about really motivated me to leave campus. Hop on bus Line 9 and it’ll take you all the way there from campus.

Catch a Flick

Movies are a great excuse to get off campus. The Broadway Theatre screens a wide range of films, from new releases to classics like Rushmore or SLC Punk. Tickets cost only $12, and the profits go towards keeping independent films alive in Salt Lake. Shows are never super crowded, either. In my experience, I’ve had a maximum of 10 other people in the theater with me at any time — which makes my movie going experience more enjoyable. You can easily get to the Broadway by taking the TRAX Red Line downtown.

Coffee and Community

Simply having a space off campus to sit and unwind is a game changer. For me, Salt Lake Roasting Co. became a space to get away from campus. A change of scenery can help you disconnect from school and get some precious downtime. I love to take whatever knitting project I’m working on and enjoy the ambience. SLRC is also accessible by the TRAX Red Line.

Moving is one of the most stressful life events a person can go through. Combining moving with acclimating to a college environment makes even thinking about leaving campus seem daunting. But I promise, it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. Don’t let stress stop you from finding new favorite places in Salt Lake!


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