Graduate Student Guide
If you have any questions about life on campus or in Madison, another great place to start is the Visitor & Information Programs office (VIP), located in the Red Gym, near Memorial Union. They are open M - F 8am - 5pm and Saturday 11am - 2pm. Their Student Orientation Handbook is a valuable resource for information including entertainment, recreational and varsity sports, student organizations (including those for cultural groups, international students, LGBT students, women, veterans, and people with disabilities), health services, jobs, transportation, safety, and housing. It’s also a great place for referrals to counseling services, including drug and alcohol and sexual assault issues. You can find all this information on the web, at http://www.wisc.edu/visitingCampus/ or call them at 263-2400. You can also email any questions you have to email@example.com
- 1 Banks
- 2 Food
- 3 Grocery Stores
- 4 Housing
- 5 Furniture
- 6 International Student Resources
- 7 Newspapers
- 8 Religious Groups
- 9 Fun Stuff: Unions, Clubs, Outdoors, Activities, etc.
- 10 Van Vleck Miscellany
- 11 Everything Else
- 12 Contacts and Other Resources
The two most convenient banks for the campus-centric are
with the first probably the most popular. There is a free ATM for members of both banks in Ingraham Hall next to VV.
There are many ethnic and interesting restaurants in Madison – Indonesian, African, Italian, Himalayan, Laotian, Peruvian, Mexican, Bakeries, Brew Pubs, Coffee Joints, you name it -- and everyone has their favorites.
The biggest resource for finding food (and entertainment!) in Madison is probably the Daily Page (the online version of our local paper, the Isthmus), where you can search local restaurants by name, locality, and cuisine. There, they have reviews, hours, contact info, pricing, etc. Be sure to peruse their Madison's Favorites section for some quick tips! Of course yelp is always useful as well.
Here are some general food facts:
- Food Carts: Open for lunch in Library Mall at the foot of Bascom Hill near Lake & State Street. Very good and very cheap, and out as long as it's not too cold.
- Ingraham Hall: Very close to Van Vleck, and has acceptable coffee (bring your own cup to save money!) and decent snacks. Try the lunch special: sandwich and 4 sides (soda, fruit, cookies, etc.) for five bucks. Halfway down the hill is the Crossroads Cafe which has much better coffee and is open later.
- Memorial Union: The Rathskeller has food and next door is Lakeside cafe with much better food. Summer afternoons on the terrace is an excellent place to hang out in the sunshine with a beer and brat.
- Union South: Recently opened. Probably has many places to get food.
- State Street (past the food carts) is full of restaurants and Coffee shops – there are at least a half dozen coffee roasters in town, and each supplies a different set of shops. In particular for lunch, there are the popular chains, such as Potbelly Sandwich Works, Einstein Bros. Bagels, or Chipotle... or hit the more independent spots such as the Sunroom Cafe or Ian's Pizza.
The local foods are beer, ice cream, cheese, and brats (say hello to your new-found Wisconsin-love-handles). Each year Madison hosts Bratfest, a record breaking event. UW has Babcock Hall Ice Cream on campus which creates delicious ice cream available in the Unions. Other great local places to hit are the Chocolate Shoppe (which has also experimented with soy creams) and Michael's Frozen Custard. Local breweries include the Great Dane, Captial Brewery and Ale Asylum. You could also take a trip out to the New Glarus Brewing Co-- camp out in the New Glarus Woods State Park and take the tour of the brewery while you're there.
In early September (2nd-3rd), check out Taste of Madison to see many restaurants all in one place at one time.
Try a good ol' midwestern Fish Fry on Friday night – All you can eat fried fish generally served with a bran muffin, clam chowder, or coleslaw. Most Brew Pubs and some churches have them, and the Orpheum has a particularly tasty fry.
Farm fresh food
The Dane County Farmer's Market is amazing and HUGE. The big one is open every Saturday morning, and is located on the capitol square for most of the year. In addition to the ludicrous amount of fresh produce, there are also bakery stands, coffee, and fresh juice carts for quick breakfasts.
There are also a few smaller markets scattered around town, almost every day of the week:
- Sunday: 8:30am to 12:30pm in front of Pierce's Northside Market
- Monday: (none)
- Tuesday: 4pm to 7pm on Ingersol at Williamson, 2pm to 6pm at 1602 S. Park St,
- Wednesday: 8am to 2pm on MLKJr Blvd, 7am to 1pm at the Hilldale Shopping Center,
- Thursday: Thursdays, 2pm to 6pm at the Villager Mall on Park St., 2pm to 6pm in the McFarland Centre, 7:30am to 1:30pm in the Greenway Station shopping center,
- Friday: (none)
- Saturday: 6am to 2pm on the Capitol square, 7am to 1pm at the Hilldale Shopping Center, 9am to 2pm at 1602 S. Park St, 7am to 1pm at Sheboygan Ave. and Segoe Rd., and 8:30am to 11am in Watertower Park.
During the summer and fall, you can wander out to one of the many local farms. Grab some friends and drag them along to a U-Pick farm while strawberries, raspberries, apples, or pumpkins are in season -- the distance can detract, but the produce is much cheaper when you pick it yourself.
If you're in town for the summer, you might consider signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture food box. CSA is a way to support a local farm by paying an annual fee in the winter or spring which buys you a share of the season's harvest. Once harvesting begins, members pick-up a weekly box of fresh foods which may include produce, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers, herbs or preserves. The typical CSA season in Wisconsin runs from the end of May through mid-October. You do have to pay the lump sum up-front, and some weeks you'll find yourself with five pounds of chard... but for most of the summer you'll have your produce needs met, and you can feel good about supporting small local farms. Better yet, most of the university's insurance providers offer rebates for signing up for a CSA -- somewhere between $50-$300, depending on the plan and how many people you're sharing with (for example, if two people on GHC share a box, they might pay $450 for the box for a box lasting 25 weeks, but they they could each get $100 back, making that $5/week per person). If you're interested, remember to sign up early -- most programs are full by May.
- Capitol Centre Foods: Given their small size, they have an excellent selection of groceries. They tend to be a bit pricey. In addition, they deliver groceries.
- Copps: Your standard grocery store with multiple locations.
- Costco: Your friendly big-box bulk store. They treat their employees incredibly well. Good buys on computers, 2 lbs of sockeye salmon or button down oxford cloth long sleeved shirts. You'll need a membership or go there with someone who has a membership. You can also get a free trial membership if you simply ask.
- Cub Foods: Family size packs of everything!
- Walgreens: Pharmacy/Grocery store. In a pinch, it will do (no produce though). There is a Walgreens on the corner of Lake & State Street near Van Vleck, and on the Capitol Square.
- Whole Foods: Kinda spendy, but good bread, specialty stuff, and produce through the winter.
- Woodman's: two locations -- East and West. If you have a car and the time, go here. Very large, very cheap, but time consuming. They don't take credit cards, so bring a debit card or check book. The produce is pretty poor, but they're huge and, again, cheap. Check out the liquor store for a large selection (you can buy all types of alcohol in grocery stores in Wisconsin... but not after 9pm).
- Trader Joe's: Located at 1810 Monroe St. They have good prices for select specialty food items such as wine, cheese and fancy snacks. Their basic foodstuffs tend to be a bit pricey.
- The Jenifer Street Market located on 2038 Jenifer Street is a nice little grocery store if you happen to live in the area.
Co-ops are a good source of local organic food. If you are a member they provide discounts, but you can also shop there at your own will.
- Regent Market Cooperative, 2136 Regent St. 233-4329.
- Willy Street Co-op The largest and most active co-op in the Madison area. They have been able to survive the decline in co-ops over the years. They offer a large selection of bulk foods and spices at an excellent price. For a quick bite, they have an excellent deli, salad bar, and in-store coffee shop. 1221 Williamson St. 251-6776. They recently opened a second store in Middleton located at 6825 University Ave. Both locations deliver groceries.
- Aldi Foods: It's like grocery shopping at overstock.com.
- Asian Midway Market: The go-to market for anything Thai, Chinese or South-East Asian, this centrally-located store comes highly recommended. In particular, they offer a great selection of specialized produce. 301 South Park Street; 255-5864
- Brennan's Market: Great for Produce, Meats, Cheese, Micro brews and Wines. You won't find things like Flour and Saran Wrap here, but definitely worth the trip.
- Farm Fresh Atlas: Not a grocery store, but a good resource for where you can buy local foods and a list of farms in the areas.
- The Seafood Center: The name says it all. Great fresh fish and live lobsters.
- Fraboni's: An awesome Italian grocery store and deli. They have very good olive oils, pastas, and make-your-own pizza fixings.
- Garden Asian Market: A full service Asian food market specializing in fresh meat, produce, and seafood. Mostly Chinese-leaning, they do a good job of providing a wide variety of items within their niche. It may be far out, but it's worth the trip in its pleasantness and selection.
- India House: Really well done Indian grocery store. Good place to buy Kari leaves.
- Lee's Oriental: Next to Penzey's spices. 3240 University Ave; 231-1593
- Oriental Shop: They carry mostly dry-goods, and tend to lean toward stocking more Korean items. 1206 South Park Street; 255-0326
Haven't found a place yet? Already hate your apartment?
- UW Off-Campus Housing Search: Probably the best search site for students.
- Again, Craig's List is a good resourse. Also a good place to look for roommates outside of the department.
- University Apartments: On campus graduate housing, particularly popular with married couples (especially with children). Singles are also welcome. Many of them are on the bus rout #80, a free route which runs from the apartments through campus every fifteen minutes throughout the day.
Location, Location, Location
Graduate students tend to clump in their housing. The best areas are just a bit away from campus, far away enough to be out of the undergraduate mayhem, but still close enough to keep the commute down.
The Vilas neighborhood, just south of VV between Park and Monroe north of Lake Wingra, is a great example of a good grad student filled neighborhood. East of the Capitol building, we also have the Willy St. neightborhood (between Williamson and Rutledge streets, between Paterson and Thornton) and the other side of the Isthmus, between Mifflin and Lake Mendota, no closer than Blount (or you will be amidst UW greek houses) and no farther than Baldwin. The Eagle Heights neighborhood is also very popular, especially with international students and students with families.
A little farther out to the west side (off the map below), there is also Sheboygan Ave, which includes Normandy, Chapel Hill, Carolina, Monticello, Hilldale Towers, Park Towers, and Sovereign Apartments.
Biggest guideline: stay within walking distance of campus or near a busline (don't plan to park on campus). You will receive a free bus pass for the Madison Metro system, which is very reliable. Check out the “plan your trip” link to find bus routes near you.
Here is an approximate map of good areas (with local grocery stores!). Basically, shoot for zones 4 and 6 on this map (the map from the UW Off-Campus Housing Search).
Stuff your landlord might not tell you
Lots of apartments have water, sewage, heat, and and sometimes electricity included in rent. For those which don't, be sure to find out what to expect through the Madison Gas and Electric web page. Just tell them the address of the place you're looking at, and they'll tell you what the highs, lows, and averages have been over the last year.
- Property information:
The City Assessor has all of the basic information about Madison properties on file, including how many units are on the property, how much square footage there is, if there's AC in the building, what school district it's in, who your alderperson would be, and what else is on the property (e.g. garages). They'll even tell you how much the property is worth, and how much your landlord is paying in property taxes. Sometimes the square footage isn't broken up--for example, maybe there are two units on the first floor, but they'll only tell you that there are 1,700 sq ft on that floor, not how it's split up between the two units. It can be a useful site for rounding out your knowledge of places you're considering renting.
- Tenants rights:
The Tenant resource center is a small non-profit membership organization which provides housing counseling, mediation services and office assistance. Their website includes tips for new renters, generic rental forms, and advice for what to do if your landlord just won't get back to you about repairs, returning deposits, etc. There is also the Student tenant union, which is specifically targeted to UW students.
Many properties in Madison are run by rental companies -- some large, some small -- some good, some not-so-good. Larger companies tend to have lower prices, and more people working toward maintaining rentals. However, they may have less of an investment in taking care of each individual property or screening their tenants. Some people feel better renting from small companies, or landlords with only one or two houses. You may get more individual attention and care. Individuals have more investment in protecting each property, and renting to good tenants, so the properties tend to be in more reliable condition. However, with fewer properties comes fewer resources and higher prices.
Whatever choice you make, be sure to have a conversation with your potential landlords about their polices, especially if you aren't going to be able to see things in person. It may also be good to Google the company or person to see if other people have had something good or bad to say about them or their properties. In particular, ApartmentRatings.com has a few of the apartment complexes around town listed.
Here are some general impressions/very subjective opinions that some of us have gotten from/about a few of the larger local companies:
- AB Holdings: In particular, they have a couple small apartment buildings on Vilas that are particularly ideal for two people. Quite a few people from the department have rented these units and have been pretty happy.
- Apex Property Management: Great company. Well-maintained properties, with many of the more recently remodeled rentals being very nice. Their representatives are helpful and responsible, and their tenants seem to be generally satisfied.
- The Christensen Company: Not terribly up-to-date apartments, but worth taking a look at.
- Madison Property Management: Lots of choices, but notoriously junky properties. They tend to cater mostly to undergraduates, and their rentals show it. We wouldn't recommend renting from this company unless you visit first.
- The McBride Companies: Nice properties, good management. Really good website if you turn the sound off.
- Tallard Apartments: Nice properties with very friendly and responsive staff. Their rentals tend to go early in the season.
- Wisconsin Management Company: Nice enough properties, but kind of flakey representation. Make sure to ask lots of questions.
- The Wright Company (or Norris Ct. Apartments): Very nice older buildings, but kind of sketchy management. Nothing is going to be in stellar shape, but they do tend to rent more to graduates and professionals, so they aren't beat up either. If you do rent from them, don't expect them to be very responsive, and be sure to be especially careful about protecting your security deposit by taking photos and keeping a record of your move-in report.
- St. Vincent DePaul's: Like Goodwill. Has cheap dressers, desks, chairs, and general household stuff. Will deliver for a small charge. This is also a great place to donate any furniture or other items that you no longer want – they will pick up the items from your apartment. There is also a Goodwill in town, but they won't have nearly the same volume of furniture.
- Craig's List: a free online classifieds site. Great not only for furniture, but also pet resources and last minute apartment hunting.
- Eagle Heights Apartment Bulletin Boards: Lots of cheap stuff from people graduating, many of whom are moving overseas. You can even find cars. You can try posting your own wanted posters on the boards. You can find these boards at the bus stops for the (free) bus 80 route.
- Freecycle: A community "give stuff away for free" website with a Madison branch.
- The Todd Drive Area: Just west of park street on the beltline. American Furniture for furniture and electronics, Home Concepts for cheap but nice looking furniture, and Steinhafel's for furniture and mattresses.
- SWAP. The UW's surplus supply store.
International Student Resources
Here are a few links specifically for international students. There are international grocery stores listed in the groceries section.
- Chinese Student & Scholar Association: A connection to the university's Chinese community for incoming students. They offer rides from the airport, list general information about madison, and organize get-tegethers/Chinese celebrations. International Conversation & Coffee Hour: meet other international students and americans interested in other cultures. Every Friday, 12-2pm, Cooper Hearth Room 160, Union South.
- International Student Services: the UW's International Student Services
- IGSA: Indian Graduate Student Association.
- MadIndians: a Yahoo online group for students from India in Madison. Good place to search for an Indian roommate.
- Madison Association of Turkish Students: Very helpful for incoming Turkish students. It includes information about how best to get to Madison from Turkey, information about housing, and how to reach other Turkish students in Madison.
- The Capitol Times: Standard local newspaper, printed daily in the afternoon. Of the two standards, this one tends to be the more liberal.
- The Isthmus: Free independent Madison newspaper. Has a liberal voice and is full of entertainment, including family fun, outdoor attractions, and fine arts. Also puts out the Annual Manual - the yearly guide to all things Madison.
- The Onion: While hilarious, this paper is only really good if you're already in on the joke. We get free paper copies in Madison. There is a stack near the elevators in VV. The local edition has local entertainment listings.
- Wisconsin State Journal: Standard local newspaper, printed daily in the mornings. Of the two standards, this one tends to be the more conservative.
- Blackhawk Evangelical Free Church: Near Sheboygan Ave. at 110 N Whitney Way. A huge church, but with opportunities to get involved and meet people. It has services in the sanctuary, with a mixture of traditional and semi-modern worship, and also "video cafe" services with more lively, modern worship. Very good teaching.
- Christ Presbyterian Church. Just east of James Madison Park on Gorham. Has a great choir and organist!
- The First Unitarian Society of Madison. "A liberal religious community that encourages individual spiritual growth and community action in an atmosphere of warmth, freedom of belief, intellectual curiosity, and open dialogue." Looking for something new? They're open to all types. Also, they are housed in a historic Frank Lloyd Wright building.
- Fountain of Life: 1717 Fish Hatchery Rd. A multi-ethnic church with a lot of eclectic music styles, including a lot of Gospel music
- The Geneva Campus Church: On Campus Reformed church. They describe themselves as "a university church for the whole family"
- Hillel: UW-Madison's on-campus center for everything Jewish: religious, cultural, political, traditional, and alternative. Located on Langdon Street, it serves both the school population and, to a far lesser extent, the entire city.
- Islamic Center of Madison: Has a masjid inside. 21 N Orchard St, (608)251-9851
- InterVarsity Grad Christian Fellowship: It's a welcoming place for Christians and non-Christians alike. (You might even find your future husband/wife there) They also have a website with info about local churches. There is a new student picnic at the beginning of the fall semester.
- Latter Day Saints: There are a number of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wards in the Madison area. The Madison First Ward covers areas closest to campus and meets at 4505 Regent Street, two blocks south of Hilldale Mall, at 9am. The University Ward serves single adults and meets at 1711 University Avenue at 10 am. The Madison Third Ward serves areas close to campus and meets at 701 Bear Claw Way on Madison's far west side at 11 am. Visitors and the curious are always welcome.
- Lutheran Campus Center: A fairly young, enthusiastic, and liberal-minded congragation, found right on campus.
- Mad City Church: A non-denominational, casual christian fellowship. Services are held in the LaFollette High School located on Madison's east side - very near the corner of Pflaum Rd. and Monona Dr. Office at 2713 E. Washington Ave.
- Madison UU Young Adult and Campus Ministry (MUUYACM). One of the largest and most active Unitarian Universalist young adult groups in the U.S., they are open to young adults (ages 18-35) of all denominations. In addition to worships, they organize social-justice-oriented activities, and are an active member of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
- St. Paul's University Catholic Center: On campus in Library Mall near Lake & State. Has a lively Catholic grad student group called Mustard Seed with Bible studies, Thursday night speakers, retreats, service projects, and large quantities of food and euchre.
- Unity of Madison: (from their site) "Unity of Madison is a heart-centered Spiritual Community focused on Truth Seeking and Spiritual Growth through the Christ Consciousness of Acceptance, Love, Peace and Joy. Our purpose is to inspire, nuture, and empower all people in their spiritual growth. We provide creative worship, joyful gathering and educational programs as we teach and live Jesus' message that 'the kingdom of God is within you.'"
- Zen Buddhism: A local zen buddhist center is located next to Willy st co-op. New comers are especially welcome.
Fun Stuff: Unions, Clubs, Outdoors, Activities, etc.
A.K.A. the "Get a Life" stuff...
As a graduate student, it’s sometimes easy to get so caught up in school that you can forget that there is life outside of school. Some of us here in the department have dedicated ourselves so thoroughly to mathematics that we don't really need any hobbies. For the rest of us, here are some other great ways to stay happy, healthy, and sane!
Madison might not be a large city, but it has a lot of things to do and see. There are cultural events on campus and at the Overture Center; sporting events; art, science, natural history, and history museums; parks, the arboretum, and botanical gardens; a free zoo; hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing; a Farmer’s Market on the Capital Square every Saturday morning from April-October; and lots of other things. How can you find out about these activities? One good place to start is pick up a copy of Madison’s free weekly newspaper, the Isthmus, which is available in many stores, in campus buildings, and on street corners.
Also, you can...
Go to the Union!
The Memorial Union is located on the lakefront, on Park and Langdon. Be sure to check out the Terrace while the weather is still good -- it's a great place to go to get out of the office, grab something to snack on, and study out in the sun. You'll find the Daily Scoop (yummy ice cream!) and Der Rathskeller (beer and deep-fried goodness). You'll also find all sorts of stuff to keep you busy, like the Craftshop, the Union Theater, the Hoofers' headquarters, and a wide array of Mini Courses with which to expand your horizons.
Also useful: the travel services center and STA Travel will get you good deals on trips (including bus tickets to O'Hare, Midway, and Milwaukee airports), and the theater's box office will get you good deals on shows (theater, music, etc) all around town. In addition, the Union has always got other special events going on to keep all of us entertained -- see their complete list of activities.
Join a Club!
The University of Wisconsin, being a rather large institution, has got so much stuff going on for all of us student-types. Here are some ways people around the department have been taking advantage:
- Craftshop: Located upstairs in the Memorial Union, they are "here to satisfy your creative urges in a variety of craft media." Their facilities include a darkroom, a woodshop, a ceramics studio, metal working tools, etc. Friday afternoons, they open their studios to all union members (that means you!) for free!
- Hoofers: Student outdoor recreation club. The Outing and Sailing clubs in particular have lots of graduate students.
- IGSA: Indian Graduate Student Association.
- GSC: Graduate Student Collaborative Organization
- Student Organizations: at UW Madison (this is a directory of all registered student organizations at the university; you can search by topic or name)
Madison is a very outdoors-oriented town (despite the weather). In particular, Madison is a pretty bicycle friendly city. Here are some ways to take advantage:
- Take a nice long walk along one of the many paths around Picnic Point... bike the path from Memorial Union out to the tip, or bus/drive out to the base of picnic point and wander the foot trails in the area.
- Head down State Street to the Capitol and explore the Capitol building and surrounding shops.
- Head towards Monona Terrace on Lake Monona, and take one of the paths that wraps around the lake (great bike ride!).
- You can also go walking around the Arboretum south of campus and tour their gardens, or head to the free Vilas Zoo.
- Eagle Heights Community Garden: open to both residents and non-residents alike for a small fee. A great place for a stroll if you live in Eagle Heights.
- The Olbrich Botanical Gardens are located east of lake Monona. Stroll through 16 acres of outdoor display gardens including their award-winning Rose Garden and Thai Pavilion and Garden, or enjoy the year-round tropical Conservatory, a glass pyramid filled with exotic plants, bright flowers, a rushing waterfall, fragrant orchids and free-flying birds.. Outdoor gardens are open daily and free to the public, while entrance to the conservatory is $1 per person.
- Catch a festival; Madison is home to a number of festivals -- big festivals, small festivals, arts festivals, music festivals, film festivals, beer festivals -- we've got all kinds.
Enjoy the winter; once we've suffered through a couple of weeks of below feezing temperatures, the fun really starts.
- The city of Madison parks open up outdoor ice skating at Tenney, Vilas, and Elver parks. No skates? No worries. They will rent skates to you there ($6.00 for the first hour, $2/hr after that).
- There is also cross-country skiing at a number of Dane county parks, with passes starting at $5/day. No skills? Check out lessons at the Madison Nordic Ski Club or, again, Hoofers has lots to offer in that area.
Do Something Athletic!
- Go to the Gym: Rec Sports runs the gyms on campus. There are three such on-campus gyms -- The SERF, the Nat, and the Shell, which are free with student ID. For $10/semester, you can attend any of their Group Fitness classes, which cover everything from aerobics and weights to yoga and dance. Also, both the SERF and Nat have indoor pools.
- See a Game: As a student, you can get tickets to UW athletic events. There are at least a few people in the department with season tickets for football at Camp Randall. You can also look into season tickets, and sometimes individual tickets, for basketball, hockey, etc. For a less-commitment, still awesome game, try the UW women's hockey team-- they are 3-time national champions, and home student tickets are $2.
There are usually several math students who already go or would be happy to go with you. Ask around!
- Ballroom: UWMBDA is the big ballroom dance group here. They have dances with lessons every week on Friday or Saturday and a practice group every Thursday.
- Contra Dance: Meetings every Tuesday.
- International Folk club: meets biweekly Library Mall, Wed/Sun 7:30PM-late.
- Swing: Jumptown Swing is UW's swing club. They host (mostly) weekly dances at Union South, and provide lessons for a nominal fee. See their site for scheduling and links to other swing orgonizations. Also, on Wednesdays, there's dancing at the Brink Lounge from 8-11.
- Salsa: Venues include Cardinal Bar on Thursdays, Frida's on Friday nights. Don't know how to Salsa? There are lessons before dances at Cardinal, and instruction is offered through the Union's minicourses.
- Tango: the Madison Tango Society provides lessons and dances for Argentine Tango. Their site has a good list or other events in and around Madison.
Go to a Library!
More of a stay inside kinda day? In addition to the many Libraries of UW, the Madison Public Library (main branch located on the square, others around, including Monroe St) is a great place for books, movies, and music.
See a Movie!
The Daily Page has a listing of movie times for most of the theaters around town (both big and small):
- Eastgate, Point and Star Cinema are the three larger movie theaters in town.
- Market Square shows second runs at a good discount.
- The Orpheum is an old cinema within site of the capitol on State street. They tend to show less mainstream movies.
- Sundance 608 shows independent film as well as blockbuster movies. They have a rooftop cafe that's open during the summer months, 2 bars (you can take a drink into your movie), and a restaurant!
For on-campus movies:
- The Wisconsin Union Directorate runs on campus screening of films. Their film site can be found here.
- The UW film department hosts free screenings of a wide array of films based on a given theme for that semester through their cinematheque. Their department has many contacts with other film institutes and are able show rare original 35mm films that you can't see anywhere else.
- In late March/early April, go check out some of the many many films showing at the Wisconsin Film Festival. Sites all over town take part in hosting the showing of these films.
Madison also has a number of independent video stores:
- Four Star Video Heaven has been voted as a Madison Favorite for a number of years. See their site to browse their collection online.
- Bongo Video has a smaller, but quite tasty selection. Lots of personality, and good daily specials.
Attend a Music Concert!
Whether you're looking to play music, or just go watch free or (in)expensive concerts, there are many options in Madison.
- Our very own Music Department hosts many music events. Their website has a calendar listing current music events including faculty concerts and student recitals.
- The Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is the professional symphony based here in Madison. With your student ID, you can get student rush tickets for as little as $10 per person.
- The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra is Madison's professional chamber orchestra. Each summer, their widely popular concerts on the square draw many people from all over the place for a free outdoor concert.
- The Madison Community Orchestra (MCO) is an informal group run by Madison Area Technical College that meets once a week. There are four free concerts a year and no auditions to play with the group.
- The Middleton Community Orchestra is a second newly formed community orchestra run by community musicians. Their concerts are extremely affordable, and they may run auditions.
Van Vleck Miscellany
Here's a bit more info about the happenings in and around the Math Dept.
- Paychecks: The first paycheck of the year arrives in October, though you may request an advance on about 30% of your first paycheck when you arrive. If you are not working over the summer, the last will come in June, so be sure to plan for the three month gap.
- Fees: You will be charged for segregated fees in both semesters, and are not covered in your tuition. The amount depends on your credit load and status, but will be about $500 for most people and due about the time of your first paycheck. If you are on fellowship, this will be taken care of for you, and shouldn't appear on your bill.
- TA union: The teaching assistants of Wisconsin are unionized. Even if you are not a TA, but are an employee of the department, you're still connected to them through advocacy and campus issues. For more information check out the TAA.
Getting stuff done
See the Contacts section for a list of people who will help you get stuff done.
If you want to reserve rooms in Van Vleck for review sessions or meetings you can fill out a green form with Sharon Paulson on the second floor. Sharon does the scheduling for about 4 or 5 rooms in the building, so you can also ask her about these rooms directly. If you need to reserve the 9th floor lounge, talk to Joan Wendt (also second floor).
Each grad receives 200 photocopies and 250 black and white print outs a month for personal math use. If you are a TA, Sharon in the Copy Center on the second floor can photocopy materials for classes (which does not count toward your quota)– such as worksheets and quizzes. Just give her at least 24 hours notice. To check your printout quota, open a terminal logged into the math server, and type "pages". If you do go over your quota, you will simply get a (probably very small) bill at the end of the month.
We get free office supplies on the 2nd floor – just ask Sharon for pens, folders, etc.
You can pick up and send out your mail from the second floor. You might even want to have packages delivered to the department, to avoid missing them being delivered at home (UPS, for example, won't drop off to apartment complexes if you aren't there, so you'll have to drive out to Middleton to pick up your packages).
It's never too early to start studying for quals... early and often, my friends. Early and Often.
Historically, some afternoons and Friday before colloquium, we have a cookie and coffee social hour on the 9th floor lounge. Keep your eyes open for announcements.
Definitely check out some of the colloquia and seminars. The earlier you get involved the better. This is a great way to learn more about potential research areas, meet other people in the areas, and meet other mathematicians in other departments. There is a list posted on the 9th floor each week in addition to online.
There's all this stuff that people like to know about when they move here, that doesn't have anything to do with eating, having fun, or getting paid... this is the grab bag where we'll stick such things.
Frequently asked questions for Wisconsin voting can be found here. As of the April election, Wisconsin has a law that allows for same day registration at the polls:
If you wish to register to vote at your polling place, you must complete a voter registration application (EB-131), provide your driver's license number (or if you have not been issued a driver's license, provide a state-issued identification card number or provide the last four (4) digits of your social security number), AND have proof of residence indicating that you have lived at your current address for 10 days preceding the election.
Out of state licenses work, and utility bills, bank statements, or pay checks with your name and address on them work for proof of residence.
Madison has a DMV out on the west side, just past Midvale, at 4802 Sheboygan Ave, and one on the east side out near the airport.
- Licenses: As they say on their page for licensing new residents, if you're looking to put your permanent residence here and vote here and generally show up on the radar, you should apply for your WI license within 60 days of establishing residency. Your first baseline license costs $28, and is valid for three years. Note: you will need to take with you, among other things, something like a rent agreement, or a utility bill, UW transcript, or bank statement actually mailed to your WI address (no e-bills). We'll note that math students have been known to wait longer than 60 days to officially apply for residency, but we recommend you don't wait until an out-of-state license expires to get a WI license.
- Vehicle Registration: If you own a car and officially become a WI resident, you need to get WI plates. All the information you need is available here.
- Parking: First, unless you have a motorcycle, don't plan to park on campus regularly. For parking near your residence, there are some options. Depending on the neighborhood, it's possible to rent a place that has parking included or available for an extra charge. Additionally, if you live in an area surrounded by 2-hr parking zones, you can usually buy a permit (for a little over $20 per year) allowing you to park on the street all day near your home. More information can be found on the City of Madison Parking Utility page. Most importantly, "the vehicle for which you are requesting a permit must be owned by you, your child, your parents/step parents, legal guardian, spouse or registered domestic partner, or be a leased or company vehicle which is assigned to you."
BE AWARE! Winter parking gets all crazy in Madison (from November 15 - March 15). Most of town is on an alternate side parking schedule: cars should be parked on the even (resp. odd) house numbered side of the street from 1:00a.m. until 7:00 a.m. on even (resp. odd) numbered days. If you live on the isthmus in the Snow Emergency Zone, you will only need to do this when the weather gets really bad. You can sign up for alerts when this happens.
If you leave your car in the wrong place -- with winter nonsense or for any other reason -- and it gets towed, you can call the Madison Police Department (266-4260) or Schmidt's Towing (257-0505) to find out what they've done with it.
Once you've lived here for an entire calendar year, be sure to look into the Wisconsin Homestead Credit... it's usually worth the time and effort for graduate students. Until then, you can look into deducting moving costs for relocating here on your federal taxes.
A warning to students on fellowship: taxes will not be taken out of your paycheck, but you still have to pay them. You may want to consider filing quarterly.
Wisconsin benefit programs
We don't exactly get piles of money for teaching. In fact, most people who are not on fellowship or receiving summer funding can qualify for some heating aid (up to $380/year), and electricity aid (up to $285/year). You can check your eligibility at Access WI. There may be some residency requirements, like the Homestead credit. You can find your annual salary in our contract.
While it's usually a good idea to become a WI resident, if, for some reason, you're looking to declare residency in WI for tuition purposes, the answer is usually "no." It seems that one has to be in Wisconsin for a full year before enrolling at the UW, and one has to prove that one did not move here primarily for educational purposes (according to the Wisconsin statutes, you have to provide "clear and convincing evidence"). More on that at the Office of the Registrar's site.
The Essential Wisconsin Dictionary (Wisconsin Lingo!)
If you are new to the state you may notice people saying things in conversation that don't seem to make much sense. The GSC (Graduate Student Collaborative) has compiled a handy phrase “book” to help you communicate with the locals and also with those of us who have been here awhile and haven’t figured it out!
BELTLINE: The common name for U.S. Highway 12/18, the expressway that skirts the city. Washington, D.C. has an expressway that circles its’ capital city called the ‘Beltway’. It is only fitting that as the capital of the great state of Wisconsin, Madison has the Beltline. It also offers Wisconsin newspaper editors the ability to refer to state political shenanigans as happening "inside the Beltline." The Beltline is a limited-access road, where you don't have to worry about traffic lights.
BRAT: Short for bratwurst, rhymes with "rot" not "rat." It is a German word and dates to circa 1888. In Wisconsin, it's a food of almost religious stature. This spicy German sausage (in gray or red varieties) can be found at the grill on the Union Terrace or at almost any picnic or public event. Backyard chefs like to boil the brats in beer and onions prior to browning them on the grill to create a true Wisconsin delicacy. Packages of six – eight brats may also be purchased at a supermarket in the meat section. A brat (rhymes with ‘rot’) should not be confused with a brat (rhymes with ‘rat’). A brat (rhymes with ‘rat’) is a sassy, obnoxious, spoiled child.
BUBBLER: A drinking fountain. Specifically, it refers to drinking fountains that feature a stream of water in the middle that bubbles upward. In Wisconsin, however, the term is frequently used for any kind of drinking fountain. You can find an example in most buildings on campus. According to the Dictionary of American Regional English (which is written by researchers at UW-Madison), "bubbler" has been used since 1914, with the most widespread usage in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
CAPITOL SQUARE: The four streets that form a square around the state capitol building. The "Capitol Square” or sometimes just the “Square," as it is commonly known, sits opposite of the campus at the other end of State Street. It is the site for many Madison events, including, for example, the renowned Farmers' Market, Concerts on the Square, the Art Fair on the Square and the Taste of Madison. Restaurants and bars near the Square tend to be more upscale, catering to young professionals rather than UW-Madison students.
CHEESE CURDS: A cheese product and Wisconsin delicacy. They are available at grocery stores and establishments with "cheese haus" in their name (these are German-style cheese stores often attached to cheese factories). When milk coagulates, it separates into a semi-solid portion (curd) and a watery liquid (whey). Cheese is made from the curd. Cheese curds are the youngest cheddar cheese possible. Fresh cheese curds squeak when you bite into them. Cheese curds may also refer to a common item on tavern and supper club (see below) menus in Wisconsin. The same cheddar cheese curds are double-dipped in batter and fried to perfection, usually served with a side of marinara sauce.
CHEESEHEAD: Many consider this a derogatory name for the state's residents, but some Wisconsinites are actually proud to wear foam-rubber cheese wedges on their heads. Don't be surprised if you see them on State Street, in Camp Randall (the football stadium), or outside the Kohl Center (the basketball arena).
COTTAGE: Term for a second home. "Cottage" may refer to a fishing shanty or a huge mansion. Often, people will go "up north" (see below) to their "cottage."
FISH FRY: A Wisconsin tradition, restaurants and bars throughout the Madison area have Friday night fish fry specials. Whitefish and codfish is usually featured. High fat content is a must.
FROZEN CUSTARD: This is a unique ice-cream-like treat that is found only in a handful of cities around the country. Made with cream and eggs, frozen custard has become one of the area's primary food staples. Michael's Frozen Custard and Culver's both supply Madison with this rich and tasty treat. There are other independent stores in the surrounding areas outside Madison.
GROCERY STORE: Another name for a large supermarket likes Copps, Sentry, Woodmans, etc.
LIBRARY MALL: The open area between Memorial Union, Memorial Library, and the University Bookstore at the corner of Lake and State Streets. This area is home to many food / vendor carts and street performers, especially when the weather is warm. This is one of several "malls" on campus, where "mall" means a street without motorized traffic. Henry Mall is the centerpiece of the agricultural campus on the west side of the university. Engineering Mall is the area with the fountain outside the engineering buildings, also on the west side of campus.
SODA: While many Americans call carbonated beverages "pop," many Wisconsin residents (especially those from the Milwaukee area) use the term "soda." Soda refers to any brand of carbonated beverage like Pepsi, Coke, 7-Up, Ginger Ale, Diet Coke, etc.
ST. VINNIES: Also known as St. Vincent DePaul, this is a charitable resale shop for used clothing, furniture, and miscellaneous goods that outfits many students and furnishes their apartments. Goodwill, another resale shop, also serves this purpose.
SUPPER CLUB: A Wisconsin dining tradition, supper clubs do not actually have members. They are not clubs either. They are restaurants with dark dining rooms usually specializing in Friday night fish fry (see above) and Saturday night prime rib. Cracker baskets and iceberg lettuce salads are usually featured.
TENNIS SHOES: Athletic shoes that are used for any sport. In other states, people call them sneakers. People play all sports in tennis shoes as well as wear them for their shoe of choice.
TYME MACHINE: No, H.G. Wells was not reincarnated as a UW professor. TYME stands for Take Your Money Everywhere. TYME Machines refer to the local network of ATMs. When people go to an ATM to get cash, they say they are ‘going to the Tyme Machine’.
UP NORTH: Where Wisconsinites go on vacation (sometimes the location technically may be south, west, or east). Usually refers to the resort areas or their cottage (see above) in the northern part of the state.
WILLY STREET: The common name for the near-eastside neighborhood around Williamson Street. This is a popular area for grad students, with several good restaurants and shops. The Willy Street Natural Food Co-op is located there. The neighborhood also hosts the Willy Street Fair in early fall.
Contacts and Other Resources
- Guide to Graduate Student Life: The Graduate Student Collaborative's (GSC) guide to grad student life in Madison -- like this one, but different.
- Guide for Math TAs: from real live Van Vleck TAs
- Yelp.com: Find reviews of local stuff- restaurants and things to do, but also dentists, auto shops, etc.
Got Questions? Here are some folks who might just have the answers...
Administrative and Support Staff
The administrative and support staff are the folk that keep our department functioning. Without them, we as mathematicians would be lost. :) Their pictures can be found here and their contact info can be found here. If one person doesn't know how to deal with a problem you might have, they certainly know who might be able to help you out.
Kate Bartlett Position: Timetable/Undergraduate Office: 203 VV Email: bartlett@math Ask Kate about: Registration (for you and your students), MyUW stuff, classroom assignments.
David Camacho Position: Assoc Fac Assoc Office: 321 VV Email: camacho@math Ask David about: the Math Tutorial Program (if a student needs extra attention)
Mark Castillo Position: Grants/Proposals Office: 214 VV Email: castillo @math Ask Mark about: grant money
Mike Grenie Position: Payroll/Benefits Office: 207 VV Email: grenie@math Ask Mike about: Payroll, hourly positions, taxes, tuition, healthcare, and benefits.
Yvonne Nagel Position: Sr IPC Office: 515 VV Email: ynagel@math Ask Yvonne about: all things computing.
Sharon Paulson Position: Receptionist / Copy Center Office: 213 VV Email: paulson@math Ask Sharon about: Office supplies, room reservations (review sessions/exams/other), copying machine codes, private tutoring list.
Mary Rice Position: Grad Prog. Admin Office: 214 VV Email: mrice@math Ask Mary about: Math dept records (teaching letters, transcripts, etc), how you go about graduating.
Diane Rivard Position: Placement Advisor Office: 720 VV Email: rivard@math Ask Diane about: Placement questions (what class your student should be in, placement exam issues)
Joan Wendt Position: Chair Secretary Office: 218 VV Email: wendt@math Ask Joan about: office assignments and keys
Vicky Whelan Position: Dept Administrator Office: 223 VV Email: whelan@math Ask Vicky about: the dept credit card, espresso club, awesome concerts around town.
Current and Former Graduate Students Interested in Meeting YOU
David Dynerman Email: dynerman@ Website: Grad-age: 3rd year Area of interest: Algebra Ask David about: programming video games, trying to do Hartshorne problems, going to the gym, Mushfeq Khan, Andrew Bridy
Thomas Hangelbroek Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: Grad-age: Graduated 2007 Area of interest: Analysis Ask Thomas about: Anything Madison. Thomas is an expert in all things Madison.
Sara Jensen Email: jensen@ Website: Grad-age: 3rd year Area of interest: Algebra Ask Sara about: Teaching, topology & algebra quals, knitting group, going to the gym
(Evan) Alec Johnson Email: ejohnson@ Website Grad-age: 7th year Area of interest: Applied Math Ask Alec about: teaching, advanced calculus, gardening, and Geneva Campus Church.
Christine Lien Email: lien@ Website Grad-age: 6th year Area of interest: Complex Geometry Ask Christine about: anything, including bridge/card games, organizing women's events, the Association of Asian American Graduate students, and the Graduate Student Topology Seminar.
Hao Lin Email: lin@ Website Grad-age: 5th year Area of interest: Probability Ask Hao about: sports and anything about China.
Jonathon Mason Email: email@example.com Grad-age: Graduated 2010 Ask Mason about: Wisconsin hiking, the local film scene.
Jason Murcko Email: murcko@ Website Grad-age: 4th year Area of interest: Analysis Ask Jason about: the TAA and the local film and music scenes.
Mike Schroeder Email: schroede@ Website Grad-age: 6th year Area of interest: Combinatorics Ask Mike about: softball, bowling, sailing, racquet ball, and the Florida Gators.
David Seal Email: seal@ Website Grad-age: too many. Area of interest: Numerical Analysis Ask David about: stuff
Beth Skubak Email: skubak@ Website Grad-age: 2nd year Area of interest: undecided Ask Beth about: anything, including this wiki
Mike Woodbury Email: woodbury@ Website Grad-age: 6th year Area of interest: Number Theory Ask Mike about: anything, including number theory, road biking, UW basketball tix.