Welcome to the University of Arizona in 2020! Whether you’ve been around the block here a few times or are brand new to the university experience, today’s unprecedented circumstances can be anxiety-inducing from freshmen to grad students alike. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know the answers to the question every college student ever has undoubtedly asked:
“What can I get for free?”
From warm, home-cooked meals to digital creative tools (saving you hundreds of dollars in the process), we’ve compiled a list of some things you’ll need to manage and enjoy your semester.
Let’s start with some basics: Say you’re on your way to Scented Leaf for some freshly brewed tea, but your bike wheel hits the SunLink streetcar track at the wrong angle and you go flying (been there, done that -- wear a helmet and watch out for those tracks!). The laptop in your backpack breathes its last as it crashes against the street, and your paper is due tomorrow. What to do? Head to the main library and borrow a laptop, and many other tech hardwares like chargers and cameras, for free with your CatCard! Head to the UA library’s borrowing site for more info.
ADOBE AND OTHER TECH ACCESS:
Speaking of the library, you can also access maker studios and VR spaces for free, with access to laser cutters, 3D printers, sewing machines, vinyl cutters, microcomputers and more! In response to COVID-19, a lot of these resources may be limited, so be sure to check out the library’s CATalyst Studios page regularly for updates.
Maker space hasn’t opened up yet? The UA provides tons of software for students across all disciplines for your work, school and personal projects alike! Did you know we get Microsoft Office 365 for free? Or the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite? For free? Just think of all the flyers, logos, multimedia, resumes, rendering, web design, and D&D maps you could create! Adobe and the UA has also partnered to provide countless free how-to videos that teach the basics and pro tips for several of those programs, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, and more. (A word of advice: It may take 15 minutes to 24 hours to activate once you sign up, so register early, and plan ahead!)
Other software includes tools for antivirus and malware protection, data analysis and feedback, cloud storage and so much more! Having some technological tomfoolery happening? We’ve got our very own 24/7 IT support in UITS, here for us to have all those troubles shot away (troubleshooting, get it?
I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘When are you gonna get to the good stuff: food?’ Well, here we are! The truth is, free food can be found somewhere any given day on campus, between all the workshops and student resource centers -- it’s a known fact that offering pizza at a meet-and-greet or resume workshop or club meeting increases attendance by lots of percentage points. And just flashing your CatCard around town itself often gets you a discount at restaurants, some grocery stores, on office/school supplies, movie theaters and more.
But on a more nutritious note, we have our very own Campus Pantry is tackling food insecurity and offering nutrition at no cost to those in need through a team of dedicated volunteers. Just check the site for updates on when the pantry will be open and bring your CatCard. Additionally, our very own student government, ASUA, has provided a listing of where free meals, for those in need of support during these most trying of times. Meals are available in the Tucson area for each day of the week.
For food to eat and food for thought, the UA campus is home to a host of cultural and student centers, like the Adalberto and Ana Guerrero Student Center. They offer programs like AROMAS — Abuelitas(os) Reaching Out to Mentor and Apapachar Students, which features local abuelitas (grandmothers) that prepare and offer free home-cooked meals, along with wisdom and opportunities to genuinely connect with others. The Transfer Student Center offers coffee, printing and other resources for students who’ve come from another college or university, and the Women and Gender Resource Center provides free access to personal/hygiene products and more -- if you can imagine it, there’s probably a group on campus that can offer it!
Acing your classes is great, but there’s more to success after graduation. Want to talk to someone who’s in the field and gone through what you’re going through? UA alumni organize live and interactive workshops on a host of topics! Can’t make it? They’re all recorded. It’s like “Ted Talks,” but specifically for the career and skills you need to succeed, and you get to talk to speaker.
Someone once said, “Earth without art is just ‘eh’.” Bring balance to long days of projects and papers and career prep by hitting the museum, for free. We’ve got several on campus, and while some have a small admission fee for students, museums like the Center for Creative Photography and the Museum of Art are free with your CatCard! As a side note, free first Thursdays is a thing at the Tucson Museum of Art, which never fails to have extraordinary exhibits. Don’t wait around ‘til after college when you have to pay money to expose yourself to the arts across time and cultures, do it now, for free!
GETTING AROUND CAMPUS SAFELY:
How are you going to get to these museums, or get home afterwards? Use an app to hail SafeRide, a free ride service for students and faculty that can take you within and a couple miles outside of campus. Need to get to class fast? The CatTran zips between dorms and academic buildings all day long.
SUPPORT FOR EVERYTHING… and EVERYTHING ELSE!
There are a lot of mysteries in this world. Have you ever wondered, “Is there a hotline I can call?” The answer is yes: Support. Opportunity. Success. (SOS) “is for UA students who find themselves facing questions or issues and are unsure about where to go for answers.” Just text SOS to 97779, email and submit a question, or live chat with your queries, and S.O.S. will guide you.
A BONUS FREEBIE:
Here’s a bonus freebie: free seeds! The Seed Library offers a variety of food-bearing plant seeds at no cost. Even when the quarantine plant craze is over, there’ll still be plenty of good reason to continue gardening and practicing sustainable food practices, and bringing home some seeds is a great way to start!
While this compilation just scratches the surface of all the resources available to aid you in your student experience, keep in mind that with so much in question, some of the above-mentioned items may not be available just yet this school year. But even as we move forward through these difficult times, the bottom line is that you know there are people in your corner and communities centered around helping you succeed. Design those business cards, attend that seminar, score that pizza and grow some peppers -- you can leave your wallet at home.