Navigating campus as a freshman can be equally exciting and confusing. Keep reading to learn about locations you will encounter daily as a student and hidden gems worth exploring in your free time.
Let’s begin at the heart of campus, where you’ll pass by the Dooley statue as you walk to classes or meals. Asbury Circle hosts many activities, including the weekly tradition of Wonderful Wednesday, when the community gathers weekly for themed activities with food, games and giveaways that highlight various student organizations. Many religious and cultural groups on campus also celebrate holidays and traditions in this outdoor center.
Another location that hosts a diverse array of fairs, festivals and celebrations is McDonough Field. Past events include Swoop’s Ball, Culture Shock, music concerts, food trucks and movie nights. The Emory Farmers Market features a great variety of fresh products from local farmers and small businesses like Rey Martinez Cuban Cuisine, Oxford Organic Farm and Sweet, Sweet Syria. The market is hosted on McDonough Plaza every Tuesday.
Surrounded by pink marble buildings with red-tile roofs on the other side of the campus is the Quad. Under the shade of its beautiful trees, students enjoy outdoor breaks and festivities. On an everyday basis, it may seem like a simple piece of grass shaped like a coke bottle, but this will be the location of the greatest celebration during your time at Emory: your graduation!
Across from McDonough Field is the Emory Student Center (ESC), where university departments and offices are located, along with the Dobbs Common Table (DCT), Kaldi’s Coffee and many spots to study or hang out with friends.
Meanwhile, the Woodruff Physical Education Center, or “WoodPec,” is the ideal place to exercise while socializing with friends. Staying active is essential for maintaining a balanced lifestyle, so take advantage of the gym, pools, courts, climbing wall, ping pong and pool tables accessible to the student body. Furthermore, sign up for group fitness classes like yoga, taekwondo and Zumba.
Behind the ESC is the Alumni Memorial University Center (AMUC). The AMUC is home to several Identity Spaces that serve as welcoming environments for students to feel safe and celebrate with their communities. These spaces provide the opportunity to create connections for those who want to explore and share more about their experiences and identities. They also serve as study spaces and host activities for various organizations. The Identity Spaces include the Centro Latinx, Emory Black Student Union, Center for Women, LGBT Life and Asian Student Center.
Within the walls of Cox Hall is the Computing Center, equipped with a TechLab, the ArtsLab, computer workstations, gaming consoles, meeting spaces and other resources. The TechLab is equipped with 3D printers, virtual reality systems, laser cutting equipment, textiles and sewing machines. Moreover, the ArtsLab has free resources, as well as a supply store stocked with canvases, paintbrushes, pencils and jewelry-making materials. Whether you need to use the sewing machine, print stickers or find a place to group study, Cox Hall is the place for you!
There are many study spots around campus, each catering to different studying preferences. If you prefer a traditional library setting, there are quiet floors and study rooms across the Woodruff Library. The Math and Sciences Library and the Pitts Theology Library also contain study rooms, printing stations, whiteboards and computer stations to facilitate learning. If you enjoy calm settings with people coming and going, there are several coffee shops on campus like The Depot, Ébrīk Coffee Room, Kaldi’s, and Starbucks. The ESC and academic buildings also offer lounges where students can review material or complete assignments between classes.
The Atlanta campus is abundant with green spaces that bring the university grounds to life as the seasons change. These spaces are excellent for taking breaks, dining outside, studying while reconnecting with nature or simply enjoying a day with pleasant weather. Hidden between the buildings are numerous outdoor art pieces that blend with their surroundings. A unique botanical gem lies at the entrance of the Cannon Chapel. In front of the multi-religious and philosophical sanctuary, Emory’s living mandala is accessible to the university community. The beautiful circular garden is meant to inspire peaceful contemplation and is the ideal site to unwind and reflect.
Members of the Emory community have the opportunity to enjoy music, drama and dance performances in the Schwartz Center of Performing Arts. This year, the center celebrates two decades of world-class performances, and students can often attend productions for free or affordable discounted tickets. In addition, the popular Carlos Museum is located on the Quad and contains exhibits of archeological artifacts from ancient civilizations worldwide. Fans of history or art alike can enjoy the museum, as it also features modern art exhibits throughout the year.
Across Clifton Road is a park many students visit when they need to escape from campus life and connect with nature. Lullwater Preserve is home to a diverse ecosystem with a rich history dating back to its original Muscogee (Creek) Nation inhabitants. This piece of paradise within the city has a lake and accessible trails for walking and running.
Other off-campus locations within walking distance of campus are the businesses and restaurants located in Emory Village and Emory Point. These areas provide several options for dining with friends, going for a pharmacy run or even getting a haircut.
These are some of the places I discovered during my first year at Emory. Hopefully, you will explore these spots and find others that will help you to make campus feel like home. Welcome, Class of 2026!
María Mendoza (25C) is from San Juan, Puerto Rico majoring in Environmental Sciences on the premed track. Outside the Wheel, she volunteers providing college advising for high school seniors through Matriculate. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, writing poetry and creating content for her reviewing website "Let's Talk Hollywood!"