Exploring: A guide to navigating Ohio State and Columbus!

Your first year is all about exploring. Whether it is a new area of study, new ideas, relationships, new places, or a new city–college is the place for you to embrace your inner explorer. Another important piece to this search is to plan HOW you will navigate your first year. When it comes to transportation options on and around campus, you can’t go wrong in finding a way to explore Ohio State and Columbus. Here is the rundown of some alternative forms of transportation to be a sustainable and travel-efficient Buckeye!

CABS: Campus Area Bus Service

Certainly, if you’ve been to campus at all this academic year, you have seen plenty of CABS buses shuttling students across campus. They look like this:

To ride, just hop on! There is no need to show your BuckID while riding.


  • The Campus Loop North has overnight service around campus and runs 24/7!
  • The Ohio State mobile app and the Transportation and Traffic Management website provide information on arrival times so you don’t have to wait in the rain, snow, or look like this:


COTA: Central Ohio Transit Authority

If you’re a commuter trying to get to campus or a student who lives on-campus and wants to explore outside the university walls, COTA is the bus system for you!

COTA provides service throughout Franklin County and surrounding areas both day AND night. All you have to do as an Ohio State student is show your BuckID and hop on for free (it’s included in the fees you pay each semester)! Maps and service availability for the campus area (and beyond) are available on the COTA website.


  • Late night service around the city
  • It comes and leaves from Ohio State–which is great for commuter students!


Don’t have a car on campus and need to run some quick errands off campus? Want to be able to drive somewhere, drop off a car, and not have to worry where you left it? If so, CAR2GO may be just the method of transportation  for you! You’ll need to purchase a membership card first, but after that it’s simple: just take it, drive it, and park it.


  • It’s a great alternative to bringing your car to campus and keeping it parked across campus for months on end
  • It’s sustainable (and sort of like a toy car for adults)!

There are plenty of other options to get around campus and the city, but the three above are my personal recommendations; you can also learn more about biking, carpooling, and other options.

As you think about exploring and navigating campus, remember this: you WILL get lost. And that’s okay! We have all been there! Once, I took COTA instead of CABS and ended up in Clintonville instead of Fisher College of Business. A great part of exploring is the potential to getting a bit off course. Granted, it may not be the most convenient to test out the bus for the first time when your class is in five minutes, but it is important to figure it out for yourself. I recommend trying it out when the stakes are low. Hop on a bus and see where it takes you when you have an extended period of time to “get lost”. Bring a friend. Ask the bus driver if the bus is the right one for where you’re heading. And know that (at the very least), they all come back to the stop you hopped on originally! Happy exploring, Buckeyes! Oh, and don’t forget to look at the maps.

Your First Year Love Affair

In true Valentine’s Day fashion, it is necessary to talk about that one word with four letters. LOVE. I’ve always been deemed the “hopeless romantic” among my friend groups. It may have started in the second grade when I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio in his role as Jack in Titanic…and definitely continued through my awkward tween years with an obsession with the Backstreet Boys.


While I was (am?) very much infatuated with these heart throbs, I was also in love with the passion Leo and my favorite boy band exuded in doing what they love. I love love. Nothing makes me more passionate than seeing people do the thing which sets them on fire. This is why I enjoy working with college students, specifically with first-years. There are few things that get me more excited than seeing individuals start a four (or five!) year love affair with an interest they encounter in their first year at college.

In your first year, it’s all about “playing the field”. Don’t be afraid to “flirt” with different ways to make your experience at Ohio State a transformational one.

Whether it’s going on a Buck-I-Serv trip, learning about undergraduate research opportunities, or attending BuckeyeThon (which we suggest you do this weekend), you are bound to find something that sparks an interest. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone – join something quirky like the Ukulele Club or an improv group.

However, my hope is that after some serious time scoping out your options, you will come across something during your time at Ohio State which engages, inspires, and transforms you from the inside out. First Year Experience strives to support you all in your first year so you are able to make a lasting impact on our university and the greater world in which we live during your time at the university and beyond.

Love is about being inspired, taking risks, and committing once you’ve stumbled across something meaningful. If you’re still looking for something that tugs at your heartstrings here, that’s great. One way you can learn more about yourself, reflect on your purpose and passion, and connect with other students about their “love affairs” which inspire them to lead is by attending The Annual Conference on Leadership and Civic Engagement. The conference will be held on March 1 and is free to all Ohio State students. At the conference, students will have the opportunity to learn about topics such as organizational development, non-profit management, innovation and entrepreneurship, reflection, peer leadership, service learning, team building, and communication. You may just run into me there!

Your first year is one to spread your love as far as it goes, and I hope you have done just that. There are so many people to meet, so many traditions to take part in, and so many ways to find that love that sets you on fire by engaging in the Ohio State community. Who knows? Maybe the passion you lead with at Ohio State will be the spark for another Buckeye to leave their mark.