Life as a Student

The University of Notre Dame is located just north of the city of South Bend, Indiana. The city is named for its placement on the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River and is the 4th largest city in Indiana. Hurt by the decline of heavy industry and the closing of the Studebaker factory in the 1960s, South Bend has recently seen a great revitalization with increased redevelopment and investment in the downtown area.


Most ESTEEM students choose to live off-campus, either alone or with other roommates. There are affordable options for both apartments and houses throughout South Bend. Below are some resources that can help you find a great place to live.

In addition, here are some apartments that students have chosen to live in the past: (Note that ESTEEM does not specifically endorse or support any of these properties in particular).


There are many different ways to get to and around South Bend. Transpo is the local bus system that provides service throughout the South Bend area and is free for students with a valid ID card. The South Shore Line Train connects the South Bend airport with cities throughout Northwestern Indiana, with a final destination of Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.

For international students, information about driving in the US and buying a car can be found here.


There are many unique dining options in and around downtown South Bend. The city of Mishawaka is also close by, providing access to many convenient chain restaurants.

For a guide to restaurants in downtown South Bend visit Eat Drink Downtown South Bend. Downtown South Bend (DTSB) also hosts a Summer and Winter Restaurant Week, in which you can receive great food and drink specials from participating restaurants. Another fun dining activity is the monthly DTSB Beer & Wine Walk. For $40, you can stroll through downtown and receive 3 wine/beer tastings along with 3 complimentary food tastings at each participating restaurant!

South Bend also has a great selection of local craft breweries. Visit South Bend Brew Werks, Crooked Ewe Brewery, Bare Hands Brewery, Danny Boy Draft Works, and Evil Czech Brewery for a taste of South Bend’s brews.

Things to Do

From outdoor activities to the South Bend Cubs minor league baseball team, live music and theatrical performances, museums, and a vibrant mix of locally-owned businesses, there is lots to do in and around downtown South Bend. For an extensive overview of all the amenities South Bend has to offer, visit Downtown South Bend.

Numerous parks, like St. Patrick’s County Park and Potato Creek State Park, provide walking and running trails, water sports like kayaking and rafting in the summer, and cross-country skiing and tubing in the winter. Feeling really adventurous? Raft or kayak down the East Race of the St. Joseph River! In nearby Mishawaka, the Riverwalk provides beautiful pedestrian and bicycle trails along both banks of the river. South Bend’s Venues, Parks & Arts department often hosts exciting events and experiences in local parks, like summer concerts and an outdoor film series. If you feel like getting in touch with nature, visit the animals at Potawatomi Zoo and the gardens at Potawatomi Conservatories or Fernwood Botanical Garden.

There are also ample opportunities for golfing in the South Bend area. Notre Dame has two courses: the 9- hole Burke Golf Course located on campus and the Warren Golf Course, located just north. Other nearby golf courses include Erskine Park, Elbel Park, Studebaker, Blackthorn Golf Club, and Morris Park Country Club.

Feel like a little getaway to the beach? Visit one of the many beaches and sand dunes on southern Lake Michigan. Less than an hour from South Bend, you won’t want to miss a trip to Silver Beach in St. Joseph.

South Bend also boasts a number of world-class museums, including the Studebaker National Museum, the History Museum, the South Bend Museum of Art, the Military Honor Park and Museum and the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium.

Throughout the year, Downtown South Bend (DTSB) offers a number of Signature Events. You have to check out First Fridays and Art Beat. While you’re downtown, be sure to visit the South Bend River Lights, an interactive public art installation on the St. Joseph River. See the full calendar of events in DTSB for more information.


The South Bend community experiences all four seasons each year— everything from sun, clouds, rain, snow, wind and probably a thunderstorm or two!

June through August are typically the warmest months, with average high temperatures above 78 °F (26 °C). Colder weather usually begins in October and you can expect to see snow generally any time between October and April. The snowiest month is usually January. Useful articles of clothing to have in the winter include a warm coat, snow boots, hat, gloves, and scarf! For more information, check out South Bend's monthly temperature averages.

Division of Student Affairs

Notre Dame's Division of Student Affairs exists to help connect students with information regarding residential life, extracurricular interests, and planning for your future. Visit the Division of Student Affairs website to learn more about the wide variety of resources available.

Graduate Student Life

The mission of Graduate Student Life is to enhance the educational experience of and quality of life for Notre Dame students pursuing advanced degrees. Visit the Grad Life website to learn more about the numerous resources for taking care of yourself as a Notre Dame graduate student.

Graduate Student Union

The Graduate Student Union exists to improve the quality of life for all graduate students at the University. Besides funding conference travel grants and advocating for graduate student needs and interests, they also organize exciting social events both on and off campus like a Brewery Tour and the Graduate School Winter Ball.

Campus Events

Looking for something to do on campus? Check out the Events calendar. Throughout the year, there are a multitude of talks, debates, and networking events across every department on campus. As a graduate student, take advantage of these opportunities to learn something new!

If you’re interested in music, dance, theater, or cinema, look no further than the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, which hosts a number of shows, concerts and movies throughout the year. The Student Union Board also holds many music-related events on campus, including Acoustic Cafe and the Collegiate Jazz Festival.


Looking for ways to stay active on campus? There is something for everyone!

The University of Notre Dame has over 40 club sports that you can get involved with. From boxing and volleyball, to gymnastics and ice hockey, club sports are a great way to stay active and meet new people on campus. RecSports also offers a wide variety of intramural sports. Form your own team and compete in everything from indoor soccer and tennis to baseball and sand volleyball!

In addition, RecSports hosts a variety of fitness classes open to any Notre Dame student, faculty, staff or spouse. They have everything from cycling and kickboxing, to yoga and Zumba!

One of the great athletic traditions here at Notre Dame is the Holy Half Marathon. Every year, 1,700 Notre Dame students, South Bend community members, and Irish fans from across the country come together to run 13.1 miles on campus. And it’s for a good cause – the race supports non-profits in South Bend.


One of the most exciting traditions here on campus is cheering on the Fighting Irish Football team. Throughout game day weekends, the campus is abuzz with visitors attending various Game Day events. Listen to the band play, catch an academic event, grab a steak sandwich from the Knights of Columbus, and tailgate! Every football season ESTEEM hosts a special tailgate for students, alumni and special guests – you won’t want to miss it.

Student-Led Gatherings

While ESTEEM students are kept plenty busy with a full class load and their capstone projects, they also find time to have some fun! In past years students have organized their own get-togethers and events, like trips to Lake Michigan, an ugly sweater holiday party, an open mic night, a Friendsgiving feast, and Secret Santa. What will your class collaborate on?

Faith and Service

Rooted in the Catholic tradition, Notre Dame’s Office of Campus Ministry is committed to cultivating the faith of all Notre Dame students. They offer numerous resources and events to encourage personal spiritual growth and provide opportunities for pilgrimages, retreats and service. Regardless of your faith background, Campus Ministry seeks to meet the needs of all students and provides many interfaith resources for students to find a faith community and place to worship.

Interested in giving back to the community while you’re here? The Center for Social Concerns has information about many community volunteer opportunities in which you can donate your time, energy and skills to make a difference.