Do you like ethnic food? Independent movies? Sports? What about modern dance? Installation and performance art? Maybe even medieval music played on period instruments?
If so, you'll not be bored in Columbus. We're the largest city in Ohio—over three quarters of a million people—and there's a lot going on. Far be it from me to suggest that you should do anything during your graduate school years except study, study, study, but if you go looking for less constrained pursuits, you'll find them. Here's a sampling:
Film: Tired of blockbuster vehicles starring Scientologists? The Wexner Center for the Arts has numerous movie series during the academic year and a couple each summer, featuring films that often are not released elsewhere (Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny"), unusual foreign fare (Tarkovsky's "Solaris") and film classics (Jacques Tati's "Playtime"). The Drexel Theatre focuses on contemporary independent film-makers—including documentaries. The Gateway Film Center at the South Campus Gateway is central Ohio's first dedicated film center and features a diverse mix of independent and commercial film.
Performing Arts and Dance: The Wexner Center also presents contemporary and traditional dance performances, experimental and mainstream theatrical pieces and some other form of live entertainment that, well, can't be defined very easily. Ohio State has one of the top-ranked dance programs in the country; our local Ballet Met is strong in contemporary Dance. CATCo, (Contemporary American Theatre Company) has great stuff, too. There's Shakespeare in the Park. And then there's always the DooDah Parade…
Music: Jazz and Blues are available in the Brewery District and the Arena District; alternative rock and many others can be found at the Newport and the Schottenstein in the campus area and the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in the Arena District. There's far more classical music around here than I can mention—look at Columbus Chamber Music for a taste. ComFest, which is held for three days every June in Goodale Park, highlights local talents—both musical and culinary.
Art: The Wexner, once again, offers incredible examples of contemporary performance and installation art, as well as contemporary art in more traditional media. The Franklin Park Conservatory boasts 88 acres of indoor and outdoor art- and nature-based exhibits, greenhouses and landscaped grounds. The Short North offers a Gallery Hop on the first Saturday of each month, during which galleries, restaurants and other venues stay open late to encourage flaneurs. There are also a lot of galleries in the German Village area and the area around the Columbus College of Art and Design. The Columbus Museum of Art has excellent collections of American art and visiting shows; exceptional collections of ancient art are found nearby in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. And every summer the Columbus Arts Festival transforms the downtown Columbus riverfront.
Sports: Columbus boasts a rich sports history and has become a leading sports destination. From its hometown teams - the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew SC, Columbus Clippers, and Ohio Machine - the Greater Columbus Sports Commision brings amateur, collegiate and professional sports events to town each year. Of course we can't forget our very own Ohio State Buckeyes.
Exercise: There are Metro Parks, a bike path that stretches for almost twenty miles through Columbus and past campus, and if you go further South of the city, you can find hiking, birdwatching, and climbing on the largest free climbing wall in the country at the Scioto Audubon Park and Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Or stay on campus and enjoy a workout at the Recreation and Physical Activity Center (RPAC) or go indoor rock climbing at the Adventure Recreation Center (ARC).
Food: Let's take just one area, the Short North, as an example. You'll find lots of restaurants and coffee houses that break the culinary rules to good effect. We also have one of the oldest—and best—farmers' markets in the country: the North Market, which is now under one large roof and open all year round, selling fresh fruits and vegetables, locally raised meats, fresh fish, etc. It also has small restaurants offering a variety of ethnic foods.
Sort of Like Studying, but More Fun: If you can't bring yourself to leave the books behind completely, there are ways to have fun while improving your mind. Over the years, a number of informal reading groups have come into and out of existence, led by faculty members but oriented towards grad students in Classics, Ancient History, History of Ancient Art, etc. They last as long as the student interest lasts. For the past two years, for example, a group has met every month to read methodologically challenging scholarship on ancient religions. You can join an Ohio State archaeological expedition in ancient Corinth during the summer, take an intensive summer course on epigraphy or any of several other things. And of course, you can fill in the dull moments with guest lectures and seminars.
Life and stuff: Finally, it should be mentioned that Columbus is extremely diverse; we are considered one of the most gay and lesbian-friendly cities in the country, for example, and have one of the largest populations of neo-pagans anywhere. Like most college towns, our population is ethnically mixed. There are also affordable neighborhoods near campus for young families. Check out an issue of one of our local alternative publications: Columbus Alive and 614 Columbus.
Final question: are you frugal when it comes to cost of living? Take a look at some of these Web sites for local housing (you'll want to concentrate on the areas west of High Street, particularly those known as The Short North, Dennison Place, Victorian Village and Harrison West)
You can contact the Department of Classics to learn more, or better yet, ask one of the current graduate students