Blake Williamson is a senior journalism major who writes "Blake’s Beats" for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Blake at bdwilliamson@bsu.edu.

When I moved into the dorm my freshman year and my parents' SUV faded into the distance, that’s when the bubble started to form.  

In high school I was outgoing and, dare I say, loquacious. I put myself out there and always had an urge to explore. Those traits began to shrink when I finally realized I was alone at college. I knew nobody; I had to start from scratch and go back to the drawing board. 

Although coming to Muncie was my first taste of absolute freedom, it was also my first taste of absolute loneliness. I blamed my problems on this city because it was easier than looking within; I never gave Muncie a chance. Self growth and personal exploration was something that had been at the bottom of my list for a long time. It became another thing in my life that could be classified in the “I’ll get around to it” folder.

But soon I realized that this place was now home, whether I liked it or not. This town was the backdrop of a very crucial part of my life and I couldn’t brush over that anymore.

This story is very applicable to anybody, we always hear about the depression of college students. I’m sure every freshman could name at least one time they felt lost. It can happen anywhere in Collegetown, USA. Because of this, I’d like to highlight some of the places here in Muncie that have become beacons of hope and cliched “Happy Places” for me. Check them out! See what they do for you, maybe they’ll become your happy place too.

  • Prairie Creek Reservoir
Clouds cover Prairie Creek Reservoir and its private beach. Blake Williamson, DN.

If you’re at the Bell Tower, this beautiful oasis is waiting for you only a 22 minute drive away.  It’s really hard to believe that we have this serene getaway right in our backyards. It was built in the late 50s and early 60s, and even used as a backdrop for Indiana postcards of the time. It has sailboats lazily floating by, a public beach and an endless amount of little nooks and crannies to explore. The reservoir exists in my ideal way to spend a Saturday and is always there to welcome me with open arms.  

  • McCulloch Park

Now, I’m no park aficionado — What even is a park aficionado? I were one, though, I would steer you in the direction of this colorful spot; 127 years of history including two professional baseball teams, a bear 

McCulloch Park has more than 100 acres and just a nine minute drive from Ball State's campus. Blake Williamson, DN.

enclosure in 1906 and a place for meetings during the civil rights era. You can feel the history as you walk through the lush 118 acres. The cracked and character filled basketball court has become a particular place of refuge for me. Relieve some stress there or just do some quiet reflection on top of one of the beautiful hills, either way, there’s no wrong way to McCulloch.

  • Hunnicutt’s Dairy Bar
Hunnicutt's Dairy Bar is open until mid-October off of South Luick Avenue and South Burlington Drive. Blake Williamson, DN.

This ice cream place belongs in a 50s movie. It’s closed in the winter — they plan on closing in mid-October — but you’ve still got a little bit of time to check it out. It’s a no-frills, walk-up style joint with delicious offerings of ice cream and your typical burger and fries combo. I enjoy this place because it acts a time machine for me. It takes me back to some romantic time long passed where everything is simple, check it out and tell me you don’t feel the same way. It’s a great spot to get some work done too, sitting at one of their picnic tables enjoying a blue moon cone. I wouldn’t recommend eating a cone and using a laptop at the same time but hey, go for it. 

  • Downtown Muncie

It astonishes me how many BSU students don’t give downtown Muncie a chance. It’s literally less than a five minute drive from campus and is a treasure trove. This piece is about exploration, and my favorite times in Muncie have come from simply exploring downtown, popping in little shops, sitting at Canan 

The sun sets on South Walnut Street in Downtown Muncie. Blake Williamson, DN.

Commons or having a coffee at The Caffeinery.  It’s definitely not New York City, but what it lacks in glitz and glamor, it overwhelmingly makes up for in heart. There’s always something going on, too. Every time I go down there it seems like some event is going on, whether it be a market for local artists or movie night with people cozied up on blankets. If you’re 21+, The Guardian Brewing Co. is a must. But even if you can’t legally drink beer, downtown is still a magical place to make an afternoon of. 

Now this is no fool-proof plan to cure whatever may be ailing you. These are just places that I have found work for me when I find myself getting into the rut.  I’m positive that are countless other places around town that are just waiting for you and me to peek your head into. 

Find your own happy place. Write about it, love it and then share it with whoever might need it.  Keep exploring, you never know what you might find.