The University of Notre Dame is located just a short distance away from downtown South Bend, a city in northwestern Indiana on the St. Joseph River. South Bend, in turn, is the heart and center of a loosely defined geographical region called Michiana, which encompasses several counties in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan.

Michiana is, in fact, a state of mind: communities like the outlet shopping mecca of Michigan City, Indiana and the quaint lakeshore community of St. Joseph, Michigan are located within easy driving distance of South Bend and are thought of by the city’s residents as extensions of the hometown, adding a great deal of diversity to options for shopping, dining, entertainment, and other recreation.

In addition, the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline is about a 40-minute drive west of South Bend, the gently rolling hills of Amish country stretch to the east, and Chicago is only 90 miles away and easily reachable by car, bus (Coach USA or Greyhound) or the inexpensive South Shore Rail. (South Bend is also served by the South Bend Regional Airport, which makes travel in and out of the city very convenient.)

South Bend has a rich pioneer and industrial history and was home to the Studebaker Corporation beginning in the mid 1800s. Today, South Bend is a racially diverse, family-friendly, mid-sized city with a population of just over 100,000.

Despite the recent economic downturn, retail and information sector businesses in the city continue to expand, with new malls and shopping areas being built, decaying rust-belt areas undergoing revitalization, and exciting new plans emerging for the University of Notre Dame to partner with the city on ventures such as the mixed-use development at Eddy Street Commons, and the new Ignition Park nanotechnology research center, to be housed on 83 acres in the former Studebaker corridor. Ignition Park will collaborate closely with the university’s new Innovation Park technology incubator on the south side of campus. Together, these two centers will form Indiana’s first two-site State-Certified Technology Park.

For more on the city of South Bend, northern Indiana’s regional center for arts, commerce, education, and medicine, see the city’s official website.

You may also wish to visit a blog devoted to Family Life at the University of Notre Dame by Jamie O’Hare, a Notre Dame graduate student spouse and mother of two young children.

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