Depending on the student, “Buffalo” means one of three very different parts of town. There’s Amherst, a bland, pancake-flat, upper-middle-class suburb where North Campus is itself isolated by rings of fields and highways. There’s the Heights, a vibrant area around South Campus chock-full of bars and shops where students pack into big brick houses and bursting bungalows. And there’s the rest of Buffalo, equal parts decaying industrial city and friendly, liberal college town, where many students party, study, and make their homes.
Most students are immediately bored by Amherst. It is peaceful, safe, and even verdant in the fall—before winter comes and dirty piles of plowed snow line its highways. But after a few months, students realize that there’s not much to do other than run on the bike path, or drive to Duff’s and Wegmans. The Heights has a completely different atmosphere—it’s the peanut butter sundae to Amherst’s vanilla soft-serve. There are bars, diners, ethnic restaurants, stores, and coffee shops. At night, you can walk from parties to bars. But the extent to which students enjoy UB often depends on how well they get to know the “real” Buffalo. From South Campus, the city stretches west to the Niagara River and south to Lake Erie. It’s a shabby, friendly, yet surprisingly sophisticated town. Buffalo has a dynamic arts community, excellent museums, a fine orchestra, and the beloved Bills and Sabres, whose games most students go to see at least once. With the bars open until 4 a.m. and Canada’s side of Niagara Falls just miles away, many students find Buffalo’s atmosphere to be its best quality.