15 Things to Do in the Napa Valley as a PUC Student

There’s a lot to do during your first year at PUC. While you’re settling into your program and making new friends, there’s also plenty of sights in the Napa Valley to see! You may think Napa is stuffy and only for rich people looking to go wine tasting, but there’s so much more to Napa than you know. There’s plenty to do that doesn’t involve wine, or requires a lot of money. So whether you’ve visited PUC every year you’ve been in academy or you’re on campus for the first time, it’s time to get out of your dorm room to explore everything Napa has to offer, and have a lot of fun too!

Eat a macaron from Bouchon Bakery
Photo from thomaskeller.com

There’s are many reasons why this bakery is world famous, and one of them is their absolutely delicious macaron. The first of several, Bouchon Bakery in Yountville makes about 300,000 of them every year, with the most popular one being pistachio, and has been churning out delicious treats since 2003. Stop in to pick up one of their seasonal flavors or find out which one will be your tried-and-true go-to.  

Catch a movie at the historic Cameo Cinema
Photo from afar.com

In operation since 1913, the Cameo Cinema is a charming single-screen theater in the heart of downtown St. Helena which features state-of-the-art technology in sound and projection, including Dolby 3D and Dolby Atmos Sound (it is one of just a few theaters in the country to have this). The Cameo is the perfect place to take a date or go with a group of friends, with ticket prices clocking in at just $8.

Be amazed by Castello di Amorosa
Photo from napavalley.com

Did you know the Napa Valley has the only authentic medieval 13th-century castle in the U.S.? It’s true! The impressive Castello di Amorosa is over 136,000 square feet and has 107 rooms. There’s the Great Hall with 2-story replica Tuscan frescoes painted by Italian artists, a drawbridge, a dungeon, and a medieval church; spread across eight levels—four above ground and four below. Even if you only drive up to take an Instagram photo, it’s a sight worth seeing! There are also chickens, goats, sheep, and even peacocks that wander the grounds.  

Wander the Sculpture Meadow at the di Rosa
Photo from dirosaart.org

The di Rosa Center for Contemporary Arts houses a significant collection of notable works, exclusively by Northern California artists. There’s also a 1/3-mile Sculpture Meadow trail that winds its way past dozens of outdoor sculptures. It’s a beautiful place to visit on Sabbath afternoon!

Stuff your face at Giugni’s Deli
Photo from winnie.com

A PUC favorite for decades, stop by Giugni’s in downtown St. Helena and eat the sandwich of your dreams. Choose from a variety of delicious bread options and customize it with avocado, horseradish, chipotle mayo, and too many cheeses to even list. Make sure you get your sandwich with Giugni juice, a top secret family recipe that will take your sandwich to the next level.

Eat an English muffin from Model Bakery
Photo from yelp.com

For almost 100 years, Model Bakery has been a Napa Valley staple. Specializing in breads, pastries, and desserts, there’s plenty of things to make your mouth water. Their English muffins are literally world famous, with Oprah and chef Michael Chiarello counted as huge fans. Stop by in the morning when they’re fresh from the oven!

Enjoy the vistas at the top of Mount St. Helena
Photo from sacbee.com

The hike up the majestic Mount St. Helena in nearby Calistoga is a 2,068-foot climb over 5.1 miles to the summit. Once you’re at the top though, your hard work is rewarded with breathtaking views of the valley terrain below. On clear days, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin and Mt. Diablo near Walnut Creek can be seen, and some have even claimed to see Mt. Shasta, 192 miles away. Put the second-highest peak in the Bay Area on your list of Sabbath afternoon hikes!

Admire the artwork at the Fine Art Photography Gallery at Mumm Napa
Photo from napavalleynow.com

Take a stroll through this small but impressive fine art photography gallery. Currently on display is the “Poetry of Light” collection by famed photographer Ansel Adams, comprised of 27 gelatin silver prints, including several of his most famous photographs from Yosemite National Park.

Explore the Napa Art Walk
Photo from napaartwalk.org

The Napa Art Walk is a rotating exhibit of public art sculptures displayed throughout downtown Napa featuring artists from the western U.S. The featured sculptures change on a bi-annual basis, so keep a lookout for different pieces of art to pop up during your years at PUC. See if you can Instagram them all!

SONY DSC

Learn about Napa’s history at the Napa Valley Museum
Photo from napavalleymuseum.org

This small, cozy, educational museum always has a rotating schedule of exciting exhibitions, which typically focuses on local and regional artists and student showcases. On permanent display is a collection of approximately 15,000 items on the story of Napa Valley’s history, including geological specimens, Native American artifacts, and other items of cultural significance from the mid-1800s to the present. Currently on display in the main gallery is “Walt Disney’s Trains,” a family-friendly exhibition presented in partnership with San Francisco’s Walt Disney Family Museum that explores the influence railroad trains had on Disney‘s life. Watch their calendar for other exciting upcoming exhibitions!

Paddle down the Napa River
Photo from yelp.com

Spend an afternoon kayaking or paddle boarding down the Napa River. Grab some friends and see things from a different perspective as you paddle by river flora, fauna, and wildlife. You might even see a dolphin or two, which are occasionally spotted in the river!    

See our very own Old Faithful Geyser
Photo from calistogaspa.com

Yes, it’s cheesy, but put visiting the Old Faithful Geyser in Calistoga on your to-do list! While it’s not quite as prestigious as Yellowstone’s geyser, you can still enjoy this natural wonder nevertheless. Besides watching the geyser erupt, you can also visit the on-site petting zoo, home to mountain goats, sheep, and llamas. Use your PUC ID card for a discount.

Wander the stalls at Oxbow Public Market
Photo from oxbowpublicmarket.com

Oxbow Public Market just might be the go-to place for locals and visitors alike. There’s so much to see and do; from browsing local gifts and products, sampling artisanal goods, plenty of restaurants, and even a market for fresh produce. Everyone has something to choose from! Our personal recommendation? Stop by Kara’s Cupcakes for a mini cupcake to go along with a latte from Ritual Coffee. If your sweet tooth is still craving something, get a scoop of ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream.

Eat a piadine from Pizzeria Tra Vigne
Photo from yelp.com

On any given night, if you walk into Pizzeria Tra Vigne you’re bound to see someone you know from PUC. A favorite spot for both students and faculty alike, you have to make sure you try their infamous piadine, which is essentially a giant Italian version of a taco. It’s delicious!

Catch a show at the Napa Uptown Theatre
Photo from sfgate.com

A beautifully restored historic landmark from 1937, the Uptown brings in a wide variety of music and comedy acts. Besides admiring the luxurious art deco decor, you can also appreciate that no matter where you sit, it will be a great seat, since the distance from the last row to the stage is just 98 feet. Keep an eye on their calendar for upcoming events.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring!

A Spring Checklist for Accepted Students

Happy first official day of spring! Wherever you are, we hope it’s a beautiful day.

If you’re an accepted student, the spring is a great time to get a lot of important things taken care of.

Pay your enrollment fee & fill out a housing form. You will need to pay a $200 enrollment fee before registering for classes, as well as submit a housing form. You can do both at puc.edu/reserve. If you pay your fee before May 1, $100 of it will be put towards your fall tuition bill!

Apply for PUC scholarships. If you haven’t already, check out what scholarships PUC offers. There’s still plenty of time to write those essays! See a full list of PUC scholarships at puc.edu/scholarships. Be sure to check out the Maxwell Scholarship, which is worth approximately $116,000!

Submit your FAFSA. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for college is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is an online form you will submit each year that determines your eligibility for student financial aid. This information is used by the Student Finance office to put together your financial aid award. Note: If you have 10 minutes, you can use PUC’s net price calculator to get a preliminary estimate of how much aid you may qualify for. Get started now at puc.edu/npc.

Register for classes. You will be assigned an academic advisor in the program you’re planning to study and will work closely with them to come up with your perfect (or relatively close to perfect!) class schedule for the fall. This professor knows the ins and outs of your major and works with you to foster academic, spiritual, and personal growth. Your advisor will be one of the most important people you work with on campus during your years at PUC since they need to approve your class schedule each quarter to help make sure you stay on track to complete your degree!  

Submit your health forms. Turning in your health forms before you get to campus will only make your future life easier! You can find the forms at puc.edu/healthservices.

If you have any questions while working on these items, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Admissions office at admissions@puc.edu or through our 800 number at (800) 862-7080, option 2. Our team of counselors is happy to help!

Visit PUC This Spring!

Choosing what college to attend is an important decision and one you shouldn’t make without doing a lot of research. What better way to research the colleges you’re considering than by visiting them? We would be thrilled to have you and your family come visit PUC! Take a campus tour given by one of our student ambassadors, sit in on a class, chat with a professor, eat in our cafeteria, walk around the charming nearby towns of St. Helena or Calistoga, AND if you plan in advance, join us for any of the following upcoming and exciting events during spring quarter.

We hope to see you on campus soon!

Special Colloquies

Each week, students, faculty, and staff gather for Colloquy to worship together and create a sense of community and unity. It might be the only time you see some of your pre-med and pre-dent friends! There are two Colloquies in the spring that may be of particular interest to you when planning your visit:

  • April 4, 2019 — Educator of the Year Colloquy, 10 a.m.; See who PUC students voted as the best teacher of the year and learn more about someone who could be one of your future professors!
  • April 8-13, 2019 — Student Week of Prayer, various times; Hear from current students about their spiritual walk and experiences.

For more information about Colloquy, check out the college’s calendar at puc.edu/calendar.

Rasmussen Art Gallery Openings

If you’re interested in seeing some incredible works of art, you won’t want to miss the Rasmussen Art Gallery. Several times a quarter, a new exhibit opens at the college’s on-campus art gallery, which often features students, faculty, and other local artists. The opening reception is a chance to meet the artists, mingle with other guests, and enjoy some tasty snacks while appreciating the talent on display. If you can’t make it to one of the opening receptions, check with your tour guide to be sure to stop by the gallery and spend some time browsing during regular open hours.

  • April 18, 2019 — Opening Reception: Student Art Exhibition, 7 p.m.
  • May 18, 2019 — Opening Reception: Senior Art Major Thesis Projects, 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the Rasmussen Art Gallery Facebook page.

Paulin Hall Music Concerts

PUC’s department of music has many concerts throughout the year at the Paulin Hall Auditorium; all of which are free to the public. The college has several ensembles that frequently perform, and there are usually multiple student recitals each quarter. During spring quarter, there are several concerts we hope you can join us for!

  • May 12, 2019 — Orchestra Concert, 4 p.m.
  • May 19, 2019 — Symphonic Wind Ensemble Concert, 4 p.m.
  • June 1, 2019 — Choral Concert, 4 p.m.
  • June 5, 2019 — General Student Recital, 6 p.m.
  • June 6, 2019 — String Ensemble Concert, 7 p.m.

Contact the department of music for more information; call (707) 965-6201 or email music@puc.edu.

Other Exciting Upcoming Events

There are also several other events happening this coming spring quarter we think might be of interest to you!

  • April 19-21, 2019 — Homecoming Weekend; If one or both of your parents attended PUC, why not tag along with them for Homecoming and hear stories about the college back in the day!
  • June 14-16, 2019 — Graduation Weekend; Join us as we celebrate our graduating seniors!
  • Every Friday night — We invite you to attend our weekly vespers service at 8 p.m. where we worship together as a campus family to welcome the Sabbath.
  • Every Sabbath morning — At 12 noon, we also invite you to our student-led church service, the Twelve, which features student and faculty speakers each week.

Visit puc.edu/calendar for more information about these events.

For more information about visiting PUC, check out puc.edu/visit.

We can spend hours explaining what we think makes life at PUC so unique but there’s no better way than by experiencing it firsthand, so schedule your visit today! Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email visit@puc.edu to get connected with our visit coordinator and start setting up your schedule now.

You’re Supposed to Have Fun in College!

College isn’t just about academics! Having a healthy social life is also a really important part of your college experience. Our admissions team gets asked just as many questions about the social aspect of being a student at PUC as they do about academics, so we thought it would be worthwhile to put together a helpful FAQ for you to learn more about the fun side of PUC!

How will I make friends at PUC?

Whether you’re coming to PUC with a large group of friends or taking the plunge and going solo, it can seem intimidating when you’re on a new campus and don’t know many faces. Fear not though; there are plenty of different ways you can make new friends during your first few quarters. Every freshman is put into a Life Group with other new students to help them adjust to college life and to PUC, and meet regularly throughout the year. You’ll also start getting to know students in your classes, and within your department. Each department typically has a pre-vespers event once a quarter, so you’ll have plenty of chances to get to know your classmates outside of the classroom too.

Get more ideas on how to make friends your first quarter at PUC.

What student clubs can I get involved with?

From academic to civic to cultural clubs, PUC promises a space for all interested students. With over 15 organizations on campus, and a growing number each year, any student looking for a place to connect with those who share their passions is sure to find a group that is right for them. Here’s just a short list of some of the student-run clubs at PUC:

  • Biology Club
  • Pre-Law Society
  • Pre-Med & Pre-Dent Club
  • SPARK
  • Literature Evangelism Club
  • Thaumatrope
  • Korean Adventist Student Association
  • Student Organization of Latinos
  • Mountain Biking Club
  • Climbing Club

Learn more about what student clubs you can join at PUC.

What’s there to do on PUC’s campus?

Plenty! Hopefully, though, you’ll be spending a lot of your time studying, whether it’s in your dorm room or the library, but when you need a break, there’s a lot of things you can do. You can go for a run in PUC’s back 40 property; get an iced tea from the Grind and catch up with friends on the Campus Center patio; hit the weight room in the gymnasium to blow off some steam; cheer on your roommate at their basketball intramurals game; receive God’s blessing with your hallmates at a mid-week dorm worship; or catch a movie at the Campus Center. Honestly, you’ll have too much to choose from!

Are there fun things to do in the towns near PUC?

If the hill doesn’t provide enough social life for you, students can venture to the nearby beautiful city of St. Helena or elsewhere in the Napa Valley, where there’s no shortage of restaurants, shops, and art galleries. For students who want a break from the quiet of the valley, San Francisco is just a short drive away. There’s a reason why over 25 million people visit SF each year! You can catch the latest exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, have a picnic at Crissy Field, go on a shopping spree at Union Square, or catch a Giants game at AT&T Park.

Explore Northern California & why it’s a great place to spend your college years.

What are weekends like at PUC?

You get to decide how you spend your weekends! Every Friday evening offers a vespers program at 8 p.m. and a post-vespers activity like AFTRlite. Sometimes there are department pre-vespers too. Every Sabbath morning there are multiple Sabbath school and church options, and you can spend the afternoon taking a walk in PUC’s beautiful back 40 property, to places like Inspiration Point.

If you want to hang out on campus, there are always Student Association events every Saturday night, and usually, there are Pioneers Athletics games too. You can also join a study group to help yourself stay motivated on Sundays to get all your homework done. If you and your friends want to get out and have your own adventures, there’s a lot to do in our neighboring towns of St. Helena, Calistoga, Napa, Santa Rosa. Or you can take a study break and spend a few hours binging something on Netflix.

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of what to expect when you’re a student at PUC. We can’t wait to have you here!

PUC Offers the College Support You Need

Starting college can be challenging, but at Pacific Union College, we have great resources in place to help students succeed. There are several invaluable resources and support services at your disposal when you’re a PUC student and if you’re struggling with something, it’s important to remember you aren’t alone. There are people in place who are available to answer your questions or provide you with additional information—you just need to ask for help.

What tutoring is available at PUC?

Yes! Our Teaching & Learning Center offers free group tutoring in over 25 different subjects, ranging from business to languages to science. Most lower-division GE courses have tutoring options available. If you’re struggling with a class but don’t see a tutoring option available, talk with the helpful TLC staff and they can set you up with a small group or an individual tutor. There’s also a writing lab available to students who would like input and direction on writing papers—it’s a great service and one you should absolutely take advantage of!

Learn more about the Teaching & Learning Center.

What can I do at the library besides study and check out books?

In the age of Google, a lot of people think libraries are obsolete, but that’s definitely not the case! At PUC’s Nelson Memorial Library, books reside there of course, but also online databases, academic search engines, journal articles, and periodicals. Through the library, students have access to over 30,000 journals and 100,000 ebooks, and over four million books through interlibrary loan services. If you need to use a computer, there are also about 60 public workstations available within the library and the computer lab areas, along with large group study rooms if you need a place to study with friends for that Anatomy test. There are also very knowledgeable librarians available to help you navigate all of these resources, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Get helpful tips for using PUC’s library.

Is there someone who can help me with registering for classes?

Once you’re a student at PUC, you will be assigned an advisor in the area you’re studying. For example, if you’re planning to study business, your advisor will be a professor in the department of business (helpful, right?). Your advisor knows the ins and outs of their department’s programs and will be a valuable source for any questions you have about what classes you should take, what major you should consider for your career path, and more. Every quarter your advisor will need to approve your schedule, which is a great safety net for making sure you stay on track to complete your degree! For undecided students, the TLC has an undeclared student advisor who will work with you on what general education classes to take while you figure out what to major in.

If I don’t know what I want to study, is there someone at PUC who can help me?

Some of you may not know what you plan to study yet, and PUC’s Career & Counseling Center can help you figure out the path you want to be on. They have a career counselor who can give you a career test and one-on-one help with career counseling. If already you have an idea of what career you want but aren’t sure how to get there, they can help you with your resume, cover letter, and even conduct some mock job interviews with you. There’s also an annual Career Fair, held every winter quarter, where you can meet with professionals from many different industries to network and learn more about the possibilities available after college. It’s a great event to provide you with a chance to see how your education at PUC can help you continue on to new and exciting places.

Meet Sydney Johnson, PUC’s career counselor.

What services are there if I get sick?

Did you know PUC has a free health clinic available to students? It’s true! Health Services provides students with a wide array of services, including appointments with a physician, physician’s assistant, or a nurse, along with medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), medical supplies, and diagnostic in-clinic testing. The Health Services clinic strives to be a welcoming professional place offering the highest quality of care possible, and wants your experience here at PUC to be a happy and healthy one! We are so thankful to have the clinic on our campus to provide our students with excellent care when they need it.

Get to know PUC’s Health Services clinic.

If you have questions about the student resources and support services available to PUC students, you can talk with one of our knowledgeable admissions counselors, who can give you more information. Call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with a counselor now.

Get the Answers to Your Residential Life Questions

There’s a high chance moving into your new dorm room the first weekend in college will be your first experience living “on your own” away from home. For some, it’s very exciting but for others, it can be a little overwhelming. However you feel about it, you’re bound to have some questions about what it’s like to live at PUC. Here are five of the most commonly asked questions about life in one of our six residence halls.

How are rooms in the residence halls assigned?

Once you’re accepted, you will need to pay a $200 deposit and fill out a housing reservation form, letting us know of your plans. Rooms are assigned in the order they’re received, so it’s a good idea to do this as soon a possible! Paying your deposit also makes you eligible to register for classes (starting in April). Room assignments are sent out during the summer.

Learn more about what to do after you’re accepted at puc.edu/alreadyaccepted.

What if I don’t get along with my roommate?

Whether you’re rooming with a friend you’ve known for years or someone you don’t know, you’re guaranteed to have a difference of opinion every once in a while. Try talking the issue through with them, and if needed, you can also talk with your RA or your dean. If you truly feel you can’t work it out, you always have the option to switch to another room, so don’t feel stuck.

Read our “Three Ways to Solve Issues with Your Roommate” post for ideas on how to navigate possible issues that might arise while having a roommate.

Speaking of RA’s and deans, what’s an RA and who is my dean?

Each residence hall has a dean who lives in the building. They have a team of RAs or residence assistants, who work with them to ensure each student within their dorm is having the best experience possible. Their goal is for each student to feel like they’re part of the special Pioneer family.  

Check out the dean profiles on our blog to get to know each of the seven awesome people who work as deans in PUC’s residence halls! One of them may end up being yours! When you get your room assignment in the summer, you’ll also learn who your dean is, and can reach out to them with any questions you might have about your room.

What will I need in my dorm room?

Each residence halls room contains two beds, dresser drawers, closets, desks and chairs, and one sink with a mirror. However, figuring out what else you’ll need to pack and bring to college can be difficult so to make it easier we came up with a packing list to help.

Read our “Your College Packing List” post for ideas about what you probably should bring with you for your move up to PUC!

What dorm activities I can be involved in?

There’s always a lot going on in the residence halls, and you can be as involved as you want! There are weekly worship events your RA will hold for your hall, and usually an all-dorm worship too. The same goes for socials, like movie nights or spa nights. In the men’s residence halls, there’s almost always a group surrounding the lobby TV watching a sports game. Many dorms also do pancake breakfasts or brunch on the weekends. You can also grab a friend and hit the sauna in Newton (for men) or blow off some steam in Andre’s workout room (for women).

PUC has a team of amazing residence hall deans, RAs, and desk workers who can’t wait to get to know you. We’re excited to have you on campus soon! If you have questions about the dorms or your housing before you get here, call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email admissions@puc.edu to get connected with one of our admissions counselors for help!

Spotlight on PUC Scholarships

Have you looked at the scholarships PUC offers yet? I encourage you to take a look at PUC and what we can offer you—it might surprise you! For example, did you know each year, we award over $30 million dollars in financial aid to our students? That’s a lot of money!

When you look at the costs for college, it’s important to keep in mind 100 percent of PUC students receive one or more forms of financial aid. Don’t feel discouraged by the sticker price! We are committed to working together with you and your family to make a high-quality Adventist college experience possible to help you on your journey to reach your academic goals and dreams, whether it’s through scholarships, grants, or helping you understand the loan options available to you. When taken wisely, loans are a helpful resource that enables students to access a great education, complete a degree, and enter the workforce prepared for their career. Did you know on average, students with bachelor’s degrees earn over $1 million more in their lifetime than those with only high school diplomas? College is absolutely a worthwhile investment!

On the scholarship topic, PUC offers scholarships based on a variety of factors, including leadership, participation in music groups or athletic programs, and of course high GPA and high test scores. There are also scholarships available depending on your program of study, like the Adventist Mission Scholarship, available to theology and education majors. Visit puc.edu/scholarships to see all available scholarships.

In particular, I want to highlight PUC’s merit scholarships, awarded through the President’s, Dean’s, Trustee’s, and Founder’s scholarships, which are based on unweighted cumulative GPA and test scores and are automatically given to students who meet the necessary criteria.

President’s Scholarship (Renewable with a 3.0 GPA)
3.75-4.0 GPA or 29+ ACT / 1350+ SAT
$13,000 / 4-Year Total: $52,000

Dean’s Scholarship (Renewable with a 3.0 GPA)
3.5-3.74 GPA or 26+ ACT / 1200+ SAT
$12,000 / 4-Year Total: $48,000

Trustee’s Scholarship (Renewable with a 3.0 GPA)
3.25-3.49 GPA
$10,000 / 4-Year Total: $40,000

Founder’s Scholarship (Renewable with a 3.0 GPA)
3.0-3.24 GPA
$9,000 / 4-Year Total: $36,000

For high-achieving students, PUC offers the prestigious Maxwell Scholarship, worth up to a whopping $116,000. That’s no joke! Students meeting qualifications receive full tuition based on their unweighted cumulative GPA and test scores; requirements are a 3.9-4.0 GPA and a 34+ ACT or 1500+ SAT.

There are also several other PUC scholarships worth checking out, like the Legacy Scholarship for students whose parents attended PUC, and the Mostert Leadership Scholarship, which recognizes students for selected leadership roles held during their junior and/or senior years. Visit puc.edu/scholarships to see all available scholarships. If you have questions about what you might qualify for, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of financial aid counselors, who can give you a financial aid estimate that shows what it might cost for you to attend PUC. It’s really helpful! Call (800) 862-7080, option 1 or email studentfinance@puc.edu to talk with a counselor now.