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Hello Future Gophers!

Over the past few months, I have greatly enjoyed blogging about student life at UMN. It's been a pleasure of mine to share my experiences with all of our Future Gophers and to write about all the things that make the University of Minnesota a wonderful place to study.

However, for the rest of 2014 the University of Minnesota's Office of Admissions will be transitioning our student life blogs over to our Tumblr page, which you can find here. There you will find not only blogs about student life, but also pictures, videos, and other content about life at the University of Minnesota. Of course, our past blogs will still be viewable for any who are interested.

You can also follow us on any of our other social media platforms, for further information about what is going on at the University of Minnesota. We love connecting with students who are interested in the U of M!

We look forward to all that our new blogging platform has to offer, and we hope to see you there. Ski-U-Mah, everyone!

Ever had an interest sea life, oceans, or ecosystems? We have the minor for you! The College of Biological Sciences has recently created a minor for Marine Biology. This new Marine Biology minor highlights the concepts of oceanography, sustainable use, and marine ecology using an intercollegiate curriculum.

What is unique about this minor is that the coursework is not restricted to the classroom or laboratory, but greatly emphasizes field trips, study abroad experiences, and internship opportunities in order to foster learning. Upon completion of this minor, students will have acquired the skills and knowledge "that will enrich their lives and provide a base for subsequent study in marine sciences."

A minor is a great way to enrich your education and learn more about a subject you are interested in. Minors can also help expand your knowledge on a specific area that also supplements your major. The University of Minnesota has over 110 minors that cover a large variety of subject areas.

For more information on the new Marine Biology minor, please visit http://www.cbs.umn.edu/students/cbs-minors/marine-biology. For information on our other minors, please visit http://www.catalogs.umn.edu/ug/. As always, visiting our campus and meeting with one of our admissions counselors is one of the best ways to get first-hand information about the U of M. To schedule a campus visit, please go to http://z.umn.edu/campusvisit.

One of the biggest things people from other cities tend to notice about Minneapolis is all the bikes.

"Jeez," they say, "why does everyone bike so much?" (Or at least that's what I imagine they say.)

Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the nation for biking - we often trade back and forth with Portland, OR, for first and second place every few years - and it pioneered NiceRide, which is often seen as the best public bike sharing program in the nation and was the model for New York's CitiBike. Minneapolis has 92 miles of on-street bike lanes and 85 miles of off-street trails.

I didn't have a bike on campus my freshman year. I lived in a residence hall that was right in the heart of campus, so whatever I needed was always close at hand. For my second year though, I moved a bit farther off campus and I needed something to help cut down travel time.

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Now, I bike every day. I bike to work, to the grocery store, to concerts, and to friends' houses. It's a great way to get around quickly, it's more flexible than bus schedules, a LOT cheaper than taking a taxi or driving, and a good way to get some exercise.

For an extra incentive, the University even has a program that gives rewards for biking to faculty, staff, and students. For faculty and staff, the rewards are tied to health insurance, but students have "sweeter" rewards - gift cards for coffee, groceries, and frozen yogurt.

It works by having a small ZAP tag installed on your front wheel. Whenever you ride by one of the ZAP readers - which are located all around campus - you log a "zap" for the day. If you zap 12 days in a month, you are entered into the drawing for gift cards.

There's still work going on to make Minneapolis and the U of M even more bike friendly though. The Dinkytown Greenway opened on August 4, 2013, and will provide a direct, bicycle-only route all the way from East Bank to the St. Paul campus.

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The West Bank's counterpart, the East Bank, is a definite change from the smaller and more intimate home of the University's Arts Quarter and the Carlson School of Management. The East Bank is the largest area of the University of MInnesota's campus and is home to the majority of the buildings. In the center of the East Bank is the Northrop Mall, the main green space and a nice intersection within the campus. It's the perfect place to enjoy the campus on a nice day and it is where many students eat their lunch or study in-between classes. A variety of clubs meet there often; the juggling club is a weekly staple.

Coffman Memorial Union sits at one end of the Mall and could very easily be defined as the heart of the University. It's a another great place to study, get some food, or even take a nap; it also hosts many different musical events in the basement, known as the Whole, and other interesting events around the year. On the second level of Coffman is where a lot of different students groups have office and study spaces, including many of the University's Student Cultural Centers.

At the other end of the mall is Northrop, an auditorium and one of the oldest, most recognizable buildings on campus. Currently under construction, the New Northrup will be open in the Fall of 2013, boasting a revitalized auditorium, extra study space, new offices, and a cafe.

Along with many old and new buildings, the East Bank is the home of two museums, the Bell Museum of Natural History and the Weisman Art Museum. Both of these museums host a variety events that enhance the community of the Twin Cities, as well as increase opportunities for students at the University of MInnesota. For myself, I have recently joined the Weisman Art Museum's Student Tour Guide program, which is a great way to become educated and involved in the art gallery world.

In addition to everything else, there are a lot of little things on the East Bank campus that add to the lively atmosphere. The Knoll Area, a second green space, is a nice, hilly corner of campus right on the edge of Dinkytown and a beautiful place to enjoy lunch or hang out with friends. On Wednesdays from July to October, there's a farmer's market on Church Street that sells fresh fruit and vegetables. Around the East Bank there are many different offices that have study spaces or hold small catered events over the lunch period.

A variety of different coffee shops are on the East Bank, catering to any caffeine needs that may strike sleep-deprived students. Walter Library and the Recreational Center are also on East Bank, along with the U Card office, the post office, and a host of other random, helpful facilities. The resources on and around East Bank are what make this part of campus so alive and quite necessary to U of M students; they make our lives easier, allowing us to properly focus on our education.

Although specific buildings often hold specific kinds of classes, the East Bank is a place where all students will intersect, making our Big 10 school seem close-knit and very connected. In a nutshell, the East Bank is a lively and thriving part of campus that is constantly bustling with student life.

As a senior theater major at the University of MInnesota, I've spent a lot of time around all three of our campuses. From being a part of two living learning communities--West Bank Arts House and American Indian Culture House--to having a jobs that took me between East Bank and St, Paul campuses, I've seen a lot of what the U of M has to offer. The different campuses that make up the University of Minnesota only add to it's diversity and opportunities, offering a variety of options for all students.

When I was a freshman, I lived in Middlebrook Hall and therefore my first encounter with the U of M was with the West Bank campus. All theater arts majors claim to live in the Rarig Center on the West Bank, the only building on campus that is solely dedicated to theater arts courses. Other majors that spend a lot of time on the West Bank are musical performance majors, dance and art majors, and business majors because the shining Carlson School of Management resides on one of the furthest edges of University of Minnesota.

Also, known as the "West Bank Arts Quarter," this side of campus is a quieter side with less people, but it's also a very interesting part of the U. The calm atmosphere makes it a great place to study or relax, but there is also almost always something to entertain. It's usually privy to occasional musical acts or performances in the amphitheater between Anderson and Ferguson Halls, letting everyone experience the many talented individuals that are a part of our Gopher family.

A short ways off campus there are a host of great restaurants, most boasting delicious ethnic foods, such as Afro Deli & Coffee. Afro Deli & Coffee has some of the most incredible dishes, a mixture of different African, Mediterranean, and American cuisine, with a great variety of meals that cater to a vegetarian's needs. Jewel of India also has a large slew of vegetarian options, along with being a haven of spicy cuisine. The closest Indian restaurant in proximity to the University, Jewel of India will fulfill even the most particular of Indian food cravings. The Red Sea restaurant has amazing Ethiopian food and a nice musical atmosphere. All of these restaurants allow you to order take-out, so on a nice day you can lounge outside on the West Bank while enjoying your amazing food.

The West Bank is a special part of the University. With a pleasant environment, lots of creativity, and delicious food, the West Bank Arts Quarter has a lot of offer every student who attends the University of Minnesota.


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