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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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Hello again!

I hope you're enjoying your summer so far - I've had a great start to mine. I wanted to share some of what I've been up to, and give you a preview of some of the great attractions and events that the Twin Cities has to offer!

A Weekend With Friends

I hosted visitors two weekends in a row - the first weekend two old friends came up from my hometown in Illinois to stay with me and enjoy the Twin Cities. My friends - Dave and Andrew - and I grew up and attended school together for nine years. Even though we attended different high schools, we have stayed in touch our whole lives. It was great to see them for a weekend and to reconnect.

They both have spent quite a bit of time in Chicago, so I knew they had high expectations for a fun weekend in the city. We started off with dinner at a delicious Minnesotan pizzeria, Pizza Luce. After that we went bowling at Bryant-Lake Bowl, a vintage bowling alley, restaurant, and cabaret theater.

On Saturday we had a cookout with some of my friends from Admissions Ambassadors, a student group on campus that helps with tours for visiting prospective students, and then went to a concert at First Avenue. It was great to see them, and we definitely stayed busy with all that Minneapolis had to offer.

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A Weekend With Family

The next weekend I hosted my parents and my younger siblings! I planned on the weekend well ahead of time and had a full itinerary prepared - my family doesn't travel to Minneapolis often, so I knew this would be the only chance I had for a while to show my siblings what the Twin Cities have to offer.

They arrived Friday evening and we started off with dinner at Buca di Beppo, a great family-style Italian restaurant located near downtown Minneapolis. After that we headed to a mini-golf course at the Walker Art Museum, featuring artist-designed courses and installations. The best part was I could use our mini-golf tickets for free admission to the Walker Museum for up to a week afterwards, giving me a chance to bring other friends with me to see some great exhibits.

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We spent all day Saturday at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, a quick 20-minute drive from Minneapolis. After grabbing some ice cream on our way back, we headed to Brunswick Zone XL just north of Minneapolis in Brooklyn Park for some laser tag and the arcade.

On Sunday, my family headed out after we grabbed breakfast at the delicious Keys Cafe and Bakery downtown, which is famous for its brunch menu.

It was a very busy and fun couple of weekends, and if you're looking for tips on what to do in the Twin Cities check out Minneapolis's visitor website! For information on the University of Minnesota's great location, see the Office of Admissions website.


Photo credits: Drew Coveyou

Hello past, present and future Gophers!

My name is Josie Lampone and I am one of the summer bloggers for Gopher Tales! I am a senior pursuing a B.A. in theatre arts. I've worked in a variety of different offices here on campus, including the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, the Circle of Indigenous Nations, and the College of Biological Sciences. In addition to that, I have experienced East bank, West bank, and St. Paul campuses, all of which I greatly enjoy.

My knowledge and love for this University has only grown since I first visited here my senior year of high school. The sheer beauty of our campus, paired with the excellent academics and opportunities that this institution provides was what made me decide to choose this school over all the others. Over the years, the U of M has only topped my expectations, and I'm excited to share with you all of my experiences at this wonderful University.

I'll be blogging about the history of the University of Minnesota, as well as current events that are happening over the summer. There will also be some focus on different places around the University in general, and how the U of M relates to the larger Twin Cities area. As an arts major, I'm also very excited to share the different arts and culture events happening around both the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities.

This school has been great for me in many different ways and I'm excited to represent the U of M through this blog, reaching out to all of our Future Gophers. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!

Hello, and thanks for stopping by our blog! My name is Drew Coveyou, and I'm a junior at the U of M from Ottawa, Illinois. I am majoring in Journalism, focusing on Strategic Communication and Advertising in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts.

My path the University started when my older sister came to visit campus her junior year of high school. I was only a freshman but I got dragged along for the college visit with the rest of my family. Even though college wasn't something I was really thinking about, I fell in love with the Twin Cities campus right away and it was always on the top of the list of colleges I was considering.

During my senior year of high school I visited campus another two times and confirmed what I already knew - that the University of Minnesota was the place for me. I knew I wanted the traditional feel of a Big 10 campus, but at the same time I didn't want to give up attending school in a major metropolitan area; I knew that I wanted to have access to the arts/music scene and professional opportunities that a major city could offer me. The Twin Cities campus was the one place where I found both the Big 10 campus and the major metropolitan area.

I attended my first-year orientation session in the middle of June with my dad tagging along for a parent orientation session. There, I met some of my best friends to date. Looking back, orientation was the time when I really acknowledged that this place would be "Home" for the next four years, and I couldn't have been happier.

(Here's a video from my Welcome Week in Fall 2011!)

I lived in a Living and Learning Community my first year - the American Indian Cultural House. There, I met other American Indian students and was put into contact with many different resources on campus, including the Circle of Indigenous Nations, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE), and many students groups such as the American Indian Student Cultural Center (AISCC) and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

I got my first job on campus through these connections at one of the above student groups, the AISCC. I had such an awesome experience working with the group to run our Center and plan events that I ran for the governing board the next year. After two election wins, I am now entering my second term as the group's Treasurer. My responsibilities include creating a budget, applying for grants, and general accounting of finances for the group.

Although I live off campus now, the sense of community I built that first year hasn't left, and now I am getting even more involved in my academic program and other on-campus jobs. I'm sure I'll have more to share about my experiences and plans in future posts - thanks for reading!

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In honor of Museum Month in Minnesota, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite museums and attractions around the Twin Cities - many of which offer free or reduced admission for students. In fact there are a couple museums right within the University of Minnesota campus!

Museums and galleries on the U of M campus are:

1) Goldstein Museum of Design 

Located in McNeal Hall on the St. Paul campus, the Goldstein Museum of Design is a collecting institution that advances the understanding and appreciation through showcasing the design of objects such as clothing, pottery, metalwork, and more.

2) Weisman Art Museum 

The Weisman Art Museum is known for its unique architecture designed by Frank Gehry. The museum's mission is to create art experiences that spark discovery, critical thinking, and transformation linking the University and the community. Best of all, admission is always free!

3) Bell Museum of Natural History

As Minnesota's state natural history museum, the Bell Museum of Natural History houses the largest collection documenting Minnesota's biodiversity, but also has significant collections from around the world. Nearly 4 million specimens of mammals, birds, fish, plants, mollusks and insects provide exceptional opportunities for research and learning. 

4) Larson Art Gallery

The Larson Art Gallery is located in the St. Paul Student Center. The gallery houses exhibitions that are curated, designed, are installed by students of the Visual Arts Committee within Student Unions and Activities. 

5) Coffman Art Gallery

Developed in 2003, the Coffman Art Gallery is located on the first floor of Coffman Memorial Union. All exhibits are curated, designed, and installed by the students of the Visual Arts Committee within Student Unions and Activities. 

Outside of campus, other attractions are only a bus-ride away. If you don't have a car, it's still really convenient to get around the Twin Cities using buses and the light rail and you can easily map out your route using the Trip Planner on the Metro Transit website. U of M students can get heavily discounted semester-long bus passes (the U-Pass). I own a U-Pass and it gets me everywhere!

Here are some of my personal favorite museums and attractions around the Twin Cities. I've visited every single one and can vouch that a visit to each of these places is worth it!

1) Science Museum of Minnesota 

2) Como Zoo and Conservatory

3) Minnesota Zoo

4) Minneapolis Institute of Arts

5) Walker Art Center

6) Minnesota History Center

One of the best parts about going to school in the Twin Cities is that you never run out of things to do. The vast amounts of museums within the vicinity of the U of M provide plenty of opportunities for fun, relaxing, and educational learning experiences outside the classroom. If you want to experience it yourselves, try visiting some of the museums on your next campus visit to the University of Minnesota! 


In the spirit of National Volunteer Week, I'd like to highlight the many opportunities available to stay involved and volunteer that the U of M has to offer. If making a difference in your community is something that is very important to you, you'll definitely find what you're looking for at the University of Minnesota. First of all, there are so many student organizations built around volunteer opportunities--I couldn't even count them all! I've picked out a couple service-based student groups to highlight, but there are literally hundreds.

American Red Cross Student Organization 

Their mission is to provide service for the community with regards to public health issues, especially relating to the University of Minnesota campus student population in collaboration with the American Red Cross. Services may include (but are not limited to) hosting speakers to advocate for a cause, running blood drives, and collecting for international relief.

Circle of Giving (COG)
COG's principle activities are health focused group volunteer projects, workshops for leadership development, fundraising for a scholarship fund, serving as mentor for local youth, and helping members develop service projects based on their interests, such as health disparities in minority groups.

Colleges Against Cancer
Colleges Against Cancer is dedicated to eliminating cancer by spreading awareness and education through volunteer work in the community. Through cancer education, survivorship, and advocacy programs, all University of Minnesota college students have the opportunity to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

Biology Without Borders
Biology Without Borders is a student organization that leads students on annual global volunteer trips while connecting students with resources and making them advocates for global and social change. Their goal is to promote ethical volunteerism, and community-based and sustainable projects in underserved areas, both locally and globally.

Orphan Kitten Project
The Orphan Kitten Project helps local shelters by fostering orphan kittens (newborns to 8 weeks old) while providing hands-on animal experience to veterinary students.

Students Against Hunger
Students Against Hunger's mission is to aid Kids Against Hunger in significantly reducing the number of hungry children locally and globally by providing a community service activity that is meaningful, fun and memorable. Through enlisting members and volunteers from the University community, they package nutritious meals researched by food scientists in order to battle death's grip on over 40,000 children who die each day due to malnutrition, starvation and hunger-related diseases.

For a complete list of service-based student groups, check out: http://sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/index.php?group_by=category#Service

In addition to service-based student organizations, the University of Minnesota also fosters community service through offering service-learning courses. Service-learning courses incorporate community involvement into the coursework--students learn by participating in community service projects. Homework for these classes involves working with community-based organizations, which compliments the classes' readings, lectures and discussions. Wouldn't it be great getting to volunteer and earning class credit for it at the same time?

If you're passionate about volunteering, the University of Minnesota's Community Service Learning Center is a great resource to help you find what you're looking for. Check it out! http://www.servicelearning.umn.edu/

It's officially the week of Spring Jam! Spring Jam is an annual three-day music festival on campus, which includes live performances, competitions, free food, and other special events all in the celebration of the coming of spring and the end of the school year. The entirety of Spring Jam is completely planned and put together by a committee U of M students. (A great opportunity four our students to build event-planning experience!) 

There are always amazing artists - both big names and local bands - that perform during Spring Jam. The big headliners last year were New Boyz, The Cataracs, and Prof. Jessie James (my favorite artist at Spring Jam last year) made an appearance at an afternoon concert too! This year's headliners are Greg Bates, The Kicks, and Mat Kearney. I wouldn't call myself an avid music and concert fan, but nothing beats fist-pumping, dancing, belting out lyrics at the top of your lungs at outdoor concerts with thousands of other fellow Gophers. Did I mention that all Spring Jam events are completely FREE for U of M students?

Spring Jam isn't only about the concerts, though. The days are also filled with many other fun, free events. For example, this year's events include free yoga classes, blood drives, dance competitions, a Battle of the Bands competition between U of M bands, outdoor film screenings of Silver Linings Playbook, and more! Take a look at the Spring Jam schedule to see a complete list of this year's special events.

I love the U of M not only for its great academics, but also for all the awesome opportunities to have FUN, like Spring Jam! So, Future Gophers...imagine yourself as a current U of M student counting down the days until you get to experience three straight days of celebration at Spring Jam festivities. Sounds enticing doesn't it?

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Photo credits: http://springjam.umn.edu/

Today I'd like to put the spotlight on a great opportunity for students who are interested in a career in advertising: the U of M's National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC) team, Chariot. Chariot recently won first place at the NSAC District Competition on April 13th, which means the team will be representing the University of Minnesota at the national competition in Phoenix this year! Read on to learn more about NSAC and how you can get involved.

What is the National Student Advertising Competition?
Each year corporate sponsors give the same case study to NSAC teams around the nation. The case studies relate to the company's product or service and advertising situation. The corporate sponsors are often big name companies--past sponsors have included Coca Cola, JC Penney, State Farm, and Nissan. Within each school's team, students are then responsible for researching, developing, creating, and pitching an advertising campaign to a panel of judges at a district-level competition. 

District competitions are held each spring in 15 districts throughout the U.S. The winners of each district then get to move on to the national-level competition and pitch their advertising campaigns to judges and the executives of the sponsor company. We're wishing the best of luck to Chariot when they compete at Nationals in June. Way to represent the University of Minnesota!

Getting involved at the U of M
Joining a student group can be one of the best ways to make your college experience a great one. If you're interested in advertising, joining Chariot can help you make friends and connections with other advertising and marketing students, network with professionals, gain relevant advertising experience, and make a difference in the advertising strategies of real companies!

Chariot doesn't only limit its members to students majoring in advertising. The club currently has students interested in marketing and graphic design as well. If you think you'd be interested in joining Chariot, you should definitely check out their website at http://umnsac.com or email them at nsac@umn.edu.


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