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Now that warm and beautiful summer days have arrived on campus, students who have decided to stay on or near campus for the summer are excited to enjoy the great outdoors. Because of this, many students at the University of Minnesota choose to join Intramural Sports Leagues through our Department of Recreational Sports. Intramural Leagues provide opportunities for individuals, partners and team competitions in a wide variety of sports. Participants may create their own teams or join individually. If you're an incoming freshman, you may want to consider joining a team or forming your own with the people who will live around you next fall. It's a great way to get to know other students and get involved on campus!

Summer registration just began for outdoor soccer and softball, and registration for fall sports will open later in the year. There are many options for fall intramural sports, including flag football, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, and volleyball. I have never joined an intramural team, but I have heard how much fun it can be from all the people I know who have joined. A group of my friends formed a softball team this past spring, and they were undefeated throughout the entire season!

I highly encourage joining an intramural team, but if you are looking for a different way to stay fit on campus, University Recreational Center offers much more. Its specialized sports leagues include the University Athletic Hockey League and the Golf League. In addition, the Recreational Center is a premiere venue for Court Sports such as handball and racquetball. These courts are always being used, whether its by competitive player or beginners. Group Fitness classes are another popular activity at the Recreational Center. If you purchase a FitPass, you can take part in an entire semesters' worth of dance, strength, spin, yoga or any other of the many classes that are offered.  

Construction on the expansion of the Recreational Center has already begun, and will be completed in fall 2013. The exciting additions will include an elevated track, a cycling studio, an expanded fitness center, a center for outdoor adventure, and much more. 

Now that you have some information on how to stay fit and have fun at the University of Minnesota, it's time to go out and play. I hope you enjoy your summer days!

When summer arrives in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the cities come alive with festivals and celebrations of arts, culture, and community.

Each June and July, the city of St.Paul features many neighborhood and cultural festivals. Rondo Days is an annual weekend festival held in mid-July that commemorates the Rondo neighborhood, an African-American community that was split in two by the construction of Interstate 94 in the mid 1960s.  Another cultural event, the Dragon Festival, brings two days of colorful, traditional dances and music that showcases the performance arts of Asia. The festival also features the popular Dragon Boat races in which 20 local teams race large dragon-shaped boats across Lake Phalen. 

In addition to these celebrations of the life and culture in the Twin Cities, our own campus features many summer events such as the Movies and Music concert series held outdoors at Coffman Plaza. To stay updated on all the events taking place on campus, students can check out the Events Calendar which is continuously updated by our Student Unions & Activities. These events are just another reason I love living in the Twin Cities!

Whether it's a five minute bike ride to your class or a five minute bus ride to your internship, transportation options are abundant and easy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

While most classes are within walkable distance of each other, the free Campus Connector bus system connects the West Bank, East Bank and St. Paul campus to make traveling from class to class easy and convenient. Travelling on a three mile stretch for public transportation, emergency vehicles and bicycles, the bus connects students from the West Bank to the St. Paul campus within about 30 minutes. The Campus Circulators, including the East Bank Circulator and the St. Paul Circulator, each cover their respective campuses - getting students to any part of campus they need.

For those who bring a bike to campus, bike lockers are offered at various locations on each campus. For just $84 a year students can store their bicylces away from the elements in a sheltered locker. If you'd rather rent a bicylce, the new Nice Ride program offers students a quick and easy way to pick up and drop off bikes across the Twin Cities.

One of the great benefits of the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities is its location. Living and learning in the heart of a large metropolitan area gives students have great ways of getting connected to the Twin Cities community through jobs and internships, volunteer opportunities and recreational activities. To help students get around the Twin Cities, the University offers U-Passes, discounted bus passes through the Metro Transit. For just $97 a semester students can ride any Metro Transit bus or light rail as many times as they like! The city-wide bus system gets passengers nearly everywhere in the metropolitan area. The Hiawatha Line light rail travels from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, with stops at both terminals of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

A new and exciting development to the Metro Transit system is the addition of the Central Corridor light rail. The new light rail line will run through the heart of campus and connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul. Construction began just a few weeks ago, you can check out details about the project at the Central Corridor Web site.

The month of May brings great changes to the University of Minnesota. Students have finished their classes, taken their finals and our Class of 2011 has officially graduated and moved on to new and exciting opportunities. This summer also brings new change at the U of M. President Robert Bruininks will be retiring from his post and returning to what he's always enjoyed most; teaching. Eric Kaler, who earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1982, will succeed President Bruininks as the 16th president of the U of M. Next year will be a very exciting time to be a Golden Gopher!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2011 Annual Alumni Association Celebration. The program kicked off with a reception at the Carlson School of Management. Alumni old and young gathered on the West Bank to mingle, reminisce, and celebrate the University of Minnesota.

The main event of the evening was the Alumni Program, which reflects on and celebrates the previous year. The program was was held in Ted Mann Concert Hall, a facility that hosts an array of campus events throughout the year, including our School of Music's student concerts. During the program, U of M Alumni Association representatives presented highlights and videos of the University's research and mentorship programs. Current student groups, such as the 7 Days a capella ensemble, showcased their talents between presentations. However, the highlight of the evening, by far, was President Bruininks' address to commemorate his nine years in office.

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Hearing some of the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and alumni was inspiring. Students that graduate from the U of M are part of a strong alumni community that consists of over 375,000 people; people who serve in all industries from government to entertainment and everything in between. Alumni of the U of M have founded over 19,000 companies that employ over 1.1 million people. I'm proud to be a Golden Gopher, and I hope that someday you will be too!

May is an exciting time for many high school seniors, because it's almost time to graduate! I remember how I felt last year when I was leaving my high school for the University of Minnesota. It's hard to believe that it was only one summer ago! I was sad to leave my friends and the school that I knew so well, but I knew that I was moving on to bigger and better things. Based on my experiences, I want to share with you some tips for this summer to help you prepare for the transition from high school.

Take lots of pictures!
In the time that I've been in Minneapolis, I haven't visited home often. The time that passes between visits varies for every college student, but I'm glad I've been able to stay in contact with my friends and family at home. The summer before leaving for college, we made a lot of great memories together that were captured in the photos hung all over my room for my new friends to see. Have fun this summer and create those memories yourself!

Create a budget
College is a big financial commitment. Aside from tuition, you will have to be far more responsible with your money than ever before. Trust me, it's really easy to spend money on things you don't really need. Create a budget before you even get to school, and stick to it! Also, take advantage of the many discounted or free events on campus to enjoy. Our Student Unions & Activities website has a special Deals & Discounts page so you can stick to your budget and still have fun!

Get a summer job
If you don't already have one, get a summer job and save all the money you earn rather than spend it. It will definitely come in handy in the future. Also, start thinking about becoming a student employee at the U of M. Most on-campus jobs work around the schedule of the student, because school always comes first. You can start searching for jobs as early as this summer, on the Student Employment Programs website. This is where I found my job, and I love it!

Visit campus
If you're about to become a freshman in college, you are probably scheduling your freshman orientation for this summer. I encourage you to embrace this experience and get to know your campus. Spending time on your campus in the summer really makes it a lot easier to navigate when you're here in the fall. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has three campuses across Minneapolis and St. Paul, and there's a lot to explore.

Get to know your roommate
Later this summer when you find out who your roommate is, try to connect with him or her early. You can do this through Facebook, texting, or even visiting each other. I have friends who got to know their roommate very well before living with him or her, so they were able to feel more comfortable on move-in day.

Make a call to your future school
Contact your financial aid office and your admissions counselor to make sure you have everything in place. Don't forget to send in your final high school transcript, and make copies of any financial aid awards you receive. This type of organization is the key to the logistics of a smooth transition.

I'm sure there is much more advice to give, but the best way to learn is through experiencing the exciting college transition for yourself. I really loved high school, but I love college as well! The difference between the two is huge, but I have found the best within both experiences, and I know you will too. I can't wait to start my second year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities!


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