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There are few things in life that I enjoy more than having a wonderful Christmas dinner with my family. For those of you from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area who are concerned with reducing your carbon footprint, you can buy locally grown cheeses and meet products right here on the St. Paul campus!

The Andrew Boss Lab of Meat Science,1354 Eckles Ave., houses both the Department of Food Science and Nutrition's Dairy Salesroom (open Wednesdays, 3-5 p.m.) and the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Sciences' Meat Salesroom (open Wednesdays, 2-5 p.m.).

The Dairy Salesroom (room 166) has four flavors of holiday ice cream: pumpkin pie, cinnamon, eggnog, and peppermint chip. It also sells award-winning cheeses, including aged white cheddar, gouda, and two kinds of blue cheese.

The Meat Salesroom (room 26) in the lower level, offers a variety of meats and gift boxes that include steaks and roasts, assorted sausages, and University of Minnesota honey, maple syrup, and some varieties of U of M apples (depending on availability).

Have a tasty holiday!

As a recent graduate of the University, one of the perks of college life that I miss most are the student discounts. As a student at the University, you can enjoy highly discounted events and activities around the Twin Cities. The Student Unions and Activities information desk offers a number of ways for students to save. 

Here's a list of some of my favorite places to go for student discounts:

Loring Pasta Bar: 30% off for Univeristy of Minnesota students
Minnesota Twins: Wednesday night is student discount night
Minnesota Timberwolves: Students get a $20 ticket for just $10
Metro Transit: University of Minnesota students can purchase a U-Pass for unlimited rides on any Metro Transit bus line or light rail for just $97 per semester.

These are just a handful of the discounts available to students. Others include Valleyfair amusement park tickets, movie passes, Science Museum of Minnesota admission, and Jefferson Lines bus tickets.

The U of M offers students great academics in a great location...and with these discounts, students can get out and enjoy the Twin Cities without breaking the bank!

I've written a lot about benefits of being a student at the U of M--undergraduate research, study abroad programs, career services, great opportunities in student groups---but one benefit that I haven't touched on yet is our faculty. Because of the University position as a top public research university, it attracts some phenomenal professors.

Marvin Marshak is a professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy as well as the director of undergraduate research. I always wanted to take a physics class with him, but his lectures never quite fit my schedule. I've heard great things about him from friends who have taken his classes. In addition to being an entertaining instructor, he makes time to play racquetball with students at the rec center!

Kent Kirkby, assistant professor of earth sciences, recently won a Distinguished Teaching Award. He is an engaging teacher who really bonds with his students. A former student said, "Kent embodies all the rare and wonderful characteristics one hopes to find in a professor. Had I taken my first class from him during my freshman or sophomore year, I would have pursued a geology minor."

These are just two examples of our amazing faculty, but there are many more. The College of Science and Engineering has 400 tenured and tenure-track faculty members who care greatly about their students.

Read more about our award-winning faculty!

Each fall, U of M mechanical engineering students participate in the largest robot show in the Twin Cities. The show is a culmination of their introductory design class (ME 2011). The final six weeks of these students' semesters are spent designing and building computer-controlled machines that "do something interesting" for no more than 60 seconds.

Students received a kit of parts and could supplement it with no more than $40 worth of additional materials. These design constraints are important because students need to learn how to be creative and deal with limitations to prepare them for their future careers.

At the end of the semester, a robot show is held in McNamara Alumni Center where students are judged by mechanical engineering faculty and graduate students, faculty from other departments, and professionals from industry. For complete information about the assignment, read the robot project website.

This year, I was able to attend the robot show. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was impressed by the number of visitors and robots on display.

Robot show.JPG

Tables with robots took up two rooms in the alumni center! These robots can do useful things, like tie a shoe or make a sandwich, or they can be purely entertaining, like the robot playing a xylophone or golfing Goldy Gopher robot.

Here are some of my favorite robots from the show:

Laser sensor Robot.JPG

This is a laser sensor security system. The Bucky Badger cup starts outside the "house" and slowly moves closer. Once Bucky interrupts the lasers, the gates rise, trapping him!

Sandwich making Robot.JPG

This robot can make sandwiches!

Golfing Goldy Robot.JPG

One student created a golfing Goldy Gopher!

Robot Hospital.JPG

There was even a robot hospital to take care of wounded robots.

If you'd like to see more pictures from robot shows dating back to 2004, check out the robot show website!



Santa.jpgThere is nothing better than the holiday season! On Monday, my sorority had its annual holiday party. We invited various people from the community and everyone dressed in red and green. We had a huge feast, a gift exchange, and sang carols. Even Santa showed up! (Well, a fraternity gentleman dressed as Santa.) It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, especially here in Minnesota with our snowy winter wonderland. There are so many great ways to enjoy the holiday season on the U of M campus and in the Twin Cities!

Holidazzle Parade
The parade has been happening since 1992 on the historic Nicollet Mall and takes place each weekend for a month before Christmas. It is a beautiful outdoor, sparkling night parade. This year's theme is "A Fairytale for All" and features various characters from all the classic fairytales. To learn more about the Holidazzle, visit http://www.holidazzle.com/

The Depot used to be a train station in downtown Minneapolis and now is home to a number of attractions including a restaurant, water park, and hotel. One of the most popular attractions at The Depot is their ice rink housed in the old train storage building. The rink is surrounded by windows with a view of the downtown skyline. And of course, there is a deal for college students: $2 on Thursdays!

There's no better place to do your holiday shopping than at the biggest mall in the United States! Mall of America has over 400 stores and is just minutes away from the University of Minnesota campus. I will be heading there on Saturday to get all of my Christmas shopping done!

Sporting Events
The Twin Cities is a great place to live if you are a sports fan like me. Not only are there plenty of competitive sports to watch at the U of M, but also in the greater Twin Cities. I love going to professional sports games, especially during the winter to get out of the cold! It is the perfect time to go watch the Minnesota Wild NHL hockey team and the Minnesota Timberwolves NBS basketball team.

Theater and Dance
Did you know that the Twin Cities has the most theater seats per capita after New York City? There are so many great shows to attend here, especially during the holiday season. I would love to see the Minnesota Orchestra or Minnesota Chorale to hear some classic holiday tunes. My holiday season is never complete without seeing the Nutcracker Ballet, which is being performed at the State Theatre this year. Another great option would be the 36th anniversary of A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater.

Outdoor Adventures
The Center of Outdoor Adventure (COA) at the University of Minnesota offers trips and clinics revolving around the great outdoors throughout the entire year. The COA provides plenty of opportunities for students to enjoy the outdoors during the winter including ski and snowboard trips. There are free Nordic ski trips for the entire month of December on the University's golf course. There is also a weekend trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for cross-country skiing, dog sledding, and snow shoeing.


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