The end of the first road... M.A Exams

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After two years of experiencing different topics, places, people, ideas and so on, I have gotten to the end of the first road. I said the first because this is just the end of my Master and the beginning of something else, possibly the PhD in Hispanic and Lusophone Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics. I'm writing this almost seven days before I take my oral exam. I don't have authority to talk about the oral yet but I'll about the written experience. This will help you (international student) to get through these particular days, since these days can be really stressful and your mind goes out of control, even if you try to be as calm as you can. I'll give you some personal advices.
Please, take the ones that fit your personality, we are all Grad Students, but we are not the same being:

1. Meet with your adviser regularly to create a list that will help you to start getting organized with the different topics related to your field.

2. Be practical about studying for your exams. You don't necessary have to start studying for your M.A. exams a year before, but keep in mind the more time you spend getting organize for them, the better your mind will feel weeks before you take them.

3. When you study for your exams, write topics, instead of a long dissertation of what you are going to argue about. I work better writing different topics related to the subject, then I write some examples and discuss about them. In terms of theory, I think it is important to have a clear idea of the ones you are going to use.

4. Create a work groups with the rest of the students that are taking the exam at the same time and discuss about the theories, the books that you have work on. This is really helpful. You ended up feeling that you should study more!

5. I think the steps 3 and 4 are the most important ones. Your mind will be also an important factor the days after your take your exams. Try to practice Yoga, or Pilates, go to a meditation center, or just go to the Gym. Try to be calm. That's the clue.

Good luck with your exams.

Post. This is also an interesting link for you to check

On Accents and Speaking a Foreign Language

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Have you ever felt frustrated when nobody understood you or slightly annoyed when someone made fun of you because of your accent? I have seen that frustration among my international friends. Sometimes I experience it with refugee clients of mine in my current social work internship. And yes, I have been there myself as a foreign student. Not only are we asked to adapt to a different culture and academic system, we have to master our conversing in a foreign language in a way that people understand us. My self-consciousness about my accent and way of speaking got me to the point that I would fear doing presentations in front of the class.

How did I overcome that anxiety? For one, I often asked myself why there should be a subtle emphasis on conforming to one unique way of pronouncing and speaking in a foreign language. Wouldn't it actually be boring if we as international students all spoke the same way in a foreign language? Instead we should embrace our way of speaking because our accent and culture make us who we are. Why should we deny something that is part of us and makes us unique?
To give you a personal example, it was a running gag among my best American friends for some time I that I couldn't pronounce the word squirrel. My friends helped me realize that I shouldn't take the pronunciation matter so seriously and instead take it with a sense of humor. Eventually, I laughed with my friends whenever they were amused about my accent because my pronunciation mishaps made them happy. After all, I was there to learn a new language and making mistakes during the learning process is normal. Moreover, learning and speaking a foreign language should be fun and never a chore.

I also realized that in the end I shouldn't focus so much on my accent, but on the overall message I want to get across in my communication. This important point is best summarized in an essay by Chinua Achebe about African authors writing in a foreign language: "So my answer to the question: Can an African ever learn English well enough to be able to use it effectively in creative writing? is certainly yes. If on the other hand you ask: Can he ever learn to use it like a native speaker? I should say, I hope not. It is neither necessary nor desirable for him to do so. The price a world language must be prepared to pay is submission to many different kinds of use. The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience." Consequently, always keep in mind that there is diversity in the English language of how you can communicate and express yourself.

Now I am not saying that we as international students shouldn't improve our English proficiency or if we want to work on our public speaking skills, by all means, we should all go ahead and seek out opportunities to do so. I remember an important lesson from a French teacher at my German high school that one of the key parts about learning a new language successfully is the courage to speak and practice it with others in public. We have a great German saying for that: "Uebung macht den Meister (A master arrives where he is at through exercise)."

But if you are still in doubt about yourself and your way of speaking, then please stop for a moment and give yourself a pat on the back. We all need to remind ourselves that we are making an effort in speaking another person's language in order to communicate with them. It says a lot about us that we are putting a lot of work into learning other people's languages and cultures, it reveals that we care deeply about communicating with the people in the host country and that we respect their language and culture. So...never forget this.

This is all from me today. Embrace the opportunity to learn and converse in a new language, make it a fun experience and laugh about your mistakes because they make you human. Also, please do me a favor and check out the following clip, you may or may not have walked in this guy's shoes before. Bis demnaechst und haltet die Ohren steif, my friends.

Dedicated to Dr. J., all of my international friends and all international students

Thesis, oh Thesis

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Hi everyone! I hope you are doing good in this semester! So some of you might be in the same position as me right now: finishing up their thesis/final project. It can be an exciting moment because you are almost done with school! But to get to that point you have to go through the arduous process of completing your thesis. For me, so far it has been smooth sailing, but a few days ago I've realized that I have LOTS of things to do. It's kinda scary.

So the point of this blog is to share my experience and the stuff I've been doing that might come in handy for you guys. Oh, please comment if you have other tips that can help ease your thesis writing process.

Probably the hardest part is to think of a thesis title. It can be extremely hard to get a fitting and original title, but don't worry, just as long as you know the concept of your thesis you can start with a preliminary title and develop the title along the way with you chair adviser.

Start researching as soon as possible. If you are like me whose thesis is more of a design thesis than a research thesis it helps a lot to start researching as soon as possible to allow yourself more time in the design phase, because designing takes a lot of time (especially if you are a perfectionist).

Creating your own timeline really helps with keeping your self on schedule. Put your timeline in front of your desk so it becomes an everyday reminder that you are not allowed to procrastinate! Hahahaha... Ask you department for a typical semester schedule for finishing your thesis (if they have one), which shows you when to preferably submit your draft, final draft, apply for a graduation package and so on.

Having scheduled meetings with your chair adviser is a must, but it doesn't hurt to meet with your other committee members as well. Try to set up a time somewhere in the middle of the semester for a mid-term review with all of your committee members present. This will help a lot in knowing what direction your thesis/final project is heading.

Peer reviews are also a good way to receive feedbacks. If you see your friends loafing around or not doing anything then don't hesitate to ask them for their opinions. Some of the good feedbacks might come from your friends and since they are at the same stage as you are, they might have awesome ideas that you can cultivate.

Finally, don't forget to reserve a room way ahead of time for your oral defense. Especially for me it is very difficult to reserve a room at the end of the semester since there will be lots of final reviews. Also when you reserve a room, reserve 30 minutes before your presentation so you would have that amount of time to prep the room and presentation.

So that's all I have for everyone else who is going to start their thesis or already have started it. Hopefully it can come to some kind of use to you all and happy thesis writing!

Are you on the right track?

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Hey hey fellow blog readers! It's been a while since my last blog so I hope the things I'm going to share will be more helpful. So for today's blog I would just like to share my story. Something I experienced a couple of weeks ago and in a way changed the direction I want to go with my life.

From past conversations I've had with my friends and colleagues, some of them were not sure with the path they are taking. Meaning that they are not so sure if their major is what they want to actually be working in in the future. This is a common problem that some of us experience.

For me architecture is an interest that developed because of my love for drawing. After graduating high school, going into architecture was actually my plan B. However, now that I look back I would have not enjoyed my life if I went with my plan A. I chose architecture because it was the only field where I can channel my passion for drawing and have my parent's approval. But since I was a kid I loved to draw monsters and fantasy creatures. This was probably influenced by my love for RPG games like Final Fantasy.

A few weeks ago I went to Glendale to compete in Walt Disney Imaginations 2013 as a finalist. It was the best thing that happened to me this year. One of the highlights for me was to talk with the Imagineers and hearing their stories. I also met with other finalists and was inspired by their stories as well. They all had one thing in common: they were pursuing what they love. This got me thinking. Now I'm starting to polish my skill of drawing fantasy creatures and monsters and if architecture doesn't work for me then I would pursue my dream of becoming a creature designer.

It is not too late to change your career path. If you love it then you should put your best effort to achieve it. Sometime in the future you will come to that crossroad and before that day comes you should be well prepared for it. If changing career paths is too drastic for you or you do not have your parent's approval, then having a minor in what you love can be another way. The University Catalog can help you find your minor and whether the university offers it. Another way would be to join student groups that are related to your true passion. The Student Unions & Activities can help you find a student group you are looking for and the Groups at U of M facebook page can also help you out.

Again, if you really love it you should try your best to pursue it. And hey, wouldn't it be awesome to work in a field that you truly love and are passionate about? See you guys soon!

Holidays / Diciembre , 2012


Hola a todos!

I have to admit that I had the greatest Christmas Day and New Year's Eve in the U.S. so far. I spent time with new people who made me feel special and loved. Even if I felt the absence of my family, I realized that I have certain people that I can consider an important part of my life right now. Ok, I'll stop being sentimental and I'll talk a little bit of what colombians do and what americans do for x-mas.

Americans don't celebrate Christmas like Colombians do; however, it is exceptional to experience unusual feelings and festivities in a different country. The biggest difference is that New Year's Eve is celebrated with our family. We get together and have dinner, and we'll probably dance a huge repertoire of songs depending on the region you live in.

If you're from the Atlantic Coast you might dance Vallenatos, if you live in Cali (where I was living before I came here) you might dance Salsa and Merengue and so on. You'll finally end up singing "Faltan cinco pa' las doce, 
el año va a terminar, 
me voy corriendo a mi casa 
a abrazar a mi mamá...", something close to "It's five to twelve, the year will end. I'm running to my house to hug my mother ... ". In the U.S. this day is the night where you get together with your friends and have fun. It is also a day where you get together with your significant other. Going back to Christmas day I can say that we celebrate almost the same way, with the difference that we don't give seven or eight presents. We just exchange two or maybe three.Other than that it is the same ritual. I can keep talking about our differences, but It is better to mention the good things I did. I also read that blogging is dying and writing too much is boring, so...

...I'll show you the most special moments through some photographs:

Hayward, WI


Danny, Kay and I made a special Colombian Chicken Rice


My view was full of snow and silenced sounds!


I also went to La Jolla, CA where I had time to do Yoga with the Kay, who is as calm as the sea. I hiked by the ocean. I also had time to think about what is coming up: M.A. Written and Oral Exams


Chao, I hope this year continue being as great as last one!!!

Managing that thing called FINALS WEEK


As we are moving closer towards the final stage of this semester, I am sure many of you find yourself among the masses of students for whom the end can't come soon enough. Many of you are in the process of finishing final group work, papers, quizzes and undergoing exams soon. And maybe you are in the same boat as me and are experiencing the occasional Homer Simpson Freak-out mode.


But don't you worry, y'all, in times like these it's always good to remember that it will be over soon and when that day comes you can look at the gigantic hill you climbed through your persistence. And on that day, you can pat yourself on the shoulder and be proud of yourself for making it through another semester and one step closer to your degree.

As someone who has gone through it all in this academic system for the past 5.5 years, I have always found it useful to develop different strategies to get myself through the final stage of every semester and its accompanying madness.

1)Take some time out while studying to do a few breathing exercises to regain composure and get your thoughts back in order. Sit down in a comfortable position or lie down for a few minutes, if needed.
2) If you are the type of person that doesn't like be distracted, find a quiet environment to complete your studies and final projects. If your apartment or dorm isn't the ideal type, university libraries are usually a good place to start at.
3) If however, you are sick of being stuck in your residence cut off from the rest of the world and crave being around people, follow my friend and fellow ambassador Angela Castro's advice and find a coffee shop. Apart from the amiable atmospheres you find in the Twin Cities' coffee shops, you also have an accessible supply of caffeine and other delicacies.
4) Have some chocolate (highly recommend the German ones simply out of personal bias ;) )-Always a sweet stress reliever. Even research has proven it time and again.
5) If time permits, engage in some exercise to get the stress out of your system. Even a short walk and some fresh air can do you good.
6) Remember the funny health insurance guy from your international student orientation? Yes, massages are great and indeed a good resource to contemplate for some relaxing quality time before you take on your finals.
7) And my personal favorite: Set up a reward system for yourself to keep yourself motivated. B.F. Skinner once demonstrated it so well with his pigeons that positive reinforcement reinforces positive behavior. Reward your endeavors with something you like and enjoy, say a favorite activity. I know that laughter can be one of the best medicines to get the endorphins going. So, after long hours of studying, finishing up a paper or group project I usually like to treat myself to an episode of Family Guy, Community or Scrubs.
8) And of course, feel free to expand on this list by leaving some comments on this blog. I am always eager to learn new strategies to manage the challenges of finals week

That's all from me tonight, my friends. I would like to finish this blog with a suitable quote from the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

"Dass etwas schwer ist, muss ein Grund mehr sein, es zu tun."

Good luck with your finals and all other projects. Take care and see you all soon.

Hey everyone! So right now I've been really busy with starting my final project, gathering my committee, setting up an oral defense date plus all those class assignments, but on top of that I am preparing myself to find a job once I graduate. Probably almost everyone will want to start finding a job once they graduate and trust me, job searching is a daunting task!

Luckily for me, the College of Design has a Mentorship Program which is basically a program that pairs students with professionals from the industry. I do not know whether this program is offered for students outside of the College of Design, so you might want to look more into that if you're not in CDes (CDes rocks!). During my mentorship, my mentor has shared his experience working in the office and the field, and also reviewed my resume a couple of times which I find very helpful! He also gave me some insights about the architecture industry and is helping me with finding a job. One thing he suggested me to do is set up informational interviews with firms.


For those of you who don't know what an informational interview is, it is basically a meeting with professionals to ask about career and industry advise rather than employment. So this will be your first step in job searching. Knowing the condition of the industry and what they seek in employees will be a great knowledge for you. In informational interviews you will be doing most of the interviewing instead and remember to follow up with a thank you note (either through mail or email). Here is a useful website to learn more about informational interviews

So the point of conducting informational interviews, besides getting to know the industry and professional career, is to establish a network with professionals or perhaps probable employers. Even though the intention of informational interviews is to ask for advise and consultation, this will be an opportunity for you to present yourself and create a first impression. If you do well in this interview then the professionals that you talk to might have an interest in you and might consider interviewing you in the future if they are seeking employment. So if you are seeking employment after graduation I hope this blog entry will help you get a kick start! Happy job searching!

What Do We Do?

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Do you really know what people can do at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese An easy way to demonstrate how hard we work here is by showing you the different ideas that we have in this department; I will introduce you some students. Their ideas/researches are noteworthy and unusual. That's what they became attractive to me.

And they wrote:

Hi! I'm a grad student and Spanish Instructor at the Spanish and Portuguese Department. I'm in my second year of the M.A in Hispanic Cultures and Literatures. I have a personal interest in post dictatorship literature in Latin America, specifically the south cone. During dictatorships in the 70-80', many voices were silenced, rights were violated and all forms of cultural expressions were limited or even prohibited. Traditional patriarchal values were stressed and many men disappeared, leaving women with no other option than taking charge of their families. Fear and repression were the inspiration of new ideals that were externalized through literature. Literary works during and after dictatorships expressed a tone of protest, the fight for surviving, and most importantly, became an instance for women to encounter their identity as individuals. How did feminine literature benefit from dictatorship? When was feminine literature acknowledged as such? Did women use literature to fight against patriarchal principles and domination, or just against the authoritarian regime? This master program and its interdisciplinary approaches have been extremely helpful in providing me with superior knowledge to answer those and other questions in this field that I really enjoy working in!

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Meghann Peace
Ph.D. Candidate
Hispanic Linguistics

As a student of Hispanic linguistics, I have been able to study nearly all aspects of the Spanish language- morphosyntax, phonology, prosody and pragmatics, native and non-native speech, and the methods and techniques used in teaching Spanish to students of different native languages. My main interests, however, focus on two areas in particular - Spanish in the United States and second language acquisition. My work on Spanish in the United States has examined whether Spanish syntax has been affected by its extended contact with English. Do native speakers of Spanish who live in the United States change their way of speaking after years of being bilingual? Within the field of second language acquisition, I have conducted various studies examining how non-native speakers of Spanish acquire the appropriate intonation, syntax, and morphology as used by native speakers. I am currently researching how learners of Spanish acquire and use referential communication in appropriate manners. Namely, do they use grammatical structures that are situationally appropriate and effective in communication?
How is their speech influenced by their desire to be understood? What are their assumptions of their listeners, and how do these assumptions guide the sort of speech that is produced? This particular project examines non-native Spanish from beginning to near-native levels, in order to see if there is an order in which acquisition occurs and which factors influence said order. Given this, there may be implications for improvements in language teaching, to better help students understand and produce native-like Spanish.

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Hey Everyone! My name is Amy Hill and I'm a second-year masters student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota. My research focuses on the themes of human rights and censorship in Argentine and Mexican literature and popular culture. In particular, I am interested in investigating the sociopolitical influence of entertainment mass media, including films and telenovelas. So, yes, I do get to perform research by watching countless hours of Mexican soap operas, and yes, I do believe there is meaning behind seemingly outrageous melodramatic slaps.
Also here is a link to one of the telenovelas that I am currently analyzing. An excellent Mexican remake called Teresa.


I'll tell you about me next time. One tip: I love Caribbean studies. One of my favorite authors is Junot Diaz. You can find interesting links of Junot on this website:

Enjoy y hasta la próxima!!!

Oh, academia!

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When I went home, to Ukraine, this summer for a short break from my intense study, besides lots of fun, hugs and my mom's homemade food I got to experience quite an interesting communication struggle that I have never experienced before. Just as an example here, it took me almost two weeks to explain to my dad what it is that I study here in the US. And, trust me, my dad is quite smart. The problem was in the time gap between generations, countries, cultures created by advanced technologies and high mobility; the problem was also in me, trying to translate essential English words from my day-to-day academic life, words, inexistent yet in my native Russian or Ukrainian.

You see, I discovered that the education journey you are going on sometimes tends to carry you away from your "roots", from your family and people you knew before all of your academia or people you grew up with. How is that, you'd ask? Gradually, slowly you gain that smartness and sophistication; grow into an intelligent product of the higher education; experience variety of intercultural interactions, while your people back home live their own busy lives at their small towns' speed. But as long as you learn to appreciate your growth along with embracing your "roots", you'll find it very inspiring to be sometimes an ambassador of the new knowledge to your home.

For those of you who are very much into reading, I'd like to suggest this article on the topic that I found quite picturesque and interesting. Enjoy your "journey" wherever you are and never forget where you came from.


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Useful resources to consider before applying for internships or jobs

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For some of you it may be the time of the year that you are looking for internship opportunities or are preparing for job interviews. You may have already gotten some work done on your cover letter or resume. Some of you may be doing these things for the first time which is why it can always be beneficial to get a second opinion to better prepare yourselves. Last year I did an internship at an employment service of a non-profit agency and thus learned a lot about the benefits of having a marketable resume, cover letter and good interviewing skills; all of which you can obtain through job counseling.


Luckily, the university has many useful resources to help prepare students for the job market once they graduate or if they look for some work experiences while still in school. For international students in particular, the International Student Scholar Service offers useful resources. Appointments can be made with a counselor where students can learn how to write a resume, receive feedback on their resumes, learn how to prepare for an interview or schedule a mock interview in order to prepare for the actual one and much more. In addition, special career services for the students' college departments are also available that provide the same type of services and help prepare them for starting careers in their field of interest.
But even before you access these services you can prepare a lot on your own as well, such as by accessing resume and cover letter writing tips, reviewing interviewing strategies and looking through suggestions on how to prepare for interviews; all of which can be found online. What's more is that the university also hosts a job and internship fair where students can meet employers of interest for job or internship opportunities. For more information on the fair, potential employers that will attend, or how you can prepare yourself for the fair itself, please consult the following link.

Other useful lessons that I learned from my internship is that it never hurts to look for opportunities to expand your resume and working experience. As you are well aware by now, the university and the Twin Cities offer numerous opportunities for students to be involved. Never hesitate to join a student organization or get some volunteer experience that can later benefit the outline of your resume. These can provide you with new skills and experiences that you can later bring into a position you are applying for. In addition, finding out what makes you unique and what your strengths are never hurts to know when you think about how you are going to present yourself in the actual job interview.


Good luck with the applications, interviews and make sure you use some of the resources available here for you. Until next time, my friends and have a happy Thanksgiving.

My Q&A About Applying UMN

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Hey Everyone, this time I am going to write some words about the tips and important information about applying University of Minnesota Twincities for future graduate students.
Ok~ Here we go!

The graduate school highly recommend that students submit the application at least two weeks before the deadline, most of the programs will end application on December 15, and some programs will end a little earlier or later around December. Check each programs' own websites to get correct deadlines and those are the most reliable resources.
The link: Choosing Program Website

The picture below shows the webpage of choosing different program's own site to get information of the deadline and application instruction.
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### If some urgent issue happen and you miss the deadline by lately submitting some materials, you could contact the specific department office by phone or email to ask if you could still hand in your application. The Officers will be very friendly to answer you. ###

2. What should you prepare for application?
Usually,your application should include your GRE score, your resume, your unofficial transcript (electric version needed), your official transcript (closure in an envelope), recommendation letters ( at least 2-3, depends on different programs), your personal statement, your research or work experience report, some programs need extra writing sample or other credentials. Also you need your Credit card (Visa, Discover, American Express and MasterCar) ready to pay the application fee.(International student:$95.00)
The detailed instruction link: Application Instructions

3. How to apply?
Our school use the online application system which is very easy to use. You need to create an account, then login the system to begin your application!
The link is below: Online Application!
The picture of the login webpage is below :
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After login, just follow the instruction to continue your application process.You will fill in your information in Personal Information, Application Information,Educational Background,Test Information-Self Reported,Languages,Awards and Activities, Employment / Residence Information,Financial Support,Legal agent/privacy statement, Applicant Statements, Program Supplementary Information.
For the recommendation letter, you could download the form on the website and ask provider to complete it or to give the providers' email address to let them finish and hand in online which is much efficiency.

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4. After applying
After finishing the applying process you should be very patient of waiting the decision made by the school. Actually, I really suggest you that the good applying work is to contact a specific professor whom you would like to work with and the dean of the department to know you are going to apply if you want them to pay more attention to you.
If you are eager for the decision news, you could search and check in the grade cafe forum to know if the decision has worked out!
The link : Grad Cafe Forum

Good Luck everyone!! I hope you all will get good news from UMN, we really welcome you!

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Hello loyal blog readers! Have you ever thought about where the everyday things you throw away go to? Do you guys recycle? Did you recycle back home in your country? To be honest I didn't and the habit of recycling came to me since I began my studies in the US. At first it was a bit of getting used to, identifying which trash goes to which bin but now I am getting the hang of it.

So this semester I am taking a class about recycling and we have to do a service learning project for that class. Basically it's volunteering at any recycling program or facilities. I managed to volunteer at the Como Recycling Facility which manages waste specifically from the University of Minnesota. I volunteered once every week for five weeks and I learned a lot of things.

When I started I was told what to do: grab a bin, dump the plastic trash on the conveyer belt, find any foreign trash besides plastic, separate the different types of plastic and push all the remaining plastic into the feeder. This feeder will clean and crush the plastics into bails which will then be shipped out to other recycling facilities. All the leftover garbage that cannot be processed will be sent to HERC, which is a facility that turns waste into energy.



Basically that's what I do and it was a lot of work sorting the trash and you will definitely find interesting things in the trash. Even though the bins we see at campus are labelled 'plastics only', people still throw away non-plastic trash into these bins. This makes it harder for us to sort the trash in the facility. So when you throw away your trash please do the guys at the recycling facility a favor and throw them into the proper bin. This not only saves time but also energy.

To those of you who have not yet tried volunteering here in the US, I recommend you do it at least once. Volunteering here is a big deal and people really appreciate what you are doing. It will also be a good asset when you do interviews for jobs showing that you have done voluntary work. Here is a one link that you can go to to find volunteering opportunities in the Twin Cities : and for those interested in volunteering at the recycling facility you can go to this page and contact Dana who is the supervisor at the facility. So hopefully you will be inspired to get up and do some volunteer work! Oh and trust me you can get a lot of experience and knowledge from doing so.

Unique Places in Minneapolis

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Hola a todos! We have been talking about things regarding to the U of M. This time I will introduce you with some of my favorite spots in Minneapolis and some info that could be helpful. Since winter is coming and my mood is shifting with the rhythm of the cold, I decided to remember all the places I find unique here. When you have time, you should definitely check them out.

1. If you are in the mood for a cultural vibe, go to Walker Art Center: This museum located on Hennepin Avenue is one of the most important cultural attractions in Minneapolis. The architecture is exceptional. If you go on Thursday you can get in for free. Here's the link


2. If you want to read, or grade surrounded by different kind of people you should go a coffee shop located in Uptown called 'Spyhouse'. You will find independent music, a tasty coffee, mocha, latte and so on. At the same time you'll see a lot of students doing the same thing like you do, so you will feel related, connected, linked, associated to them. If you want more information here's the link


3. One expensive but interesting place in Minneapolis is Guthrie Theater if you want to see a play that you'll remember for a long time. This place will let you see the Mississippi river from an exceptional yellow lens. The performances at the Guthrie are qualified and outstanding. Save some of your money and go to check one of their productions once in a while. I just got a Facebook comment from a college who literally says that Guthrie has student discounts and/or rush tickets (cheaper tickets, if you get them a few hours before a performance). Find out


4. If you want to go to a 'college' pseudo-cultural club you can go to Kitty Cat Klub, which is a place really close to the U. You will see local bands and you can try decent drinks. The decoration of the place is attractive. You can give it a try on Fridays after class to relax your busy mind. Website


Enjoy and let me know what do you think. Hasta la próxima!

What happens when your academic life and your dreams coincide


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The week of November 11th to November 18th is an International Education Week. It is a great opportunity for all international students to learn about educational opportunities around the world and in the USA in particular. As an international graduate student studying Comparative and International Development Education at the U of M, I would like to share about my contribution into the "world of international education."

When I just arrived to Minnesota to start my first semester as a grad student, I accidently got involved with the Civic Leadership Engagement Program for Minnesota and Ukraine due to my natural desire and ability to jump into any kind of unpaid job or initiative. I was just a very happy Russian-English-Russian interpreter for a while until I realize how much I care about this Program and how much I want something similar to this Program to be done for Ukrainian youth. As the result the idea of creating Youth Leadership Engagement Program for Ukraine and Minnesota youth was born. And thus, my new journey started. During next few month several people gathered together to discuss, create, and set up the Program. My classmates and some of my professors got excited and agreed to help out. We've contacted many youth driven organizations around the Twin Cities area to see if we can work together for the best learning experiences of our youth. The Youth Leadership Engagement Program for Ukrainian youth that once was just a big dream of mine turned into my Master's thesis project; and more than that, it turned into the everyday reality of my life.

The junior high and high school students from Ukraine arrived to Minnesota about two weeks ago and are going to spend two more weeks on Minnesota soil learning about youth empowerment, leadership, governance, transparency, and democracy. I'm completely overwhelmed with enthusiasm and all of the learning experiences we discover together every day. We've visited many organizations (Public Achievement, Fire Department, Police Station, City Hall, University of Minnesota, etc.) and interacted with many inspiring people (ex-Governor of Minnesota is just one of them). I would never believe I'd be a part of such an important initiative that someday, I'm sure, will turn into a movement and will give my country incredible leaders capable of making best decisions for the better future of our nation. Now I believe more than ever, big accomplishments start with big dreams. So never lessen your dreams.


International Education Week

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Today marks the beginning of the annual International Students Week, an event initiated by the US department of State and the US department of Education.
As international students, it's a great opportunity to celebrate education and diversity among students in institutions all over the world.
Interestingly, the University of Minnesota comprises students from over 120 different countries and over 1,300 international faculty and scholars. Last year's event at the University of Minnesota included lecture series, poster presentations, a learning fair and of course, the fun parts - lots of games and film shows.

This year's celebration will culminate in a documentary titled "Crossing borders", which focuses on cross-cultural discussions and misconceptions. The documentary will be followed by a panel dicsussion by students on cross-cultural experiences.

For details on specific events during the week, please visit

Looking forward to more exciting events this year!!

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An Ambassador's perspective on the presidential elections

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Everything got quiet suddenly with everyone seeming to hold their breath. We were tightly packed together in a gym hall with blue signs of "Hope" and "Change we can believe" flaring across the crowd. Then out of the speakers blasted U2's song "City of Blinding Lights" and the crowd of students and community members erupted into a jubilant choir of cheers upon his arrival: Barack Obama.




Back in February of 2008 I had the opportunity to hear Obama speak during his campaign trail for the Presidency. It was a surreal, cool event to see a charismatic political figure give an eloquent speech only several meters away from you. Of course, one couldn't help but being taken in by the crowd's passion along with Obama's charisma, charm, humor and outstanding oratory skills. At the end of his speech Obama made the rounds toward the crowd and fortunately, I had the chance to shake his hand twice (I still enjoy bragging about it to my American friends :)). To this day I think that that was one of the coolest events in my college career.


In my 6 years of being here I had the privilege to witness two presidential elections. Overall, I have always found the time of elections here very interesting, in particular when it comes to the expression of preference for a candidate. It's not like every day that you suddenly see yard signs with political slogans or candidates' names decorating peoples' front lawns and properties. Whenever you drive or walk through the streets you can't help but noticing the multitude of bumper stickers glaring at you from passing cars. In addition, it's a time when you can encounter many political ads in social media, TV and radio and it's always fun to see how creative both campaigns tend to get with their messages.




Apart from the candidates and slogans, I also enjoy the effects that the elections have on the people. One thing I have always appreciated deeply about the elections is the amount of passion and energy that is emanated from campaign volunteers, mostly consisting of students and community members. Often you see them on campus or in the community, spending countless, unpaid hours handing out literature or encouraging fellow citizens to register and vote in the elections. Back In 2008 I volunteered along some of them to knock on people's doors to remind them and obtain their pledge to vote in the election. It was a great feeling to do something for the common good with other Americans.

One may wonder then why as an international student who can't vote in this country I care about the elections here. For one, it's the fact that the selection of the next president will also affect the relationship with the leaders of my country and will have an impact on foreign policy in general. More so, I come from a household where being informed and having discussions about politics is important. Consequently, I enjoy hearing peoples' opinions and take on the politics that occur in their country. I remember having some of the best, profound conversations about politics with American friends of mine because they often asked for my opinions and views on the elections. Sometimes these conversations could become heated and emotional when disagreements occurred. But with all fruitful and healthy debates, we could all agree at the end of day to respect each other's' opinions and appreciate the opportunities for an enlightening discussion with insight into another person's beliefs.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that if you have a chance to talk politics with people here don't hesitate to do so because it's a great way to explore people's passions and beliefs. My experience has always been that they also like to hear a foreign perspective on their elections or on politics in general. And if you have the chance to see a politician or candidate speak, don't hesitate to do so because it can be another insightful American experience for you. Make sure to check the news on Tuesday because it's probably going to be one of the tightest and most exciting elections in U.S. history. Until next time, my dear friends.

Need a Place to Study outside Home?

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Hello every one! How's your semester going? Isn't this semester went by soooooo quick? It is midterm time already. I cannot believe it!!! All papers deadlines and midterm exams are approaching. Are you ready yet? Do you need to find a place to study?

Hmmm....regarding to the pie chart I posted above, I have to admit that my routine of working from home would look not that much different. After thousands attempts, I finally gave up studying at home and started to seek study spaces on campus. Here is what I have came up with!

+++++they are all great on campus locations, which mean, free wireless internet, easy access to computer labs and printers, friendly staff members on site who might be able to give you a hand any time during your stay, and etc+++++

1.Deep quiet study areas in Wilson Library: they are my all time favorites!!!

2.Coffee shops in Walter Library (basement) and Wilson Library (basement): Sadly they do not open on weekends but it would be great choice for those who need food and beverage refreshment close by on weekdays.


3.Group study rooms with whiteboards in Walter, Wilson, Bio-Med, etc: great place for study groups and team projects!!!

4. TechStop in 90 Blegan Hall on westbank: super close to Blegan connivence store and lunch place.
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5. Small breakout room in Jones Hall: you will need to check out keys from CLA language Center in the same building. Here is the small room calendar

Happy Midterms & Studying everyone!!!

Activities In Winter Minnesota

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The first snowfall came late October this year as predicted. My fourth Minnesota winter is coming. For me, cold winter is not that horrible. And that's the only time I prefer to stay in the warm library and study than to wander outside. However If you really like to explore, you will find there are lot of hot things ongoing.

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No.1 BIG NBA games.

The NBA new season just kicked off. We have some new guys here in T-Wolves. Brandon Roy the former all-star and Andrei Kirilenko a former leading blocker will make the Minnesota Team more competitive this year. I am really anticipating the comeback of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. They almost complete the reconstruction. For a student at the U, we will have a college night every Wednesday, a $20 ticket for just $10 for U students only. That's one thing you may want to check out.
Go Timberwolves!

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No.2 Vikings is on the way.

I am a big football fan. This year I really hope that the Vikings can make something happen. They are 5-3 and the second in the division. The young quarterback Christian Ponder is really a smart guy, and he is growing up and making progress. Also, we have Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harven. I believe they will make the playoff.
Go Vikings.

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No.3 Skiing and snowboard

If you don't want to sit inside to watch the games and instead you like snow and winter sports. This is the right place too. I still remembered that in winter 2010, I had my first skiing experience in St. Paul. It was like a baby learning walking on her own. Well, for me, skiing is hard but so much fun. In the late December, you will find that you can ski everywhere, since you got couples of inches snow almost everywhere. Then, after 2 years experience you may try the more skilled sports snowboard in the professional field. That's something really fancy. By the way, the university also offers skiing and snowboard course every year. I am sure you may don't want to miss it.
Go skiing in Saint Paul

No.4 Ice fishing
Somebody may ask me, are you kidding me? It's so cold outside, what can you do except find some shelter? But, don't forget that, we have thousands of lakes in Minnesota. Ice fishing is really cool. You can find a lot of ice fishing lakes in the north Minnesota. Ice fishing is not that difficult or danger. Once you find a lake with ice thick enough, you can cut a hole and fish with your rod and bites . Surprisingly, it's not as cold as you might expected.

Go Ice Fishing

"Driven to discover" even you are in the freezing Minnesota, you will find something amazing.

Howdy loyal blog readers! As most of you might know, I am a grad student ambassador majoring in Architecture. Although I am passionate about architecture, I also have tons of interest in product design and especially toys! Personally I am a huge fan of high-end action figures (most toy enthusiasts will know what that means lol!) and have a large collection of toys at home, ranging from fixed pose action figures to plastic model kits. Ooops, sorry I got carried away... I like to blabber on and on when it comes to toys :)

So back to the main point. Knowing that I had a huge interest in toys, I was deeply intrigued by this product design class offered in Spring 2012. It was the Toy Product Design class offered by the College of Design under PDES 3711/5711. So without hesitation I registered for that class and boy I did not regret it.

If you are in the College of Design or College of Science and Engineering and you are interested in hands on experience with real clients and prototyping then I would definitely recommend this course. But wait! Other students from different majors can join as well, just as long as you can show your interest in this class to the instructor.

In this class you will be working in teams to create an innovative toy that you will present in the end of the semester not only in front of your clients, but also to kids and families who are the prospective buyers. We call this final presentation as Playsentations because this type of presentation incorporates play and fun! Click here to see videos of this years Playsentations.



Through this class I managed to learn a LOT of things. Not only were the lectures fun and informative, but during lab hours you will have the chance to use all of the cool machines at the W.L. Hall Workshop and DigiFab Lab. So if you're that type of person that would like to have a dynamic and interesting class different from your everyday boring lectures, then you might find enjoying this class as much as I do! Oh and if you do decide to register for this class next Spring then it is likely that I will see you at class because I am going to be one of the lab instructors! Hopefully I will see you there!

Managing stress and what does that have to do with your roommates

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Have you ever had a feeling like you can't keep up with your crazy life anymore, as if somebody stole every happy thought from your brain and there are almost nothing (even babies and poppies) that can make you smile again. Perhaps you don't even want to walk outside you room... or bed. You feel so overwhelmed, responsible, stressed, and mad for the whole world's problems laying on your shoulders (really, there are just the midterms, papers, and job you are juggling with but it feels like there is the whole world involved in making your life miserable). And your social life... just sucks! Oh wait. It doesn't suck, because... you just don't have a social life at all. So imagine you are sitting in your room all by yourself and not even trying to keep track of the Sneakers bars you ate while embracing your misery, when the magic super hero in the image of your roommate appears at your door to rescue you from the mythical Dragon Life you created. Sounds familiar? Well, may be not so much of the dragons and the super heroes part :) But, seriously, how often we all get so much caught up by our everyday business with all of the activities and responsibilities that eventually leads us to an awful stress and even depression. Student life might be difficult and stressful. Think of your ways or tools to manage stress? How do you handle difficulties?

I found for myself the best way to reconcile with my crazy life is to have happy roommates around. Seriously, I love my roommates. And I don't know what exactly keeps them happy: the Ukrainian food that I cook from time to time, or the fact that we live in a beautiful house right by the lake, or a desire to support and accept each other as we are and create a little "family" away from the family? Anyway, on that "rainy" day of mine, my roommate Bitsy yelled me from the kitchen to "get on the couch right now!" to see some uTube video. What happen next... 15 minutes of a crazy laughter and 15 more of a discussion about how some people can produce joy and pure happiness within themselves and how we sometimes forget that we can really notice simple things and the joy they can bring:
My Dragon Life flew away scared and embarrassed and I felt how my cheerfulness comes back to me. After all, this is my choice to be happy or not. I choose to smile or not. I decide to keep myself above the stress and self pity. I love my roommates for reminding me about simple things that bring you joy and for encouraging me to bring joy to others whatever that means (an unexpected gift, or a sandwich, or a hug)

But even if you don't have awesome happy roommates or friends around, or you don't feel comfortable to talk to your friends about what you are going through, there are always services for you at the U of M to help you get where you want to get (I mean finishing up your midterms, or getting your dissertation done, or graduate, or whatever else it might be (I seriously can not think of anything not study related now :) Some of my friends checked out the U of M Boynton Mental Health Services (the word "mental" here doesn't mean you might not necessarily have to have mental disorder or disability to be eligible for the services. You might simply feel homesick or suffer a heartbreak after breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.) The experienced professional will be glad to help you there: You just need to ask.

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How To Keep Healthy And Calm At The U of M

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Being calm and healthy while living Grad Student's life can be really tough just to think about it. If I see myself I can tell you that I haven't been at the Gym three months ago. But I think I found the formula to be healthy and calm at the U of M. There is no magical theory. For me there are just three different activities and actions that you can follow and your life would be more enjoyable. Of course if you feel that you don't need any of this advices just keep siting in your desk, writing, reading and calculating. For those how forgot about these fours things, just keep reading:

1. Schedule time, weekly, being active: you can go to the Rec Center at the U of M. It is FREE, unless you want to pay for classes such as Yoga and personal training and so on. Here's the link Don't make excuses; you can go at least once per week.

2. Eat well and not too much junk: There are so many temptations to eat food that we find delicious. I know we have McDonalds close to Minneapolis campus and we also have Starbucks at Coffman. However, I can give you some tips. Have you thought of bringing or getting fruits, yogurt and oatmeal, at these places? Turn your eyes and you'll be able to see other options in the same menu. Do you know there is a website where you can get a lot of information on healthy food at the U of M? You should use it sometimes; it might help you to find interesting resources

And now... how to keep calm. You might think I'm crazy and probably you don't see the link between being healthy and calm at the same time. However, whenever you have an extra time, try to use it smartly:

3. Balance your studies and social life: You definitely need time for your body. It also has to do with the happiness of your mind/body. I will recommend you to go to dance with your friends, (I can tell for the aspect of my colleagues friends if they go to dance or not); get some friends if you don't have any, I wont tell you how (that would be cover in another 'entretenido' blog). Try to communicate with people outside of your department because your mind and body will get a remarkable rest by talking about different aspects that are not related you're your academic field.

Here's a video that somebody special made for you:

Credits: Danny Dietl and

Volunteer group

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Hi all,
I am a member of the University's Medical Reserve corps, that held a pharmaceutical repackaging drill for it's new and old members during the last week. The drill was to train volunteers on how to package and dispense drugs to the public in situations of health emergencies.
The University of Minnesota's Medical Reserve Corps is a volunteer group of students, staff and faculty of the Academic health center at the University of Minnesota. The group is responsible for training volunteers to respond to local, state and national emergencies. As a student, it's also an opportunity for networking, to meet other healthcare and public health professionals and share ideas. I think it's a great opportunity for students coming into any health-related field.

You can check out their site for more details:
I'm sure it's a group you'll find very exciting and they are always ready to welcome new members.

Stop by here for some marvelous German cuisine!!!!

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Servus! I knew that I had scored big time when I first moved to Minneapolis and discovered that my apartment was only two blocks away from a German restaurant. Most of you may agree with me that there are certain things from your home country that you can't get in the States and once in a while you crave them really badly. But the Black Forest Inn helps me satisfy those cravings once in a while.



I was very impressed with their menu when I went there for the first time as it has an extensive array of traditional German dishes, such as Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, Schnitzel, Spaetzle, Apfelstrudel etc. For meat lovers this is a real treat as Germany is famous for its meat-based cuisine. One of my favorite dishes there is their Veal Jaeger Schnitzel with red cabbage and Spaetzle. In general, I highly recommend that you try any of their dishes that feature their Spaetzle or Bratwurst as these are home-made according to the German recipe. Overall, the menu itself may a bit pricey for college students but let me assure you that you will definitely get what you pay for due to the excellent quality of the food served. Both international and American friends that I took with me always had a good experience there.

For those of you who are 21 and older and are beer connoisseurs like me, you can also look forward to a magnificent selection of delicious German, European and local beers at this restaurant. On top of that, the Black Forest Inn also features a beautiful beer garden. Coupled with the restaurant's cozy atmosphere, their beer garden is a nice place for hanging out, enjoying a cold beverage and having some good conversations with friends during the summer.



In addition, if you are looking into learning a little more about German traditions and festivities, this is also a suitable place to go to. The Black Forest Inn hosts events, such as Oktoberfest, Spargelfest, a Christmas market, Fasching, and many more. Some of these events also include live music and dancing. Anyway, this is all from me today. I hope to see some of you over there some time. Until next time, my friends. Auf Wiedersehen.

This is Italian Style! This is Buca !

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Although I am an international student from China, I decided to write a review for an Italian restaurant! The name for this restaurant is Buca di Beppo, or in short, Buca. I love this restaurant very much since it is a great place to go for dinner as a big group as well as their food is fantastic. It is also very affordable and very distinctive!


When we talk about Italy, the wonderful Toscana's sunshine, the amazing artists, the architectures, and, of course, the yummy Italian food such as Pizza, Pasta, Tiramisù will pop out eventually.....

Buca is the place where you could find almost all of the great Italian food you can name.

I went to this restaurant with six friends one time. We did not know how big a dish would be, so we ordered five dishes, two desserts, and some drink in total. Since it is a family styled restaurant, their dish size is very very big. The dishes in Buca are designed for sharing with others. Small size would fit 2-3 people and large size would fit 4-5! This sharing mode added fun and happy atmosphere to eating meals with our friends and families. That day, we did not ended up finishing all the food we have ordered, so we packed a lot of leftovers home. After we split the bill, we were so surprised to find out it only cost us around 18 dollars per person.


We ordered a Salad, a Seafood Trio Platter ,a Supremo Italiano Pizza, a Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken, a Penne Arrabbiata Pasta, a Colossal Brownie Sundae, and the Tiramisu!The dishes are all super fresh and tasty. And the desserts did surprise us! I have to say they make the best Tiramisu outside Italy.

Buca di Beppo is a national chain restaurant brand and it has several locations in the twin cities area. The closest one is located in 1204 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403. Another good news is that on Friday and Saturday, they have extended business hour till 11:00 p.m.!! Since this is such a popular restaurant, no matter whenever you go, there would always be a waiting line. It will really help reduce the waiting time if you make a reservation before you go!

If you enjoy having dinner with lots of friends, going to Buca would always be a great choice, give you a wonderful experience, and surprise you with its amazing food and service!


Experiencing a modern styled Japanese Izakaya


As an international student from Asia, I always have an "Asian stomach" and crave for good Asian food. Here in the twin cities area, we get plenty great Asian restaurants. It is sooooooo hard for me to pick a favorite to write about. So I decide to write the one that I go most often this semester:) which is Zen Box!

Zen Box is a very modern Japanese Izakaya(居酒屋).In Japanese, 居 means to stay, to live, 酒 means sake, liquor, and 屋 means shop,cover. Isakaya restaurants is like a combination of pub and kitchen. Hope this can give you a better understanding of what an Izakaya is. Zen Box has two locations in Minneapolis. The bigger one(yes, better menu and happy hour!) is located on 602 Washington Ave S., just a few blocks off U of M west bank campus.

Their dishes are deigned to be shared, think "Japanese Tapas" or "Japanese Dim Sum"! They are small plates to share. The price is very affordable and the eating experience is always fun. Besides the small dishes, Zen Box also offer great Donburi(a kind of rice bowl) and Japanese Ramen! Happy hours runs 4-6pm and after 9pm Monday through Friday. It is really worth going if you get time:)

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As my final note, if you are above 21 years old, make sure you try their Chu Hai drinks. Chu Hai is an alcoholic drink that contains very low percentage of alcohol. Lychee flavored Chu Hai is the all time favorite drink of my friend Fannie and I!!! If you are still underage, you can ask the waiter to get you Lychee Soda, which is also really amazing:)

My Best Thai Cuisine Experience


Hello blog readers! As you all know this week is restaurant week and we decided to write some things about our favorite restaurants or just restaurants that is worth trying in the Twin Cities area. You might think that I'm going to pick an Indonesian restaurant but sadly no, because there are no Indonesian restaurants in Minnesota that I know of. So Sad! So I decided to write about a Thai restaurant that I visited over the summer in downtown St. Paul.

The name of the restaurant is Ruam Mit Thai and is located on 475 St. Peter Street in Saint Paul. I don't go to Thai restaurants a lot but this place is definitely the best I've ever visited. I went there with three other Indonesians and we all agreed that the food was delicious. We all ordered separate items so that we can taste each other's dishes (a common behavior for most Indonesians and probably other cultures). We decided to choose which dish out of the four that we ordered is the best and it was the Matsaman Curry.


I don't do a lot of restaurant reviews but I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who hasn't tried Thai food and is in the Twin Cities area. The place is comfortable and is reachable by bus by just taking the 16 towards downtown St. Paul and getting off at St Peter & 7 St.

So if you are ever tired of eating "college student food" or ran out of ideas of what to cook for lunch or dinner, head over to downtown St. Paul and taste the deliciousness that is Thai food in this highly recommended restaurant!

My Next Favorite Restaurant: Fogo de Chão

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This week I got the idea that Fogo de Chão will become in my next favorite restaurant in Minneapolis. For my closest friends it is not a secret that I have had a hard time in terms of food since I first arrived. I have the feeling that some people don't understand that I come from the Atlantic Coast of Colombia, where almost everything is made it with garlic, salt and red pepper; the land where rice is almost always on the table and meat is part of our biweekly dinner experience. Although Minneapolis has a colossal number of restaurants it is a little bit hard to find restaurants with the southern sabor. This is why Fogo de Chão will resolve one of my food desires.

I know this sounds a little bit unrealistic, since I haven't been at Fogo de Chão, but once in a while, I try to think about different ideas or possible 'free-time activities' that I would like to do in Minneapolis. I'm not writing about this restaurant because my Portuguese teacher is in love with it or just because I miss my delicious colombian food. It is mostly because something got my attention: their creative and persuasive menu. Take a look:

Dining Experience

Step 1: Sit down, relax, and enjoy a drink while we explain the Fogo dining experience.
Step 2: Visit our gourmet salad and sides bar. Enjoy over 30 items including fresh cut vegetables, imported cheeses, cured meats and Brazilian side dishes.
Step 3: Turn your card green side up, signaling that you are ready for our gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.
Step 4: Choose from the 15 cuts of delectable fire roasted meats that are brought to your table, sliced, and served by our gaucho chefs.
Step 5: When you are satisfied, flip the disc to the red side until you are ready for more offerings.
Step 6: If you wish, end the meal with one of our delicious desserts.

Basically, you'll find a variety of meat: Picanha, Filet Mignon, Beef Ancho, Alcatra, Fraldinha, Costela, Cordeiro, Frango, Costela de Porco, Lombo and Linguica. In terms of drinks they have a huge range that you can check by yourself. Something that make me happy is that they have one of my favorite dessert: South American Flan

Don't forget: having dinner at Fogo de Chão can cost you between $25 and $30 dollars. You better save with one or two month in advance... I can't wait to go.

Isn't it enjoyment and tasty food what you look for when you go out for dinner?

No good to be hungry on campus...

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You know, the thought of writing about food makes me hungry. Seriously, feeling hungry is no good when you are trying to put your thoughts together for a brilliant midterm paper... or writing a blog :) Good thing, there are plenty of options on and around the U of M campuses.

You see, I am an East-banker (meaning I usually have my classes and hang out on the East Bank campus), and there are nice places to eat, snack, or have coffee on campus (Coffman Union, Walters library, Nolte Hall, etc.). Some Halls besides lunch options places have microwaves, where smart people hit up the launches they brought from home. Well. I'm not that smart yet, unfortunately, so here is what I do when the hunger tries to take over my brilliant study thoughts.
There is my favorite place on the 14th Ave SE, just a few min away from campus, called Walley's ( So if you are a fan of Mediterranean food, like me, eventually you'll find yourself eating Chicken Shawarma Salad at Wally's every other day. It's not only the taste which reminds me of the best Crimean-Tatar food I had back home, but also the big portions with the affordable price that make me happy each time I show up at Wally's. Although, sometimes I stay there, other times I take my food "to-go" and then hide in the couch of the Appleby's Hall basement to enjoy my salad in the quite while writing my paper.

Even though I spent in Minneapolis a little over a year, I still keep finding cute little places with delicious food. I love having new experiences with food. And it seems like Minneapolis is the greatest place for me to enjoy my experiments. Sometimes I feel like somebody has to come up with some sort of a research paper on how-the-delicious-food-influences-students'-performance-at-the-University-of-Minnesota. Seriously.

Minneapolis St. Paul Restaurant Week

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Hi everyone,
The Minneapolis restaurant week commences next week. An event hosted by the Minneapolis-St.Paul magazine, restaurant week provides an opportunity for people to explore several restaurants in the twin cities with a variety of cuisines from all around the world. There will be over 40 restaurants participating in next week's event.

It's an exciting time to discover the best spots to order your favorite meals. Our blogs this week will be giving you details about some of the participating restaurants. Hopefully, you be happy to find a few restaurants that offer your favorite dishes

You can check out participating restaurants at:

Hope you enjoy reading our blogs this week for more details. Have fun!

Fun Things to do in the Fall

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Hello everyone, I found this amazing picture from a friend's twitter. It's taken in the upper state of Minnesota. Hmmm, with all the red leaves and a thick layer of snow, should we call it Fall or Winter? It's Minnesota...


I am so glad that in the twin cities, the Fall is still here with us:) While keeping up with course work is important, it is also very important to relax yourself well on the weekends. The Twin Cities area is a great cosmopolitan that offers many exciting arts scene, landmark architecture, intriguing museums, and abundant natural resources. Before the real winter comes, fall might be our last opportunity to go outside with light clothing.

Here is a list of some fun things to do in the fall:
1.The twin cities area has miles of paved bike trails, it is a great season to go for a bike ride as well as capture the beauty of fall along the way. If you do not own a bike, the NiceRide offers quick, easy and affordable public bikes in the metro area.

2.For sports fans, it's college football season! The Minnesota Golden Gophers play at the TCF Banks Stadium on selected Saturdays. Be there and show your U of M spirit!

3.Minnesota is the state of the lakes. Nearby the U we can easily get to Lake Calhoun for a nice short trip then go explore restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops in the uptown area. If you do not mind driving up for 3 hours and half, Lake Itasca is also a great place to do a weekend trip.

4.Fall is also a great season for water activities. The Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers pass through the twin cities and offers a various adventures on the water. One can do a kayak tour or a Mississippi cruise to take oneself down in the heart of the water and immerse oneself in the nature.

5. How can I almost forget about jogging! Besides the bike trials, the twin cities area also has a lot of fun walking paths.My favorite one is the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board walking trail. Not only because it is so close to U of M, but also due to its beautiful scenery along this trail! This trail is a loop that along both sides of the river. It crosses over the Stone Arch Bridge and Hennepin Ave and will lead one to the Mill City Museum. After looping the trail, how laid back is to grab a cup of coffee and relax in the Water Power Park while enjoying the nice view of Mississippi river and downtown skyline!

Enjoy the prettiest season of Minnesota!

Getting prepared for the winter of Minnesota

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Hey Bodies!! How are you recently? I guess most of you will say, not so bad, but why it became this cold suddenly!
Right, right, right! Winter has already come! It seems a little earlier, and very strong in this year. However, for us international students, if we want to survive well, we should know something for preparing!
1. Check the weather of next day before you sleep, never try to guess the temperature by yourself! Honestly, I tried before and I loose everytime!

2. Wear warm if you know you will spent some time out. How warm is a good a question, actually, it depends on the weather. When you see that it is going to be about 32 degree, (0 degree on celsius), wearing boots, heavy coat, scarf to go outside. When you see that it is going to be about 10 degree (-12 degree on celsius), except wearing those I have mentioned, wear hat and gloves! Never exposure your body without anything, or you will get hurt very soon. I guess the only part of your body without any cover will be your eyes!

3. Drink as much warm water as you can! I know, most of you get used to cold soda or coffee. But warm water will make you feel better when just get through a strong windy or snowy area. I think the most smart way is to bring a vacuum cup with you.

4. If you afraid that you will probably get cold, you could make an appointment at BOYTON to have a free flu vaccination, that is also a good way to prevent getting troubles of healthy.

5. I want to tell you a very interesting construction in our campus is the tunnel underground! During the winter, you could go underground to lots of buildings instead of facing cool air! Check the tunnel map on this link!

6. Finally, after talking about all the boring and essential parts of this topic, I want to reach the most interesting part, what you could do only in the winter?!
NBA will start soon, so you will have the opportunities to watch some real NBA stars and their wonderful performances.
Also, you could go skiing and skating....... So the next topic will be the activities you could do during the winter here!!!


College is not always about attending lectures, sitting in class, doing your homework or assignments and getting good grades. College is the time when you can do other neat and cool stuff like join student groups, participate in projects and join competitions which is what I am doing now. At the end of last spring my classmate asked if I wanted to join a student group called Tesla Works and without hesitation I said yes.

Tesla Works is a project based student group and is a diverse group of people from different educational backgrounds: physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, architecture, aerospace engineering, design, chemical engineering and a lot more. This group of diverse students work on different projects that stimulates creativity and innovation.

I am currently working on a project called the Barbershop Quartet, which is a four animatronic bust figure of President Kaler that sings like a quartet. I chose to join this project because I would like to learn more about how animatronics work and get involved in sculpting the busts (which is fun for me since I am into arts and craft). Projects such as this, where interactions and convergence of different disciplines is what I am interested in and is always a good place to learn more about other things aside from you major and get hands on experience.

Personally, I think getting involved in activities such as this is really important if you are an international student. One of my purpose of studying here is to get to know more American students and learn how to socialize with them. If you are studying in abroad you might as well dive in to the culture and mingle with the locals. This way it will broaden your mind and will definitely change your perspective of the American stereotype. So for you new international students out there, I encourage you to get involved in student groups and other form of campus organizations as soon as possible! Arya out!

What It Really Means To Be a Grad Student!

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Credit: DM Bulletin

Recently I have been reading so many interesting facts about being a Grad Student. I won't write something smarter than that but I think I should be honest by saying how I feel as a Grad Student at the U of M. I read that you don't have a life; you have to read an incredible number of books per week, you drink four cups of coffee or more per day and try to digest an unimaginable quantity of information. For me part of that is true and part of that isn't. It is true that being a Grad Student requires a lot of time for grading (if you get a Teaching Assistant position), reading a lot and writing.
However, there are so many good things that people don't focus on. The first positive thing is that you get to discuss topics that you feel passionate about and things that are your interest. One of the grad student in my department said that you get to study something you enjoy and you'll be surrounded by those who are equally dedicated to studying things they love.
Another positive thing is that you get to create your own schedule and you have the freedom of turning what you like to do into your job and so on.
Although it can be hard, so far I think it is worth it. What else is better that studying what you really dreamed about?

Here are some personal tips along with some colleague's suggestions:

1. Be on time with every single assignment you have and you'll survive. Remember that every thing is your responsibility.
2. Become friends with your colleagues. This won't happen right after you arrive in your department. It takes times but it is healthy. They'll become your 'amigos profesionales' at the end of the road. You might discover the value of this when you graduate. I haven't yet but I'm sure I will.
3. Apply to go to conferences. They are good for you to find people interested in what you are doing; you create connections that might help you with future projects. It is also a great opportunity to travel around the US and abroad (at least for me this is a great chance for international students and for natives).
4. Try to have a good relationship with your professors and advisers. Nevertheless, do not wait for your adviser to let you know of little deadlines because is your own responsibility to finish your degree. They have a job and you are an independent person pursuing your goal. They are not high school counselors..
5. When you get a paper back with 100 criticisms it might break you down. However, if you can rebuild yourself, you will become tougher.
6. When you feel that you can't make it think about people who don't have the opportunity to be educated and also live in worse conditions than you right now.
7. Have you found the beauty of what you are doing right now?.

If you think there is more to say about this, please leave a comment. It is hard to think of every single possibility. I'm just in my second year of Grad School. Buena suerte!

Some funny and serious links that talk about Grad School:

1. Grad School / U of M
2. You can watch The PhD Movie:
2R. Have you heard/read about the Ceej and Em: Graduate School Barbie (TM):

Post. Another Grad Student mentioned that to be Grad Student is like a being professional hipster (I'll omit to tell you why).

Wait... I forgot to tell you that you will have time to celebrate the achievement of the first year:


Foods I love to eat, yay!!!!!!

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So, I was at the farmer's market on campus today. The farmer's market is where locally grown produce and fruits are sold at reduced prices. There was so much food and so many options.
I love foods I used to eat in my home country so I like going to the farmer's market, where I can get most of what I need to prepare the kinds of food I really enjoy - stereotypic right? well, I guess I am but I love what I love, can't help it.

I guess you're looking forward to getting your favorite foods from the farmer's market when you get here too.
Here's a sneak peak at some of the produce that was available at the market.

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Apples season in Minnesota

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You've probably heard from other Ambassadors there are lots of things to do in the Twins Cities (and by the way, that's how we call Minneapolis and St. Paul, in case you got confused). Besides parks, museums, theaters, movie theaters (and I will be talking more about that in my future posts), there are other exciting places to relax after a long week at school.

So, today I'll tell you about my apple picking adventures this weekend. As a part of my Fulbright experience I often participate in the different outings that Minnesota Fulbright Association Chapter organizes for the visiting Fulbrighters. This time we went to the Aamodt's apple farm, not far from one of the oldest cities in Minnesota, called Stillwater. I was so excited to be on the farm as it reminded me of home, and that was exactly what I needed in the beginning of a homesickness season.

So after I got my bag for the apples (you have to purchase one or two when you arrive) I went along the apple garden with my friends. Pretty soon we got mesmerized by the sight of all the colors, and tastes, and smells! I've never seen THAT many apples at once in my life! And the coolest part, I could pick any apple I want and eat as much as I want. At the end of the day I felt like I have apple juice running in my blood. There was also a little farm market where people buy all the apple related products and food. Besides my favorite apple chips (oh, you should try it at least once in your life!), I discovered there the whole new world of amazing pancake toppings. The Honey Butter now is going to be one of the foods I'll be missing the most from Minnesota.

The weekend in Stillwater was a lot of fun. I got my bag full of apples, my mind full of refreshment, and my heart full of joy. Now I'm looking forward to more weekends to come...





No worries, everyone, that alligator is not real :)!
Moin, moin, my dear friends. My name is David Steinfeld and I am a 2nd year Master of Social Work student from Germany. During my undergraduate career I worked as a mentor for international students which was one of the best jobs I ever had. Hence, I am very excited to be the new graduate student ambassador leader and to have another opportunity that involves serving the interests of international students.

My overall time spent studying abroad in the U.S. encompasses a total of 6 years. I spent a high school exchange year in Wisconsin and enjoyed it so much that I decided to return to the Midwest for my college career. To this day, I have been very grateful for this decision as I have had some of the best years of my life here.

So, why did I choose the Twin Cities for graduate school? For one, the university has a very good ranking overall and its social work program has been deemed one of the best in the nation. But more so, the Twin Cities has been a drawing pool for international populations, thus making it a very diverse place with an international appeal. For example, I live close to Minneapolis' famous 'Eat Street' which features many restaurants with delicious food from all over the world. You can also find many ethnic grocery stores in the Twin Cities area. I was overcome with joy when I discovered that they sell German chocolate around here because let's face it, chocolate can be one of the best stress relievers in college. Last but not least, the people here are very polite and friendly which creates a welcoming and comforting environment for new international students.

Anyway, this is all from me for now, my dear friends. More blogs will come in the future. In the meantime, feel free to ask me any questions and I am happy to be of assistance. Take care and have a nice day.

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It is so nice to meet you all. [ :


Hey everyone, my name is Jia Liu. 刘佳. I am from a very beautiful seaside city Dalian, China. Dalian is located in the north eastern area of China, very close to Japan and South Korea. The city is very famous for its good temperature, living environment and delicious seafood. It is really a romantic city. I miss my hometown very much.


From this fall, I started my 1st year master degree of Industrial Engineering in the U. You might think that I am a new one here, but actually, I have been to the University of Minnesota for 3 years for my bachelor degree of mathematics. I love University of Minnesota, it is beautiful, lovely, humanizing and full of my college year memory.
In the years of studying abroad, I have learnt lots of knowledge except mathmatical's, and I become more positive and passion about life.
I love cooking food, eating gourmet, taking pictures, traveling, making friends, watching movies and collecting cute stuffs.
And this is me. I was holding squid-Ink spaghetti, one of my favorite Italian food!


Deciding to be an international student ambassador is no doubt a wonderful thing to me. I am a very energetic and active guy! I want to make life meaningful by helping others. At the same time, I will be very happy to share good stuff with you! If you have any questions about applying, studying, living, shopping, traveling, leave them bellow, feel free to answer you as soon as I can!!

Finally, I want to show you a picture of last winter in Minneapolis. It is funny, isn't it?


Howdy Ya'll!


Hey guys! You might be wondering who I am. My name is Arya Adiartha and I'm an International Student Ambassador at the U. I'm in my final year of doing my Master of Science in Sustainable Design at the Architecture program. So I'm originally from Bali, Indonesia. You might have heard about Bali for it's beautiful beaches, surfing, unique culture and... its crazy night life. Balinese culture is well known for its mystical dances, beautiful colors and exotic food that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. So if you are anywhere around South East Asia and plan on visiting Indonesia, I would recommend taking a trip to Bali and experience its unique culture.

I was born in Bali but I actually grew up in Australia. When I was in second grade my family moved to Sydney because my dad was doing his PhD at the University of New South Wales. We spent four years living there and that is where I learned my English and believe it or not I used to have an authentic Australian accent!

Becoming an International Student Ambassador at the U is a great opportunity for me to help out other students that are going through the same experience that I had a year ago. For me, helping out other people by sharing my personal experiences makes me feel like I have contributed something to humanity (weird, huh?). But most of all, meeting different people from different cultures is the most exciting part.

When I arrived in Minnesota I expected it to be like a snowy wasteland. But I arrived here during summer and it was totally the opposite. Summer here in Minnesota is awesome! Except for those regular weeks when the heat wave comes. The university itself was beautiful and really different from the university back in my home country. It feels easier here to be a student because there are lots of resources that help facilitate your studies. So for all you new international students coming in, don't be afraid and explore the university and hopefully you will find yourself loving our campus! Oh, and us International Student Ambassadors will always be there to help you out.


...and let the adventure begin!

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Hey, future Gophers! My name is Natalia Krasnobaieva, I am from sunny Crimea, that is in Ukraine. I am a second year Master's student in the College of Education and Human Development, Department of Organizational Leadership Development and Policy, at the University of Minnesota. I am getting my degree in Comparative and International Development Education. My main passions are youth development and education in Ukraine, although I pay a lot of my attention to creativity development, volunteering and theater activities.

I became an International Students Ambassador because I believe I can share my experience at the U of M (this is how we call the university out here) to encourage others from Europe to apply and join our "one big happy golden family," as Eric Kaler, our University of Minnesota's President once said.

So you might ask, what's "gopher"? Or why the "big happy family" is "golden"? And that's exactly what I asked myself when I first arrived on campus. I was actually surrounded by golden and maroon colors everywhere I went the first day. I've learned pretty quickly that misterious Gopher's name is Goldy and he is our university's mascot. And since he happened to be golden, the university's pride color is golden... hm, and maroon. Well, some people even wear something golden or maroon on Fridays to show the university pride. And this is how I got myself a new pair of pretty awesome yellow shoes ;)

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My name is Pearl Ometan, I am an international student from Nigeria and I'm in my 2nd year student in the Master of Public Health (MPH) program in the School of Public Health.

I love to hang out with friends and share my experiences especially with new international students like me, who may be anxious about settling into a whole new environment.

While trying to find out more about the University of Minnesota before my arrival, I did not realize that there were also numerous international students like me doing the same thing. But I can say that it's been both fun and challenging to actually settle into the system and I hope many other students can say the same.

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Greeting from Yi :)

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Hello everyone!!! My name is Yi. I came to the U.S. six years ago from Beijing, China. I firstly lived in California then I moved to Minnesota for college. Last spring, I finished my undergraduate studies at the U of M studying Sociology and German Studies. And now I am a first year sociology Ph.D student in the College of Liberal Arts. It is going to be my transition year from undergraduate to graduate student and I am very excited to share my life with you.

So I guess you might already have heard of how cold Minnesota can get in the winter, which might make you hesitate to come here. Actually, according to my past experiences in the past five years, the winter here is not as bad as what the thermometer reads:) With the convenient skyways and tunnel systems, you will survive Minnesota winter fine!


Who is Ángela Castro?


Hey there! I'm Ángela Castro, originally from Colombia, specifically from a vibrant city called Cali. It's always sunny and warm in my hometown and you'll always find a place to dance salsa and exquisite food such as ajiaco, arepas, buñuelos, cholado, my favorite lulo juice, and so forth. Please google it and you'll see what I'm talking about.

I'm in my second year of Grad School in Hispanic Literature. Along with the nervousness of ending succesfully my MA, the learning of the portuguese language has become in one of my biggest goals this year. I find it really challenging but also enjoyable since it is similar to Spanish (my native language). For example, the verb 'Go" is identical in both languages and I keep writing it in Spanish over and over again. However, portuguese is music to my ears!

I wanted to become an International Student Ambassador because it gives me the opportunity to help international students to get a better understanding of what the U of M is. It also gives me a chance to talk about the advantages of being in a different country, discuss diverse topics related to academic life and the value of our 'free time'. A good use of your free time is necessary in order to keep a balance in your student life and also to survive of the amount of responsibilities you get when you arrive at the U (I'll be talking deeply about this in another post).

When I first visited to the U of M I was impressed and shocked by how big it was and how much diversity I found among the students. Now I realize that this diversity is exceptional to create a unique atmosphere, where you learn a lot about culture and differences.

I'll be sharing information and tips that might help you as an international student. I hope you enjoy! Bienvenidos!

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Where do you think this photo was taken?

Feast of Nations 2012 - May 3rd

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This is one of the biggest events in the cities! Check their info below:


Join us for the annual Festival of Nations 2012, May 3 - 6 at the St. Paul RiverCentre!

Minnesota's largest ethnic Festival, the Festival of Nations brings together people from a vast array of backgrounds to celebrate their ethnic heritage and provides an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation of other cultures. At the 2012 Festival of Nations, over 90 ethnic groups from around the world will share their foods, crafts, and traditions that form the mosaic of our American culture.

Beginning Friday, May 4th at 4:00pm, the Festival is open for the general public to enjoy until it ends on Sunday, May 6.

Public Hours:
- Friday, May 4 4 p.m.- 10 p.m.
- Saturday, May 5 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
- Sunday, May 6 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

ADVANCE Tickets:
- $10 Adults
- $7 Youth (6 to 16)

Advance tickets can be purchased through May 3 at Byerly's stores and the International Institute of Minnesota, 1694 Como Avenue, St Paul 55108

AT THE DOOR Tickets:
- $12.50 Adults
- $7 Youth

Ages 5 and under FREE with adult admission

More information at

Good Luck and All the Best!!

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Hey there,

I can't believe that I just posted my last scheduled blog just now.......It's been a wonderful year to share my thoughts and university life here with you guys. Not sure if you found the information shared useful or not, I really appreciate to have these opportunities to talk with you here. Hopefully they would help to some extent, ^^!!
I indeed hope that I could have contributed more as an international ambassador for our program and for the prospecitve international students. Please let me know if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to share my experiences!!
Hope everything you pursue will be going great!!

Good luck!! All the Best!!

Fabulous Online Library Systems!!

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Hi all,

I couldn't love more about our "University Libraries" online system. There are a lot of things you could do here to fulfill your academic needs!

"Search for......."
You could just type in key words of the books, journals, articles and databases, videos, your registered courses reserve or so, which you would like to refer to. Then you would find either online access to these resources or asking for hard copies. For example, if you want to borrow a book from library, you don't have to go there and find it by yourself, you just need to search online and choose a nearest library location to pick it up. Library staff will find it for you and notify you via email when it's ready. YES, you can get access to all the available resources from every campus of UofM!!

"Interlibrary Loan"
Can't find what you want in our university? Don't worry, our library could get it for you from other libraries outside UofM systems if available. And, it's FREE!

"Workshops, Tutorials, and Guides"
Our libraries offer series of in-person workshops or recorded tutorials each semester to help you learn more about library services, and academic research strategies, for example, citation managers, literature review, reading scholarly articles, finding grants, etc.

"Ask a Librarian"
Still confused? Just "Ask Us"!! Any questions regarding library service or your own particular research, our wonderful librarians are just right there to help you! Email, phone, in-person appointments, or chatting online.......

Please check them out!! It'll make you academic journey easier! Good luck!!

All the best and Cheers!!

International Film Festival at Twin Cities!

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Life is getting busier and busier as we are getting close to the end of this semester. Most of times I find myself rarely have time to relax from all the homeworks and projects. However, we still need to keep our life balance. Maybe it is better to switch our mind from papers and works to some fun activities and helps us to be more efficient. Today, I want to recommend Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival, which is a great event happening in the Twin Cities right now from April 12 to May 3. Hundreds of great movies will on the theater every night. Who does not love watching movies? Please check this out. Take best friends and get popcorn, let us go to watch films from all over the world.

International Film Festival
"The Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival is the most ambitious and best attended film event in the Upper Midwest. Over its three-week run, the Festival presents an exciting and diverse slate of some 300 narrative, documentary and short films from over 60 countries, hosts many visiting filmmakers to introduce and discuss their works, sand includes an array of events, panels, discussions, and parties. The Festival takes place on the five screens of the St. Anthony Main Theatre, set along the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis.

Over its three-decade history, the MSP International Film Festival has developed an exemplary reputation for presenting a distinctively diverse and imaginative line-up of international cinema, as well as American independents and alternative cinema, documentaries, experimental, and local and regional films. It continues to expand, last year presenting films to an audience of more than 40,000, hosting over 100 filmmakers and stars, and exhibiting films from 61 countries from all around the world. "

Earning recognition!!

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Hey there,

There are many opportunities and resources around campus for you to apply for various types of scholarships, fellowships, and awards, for both undergraduate students or graduate students. They could help polish your resume, and also improve your professional development journey. Don't miss the opportunities!! Check them out!!

Resources from Student Unions & Activities (for both undergrad and grad students)
Resources from Graduate School (for graduate students)

Hope it helps!!


Minneapolis Talent and Activities- Follow my friends' blog!

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Minneapolis/St. Paul has one of the best scenery and is often voted as Top Cities to live in.

Read how Minneapolis/St. Paul was recently named America's Top Healthiest City in Forbes Magazine!
Are you a bike fanatic? Minneapolis was voted Number #1 City for biking in 2010!

And are you worried about those Freshman 15 everybody keeps talking about? Minneapolis was voted Fittest City in America

Now why would you now want to go out and check the scenery that Minneapolis and St. Paul has to offer? I was trying to find the BEST pictures of the Twin Cities, and I happen to find them at my friend's blog, "Two Loose Cannons"

You can follow them and see some of the best Minneapolis Pics and Photography talent I have seen here in the Twin Cities at:

Who doesn't want a "Mini Minni" in their own backyards!

Earn ONE credit and have FUN?

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Time flies! Getting close to graduate in May, I still cannot believe it has been almost two years since I came to the US and started my master program. As I am studying international development, I got chance to have access to resources at different schools and programs at the U, such as agriculture, education, applied economics and public policy. Many courses are great and impressive. However, today, I really want to recommend to you some ONE credit courses that you are not only earning credits, but having fun, learning about life skills and being healthy as well! I did not know those course are available to take when I was a first year student. Hope this can help you for your class registration!

I took several Karate courses last semester and I really enjoyed the class. Although I had to drop the class for schedule conflict, I highly recommend students taking this class. The professor has many years experience practicing and teaching Karate. Often in the class, we not only learn how to strengthen ourselves and concentrate our power, but learn about wisdom about life.

Where can we find these courses? Go to OneStop, Class Schedule, and you can begin to search courses of Physical Education. In the long list, you can also find many other course quite interesting! Some of my friends said they have taken swimming and bowling courses and they love it very much. I make a small summary list of courses offered by physical education for non-PE students. Please check it out if you want to take ant of them next semester, being healthy and having fun!

PE 1035 Karate
PE 1034 Judo
PE 1032 Badminton
PE 1029 Handball
PE 1012 Beginning Running
PE 1007 Beginning Swimming
PE 1004 Diving: Springboard
PE 1036 Racquetball
PE 1037 Squash Racquets
PE 1038 Beginning Tennis
PE 1044 Self-Defense
PE 1045 Rock Climbing
PE 1046 Tae Kwon Do
PE 1048 Bowling
PE 1053 Ice Skating
PE 1055 Golf
PE 1057 Beginning Skiing
PE 1058 Snowboarding

And basketball, soccer, volleyball, broomball and a whole lot other fun stuffs! I believe there are other fun courses of music, painting and even cooking offered by different schools at the U. You can check them out simply at onestop or going to different schools' websites. Let our more colorful by learning something out of our major and our field! I wish I have taken more of these courses at the U. If your journal is going to start and just begins at the University of Minnesota, lucky for you that there are many great fun activities to explore at here. Registration for the next semester is coming, are you considering to have some healthy, educational and fun courses now?

Social Media and Homesickness

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What has Social Media done to us!

We obviously cannot live without it. To name a few, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (I just learnt about it today: Check this article!: Pinterest in Academia!)

We are all intricately connected: People from back home get a chance to see what we are doing one click away. So what does that mean for you as a college student? As an international student it means that you get to see what is happening at home faster (remember those days when you had to write a letter and mail it?) - and it also means that it may be easier to get homesick [click here for an interesting article on homesickness]

"[Homesickness] stems from our instinctive need for love, protection and security -- feelings and qualities usually associated with home, said Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Alabama's School of Public Health. When these qualities aren't present in a new environment, we begin to long for them -- and hence home."

So how to we try to connect with others more? This is where the wonders of social media has allowed me to get more connected with those loved ones...

It means sharing memories like this :...

It means being able to share this with those who are far away...

So stay connected with the University, UMN site for social media!

Hopefully you will be able to connect with others through the various social media resources - and if you do get homesick you can always get help whether it is from your friends and family or from other University of Minnesota resources.


Interested in "Cross-Cultural" Opportunities??

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Are you interested in "cross-cultural issues" either for your academic interests or personal interest? There are many professional opportunities that focus on cross-cultural issues around campus!!

First of all, almost every major to some extent have diversity-focused courses for students to register, which reflected the trends and great impacts of globalization and diversification on various disciplines. Please look at that if you are interestsed!

In addition, there are workshops or conferences or events outside your department to help you gain better understandings on international development from interdiciplinary perspectives:

1. International Research Conference This conference highlights global research by University of Minnesota faculty, researchers, and graduate students and encourages discussions on diverse global challenges, with a focus on building collaboration across disciplines, shared learning, and exploring the essentials of conducting research abroad. The themes for this year's conference were Food Security and Agriculture Production, Education, Global Health, Energy and the Environment, Economics and Poverty, and Global Governance.

2. Internationalizing Campus and Curriculum Conference The conference focuses on all University of Minnesota staff and faculty who are interested in internationalizing the curriculum and campuses. Organized by the GPS Alliance and co-sponsored by the Center for Teaching & Learning (UMTC), Instructional Development Service (UMD), International Education Office (UMD), Office of Information Technology, and the University Libraries. In this conference, you will learn from other colleagues' research or practical work on internationalization of curriculum and education, and build networking with leading scholars in the related fields.

Also, please keep track on your own departments or programs, there must be many events or research presentation within your major related to cross-border issues, challenges or practices.

Hope it helps! Thanks!


New International Student Seminar tomorrow!

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Tomorrow we will be having the New International Student Seminar (NISS) at the Mississippi Room in the Coffman Memorial Union in the East Bank of the University of Minnesota.

For the ambassadors in our team, it is a great way to connect with the current international students - and it is a rewarding way to share our experiences as well as sharing resources available on campus, so that they can succeed as international students!

For those of you who are prospective students, this is also a great opportunity to meet other international students - we have plenty of activities as well, and it does not hurt that food will be provided.

My favorite part is when the students share successful stories with each other - it is always nice and empowering to see students trying to help each other out.

What are some of the activities you would like to join or be part of? If you are a student on campus and would love to engage in activities like these, let me know!

See you next time,

Take advantage of the Metro system.

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Today, I would like to talk about Metro system in Twin Cities. Public transportation plays an important role in a student life. You know owning a car costs a lot for a student, especially for an international student who intends to stay in Twin Cities temporarily to complete a degree. By using a public transportation, you can save tons of money including a cost for a car, gas, fixing & maintenance, parking, insurance and more. Good thing is that we have a good coverage of metro transit around the city.

When I first moved to the U.S. (not to Twin Cities, but Seattle, WA), I was surprised that there is NO train or subway connecting places in the city. Don't worry! You still have a great bus system here.

What I like the most is Trip Planner on Metro Transit's website. Here, you can look up how to get to your destination by simply typing in where you are starting and where you want to go. Trip Planner will give you what time and where you need to take which bus, where and what time you need to transfer to which bus, and what time you will get to your destination. You can also click a link to each bus line to look up a bus route & a bus schedule.

The other thing I like is express buses. An express bus runs only rush time - mornings and evenings. It connects residential suburbs to downtown or U campus making only a few stops. Because a bus can run on carpool lanes on highways, commuting by an express bus is quick and easy!

One more thing that I MUST mention. As a U student, you can get such a great discount on bus fee. The university offers U-Pass to currently registered students. It currently costs $97/semester. You can take any bus and go any where with it, no matter how many times you transfer.

Until next time!

My favorite place

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Boynton health service at the U of M east bank, or "East Bank Clinic" becomes one favorite place these days! My good friend/colleague and I just recently discover this gem on campus. Not only Boynton is the place where we have an access to improve our health but also it is almost free of cost for anyone who carries some kind of Student Health Benefits!

As a Graduate Assistant, the U of M provides a Graduate Assistant health plan that covers the primary clinic, eye exam, and dental check. For me, working as a school's pianist involves with a long period of piano playing and sitting at the piano bench---how long I play the piano a day?; about five to eight hours a day. This routine easily leads to repetitive use of muscle. I later realized I got a serious health issue regarding a muscle tension and body alignment which easily effects my mood when coaching or losing focus when playing piano.

It started with making an appointment with the Primary Care to see a doctor to examine your health situation. The doctor has prescribed me a weekly consultation with a physical therapy. I am happy and more optimistic now that I have the access to consult about how to improve the using my body. Until my physical therapists see a sign that my health is improved.

The other thing I recently took advantage from this health plan is the eye clinic for an eye examination. I recently had an eye exam which they cover 100% for the glasses exam. Though there is a cost for the contact lens fitting. In addition, I also have a schedule with the dental clinic after the spring break. Let's see how much I will collect the cavity!

The Boynton Health Service
is located on the east bank near the Coffman student union with many health facilities in one building.

Massage Therapy
Mental Health Services
Nicotine Dependence Counseling
Nursing Mothers' Room
Nutrition Services
Physical Therapy
Primary Care
Urgent Care
Women's Clinic
Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates
Alcohol Services
Biometric Health Screening
CPR and First Aid Classes
Dental Clinic
Eye Clinic
Financial Counseling
Face-to-Face Health Coaching
Gopher Quick Clinic
HIV Testing and Counseling
Immunization Clinic
International Travel Clinic

Whenever you do not feel well while studying at the U of M, I really encourage you not to hesitate ---not like me before--- but to start making an appointment with the Boynton. Let's start getting healthy at the U of M!

By the way, no picture today...

See you soon,

Graduation... Is it happening?

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I just got notification from the Graduate School that...

I am graduating from the School of Social Work!!!!

I will have to make sure that I send in all of my forms (just one paper), and buy my graduation gown and tassel.

I am quite excited about this - I will be graduating with a MSW degree (a master's in social work).

What are my plans?
Right now, I am trying to get all of my social work licensure figured out. Once I graduate, I will be able to apply for a LGSW or a LISW , which usually requires for one to have received a master's degree in social work.

How am I feeling? I am not quite sure how to describe it. I feel like I want to go on more schooling! Which has made me realize, maybe I want to do another degree? I will find out in a couple of months whether I got in this program I want to get in....

Wish me luck!

In the meantime, as we all become stressed over mid-terms, I want to send you some Elmo-love

"Multitask", the key word for a PhD student

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At a social occasion, people always ask me "So, what do you do?". When I answer "Oh, I'm a PhD student.", most of the time, they say "You are smart." or "You really like studying". But they are not exactly true. What is really required to survive (and complete) as a PhD student is "being persistent" and "being multitask". Today, I want to show you how multitasking goes on and never ends as we pursuit our life as a PhD student and a researcher afterward.

Basics: Heavy class loads
PhD students usually start from completing classes required for the degree. Even though you have 11+ credits in a semester, you still can focus on class work (although we already fell overwhelmed...). Just simple.

+ work
Most PhD students work part-time or full-time, which usually covers tuition, insurance and life costs. Being a teaching assistant often takes up lots of your time.

+ publication
Keeping constant history of publication is very important.

+ conference presentation
Keeping a constant history of conference presentation is also important.

+ preparation for preliminary exams
You need to find time to study to prepare for preliminary exams in a timely manner.

+ social life
You don't want to just keep studying. Of course you need a social life, too!

+ private (family) life
4+ years (sometimes 7+ years) as a PhD student is a long period in your life. Many PhD students get married and starting their family during the program. Then your life just gets sooo busy...

+ dissertation
If your work is not related to your dissertation, your life gets busy more.

+ paper review
As you publish your papers, you will be asked to review manuscripts from the journal. You could say "No", but you are theoretically supposed to contribute to the research field by reviewing other folks' manuscripts.

+ service work
As you advance, you may want to be involved in service work for your task, for your interest, for your resume or whatever...

The point is that you HAVE TO be multitask if you want to complete the PhD degree. That also means that being organized is a necessary quality to be a researcher.

Please don't take this massage in a wrong way. It is not negative. As a comment from a prefessor I work with ("It will never end and keep getting more and more. You will be amazed how much work you can handle at the same time!"), you will keep growing and someday, realize you are VERY multitask.

Interestingly, some people can be very multitask and organized at work, but not in their private lives. For example, my husband (former PhD student) is very multitask at work, but he can't even drive a car and talk at the same time...or eat dinner and watch TV at the same time.



I tweet... You tweet.... We tweet.....

Shouldn't it be time for the Ambassadors to get a Twitter account?

I think so too!

Follow us:

Still Feel Like Summer


While I put my thought to write this week blog, I could feel this is about to make me feel homesick. In anyhow, this week I am sharing everyone about my experience during the past winter break in my hometown Bangkok, Thailand. This is gonna be very random blog with lots of photographs, by the way. :D

Here were my checklist that I made from my trip:

-visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia and attend a Cambodian friend (of my family) wedding.


sightseeing at S-21 Genocide camp in Phnom penh


group dancing in the wedding I attended

-visited Northern Thailand including four provinces Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, and Lumphang to meet my old roommate family (and she just delivered her baby!) Also visited my uncle and my aunt. Visited my parents' hometown.


sightseeing at Baan Si Dum (Black House), Chiang Rai


Meet a craftman while he was working


The craftman's work will become at part of this sculpture


Inside the main gallery of Baan Si Dum


Four-people shot: My friend, my ex-roommate, Maple (in her belly at that time), and me

-visited the border of Thailand-Myanmar called "the golden triangle."


The golden triangle gate to Myanmar


Crowded market at the golden triangle

-visited two music colleges in Bangkok as a guest-lecturer

-visited temple to have the Buddhist ceremony for 100-year anniversary the pass-away of my great grand-mother (she was 102, by the way.)

-visited my grand-mother and other familty members(my father's side)

-spent time with my BIG FAT thai-chinese family(my mother's side) on Pre-chinese new year day.


my BIG FAT thai-chinese family (I try to imitate the "Big Fat Greet Family" movie :D)

-attended my best friend wedding. It was a triple-language wedding: thai, chinese, and english!


My friend and I and her new husband, her Bostonian college sweetheart <3

-attended my friend's vocal recital


congratulated my friend a baritone Ghittinant Chins after the recital

-meet my good old pals! (and lots of friends!)


A dinner party with good old friends at one of their place

-visited the hospital multiple time to have the health checked up and a surgery (I am ok now.)


Myself resting before the surgery

-had a dental checked

-had my haircut and permed

-thai massages

-watched thai movie

-more temples and palaces!


The contrast between old and new building at the Suan Pakkard Palace, Bangkok


Peacefulness inside the group of building in the Suan Pakkard Palace


The Lacquer Pavilion where the interior is all painted in gold on black lacquer.


I found a funny thai-culinary section in the painted wall

-shopping shopping and shopping!

-food food food!


O-Sushi!: great japanese food, one of my favorite food, can be found every where around town, Bangkok


Noodle is everywhere: noodle bowl ready to be served during busy lunchtime, Lumphang.


Here is what facinating: the authentic thai-tea making station!, Phrae


And the store-owner allowed me to finish making my own thai tea

-and fresh air!

Now, can you imagine that there were so many things to do, soooo many places to visit, and Soooooooo many people, friends and family to meet? I still cannot believe that it has been over! as I still can feel the summer vibes followed me back here to Minneapolis. To speak of, who would have thought that Minnesotans are having such a mild winter this year; What a nice way welcoming me back (fingers crossed...)

40 days hometrip it was such wonderful break! Beside that it gave me such a strong jet lack(con), not only it recharged my energy so much(pro) but also it made me realized how much more appreciation I gained in having my family, my friends, my culture, not to mention the sun, hot air, and the food!

Now the fact that I am expecting another year before graduate(finger crossed again), I imagine how much I will learn and will change in this last year being away from home?

Still feel homesick, yet still feel like summer;

How to meet new friends?

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If you are reading this blog,you are either already an international student or planning to be one in the United states!When you come to a new place,you give up on a lot of things and you have to make an effort to make adjustment to the new place and culture.When I was in my country,I never had to make an effort to make friends,because everyone that I interacted with was either someone I knew since childhood or knew me through some common friend!I never heard the word "ice breaking".You actually give up your established identity when you relocate.Unlike back home,where we seldom see someone who does not look like us,Americans are used to people from different countries(especially in the college towns),therefore nobody will know you are new here,and off course we need friends!So how did I make friends outside my program?I will talk briefly about the opportunities international students have in Minneapolis to meet new people:

Cross-cultural Discussion Groups:

This was my first point of contact!The International student office facilitates this cross cultural discussion group that you can join in the beginning of the semester.The group meets regularly and is facilitated by a moderator.It is a chance for you to make new friends from different countries who are in the same boat as you,and discuss your culture,customs and some issues that you might have faced and know another perspective!The moderators are very helpful and enthusiastic.We decided to share one treat from each country in our meetings.I had a great experience and learnt a lot of new things from this group.

MIC Classroom connection:

So this was my second point of contact!Chances are that you will meet their representative on the orientation,but I can still talk about my experience!The MIC is a non profit,which works closely with the ISSS.Their classroom program is a great opportunity if you are eager to share your culture with American students!Many people will never have a chance to travel to your country to know what it is exactly like!You can help them know about your culture,customs and places.They organize events in schools across Minnesota,and the volunteers give a small presentation about their country to the students!

MIC dinner hosting:

This dinner and dialogue event happens almost every other month!You get a chance to share your food(if you want)or your thoughts about culture with group of hosts who organize this event for international students like us!

Well thats all I can think of right now!I am sure Minneapolis has a lot more to offer,but if you are struggling to interact socially(like I did when I came here),this could give you an idea about the places you can look at!:)

Student Groups on Campus!!

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New semester has started for three weeks! How's everything going so far? Can't believe that time goes so fast!! Have you thought about joining a student group on campus? There are many opportunities and choices for you!

Student Unions & Activities
The student groups on campus covered various and various topics. You will definitely find a group that fits one of your interests and get involved in the campus community! For example, we have groups for academic and education, culture and diversity, environment, fine arts, leadership, sports, music, political and social action, housing, or special interest, etc. You can find specific information of group description, officers' contact information, and how to get involved in this group on the website of each group.

And also, what if you can't find a group that serves your interest? You can just create one! Finding five students with you is all you need to get started! New group registration is easy and beneficial for you to experience.

Hope the information helps! And hope you could find your own interests over there!!

What I did not know about MN before coming here..

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Here are the top 10 things I did not know about Minnesota before coming here!

10 - Minnesota's capital is not Minneapolis, but Saint Paul
9 - Bob Dylan was born in Duluth - I did my undergraduate studies in Duluth!
8 - Phở = best soup ever!
7 - Bubble tea = best fun tea ever!
6 - The weather ... Let's be honest... oh, and driving in the snow!
5 - The variety of foods and vibrant cultures in the Twin Cities
4 - Our mascot, Goldy, is not a squirrel nor a beaver... but a gopher
3 - Football and FUTBOL, ehem, are not the same sports...
2 - People have a hard time understanding that I am from Argentina.... hmmm... looks may be deceiving here....
1- In MN and all other states, when you have a "STOP" sign, you actually have to stop. Looking both sides of the street while driving through a STOP sign and blinking your lights may not be the smartest idea (thanks Dad.....^.^)

Looking for a job or internship? Here are what you need to look at...


Many students has began looking for internships for their summer break or full-time jobs after graduation. Busy season is coming! It is a difficult and even frustrating process of looking for opportunities, networking with people, having interviews. However, do not worry! If we work hard, we will find something we truly satisfied eventually! It's a great experience to practice our research and communication skills. Most importantly, through the process, we can have better idea about what we are interested in and what we really want. Today, I want to highlight several resources that you can look for job opportunities!

GoldPASS GoldPass connects University of Minnesota students and alumni to employers. Use GoldPASS to: view job and internship listings access Going Global for information and international career postings post resumes register for career fairs and events schedule on-campus interviews Set up a GoldPASS account by logging in using your x.500 (internet) ID and completing the user agreement. Login to use GoldPASS now.
UMN Job and Internship Fair

The website posts job and internship fair information at the U. You can check this regularly to find out if there is a job fair coming up. There is one actually coming on Feb 23. Don't miss it! You can access the website at:

Interested in policy and development jobs? Check Humphrey School's Career Service website! If you are interested in policy, government and development jobs. Then you cannot miss Humphrey School's Career service website. They have information on how to prepare resume and cover letter. They also have links to different resources looking for job opportunities in this field!
Need a place to polish your resume or cover letter? Do not forget going to the Center for Writing at the U. People at the Center for Writing are indeed very helpful. It is very convenient for you to make a reservation and stop by the center to let someone help you with your writing documents. It is also a great way learning how to write and how to present ideas clearly. Start making a reservation today!
The last but not least! Start to networking with people! Best resources are always got from talking to and sharing with people. From my experience, I think the best way looking for opportunities is from connecting with people. So I will write another blog talking about this if you are interested!

Anyway, let's get started! Good luck to you and to myself!~

Only 22 days to the final exam


Hi everyone! The spring semester just started, but I am already in a frantic schedule. I am a senior PhD student, i.e., no more classes but working on a dissertation (= thesis to complete the PhD program), so the school schedule does not quite matter. But let me tell you why I am SO busy now. Yes, I am going to graduate from the PhD program in a month.

Before starting the PhD program, I did not exactly know how I would be able to complete the degree. Even after starting the program, it took me a while to understand the complicated, multi-layer process to finish. Today, I would like to explain how the system/process works (for PhD degrees). Of course, the process may vary by the program, so I will describe a general frame, which may be applicable for most programs.

1) Complete required classes/credits

Required classes and number of credits vary by the program, for sure. In the program I am in (PhD in epidemiology), all students have master's degree, and many of them completed their master's degree at our division. They can transfer some classes and credits, so they can decrease class loads and focus on research. Unfortunately, I did my master's at the different school and it was not in epidemiology, so it took 2 years for me to complete all the requirements.

2) Take and pass a preliminary written exam(s)
Many programs offer one preliminary written exam to test students' knowledge (mostly what they have learned in classes), but a form of the exam varies. In my program, students have to take TWO written exams - one to test their knowledge in epidemiologic methodology and the other one to test their ability to write a grant proposal. The first one is a two-day exam - you are isolated in an assigned faculty office and take an exam from 9 am to 3 pm for two days. The second one is a 17-day exam - you have to write up a grant proposal within 17 days.

Once passing the written exam, you will start work on your dissertation.

3) Take and pass a preliminary oral exam
You prepare your dissertation proposal and present it to faculty members in your dissertation committee. There are usually 4 to 5 faculty members in the committee. After the presentation, committee members ask you questions on your proposal. Usually takes 2 to 3 hours.

4) Take and pass a final oral exam (final defense)

After completing your dissertation, you will have a presentation on your dissertation. It is usually open to the public. After the public presentation, a 2-hour exam (only you and the committee) will follow. You may (or may not) be grilled...

5) Submit a dissertation to the Graduate School - on line

Once your entire committee agree that you have passed the final exam, all you have to do is to revise the dissertation (if needed) and submit it to the graduate school!!

Again, the process may vary by the program. More information can be found at the Graduate School web page.

My final defense is scheduled in 22 days. That is the reason why I am frantically busy right now. I am aiming at circulating my dissertation to the entire committee tomorrow, but there are tons of things to do to complete it...Well, I have to go back to work on it. I will update you with the next step in 2 weeks!


My tribulations as a social worker...

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I often wondered why I decided to become a social worker. It is definitely because of the paycheck the social work values:

- service
- social justice
- dignity and worth of the person
- importance of human relationships
- integrity
- competence

I have incorporated these values into my every day life - and often think of what would have happened if I had never changed tracks. I started off my undergraduate degree in Biology, and I had an epiphany... I did not like Chemistry I felt like there was something missing in my life. How can I make a difference and still study in an area that I will enjoy, and not like in my high school laboratory, almost blowing up the lab because I "accidentally" turned the Bunsen Burner to the highest gas degree (I hope none of my high school science teachers are reading this!)

On a serious note, social justice was one of the key fundamentals that attracted me to this field. Not only changing communities is my passion, but understanding how to effectively change them so we can better our societies as well. Of course, I do get the once in a while comments that I am naive and that what I want is quite impossible, but I also have the support from my friends and family to keep on doing this. And the occasionally ridiculous stories that tag along.... maybe for next time!

The recipe to the U!

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Many students have asked what are some of the secrets to succeed at the University. And although there are some general recipes our there, this is my own personal one that I will share with you. I have used it for my undergraduate studies and have found that it has worked very well!

In order to concoct a recipe to succeed at the UofM, you will need:

1 cup of "Study Hard" mixed with "Pick a Major you Love" and "Be and Active Part of Your Education"
1 cup of "Rest" and "Take care of yourself" (blend well)
1 cup of "Be Proud of Who You Are"
2 cups of "Academic" and "Personal" growth - let rise at room temperature
Don't forget to add some "Healthy Eating (you can include your favorite foods from home here!)" and "Healthy Exercise"

Mix all of these together and add:
1/2 cup of "Be Nice to everybody even if you have a bad day", "But if you have a very bad day, talk to someone" and "If you don't feel like talking to someone, surround yourself with things you love"
1 tbsp of "Humility", "Leadership" and "Stand up for yourself"
3/4 tbsp of "Don't be afraid to ask for help" and "Get involved (sometimes outside your comfort zone" and "Make some new Friends"
A dash of "Organizational Skills" and "Effective use of resources on campus"

Sprinkle some "Fun" on it, and don't forget to add some "Don't be afraid to try new things" and "Go make your own adventures"

Let sit for 24 hours and cover with a whole pack of assorted flavor "Friends" and voila!
You have concocted my own special recipe to succeed at the University of Minnesota. Don't forget to add "Being part of an Awesome Group just like the International Student Ambassadors"

Don't be afraid to try it many times, and try new recipes as well! Why don't you share some of your tips?

This Fall semester is ending, so take care of yourself and hope you all do well in your finals! Winter break is almost here!

Thanksgiving Kindness~~

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Hey there,
It seems like this week is Thanksgiving blog week!! Thanks my team members to provide so much wonderful and fun information about Thanksgiving! But I still cannot stop talking about it, hope you don't mind, lol...
I and one of my cohorts from South Korea were invited to go to our American friend's house and experienced a very American-traditional Thanksgiving family get-together!
Check it out!!

Great food: Turkey, cranberries, stuffings, mashed potatoes, traditional Scandinavia dessert......



Thanksgiving is all about family.....Yahtzee!! Kinda old school family game, but tons of fun!!

I really appreciated our friend had us around for Thanksgiving celebration! Hope you all also had an unforgettable one!
Have a great weekend! See you next time!


OMG! Is it December, already?! Thanksgiving is gone. Time flies.

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Couple of weeks in mid- to late-November are always very busy with a full of events and projects to me (and probably to most people). It is probably the most exciting season of the year, but I am glad that I have survived this crazy time again.

1. Thanksgiving
Although I did not grow up with Thanksgiving tradition, it is kind of the "must" as I am living in US (and of course, I LOVE enjoying foods!). As neither my husband nor I have family in US, we have developed our tradition to join our close friend's family gathering. Turkey.JPGIt is a big family gathering with probably over 30 family members. Everybody brings in one or more Thanksgiving dish (stuffing, dumpling, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, casseroles, etc...) and the host bakes turkey and ham. We are not part of their family, but they welcome and treat us as their family every year. We feel so blessed...we will be joining their Christmas dinner in December, too!

2. Black Friday
I'm not talking about only crazy shopping on Friday morning. Of course, I do go to find Friday morning deal, but all the best deal come in on line shopping, too...On Black Friday, we got a sweater and two pairs of pants for my husband, a down jacket for me, and a good sauce pan that we had wanted to buy for a while. As for on-line shopping, I have been receiving a package almost everyday :)

1. Personalized calender
Last year, we created and ordered a personalized wall calender to Shutterfly using a coupon. Because our daughter was born in 2010, we created a calender with her pictures taken in each month. That means we included pictures from May 2010 for May 2011, and so on. The great thing of this personalized calender is that we can include a photo not only for a month but for each day. For example, I put my daughter's birthday party picture for her birthday. We also created one for my parents; they loved it! We have decided to create it every year. Bad thing is when I realized that I needed to do this project this year, my coupon was expiring next day! So my husband and I put together photos and ordered within 24h!!!!

2. Christmas tree and wreathWreath.JPG
As soon an Thanksgiving passed, we start to see Christmas ornaments everywhere. On the next day of Thanksgiving, my family set up a Christmas tree in our living room. Christmas Tree.JPGThis year, my daughter helped me put ornaments on the tree. It was one of the happiest time to me...Next day, my neighbor set up beautiful Christmas light ups in his front yard. We don't have any in ours, but we are enjoying his light ups.

3. Christmas cards
It is still an on-going project, but we ordered and received our cards, again from Shutterfly. Because I want to write cards to my family and friends in my home country, I'd better start writing cards NOW considering international mailing takes several days.....

4. Christmas gifts
My husband and I have prepared gifts to all in our household (husband, daughter, and me). But we have been and is receiving gifts from my family and my husband's family, so I'd better hurry up to get gifts to them! Any gift idea, anyone?!?!Gifts.JPG

I can't believe it is already December tomorrow. Time flies. There will be more events for Christmas and the end of the year, which will keep us busy. Enjoy the exciting last month of the year!


Thanksgiving weekend!


Hello All,

I hope you all enjoyed the long relaxing thanksgiving weekend.I am sure many of you travelled to other cities taking advantage of the break.I was in town this time because of my work(yeah research!),but a friend was kind enough to invite me to her sister's place for thanksgiving dinner.It was a great experience and I had an opportunity to observe the holiday celebration closely.One of the important thing I learnt from this experience is that the thanksgiving dinner is not exactly a "dinner":p.When my friend invited me,i thought it was going to be a routine dinner in the evening and we won't be going before 6PM so I scheduled my experiments for the morning,however I learnt a day before that it was at 2 in the afternoon!Watch out,next time you are invited you don't want to be in my position.I got hold of things in the end,but I had to make an "extra"

The food was amazing.The best thing was when we all talked about things we are thankful for in our life.You may wonder whats amazing about this,but we seldom "think"about blessings in our life,we just assume we know but once asked to name them,we think and realize how long the list is..:)


At the end of the day,me and my friends went to the Mall of America for black friday shopping(Black Friday is the beginning of the holiday season shopping,in terms of retail,I am sure there is some historic significance too,but I don't know yet).We left at 10 PM from the campus and the bus was full of people going to the mall for shopping.At the mall,people were lined up outside the stores which offered great deal!The mall was decorated for holidays and it make you want to shop!


Enjoy the winters and I am sure many of you are stressed out like me because of exams and work,but give yourself a break every once in a while and have fun:)

until next time,best wishes:)

After Black Monday~

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Xi Yu recommended great places to go shopping around Twin Cities, such as Mall of America, Outlets and etc. I would like to follow her lead and introduce the Cyber Monday, which is the Monday immediately following Black Friday and it is the biggest on-line shopping day of the year! So I would like to recommend some websites for you to find great deals and coupons! This is not supporting consumerism. But it might be helpful if you want to buy some winter clothes or prepare gifts for your families and friends!

Catch deals when fresh---- Coupons websites: is a leading free coupon and discount information website that provides thousands of free coupons from more than two thousand local and online stores (e.g. coupons from,,,,,, and more). It has a very simple mission: help consumers shop smarter and save more.

Personal Comment: I like this website because it has different categories to guide you search coupons you need like Beauty Deals, Tech deals....Especially they have a special Black Friday session to help you find all the great deals during the holiday. Chinese students may find it even more helpful as they have a Chinese websites for Black Friday with editors' comments and recommendation.

Another similar website is DealSea, which is also created to provide coupons and deals for consumers, including beauty, style, electronics, credit cards, and more.

And DealMoon:

Sometimes you can just browse official websites of stores, which may have a better discount:

Retail Stores:

Wholesale stores:

The Body shop:

Consumer Electronics:

Offices Supplies:

Nutrition& Vitamin:

Hope you find those helpful. Cause I know I did on this great shopping weekend. With so much time off for the long weekend, and so many great deals how can anyone study? Oops.. to the library while I wait for my goods to arrive ^^

F-1 Visas, and a little bit of HUMOR!

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Hello blog readers,

I have always cherished the humor that life brings upon us, and the following comic made me LAUGH! Please, take the comic with humor (and not seriously)... You might even relate to it.... well, maybe after you have been accepted to the University... (^___^)"

F-1 Visas procedures are difficult to understand sometimes, and it does add stress to new incoming students. Even students going back home and having to renew their visas, this is a stressful time as well. However, with a little bit of humor, I hope that you realize that although life might give you lemons, you can make lemonade out of it. We've all been through it at least once!

On a more serious note, if you do have questions about F-1 visas, please visit the ISSS office during walk-in hours or schedule an appointment to meet with an F-1 advisor.

In the meantime, sit back, enjoy and laugh at the difficulties we all international students face as we prepare our journeys to the United States. Perhaps this will help you feel more calm about the whole F-1 visa procedure!


Let's go SHOPPING!!

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Hey there,
Are you ready for Black Friday? Just in case you are not familiar with it......Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, many stores open very early, often at 4 a.m., or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the shopping season!! Great deals are waiting for you!!
Let's check out the good places for shopping around Twin Cities!

Mall of America
MOA is one of the country's leading tourist attractions, and the nation's largest indoor shopping mall! You could easily take light rail from downtown Minneapolis to MOA directly. It is a perfect destination for crazy shopping on Black Friday!!

Albertville Premium Outlets

OMG, are you ready for Midnight Madness Sale??
Find impressive savings at Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Coach, Gap Outlet, Gymboree, Kenneth Cole, Nautica, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and more!!!!! Located between Minneapolis and St. Cloud.

Downtown Minneapolis
Nicollet Mall, including Macy's, Target, Neiman Marcus, and many other stores and great restaurants are located here.

Minneapolis Uptown

Cappuccino Corner! Many independent stores, restaurants, bookstores and more radiating out from the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue.

Saint Paul Grand Ave.

St. Paul's hippest shopping area. Spans 30 blocks from Mississippi River to Downtown Saint Paul.

Hope the information helps!!
See you next time!


Hi blog readers! It is 27ºF (-3ºC) in Minneapolis right now. We had a pretty cold and gusty day today. The highest temperature was only 37ºF (3ºC)...I know, I is November in MINNESOTA! I grew up in the moderate climate, and have moved multiple times, but not to cold regions like Minnesota. All I did when I moved to Minnesota to prepare for winter was buying a 4-wheel drive car (which is VERY important for me to drive in snow and ice!). Let me introduce you several "MN winter" things that I have learned.

A garage (or roofed parking) makes my life much easier
In my first place in Minnesota, I did not have a garage. I parked my car in outside parking lots. In winter, we sometimes (often) have inches of snow over night. When I started my car in the morning, I had to spend 15-30 minutes to clean up snow covering up my car! Not only snow, cars get icy in the windows. I learned to keep a brush and an ice scraper in my car through winter. snow scraper.jpgLater I moved, and having a garage (ideally heated) was the must.

window seal.jpgDouble windows or window seals to keep cold air out
Only one layer of the window is not always enough to avoid cold air coming into the room. Many people installed double layer windows in their houses, but old houses are likely to have cranky windows. If you rent a room or house (more likely for students) with not tight windows, you can buy window seals (something like a huge plastic wrap) and seal the whole window from inside. Installing the seal is not too hard and does not take much time.

Face mask! - Even if you are covered up, your face is cold!
Seriously, I had never seen people wearing a face mask in their daily lives. I do skiing, so I had seen skiers wearing a face mask. When I saw a person walking in a face mask on the street for the first time, I was shocked. ...not any more though. face mask.jpgThe air is painfully cold in winter and I have thought about buying a mask several times (although did not happen yet). I've seen tough joggers wearing a face mask, too!

Living in a house = You have to plow snow.

My husband and I used to live in an apartment, but moved in a house when our child was born. We knew that living in a house means we have to mow the lawn in summer and plow snow in winter...but we did not realize how hard it could be. Last winter (our first winter since moving in the house), we had very heavy snow. Thumbnail image for snow blower.jpgWe did not have a snow blower (electric or gas) yet. On the first snowy weekend, my husband spent a literally whole day just digging, digging, and digging snow from 8am to 4pm! One of our neighbors noticed my husband's hard work, probably felt sorry, and finally came by with his snow blower to help him. My husband and I learned that we need a snow blower to survive winter.

It is hard to get these little tips to survive Minnesota winter when you are not living here, but I promise you will get them soon once you start your life here!
Keep warm!


Finding a place to live!


Hello Everyone.I hope you have been doing great.I wanted to share with you my experience of finding housing on campus.I know for many of the incoming graduate students,this is one big issue.I was able to take care of this before I arrived on campus and everything worked smoothly for me.I used basic tools like google map and the university housing website for this.I will tell you how.Let me tell you though,I am very lazy and I wanted to be somewhere really close to campus so I don't have to wake up early in the morning:)

When you accept an admission offer from the university,you are provided with an option to set up an internet access account on the university website.I would recommend to do it as soon as possible.It gives you access to a lot of resources on the campus portal.

The first step is to determine where you will be spending most of your time.You should check with your department website as where the main office is.If you are working in a lab,it will have a building address.

The second step is to login to the university housing website .This will take you to the housing and residential life and you could see more information about the on campus housing(Halls and dorms mostly).This link will take you to the off campus housing rentals.
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You will be required to login using your university ID and password to access the system.Once you are inside,you will see this:
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You can choose the type of unit,rent and neighborhood you want to live in.Its a good and credible way to start looking for options available in different areas around the campus.

Coming back to my experience,I used google map to find directions between the building where I was supposed to spend most of my time on campus and the places that I liked.I selected a place that was 5 blocks away from my campus and was on bus lines.Just go to google map and click on get directions.Enter the university building address and name,and enter the address from the listing you like most.Check if buses run between those two locations frequently.For example,if I want to go to Carlson school of management from my location,this is how it will look like:
Screen Shot 2011-11-15 at 7.52.12 PM.png.You will get an idea how far is the closes bus stop from your place and if you will be able to commute comfortably from your home to be to the place where you will be found the most!

The rent is variable.For a furnished place closer to campus,you can expect to pay anything from $500-$800!The housing away from campus is cheaper.Your ultimate choice will depend on your preference.And remember,it is always advised to start early.Places around campus go as early as April for the coming fall leases,so just don't wait until the last moment to get the right place and deal.

Stay well and let me know if you need any help:)

My Eyes Bugged Out for the University of Minnesota Insect Musem

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One of the fun things I did at the university in the last week was visit the University of Minnesota Insect Museum. There they study the bugs of the world, collect them and preserve them. It is a very fun place! I learned about this museum from my friend, Kit Martin, who is a master student in the international development program and a PHD student in the Department of Entomology, a pretty difficult word to me which I think means the study of bugs!

University of Minnesota always has something interesting for you to explore. As we normally find at the university of Minnesota, when you look inside one of our departments, you find something completely unexpected. This museum, tucked down a dark hallway is a collection of 3 million insects from all over the world.

The scientists there study how all the insects in the world are related, by looking at their common characteristics, even looking at the hairs on their little legs and counting them. For instacne, the picture of the water bug in the picture below is a girl. (Thats what they said, I don't know how). The room is a big room full of metal boxes, and in each one is a drawer full of insects. They study them all the time. Very NICE PEOPLE. You should visit them sometime.

It is actually very interesting to learn something outside your world, explore something new, and even pay attention to some tiny creatures that you might dislike and never think about them. We are living in a same world. Slow down your pace and you might find beauty and have a new look on these cute creatures. The following pictures are taken by kit Martin~~

Corixidae-------Is it like a cute Alien?


An unknown flower Beatle!

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And my favorite "heart" one, which is an atta!


The Museum is on the St. Paul campus by the the Borlaug building, if you want to see the collection yourself contact Paul Tinerel, the curator at

The people working there can provide you a tour and show you around their cool collections. Welcome to send them an email anytime ~You can see their website at:

My supporting systems & its event 'ThaiNight'


One of the new things that I have found out while studying in the US is that people like to build their own New Year resolution. And according to my resolution this year, not only that I has joined the International Student Ambassador group (ISA) but has also joined the staff of the Thai Student Association (ThaiSA.) As each country has its own supporting system available, at the university of Minnesota ThaiSA is the group I has discovered this year. Apart from that ,Thai Association of Minnesota (ThaiAM) is also available for me. Their collaboration has brought an event called "ThaiNight." It was happened on the last Saturday November 10 to gather good wills from people in the Minnesota to people of Thailand who are victims by the current flood disaster.

ThaiSA, ThaiAM, and ThaiNight: these are what I would like to share with you today:

-1- ThaiSA: Thai Student Association of Minnesota

Active webboard:
ThaiSA is a student group that envisions bonding a stronger networking among Thai students of university of Minnesota, alumnus, and people who comes to work around the Twin Cities. ThaiSA also focus its activities that aim to help new Thai international students settling their study life.

Each year the activities include
- Welcome night event in the Fall
- ThaiSA talk throughout the year
- Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year gathering and potluck
- ThaiNight, an biggest annual event in collaboration with ThaiAM


ThaiSA staff meeting, always paired with the great cooking of our ThaiSA president Ponnawat Otwong, a U of M engineering student.

-2- ThaiAM: Thai Association of Minnesota
Active webboard:

ThaiAM is broader in term of its members, which are mainly Thais who have relocated permanently in Minnesota. Their main events include:
- Thai picnic, an annual event in August
- ThaiNight, an annual event in collaboration with ThaiSA

-3- ThaiNight
As I have mentioned, ThaiNight is the biggest annual event in collaboration between ThaiSA and ThaiAM. This year is actually different since its goal is not only to have a good time but also to raise the donation to send back to help the victims of the current flood in Thailand. They have sold out their tickets; along with the tickets sales, there are additional activities including the silent auction and additional donation. At the end of the night they have raised about $17,500 in this fund-raising event.

Please check out the news about this event the the Star Tribune local newspaper:

And here is the scene of the event:


at the ThaiNight event's entrance


The line of Thai Food!!! sponsored by over 20 thai restaurants around the Twin Cities


Entertaining: Thai Dancing


Off course, I am a part of the event by giving some piano performance of thai songs with ThaiSA president joining me by singing


More performance by ThaiAM and lots of kids

-4- Becoming the supporting system

You know what, it feel great! when you are a part of something, especially a part of the community. Therefore and lastly, if you are becoming part of the U of M, do not forget to include these in your coursework:

-Join a student group
-Learn to be a part of your community
-Give the community what you have
-Do good deed to others
-Make new friends
-Expanding your networking

And at the end of the day, you might feel the tiredness BUT you also will be able to reflect back about yourself what you have grown for yourself.. each day.

See you soon, Sawaddee ka (greeting in Thai)

Photos by
Borwornsom Leerapan
Parichart Wallen
Ani Chen


Road trip to...BOYNTON!

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The advantages of attending a bigger University, such as the University of Minnesota, is that its health services are also bigger and more comprehensive. Being an International Student, having had the Boynton Health Insurance was really convenient.

As an international student, we are usually used to the Health Care in our countries - or health practices (such as drinking sprite when you have a cold, or taking a cold shower when you have a fever!). We are usually lucky to have our friends and family to take care of us - but when we are in the United States as international students, we sometimes don't have that support. Having an effective student health service center is essential when one is sick or needs additional support.


I recently had to visit the Boynton Services, and I got all of these services covered or mostly covered by our Student Health Insurance
-Eye exam (plus contact lens fitting)
-Left ankle X-ray
-Sore Throat check-up
-Right wrist pain check up

I was also able to make appointment to see a Primary Care Physician (the doctor who will be your main/primary doctor), which is usually recommended to have (most of our Primary Care Physicians are back home, so having one in the US can be important!)


Just a reminder, the University of Minnesota now requires all international students, visiting scholars, and accompanying dependents to purchase the university's insurance - the Student Health Benefit Plan (SHBP).

It is flu season, so dress up, be warm, take care of yourself! Or you might have to take a trip to...Boynton!

See you next time!

Try something different to eat!!

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Okay, I totally understand, you must miss the food in your country sooooo much, when you just arrive in the US. But...let's try something local!! I am sure you will like it!
Since this summer, I have been exploring the great restaurants, especially cafes, around Twin Cities with my friends. Please check out what we found!

1. Cupcake (

2. Green Spoon (

3. Panera Bread (

4. Purple Onion (

5. Overflow Cafe (

There are more out there around campus, wait for you!! ^o^

Cheer up!


We need to learn, but fun time is a bonus :)

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Having a conference presentation is one of the academic activities that PhD students are involved. I have been trying to have at least one presentation at an academic conference each year and actually I like to attend a conference. It is a great opportunity to learn what is new or hot in the field and also to meet people for net working.

Last week, I visited Boston to attend the International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, one of the conferences by the American Association for cancer Research (AACR) to present one of my dissertation projects. IMGP2014.JPG To prepare a presentation, I came up with a project idea, designed a study, created a data set, analyzed data, wrote an abstract (and a manuscript), and prepared & printed a poster. I had a poster presentation, which is not an oral presentation, so I stood by a poster on the board and answered questions from people came by. I attended this conference for the first time, but I liked it and would like to return next year. It is much smaller than the AACR main annual meeting, but much focus was on cancer prevention and epidemiology.

After the 3 days in this conference, I attended the other meeting - the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cohort Consortium Annual Meeting. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and this meeting was an opportunity that principle investigators (PIs) of major NCI-sponsored cohort studies discussed about projects using data from multiple studies so that we will be able to have a larger number of study subjects. I accompanied my adviser who was invited to the meeting. It was a great opportunity for me, as a student, to be stimulated.

Since it was my first visit to Boston, I walked around the town with my friend during the off time. We went to a casual seafood restaurant "No Name" right by the pier. Of course, food was good, but the waiter was such an entertainer! He spoke multiple languages including Japanese :) He even treated us a free desert (what a yummy apple pie!) as hospitality, as he said.
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Preparing a conference presentation is a lot of work, but having fun in other cities is a bonus for hard-working students, right?!

Perhaps, a lesson for me is taking a comfortable pair of walking shoes to a next conference trip. My legs are still hurting from lots of walking :)


Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra!

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This weekend I went to the Ordway center for performing arts!We were invited by a couple of friends.We attended a concert and I really liked the performance.Since I am in the middle of my assignments,I will keep my blog as short as possible,however I would like to share something interesting with you.As you know the routine ticket price for the shows is around $40,it may not be a good option for those interested.I found about this great option:

If you are 18-39 year of age,you can sign up for the club 2030,and receive coupon codes which will allow you to buy the concert tickets(for unto two people)for $10.Isnt that great?This season some great artists are coming to St.Paul.Even if you don't want to be a frequent visitor,I must insist you all must experience this live music experience once.Let me know how it goes:)

Take care

Weekend in Chicago!!!


Are you looking for something exciting to do in the weekend? Do you have a strong feeling that you want to travel having a short break of the busy school year? I can totally understand your feeling of that. I did have the feeling to explore something really different and exciting, but I have to be aware of busy school works as well. So I traveled to Chicago last Thursday to Saturday. So this time I really want to share with you how much fun I had visiting Chicago. Hope you find motivated packing your luggage and exploring one of the great cities in the United States as well.

It is really easy to get to Chicago from Minneapolis. You can take the Mega bus or the train. I took the overnight Mega bus on Wednesday night. The bus is very convenient and cheap. You can even use your computers to access the internet on the bus! It is very easy to purchase the bus ticket on line as well. Chicago is an amazing city. Artistic, exciting, beautiful and peaceful, I really fell in love with this city.

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You can find everything you might enjoy at Chicago, someone said Chicago is the home of Blues and the truth of Jazz, is the heart of comedies and the idea of skyscraper. You can spend your whole day wondering at museums full of arts and knowledge. You will always find new and delicious restaurant to try. You can stand besides the lake to enjoy the peace of the city. You can explore the luxuries of theater, shopping and bars in this energetic metropolitan as well.

I visited the Art Institute of Chicago on my first day. I am very impressed by the collection they have. Many world famous paintings are exhibited at the Museum. Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh.. Time just passed by when you are surrounding by these masterworks.


Cloud Gate is another must visit sculpture. I really love this genius design. The sculpture, which is called "The bean" by people, is located at Millennium park. The surface of the sculpture reflects and distorts the city's skyline. Color of the sculpture varies with the color of the sky, blue in a sunny day, red and orange in the sunset, grey in a rainy day...


I also visited Shedd Aquarium Museum and Adler Planetarium Museum in Chicago. And I had delicious and authentic Chinese food at China town. Walked around in downtown looking at beautiful architectures and shopping at the Michigan Avenue. Chicago is such a wonderful city that you will have lots of unforgettable memories with her!


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"M" [part 2] = music life around town

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I am not very excited about the arriving of November... As a pianist at the U of M, there are five recitals lining up to be performed. The preparation is killing me, which I hope if there is a miracle that from now on a day could turn into 48 hours.

But today a beautiful Sunday, I am excited to continue my perspective about the "M" life around the town. In the "M" Part 1, you have heard how my music life is like; as well as I shared what I know about how your music life as a student at the U of M could be. This week, let's talk about what could be interesting to spent a night out around the town, which I will be focusing the two musical giants of the Twin cities. And if you are a music student, there are some organizations that worth to check out.


Music at the wall around Minneapolis downtown

::Twin Cities = Two great orchestras::

Here is the good news, the Twin Cities contain two cities that are adjacent to each other. We have a bless to have accesses to enjoy two amazing orchestra venues: the Minnesota Orchestra Symphony hall where is a home of the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Ordway Center where is a home of St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. I have to emphasize here that they are my favorite places to spend a night out!

- The Minnesota Orchestra has its performance season during Fall(October) until Summer(the mid of June.) In addition during the summer, they have a separate Summer performance calendar.


Minnesota Orchestra Symphony hall: taken at my first visit

The orchestra has announced that this 2011-12 season will be the Orchestra's final season in Orchestra Hall before the building's one-year closure for a renovation and expansion. During the 2012-13 season, the Orchestra will perform in the Minneapolis Convention Center Auditorium. This means we are having a new hall! (by the time I should be graduating...) Check this out to see how it will be transformed.

- On the other hand, the St. Paul chamber orchestra (SPCO) has its reputation to be "as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world" Their main venue is the Ordway center in the downtown of St. Paul.

I have found that they have their own Listen Library page! Since last week I shared you my performance audio link of one of the Astor Piazzolla's music; here is the SPCO live performance recording, the performance that I went to listen last year for real:

the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
by Astor Piazzolla
arranged by Leonid Desyatnikov
Composed 1964-1970.

What do you think how they sounds? Amazing, right?

Here is my confession:
Far from my plan, I can not go over all the music organization that the Twin Cities can offer. (especially, I am going out to school now to have a dress rehearsal for one of the recitals I am playing.) Therefore, please enjoy checking out these links for more options of your music life around the town:

- Opera: the Minnesota Opera where I went to see last winter La Traviata.

- Chamber Music activities: the Schubert's club where offered me a chance to hear Renee Fleming giving her recital performance.

- For Jazz lovers: my favorite jazz venue "the Dakota Jazz Pub" where I went to see my favorite jazz pianist Hiromi.

- Music for artsy people: the Walker Art Center

- And more...
Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus
The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company

- Not about music, but it is a performance organization that worth to be mentioned: the Guthrie Theater Company
: I love their building! and I plan to write about it in the future.


Before I go, here is a fun thing I would like to share further away from "M". It is from my visiting the MIT museum in Boston, Massachusetts last summer. I have found this interesting kinetic sculpture by Arthur Ganson:

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A Violin and a Feather

See you soon!

A click was my key to Minnesota!

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It had been over a year since I thought about pursuing graduate education in the U.S. I was contemplating about where to go for a graduate school in Plant Sciences. I had a couple of schools in mind that were sought-after by everyone. However, I did not make any effort for that long period of time to define my destination. When the time was right, I got the courage to "look for" what I want. It was a quite and beautiful day back in Davis, California. I could have rather sat back and 'chilled-out' but I decided to take a step to make my dream come true. I turned a computer on, went to the internet and typed "University of Minnesota plant pathology department" in Google, and clicked the search button. Remember, University of Minnesota was one of the schools in my 'top list' to go to for a graduate education. The webpage of the department was the first hit of course. I read relevant information on the website, and dropped an email to the Director of Graduate Studies right away. With in a few minutes, a response came back. The gracious response was for me to come to Minnesota for an annual graduate student recruitment event. I attended the event and went back with all information I needed to apply to the graduate school and the graduate program. I followed up on that and finally ended up getting admitted to my favorite graduate program. So joining your favorite graduate program at the University of Minnesota is just a click away. If I make it, so you can too. Happy clicking!

Hello everyone!

I'm happy to announce the biggest event among the international students is coming up! It will be presented by MISA which is Twin Cities' largest and the most active cultural organization, dedicated to bringing students from backgrounds across the globe together.

Where: Great Hall, Coffman Union
When: Saturday, 5th, November, 6-10 pm


Have you ever been to the Feast of nations?

13 different student organizations will participate and collaborate together for the biggest culture event in University of Minnesota. You will experience the diversity through mingling with people who have different cultural backgrounds. Also, they are preparing cultural shows to celebrate and appreciate all the different cultures at the U of M!

What can we expect?

1. Runway with Cultural Costumes!

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Haven't you curious about traditional cultural costumes from different countries? You can meet models with dazzling cultural costumes from around the world! Many of models are actually students at U of M, so you might able to see familiar faces on the runway!

2. Talent Shows

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Also, you can see what other students have prepared for you. A talent show is an event where participants perform their talent or talents of acting, singing, dancing, acrobatics, drumming, martial arts, playing an instrument, and other activities to show a unique form of talent.

3. Culture Food


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You can have exploration of culture through food. What we eat, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who's at the table, and who eats first is a form of communication that is rich with meaning. Also, this is good chance for you to try new food from new culture. You never know! You may find your new favorite dish at Feast of nations!

4. Meeting new friends!


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This is also a great chance for you to meet new people from different culture. You can simply initiate a small talk with people who just sit next to you. When different cultures are mingled, there are so many interesting things to share. Let's celebrate diversity!

ALSO, please check out their YouTube video :D

Boo! Halloween is right around the corner...

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Boo! Did I scare you? Probably not...

I was trying to figure out an interesting topic to write on, as I was reading the other ambassadors' very interesting blogs.

I was driving the other day, and noticed that many houses already put their Halloween and pumpkin lights on their front yards, and it made me realize that Halloween is right around the corner!

But what is Halloween you may ask? Before I came to the U.S., my concept of halloween was based upon what I had seen in the movies, as we only celebrated All Souls' Day.

The only time I dressed up for Halloween, I ended up looking like this...I was supposed to be a (very scary) Oompa Loompa!

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Still don't know what Halloween is? Halloween is celebrated every year on October 31st, and includes trick-or-treating for children (and even adults!), costume parties and carving pumpkins. Of course, you do not need to dress up, but it is so much fun to see everybody in their creative costumes! I heard someone saw someone dressed up in a pacman costume being chased by the pacman game ghosts down the street one time!

I found this very funny comic regarding Halloween ... and maybe Thanksgiving!


Do you have questions about life at the University of Minnesota? Click on here to contact any ambassador!

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Minnesota is not always "COLD"!!


Hi guys,
How's going recently?
Well...I have to admit that, Minnesota is indeed cold in winter, but you can still find a lot of wonderful places where make you "warm", and you could have tons of fun there!! Today, I am gonna recommend you one of my favorite destinations, "St Anthony Main" in Minneapolis, near to campus. It has great views, great restaurants and bars, and great routine events. Check it out!!

My favorite cafe

Stone Arch Cinema



St Anthony falls

Stone Arch Bridge

Cheer up! See you next time!


You can still pick apples. Hurry!!


Are you feeling winter is coming? Last weekend, I went to an apple orchard to enjoy this beautiful autumn. There are many apple orchards around Twin Cities. We picked Afton Apple Orchard because they have many attractions for kids such as an animal petting zoo and hay ride as well as pumpkins. My daughter enjoyed munching small apples and tapping pumpkins :) Pumpkin 1.jpg

"Picking" is one of the fun things that you can enjoy in Minnesota. I love "U-pick" (means you pick fruits or vegetables by yourself) for berries in spring and apples in autumn. As a nutritionist and an avid food lover, I like locally grown produces.

1. Farmers Markets
During summer, there are farmers markets, where a number of farmers bring in a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables for sale.
Farmers market3.jpg
Usually, we can find much more variety of produces at more reasonable prices than at grocery stores. I like to visit farmers markets just for fun, but also to find Asian fruits and vegetables that I can't buy from grocery stores. Trying vegetables that look unfamiliar to me is also fun! They also have beautiful flowers. You can buy a big bunch of flowers at an unbelievably low price. FarmersMarket2.JPG

From June through the beginning of October, University of Minnesota Farmers Market is open on Wednesdays on campus. The biggest farmers market in Twin Cities is Minneapolis Farmers Market in North Lyndale (open 7 days a week) and on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on Thursdays. You can find many others!

Since farmers markets are no longer open, I have a real feeling that winter is coming...

2. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
You can also make a contract with a farm to receive weekly deliveries of boxful locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. What kind of vegetables and fruits you receive each week solely depends on the season and weather, but it is a fun surprise to open a box and say, "What is this veggie...?". They usually have designated delivery places where you can pick up your box, but sometimes they deliver a box to your work place. The office of our division (where I have my office) has a contract with a non-profit rural community in Wisconsin, Community Homestead, so that I can pick up my box at work. Actually, I will receive my last box (box No. 20!) of vegetables this season this afternoon. I have enjoyed trying new recipes using celariac, rutabaga, parsnips, garlic scrapes, etc... (I have never come across any of these vegetables...).

I will miss them all!

Managing your budget!


Hello Everybody!

I hope all of you are doing great?How are you coping with the changing weather?Some people say,the winters are here to stay,while others believe it is just a random spell!I hope it is a random spell because I haven't had enough of fall yet!:)

I was really busy last week.My sponsors invited me to UT Austin,where they organized a gateway orientation for the incoming Fulbrighters from Pakistan.They wanted me to talk about my experience and pass on any tips that I had from my experience to make their transition and survival easy.I guess I can talk about a lot of that in my blog too.The question that i got asked the most was to manage budget.Being a student,you sometimes have to live the bohemian way!This is not a compromise,this is the fun of being a student.Anyways,since most of us come with limited budget,here is what I suggest to all of you:

1."Live like a student"

2.Eat at home.Food cooked at home is healthy,economical and delicious.To tell you a secret,cooking is my stress buster.

3.Take advantage of free entertainment opportunities,like free fairs and festivals(we had a whole bunch of them in summer),free concerts and movies(in parks and in the coffman movie theater).

4.Minnesotans take pride in outdoor activities and unlike many other things to do,a hike across the state park in summer would not cost you anything.

5.Instead of having cars and worrying about insurance,maintenance,gas and parking bill,use Public transit.Minneapolis is one of the transit-ally blessed city.With the new light rail in place,the situation will even get better.The bus pass is really cheap and saves you a a lot of money.The cabs here are not very expensive and I sometimes share them with my friends when we go grocery shopping.

6.Buying in bulk is the best strategy to save money.I buy all the non-perishables in bulk and in the value packs.I dont have to buy them every month plus I get a good value of my money.

7.However,watch out for the consumer coupons.They are good if you are buying for a family of four,but if you are just shopping for yourself,you don't have to shop BOGO style,and at least I ended up over spending on stuff I didn't really need.

8.Dont compromise your quality of life.The place where you are living should be clean,well lit and ventilated.It is important for your physical and emotional well being.your rent should take most of your monthly budget,everything else can be managed.I recommend living close to campus so you spend less time commuting and stressing out.

9.To buy clothes and shoes,I would recommend waiting for sales and big events like the black Friday(I cant wait for the next:D).Stores like Marshalls and Nordstrom rack offers branded stuff from last season at affordable prices.

Did I miss anything?Please feel free to ask any questions that you might have regarding budgeting and I will try my best to help you.

Until the next blog,take care:)

Trash? Treasure! U of M links you to the world!

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Are you wondering what you can do in the vacation time while attending the University of Minnesota? You might want to travel back to your home country visiting families and friends that you are missing every day, you can find an internship anywhere in the U.S to gain professional experience, you can drive a car or jump on a train being a traveler on the road to explore more of America...Today I would like share about what I did last summer. I really want to say that U of M can provide us amazing experience that you might never expect before.

This summer, I went to Cairo with a group of five students studying the trash and recycling! We worked with a solid waste management company, Irtiqa, and NGOs working with garbage collectors in Cairo.Trash can be treasure if we sort and recycle them well! I really learned a lot from this opportunity.

We can produce new plastic bags from plastic garbage:


We can make new bricks from the construction waste:

We can turn organic waste into compost to plant food and flowers even in the desert:

We can even make a sidewalk from the trash:

After this experience, I deeply feel that everyone can make changes even in our daily routine life. Maybe we can start protecting our environment by reducing the waste, source sorting at home and etc. I gained professional and personal development from the summer experience, as well as explore to different cultures, wonderful people and beautiful landscapes in Egypt.

The Pyramids!


What I did in the summer is just one of many possibilities you might have in the U of M. The University has tons of interesting programs or opportunities that you can explore and get yourself involved in. Do not hesitate to talk to people, your classmates, professors and your adviser, or anyone that you meet, if you have an idea or you are interested in what other people are doing. You will find your life experience much much more colorful than you can imagine studying at the U. Good luck with that!



Asking students at the University of Minnesota, they would know what "M" stands for.
Asking Minnesotans, they are huge fans of "M", too. [Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnehaha, Minnetonka, or 3M.... .]
Asking me, it is another "M" that I am exclusively focusing in today's blog. It is very important to my life now and in the future...[Hint: it is my studying major]...


Score study: Brahms's Sonata no.2 in E-flat for clarinet and piano

"M" = Music

-Part 1-

Music study at the U of M:
I came to the U of M because there are conditions that fit me:
1) The U of M offers the Doctorate program in the field I am interested, and I got accepted.
2) The school offers me the Graduate Assistantship position, which helps covering the tuition fee.
3) My teacher/advisor Timothy Lovelace is wonderful pianist in the field.

Music as my dream:
Studying at the U of M gives me a chance to pursue my dream: doing what I like, what I believe in, and what I can share with others. My ultimate goal is to be a part of the music educational team in my country and improve the Collaborative Piano program, which currently has not been available there. Along its way, to be a good teacher, I think I need to be a good musician. So I am working hard to find performance opportunities while studying in the US.

Now, I guess the question is....

What is "Collaborative Piano" ?:
- Collaborative Piano is a program that concentrates on a piano playing skill for collaborating with other musician/s. This usually includes chamber music/ensemble performing [chamber music: music that is played by multiple players], accompanying lessons or classes, vocal coaching, assisting opera/musical theater production as a Repetiteur. Often CP also includes orchestra keyboard, choir accompanying, orchestral reduction playing. Sometimes it is necessary to play by sight reading the score.

My daily life with Music at the U of M:
Almost everyday for me is about music and collaboration with others. I practice multiple hours as much as the time and my health allow for preparing rehearsals, assisting students' lessons or classes, and performing in any assigned musical activities in the music school. I am very often involved in student recitals. To give you more ideas, this semester I am assisting total of eight recitals, including Phong's, Shelby's, Christine's, Rosie's, John's, Wei's. In addition to these recitals, I have my own recital on this upcoming November 22. (Please check out the music school website for events calendar. There are tons of free performances you can join.)

Here are some pictures from my first DMA recital in the Spring 2010:


With my violinist Josh Holritz, playing Beethoven's Sonata for violin and piano in c minor


our warm-up time


sorry that there is no picture while I performed since the camera makes noise with its shutter sound..


greeted by audiences and chit-chating with my advisor after the recital

As part of my DMA program requirements, total of five recitals I must complete. I am working hard to do one each semester. Other than that, other musical activities I am involved are varied. For example, the previous three semesters I assisted the U of M's opera workshop and opera production; this recent summer I served as a staff pianist at the Bravo Summer String Fest at the U and also played for my singer's wedding; previously in my former graduate school time, I worked off-school at churches, assisted some high school music events, joined the distance learning team, and performed for locals as the community service at retirement homes.


working in Opera Workshop/Theatre

-Part 2-

Music opportunities for everyone at the U of M:
If you are a music lover, whether as a listener or as a performer, there are some opportunities waiting for you at the U of M. At the U we have quite many music activities that are available for non-music major students to join:
- University Symphony Orchestra - for instrumentalists
- University Campus Singers, Men's and Women's Choruses - for singers
- Chamber Ensembles
- U of M Jazz Ensembles - for jazz players
- University Opera Theatre - they always need chorus, extras, and supporting works

To highlight the School of Music event, considering the biggest form of classical music event, this Fall'11 the University Opera Theatre are offering the Mozart's opera "Cosi fan Tutte", performing during November 17-20, 2011. Please join. And for me, my singer will be singing Dorabella role; I definitely can not miss this performance!

Here also I have searched some example of courses offered for non-music major:
MUS 1051 Class Piano for Nonmusic Majors I & II
MUS 1260 Voice Class
MUS 3230 Chorus
Find out more at Onestop website.

Finally, while studying classical music, at the end of my day.... I go back to my apartment and turn on the radio to NPR 88.5' for some jazz to relax myself. ...And now it is the time. I will be back with more about "M"usic, but outside the U of M, next time.

And it would be strange talking about Music but no music in the blog! Therefore, if you are now curious and wanna hear some of my performance, please check out the below audio links: Le Grand Tango by Piazzola and "Home" encore piece by Thee Chaiyadej, performed with my former violinist Erica W Ward. Hope you enjoy them!

See you soon!

Do you have a place at The U?

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Oh Yes. Everybody has a place at The U. The U is a short form for the University of Minnesota. As a prospective student, The U knows that you have several options. Higher learning institutions exist in all six of the seven continents worldwide. Why you should consider the U then? The U ranks among the top world universities. But it is down-to-earth to accommodate everyone!!! The school welcomes international students. It has numerous support systems in place to help U get in and succeed. We, International Student Ambassadors, are among the many live examples for U. Should you need more information about the U, need assistance with the application process or anything, please let us know. I was out there like you before. But now I have been through the processes and aware of what it takes to get here. Just know that you have a spot waiting for you here on campus. Talk to you soon.

Can I survive the winter? Yes U can!

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Today is October 7th, 2011.

The weather, rather pleasant in its 80's (or 27 degrees Celsius as I still have a hard time figuring out Fahrenheit and Celsius).

I have nothing to complain until I realize, it is October 7th...We have been one month in school, and we are technically 2 months away from the dreadful (suspense music) WINTER!

To tell you the truth, my experiences with Minnesota Winter have not been awful. See picture below:


Ok, ok, I can see from the look on your faces, this is not what you expected! I did not either. But don't worry about it! MN also has 3 more seasons:

Fall (Autumn):

Considered the beginning of the academic semester, or August to December, it is also the season when leaves change their colors and the scenery is beautiful. spring.jpg


Considered the second part of the academic calendar, or also a season when everything comes back to life! Some students have Commencement or their May Graduation at the end of the Spring Semester, but many other students also have different times of the year when they graduate! Here is my undergraduate commencement picture with my mom and my undergraduate international advisor: spring 1.jpg

And my favorite season...

Summer: This summer, I started working for the International Student and Scholar Services. It is also called in Minnesota as "Construction Season", because of all the construction that is going on. Hey! Want to see what construction looks like at the University of Minnesota? Check Banchinda's second picture on her blog!

Summer is also the season that when it comes back every year, makes me feel it was worth waiting through the winter for that moment of warm sunshine...Whatever weather you enjoy, MN sure has them all. And there is always SOMETHING to do for every weather.


As for my title question, yes, I do believe you can survive the winter; I have survived it at least 6 times already as I have been in MN since 2005. The University of Minnesota, as well as the state of MN offers plenty of activities for all seasons and taste! See you next time!

Interested in learning a NEW language?!

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Hi all,

Are you interested in learning a third language (or even fourth, fifth, ...), other than English and you mother language(s), to know more about other culture and make more friends?? At U of M, there are various languages programs that we could attend, including formal classes and many other programs...

Registered Courses
Many language courses, e.g., Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, German, etc., are offered on campus for all students to register for credits; even you are not in a certain language major. The courses are developed in different levels--beginning, accelerated beginning, intermediate, and advanced, and also some other related courses with focus on literature, writing, reading or else. You could take the courses following the levels step by step. Or, if you already have certain level of the language skills, many language programs have proficiency / placement test, which would help you find the right course level you may want to attend. Generally, your major program would require you to take some elective courses outside your major program. So, if approved by your major advisor, it would be a great idea to take your interested language courses as elective courses as earned credits toward your degree!!

TandemPlus Program (from College of Liberal Arts, Language Center)
Here is the link, CHECK IT OUT:
TandemPlus is a language exchange program. It matches native speakers of two different languages, students of each other's language who learn from each other and help one another to learn. For example, if you are Japanese native speaker and want to learn Chinese, TandemPlus will find you a Chinese native speaker who wants to learn Japanese. You and your partner could schedule your own study time based on your availability, or you could also attend the virtual face-to-face exchange or class-to-class exchange. Don't forget that, there are also a lot of Americans to attend this program who want to learn a foreign language from YOU, so, if you want to improve your English skills as an international student, you will absolutely find a partner here!!! And also, the participants in this program are not limited to current students, but also actually open to public. So, in here, you will not only learn a new language and promote your mother language, but also make more fantastic friends with diverse background and experiences. Isn't it excited?

Hope the information above is helpful for you!! Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

See you next time!

Great program, Great student support!


Hi everyone! Fall is coming along and leaves are colored in Minnesota. So beautiful!

Before moving to Minnesota, I lived in Seattle, Washington. So why did I move to Minnesota? To start the PhD program! Then why did I choose U of M??

1. Great multidisciplinary program

I am in the PhD program in Epidemiology. Most of you may not be familiar with this word (so as most of American people), but epidemiology is the study to identify risk factors for disease at the population level for the preventive purpose. My background is nutrition, but faculty is a blend of many fields such as epidemiologists, behavioral scientists (ex. psychologists), clinical researchers (physicians), public health policy researchers, and nutritionists. It is a perfect place to get involved in multidisciplinary research! Our office building, West Bank Office Building (WBOB) is in West Bank. Thumbnail image for IMGP2006.JPG

2. Academic adviser

To explore my interest area, which is nutrition and cancer prevention, finding a faculty who is an expert in that field was a big factor to choose a school. Luckily, my current adviser and I have similar background and work experiences and she found me during the admission process!

3. Financial support

Honestly, this was the critical factor that I decided to come to U of M. As many prospective students, I applied for multiple schools including one in Seattle, where I was living then. I received acceptance letters from a few schools, but most of them asked me to find a financial support for the first year by myself. But the program at the U of M finds and offers financial supports to all the applicants who are accepted. That made me feel very supported and welcomed by the program.

Let me introduce major financial supports available in my program.

A. Graduate assistantship (GA)

GA is an employment opportunity offered to both Master's and PhD level students. Its benefits include tuition and medical/dental coverage, and we can get paid to cover living costs. There are two kinds of GA - research assistantship and teaching assistantship. Research assistants usually do data analysis, study coordinating, and manuscript preparation for a research project. Teaching assistants help professors in classes by attending classes to answer questions from students, holding lab classes/office hours, and grading and such. For the past 4+ years, I have been a research assistant for the division and Masonic Cancer Research Center as well as a teaching assistant. I have to add one more great feature - I (and my husband) could take paid-maternity/paternity leaves under GA!!! Check with the program of your interest for the availability of GA!

B. Trainingship

Many students are supported by trainingships, which support students' training activities with similar benefits as GA. However, unfortunately, usually only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this support...

C. Doctoral dissertation fellowship

I'm delightfully introducing this great fellowship for PhD students offered by the graduate school!! Every year, at least 75 fellowships are awarded to students from school-wide programs. I am awarded this fellowship this year and find this support is great! This fellowship is to give final-stage doctoral students more time to spend on dissertation, so it does not come with any work obligations. It does come with almost same benefits as GA including a full coverage of tuition and medical/dental coverage for 9 months (Sep - May). It also allows students to hold up to 25% GA along with the fellowship. I'm now under this fellowship but also have a 25% research assistantship.

Remember - this information is solely from my experience in my program or in the School of Public Health. Available financial supports may vary depending on the program.

Hope you found it helpful. See you next time!

In and around Minneapolis!

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In my country,"fall"is referred to as autumn.I think this is true for many other places too?Like i mentioned previously,i never had a chance to appreciate the changing seasons as it was always very warm in my part of the world.I heard the word fall for the first time when i enrolled for my classes.Needless to say,i experienced my first fall in Minnesota,and unlike the word "autumn",i found it pretty amazing.The temperatures are moderate,the trees are changing colors(yes,the color of falls),the skies are clear for the most part and it is the best season for outing.So me and my friends decided to go around the cities last weekend.We went to the como park zoo and conservatory,a lake in Alexandria,which is a small town in middle of Minnesota and Duluth!

The Como Zoo and conservatory is located in St.Paul and easily accessible by public transit.lts a must visit in winters as the plants would stay green despite the weather.



A Fulbright alumni invited us to his place in Alexandria and took us around a Lake in his boat!Now I feel like a true Minnesotan!Boating is fun and a stay in Minneapolis without a boating adventure would have been incomplete.It was pleasant to see how people enjoy the outdoors in fall. DSCN9910.JPG


And last but not the least,i went to Duluth.It is located on the shores of Lake superior(which according to my knowledge is the largest lake in USA).The reason to visit Duluth was to see color of falls which unfortunately had not peaked by then,still it was a beautiful experience.


Explore the libraries and museums at the U!

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It is almost midnight on Monday evening. Today was a great day, pleasant weather with golden sunshine and clear blue sky. After finishing the work, my last stop is always the library before I go back to home. Not because of being a studious student, my fond of library grows unconsciously since I came to study at the University of Minnesota. Library to me, is a place to read a book I like, to work on my homework, to write a journal, or simply to sit down listening to favorite music and looking out of the window...

The U of M has many libraries located in different parts of the campus, such as Water Library in the East Bank with science & engineering collection, Wilson library in the West Bank with collections mostly in arts, humanities and social sciences, Magrath library in St. Paul campus. You can also find libraries for your specific interest like South Asia, Immigration History, Music, or even Maps. You can explore the libraries you are interested easily at the library website and check their open hours. And there are millions of books available in different languages, like myself, I go to the East Asian library often borrowing documentaries and books in Chinese.


Moreover, librarians provide many great services to the students besides loaning books. Take a look at different workshops at those libraries, you will learn many useful things on finding information or funding, managing your data, and academic works. I have attended three workshops on grant funding, learning Refworks for reference management when I am writing a academic paper or essay, and job search teaching you how to find business information. You may be interested in formatting your dissertation in word 2007 or how to better use google scholar. Those workshops are actually very good for your academic study and works, in which you can learn useful tips and resources. Whoops, maybe I have talked too much on academic studies. I just love libraries a lot.

Weisman Art Museum

Do not be intimidated by it is appearance surrounded by stainless steel and brick, Weisman Art Museum actually is a really fun and nearby place to go in the East Bank.


I went there few days ago when were having an open house for the new decorated museum. Stop by at the museum and emerge yourself into artistic and creative exhibits, might give you a really good mood for the whole day. I think most of the exhibits are free to the public. Their permanent collection has different themes like Ameircan Modernism, Korean Furniture and Ceramics. One of their recent exhibits are aluminum-flashing strips on the wall and ground called "Sympathies". I believe each person may have a different explanation about what they see in their eyes. So coming to the arts museum can also be a great activity to hang out with your friends, sharing or even just laughing. We just have an amazing arts museum in the campus! Do not miss it.


U of M through my view

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First of all, this is not only my first post but also the first ever post of our International Student Ambassador (ISA)'11-12 team! As I asked myself, what would I first and most curious about as a prospective student of University of Minnesota?

The first thing came up to my mind was the campus atmosphere as from a student's view from daily life. Somethings that are not in the official school website, as you all would think that the best pictures from the best spots on the perfect weather day would be picked. Therefore, today I open my mini gallery exhibiting "U of M through my view" some of my own photos over the past three semesters.

::1:: Do you bike in your country? (I don't..) Twin cities is one of the bike friendliest places in the US. Bike lane is everywhere in the U of M as well as around the Twin cities. We also have some skateboarders and rollerbladers using the bike lane as well.

Thumbnail image for 1_bike_niceride.jpg

In addition, we also have Nice Ride Minnesota, a non-profit who bring to public a bike sharing project to the Twin Cities. Around the U of M there are multiple Nice Ride stations. Isn't this an interesting way to share?

Thumbnail image for 3_dinky_jogging.JPG
::2:: Do you like working out? (I am in and out of it...) In this picture, as I was walking home, many joggers passed me by around campus. Whenever I work out, I jog outside when the weather is nice; I visit the U of M's recreational center and use the elliptical machine when the weather is less friendly.

::3:: U of M has multiple campuses. Here is the East bank, the main part of the Twin cities campus; and it is huge! I took this picture in the summer. ..Wanna see how it looks currently?

::4:: This picture was taken yesterday. Now you can see that the Eastbank does not look its best currently. As there is the "center corridor light rail" project construction along this street. Oh... the huge building on the right is the Coffman student union where we can hangout, watch movie, buy books, dine, listen to the music, and tons of stuff more!

Thumbnail image for 6_e3_sunset_cons.JPG
::5:: Now, I turned 180 degree to take the opposite view. You will see a strange, unique building on the left --what do you think it is?--, the Science Teaching & Student Services building on the right, and a bridge linked to the west bank campus in the center.

::6:: the strange building I mentioned is Weisman Art Museum, designed by a famous architect Frank O Gehry.

::7:: Yesterday was the museum's re-openning night after a year-long expansion project. (Do you see there is a acrobatic show going on at the openning party???) As I love visiting museum; and I can not wait to visit this place!

::8:: Here is the bridge connecting the Eastbank and the Westbank. Usually there are tons of people pass by. But I took this picture in the summer and there were not many people... (Notice that my pictures tend to avoid including people in there; I try to be aware not to be impolite while photographing in public.) In addition, please enjoy Minneapolis's downtown view on the right across the Mississippi river.

::9:: What a beautiful sky in the spring/summer! Now, let's cross the bridge to the Westbank.

11_w_social path.JPG
::10:: Now we have arrived in the westbank. It is less crowded place..(especially I took this in the summer..) This is the front of Social Science building.

::11:: Look how the snow turned the ground into white. Now we have entered the winter photo collection. Winter in Minnesota usually starts in November and last until April. And I took this picture while I was in the school of music building which you are seeing its partial on the left; on the right is the Rarig center.

::12:: I took this picture when the Twin cities got hit by a blizzard storm. The storm brought a gigantic pile of snow everywhere.

::13:: This is how a walkway looks like in the winter, which I walk to the bus stop daily.

::14:: Last winter when it was really really cold, my apartment's windows had an ice grown from the inside. I had to take this picture because I would never seen this in my country.

::15:: Wintergear = warm overcoat + gloves + scarf + hat.
Additional advice: be colorful!

Speaking of photographing, it has been always a hobby that many international students turn to when away from home and wonder about new place as well as to keep as souvenirs.

To me, the dynamic seasons fascinate me to most. They say coconut juice is so exotic (it is not exotic to me...); I would say fall's color and winter's snow work the same way for me (these are not exotic to them!) The total of four -- one hard-core and three unbelievably beautiful - portray Minnesota's weather!

See you soon!

Crossroad & Transition at the University of Minnesota


Deciding to go to a graduate school certainly is a big decision of anyone's life. Besides getting yourself admitted to those schools, the city, where school is located, plays an important role for any decision. Why? Because you will have to live in the city or town, which is so far away from your home town. What would people do for fun after school? What is the weather like? .. etc.

Actually, if you are looking for more insight about the University of Minnesota, here I am! -- as a part of the International Student Ambassadors'11-12 -- will take turn with others to update our blogs to share you our experience, with different perspective and lots of stories. As a part of ISA team, I am really excited to share my view with everyone here!

banchinda.jpgOriginally from Bangkok the capital city of Thailand, my name is Banchinda Laothai, a second-year doctoral candidate of music performance majoring in Collaborative piano & Coaching at the School of Music at the University of Minnesota. This is actually my sixth year in the United States, previously pursued the master degree in the same area at the Cleveland Institute of Music; Cleveland, Ohio. By the end of the third year, I moved to the U of M. Now it becomes my second home; and the Twin cities --Minneapolis & St.Paul-- become my second hometown. In addition to music studying, I have an architectural background, previously earned the Bachelor degree in Architecture majoring in Interior Architecture from the Chulalongkorn University from my hometown; as well as practiced the design for a couple of years.

I was told that change in life happens for a reason. What reason? -- I guess we will eventually discover. Not only my career path has been altered, studying abroad is a huge change of my life. I have experienced uncountable new things; more than that, the new things I am talking about is also about myself.

How about you? Are you approaching a crossroad?; Any potential that Minneapolis could become your 'potential' places? Or are you currently in a transition to the U of M? Either way, please stay in touch and find out more what we are going to share!

And say hi to me if you see me around campus :)

See you soon!

Why U?

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I will not lie.When I told my dad I am joining University of Minnesota,he was a little apprehensive.I got admission offers from some other universities where I could have been closer to some family and the weather would have been less challenging.However my experience here has proven all his fears and some of my own wrong.I am glad I took the decision to join the campus of one of the biggest public research university,and I have been happy ever since.The campus is full of resources for graduate students both in terms of academics and life.The program allowed flexibility for choosing the minor and courses I wanted to take.The international student office offered many programs which allowed me to get more involved in campus life and make new friends.The city is beautiful and the people are nice.The best thing about Minnesota however is its weather..yes no kidding!I am from a part of the world where it is summer for the most part of the year,I experienced spring,fall and winter for the first time in my life and the experience was great.I was surprised to see how people enjoyed every season including winter.Indeed I am looking forward to the next winter because I want to enjoy the winter sports and festivals which I missed last year.Yes,just wear your winter gear,grab your hot chocolate and enjoy winter!:)
In the end I just have to say that I LOVE myU!!

¡¡¡Hola a todos!!!

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Hi everybody!

My name is Marina Uehara, and I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the School of Social Work. The School of Social Work is part of the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

I also work for the International Student and Scholar Services as a student worker, as well as doing my Social Work Field Placement (or also called an internship) at CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicios)

I have been in Minnesota since Fall of 2005. I did my undergraduate studies in Duluth, MN. I went to a school that looks very much like Hogwarts!

An interesting fact about me is that my whole family lives internationally:
My parents who are from Japan currently live in Argentina. My dad is Argentinean like me!
My grandmother still lives in Tokyo, Japan.
And my younger brother, he recently moved to Paris, France!

Feel free to ask me, or any of the other ambassadors, questions about the University of Minnesota student life. We have all been where you are at one point of our lives

And please keep on reading our blogs and asking us questions!!! See you next time!

PS: I love to eat new foods! Here I am with my friend from Ethiopia, eating some Ethiopian food!

Greetings, viewers of this blog

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I would like to start off by expressing my thankfulness to being a member of this group of students who came together to share their experiences as a student of this great campus. It might come as a surprise to some people going to small national universities/colleges around the globe. But even though we are all going to the U, it is my first time to meet most of the students in this group. The U is HUGE, Really. So it took me almost three years to meet this year's group of international student ambassadors (less than 20 students, right?). Imagine how much it would take you to meet all the 50,000 something students going to this campus? Anyways, until you do the maths, let me introduce myself.

Selam (akkam) -- meaning, greetings in Amharic and Afan Oromo -- two languages I speak from my country. My name is Bullo Mamo. I am from Ethiopia, born and raised in countryside close to a town called Wolliso. Wolliso is a small town in Oromia State, 114 km (71 miles) southwest of the Capital Addis Ababa/Finfine (ethiomap.ppt). Upon completing high school, I joined Haramaya University (see map) and graduated with BSc. After working for a while, I went to the Netherlands for my masters, after which I came to the US. I first came to University of California-Davis to do an internship as a part of my masters. I then applied to Graduate School at the U, and am now a third year PhD student in Plant Pathology.

You might ask why on earth one would move from the conducive weather of California to the cold winter of Minnesota? Minnesota offers something hard to get from somewhere else, and the cold weather would not prevent you from accessing that... if you need more justification for this and other questions, please come forward. I am here to help as much as I can while you make an important decision in your life... why to consider the University of Minnesota as a home for your graduate career....

Take care,

Hi there!!

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Hi! My name is Maki Inoue-Choi and I'm a PhD student in Epidemiology in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health. I'm so glad to meet you all here and excited to blog about my student life!!

I was born and raised in Osaka, Japan, but I've been in U.S. for more than 7 years so far. Before I started the PhD program, I did my master's degree in Nutritional Sciences in the University of Washington in Seattle. Actually, I first came to U.S. as a visiting clinical dietitian, but then decided to go to a grad school. I also worked in Seattle for a while between master's and PhD programs. So, I have been through lots of changes in my life in U.S.

Plus, I am now not only a student but a mom of a one-year-old girl. I met my husband in the program, got married, and had a baby!! My adviser sometimes teases me I have been through the most major life events during my life as a PhD student :)

My life centers around school, work and my baby. Yes, my life has so much hustle, but so much joy and fun, too!! Hopefully my experience and different sides of student life will help you, or at least entertain you all.

See you soon!

Greetings! Awesome to meet everyone!~


Greetings everyone!!! 大家好~(Dajiahao means "Hello Everyone" in Chinese.) My name is Yizhuo Zhao and I'm a second year graduate student from Changchun, China. I'm currently studying Master of Development Practice (MDP) program at Humphrey School of Public Affairs. MDP program is a global program providing interdisciplinary training to prepare students to address issues of sustainable development.

I really appreciate the opportunity to be an international graduate student ambassador to share my experience and perspectives on studying and living at the U, which I hope can be useful for international students better adapting your campus life here. Minnesota is a really amazing and beautiful place famous for its natural lakes and forests. Although the weather might be cold in the winter, you gonna feel warm because of nice and wonderful people here. The Campus of the U is beautiful and charming, you will fall in love with the architectures, coffee shops, libraries and the nature...

I would like to introduce a little bit about myself here. I graduated from Renmin University of China with major in Economics. I'm very interested on developing countries and development issues, especially the development model achieving social values as well as financially sustainable such as microfinance. Learning about different cultures and people is so fascinating to me, I was being a volunteer in Turkey and I did my internship in Cairo this summer. So I'm really happy to know people from different cultures and countries, we gonna be really good friends! As for my hobbies, I love travelling, making friends, doing yoga and watching movies! Campus life at the U is so colorful that I definitely would write more about in my future blogs.

It's really excited to be an international student ambassador and I look forward to being friends with you guys~Thanks for reading my blog! I will be blogging soon~~

All best,
Yizhuo (Serene) Zhao



Hello everybody

My name is Sehrish Javaid and I am doing my masters in Oral biology from the school of Dentistry.I am a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan.I came to the university of Minnesota last year.My experience here has been amazing.I love the campus and the city.I am excited to be the new International Student Ambassador.I hope my blogs can be of help to the current and prospective international students.

Looking forward to talk to you and feel free to ask me any questions that you might have regarding the university or the city:)


Greetings from Xi!!


Hey there,

This is Xi. I am so excited to meet and talk to you guys here!!

I am originally from China, a first-year PhD student majored in Human Resource Development in College of Education and Human Development. I love music, play the piano, sports, go for concerts and hang out with friends!! Hope you have certain common hobbies with me, LET'S TALK!!

Do you have any questions about the U? the academic program you wanna enroll? tips of surviving in Minnesota in freezing winter??......As an international student ambassador, I will try all my best to help you out for sure!! Just let me know anything you wanna ask or talk.

I am here for you! I am looking forward to talking to you next time!


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