October 2011 Archives

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.
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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: http://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/tandem/index.php
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.

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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?

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::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!

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::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.

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::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!

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