November 2012 Archives

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.

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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 http://jobsearch.about.com/cs/infointerviews/a/infointerview.htm

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 http://spanport.umn.edu? 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. http://televisa.esmas.com/entretenimiento/telenovelas/teresa/


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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: https://www.rebelmouse.com/AngelaCastro/


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.

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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.

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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!

1.What is the APPLICATION DEADLINE ?
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.

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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 : http://www.servicelearning.umn.edu/volunteer/ 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 http://www.walkerart.org/

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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 http://spyhousecoffee.com/


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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 http://www.guthrietheater.org/


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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 http://www.kittycatklub.net/


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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.

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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 http://global.umn.edu/global-u/iew/

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!
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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.

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

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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