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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.

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Massage Therapy
Mental Health Services
Nicotine Dependence Counseling
Nursing Mothers' Room
Nutrition Services
Pharmacy
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
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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,
::Banchinda::

Still Feel Like Summer

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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.

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sightseeing at S-21 Genocide camp in Phnom penh

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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.


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

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Meet a craftman while he was working

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

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Inside the main gallery of Baan Si Dum


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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."

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The golden triangle gate to Myanmar

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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.


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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!

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


-attended my friend's vocal recital

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congratulated my friend a baritone Ghittinant Chins after the recital


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

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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.)


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Myself resting before the surgery

-had a dental checked

-had my haircut and permed

-thai massages

-watched thai movie

-more temples and palaces!

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

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Peacefulness inside the group of building in the Suan Pakkard Palace

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

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


-shopping shopping and shopping!

-food food food!


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

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

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

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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;
::Banchinda::

My supporting systems & its event 'ThaiNight'

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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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThaiSAofMN/
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

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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
Website: http://www.thaiofmn.org
Active webboard: https://www.facebook.com/groups/242150902471766/

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: http://www.startribune.com/local/133403223.html


And here is the scene of the event:

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at the ThaiNight event's entrance


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


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Entertaining: Thai Dancing


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


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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)
::Banchinda::

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Photos by
Borwornsom Leerapan
Parichart Wallen
Ani Chen

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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.

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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.


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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:

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- 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.

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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!
::Banchinda::

"M"

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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]...

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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:


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


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our warm-up time


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


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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.


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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!
::Banchinda::

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:

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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


Spring:

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.

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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!

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.

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::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.

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::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?


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::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.


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


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::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!

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::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.


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::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.

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::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.


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

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

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::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.


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::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!
::Banchinda::

Crossroad & Transition at the University of Minnesota

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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!
::Banchinda::

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