Recently in Off campus activities Category

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.

My Best Thai Cuisine Experience

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

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

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

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

After Black Friday..is....Cyber Monday~

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

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

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

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

And DealMoon: http://www.dealmoon.com/


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

Retail Stores:
Macy's: http://www.macys.com/
Targets: http://www.target.com/

Wholesale stores:
Costco: http://www.costco.com/

Beauty:
Stila:http://www.stilacosmetics.com/
Bliss: http://www.blissworld.com/
Clinique: http://www.clinique.com/index.tmpl
Origins: http://www.origins.com/index.tmpl
The Body shop: http://www.thebodyshop-usa.com/
Clarins: http://www.clarinsusa.com/

Consumer Electronics:
BestBuy: http://www.bestbuy.com/
Apple: http://store.apple.com/us
Lenovo: http://www.lenovo.com/us/en/
Dell: http://www.dell.com/

Offices Supplies:
Staple: http://www.staples.com/

Nutrition& Vitamin:
GNC: http://www.gnc.com/home/index.jsp

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

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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Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra!

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

http://www.thespco.org/concerts-tickets/club2030

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

Take care

Weekend in Chicago!!!

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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::

Calling all students! We want to tell you about an exciting opportunity to explore more of Minnesota. Do camping, canoeing, campfires under the stars, making great new friends, and going to see new places sound fun to you? If so, ISSS invites you to join our Wilderness Week program to northern Minnesota.

Dates are August 18-22, 2011. This will be a great chance to meet students from all over the world. All international and US students (new and returning) are eligible. This is your chance to try (or try again) canoeing, hiking and camping in Minnesota! Enjoy campfires, stories, and time to meet new friends before the semester begins.

The cost of the trip is $395.00 per person. This price includes transportation, meals, group equipment, and guides.

For information email isssww@umn.edu, visit http://isss.umn.edu/programs/wildernessweek/ or call 612-626-7100.

Don't delay and miss your chance! When we talk with graduating students about what they wish they had done while at the U, exploring other areas of Minnesota and especially nature are top on the list.

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Most beautiful snow

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Norwegians say, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."

As we prepare for another bout of the white material, what can you do to make the most out of a snow-heavy February?

Happy New Semester, readers!

Spring semester 2011 is here! I'm happy to come back to this blog.

Actually, this is the busiest semester for me ever, but I'm doing pretty good. A lot of study, work, but many fun events as well. Are you wondering how come that I enjoy the winter in "Minnesota Cold"?

Here is what's going on here... :)

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Off campus activities category.

Friendship/Social life is the previous category.

Travel is the next category.

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