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February 29, 2008

Why did I come to the University of Minnesota?

There are three main reasons which made me decide to come to university of Minnesota.

First reason which made me decide to come to the University of Minnesota is my department, biomedical engineering. Actually I transferred to the University of Minnesota, and before I transferred, my major was bioengineering. When I was planning to transfer to the university, I thought that the bioengineering major was not my interest. So I really wanted to transfer to other areas. However, as I was not so confident with other engineering courses, I decided to go for biomedical engineering, thinking that it will be kind of similar with what I was doing. Later, it turned out that I was completely wrong. Nothing was similar between biomedical engineering and bioengineering.

The second reason why I have selected the University of Minnesota, is because the higher possibility of getting a job. Minnesota is popular for lot of things, but one of the things which attracted me was that Minnesota had very big market of biomedical industry. That was a great merit for me as I was planning to get a job in the United States.

Third reason is weather. I like cold weather. Actually, before coming to the United States, I got a chance to decide where I should go between Texas and Minnesota. Definitely I chose Minnesota. I heard that Minnesota is very snowy place, and I really liked snow (and I still like it).

I never care about name value of university. I came to the university for something that I want to do or something that I like. I think it was a great choice to come to the University of Minnesota. I still have so many things to say about the U but I guess I should postpone it to later, as the article seems to get quite long to read. See you~

February 28, 2008

20 credits with a cup of coffee....

Have you ever wondered how many credits you should take in the U? It depends on what kind of person you are and what kind of college-life you would like to have. Taking too many credits at one time might be another kind of suicide!
No Kidding...

I am taking 20 credits (maximum amount without further approval) right now including physics, calculus, writing, etc. My schedule is really packed, I have at least 4 classes per day; from early in the morning to 9 o’clock at night! AMAZING HUH? What more is I still have to work during the gaps....

In order to maintain your academics and restore a good mood at the same time, keeping an organized schedule and using your leisure effectively is what I strongly recommend! Keep your study materials with you most of the time incase you might want to kill time.

On my busy days, I often spend my one and a half hour break sipping a cup of heartwarming coffee with one of my favorite books to read. Human beings are born to live their lives with each other, but sometimes we all need a little bit of personal space; perhaps sitting in a cozy cafe with a cup of refreshing tea....

By Cherry (sipping a cup of Coffee)

Still hesitating? Check this out!

During the last few months since I first came to the University of Minnesota, there have been many people asking me the same question that is “Why do you choose this university?? To answer this question, I would like to bring out three main reasons.

First, I believe I am not the only one who concerns about the ranking of a university when evaluating it. The University of Minnesota ranks around top 30th among all the universities in the whole world. It is also very famous for its almightiness, since all of the colleges that engage into fields variously are all very outstanding.
Second, the University of Minnesota regards scholars with great talents very much. Students who applied to the U of M would be automatically evaluated according to their achievements, and scholarships up $6000 per semester would be offered to those who are the most competitive students. The scholarships are very important attractiveness for me, because the tuition for international students can be very expensive.
Third, the University of Minnesota has a very good policy for all the International students’ future career. After the first year studying in the U of M, international students can apply for the internships out side the universities to gain more bonuses to their resume while enriching their life out side the campus. Other than that, every international student is allowed to work up to one year in the States after graduating from the U of M. This could be very helpful in building up students working experience, considering many headquarters of top 100 companies are located in the state of Minnesota.
In short, except the winter is too long in Minnesota, I love everything here. I truly feel studying here is so much fun. While I am learning life long knowledge, I also make a lot of friends from all over the world. So don’t hesitate anymore since the deadline is coming, because you deserve the best education and the most fabulous college experience.

Making the right decision!!

It is time for most people to decide which University to go to after receiving their acceptance letter from the universities that they have applied. Some will be accepted to all the universities while others will have fewer acceptances from the universities. Thinking back on how I decided to pursue my Bachelor degree in U of M, I always laugh at myself.

To make the long story short, I am a sponsored student and my sponsor chose U of M as the right university for me. I only applied to U of M and also Colorado School of Mines to pursue a degree in Geophysics, and got accepted to both of the U. I also applied to Imperial College in United Kingdom for a Geology degree by myself and also got accepted. But in the end, my sponsor chose U of M, and little did I know the reason why until I arrived here in 22 August 2005.

I should have known that my sponsor would not make any decision without carefully consider each option. They sponsored around 230 students a year to study abroad in United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand and not to forget United States. At first, I was a bit sad not being able to go to Imperial College in UK as it is one of the best college for geology. But once I started my study here, in U of M, I changed my mind completely.

First of all, our department here, Department of Geology and Geophysics is a small department, with a total of around 50 students doing an undergraduate degree. All the faculties are very helpful and friendly, and they even help me to get an apartment in University Housing, as well as get me admitted along with my 8 other colleagues, We applied to the U pretty late, around June if I'm not mistaken, and yet we still got accepted, and assigned an apartment in University Village. The department also assigned one faculty to take care of us, and continuingly provide us with useful information. They even gave us a ride from our apartment to the departmental picnic in St. Paul, just to make sure we will be involved in the department activities. One time, the professor and the head department invite us to a dinner in Peninsula restaurant (the only Malaysian's restaurant in Minneapolis!) and best of all, it’s on the house!

Just basing my judgment on the department and my sponsor's decision, I know that I have made the right decision by coming here at U of M to do my Bachelor of Science degree. There are also other factors that later on reaffirmed my decision such as the fact that this University is very big, thus allow you to take a lot of other unrelated courses for your enrichment. Another good news, next semester, U of M Twin Cities will cut their undergraduate tuition fee for nonresident (including international student) from USD 9790 to USD 7975 per semester in Fall 2008.

Current undergraduate tuition rate
New undergraduate tuition rate for Fall 2008

February 26, 2008

I speak Canadian

When I first arrived as an international student at the University of Minnesota, I was naive regarding the cultural differences that I would face. Being from Canada, I had visited the U.S. on many ocasions and believed it to be not unlike the country I grew up in. It looked the same, sounded the same and I would often forget that I was an international student at all. But then ocasionally, I would be reminded.

Once I arrived on campus, it did not take long for my roommates to start noticing differences in the way I spoke. As they would put it, I speak Canadian. There are many phrases and terms that I used that my roommates had never heard before. But to me, the differences were so small and subtle that I did not even notice, and it was months before it was ever brought to my attention. In one specific situation, there is a Canadian word "tuque" (pronounced like tuke, rhyming with the word duke) which is what we call a winter hat, that I was always using. Once it started getting colder outside and I started mentioning the word "tuque" more frequently one of my roommates finally confronted me about the situation. It was a weird experience, because, as I said, I seldom thought of myself as a foreigner, but after this, I never really forgot.
Once we got the whole "tuque" thing out of the way, all of a sudden the flood gates opened and my roommates made me aware of every "Canadianism" that they had notice in my language, and there were a lot. I realized how oblivious and even ignorant I had been regarding the cultural differences that existed, and it was a very eye opening experience.
There were a lot of things that I learned during this experience. Firstly that cultural differences will be everywhere, and will exist even if you can not see them. I thought that because everything looked the same, and ran on a lot of the same principles as where I am from, that it was all exactly the same. I was also surprised that it took so long for me to be notified of these differences, but my roommates never said anything for fear of being impolite.

This situation would never have reached the stage that it did if I would have been a little more open minded to what differences could exist. If I would have made more of an effort to uncover the cultural/linguistic differences, they would not have blind sided me like they did. More specifically, I should have talked to my roommates about this topic, and gotten their input early on.

Even after being here for close to four years I am still realizing cultural contrasts every day, but instead of that being distracting, I find it interesting. Most importantly, since moving here, I have learned to embrace the differences and have realized how much my Canadian culture has made me who I am.

February 25, 2008

Small strategy to be with class

I know quite many people who struggle during exam time. From my points of view, it is because they study for the exam on the night before the exam! it is impossible to memorize or understand everything at once. So what i would recommend you to do is to do the assignments on time. So that you would understand it while you are doing it and all you have to do is just to rewise them. ;)

February 24, 2008

just relax...

Many students begin to feel stressful since the midterms are coming. Please stay calm and try to arrange your time because you will find you can be extraordinary productive. "Study hard, play hard." It is always the easiest thing to say but the hardest thing to do. Don't be too pusshing to yourself and try your best to balance your life.

Here, I am going to suggest some amazing spots for you to hang out with your friends, so just relax for a while.

The best place to check out is always the Coffman Union. They have free movies for U of M students, great parties every Friday and Saturday night, and also wonderful workshops for ambicious students. Want to know more? Just check out their website at

If you prefer to spend time by yourself, there are many libraries you can go. In addition, you may be supprised to find some Museum Adventure Pass at counters. Those passes are like free tickets to almost every museum in Minnesota. It is definitely a good way to relax while learning something.

Recreation Center is always my favorite. It is free to get in for all U of M students. They have very nice swimming pool, basketball fields, training equipments, and many other services. You can also buy a fitness pass to attent classes like yoga and aerobics. There is no better options than doing some exercises in the REC Center, cause while you release yourself, you are also getting healthier!

Want to know more? Tell me what you like, I can always find the best spot for you to relax!

February 23, 2008

Those crazy weeks...!

After about one month of homework, simple assignments and reports due, I had my first midterm this previous week....!

Midterms are exams that account for at least 20% of your final grade in a class. Usually the work distribution in a class is about 3 midterms and one final for the semester. You may have additional homework, quizzes. This is the case in most science classes. Sometimes instead of the final, the professor might want a paper with a topic related to your class and this usually happens in non-science related classes (History, Art, Languages...).
So I had my midterm in Thermodynamics...and actually it went pretty well!! The midterm reflected exactly what the professor advised us to study, that's, the homeworks (most of them done in study groups), the readings in the book and some extra exercises to totally get the concept...
....And I said "Those crazy weeks...!" because there will be some periods in your semester where you will have midterms in 2 or 3 consecutive weeks (depending on the number of classes you are taking!). And you might feel stressed!! But that only happens when you study the night before, never go to lecture and don't keep up with assigned work...! If you actually do the opposite of that and take the time to study and I mean 3 to 1 day before, you get more out of it and certainly get a good grade!
.....So remember, plan in advance, don't study the night before unless it's scuba diving and you are sure to get a good grade!!
......The finals are about 2 months from now. They are always at the end of the semester. So I don't have to worry about it now... ;).

English is very hard language

English is so hard for every international students. At least that's what I think.

Few days ago, I was having a group meeting with my lab partners. We were talking about how to organize our lab report. There were total four people in our group, and two of us left the group meeting early. One other group member and I were left there, finishing up our report. We realized that the result part which was done by one of the group member who had left was completely wrong.

Sarah: Do you mind fixing the result part?
Don: Yeah!!!!! (I meant ‘I will fix the result part’)

What reaction do you expect from Sarah? She was… I think she was annoyed for an instant, and then she reminded that I was an international, so that she did not care about it after then. Actually I was the one who was completely annoyed, after realizing that I made a mistake.

Today, right now, I’m in library. About an hour ago, I just made a same mistake again.

Maria: Do you mind looking over our stuff for a little bit??
Don: Yeah. Sure. (I meant ‘I will look over your stuff.’ So I was nodding also.)

Well… as Maria had a lot of international friends (or maybe because I was nodding), she was not annoyed at all but actually I was annoyed again after realizing that I just made a same mistake which I have made a few days ago.

It seems pretty stupid that although I have lived in the US for total 1.5 years, I’m still making those silly mistakes. But what I think is that you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes or misunderstanding what people say. Everyone make mistakes. You will learn by making mistakes. English is a difficult language and it will take years to be able to use it fluently.

Yeah that’s what I think, but I still feel a bit stupid, for making same mistake twice (Probably I would have made more, but I don’t remember).

February 15, 2008

Some personal insights

U.S culture varies for everyone depending on which culture you belong to. Coming from Pakistan, U.S culture seemed entirely different to me especially the social norms. But the thing is that being internationals it is in our best interest to adapt the culture as soon as possible and get used to it to feel oneself as a part of where we will be living for the next couple of years or more. Things become easy if you try to make as many friends as possible and the key is that "Be the first one to introduce". People here like to help but you want to be able to ask for it. So don't be shy and just express yourself, you will be adored.