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March 31, 2008

Pi day and earth hour day!

Well I learn something this month. My statistics classmate asked me March 14 if I knew Pi day. I though she said "Pie day" first...which was kind of weird. But no, she was talking about Pi day (3/14) as in Pi the number that's 3.141592654.....isn't that interesting?!?!? And that day happens to be Einstein birthday too!!!

The other one was Earth Hour day, March 29.................

.........................where people participating to the event had to switch off their lights for one hour (8pm to 9pm local time) as an awareness to global warming. Unfortunately Minneapolis wasn't part of the movement, but cities like Chicago (near Minneapolis!!!), San Francisco, Toronto, Sidney, Atlanta, Montreal...participated to the event!!! Even Google had its homepage black for about 2 hours (even though it didn’t really matter in terms of reducing energy)....But yeah I found those events really interesting!!!! :)

So what's your major?!?!

Well, this will be the most recurrent question around campus in conversations you will have with students you have just met. It's one of the subjects you can use in a small-talk when you don't have much to talk about for a beginning and even if you haven't decided yet of what you want to do, you can always give some personal insights of what you like and what you are feel comfortable doing.

The University has about 18 colleges - undergraduate and graduate - from the Institute of Technology - with majors such as Aerospace, Biomedical, Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, Geophysics, Mathematics, Physics - to the College of Liberal Arts - with majors such as Art, History, Mathematics, Sociology.

Choosing a major really depends on what you are interested in, what you are comfortable doing and what you feel confident doing. With all the choices possible it's important to have an idea even if it's vague of what you want to do, this to avoid loosing a semester or a year and be able to graduate in four years. Let's say you want to do engineering, with your "vague choice" and classes every engineering major student has to take, you will be able to focus more based on the interests you find in classes. You might find it more entertaining to take mechanical or electrical engineering classes than chemistry classes and thus direct your choice to a mechanical/electrical major. Most of the time, students are undecided through out the first and possibly second year but they are able to decide of a convenient major over that period and get enrolled in it for a degree.

On the university catalogs website, you have the possibility to explore majors and get a taste of what are the requirements for each them. Most students have to take an English composition class and most engineering students have to take classes for "liberal education requirements", which are basically classes in social sciences, humanities, public ethics or international perspectives to extend their knowledge beyond science matters.

Here is the university catalogs website address: http://www.catalogs.umn.edu/programs.html and you might also find it useful to visit the university career services website: http://www.career.umn.edu/major.htm and a reference for all the college in the Twin Cities campus: http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/02_acad_coll.php

March 26, 2008

Can you cook?

I started cooking after coming to United States. To be honest, I didn't wanted to cook, but I had to.

Do you guys cook?

As an international student, food can be a big problem. You might even say that ‘Oh I love steaks, pizza, hamburger, cheese and all those western foods so the food will not be any problem for me’, but… let’s see how long your word goes. ?

I never cooked before coming to the United States. To tell the truth, I did cook… but I couldn’t eat the thing that I have made. So, after coming to the United States, I had to eat pizza, hamburger, salad, sandwich and some other similar stuff, as I couldn’t cook. I ate those foods for 1 and a half year. Yeah, I got quite worried that I might get some kind of illness or something by those foods. I am not saying that the foods that I had mentioned are bad, but as an international student, those diets may be bad for your health if your body is not adjusted to the western foods.

Although I had those worries, I didn’t change my diet until last December. I thought cooking would be more time consuming and challenging than eating meals outside. However, after staying in the Minnesota for 1.5 year, I got a chance to go back to Korea for two weeks. During those two weeks, I ate Korean foods for all the meals. I didn’t realize until coming back to the Minnesota that I missed those foods so much. When I came back to the Minnesota, I suddenly felt that I can’t eat those western foods anymore. I missed my country’s traditional food so much. Then I started to cook…

Still my cooking skill is very poor. And I am never proud enough to show my food to other people. But I love my dinner which is made by my own hand. ?

Above story can sound quite personal, but actually international students usually get to learn cook their own foods. If you decide to buy your meals, there are many things to consider such as cost of a meal (usually quite expensive), health, and so on. I think it is pretty good idea to be able to cook their own food. ?

feel troublesome? just ask for help!

Hey, everyone, I just got back from Florida. The weather there was wonderful. Everything was like in a beautiful dream. However it is time to come back to the real life in Minnesota!

Home sweet home. No matter who you are, the University of Minnesota is always like your home. People here are very friendly. There are many student organizations that are willing to help students solve all kinds of problems. The most helpful organizations are Christian related. One of them is called China Outreach Ministries. They offer great help to Chinese students. If you are a new one, they help you find place to live. They also host students who have no place to live in a short period of time. They are very considerate that they will pick you up at the air port since they know it is your first time here and probably with many many pieces of luggage. Once you get to know them and also their family, I am sure you will enjoy the friendship with them. They don’t require you to be a Christian, they are just happy to help people who are in difficult situation. Their website is: http://www.sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/show.php?id=666.

The Chinese hospitality center is another big organization which is located in St Paul campus. People there are really nice. Every other week, they have parties so that people can sit together and share their unique experience. Friendship dinners are hosted every month. After the dinner, special guests would give lectures about Christian life. There you can have nice food, learn something about American Culture and make many good friends. It is a good spot to check out. Here is their website http://www.chinesehc.org/.

There are also tons of other organizations that I believe that at least one of them will meet your need. As international students, we are far from our parents and we are all by ourselves. It is hard, but no longer with friends who are willing to share our difficulties and also happiness.

March 14, 2008

So how nice is it exactly here?

Well recently we have started to warm up a little bit. We are in the 30s-40s Fahrenheit (so 1 to 6 degrees Celsius) and people are switching from the triple layers to a simple T-shirt around the freezing temperature of the water!!

As opposed to some misconceptions, it is not permanently cold in Minnesota. The winter might be harsh, but the summer is difficult too. The hot summer might not be as bad since people don't have to deal with the snow or the frigid wind but still. I come from a city where it is 25-30 degrees Celsius, all day of the year, and here I truly enjoyed having that change in seasons. It's like, if you don't the warm anymore, just wait a couple of months and here comes the snow, or if you are tired of triple layers with a hat, scarf, gloves and some boots to "fight" the 3 inches of snow, here comes the spring!! My favorite season though is the fall, because you come out of the hot summer, and mild/cold pleasant temperatures come along, refreshing and just...nice!!! The spring is different because an increase of temperature by 10-20 F (i.e. from 20 to 30) and you feel like it's 60 F!! That's why people are simply wearing light clothes...
So Minnesota do have cold winters, some days with temperatures below 0F (that will be about -24 degree Celsius), some nice days with a simple breeze (20s F), some snow days with a lot of traffic-jams and road accidents, but also a lot of fun for people who like to ski. All you need is a really good coat to help you out, with a scarf, gloves, a hat or a head-band and you might to get some boots too!
Like I said, fall and springs are nice. The summer is an entertaining season. Might be hot but there are a lot of activities on campus at that time and since the days are longer, people are more active!

Transfer to another college in the U of M

Last week , I talked about transferring from another foreign university to the University of Minnesota (U of M). Today, I am going tell you something about transferring college after your first year you are here if you want to try something new.

A lot of students don't have any idea what they want to do in the future in their freshman year of sophomore year. Fortunately, that's totally fine, because it is not necessary to declare a major before the third year of your college life. In most cases, students apply for the College of Liberal Arts and study some general courses. And then, after they get to know more and more about their interests and career trend, they can apply to transfer to their favorable college. This is a quite normal thing happening here in a U.S. university, and remember, U.S. is famous for its flexibility.

As a transfer student during my sophomore year in the College of Liberal Arts, I discovered that I am interested in business and finally I decided to transfer to the Carlson School of Management and study Finance. After consulting with my advisers, I figured out the procedures of transferring college. Usually, the deadline application of transferring is March the 1st. So, during the winter break, I prepared all the documents such as personal statement, application forms and resume. When I was writing my personal statement, I was asked to explain why I am interested in the area and capable for studying it. I found this very helpful since it gave me a chance to think through who I am and what I really want.

Other colleges such as IT or EE may have different requirements. But don't worry. After you get here, you can always talk with your adviser. They will guide you step by step till you reach your academic goal.

March 13, 2008

Politically incorrect

My first semester at the University of Minnesota began in September of 2004. I was the only non-American in my group of friends, something that was seldom noticed in most conversations and situations. But what was special about this point in time, was that in November of 2004, there was to be a presidential election.

Now, in Canada, politics are definitely important, but I can not say I ever witnessed anything close to the hype that surrounds American politics. Friends of mine were fighting due to differences in opinions regarding candidates, and I was surprised by the personal nature of some of these disagreements. In Canada I always felt as though who the candidates were was far less important than what they planned to do. Things like the federal budget, health care and taxes were central, with ethical issues being either secondary or non-existent. As such, I was shocked by the emphasis friends of mine were putting on a candidate's religion, or opinion on gay marriage or abortion. The election was all anyone talked about from October through the new year, and it was hard to be an outsider. Everyone was supposed to have an opinion, and I didn't know enough to have one. My friends seemed to always forget that I was Canadian, because more than once a week, someone would be asking me who I was going to vote for and why. When I did express an opinion relating to what I thought should be important, I often found myself to be standing alone. Apparently I was wrong in my political assumptions or Politically Incorrect.

While at times it did get tiresome to keep hearing all of the same discussions, arguments and criticisms surrounding the election, it was also a great opportunity to learn. Seeing the differences between the Canadian and U.S. political systems was a real eye opener, for they seem so similar on the surface. I learned more about this country in those first four months of being here than I did in all of the next three years combined. It is interesting if you do not mind being more of an observer for a while. It would have helped a lot to have had more international friends who could relate to my situation. As a resource I often sought out my friends from home during this time to talk about the whole situation, and just to have someone to talk to who understood exactly what I was going through.

I bring this up now because in November of this year there is another presidential election. Right about the time that many of you will be half way through your first year here, you will be going through the exact same thing that I did. It is predicted that this election will be even higher profile than the one i experienced because of the diversity of the candidates. Campus is already alive and buzzing around the presidential race and it is still half a year away, come September it could very well be chaos.

Though the hype surrounding the election can be somewhat overwhelming, there is no need to be intimidated. Actually, this is an extremely exciting time for U.S. politics, and as a result, world politics, and to be there for the excitement could be a truly insightful experience. A wonderful opportunity to sit back and observe the U.S. political process in order to get an idea of what this country is really about, and how it runs.

How often do you check your email?

Email, short for electronic mail has become a more prominent type of communication worldwide, and it is a primary way of communication here in the University of Minnesota.

My first email account was set up when I was twelve, around ten years ago! I've never really use my email except for occasional e-card greetings to my fellow friends. Even my high school do not have email address database for all the students, and most of the time, they will either use telephone or mails as a primary way of communication with students. So, to be honest, I rarely check my email, usually once a week or once a fortnight, right until the time when I applied to University of Minnesota. When I got accepted, the first few things that I am required to do is to initiate an internet account that will also be my official UofM email account. This account was assigned by using part of my last name and numbers.

So, after a few weeks has passed, I went to my email account to check if there is any email sent to me, and to my surprise, there is at least more than ten emails from the university!! And the worst thing is that some of the email requires a really fast response! I have never accustomed to have urgent matter being sent through email. Luckily, I still received ordinary letters of the same content that I already attended to. From that onward, I will always check my University email account at least once every 3 to four days.

When I arrived at University of Minnesota and started my classes, email has been used frequently by almost all my lecturers and teaching assistants as a primary method of communication, where announcement about the class, assignment and questions were handled through email. Now, I always check my email a few times a day, something that I would not have done if I am still studying in my country. Almost every student have their own pc, and if they don’t have one, there are plenty of computer laboratory around campus and residence hall that can be used by students free of charge.

Apparently, using emails as a primary way of communication is a part of American culture that I am not aware of before I came to the University of Minnesota. So don't forget to check your email frequently as email is being used to deliver urgent messages that sometimes require really fast attention.

March 8, 2008

where to live off-campus?

To find where to live while studying in the University of Minnesota is the most important thing before leaving for the US. A good place to live not only means a high productivity but also means a happy mood everyday. There are many options that you can choose from. If you are not ready for living completely independent, then living on campus is better; while if you want to explore more, then I would suggest you living off campus.

Most people who live off-campus share apartment or house with several close friends. When I first came to the US, I rented a room in a private house. At the very beginning, everything seemed stunning. The garden is pretty, the furniture is unique, and the house owner seemed to be quite friendly. But with time passed by, more and more problems came out. The house in the US is not well-protected, that means people can easily crash into your room through the window. Some of my friends told me their computers had been stolen. Also, some of the house owner can be disasters. My former house owner is a very mean person. She tried to let us pay her more money by cheating us. Last December, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I moved out to Chateau, an apartment building in Dinky town, which is within walking distance to the campus.

There are several apartment buildings around campus. Those off-campus apartments are much cheaper than living on campus. Chateau is a very good representative. In most cases, 4 people will share an apartment with two bathrooms, one kitchen and one living room. Although furniture are not provided, they are very cheap in second hand stores, and sometimes you can just pick them up at the first floor when someone else through them away. The rent is around 350 per month, including electronic fees, water, cable, and internet connection. Compared with living on-campus, it saves a lot of money. Also, since there are only 4 people living together, it is much safer than living with 6 or 8 people in a house. I feel much freer now, and I also make more friends living in this apartment building because we can always meet each other in the playing room of the building.

In short, according to my personal experience, if you want to live off-campus, I would strongly recommend you apply to apartment buildings instead of houses. I wish you a good luck!

March 7, 2008

Dorms or not?!

Dormitory is always where freshman and International Students stay when they first come here. Living in the dorms is always a good chance for you to learn more about American Culture. And of course, I am living in one of the dorms right now...

I still remember the day when I first moved into the dorms...I was grabbing two huge suitcases in my hands(it's actually not a big deal) while everybody else was carrying their own plasma TV, nice couch, fridge, comfy pillows and cushions.

Although I got assigned into a single room, having my little bit of privacy, I still have a pretty exciting and fun dorm-life! The whole building is divided into floors and then into different "House". Every house has a CA, he or she is responsible for almost everything in that House, no matter safety issues or organizing various activities.

All of my hall mates are really nice and friendly; we always have our house dinner thing on Thursday nights! We gathered outside the CA's room and headed off to the dining hall. We talked and discussed about different topics in a really peaceful way... Sometimes After dinner, we hang out again in one of our hall mate’s room, we watched TV, played Wii and board games together.

Having fun is obviously the best party of the dorm-life, however, there's still some other stuff going on....
And I will talk about it later....

Difference between transfer and newcomer

Will there be any difference between transferring and applying the university as a new student?

I transferred to the university two years ago as a sophomore (second year in the university). But actually I feel like a newcomer as there are a few differences between freshmen (first year in the university) and transfer students.

Difference1: Starting in the middle of the university curriculum.

One difference between the transfer and freshmen student is, definitely that the transfer student has more credits (which are acquired at the previous university) so that they get to start in the middle of school curriculum, graduating earlier than freshmen. The credits which the transferred student had acquired in the previous university are mostly accepted (that’s what happened to me).

Going back to the merit of transfer students, graduating early can be a merit for international students, as the tuition fee for international students are very expensive compared to national students. But for my case, it was not perfectly good. I was accepted to Korea University in the year 2002 and attended three semesters. After that, I had to serve military service for about two and half years. I transferred to the university as soon as I finished my military service. So there was lack of study for about three years. In this case, starting in the middle of curriculum can be a challenge. In my case, I forgot everything that I had learned in the previous university, so I suffer with that sometimes for skipping basic physics course and calculus courses.

Difference 2: Preparing housing

Another difference between newcomer and transfer student is that the university tries its best to provide dorm for freshmen, but there is not a lot space for transfer students. I did not know that, and I had to find my room off campus (which was expensive and had a lot of defects) after arriving to the Minnesota. So, the transfer students must be a bit more prepared to the university before they come to the Minnesota.

Hmm. That’s what I can think about for now. I should add some more information later. Actually the housing thing has its own major topic so I should talk about it later, too. Stay tuned~

How to get around!?

Well Minneapolis has a pretty extensive transportation system. Besides taxis, people mainly get around using buses. The main company providing those services is called Metro Transit. There are others, like Southwest, but Metro Transit can get you to almost every place in Minneapolis, Saint Paul or remote cities.

Students who commute usually have the U-Pass. It's a card that students can buy from the University transportation system. It's pretty cheap, $64 dollars for one semester. And you can use it on any Metro Transit and Southwest busses, as much as you want and anytime, anywhere in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. It's not restricted to campuses areas and you don't even have to worry about recharging it. Without that card, you can either pay your ticket when you get in the bus ($ 1.50 or $2.00 for rush hours), or get what's called a super saver. It usually has less credit ($25 or around) and if you choose that one over the U-pass for a semester, you actually lose. With that super saver, the average commuter pays $4 per day, so about $88 per month. Compare that to $64 per semester (that's 3 months in the fall, and summer, about 5 months for the spring!!!).

Besides buses, Metro Transit also operates the Hiawatha Light Rail. It's a faster way to get to places like the MSP (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) airport or the Mall of America. And one more reason to come here in Minnesota: they've got the biggest mall in the US!!! That Mall is huge, a lot of stores, for anything you would like to buy and a lot of distractions!!!

And another thing, if you want to get around the Minneapolis Campus or the Saint Paul campus, or go from one campus to another, the University provides free campus connector, which will get you around. In fact it's included in your tuitions&fees, but when you get in the bus, you don't have to show any pass or anything. The waiting time varies (week, week end, fall/spring, summer, no holiday services) but they are another easy way to get around.

March 6, 2008

Why this cold freezer?

Sometimes when I am lying on my bed, looking outside the window, I can't believe that I have been away from home for almost half a year. The fact that I am already a College student is so amazing! It always reminds me how tiring but significant the whole application process is to me…

Studying abroad was just someone’s dream when I was small. I didn't really have it come into my mind until the summer in 2006. I was taking an SAT class just to improve my English (HAHA, yup) and start knowing a lot of stuff about college application. I have always dreamt of pursuing my studies in an interactive and open classroom like what I am having right now in the States. Moreover, as I am particularly interested in Science and Math, Colleges in the U.S. will have a lot more resources, opportunities and advanced technology than what schools in Hong Kong can give me.

After I got my SAT result, which is NOT that bad, I started doing all the research on the Schools which are prestigious on the majors I like, Chemical Engineering and Pharmacy. MIT, UCLA, etc, are definitely the best schools in the States, however, I don't want to be in too much stress and drive myself crazy. Then, I began to question myself about "What I really want" during my college life. I want to lead a pleasant and excited life and at the same time prepare myself for the future. And I am sure that it’s an important journey to discover my inner qualities and find out who I really am.

Finally, U of M: a really good school in Chemical Engineering; located in a comparably quite and less tempting state (Think about California or New York) is actually the best choice for me!

By Cherry (Staying in my warm cosy room)

Second Home

Anxious, sixes and sevens, sleepless… if you think I am describing symptoms of some mental illness, you are probably wrong. Actually that was what I felt like right before I left for the US.

And a big reason for my anxiety is that I hadn’t found an apartment yet.

Looking back what I had been through, I just can’t help laughing at myself.

Generally, if you are first-year student of UM and you choose to live on campus, you will be guaranteed to get a dorm room. Of course, some of you will prefer to live off campus in consideration of economics as I did.

Before I was going, I had reached some potential roommates through the school housing website, where you can find a bunch of rental lists. However, I would not sign the lease until I had checked out the room myself. That means for the first few nights, I needed some place to stay.

Fortunately, UM provides a reception center for all the new-coming international students as temporary hosing. And the price charged per night is much cheaper compared to hotels.
So the reception center is where I spent my first night in the US.

However, as the reception center is actually the students’ dorm, as people were moving back for the new semester, I had to find an apartment as soon as possible. Yet I did not even have time for house-checking, coz I had to attend both the college orientation and the one for international students, register for classes, oh… how could I do?

Thanks to my Host Family!

Before I left, I had reached the Chinese Students and Scholars Friendship Association, asking them whether it is possible to find a host family, where I can stay for a few days! To be honest, this is kind of my back-up plan for temporary housing. And it turned out to be my best decision ever!

Usually, host families are Christian and they are very nice people! They not just provide you with a place to live, but help you look for the apartment, drive you there to take a look and give you advice. Even though it is just a few day stay, I feel like they are just like my family!

Now sitting in my room, pervaded with the smell of coffee, I feel so lucky that I have the host family!

TALK talks!

As an international student, you may be worried about your English as I was.

I still remember how I freaked out the first time I took the discussion class, unlike the lecture when we listen to the professors, the discussion is your time to speak out. Even though I had done with all the reading material required before the discussion, I still find it so hard to follow.

There are several reasons for that.
First of all, it is true that native speakers talk faster compared to English learners, and sometimes even though you have catch up what they are talking about, it is still hard to get into the discussion. At this time, you will really get to know the difference between listening and speaking.

By now, you may get frightened! Please don’t.
All is just a matter of time. You’ll be just fine as I am now.

There are several steps you can take:

Don’t keep silent in discussion. You may feel embarrassed if you say something wrong. It is OK. The point is you are expressing yourself, it does not matter whether it makes sense or not.

It will be very helpful if you take the ESL (English as a second language) class. UM has so many amazing ESL instructors that are right here to help you. Furthermore, ESL class is a great place to meet other international students, who are “suffering? from English learning as you are. You just find out you are not alone.

Besides, we have an excellent language partner program where you can find native speakers to practice your English. Isn’t it fascinating! Take me for example, whenever I come across some expressions hard to understand, my partner always offers great help! And it is not just practicing language, also a great way to make new friends!

As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect?. As long as you practise English everyday, you’ll be just as confident in speaking English as in speaking your mother tongue!

Tough classes... :(

Last semester i took calculus at the University of Mn for the first time. I was pretty nervous about the class. because the university is pretty huge compared to my old college and i just thought that the calculus class was going to be very hard. It was very hard in the begining and i needed a lot of help with my homework. So i started looking for a tutor. I could've gone to my TA's(teacher's assistant) office hour but my schedule never worked out.
Finally i found a walk-in tutor at Lind Hall 150. Without their help i would not have made it! Plus i had a study group in my class. So that helped me a lot too. For those who will be taking really hard classes, don't worry and relax... There are many wonderful tutorings, almost in every major at the university. And also you can always find somebody in your class who would be willing to study with you and help you!

Money, money, money!

Apart from achieving excellent results in examinations and outstanding records of volunteering works and leaderships, financial needs also play important role to ensure that you will graduate from a college with flying colors. As an International student, financial needs are much more intense as we have to a large amount of tuition fees, a substantial amount to most people, especially those who come from countries that have a lower currency value than United States dollar.

Well, enough of the formality of having an introduction for my entry this week. I am lucky enough to obtain a full scholarship before I studied here, thus most all my financial needs have been taken care of. However, during my study here in U of M, I came across a lot of money-making opportunities that enable me to save some money for my future use.

U of M also allows international students to work as a part-time
student worker in the University. I worked as a student attendant in w:st="on">Java City
coffee shop (part of University Dining Service-UDS) during my sophomore year,
and now I worked as a tutor in IT, tutoring lower division IT students in
Mathematic, Physics, Chemistry and other related courses. International
students are only allowed to work 20hrs/week during the school terms and up to
40hrs/week during the breaks. There are a lot of other positions available for
students to work in the University, and it is really convenient since the
workplace is still in the University. The pay is quite good for a student
position and significantly higher than state’s minimum.

There are other ways to help your financial need, such as participating in a paid research conducted by the University, internships, loans, and Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). As I never had done any of these, it is better if I just list several websites where you can find more information about them. Most of the paid researches are advertised on the notice board around the University.

U of M Jobs search engine

Where to live

Since becoming a University of Minnesota student, I have had experience living in a few different types of housing arrangements. I have lived in University owned housing, a high scale apartment building right in the middle of campus and, as of a month ago, am now living in a three person house just off campus. My freshman year I lived at University Village, which is a University owned apartment building. It is filled mainly with freshmen, and there are actually a lot of University of Minnesota Student-Athletes that live there as well. For the next two and a half years after that, I lived in Keeler apartments, which was a seperately owned apartment building right in the middle of campus, but in January of this year, I moved out, and in the following entry I would like to talk a little bit about this transition....

Keeler Apartments was a great place to live. It was right in the middle of campus, the bed rooms came fully furnished, the apartment came with full appliances and we have our own washer and dryer right in our apartment. It is a new building and everything about it breathed convenience and ease. In order to save money, (a lot of money) I moved out this January to live in a three person house just off campus. I do not own a car, and have lived at Keeler which is right by everything, for two and a half years, and so I knew this would be an adjustment just in regards to transportation. Other adjustments included moving into a bedroom which was half the size of the one I had been in before, going from a queen size bed to a twin, going from having a dishwasher, to not having a dishwasher, and many other things. The house was older, dirtier and everything about it was just a little more inconvenient than my former apartment. All this I knew before I made my decision, but to me, I knew it was worth it. To me, the money I would be saving alone was more than enough compensation for any of the drawbacks, and once I got there I began to realize that there were other subtle benefits to living in a house off campus like that. I really enjoy the quiet. At my apartment, people were always coming in and out. In total there were 12 people on my floor, including my roommates whom I was friends with, and sometimes the constant noise and distractions could be bothersome and hindering when trying to get work done. I missed those people, as I no longer saw them as often, but saw the benefits as well. As I mentioned, I am now living off campus, which means that travel time and method is now an issue. I was unsure at first how I was going to get around, because, at first, the location of the house seemed much farther away than it is in actuality. But now, I walk everywhere. So every morning I have at least a 25 minute walk, depending on where I am going, but I have grown to find that time very relaxing. I enjoy having that time to just listen to music and be outside.

The point of this story is to help you realize that there are many different housing options, and that generally speaking, there is not necessarily one that is better than the others. There are pros and cons to every living situation, so what matters is not necessarily what each housing situation has to offer, but what it is that you need from it. Lease agreements is a major factor. Many places will require you to sign a 12 month lease that will bind you to paying for rent for an entire year, regardless of whether you are looking to live on campus for the summer. Also, your financial situation. If money is not a concern, it would potentially be very worth it to spend a little extra on location and convenience, especially if you plan on being very busy, and need to be on campus a lot. The list of considerations is endless, and you need to balance out the pros and cons of each living arrangement with your priority of needs.

One of the best ways to get information on living arrangements is to speak to people who have lived there, or who are living there currently. Many apartment building managers will put you in touch with a current resident if you ask. You may also ask the building managers, but you may get a more realistic response from someone who is not working for the building. To get contact information as well as general information like price, location, facilities you can check out any apartment building's website. Below I have listed the websites of a few apartment buildings as well as the University of Minnesota housing website and another housing posting site.

University of Minnesota Housing Website:


Keeler Apartments:


Melrose Apartments


Miscellaneous Housing Listings Sites:


Are internships and volunteer work that important?

Well, i would say it is very important. It might sound something so obvious to some people, but for me i didn't really
know the importance of gaining experience while you are in school. In Mongolia, where i came from, you just study hard until you are junior and then you can do an internship. But here, things are pretty different. You have to start volunteering or do internship from your freshman year. I find that the local students start volunteering and doing internship in their junior or senior in high school. As you get closer to graduate, and if you don't have any
experience then things get fuzzier.
Right now i am in that position. It is extremely hard to find a good internship without relevant work experience. So in
order to avoid being in such situation, let's start earning experience as soon as possible!!
You can go to Career and Community Learning Center at 345 Fraser Hall, www.cclc.umn.edu . They can help you with finding a volunteering opportunity in the twin Cities areas. personally i think that volunteering is a very good start! Good luck!

becoming part of new community...

Since i came here it has already been a year. For me it is a long time. I remember myself i felt so lonely and a stranger at a new school. I didn't no anybody except my roommate, plus i didn't know anybody from my country at the university. As days passed, I started to know people and my college life became much more fun. But it took a pretty long time for me. As i think back now, if i joined some kind of club at the university it wouldn't have taken a long time to make friends.

Be here...

No one would deny the importance of college even if Bill Gates. It is crucial to choose the right college to attend as far as my experience is concerned. Now as a freshman of U of M, I feel so lucky that I’ve made the right decision for my life.

In the process of applying, I was thinking about working in business field in the future, and Carlson School of Management is undoubtedly among the top business schools in the US. Furthermore, due to the great location of twin-cities, home to more than a dozen Fortune 500 company headquarters, including Northwest Airlines, 3M and General Mills, there would be plenty of opportunities for either internship or work. Hence, UM is definitely a great attraction in light of career prospects, and it is not the whole story.

As an international student, I was greatly attracted by the blended culture of US. And UM is such a diverse community where you can meet all kinds of people, students and scholars from over 130 countries! Isn’t like a place called “United Nations??

Everyday, I’ve been enjoying my life in UM, and I strongly believe that UM is a good choice for future!

March 5, 2008

Don't forget to transfer your credits!

Many international students, especially who are not native speakers, may wonder whether it is possible to transfer their former credits to a new university in the U.S. Here, I would like to talk about my personal experience about transferring to the University of Minnesota.

I studied in an international college at China Agriculture University during my first college year. I transferred 18 credits from China to the University of Minnesota and started my sophomore year in 2007. None of my credits for English Courses were admitted. However, after evaluation, most of my credits for major courses were transferred. Since I was studying in an international college, all of my text books were in international version and also, my lecturers were foreigners as well. So, it was easy for me to transfer my credits. When applying for the University of Minnesota, I was required to send all the syllabuses and detailed descriptions of my major courses, so that the relevant departments were able to evaluate them.

When the admission officers were considering how much portion of my former credits could be transferred, they also referred to my transcript. As a result, a high GPA is crucial. Don’t worry if the system of GPA in your country is different form the one in the U.S., (based on 4.0), admission officers would calculate them.

Here is a link to the website of policy for transferring credits to the University of Minnesota: http://admissions.tc.umn.edu/admissioninfo/trans_evaluation.html. Please feel free to ask more questions.

March 3, 2008

It is a lot more than liking cold...

Being an international student, you would always face a question "Why University of Minnesota" and even being a junior I still have to answer it. But when I was a prospective student and now when I am a junior, I believe there are many things I should have thought of before, and many things I wanted to think about, but lacked the resources that i could use to clear my queries. But you guys have us!

The most important thing an applicant is concerned of is the ranking and if you don't already know, believe me that University of Minnesota is ranked amongst one of the leading Universities in the World. The business school, engineering school, school of dentistry, and IT are the most competitive ones. Being a business major I was more concerned about the business school, Carlson School of Management, and as soon as I became aware of its outstanding ranking, I have overcome the first hurdle.
But is it only the ranking that matters? Not necessarily. Though it is an important aspect but it is not the only one!
International students are concerned about many other things like daily life, food, crime rate, population, residence rates etc. In my case, I have two uncles in Minnesota who live here with their families, and hence I was not that much concerned about these factors because I knew I had people who I could ask for help, and that eased a lot of my fear for coming to Minnesota. In general Minnesota is a safe place, people are very friendly and helping, and most importantly it is not very crowded and heavily populated but has enough population to be considered as one of the big states. The only hard part about living here is the cold weather, especially when you are coming from a warmer zone. But as far as you know people who can help you with any questions and guide you through the transition of settling down, you are good. And you guys have us, the ambassadors, so nothing to worry about.

Also there is good news that the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities will cut their undergraduate tuition fee for international students or non-residents from $ 9790 to $ 7975 per semester. If you need further information, following are the website URL's:

For current undergraduates:

For prospective:

March 2, 2008

Why I became a Gopher...

Well, this is going to be a lengthy entry, because my road to the University of Minnesota was a long one. As I mentioned in my introductory entry, I play ice hockey for the University of Minnesota Women's Team. Depending on where you are from, or what your background is, you may be unfamiliar with the college sports scene in the United States. To put it simply, Division I college sports in the United States are a very big deal. Many college sports teams are glorified to the same point as professional sports teams. As such coaches will travel around the world to seek out their players and then recruit them and try to get them to come to the University of Minnesota to play for their team. This is how my exposure to the U of M began....

In the summer before my last year of high school I was recruited by a bunch of different universities who wanted me to come play on their ice hockey teams. They would call me as often as once a week to talk to me about all that their school and hockey program had to offer, and therefore a large part of my summer was spent talking to coaches at various colleges and trying to figure out where I wanted to go. I narrowed my options down to five schools in the United States, and the University of Minnesota was one of them. Part of the recruiting process in collegiate athletics, involves taking all expenses paid fly-downs to no more than five of the schools that are recruiting you. In these on-campus visits I met many people, saw all the facilities on the campuses and basically just got a feel for the campus and how I would fit in. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit the campus, and would reccommend that to anyone who has the option. I got a feeling about this campus here at the University of Minnesota, a feeling that just reassured me that I could be at home here, and it still amazes me today how accurate that feeling was. Anyway, I looked at many different schools in the United States along with many that were closer to home for me in Canada, and there were a few very important things about the University of Minnesota that put it above the rest.

1. The hockey team: Hockey is and always has been a big part of my life, and if I were to go to a school in the United States I would be going on an athletic scholarship and would therefore be dedicating almost all of my free time to hockey. Therefore, the personalities of the players on the team, and the coaching staff were very important. The women's ice hockey team was one of the best in the country, and potentially the best collegiate women's hockey team in the world at that point, and the people were phenomenal. I wanted to be a part of a team that did well on the ice and in the classroom and also one that conducted itself with class. All of these things I found at the University of Minnesota.

2. The Carlson School of Management: as a business major, I was thoroughly impressed by the reputation of the University of Minnesota's business school. The Carlson School of Management is one of the best in the country, and to have the opportunity to study there was something that I knew would truly benefit my future.

3. The Campus: The University of Minnesota has some of the best athletic facilities in the country, as well as very great housing options, limitless computer and library access, as well as very accessible bus systems to help students get around campus. Like I said, I just got a feeling from the campus - I knew it was right for me.

All in all, when I look back on how I made my choice to become a Golden Gopher at the University of Minnesota, I see the importance of having talked to people who already went there, or having researched the academic reputation of the schools i was looking at. Truly though, when deciding where you want to go, you have to first figure out what you are looking for so that you can evaluate a school based on how it fulfills what you want and need - and whether it feels like home to you!

I have been at the University of Minnesota for four years now. I have had some highs and lows as a Golden Gopher and can count many times where I have had to ask myself whether I made the right decision all those years ago to become a student at the University of Minnesota. Truth be told, I have never once had a regret, and I am thankfull every day that I found the place for me - my only wish is that you are all able to do the same.

Why U of M?

I transfered to U of M from one small college in North Dakota. The reason i chose U of M is that i thought the city size just was perfect for me. Too big cities seems crazy to me. And U of m has a very good reputation among the universities in the US. When i came for registration at the university, the people were so friendly. I am very glad that i chose U of M.
About the weather, it wasn't a big deal for me since i came from a pretty cold country :)

March 1, 2008

How come you chose one of the natural fridges to study?!?!

Well my answer would be that, I didn't really choose. I was advised by my brother - who was studying Bmen (Biomedical Engineering) - that the University of Minnesota is a really great place to major in what I wanted. And I am liking it so far!

I had a very limited choice of universities when I was applying for college and the University of Minnesota was the only one in the Usa. Mostly because my brother was already there, but also because, moving from my home country to the Usa, I thought it was really going to help if I was with a family member. He has been around for almost four years, so he knew what was going on, how the campus life usually is, where to shop for food, where to apply for a job, or stuff like the social security number, an ID/driver license card...basically most of the things an International student eventually has to figure out. So I would say I had pretty easy beginnings at the U.
What's more, I realize now, is that the U has a lot of opportunities and a really good educational system. Besides the price of tuitions (which I will say is about the same for every University in the Usa), you get to use a lot of things on campus free of charge. There are a lot of computer labs around campus. IT (Institute Of Technology) students have about 10 rooms where there are 10-80 computers (Linux/Windows), some of them with free printing. Most libraries and the buildings of most colleges have computer labs. The university also has a wireless coverage on campus that you can connect to, on your personal computer.
There are a lot of international student associations (African Student Association, Asian Student Association) and also the university has a lot of centers to help students around (Writing center, Career Center, Tutor rooms…). Both the Minneapolis and the Saint Paul campuses have buildings where you can hang around between your classes to study, eat or just rest. You have advisers, both from your college and the ISSS (International Student & Scholar Services) to help you out if you need anything.
Like Don said earlier, I could go on, but let’s make a long story short. The U is Awesome!! :)