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April 30, 2008

Closing Entry - It's been great being an ambassador!

With the end of the semester nearing, and with my time at the University of Minnesota coming to an end next December, I can not help but reflect back on the entire experience that I have had here. What an amazing journey it has been; filled with lots of laughter, and countless opportunities.

When I first got here in September of 2004, I was terrified. I spent my first two nights in my apartment completely alone. My parents had to leave the day after we arrived, and my 3 roommates were not set to move in for a couple days, so it was me and a big empty apartment. What was most terrifying during those days, was this constant worry that I may have made a mistake in deciding to come to the University of Minnesota. From what I know, that will be a fear no matter where you decide to go to university. Two weeks later, after a very long, but great day, I remember having it just suddenly occur to me, that I was exactly where I should be. I felt lucky to have decided to come to the University of Minnesota. That feeling has never really left.

The experience of studying in another country can be scary though, that I know for sure. There are so many questions at the beginning, and so many concerns. I think the scariest part is just the uncertainty - there are no guarantees until you get here and try it. You can't know for sure what the experience is going to be like for you. There is no guarantee that you will love where ever it is you choose to go to school. All you can count on, is there being a lot of questions.

I have had a lot of friends of mine looking into coming to school in the U.S. and I will tell you now what I have always told them....

You really can't know until you try. Do your research before hand, do everything you can to get a feel for what that University might be like - but know that, for the most part, you just can't know for sure until you try. The most important thing in choosing a university to attend is that you go into it with a positive attitude, and you remember the things that are important to you. Take care of your school work, find ways of getting involved with other things that interest you, from club sports teams to student groups. There are a million opportunities like this offered at the University of Minnesota, as well as other schools - it is up to you to make the most of them. Be prepared for it to be difficult at times, particularly at first. Remember though, that this would most likely be the case no matter where you attended school.

Alright, I realize I have probably written far too much, but it is my last entry and I wanted to pass along as much "wisdom" as I possibly could. Please feel free to contact me all throughout the summer and even in September when you could potentially be arriving on campus. Please email me if there is anything you think I could help you with.

Best of luck,

Bobbi Ross

ross0434@umn.edu

Making friends in America

As an international student, most of you are probably hoping to have many American friends and also friends who are from the other country.

Before I came to the United States, one of the biggest plan that I had was to have many American and international friends. I kept that plan for about a year after I came to the United States. But now, my plan had changed and is to be successful in academics.

Honestly, the reason for giving up the plan of making many international and American friends is due to adjustment in the United States. I tried to have many friends when I came to the Minnesota for the first time. I got to get along with some of the American friends, who met in the classes. But still, as I was not so confident enough with using English, I couldn’t make so many friends. In the second semester after coming to the Minnesota, I made more friends, as I started to adjust to the American culture.

But at the second semester, I had never got to hang around with friends that I met in the prior semester. The only thing that me and those people did was just saying hello to each other when we passed by. And that happened in the other semester, too. Although I have made new friends in the second semester, I never got to talk with them when the semester was over. Neither my friends nor I contacted to each other. The thing that we had in common was that we just knew each other.

However, what I actually realized was that this is the college live in the America. We get along for a while and we head for each other’s way after then. That’s what I have felt. Yeah, still, you can be a friends with them forever when you keep try to contact with them and hang around with them. But for me, I had things to do. I had my school work which did not let me to hang around with people. That made me unconcerned with making friends and taking care of the relationships.

So, do you think I will have no friends here?

Things didn’t turn out as so bad. I have many friends that I still keep in touch with although it had been a long time I have met them. And I am pretty sure that I will be contact with them even after going back to Korea. I don’t think it is right to struggle to make American friends. But still, as the time pass by and you start to adjust to American culture, you will get to meet people who will be your friends.

April 29, 2008

Family Visit

As an international student it can sometimes be hard to be away from home. I personally only go home once a year for Christmas, and even in the summer usually have to live away from home in order to be able to work and train for hockey. I don't get to see my family very much, and in my first year at the University of Minnesota, that was a bit difficult to get used to. A week ago, my sister came to visit for the first time in two years, and I realized how funny it was, that since I moved away, we have become so much closer......

For years my sister and I lived in the same tiny house, with rooms that were right beside each other, and quite honestly, I probably spoke to her less than I do now. We were not close in the least bit, and it is funny to think that our relationship would improve so much at the same time that I would move to another country. This is the realization I had when she visited last week, and it made me think about the homesickness I felt my first year compared to what I think about being away now.
Now it seems for me, that sometimes it doesn't matter if you move to another country, or only move away to another city just a couple hours away, you still may get to see your friends and family significantly less. It seems as though this can just be a product of growing up. When it comes to family, however, what I have found is that it has been really easy to stay in touch, and has truly just made the time we do spend together far more valuable. It does not take long to get used to having interaction be done more on the phone and over the computer than in person. You just have to realize the value of it.

Your phone bill does not need to be atrocious either. Here are some different ways of making international calls for a more minimal expense.....

1. Buy international phone cards from local convenience stores and gas stations. Cards like "The One" are five dollars and give you up to ten hours of international call time. I use cards like this combined with a cheap phone plan, and just call my friends and families during the times of the night and week where I get free minutes on my plan.

2. Text family members to have them call you.... This works for me, because my family has an international phone plan. Depending on your land line provider this can be a good solution if it is only a small additional monthly cost to your parents phone bill. This can often be cheaper than purchasing an international Cell phone plan here in the U.S.

As well, instant messaging systems such as MSN Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger are great ways to stay in touch with friends.

Here are the web site addresses for a couple of the most common phone companies in the United States:

Verizon:

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/index.html


Sprint:

http://www.sprint.com/index.html

April 24, 2008

What is it like writing papers in English?

What is it like writing papers in English? Are there any resources on campus that you can have some comments on your paper?

Before trying writing intensive class, i thought it must be pretty tough and i tried to find some way not to take it for a while. Then, this semester, my sophomore year, i finally took my almost very first Writing intensive class, Political Philosophy. The impression i had from attending the first day of the class was Oh My God! The professor gave us a brief introduction about political philosophy. For me, it just freaked me out. However, i felt much better after a while. Actually, the professor and my TA (teaching assistant) are really nice people. Whenever i have problem with the paper, i go and ask them. Now i get pretty decent grade on my papers. Well, this is my experience that i wanted to share.

So what i learned from this experience is that don't get nervous or don't be overwhelmed by anything you have never tried before. About writing papers in English, it isn't too bad once you know where to get help. You can go to the writing centers Nicholson Hall, Appleby Hall, and many others. http://writing.umn.edu/sws/hours.htm has more information. Or you can see your TA. They will be always happy to help you!

Liberal Education requirement

Sometimes it might be overwhelming if you have to take higher level of classes in English when you are not well adapted to the classroom environment in the states. Especially when it comes to biology and philosophy.

The are certain requirements that you might find it hard. for example, ethic and civic responsibility and literature. Not every body likes same subject. So the best way to fulfill this requirement is to figure out a way that is easy and time saving. What i mean by time saving is, you can fulfill few other requirements just by taking a single course. All it takes is to pay attention to the requirement details that it actually have.

In my freshman year, i took Principles of Microeconomics. It got rid of my social science and international perspective requirements. Isn't that awesome? There are tones of other classes that does like this or even better!

Go to http://onestop.umn.edu/onestop/Registration/Additional_Registration_Information/Registering_for_Courses/Liberal_Education_Requirements.html for more info

April 22, 2008

I've just been offered a job for the summer!

I have been speaking to this one company for about three months now, and finally, it has paid off. This past weekend I was offered a full time job for the summer back in Saskatchewan, Canada where I am from. I have had many summer jobs before, but they have all been pretty meaningless. I have usually worked at places where I got the job simply because a friend of mine worked there. Jobs at golf courses, and small town restaurants that have little or nothing to do with my major, or what I eventually want to do as a career.
This summer however, thanks to U of Minnesota resources, I have locked a job that is not only fairly lucrative, but one that could potentially develop into a very exciting career.

In January of this past year I attended the University of Minnesota Job and Internship Fair in order to try to make some connections with a few companies I was interested in one day working for. I had been to other job fairs on campus and have had a fair share of experience with the job hunt in the area as an international student and as such I had a strategy while going to a job fair such as this. I have realized in the last couple years that I would like to return home to work once I graduate. This can pose problems in that it can be difficult to talk to network with companies back in Western Canada while living in Minnesota all year long. To deal with this situation I would research the companies that would be attending the job fairs in order to identify international companies that would have locations in Canada. You should always research the companies you are interested in before attending a job fair, regardless of whether you are concerned about where they have locations, but this was what I was specifically interested in. Next you have to do what you can to make an impression on the recruiter during the short itme that you meet with them, and I have found knowing a lot about their company, and just being confident when you approach them to be very large keys in making this positive impression. After speaking with them for a bit, that is when I ask about their international affairs, and see if they would be willing to put me in touch with a recruiter from Canada.
This is not the process that will work for everyone, obviously, but it sure did for me.

Before going to a career fair it is very helpful to talk to someone who has went before just to get an idea of what you will expect. The scene can be somewhat intimidating at first and so it is also adviseable to go to a career fair in the earlier college years just so that when you really do need a job, you are comfortable with the process.

April 21, 2008

Are you ready for a part time job?

Most of the students in the US have a part time job. Why? Part time job has a lot of benefits. First of all, you will earn some pocket money for your favorite food or games. Second, you will gain some working experience, which is very crucial for your future career. Third, you will make a lot of friends! Today, I will talk about how to apply for a part time job in the University of Minnesota.


As an international student, we can only work in the university for the first year. After the first year, we may work out side the campus by applying for CPT or OPT. During the school year, one may work 20 hours per week at most, and during the vacation one may work up to 40 hours. Here is a good news: we have law of minimum payment, usually wages for job positions in the university for undergraduate students range from $7.6 to $13 per hour. Most students would like to work in libraries. I have to say, it is a good choice for freshman since it doesn’t require a lot of skills and also you will have plenty of time for studying on the position. However, there is little you can learn from. Usually, doing something technically can earn a lot of money, for example web designer and grader will have higher payment.

I currently work for the Institute of Child Development as a data manager. I really like this job a lot, since I apply many things I learned from the course of statistics and business computing. I applied for this position on the university’s website, and the address is https://employment.umn.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/frameset/Frameset.jsp?time=1208826115243. Almost all of the job positions on campus recruit employees from this web system. After checking out the position you are interested in, it is time to prepare resume and cover letter. Those are very important documents since they are the very information the recruiter rely on when deciding whether to give you a call and ask for an interview or not.

Yes, I understand that as international students, we are not competitive in writing in English. But don’t worry about that. In the university, there are many career centers as well as writing center. People there are willing to help you from brainstorming to revising final drafts. They are totally free to the students in the university, so use them as much as you need.

If everything goes well, you may receive a phone call from the recruiter. They will schedule a time for you to go to their department for a interview. Be sure to prepare for the questions the night before the interview and be confident. Let the recruiter see that you are the one they can trust.

How many credits per semester?

How many credits would it be appropriate? How is it going to affect my graduation plan?

Well, i would say you have to be very careful about how many credits you take. Not all the students know how busy you gonna be and also if they can handle it or not. If a student is registered for too many classes and can not keep up with the class work, then it is going to be a major problem. So i personally want to suggest to stick with fewer credits in the first semester or so just to catch up and adapt to the new environment. then, later on, you would have known how much you can handle, you can add up the load in the coming semesters.

For me, i took 13 credits in my freshmen year and then later on i started taking 16 and 18 credits. I know many students that set up a goal to finish college in 3 years and take more than 20 credits. So, if you are sure of yourself that you can handle it, then go for it.

By staring from a 13 credits a semester didn't really hurt my graduation plan. If i take a summer class this summer, i will graduate a semester ahead. All i wanted to say is that if you can plan everything on time and stick to it, there is no problem. Well, Good luck Guys!! College is full of adventure

Full time student

How many credit do we have to take in order to be a full time student?

There is a 13- credit policy at the University of Minnesota. It is basically, we have to take classes of 13 credit or more to keep our legal visa status as a full time student. For more information about the 13 credit policy, you can go the the following link.
http://onestop.umn.edu/onestop/Registration/Additional_Registration_Information/13_Credit_Policy.html

April 18, 2008

Minneapolis!?!?

Besides being in the state of 10,000 lakes, Minneapolis is a really entertaining city. If you are a football/baseball fan, you will enjoy the Vikings, Twins, Gophers, and most of all, the TCF stadium currently being constructed on-campus for the Gophers.

Here is a picture of the city I took last summer from a dorm room. The big bubbly white construction is the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome, one of the most popular stadium in the city since it's the Twins stadium. It's located in downtown Minneapolis and from the University campuses; you can easily get to it by taking busses going to downtown. I know that the three routes connecting the campuses to Downtown will get you to the stadium directly, but if it happens that you take a different route, you can always catch the Light Rail in downtown and it will get you straight to the Metrodome!

Image003 (2).jpg

Besides the Metrodome in Downtown, you have a lot of stores/places/companies like Macys, Gap, Target, Barnes&Nobles, Wells Fargo (If you happen to see any photo of Downtown Minneapolis at night, Wells Fargo has the bright yellow building!), Target Center (where you could have the chance to see your celebrities!). I think the IDS Center is the tallest skyscraper in Downtown along with the Capella tower (225 South Sixth) and the Wells Fargo Center!! Check out Wikipedia to see more photos or Minneapolis and learn more about the city.

How Many Classes For A Semester?

Since my beginnings here at the university, I have been taking a lot of credits per semester. One of the main reasons was that, if you take over 13 credits (which is considered full-time) with a maximum of 20 credits, the University does not charge you for the extra credits and since I wasn't able to transfer my credits, I basically had to take the same classes I had in my high school and university back home.

So during the freshman year, I had about 19 credits for the semester, most of them science classes and most them about things I have already encountered...! It was not really hard because let's take math for example; they give you an equation with a simple sentence for what you are expected to do, and even if your English is not good you can still understand it, and get really good grades in the classes.

At the U, the average number of credits per semester is 15-18. It usually suffices to get you to graduate in 4 years. Sometimes, if you plan on getting more than one major, or a major and some minors, you might have to take more than 15 one or more semester to satisfy the requirements or take some summer classes.

Since I have to meet requirement for my major, a minor and the graduate school I plan to go to, I am still on the "upper limit" of the credit students are allow to take for a semester. So far, it's going ok! I am having trouble dealing with papers and homeworks almost every week but eventually you get to organize yourself and plan your week accordingly (and get to sleep early!!! - early like 9pm not 2am in the morning!!).!

April 17, 2008

The closest grocery store

When you live close to campus, you don't really need a car. So how to figure out the grocery part?

There are number of i would say convenient store kind of place where you can get the basic necessities on daily basis. But i noticed that those convenient stores are pretty expensive. So instead of spending too much money on it, it would be better off make some time to go to the grocery store. This is how i do it. I collect my groceries on the weekends. There are couple of grocery stores on Snelling and University Avenue. You can take bus 16 or 50 going down to St Paul. These stores have almost all types of foods.

April 14, 2008

What a weekend!

This past weekend I was invited to participate in the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge. This event takes place during the Men's Ice Hockey National Championship tournament. What it is, is an event where 16 female and 16 male hockey players from all over the country are invited to compete against each other in various different categories displaying their hockey skills. If anyone has ever seen the skills challenge they do in the NHL during the all-star games, this was pretty much the exact same thing.

The actual skills challenge itself turned out to account for a truly minimal part of the entire experience. The whole event is centered around just having a good time and a memorable experience. I was there, in Denver, Colorado for four days, and had the time of my life. I met some new people, and also was surprised to see how many people I already knew from having played hockey with and against them in the past. Everything we did the entire time was paid for by Nike Bauer, and we received thousands of dollars worth of free stuff. It was awesome!!
Reminded me, once again, how much I have gained from being involved in athletics, particularly college sports. I have been given so many opportunities, and most importantly met so many great people. The same is true for Intra-mural sports that are open to anyone. Intramural sports are also a great way to get to know people and to make new friends. The University of Minnesota has many intramural teams and lots of opportunities to get involved that way.

For more information on the Intramural sports opportunities at the University of Minnesota go to:

http://www.recsports.umn.edu/intramurals/index.html

How safe is it to walk alone late in the evening around the campus?

It's pretty late, and you need to walk to your residence hall or your apartment building. Is it really safe around the campus to walk alone all by yourself?

Yeah, it happens a lot when you need to study for your exam with study group or when you go to a party with friends. This kind of situation happens to me pretty much often. it is almost impossible to go home before dark everyday. So at this point what can you do? Well, i would highly recommend you to use the Walk escort overnight service at the university. It is quite simple. Whenever you feel unsafe about walking late, you can just call them and ask for company and they will walk you to your apartment or your residence hall safely.
612-624-WALK

April 13, 2008

Saying hello to friends

What do you do when you meet a person who you know?

What do you do when you meet a person who you meet your friend? Do you say hello to them? Do you talk with them when you meet them while you are going somewhere?

I’m expecting positive answers to that question. Yeah, it’s awkward not to say hi to friends when you meet them. However, I found one thing that was quite unfamiliar to me. Sometimes, people don’t say hi. They just look at you and nod once, or do somewhat gesture (especially men). But still, I adjusted to those gestures pretty quickly. The one which I couldn’t get used to for a while was ‘questions’.

The phrase which I hear the most when I meet people is ‘how are you doing’. When I first came to the United States, this was so unfamiliar to me. At first, I answered pretty specifically such as ‘I think I am doing well these days’ or, the literature thing that you learned in elementary school, ‘I’m fine. Thank you. And you?’ It didn’t take so long to figure out how I was supposed to answer. It’s easy. ‘Good. How are you?’

The one question that I completely couldn’t figure out how to answer was ‘What’s up?’ I didn’t have any idea what the person was asking or what I was supposed to say. To find the answer, what I did was this: ask the same question to same person. So I did the same thing to the person who said ‘what’s up’ to me… However, he told me an unusual answer; ‘Hmm I’m up to midterm and reports…’ From then, I did the same thing what the person did; which is to tell everything that I have to do. Later, I heard that people usually say ‘not much’ for the answer. Yeah, that kind of answer is what people expect from you. Furthermore, people don’t expect more than that.

As a new comer, the simplest thing, saying hello to people can be confusing. But, don’t put too much meaning on that. When someone say ‘how are you’ and just pass by, people who are not friendly with US culture can get annoying feeling. But I guess that is the U. S. culture.

April 11, 2008

I’m Lovin’ It!

Having been in the States for almost one year, people (from my home country) keep asking me the same question: “How is the American food?? usually following by “Do you like burger??
Yes! I’m Lovin’ It!


Please don’t be surprised! I mean I love American food, not just burger.
Just like American culture consists of diverse elements, so does American food. It is not just about burger, pizza or pasta, you can enjoy delicacies from different countries. Take Chinese food for example, there are at least 4 Chinese restaurants dotted the Washington Avenue. And it is not that expensive. Besides there are Chiptole (Mexican), Sushi Express (Japanese), Noodle & Company (serving all kinds of noodles) and so on, you name it, we have it!

If you feel like eating-out is a little bit expensive, why not be the chef by yourself? In fact, after a long day of classes, you may feel like cooking has become sort of relaxation! And if you have never cooked before, that’s totally ok. Interestingly, you’ll find yourself such a creative cook! Just do whatever you like! And if you have the roommates, the cooking time is a great opportunity to communicate, to share your cooking experience. There is so much FUN!

Please ENJOY!

Let's hit the road!

When talking about US, you may conjure up the image of “a country on the wheel?. I t seems like everyone drives in America. Therefore, is it necessary to get a car?
I don’t think so.

If you wanna drive, first of all, you have to pass the written test, road test and vision test to get the driving license. And it cost at least $3000 or more to buy a used car. Plus all the parking fees, I don’t think it is a good choice with regard to “finance?.

Actually, you live in the dorm, it is just like 20-minute walk to the classroom, so why not go there on foot? And walking is a good exercise.

If you are living off campus, then U-pass is a must in your life. U-pass is the ultimate transit pass that provides unlimited rides 24 hours a day. Just $64 for a whole semester! I feel like once you have the U-pass, you can go everyone around the twin-cities “for free?.

You may also think about getting a bike. Well, in winter, you would realize cycling is nothing fun. It is even harder than to walk. Chances are you would keep your bike in the garage for a whole winter. So my suggestion is purchasing a second-hand bike instead of a new one, since it is not of much use.

So are you ready for the transportation? Let’s hit the road!

April 10, 2008

MAJOR is a major question!

Life is full of dilemma, and this is particularly true when it comes to choosing a major.
Shall I pick up something I am really interested in or it is better to study what turns out to be career-friendly?
It is a big question!

Since it is so hard to make a decision, why not jut take a break and give yourself enough time to think through about it?
What I did is declaring my major as undecided for the freshman year and it turns out after one year of exploration I have much more confidence in deciding where I am heading off to for the future.
Of course I am not encouraging you to do that like me, I just hope my experience could give you some thoughts on deciding your own major.

Actually, when I was applying to the U, I was thinking about taking accounting as my major. Due to the fast economic development in China, I am sure there will be a great demand for professional accountants in the near future. Yet it was just like option A at that moment because I had no idea about how was the program going at the U. Fortunately, I had the chance (actually, everyone have the chance) talking to my academic advisor immediately at the orientation. And I learned plenty of information about that program, which ranks among the bests in the US. Of course I am happy about that. Yet still I was not 100% decided because I was still looking for something I am passionate about. And thanks to the liberal arts requirement, where you have to pick up a wide variety of classes, I found psychology really intriguing. Therefore, now I decide to major accounting and minor psychology, and I am quite glad for that.

If you are still uncertain about your major, why not take the advantage of the orientation when you can ask your advisor? Or you can go to the office of career services for advice. They are all here to help you!

Link to career services: http://www.career.umn.edu/

April 9, 2008

What classes are you taking?

Besides the question about your major, the classes you are currently taking, will also be a good "small-talk" with new students you will meet on campus!

The University has an amazing online service. So besides looking for campuses map, where to study, where to eat, where are colleges, where are libraries...ect, you can check/choose later what classes you want to take on the onestop student website. The website is www.onestop.umn.edu and if you take a look at the quick link sidebar, you can see check classes, grades, holds, apas, enrollment, when do I register?...This is one way students are able to keep up with their academic performance and a way for the University/student to easily access/edit/change their information without having to look and keep up with a manila folder for each student. Most of the terms are probably not familiar, like the Apas, which is basically an audit that helps you evaluate what is your gpa, what classes you already have, what classes you need to complete your degree and other useful information....

So when you will start at the University, Onestop is a link you will often visit to check your "stuff".
About classes, for the first semester, you will probably have the help of an advisor from your college to help you decide what classes you want to start with. But if you already know the classes you want to take - usually you can find it on your college website if you already have a major - you can do a little planning in advance to choose the best schedule for you - the one with more lunch hour...or more sleep in the morning!

I like to use the website www.schedulizer.com. You can use whatever address you want and possibly not the password you have for your university to reduce identity theft. On the website, you choose the classes you want to take at the University, and the website will show you the possible schedule you can have. But you should also take in account the classes already filled...I think using that website is way easier than trying to figure out on a piece of paper what your schedule can be!
There are a lot more to talk about! So how about I finish it on the next post!?

gpa = academic success?

What is college all about for an international student?
A hundred people could offer a hundred different answers, yet as international students, we seem to be more concerned about GPA.
Here comes another question, does a high gpa necessarily represent the success in academics?
My answer would be “maybe not in the US? as far as my experience is concerned.

I used to take it for granted that gpa is everything for academic success. And it is necessarily the case in China, where we attach so much emphasis on the performance of tests, As long as you are an A student, you are automatically regarded as the model for the whole class. And you feel so good about that.

However, if you stick to the idea like that, you would find yourself disappointed.
No one would recognize you are an A student as in the US gpa is kind of privacy, furthermore, no one even cares about that.

“What? Are you kidding?? You may ask.
Actually, what I mean is GPA is something, but not everything.

In fact, those who raise their hands in the lecture would be most appropriated by professors, those who are most active in discussion section would be most admired by their fellow classmates. In a word, we appropriate students who can express themselves and demonstrate their own thinking instead of bury themselves into text books and being silent.

And it is more than that. Every professor has his/her office hour and this is a great opportunity to talk to him or her. It could be lecture question, homework problem, and even your concern about your major. Meanwhile, you can be the one who organizes the study group with your classmates. It is definitely a good way to hand out with American students!

So don’t be shy. Just express yourself! Show yourself!

What to bring to the US?

You must be very excited after getting the ticket to the University of Minnesota. I still remember how happy I was when I received the admission letter last year. In the last 3 months before leaving Beijing, I spent most of my pocket money buying stuffs to bring to the US. Shopping was so much fun of course, but it would be much more efficient to list out the items that are necessary before stepping into the malls.

So, you may be asking “What should I bring to the US?? That is a very good question. First of all, I want to tell you a good news. Most of you should have booked students flight tickets, which will benefit you by allowing bringing three pieces of luggage. Although it is a lot of space, don’t bring your quilt to the US. One reason for that is, there are quilts in the US of course, and not expensive at all. Another reason is, although it is cold in the winter, but it keeps constant temperature indoors, so you will never need quilts like what we have in China. That kind of quilts would definitely make you sweat in your dream. Pillows are cheap here as well, so why not save some space for other more important stuffs such as heavy coats or even books?

Don’t bring anything electronically except notebook and cell phone. Because the plugs are different, you will not be able to use them at all. Rice cooker, water heater and hair drier are necessary in your daily life. They can be purchased in very good deal in the US, so don’t worry about that. Some may consider bringing pot to the US. That is not necessary as well. But, bring a traditional Chinese knife is a good idea. That kind of knife is very hard to find and it is indeed very useful.

You can also bring some snacks to the US. But be careful, anything that is related to meat would be sequestrated and fined for about $200 if found. Soup flavoring and beef jerky are very dangerous to carry with. However, tea, nuts and Chinese cuisine like Mahua are all available. Instant noodle is not necessary because they are cheap in the US as well.

After coming to the US, I regret in buying to many clothes in China. Clothes here in the US are very stylish and not expensive at all, especially US is in a recession nowadays, and everything is cheaper. And also, the quality is good. The policy that you can return anything with your receipt within three months is helpful. So you can always return stuffs when you realize you don’t need them anymore.

Of course, you should definitely bring photos of families and gifts given by friends. Those are the things you cannot buy in the US and they will carry your sweet memories with you where ever you go. I would like to answer questions about specific items if you are not sure whether to bring or not. So feel free to ask, and good luck!

April 8, 2008

Spring Break in Daytona ( Travel Tips are included)

Living in such a cold place in Minnesota is always killing me.
In order to give myself a little break from the chill and all the school work,
Here I am, DAYTONA, FLORIDA
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It was a 7-day trip; a whole week in Daytona.
You might wonder how expensive it could be…
But I spent only on the flights as I was staying with one of my friends there. (Recommended)
The weather there felt so good; always between 70s-80s. It was SUNNY but windy.
After I arrived, I started doing all the research to see where I should visit and tried to meet up my friends who stayed at a beach-side hotel. (Nice but costly!)
The first destination was of course, the BEACH-side. The whole BEACH-side is actually a long coastline with several beaches.
After we met each other, we start heading to one of the malls in Daytona by bus. The bus system was so great and convenient. Everyone no matter the driver or the passenger was really helpful and friendly.
Shopping was great but it is even better in Minnesota as clothing is tax-free here.
Lying on the beach was so relaxing though I got sun-burn. X(
However, the most exciting experience about this trip was being on a private jet, which was operated by my friend.
I got to see the whole Daytona and the coastline night view as well as the sunset. And they were so pretty. I was amazed by God’s creation….

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Time goes fast; it’s time to catch up my school work again…

Several tips about traveling within the US and countries nearby
1) Always bring your passport (within the US) and I-20 or specific VISA if needed (other countries) with you
2) Cheap tickets and hostel can always be found in StudentUniverse, Cheapticket and Priceline (Links provided below)
http://www.priceline.com/
http://www.studentuniverse.com/
http://www.cheaptickets.com/
3) Flights are always cheaper on Tue/Thur nights
4) Bring a map, notepad and a pen with you all the time!
5) Check weather out online before the trip.
6) Bring enough cash incase there are no specific ATMs around.

Being by myself.....

What if there aren't many international students from where you came from?

I came from Mongolia, a country located right in the heart of Asia. There are not many students from Mongolia at the university of Minnesota. I really wanted to join one of the Asian students organizations on campus, but most of them got this specific title, for example east asian students or asian american students. I just could not find the place where i could belong. So i was everywhere, here and there. I dont really belong to certain title. I think it is very cool. i have tons of friends and i am happy. if you are in same situation as me and dont know what to do, i would say just relax and enjoy. There is no restriction only certain people should join certain club. All the clubs and student organizations are open to everyone. So good luck!!

How big is the university actually?

One of the biggest university in the states, how big actually is it to study and live?

Regarding to the Top 10 Largest Universities in the States on the website http://www.411mas.com/blog/2007/10/06/top-10-universities-in-the-united-states/, the University of Minnesota, twin Cities campus ranks in fourth, by the number of enrollment of 50,402. So over 50,000 is a huge number. The campus is pretty huge too! I remember when i first come here, i was like WOW! I was kind of overwhelmed by the size of the campus. The only question came to my head at the very moment after i have been around the campus with the tour. The question was " How am i going to survive here?" Yeah i know that it sounds funny but i felt that way. Campus buses go between east and west bank of the campus and also to the St. Paul Campus. I needed to carry the campus map whenever i go to class. If i forget my map then i am lost. It was like that in the first month. Then i got used to the "enormous" university. After i got familiar with the campus area, it doesn't seem that big like i felt in the beginning. Actually it felt "small".
And the classes are pretty huge too. Not all of them but most of them are. In my first semester, I had microeconomics class with over 300 students. So basically, you would not see the same people every semester unless you arrange to take same class with your friends. I still feel i am in new college every semester.
Anyways, as you get closer to graduate and take more of your major courses, you would see many familiar faces in the class. That is what i noticed so far. So, going to a big school isn't really that crazy, trust me :)

April 7, 2008

University Residence Hall or off-campus housing?

You might be wondering what it is like to live off-campus? how to search for an apartment? and so many other questions in your head. Well, here i am sharing my personal experience to help you to decide.

I have mentioned earlier that i really enjoyed living in residence hall. There i made many friends. In few words, it was a wonderful experience.
Anyways, right now i live off-campus, in Melrose. The proper name is Melrose Student Suite. It has been already a year since i moved in. Melrose is almost on-campus. I really like the location, it is known as prospect park area. Prospect Park area includes Dinnaken apartments, UniversityVillage, Melrose and some other apartment buildings. This area is pretty safe. I am comfortable walking late to my apartment when i study in the library. Almost until 11 pm there are many other students walking. Pretty nice huh? Also, there are many restaurants just few blocks away.

I live with my brother with an absence of arguments, lol.
The part that i like living at Melrose is that i can have my own room which means more privacy. I think that girls prefer more privacy. Maybe boys don't really care about the privacy part. In addition, the whole building is full of students and i made many friends too. It is fun when you have many friends in your apartment building.

The best way to look for an apartment is through websites. For example, university website http://www.housing.umn.edu/offcampus/, www.uloop.com, www.craigslist.com, www.apartments.com

University Residence Hall or off-campus housing?

My personal experience in living in university residence hall. Now i want to live in dorm but my brother joined me so i need to live in apartment off campus.

From my point of view, both of these options have advantages and disadvantages. Some of my friends live in residence hall and they seem pretty satisfied about living there. It is because most of them prefer not to cook. If you choose to live in residence hall, you have to get meal plan. So they are pretty happy about it. Plus all the residence halls are right in the heart of the campus. So you can just walk to your classes. Most of the residence halls have laundry on each floor, game room, tv room, and etc. They have most of the necessities that you might need in daily basis. I would say if you don't mind sharing bedroom and restroom with other people, then the residence halls are right for you! In my first semester at the university, i lived in Yudolf hall. It was right in center of the lecture halls. To tell the truth, i used to get up right before classes and be in class right on time. Between my classes, i used to come to my room take a nap or do some other things. When i first moved in, the supervisor of Yudolf hall explained me that many graduate students, juniors, and seniors live there. At that time i didn't really get what was so important about it. Later on, i just realized that Yudolf hall was pretty quite and "peaceful" compared to other halls. Personally i prefer quite environment, so i was happy about it. My brother came here last semester for school and right now we live off- campus. Anyways, yeah, i really liked living in Yudolf hall.
If you are interested in living on campus, you can visit http://www.housing.umn.edu/ And again, if you are interested in specific residence hall or if you have any question about specific location feel free to ask.
On my next entry, i am going to write about my apartment people!!

Living off campus - using the bus system

I moved off campus about two months ago, and since then, have had to think a little more critically about transportaton. It was pretty easy to get to know the U of M bus system by going to this site:

http://www.metrotransit.org/

On this site you can enter where you are, where you want to go, and it will tell you how to get there. One of my current roommates uses this bus system all the time, and has purchased a student MetroPass for $45 dollars a semester. The MetroPass provides unlimited free bus rides of all hours of the day, all days of the week. More can be learned about the MetroPass at the following website:

http://www1.umn.edu/pts/metropass.htm

If you use the website to familiarize yourself with the routes and times, and just organize your time accordingly, the bus system can be very convenient method of transportation for a very low price.

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. Trust me time would fly by and you will be back home, if you want to, before you even get a chance to get homesick.

April 6, 2008

How is life, study and weather here in Minnesota?

Recently, a prospective student from Malaysia asked me those three questions and I had replied to it personally. I just thought that I can share this with more people who read the blog as well. Just a quick note on the word course. The word "course" in Malaysia equals to the word "major" and the word "course" in America usually refered as "subject" in Malaysia. Just thought it is necessary to point this out.

Here is the excerpt from the email:
"I got admitted to U of Minnesota with several other friends. Some of us got 3 different Us, so we have to make the choice in 2 weeks time. I have been wondering how is life there at Minnesota? How's study? They say that the weather is really cold there, so how do you manage to cope with the situation? Does it affect your study? Do you enjoy your life there? My mom is a bit concern about number of Malaysian students there. She’s quite worry if there's only a few of them, but I really don’t mind. Btw, how many Malaysian students are there actually??

My response:
Good job on being accepted to the UoM. Basically life's here is great. The campus itself is located near the city Minneapolis. A lot of halal food can be easily obtained since several halal restaurants are located near the campus. And there's also halal grocery store nearby that you can go to buy halal meats etc. And yeah, it is cold up here, but not to the point that it can affect your study. The U have never really closed due to weather hazard, except for half a day last two years, and that is a rare occurrence since my professor said it was the third time ever since he started working for UoM 50 years ago. The campus is really big, so a lot of introductory classes will be large. However, as you go to upper level courses (subjects); the classes do get smaller in size. The good thing about large campus is that they offer a large variety of courses to choose from. And there are a lot of fun classes that you can take while you are here. I've taken a lot of non-required classes just for fun, such as bowling, volleyball, golf, Arabic, badminton, piano and many more. And there is quite a number of Malaysians here as well. If I remember correctly, around 60 students are Malaysians. So, I hope that will comfort your mom a little bit :).

Apart from classes, life here is great too. It is near the city, so if you like shopping or watching movies, good news for you. Students get discount for the ticket. And Mall of America is also located in Minnesota, and you can just take a bus and train to go there, using U-pass (If you are sponsored by MARA or PETRONAS, they will pay for this). If you don't like the cities, well the campus itself is located right next to the Mississippi River. And there are various lakes and state parks that you can go for picnic, a walk or biking.

Hope to see you soon in U of M this coming fall.

April 1, 2008

U.S. Collegiate Athletics

As I mentioned in my introductory entry, I play for the University of Minnesota's Division I NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Team. I want to talk a little bit about this now to give you an idea of what Division I Collegiate athletics are like in the United States, for their importance and glorification can be somewhat surprising.

For many universities in the United States, their athletic teams are a very large part of their sense of pride. Some universities are known world wide because of the success of their athletic teams. In many cases, college sports are held in the same or at least similar regard as professional sports teams.

Ice Hockey is a very big deal in Minnesota, more so on the men's side, but the women's team is also one of the most profitable sports teams at the University of Minnesota behind the high revenue sports such as Basketball, Football and Volleyball. Minnesota is referred to as the State of Hockey, and can boast having developed some of the best female hockey players in the world. I have had the opportunity to play with eight girls that have went on to play for Team USA, four of which have won Olympic medals. I, personally, have had the opportunity to play for Team Canada for a year, including a tournament in Germany in January 2007.

Here is a picture of my Team and I celebrating a goal:

Hockey.jpg


The men's hockey program at the University of Minnesota has graduated many players who have went on to have extremely successfull professional careers, and others who have also went on to play at the Olympic Level.

College athletes, in general, have almost a celebrity status in some ways, in that they can often be seen on TV and quoted in the many papers. It is a crazy and almost surreal environment to be a part of sometimes, and I can not help but be surprised every time a fan asks me for an autograph, for I can never believe that my autograph is worth asking for.

As a student, there are many ways to get involved with the athletic programs at the University of Minnesota. There are countless events to attend that are all very fun and exciting opportunities to watch some of the premier athletes in the country. For almost every weekend throughout the school year there is a sport that you could go watch if you were looking for something to do, and as an added bonus - many of the sport events are free for students!

Below are some links if you are interested in learning more about Gopher Athletics, the Women's Hockey program or a little Info about my career as a Golden Gopher.

Gopher Athletics website:

www.gophersports.com

Women's hockey team website:

http://www.gophersports.com/SportSelect.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=8400&KEY=&SPID=3323&SPSID=38864

My Player Biography:

http://www.gophersports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?SPSID=38865&SPID=3323&DB_OEM_ID=8400&ATCLID=261229&Q_SEASON=2007