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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.