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November 26, 2008

tips for winter clothing

Winter has started and we’ve had a couple of sneak peaks of the snow. The winter here is crazy. The sun can be shining in all its glory and you are fooled into thinking its warm out, but its freezing. Then its snowing all white and you would think it would be freezing, but it is pleasantly warm. The wind chills, the snow storms, flurries, slushies……all these new terms have been added to my winter vocabulary. Coming from Kathmandu Nepal, where the winters are not too merciless, just layering up is adequate. We don’t really need central heat nor snow boots. So how do you prepare for the Minnesota winter? I had a lot of questions regarding the kind of clothes, winter gear I should pack up before landing here. And well, I didn’t do a thorough research and ended up packing 5 winters jackets when all you need was a couple good ones. So I thought I’d put together a brief list just to help you prospective students pack more wisely ?

1. a good, warm cap and ear muffs
The body loses a lot of heat from the head. So covering up can prevent the loss of a lot of body heat. Hence, invest in a good warm hat, the ones that cover up the ears or you can use ear muffs too. You don’t even want to know how painful it is when your ears freeze up. I have cried a lot of frozen tears because of this.

2. a down jacket and scarf
There is nothing like a good, down feather jacket in winter, especially the ones that go all the way to the knees. You can wear a few layers inside and then finish up with a good jacket. Also wrapping up yourself with a good woolen scarf will help shield your face from the cold winds. As soon as you enter the buildings, the jacket and scarf can come off and you can still saunter around feeling like summer. So INVEST on a warm jacket.

3. snow boots/fur boots
owing a pair is a good idea as this will help your feet stay warm and dry in the outdoors. Sometimes the snow can be 5-10 inches deep, so you would want all the snow to stay of your shoes. And also frozen toes are the next painful things after frozen ears.

4. mittens/gloves
Wind proof, water proof…there are many kinds. Get the one which will keep you warm as well as help your fingers move with ease. You don’t want to be fishing out your bus pass or wallet in the bitter cold with bare hands.

These are just a few suggestions from my experience. If you have these main items for winter, you will be totally warm and cozy, and also be able to enjoy the outdoors in winters. It is quite beautiful actually, everything looking so white and bright. And also snow fights will be a lot more comfortable!

So don’t worry about buying too many jackets and sweaters. A couple good ones is sufficient. Also, pack light when coming from your home country. You will have enough sales going on here to stock up on your wardrobe. Trust me on this one. I came to the U.S with two suitcases and now I have 8 huge bags worth of clothes (guilty as charged!)

Happy winter!!! Stay warm.

Tips on Minnesota Winter

My second winter in Minnesota has arrived...yay! When I was preparing to leave for Minnesota, it was almost funny to get the same sympathetic reaction from people: "Oooh, isn't it a cold place? I hear it's freeeeezing in the winter there." "Good luck surviving..." Well, thanks everyone, but I do enjoy it a lot. I tried ice-skating which I hadn't done for many many years since I was a kid. I wanted to do cross-country skiing, too, but missed the chance last year. Definitely this year!

The buildings are kept warm (or even hot), so as long as you master how to dress up in layers, you'll be fine. Be sure to cover your head and ears, and wear gloves or mittens. Mittens are said to be warmer than gloves because they keep more air inside. If arriving in Fall semester, you can wait until you come here to get some of the survival items, such as down jackets and winter boots. The good news is, clothes are tax-free in Minnesota!

I also enjoyed learning all the weather/winter related words, so here is a nice vocabulary lesson and more tips for you.

[Glossary]

Plow: To clear away snow.
If you are going to have a car, keep an eye on the snow plow sign in the neighborhood. You are required to move away your car on a specified date to make it easier for whoever comes to plow the street.

If you fail to do so... Your car will be towed!

Tow: To draw or pull along behind.
In this context, your car will be taken away with a penalty charge. It's not cheap at all.

Frostbite: Damage to your skin caused by freezing.
Again, keep your gloves or mittens on your hands, and wear winter boots or sturdy shoes. Don't worry, frostbite is not common in daily life.

Snow Angel: A fun play activity.
Lie down on the snow and move your arms and legs upwards and downwards. Carefully remove your body from the snow, and look at what you have just made. An angel on the snow!

Windchill:
This is the temperature that you actually feel, and what matters more than the air temperature. Minnesotans really love weather forecasts (on TV, radio, or web sites), and always keep an eye on the windchill in the wintertime. I hardly paid attention to it first, but now I understand the importance. You need to know what to wear at the beginning of your day!

By the way, don't assume that it will be warmer on clear sunny days. Temperature tends to drop because the needed air escapes with no clouds in the sky.

Here is my tip for converting Degrees F to C. It's not precise, but at least gives you an idea to be prepared.

(Degrees F - 30) / 2=Degrees C
For example, if it's 24 F: (24 F - 30) / 2= -3 C

OK, so much for now. I am becoming more like Minnesotans and love to talk about the weather:)

Stay warm (...another winter term that I picked up here.)

Misa

November 21, 2008

Points to remember for Prospective Students.

With the deadlines for applications to various programs approaching for the Fall 2009, all the prospective students must be having busy time. Busy time getting recommendation letters, making final changes to your statement of purpose and filling up applications (online or the hard copy). Everything is afresh in my mind as I was in that place exactly one year back. Few important things to remember can be -

  • Its always important to double cross check all the documents before actually uploading them or mailing them to the University you are applying as a part of application.

  • Be sure to mark your application number clearly on each of the document you are sending, even if you send them in a single mail. It will help the university staff in processing your application without any delay.

  • Cross check the university codes clearly while sending your GRE, TOEFL or other test scores.

  • Do not postpone mailing the documents related to your application till the deadline. The sooner you apply, the quicker your application gets processed. And sometimes, it will increase your chance of being accepted.

  • Choose appropriate postal or courier service to send your applications. Its always better to choose a service which can track your mails online. In this way you will be ensured if your application reached the University or not.

  • For PhD students: Its right time to check the department websites you are applying to in all the universities and go through home pages of Professors, get in touch with those professors whose work you are interested in and discuss your plans. They might be busy with their academic schedule, but sooner or later you will receive a response from them.

Finally, questions. Get all your doubts and apprehensions cleared by asking questions to the students who are already part of the university programs.

Best Regards

Vamsi

The economy, the employment and us

Since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brother Holding Inc. bombed the Wall Street, the whole world worried about the economy of the US, of course, including us. Actually, all we concern about is the employment.

I got a lot of questions and emails from the students in China concerning this topic. For me, all I can say is I don’t know but we’ll see. If you are interested in all this economic news, I suggest you check the wallstreetjournal everyday. (www.wallstreetjournal.com) You can get everything you want. (Probably not everything you want, but at least everything you can get.)

Let’s talk about the employment and how I feel in my life.

As a student in Carlson, we have the business student career center which provides all the information and services about the career plan, mock interviews and resume workshops. In addition, all the recruitments in Carlson are operated by the system called “CARS?. (https://www.cars.csom.umn.edu/csc/default.asp) You can find all the positions’ information in business. For the reputation, the education quality, the strong alumni network and the perfect location (Minneapolis is the home of many largest 500 companies.), Carlson always can attract the best employers. If you are slected as the primary candidates, I’m sure you are very competitive compared with other candidates as a Carlon student.

Although corporate America are reducing the staff expenses, even the U is doing the same thing (From Minnesota Daily: U President Bob Bruininks announced a salary freeze for the U’s senior executives, including himself, at the Board of Regents meeting.), I think it’s just a phase in the economic cycle and it’s a global phenomena. We don’t have to be panic and doubt the future business world. In contrast, I think it’s a good opportunity for us to stay at school and learn more to prepare well for our graduation. The bad news should be a good alert for us to see clear, then we can make a good plan for ourselves.

So, STOP doubting the world and ENJOY the exciting business revolution~~!!!

The following is the website of GBCC(Graduate Business Career Center) and UBCC(Undergraduate Business Career Center)
GBCC: http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/page8688.aspx
UBCC: http://www.carlsonschool.umn.edu/Page7415.aspx
You can find more resource about the employment in Carlson.

November 18, 2008

gopher games

last week i had a work shift at the william's arena where the basketball games were being held. i work with the university dining services in the catering department. it is such an easy and fun job, and it fits perfectly into your school schedule. so it was last week, for the first time in 4 years, i watched the gophers play. the enormous crowd present, the college spirit everywhere, cheering for our team, goldy the gopher (our mascot) doing his stunts, so much noise, music and energy......the environment was great. after setting up the club room with soooooooo much food that was ordered, all of us student workers were practically free ...so we sat in a top row suite and watched the bball game.

i must admit it was the first time ever i felt the excitement for the gophers. i wanted us to win which we did easily. it was then that i realised, i had missed out so much in all these school activites and games, i missed all this fun and moments of school spirit. fortunately, the ice hockey season is on and i am trying my best to wrap my head around it. it does look like a very rough game....but its fun i suppose.

the highlight of the evening was....i met GOLDY!!! i was eager to meet him for the longest time. whenever i would see him, i would get all excited to which my manager told me 'you act like my 4 yr old daughter'. well, that saturday, goldy actually came in the club room and i screamed out of joy for him. the following is a recap of our first meeting.
yeshi: (on seeing goldy)...GOLDY!!!!! GOOOOOLLLLLDDDDIIIEEEEE!!!!!!!! OVER HERE!!! (jumping up and down constantly)
Goldy: (FYI he doesn't talk at all. but his actions speak louder than his unspoken words)......walks over to me, stares at me, hugs me....and rests his arm on my shoulder for a pic during which i am all excited
yeshi: goldy, i finally get to meet u after 4 yrs. ya...let's take a pic together.....(after goldy rests his hand on my shoulder)....wow goldy u r HEAVY.
goldy: (stares at me and then just sweeps me up my feet and carries me....really he did!!!)
camera...click!!!! click!!!! clicck!!!
yeshi: (laughing histerically )...sorrry goldy, now I am Heavy!!!.....

well that was our first meeting and hopefully not the last. he is such a cutie!!!! gooooooo goldy!!!!

M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A..........AYYYYYYYYYYYYY- GOOOOO GOPHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

November 17, 2008

Minnehaha Falls!

I went there last spring with the previous ambassadors and we had a really good time there! There was quite a few interesting historic sites like the first wood-made (1800s) house in the Mississipi. The temperature were pretty mild when we went so I didn't get a chance to see the falls frozen....Which would be quite remarkable because the temperatures need to drop quite low and stay like that for a while to freeze the fall. But it has happened and all you need to do: "Layers, layers and layers" :)

In case you were wondering Minnehaha stands for Water falls in Dakota. You can easily get there from the campus. I usually just take the light rail route and there is a stop right at the Falls. It's totally free to visit the site and the is a good restaurant nearby in case you get hungry! :)
Here is a picture I took there and get more info about the Falls on here

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Viviane

November 15, 2008

Invitation to Small World Coffee Hour

I work as one of the staff members at Small World Coffee Hour and want to
introduce this great event on U of M campus.

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Every other Friday, International Office (ISSS) holds a SWCH event.
At Small World Coffee Hour, you can meet many cultures and enjoy various dishes.
Every SWCH event is co-hosted by different student organizations
for example Japanese, Korean, French, or African.
Small World Coffee Hour provides a relaxing and pleasing environment
where you can make lots of friends and chat with them.
When you arrive in U of M, please do not miss this great chance to make
wonderful experiences in Small World Coffee Hour. It's always free and lots of fun!

If you want more information and pictures of SWCH, please click this link!! http://www.isss.umn.edu/programs/smallworld/

November 14, 2008

If you are a movie freak...

University of Minnesota is such an awesome place! A few days back, it snowed a bit. I'm from a place where the least temperatures there are equal to the maximum temperatures here. So, snowing at my place is a distant dream. With all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the first snow fall, but I was told that its just the beginning! Now, let me get back to the topic of movies.

If you are a movie freak... then we have movies screened in the Coffman Memorial Union every weekend, and its free for all the students of U. You will love them! And I'm not sure if the information which I'm gonna share is known to many current students of the U also, so this will prove useful to everyone. AMC Theatres normally pre-screen most of the popular new movies. They distribute entry passes to the movie at Minnesota Daily office and many other places. And the point is its totally FREE! You just have to keep looking at Minnesota Daily newspaper everyday for the notification of the Movie Pass Distribution, and once you find a notification you can go to the nearest Minnesota Daily office and collect your Free entry passes to the movie. Isn't this cool?! So far I've watched two movies ('Death Race' and 'Quantum of Solace') this way!

November 13, 2008

How to get a great price for your flight ticket

This is a great resource that I "steal" from my friend,hahahha. Trust me, it is very helpful!!!!

First of all, you should know that timing is the most important thing. It means that for different days in a week, for different days in a month, the difference of ticket price can be huge.
If your schedule is flexible, when you search for your ticket, you should search for several days nearby.

The following is some resource which can help you find out the difference of flight tickets in several months:
1. http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch
A classic website for searching for the flight tickets
2. http://www.travelocity.com/
It’s said that this is a good classic one too.
3. http://www.kayak.com/
This is a good website.

If you already pick the date with the lowest price, but you’re just not sure when to book, here are some tips:
4. http://farecast.live.com/
This one is my favorite. It’s easy to compare with information from other websites. It’s very useful. I almost book all my flight tickets from this website.

What if you wanna go out every weekend, you can try this:
5. http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/
You can subscribe its news letter and you can have several options, then they will send you all the information you want.

What if you set up your mind in the last minute and how can you get a cheap flight ticket?
6. http://www.priceline.com
Use the “bid the price?. You can use this system to check with the airline company. If they are not full and they can accept the price you provide, they will sell you at your dream price.

It would be wrong if you just book the tickets from the above websites, because most times you are charged for the extra booking fees. The smart way is to go back to the airline company website and book your tickets there, and sometime you will find other surprise, like some coupon.

November 11, 2008

Where to live? My experience

Before I started my studies I spent quite some time looking close to the University campus for a place to live. I remember I was so I-don’t-know-what-I-should-be-looking-for that I had to spend sometime first thinking about what it would be convenient for a newly international student like me. After thinking about it for a while I finally got an idea of what I needed! Yay! I remember something that also helped me a lot: the University (I think it was the ISSS itself) provided us international students a list of places that we can opt to visit and maybe later think and decide whether to sign a lease with them.


Melrose-map.jpg

So now I knew (1) what I wanted, (2) what I could afford, and (3) what my options were; I knew I wanted a place walk-distance to the University (no more than 15 mins walk…remember Minnesota can be very cold during the winter), only girls roommates, hopefully my own bathroom that is a big plus!!! , and a nice-quiet common area where I can study if it is to cold outside to walk to the library/coffee shop/friend’s apt…and guess what? I found it! And more!! :)

So I am staying at Melrose, ever since I started my studies, where the majority of us are students either undergrads or grad at the UofM; here I have my own bathroom, only girls at my apartment, and a gym too, and some other amenities that I don’t use (for now….but are nice to have just in case).

This place is 5 blocks south-east of the UofM. It is convenient that I have a groceries store three blocks away, a couple of coffee shops, a few places to have lunch/dinner, close by bus stops, and off course the UofM library, Boynton, etc...
It is convenient not only because I am close to the campus but I am also a 10 minutes by bus to downtown Minneapolis; and from downtown you can use the light rail to get to more places!! like the International Airport of Minneapolis/St Paul and the Mall of America (30 minutes).

Before making such an important decision, after all you will be l-i-v-i-n-g here, you can also check news papers or internet craiglist or ISSS recommendations. Take the time to find the right place for you.

On my next log, I will write about the Computer Science activities and program - I am gathering accurate and goooood information that could be useful for you! :)

- Gabriela

Haunted Halloween

A friend of mine asked me if I was going to dress up for Halloween (October 31, 2008) and I said, "I am going to be Domo-kun!!!"
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Domo-kun is a mascot of Japan's NHK television station. He is described as a strange creature that hatched from an egg and can only communicate via producing a low-pitched noise which sounds somewhat like his own name. Just like me, Domo likes music, particularly Guitar Wolf and MAX (two real-life bands).

The idea of being Domo-kun came from my friend, Nancy Duong. We thought it would be awesome because we had never seen someone dressing up as Domo-kun in any Halloween party before. And it was true. I turned out to be a rock star that night because everyone was asking me to take pictures with them!!! Thank God they didn't ask me to sign an autograph because it was pretty hard for me to see what was going on around me. The party itself, hosted by the International Friendship Group Program (IFGP), was a huge success. We had different booths that displayed different Halloween-related things, such as face painting, fortune telling, pumpkin curving, etc. Every guest seemed to have a great time that they didn't want to leave the party even when we told them that it was over and we needed to do some tidy up ^^

The morning of that night, our Japanese class decided to have a costume party. Since I had an appointment with my adviser that morning, I could not wear my Domo-kun costume. I, instead, "stabbed myself in the head" with a knife. Not to worry it was a fake one ^^ Our sensee (teacher) walked into the classroom and was so surprised when she saw some of us were in costume. We ended the class about 5 minutes early to enjoy some sweets and to take lots of pictures!!!

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My friend, Lindsay, definitely was having a fun time in stabbing me in the head ^^

A week before Halloween (October 25, 2008), a couple of my friends and I went to ValleySCARE. It is an amusement park located in Shakopee, a city southwest of downtown Minneapolis, which was transferred to a haunted amusement park during Halloween. From the moment we entered the gates of ValleySCARE, several ghosts, goblins, mutants and other strange creatures were lurking in the fog to scare us! As pictures say a thousand words, you could directly check their website at:
http://www.valleyscare.com/

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We love roller coasters!!!

Salam,
-asa-


November 9, 2008

Life is comfortable because...

In my previous entry, I briefly shared my story about my initial choices between joining a distance learning program (offered by a different institution) and applying to the U of M. As I have chosen to come to the U and extremely happy about the decision, I would like to write some more about the environment that I enjoy in the Twin Cities and on campus.

The Twin Cities (the nickname for the two neighboring cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul) are known for the diverse demographics, and I've been enjoying the opportunity living in such a cosmopolitan community. I had had little knowledge about the Hmong people until I made a friend with a Hmong student last year, and learned about their cultural background at one of the courses. The Somali population is also big, encouraging me to think of their homeland in Africa which remains unstable with a fragile government. I definitely appreciate the diverse environment. The people are open, liberal, and friendly, which have made my life much more comfortable than it would have been in other cities. (Minnesota is also known to be a state that consistently ranks at the top of the highest voting rate. Doesn't it tell something?) Thanks to the diversity, there are a variety of ethnic restaurants and grocery shops, too. We never get bored of restaurant choices!

I love the transportations in the Twin Cities. Even though I have no car, I can get around by myself quite easily. The wintertime is a bit harder to wait in line for a bus, but I keep myself warm by staying inside a nearby building until the bus comes. Some major bus stops even come with heating which saves our lives!

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One of the campus shuttle buses

All of my classes are offered on Minneapolis campus. When the weather is nice, I enjoy walking around campus with lots of green (except for wintertime...) and squirrels (all year round...amazingly.) I also hop on Campus Connector (the university shuttle bus) or local buses for getting around quickly. I shouldn't forget to mention our life savior, Gopher Ways. They are the underground paths that connect buildings to buildings so that we don't have to go out in the freezing winter. The campus is huge, but once you are familiar with locations, it is quite nice.

Green Campus.jpg

Having the campus situated in the heart of the vibrant city, there are so many things we can enjoy outside of campus. Check it out in the other ambassadors' entries, too!

Welcome Gopher.jpg

-Misa

cOOkinG Is fUuuUN

Mom never taught me how to cook but she kept taking to taste yummy food before I came to the U. With one year experience living in the dorm, I felt like I'm tired of the dorm food to death. Then this semester, I moved off campus and now living in my own apartment with independent living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. I really enjoy the private space. Cooking become one of my major fun in leisure life.

Now let me show you some of my simple ones….

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Soup with short ribs, shiitake and daikon

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Dumplings (when I'm lazy, I eat dumplings which only needs ten minutes)

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Jujube soup with tremella (This is sweet soup but Chinese usually have it as dessert and especially for women)

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Spinach noodle with meat (quick food)

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Eggplant with chicken

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Do you know that I'm a mixologist....
Unfortunately, I'm still under 21...

November 7, 2008

festival-time to celebrate

one of the things i miss the most being away from home, is our festival season. the time to celebrate, eat, drink and make merry and to be with your loved ones. our main festival of the year is dashain which started on september 30th until october 14th. i had been having a really hectic week with school, all the assignments, studio reviews and quizes, i was really to unwind for the weekend. so on the 11th of oct, saturday we decided to have our 'dashain' feast with the 'tika' ceremony.

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we were 20 of us attending, so we decided to a potluck. i ended up cooking most of the food because i simply love to cook and i was only too happy to have had the honour of cooking up a storm. we had our traditional pulau (rice), aloo achar (spicy potato salad), goat meat curry, chicken curry, sidra achaar (marinated anchovies), sikarni (yoghurt dessert) and yes the drinks too. after a couple hours of traditional gambling ritual.......we had been partying from 6pm to 3 am. but it was not tiring at all which makes me think why does studying for a few hours make you so exhauted thaat you have to take 3 coffee breaks, two 'toilet' breaks, few emails and facebook breaks and a lot of dreaming spans. i wish life was as easy as a festival celebration (minus the clean up time, prep time)!!!

after this fun filled day i was happy to realize that i have a huge family here too, a family of good friends (and they become bad friends when they dont do the dishes). but yes, i finally do have a home away from home.

Wrapping Up the Fall

It's been two weeks since the first blog here. I felt great meeting with other ambassadors every other week and I also enjoy reading their blogs.

The weather forecast said that it will be chilly next week. Guys, WINTER is coming…Now it's time to wrap up my "high" of the fall before winter.

- Duluth trip
I went to Duluth with 10 of my friends. It was not only fun driving there, but also exciting to see the nature beauty of Superior Lake, Gooseberry Falls State Park and Aerial Bridge. As we arrived there at 8pm, we checked in the 5-bed room that has been reserved on the shore of Superior. Right after that, PARTY TIME…we didn't sleep until 3am I think. Everyone went crazy by the music. The next day we visited the places mentioned above. I felt that people just needed a short break to take a breath after midterm round one.
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- Halloween
I spent my Halloween night in my friend's house in Wisconsin. It took me nearly 2 hours to get there. I was "Ms Betty" in the party. Actually it was not that spooky but since it was a typical American's Halloween party, I enjoyed the family atmosphere and the delicious food.
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My midterm round 2 is coming which sucks. But thanksgiving is also coming in a couple of weeks. Good luck to everyone and have a nice thanksgiving.

November 6, 2008

School focussed or Community focussed? (+ pic from Halloween :)

One of your concerns when applying at the university or before the admission is probably your grades, whether or not you will be successful in a new academic system, if professors expectations are going to be different/higher or if your English proficiency is going to hold you back.

(Continue....)

Those were my concerns too, but after the first semester, I realized that grades might be important but extracurricular activities are far more important and meaningful for a future career or admission in a professional school. By extracurricular activities, I mean activities outside your semester academics. That would be volunteering, being an active member of a student organization or being actively leading other organizations.

I started volunteering my sophomore year and for me, it was a great way to meet people with different interests and orientations and also people with a different culture. I got to learn about ways on how to lead a group of students, how to work effectively with people who might a different way of doing things. Some of the favorite things I added to my "knowledge list" were people's cultural values, and how important it is to things because you think it's valuable, not because it's "fulfilling a requirement", that's outside school speaking of course....You have to fulfill all your major/college requirement to graduate :)
It might not be important for your future career but if it is, be sure to have some involvement and I am confident that if you are willing to learn, you are going to get a lot out of it :)

Enjoy your day :) and here is a picture taken on Halloween day, from a international student organization called IFG (International Friendship Group)

Halloween.jpg

Viviane

Minneapolis and You

It is a fact: the Minneapolis metro area’s 18.3 million annual visitors make it one of the Forbes’ 30 most-visited cities in the U.S. Therefore I decided for today’s post to gather a potpourri of places to visit in your stay as a student in Minneapolis/St Paul; museums, parks, open areas to do sports, and a few restaurants of my predilection…just good enough to get a feeling about how goooood life in the Twin Cities can be! These are some of the places where I have been either before school started or some random weekend trying to get some fun time…
I like sports…not to watch them on TV, but to practice them! I like running at morning/night and even though I am very far away from being good at it – I can’t run and talk at the same time hahaha – the body needs to be exercised from time to time. Lake Calhoun is this year’s best place in the city to do outdoor activities; it recently won as the Best 2008 Public Park in the Twin Cities. Here you have 3.2 miles to walk with your best friend and gossip!! Can somebody gossip for that long? …and I am learning a new sport, skiing – people say it is easier for those who have some skating experience – so I found a place near the Twin Cities (10 minutes from St Paul) and here Afton Alps you can find more information.
Now who thinks that in Minneapolis/St Paul we don’t have cultural events?! Well we do ? I like to go to music concerts too and here at Ticket Master you will find tickets and a detailed schedules per artist and more. On the other hand…the Guthrie Theater offers performances around the year, tours and classes!! – even though it sounds like a lot of fun….there is no way they will convince me enough to make me shift from Computer Science to acting…never! – .... If you want to, they can even send you text messages with news and offers to your mobile device. We have our own museum too at the University of Minnesota: the Weisman Art Museum check it out for more info.
After doing exercise, walking around the city, paying attention to boring art and people talking (not true!) we are getting hungry! It was about time to talk about food…Of course you can find in Minneapolis Mc Donald’s, but there is a BBQ restaurant that you can’t find everywhere in the US and that is Famous Dave’s BBQ. …and more for steak lovers Fogo de Chão is a steakhouse where you can sample the entire menu over and over and over again until you say “no more PLEASE!? …but let me warn you ahead of time that it’s a place for a special occasion because it is expensive (specially for students).
Now that we are ready to do something else before going back to the apartment and get some homework done I recommend the Science Museum because it has an a-w-e-s-o-m-e omnitheater!!! I saw a movie about the human body and ever since I wish I had a big-enough room to have a place like that in my house!!!!.... We can look up, down, right and left at a ninety-foot convertible IMAX dome – and it is the only convertible dome theater in the United States – and here you can find more information about it at Science Museum of Minnesota.
And finally, one personal comment...all of them can be much much more fun iff you go with friends, family, spouse....so stick together!!
I recommend this web site to find more to do– and get exhausted – in Minneapolis/St Paul.

My next blog will be about Computer Science at my University…so you are invited to come back and read my next blog.

- Gabriela

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November 5, 2008

Initial experiences of an International Student~

I was very excited, a few days before starting for USA from my home country, as I was travelling out of my home country for the first time. I was little apprehensive about finding a place to live in Minneapolis, that along with my excitement of going to a foreign country made me start my journey 3 weeks before the classes actually started. It took me days to figure out what my baggage should consist of as I had to follow the weight limitations imposed on the baggage by the airline authorities. I now know why they call Knapsack problem difficult after taking my Advanced Algorithms classes. And the day arrived, but it wasn’t an easy day for and I felt the journey to be much longer and tiresome than I expected. I took a train from my hometown to Hyderabad, and flew from Hyderabad to Mumbai, took a connecting flight from Mumbai to Chicago via London and finally another flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. The entire journey took more than 48 hours. And all I could do after reaching Minneapolis is sleeping for one complete day.

I love visiting places, and that made me visit Stone Arch bridge and Guthrie theater on the second day I arrived (I could have done that on my Day 1 itself, but you see my Day 1 here went missing *grin*). Then started going around campus – to the office of ISSS, Boynton and Computer Science department to get the holds removed. It was at that point of time that I realized using Google Maps is the best way to go from one place to another – we just key in the source and destination addresses, and the rest can be left to Google maps. We get directions to go from place to place on foot or by bus with the detailed information about bus numbers and frequency of buses. More to this, I found the web address of Metro Transit website which has everything about buses in it. Find places to eat was another problem in the beginning.

Being an international student, I wasn’t aware what Americans eat and wasn’t sure if I could eat something as I have certain restrictions on what I eat. But to my help, I found majority of the food places contain the ingredients of a food stuff in their menu board, and if something wasn’t clear to me I would ask questions to the people at food places (people here are very friendly, they are more than ready to help us with our doubts) about what each food item consists of. This way, my life got much easier. Of all the many different foods I tried here, I love the Wild rice soup, couscous with roast portobello mushrooms, Burritos at Chipotle, Garden fresh Pizza at Papa John’s (along with the peppers they provide), Taco salads and the list keeps going! *grin* Apart from eating food outside, my culinary skills have improved a lot after coming here. I had rarely been to kitchen when I was back in my home country, now the situation has totally changed. I like this change in a way and I like cooking now trying out various things based on intuition, and they work out perfectly.

Finding a place to live seemed like another tough job but that also got simpler with the Minnesota Daily coming to my rescue. I followed the classifieds column in MNDaily newspaper and called up the owners of the apartments, fixed appointments with them and in this way found an apartment. MNDaily also hosts their classifieds for student housing online.

I spoke to lots of people who were already part of the U before I joined, and that helped a great deal in making many issues simpler. And I suggest that is the best thing one should do to get answers to the whole lot of questions one has before joining any university.

Before I sign out, let me write about yesterday. It was a big day here, everyone glued to their news channels or news websites. And finally the Blue won. Barack Obama is the new President of US of A now.

Cheers,
Vamsi

Drive in America?

Now you're driving in your country, so want to continue to wheel?

Or, you want to learn driving in America?

Or, you want a driver license for your ID in America?

Driver license makes your life convenient here in many ways!

In Minnesota, there are two tests to be taken to get a driver license: the knowledge test and road test.

For the knowledge test, you can visit a test center close to your place and take the test. This is walk-in service, so you don't need to make an appointment for the test. In a test center, you will take a test on computer. Even if you fail, don't worry! It's free for three times!

If you pass the knowledge test, they will give you a driving permit which allows you to practice driving for 3 months with a person who has already a driver license. With this permit, you can make an appointment for the road test after 3 months. However, if you bring the driver license issued in your country, you don't have to practice for 3 months. You can make appointment whenever you want! So don't forget to bring your driver license to spare your much time!

Here's the website you can find more information! http://www.dps.state.mn.us/DVS
From the website, you can find the test centers and download the manual for the knowledge test!

November 3, 2008

To come, or not to come?

Two years ago at this time, I was working full time in Japan. I was already determined that I would apply for the program at the University of Minnesota ("U of M," or "the U" as we call.) It wasn't necessarily an easy decision for me at the beginning of my career search, but now I am happy to say this loud:

"It was definitely the best choice that I have made!"

So just in case you are still wondering about your options, let me share my thoughts on my journey.

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The beginning of my journey goes back to some years ago. I was considering a higher degree in my professional field, and I started to think about a distance learning course at one of the U.S. institutions initially. This was because of the job that I wanted to stay with, and also due to my family situation. The program I had in my mind had a good reputation, too. It seemed perfect that I could develop my expertise while remaining in the job and doing the distance learning course at the same time.

Well, as you can see, I ended up not going for that option. Realizing that distance learning was not for me, I waited until I was mentally ready to apply for the U, and have finally made my way here.

Academic work cannot be done alone. The presence of faculty, mentors, peers, and friends, and the campus resources make such a difference to my progress. Writing papers, or doing the readings can be challenging, but it is always nice that somebody or something is there to keep myself moving on. If I had done the distance learning course, I feel like I would have never been able to complete it. It must have been a lonely journey, when the study is already hard enough! Also, the quality of my study and life experience is different (and definitely rich) because of all the interactions and resources available on campus.

There are so many things that you can gain and learn in addition to your own field of study. Why U of M then? Check it out in my next entry!

-Misa

My Journey so far!

It all started more than a year and a half ago when I booked my exam date for GRE and TOEFL. Amidst my busy work schedule I had to make time for preparing for these exams, and I finally did. I had tough time managing time between my work and completing the application procedure, as I had to find time to fly to my undergrad university (which is more than 1200 miles away from the place I worked) for my transcripts and all. But then everything happened very quickly – the application procedure, receiving my I20 followed by the visa interview at the US Embassy. Now, here I’m with my status updated to the Graduate Student at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the University of Minnesota from a Prospective student.

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And I’m indeed very happy with the update in my status because the University has met all my expectations, infact surpassed. The excellent computing facilities in my department, various research labs, professors and their interests everything is widely distributed matching the requirements of any student who joins the department. More to this, you can enjoy your social life also. The U is such a happening place, with lots of student groups and activities going on. We have Coffman Memorial Union, the center of almost all the activities. And being a part of a reputed U like this, I got a chance to attend lectures by Richard Stallman (the controversial free software advocate), Prof. Mikhail Atallah and many more famous people in the field of Computer Science. So far the journey has been good, and hope it will be the same till it ends.

On the ending note: Life is good, infact *awesome*!

Find Furniture

When we think of moving in a new place, we need to find furniture.

When I first moved in Minnesota, I went to IKEA to purchase new furniture. However, new furniture even in IKEA is still expensive and delivery is also costly.

Later I realized there's a good resource for finding used furniture here "Craigslist" (http://minneapolis.craigslist.org). Here you can get a lot of good deals from furniture to electronics. Sometimes owners even deliver the stuff you buy. Since after knowing this website, I always buy furniture here.

Hope this information help you move in Minnesota well

Hee Sung

My academic program--Macc Program

People always ask me about my academic program—Macc (Master of Accountancy).
Since I’m the International Student Ambassador, I should take the advantage to let more people know this program and join us. All I say is my opinion, so if you’re interested, you should go to:
http://www.csom.umn.edu/Page5600.aspx.
This is the official website of Macc Program, also a great resource. If you still have other questions, please contact me.

My major in undergraduate education is International Accounting. I love this business so much that I think it’s important to take a Master Degree if I wanna take the CPA exam and become a professional in future. In the US, most states ask for 150 credits to sit for the CPA exam. Some people choose to take more credits in undergraduate years, but I think why not go and get a higher degree.

It’s never easy to get a master degree. My required courses are SEC(Security and Exchange Committee), Internal Control and Information System which is in next semester. SEC mostly focuses on SEC regulations, security laws and different kinds of rules. We only talk about the Public Companies, so Larry(the Program Director) put a lot of effort on Going to public and other related issues. Internal Control talks about the different internal control framework. This course builds up the basic sense about the subject of internal control since it’s very abstract and subjective. Compared with my college courses, they are in a much higher level. It leads me to a more professional view of financial issues in companies. I’m more clear about what the auditors do and the relationship among different stake groups.

These two courses require a lot of readings. At first, I didn’t understand anything. I felt like they were just nonsense to me. However, when I forced myself to read, the more I read, the more I understood. I realized that the horrible feeling was just a phase. When you trust yourself and pass it, you will just want to cheer for yourself.

Larry always encourages us to keep an eye on what happens in today’s business world. I think this can raise good habits before becoming a real player in future business world.

For international students, even if it doesn’t ask for a high TOEFL score (79ibt is accepted), I suggest practice more of your listening and reading skills. Though we just have 6 credits hours a week, if you don’t prepare well for your class, you will live miserably.

If you are interested in this program, get started on your preparation. If you don’t understand, just ask questions!!!

Good luck~

Weekends Rock!!!

I used to be homesick so bad and I hate this. But lately I just found out that if I wasn’t here, I would never know how much fun to hang out with my new friends and how important to have friends in your life!!! I just had 2 amazing weekends, o(∩_∩)o…
Here is the picture of my first party in my place
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I was in the Metrodome for the Football Game of Minnesota Vikings VS. Houston Taxans.
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Last weekend, I threw a party at my place. Because we just finished the intense mid-term week, my friends and I deserved a crazy party….
We soon set up a mini Party Committee, and I was the Snack & Decoration Officer, hahahaha~~~

After Finishing my morning class in Saturday (I know… it’s sad to have class in Saturday), I went to Target. I bought the decoration, flowers, candles, pumpkin light, candy bars, drinks and chocalates….what a day! I decided to change my apartement to a party club~~~

At 7:30, the party began! We drank(we’re all over 21, haha), talked and danced…and I was also the DJ that day!
Then we played the “Killer Game?, which is so popular in China. They even have the Game Bar for this game.
After saying goodbye to the party at 6am next day, I went to bed so happy!!!

This is a good way to meet people here, know more about my new friends. They are all amazing and smart people!!!I like them!!!! Now, when I feel lonely sometimes, I just think about that there are a bunch of people who work really hard everyday and be homesick at night just like me, so I’m never alone on my way.

This weekend is another reason that I love this place!!!
I went to the American Football Game. It’s Minnesota Vikings VS. Houston Taxans!!! My seat was so great—Row 10!!!! Check my ticket!
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This wan’t my plan actually, but I was shocked by people’s passion about this game. There were so many people and they were all crazy about football!!! It's just like those on the TV. They painted their faces and wore the Vikings dress. I couldn’t help joining them and watching the game.

During the game, I had a lot of fun, even I still don’t understand how to watch the American football game. For me, just enjoy cheer for Vikings and high five with other crazy fans~~~~
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Also I know how to sing the “Viking song?. I sang loudly and I was just so excited!!!!!(even if I still confuse about the football game’s rules). Here is the video for Viking Song. I recorded it with my phone.
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