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April 24, 2009

SMART Learning Commons

There are many resources at the University of Minnesota that can help you succeed. The one that I would like to recommend here is an academic assistance service called the SMART Learning Commons.


The SMART Learning Commons is a program with the goal to help students succeed academically through out their college careers. The program supports students in various ways including writing supports, learning supports, and technology supports. One feature of this program is the learning supports. The program provides students with a one-on-one tutor on each subject. Students can go to Walter Library, Wilson Library, or Magrath Library to get help. There is a section in each library that designates "SMART Learning Commons". There will be some consultants ready to help students during the service time. Moreover, in each residence hall, there is a "SMART Learning Commons" room as well, so students living in university's residence hall can easily get help in their own hall. Apart from that, on SMART Learning Commons website, students can make an appointment with a Peer Learning Consultant, who is expert in each field of study.

Another feature of this program is the Peer-Assisted Learning. This is a group of students that study together with the support from undergraduate students who have done well in the courses. The group meets regularly in a small discussion session that helps facilitate and enhance understandings of the subjects. If you are interested, check on the website to see the details.

Apart from academic supports, the SMART Learning Commons also provide students with technological supports. Students can come to the SMART Learning Commons room in the libraries mentioned earlier to ask for helps regarding computer programs, a presentation, or other media. Students can come and check out a video camera to do their project, or reserve the Media Viewing room to present their project. Furthermore, the SMART Learning Commons also possesses the test bank. The program gets some previous tests of each class with the permission of the professor and provide them to students for free (except that they may have to pay for the printing). The program also has some Standardized Tests like GMAT, TOEFL, MCAT for students to practice.

This is a great program, so don't forget to make use of it. Check out the website: http://smart.umn.edu/index.html

April 23, 2009

Internet-based tools -important websites to learn-

Once you have started classes, you will need to quickly pick up new tools. You will familiarize with many codes for classes, building names, make new friends, important website’s URLs to check your grades etc. We (international ambassadors) have been written on how to make new friends, places to visit, etc. But we didn’t talk about Internet-based tools! ….. And we all use it every single day! The University of Minnesota and every Department, Office, or Library has its own special website where you will find official information about your grades, registered courses, available textbooks at the library, events, and so much more information!

There are a few websites that I would talk about in this article because I am more than sure that you will use them either because as professor ask you to do so, or because the information it provides is really helpful. The names of this websites are: MyU, OneStop, ITLABS, Library, ISSS, and the UofM E-mail.

Certainly I can write down an extraordinary b-i-g list with all of the websites I daily use, but I don’t want to make you (the reader) feel overwhelmed. I promise that little by little you will find and add to your list of favorites as the days go by.


MyU is an extraordinary website with all of your current academic status (courses, finances, health, library, etc). My intuition of this website is that of helping students to quickly find and be informed about their current status at the U. When do I use this website? – I certainly use it when I want to be sure that the courses I registered for, are the ones the University knows (and is expecting from me to) I am taking. From this webpage I also have a quick link to check my email inbox (although I use a email client to read/write email).I can also see if have a pending tuition balance to pay. Also, very important as well, I can see if I have any hold; a hold is “something” that won’t let you continue with registration, like a tuberculosis exam (international students may need to do it as soon as they arrive to campus). Finally you have a quick access to the library online system, thus you can search for a textbook, download a paper, etc.

OneStop is “the central office” –I call it. It is so big I don’t know where to start! If you need a transcript, a graduation planner (especially for undergrads), registration for classes! You will do it from here mostly likely. You can also find the official calendar of the academic year (when classes start, end, holidays, etc.). Information related to finances is also available here; for example, if your tuition will be pay by your parents you have to grant them access to your account so that they can pay it for you, and you will do it from here.
MyU is a reduced view of all the services provided by OneStop and some others like the Health Center and the Libraries.

ITLABS for Computer Science students is a website provided by the Institute of Technology with all the information regarding labs and computer facilities for IT students (computer science students mainly). Most of us (computer scientists) will have to create an ITLABS account to work on course’s projects or labs. For example I last semester I registered a Computer Security course and we did some labs where we were actually hacking a machine or watching tcp messages. For those who are not aware of the consequences of these acts, it is prohibited thus ITLABS can build a virtual setting for us to do these type of things. ITLABS is also used for some other courses like Parallel Programming, and we can use faster machines that are usually not available for regular users (that’s my understanding anyway). So if you are a CS student here you will find the link to each registered course’s website (very important!!!!! Always to be informed about what the TA or the Professor post here! , and also a list of the names of the machines you can remotely connect to if needed.

We have multiple libraries that are sparse on campus. However you will be visiting one or two with more frequency instead of using all of them because they are organized according to majors. However they own a very good website with a very good search engine to find anything you might be looking for. Check it out! Unlimited resources!

ISSS of course is the official place providing information to International Students. They have done an enormous effort to provide us with easy and detailed information about different procedures that at some point (early or later in your studies) may need to follow. Please keep it on your favorite’s list! (And I also keep on my cell phone’s contact list, the ISSS phone number)

The email is an official communication channel between the University and you. So read it frequently, a few times a day you should check if new email is sitting in your inbox waiting for you to read it. If you are not using an email client like Outlook for example, the easiest way (or the only I like the most to get quicker to my email inbox) is to use www.mail.umn.edu.

April 17, 2009

Basketball NBA

Last Wednesday, I went to a basketball NBA game!! It was at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, just 10 minutes from the campus (by bus). The game was the last game of the season and it was between Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings.

P1030397 2.JPG

A week before the game, I read Minnesota Daily, university official daily newspaper, and found out about an interesting deal. For NBA basketball game at the Target Center, there is a special offer called "College Night." Every time that Minnesota Timberwolves play at Target Center on Wednesday, college students can purchase a ticket for only 5 dollars!!! I found out about this wonderful deal, so I decided to go to this last game of the season.

Normally, the college night ticket is for an upper-leveled seat, which is quite far away from the court. However, since this was the last home game of the season, there was a special offer for fist 100 students going to the game. The first 100 students would be upgraded to the lower-leveled seat with a free towel and a poster! This game started at 7.00pm; however, the door opened from 5.30pm. Therefore, my friend and I hadn't planed to rush ourselves for the upgrade. We left our hall at 6.15 pm, took the route 16 bus, and arrived there at roughly 6.45pm. Luckily, we still managed to be the first 100!! Therefore, we got a very good seat, a towel, and a poster for only 5 dollars!!!

We walked into the arena. There were many restaurants in the arena selling all kinds of food: hot dogs, nacho, fried chicken, ice cream, etc. We didn't buy anything since it was nearly 7 and the game was about to start. We went to our seat, which was located behind the hoop. The arena was big and very beautiful. The players, as I had expected, were huge. The game started. The atmosphere was great, but not as great as I had expected since Minnesota Timberwolves hadn't played well this season. However, the game was fun to watch. There were always "Whoooh", "Whahhhh", whenever Timberwolves scored. Whenever Mike Miller, one of the Timberwolves's best player that night, scored the three points, the crowd jumped around their seats. The part I really liked was when the Kings got a free throw. On the screen in the middle of the arena, there would be a Howl-o-meter to measure the loudness of noise the crowd could make (they did so because they wanted this loud noise from the crowd to distract the opponent player who was taking the free throw).

At half time, I walked around the arena and decided to try an ice cream cone. It was huge!! It was pretty good as well. I spent nearly an entire quarter to finish it!!!

P1030398 2.JPG

The second half was as fun as the first. Before the end of the game, the also gave off some t-shirts. They used a very big rubber stick to shoot t-shirts up to the fan. Unfortunately, I didn't get one. The game ended at around 9.30 and we took a bus back at around 10 o'clock. Good experience overall!!

April 16, 2009

Any hi-tech application in the teaching process?

Are you wondering whether or not you will be able to see cool stuff, or maybe be part of something cool?!? Depending on your major, there maybe some opportunities you should absolutely not miss!

For undergraduates engineers in general (Biomedical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, etc…), there is a senior design class they have to take their senior years (year of their graduation). The class is usually during both the fall and the spring semester. Students are paired with other students, usually six, to work on a project related to their major. The project usually inquires the students to build a device based on all the knowledge they have acquired in their major core classes and their electives. Their final design is to be presented during a senior design show during the last week of the spring semester in May.

Biomedical Engineers are usually able to attend the Design of Medical Devices (DMD) conference, a gathering of faculty members from various universities or companies in the health field. Students have the opportunities to participate in various sessions: Live surgery, surgical simulators, sessions on cardiovascular engineering, tissue engineering or neuroengineering, surgical devices or other medical devices.

From times to time, there might also be session on-campus related to your major, and as Misa mentioned in her post, it’s always a good idea to check the Events website if you are interested in such sessions.

5GB NetFiles Storage

I don’t think many students know this but current Staff, Faculty and Students are eligible for a NetFiles account. I have been used it for a while and I feel it’s convenient especially when you do not have a flash drive with you when printing in the computer lab.
- Step 1
To activate your account go to your internet account options page at https://www.umn.edu/myaccount. If you are eligible for an account, the internet account options page will have a link for "NetFiles account options". Follow that link and agree to the information there to activate your account.
- Step 2
After activating your account you can log in to the system at https://netfiles.umn.edu.

April 13, 2009

Health & Dental Insurance In America

University Health Insurance
When you come to study at the university of Minnesota, you’re required to purchase a health insurance from the university. The university insurance covers 80 % out of your medical expanse. The biggest reason why you need to purchase the university insurance is that an insurance company in your country might not cover whole medical expense here. It’s because medical cost in America can be quite different and extremely expensive compared to many other countries.

Dental Insurance
By the way, university health insurance does not include dental insurance. So, dental expense is not under insurance. Medical treatment, especially dental, is quite expensive and you have to wait for a long while. However, at the university of Minnesota, there’s a school of dentistry where dental students treat patients for educational purpose. So, you can make an appointment quickly and get discounted price for your dental treatment.
Here’s the website: http://www.dentistry.umn.edu/patients/home.html

If you want to have a private dental insurance in Minnesota, you can find information from this website below.
Delta Dental Insurance: www.deltadental.com

Other Things to Remember:
* Ambulance & Emergency Room are also covered 80% by the university insurance.

* A prescription medicine is covered 80% from the pharmacy in Boynton Health Center which is a university hospital for international students.

* When you visit doctors, please write down your questions and bring them with you. That would be the best way to explain your conditions and communicate with doctors.

April 12, 2009

Ever heard of the Minnesota State Fair?

Or ever heard of such thing as a state fair at all!?!? The Minnesota state Fair is one of the biggest gatherings in Minnesota during the summer. The main attraction of the fair is all the varieties of food, livestock and art that are presented. There are other activities such as concerts, science fair or marathon. It usually takes place in Saint Paul on the Fairgrounds near the Saint Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota and lasts twelve days, from late August to Labor Day (first Monday of September).

From what I have experienced, it is a very very big event in the State and Saint Paul. Having a taste of on-site made, hot food representing the work of Minnesota farmers is something many find entertaining; and to make it easier on the fairgoers to try the cuisine, the food is presented on a stick: it’s easier to carry around and it reduces the waste.

Besides the food, the fair is also a good opportunity to see various farm animals such as goats, cows, horses or poultry. Concerts are usually going on to keep visitors entertained and some local TV stations such as Kare 11 (NBC – National Broadcasting Company), 5 Eyewitness News (ABC – American Broadcasting Company), have a stand on the Fairgrounds to keep up with what is going on. The journalists would interview the fairgoers sometimes or give reviews of food they have tried.

There is an admission fee to participate to the Fair and you would also have to pay for the food. For students living on the St Paul campus, the fairgrounds are at a walking distance, but you can also catch the bus 3 to go there. Students living on the Minneapolis campus can catch the campus connector or the bus 3 in Minneapolis.

So if you get the chance to attend to state fair, before the fall semester starts, you should! Depending on when you arrive in Minnesota, you could have enough free time between the various orientations you have to attend. It’s usually very busy on week-ends, so weekdays might be preferable to have a better experience :).

April 10, 2009

Ten Things to Do on Campus on Weekends...

Weekends are great time for students to take a rest from classes. Apart from studying, cleaning the room, and doing laundry, there are also many other things to do on campus. Let's see my list of Ten Things to Do on Campus on Weekends.

1) Go to the football game. In fall, there is a football game on campus (if out team, the Golden Gophers, plays a home game). This is a very fun event to go and a good place to feel the pride of the university. People will sing school's songs and shout all game. Our mascot, Goldy, will be there. Also, this fall, we will start using our new stadium, the TCF Bank Stadium!!! It will be exciting to watch the game there.

2) Watch movie at night. Saturday night, around 7 o'clock, Coffman Memorial Union has a free movie for students. You can check what movie will be on screen each week from the Student Unions and Activities website.

3) Go to the recreation center. There, you can play various sports or you can just work out in the gym. There are several basketball courts, volley ball courts, and badminton courts. You can also go swimming there or you can go to the Riddle Arena nearby to play tennis. Check out their website: http://www.recsports.umn.edu/

4) Take a walk around campus. The weather is usually nice in Fall semester, so enjoy it! Take a walk around the beautiful campus and take some nice pictures.

5) Go climbing at St. Paul gym. For those who enjoy adventurous sports, go to the St. Paul gym and check this out!

6) Gophers after dark. This is a weekly night event from 10.00pm at Coffman Memorial Union. There are many activities at this event. You can find out what those activities are for each week at this website: http://www.coffman.umn.edu/afterdark/

7) Participate in intramural sports. Form a team with your friends and compete with others people on campus! There are various sports that you can compete: soccer, Frisbee, flag football, tennis, etc. I joined a soccer team last semester and it was really fun. It really helped me make friends as well. For more information, check the website: http://www.recsports.umn.edu/intramurals/index.html

8) Find some friends and play Frisbee. There are many fields around campus that you can enjoy playing Frisbee as well as other sports like soccer. Enjoy the nice weather in fall when you have chance!

9) Take some snacks, find a big TV, and watch NFL football games. Professional football usually plays on Sunday. After mid-season, there are games all day from 11.00am to 8.00pm, so find some friends and enjoy American games! Also, if you like basketball, hockey or baseball, there are usually some games on Saturday and Sunday as well. Minnesota has a franchise in each of these sports: Minnesota Vikings for football, Minnesota Timberwolves for basketball, Minnesota Twins for baseball, and Minnesota Wild for hockey.

10) Finally, go to special events on campus. Sometimes, there are special events on weekends like a concert, a comedy show, or a film festival. Check advertisements around campus or website: http://www.sua.umn.edu/ to find out what is going on!

Enjoy your weekends!!!

April 7, 2009

Workshops and Events at the U

This is my last semester at the U of M, and I just turned in my first draft thesis to my advisor yesterday. Phew! It was a long journey of writing. Not easy, but definitely rewarding. I feel good and am happy to be back on this blog.

When I reflect on my two-year student life, I think about the amount of resources and opportunities available on campus. There are a variety of workshops, events, information sessions, and online resources, which you want to take full advantage of. For example, today I attended this workshop called, "Formatting the International CV/Résumé to the American Job Market." It was very informative and specific, clarifying how international students need to prepare their CV/Résumé in a culturally appropriate and effective way in the U.S.

I have listed some of the useful links below. You may get very busy with your own course work and projects, but keep an eye out for those events and resources that you will benefit from. There are a lot of additional opportunities out there!

*** *** *** *** ***
"What events are going on?"
You will have a good overview at Campus Events.

"I'm interested in workshops."
Check out the libraries and the Graduate School web pages.

"Aaah, I hate writing..."
Don't moan and groan alone. Seek assistance at the Center for Writing and the Graduate School.

Trust me, you will be inspired and encouraged!

April 6, 2009

Bookstore (school supplies and more)

I can’t believe how long it took me this time to find a good topic to write about! I am happy now that I found it, and my article is ready for you! I think this topic, will help you learn where to buy all your school supplies, textbooks, Gopher’s items, computers, electronic supplies, and more.

When I started the MS CS program, on the first semester I had to buy 2 textbooks; Data Communications and Networks, and Software Engineering. Prior weeks to my first semester I was living in California, and I flew to Minneapolis very close to my first day….actually on the same day, first flight. (I don’t recommend anyone to follow my steps here).

I needed to get ready quickly for school; I knew that at the Coffman Union building (it is one of the most visited for lunch, special activities like Career Fairs, Graduation Festival, Indian/Chinese/Etc. cultural activities, Bookstore sales, etc you can see a map here) had a store called the Bookstore. Please I do strongly recommend visiting it as soon as you arrive to campus.

Bookstore UofM.jpg

The Bookstore makes a great effort to be prepared for the beginning of each semester, and in general during the whole calendar year, with school supplies (pencils, tape, agendas, folders, sheets, laptops, textbooks, UofM cups, sweaters, greeting cards, general literature, magazines,…what else? Gifts, webcams, mouse, graduation gowns …so many things!

Personally this is the place where I buy my textbooks (new ones and used as well), and occasionally I will go there to buy a card for my family, get light bulbs! (One day my desktop lamp’s bulb burned, and I was in finals), pencils/pens, highlighters, and from time to time I will buy a magazine to read.

It is very convenient to have an on-campus store with (almost) everything you need during the semester. I wrote between brackets “almost” because I guess there must be something they might not sell; but to be honest, I always found it here. The Bookstore is open Monday-Friday 8am to 6pm, and Saturday 10am to 4pm (Sundays is closed).

I think these are most useful links I can point out for you (new student) right now:

Books department:
Selling old textbooks: here
Order online textbooks: here

Technology department: here

Graduation department: here

The Bookstore, and overall Coffman Union offers multiple services, products, and facilities that I am more than sure you will have to visit it while your studies. So please, write down on your agenda to make a stop at the Bookstore and Coffman Union as soon as you get a chance.


- Gabriela

PS: Coffman Union is “the place” where most of the cultural and social activities happen during the semester; they provide entertainment, food, convenient services, ATMs, and more. Please I do strongly recommend visiting it as soon as you arrive to campus.

my journey to the U

Thee's first day experiences here prompted me to write my own experiences. My journey to Minneapolis was indeed a very long one.

The name of my home town is Palasa. Its located remotely in the southern part of India. I had to travel 400 plus miles by train to reach the nearest city with an international airport, Hyderabad. Prior to all this, after my admit was confirmed I got in touch with 5 other students who were admitted in the University of Minnesota and who had plans of traveling to the USA from India via the same airport which I thought of. Establishing contacts happened through various email groups and social networking sites, thanks to the Internet. Simple Google searches with key words like "UMN + Fall + 2008" threw lots of relevant information.

My scheduled flight from Hyderabad was supposed to start at 2.00 AM. Unfortunately it got delayed by 4 hours, which left us all sleepless that entire night and we ended up exploring every nook and corner of the airport. The flight started at around 6 AM to Mumbai where we had to catch another flight to Chicago. We reached Mumbai at around 7.30 in the morning. And we boarded our flight to Chicago at around 10 AM. After that, I just lost track of time with all the changing time zones. After 10 hours of flight journey we reached London's Heathrow airport. That is one of the most tiring journeys of my life with very little chance to move legs and all. After a 4 hour break in the Heathrow airport, we had our flight ready to Chicago. And I was in the USA after being in air for another 7 hours. airplane.gif

Chicago airport happened to be a big mystery. After the immigration check, my baggage didn't appear on the baggage belt for very long time. And by the time it appeared, I missed contact with other people I traveled all the way from India. And one of my suitcases dropped all the way from top of the escalator doing multiple somersaults (luckily no damage happened). After all the confusion, I could find other five people to learn that our flight from Chicago to Minneapolis was delayed by 3 hours. Finally, it was 2 AM (CST) in the morning by the time we reached Minneapolis. We had volunteers from Bharat group waiting for us at the airport to pick us. And they helped me find temporary accommodation in a Material Sciences PhD student's house. With all the multiple journeys I did and the jet lag, I was very tired and slept for next 16 hours. That next day, I was all set exploring the East bank and West bank offices to have my holds removed.

Lessons from my experience:

    Its good to form a batch while you travel from your home country to USA.
    Its better if you have some of them in your batch heading to the same university you got admitted into.
    Plan your journey in such a way that you reach Minneapolis during the day (unlike me). It will be easy to people who come to pick you (if someone is coming for you). Or if you are on your own, it will be much easier in getting used to the new place and in finding a cab.
    Have a folder which can accommodate all your documents - visa related, certificates etc in an accessible way. You might be asked multiple times to show them during your journey.
    Having a backpack which can fit in all the things you will need during your journey is a good idea.
    MP3 Player, books and what not to kill time during your flight

And what else? Feel free to ask questions/doubts/concerns.


Diary of Asa: Temporary Housing

...the continuation of Diary of Asa: Looking for A Second Home in Minneapolis ^0^

Once I decided to stay in the university residence hall, a couple other questions came up in my head. "When could I move-in? If I could not move-in by the time I arrive in Minneapolis, what am I supposed to do? Where should I live temporarily before I move-in to my permanent house?"

For your information, most of apartments start their lease really late in August or early in September. Therefore, most of international students (including me ^^) had to find a temporary housing where we could stay before moving in to our permanent one.

Here are some options that you could try to find a temporary housing:

1. Off campus temporary housing. Complete information on address, contact info, facilities, and rate are available at: http://www.housing.umn.edu/offcampus/temp.shtml

2. Hotels and motels around campus. http://www.housing.umn.edu/movein/hotel.shtml

3. Contact a student organization. Since I'm from Indonesia, I contacted the president and vice president of the Indonesian Student Association at the University of Minnesota. Some international student groups (including the Indonesian Student Association) help the incoming international students to arrange their transportation from the airport to campus, temporary housing, move-in process from the temporary housing to permanent one, etc. Here is a link to our student groups list: http://www.sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/index.php?group_by=name

4. If you cannot find a student group that represents your home country, you could try to contact Minnesota International Student Association (http://www.sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/show.php?id=184).

5. The university actually has a temporary housing option for international students. It is usually called International Reception Center. However, its sites are no longer available on-line. If you have a question, please send an e-mail to housing@umn.edu or call 1-612-624-2994. Their office hours are 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM CST from Monday - Friday.

6. Email us at passport@umn.edu with your concerns about housing and we'll try our best to help you with those questions.

..to be continued to the fifth part (stay tune) ^0^


April 3, 2009

First Day of the First Semester...

The first day of classes is usually exciting. New place, new friends, new teacher, new class room...
People wake up very early in the morning, have a wonderful breakfast and go to their class super early.

However, sometimes, things do not go as planned. That's what happened to me. Things went wrong badly, and my first day of the first semester turned out to be catastrophic.

Let's find out what went wrong with my first day and what mistakes I did so that you can learn from my experiences, and prevent bad things from happening with you.

The story started the night before the first day when I packed my backpack. I looked up the weather forecast and found that it would be raining. So I put an umbrella in my backpack. I put all the stationary I would need and a couple of notebooks in it. Since it was the first day, I didn't know which text books I needed to bring to the classes. Therefore, I decided to bring all my text books with me! Unfortunately, the first day of the class, Tuesday, was my busiest day of the week. I had 4 classes on Tuesday. As you can imagine, I decided to bring all the books for all 4 classes to the classes. They were very heavy.....That was not all. I also decided that I should bring a water bottle too, so I took out a water bottle and filled it with water.

The next morning, my first class was at 10.10 am at Vincent Hall on the East Bank and I lived in Middlebrook Hall on the West Bank. I got up very early at around 8.30 am. I got myself ready to take off, and put my backpack on my back. Unfortunately, the text books were too heavy to carry, so I decided to bring 3 of them out (there were still 2 of them in my backpack) and carry them with one of my arm. I had breakfast and took off. As the forecast had said, it was raining, so I brought out my umbrella, carried it with one hand and carried my heavy books with the other. Remember that I also have a water bottle? Unfortunately, that bottle didn't have a good cover and water would have leaked if I had put it in my backpack. What did I do? I carried it with the hand that didn't have an umbrella. So, I have an umbrella on my right hand, a water bottle on my left hand, and my text books on my left arm as well!!!

I took off. I walked from my hall across the bridge to Vincent Hall on the East Bank with all that unstable setting. As you can guess, I arrived there extremely early, around 9.25 am. After that, I had two classes around that area, and I found out that I didn't need those heavy books at all as well as that there were drinking fountains everywhere, so I actually didn't need my water bottle. I finished my second class at 12.05am and my next class started at 12.45, but unfortunately, it is on the West Bank. So, I had to carry all the books, an umbrella, and a water bottle across the bridge back again. Even more unfortunately, the class I had after that class would be on the East Bank!!! Therefore, I decided that I couldn't carry these books anymore. Since the class I was about to have was on the West Bank as well as my dorm, I decided to go back to my room and put my books back before going to that class. Unfortunately (again), the stuffs I had been carried around as well as the fact that it was raining slowed me down considerably. As a result, I went to my class 15 minutes late, which made me miss some information about the structure of the class that my professor was giving, and obviously, I didn't have lunch that day....

If that was not catastrophic enough, after that class, I had to cross the bridge back to the East Bank for my physics lab (without my books, fortunately). That lab was so confusing to me, because we had to design our own experiment and I had never done that before. In school, my teacher normally gave me instructions. Therefore, I was very confused about what I was supposed to do and so were my lab partners!!! (A week later when we tried to write our lab report, we found that we got terribly inaccurate data!) After that lab, I walked across the bridge (for the forth time in one day) back to my room, and enjoyed the feeling that the day was (finally) over.

From my story, I would like give some tips about the first day of the semester...
1) E-mail your professors a couple of days before to ask whether you need to bring books to their classes or not.
2) Make sure you know where each class is located. You may want to go and check it a day or two before.
3) If you have to cross the bridge multiple times, use campus connector!!!
4) Plan your time for lunch.
5) Be prepared to face some unexpected things in classes.
6) Don't be too excited. Get enough sleep, and don't get up too early!!!!

Good luck with your first day :)

Job Scenario

With this economic scenario, we have lots of people asking questions on the Job scenario at the University of Minnesota. I hope this post will address your question if you have similar concerns lurking in the corner of your mind unanswered.

Minneapolis and St. Paul together are home to lots of big companies. And this is also head quarters to some of the most popular companies. This acts as a huge advantage to the students at U of M, as the chances of getting hired always increases with the number of companies present close to the University. This doesn't completely make the scenario better, but we are in an advantageous position over others.

We have lots of Career Fairs organized at the University where major companies present about their company, and take resumes from students. Some companies also conduct interviews when they come here. Apart from that, we also have Minnesota State Career Fair organized outside the University.

And the Career Center always offers guidance in preparing our Cover Letters and Resumes when we apply for jobs. They also conduct mock interviews to make us better prepared for the interviews. ISSS also organizes mock interviews and resume guidance sessions to International Students once in a while every semester. So, getting the best out of all these facilities available should definitely help us in making good jobs.

Here is a list of companies based on Minneapolis/St. Paul. Apart from these, there are many other companies which come from various other places across the country to hire talent from the University of Minnesota. With all this competitive advantage by becoming a student at this University, there is not much reason to worry about jobs. Go gophers!!!

Diary of Asa: Looking for A Second Home in Minneapolis

...the continuation of Diary of Asa: Preparing Departure to the US Part 2 ^0^

To Do List:

1. Enrollment confirmation: done.
2. Student visa: in process.
3. Expenses and tuition payment plan: done.
4. Immunization record: done.
5. Initiate my university email account: done.
6. Packing: half done.
7. Housing options: ???

When I was planning my departure to Minneapolis, one of the biggest concerns that I had was about housing. I did not have relatives nor know anyone who already lived in Minneapolis. As for now, I have lived in three different places and thought it might be a good idea to share with you what I like and do not like about them. And of course, in the end, it all comes back to you to decide which one would be the perfect fit for you to live in.

1. Centennial Hall: one of the university residence halls (late August 2007-early May 2008)

a. Strategic location
Centennial is located on the Minneapolis campus' East Bank (which is home to programs such as Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Psychology, Language Studies, etc.). It is near Williams (basketball) and Mariucci (hockey) arenas, University Recreational Center (http://www.recsports.umn.edu/), the University Hospital, and a local shopping-eating area. For your information, people here usually refer university housing as on-campus housing and everything else as off-campus housing.

b. Diversity
I could meet different people with different backgrounds in this one building. From American to international friends. From students in my program (science) to students from different majors. From other freshmen to seniors. Amazing!!!

c. Networking
In each residence hall, there will be a Community Adviser (CA) for each floor. My CA was a bit nerd but pretty awesome ^^ He liked to organize a get-together events so we could know our neighbors better. I remember, on our first day there, he asked everyone in our floor to have a dinner together. From that meeting, I met one of my neighbors who was apparently taking the same class as me (Introduction to Microeconomics. Gosh, I love that class!!!). We liked to hang out in her room, either did some homework or studied for an exam, but watched MONK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monk_(TV_series)) for most of the time ^^

For students who live in residence halls, they are required to buy a meal plan (http://www1.umn.edu/dining/mealplans.html). In my opinion, some residence dining halls have better food than some others. Unfortunately, Centennial is not one of them. I did not enjoy the food very much because what they had were usually burger, pizza, pasta, and some comfort food (for every meal and everyday). I could have eaten somewhere else, but the meal plan was pretty expensive. I did not want to waste more money on it. Centennial actually has a shared kitchen that everyone can use. But I guess I was just too lazy to go downstairs, cook something, and go back to my room. hhehe :p

2. A private house in 700 5th Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN (early May-late August 2008)

I heard about this place from a friend of mine who were already staying there. The house is owned by an international old couple (my landlord is from Minnesota and his wife is from Thailand) who lease the rooms so they would have someone to talk to. I liked everything about this place. During the summer, I stayed with 5 roommates who are all Indonesians. We liked to share groceries and cook for each other. The rent was super cheap, $350/month (including electricity, cable, internet, and rice). Sometimes they asked us to help them doing something or to take care of their grandson who lives with them. Since I enjoyed it, I had no problem with it. I had to leave their house because I already promised two other friends to be their roommates this year.

For your information, most apartments in Dinkytown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinkytown) are unfurnished. I was pretty lucky that I did not need to buy anything since they provided some furniture for me.

3. The District on Delaware (September 2008-now)

The District on Delaware or previously known as Melrose Student Suite is an apartment that is located pretty close to East Bank campus (walking distance).

a. My own bedroom, my own bathroom
What else I could say. I got a privilege to decor my own bedroom and bathroom (I had my own bedroom in two previous places but not my own bathroom)!!! No more knocking on the bathroom door because I was enjoying my shower time (by singing of course ^^) while one of my roommates needed to use the bathroom as well. hhehe :p

b. Our own kitchen
My roommates and I share the grocery and cook for each other. That way we could save some money.

c. Facilities
Study rooms, computer lab, gym, movie theater, and also games room are available.

We can't open the windows!!! I don't know why but we just can't open them. As Minnesota is cold for most of the time, I don't really care if I can't open the windows. However, it became annoying when we are cooking something and the smell just got stuck in our apartment.

Hffh, can't believe that it comes the time when we have to look for an apartment again (one of my roommates and I are thinking about moving to a different apartment where we're sure that we're gonna stay in that apartment until we graduate)!!!

Feel free to leave a comment or email us at passport@umn.edu if you have further questions about housing/anything else.

..to be continued to the fourth part (temporary housing options) ^0^


1. Link to university housing: http://www.housing.umn.edu/international/index.shtml

2. Link to off campus housing: https://rentals.tc.umn.edu/

3. Link to The District of Delaware: http://www.thedistrictminneapolis.com/

April 2, 2009

You sure you know MN?

Here is the official website for you to be familiar with Minnesota (MN) before you come here as international students. But firstly let me show you some fun stuff related to MN. I saw this from Facebook before I came to the US.

You know you're a Minnesotan if...
You measure distance in minutes.
Weather is 80% of your conversation.
Down south to you means Iowa.
You call highways "freeways."
Snow tires came standard on your car.
You have no concept of public transportation.
75% of your graduating high school class went to the Univ. of Minnesota.
You know more than 1 person that has hit a deer.
People from other states love to hear you say words with "o"s in them.
You know what and where "Dinkytown" is.
"Perkins" was a popular hangout option in high school.
You have no problem saying or spelling "Minneapolis."
You can list all the "Dales."
You hate "Fargo" but realize that a lot of your family has that accent.
You get mad at people who think Fargo is in Minnesota.
Your school classes have been canceled because of snow or cold.
You know what Mille Lacs is and how to spell it.
You assume when you say "The Cities" people know where you are referring to.
You know what the numbers 694, 494, I-94, 394 mean.
You have tried boiled fish in lye at Christmas.
You know the 2 sports-related reasons why we hate Dallas.
Nothing gets you madder than seeing a Green Bay sticker on a MN car.
You know what "uff-da" means and how to use it properly.
You can pinpoint exactly where each scene in "Untamed Heart" was filmed.
You can spot the three-second cameo appearance by "The Artist formerly Known as Prince" in "Fargo."
You're a loyal Target shopper.
You've licked frozen metal.
The only reason you go to Wisconsin is to get fireworks or to fish.
You own an ice house, a snowmobile, and a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
You wear shorts when it's 50 degrees outside in March, but bundle up and complain in August when it goes below 60.
You know people that have more fishing poles than teeth.
You remember WLOL.
It feels like the Mississippi is everywhere you go.
When you talk about "opener" you are not talking about cans.
You have gone Trick-or-Treating in 3 feet of snow.
You know that when it comes to AM, there is only WCCO, besides, what else do you need?
You know what the word SPAM stands for (in more ways than one)
You carry jumper cables in your car.
You drink "POP," not "SODA"
There was a time when you were SO proud that Soul Asylum is from MN
In a conversation you heard someone say "yah, sure, you betcha" and you didn't laugh.
Everyone you know has a cabin.
You get sick of people asking you where Paisley Park is.
You know that Lake Wobegon isn't real and you know who made it up, where they live, and exactly what to do about it
You have friends who schdule their wedding in the middle of January without a thought about weather conditions.
You may not have actually eaten it, but you have heard of Lutefisk.
Someone mentions Old Hubie or the Humph, and you know exactly who they mean.
You like the Winter Olympics better than the Summer Olympics.
You beam with pride when some King or Hollywood super star comes to the Mayo Clinic to save their lives.
You have ever worn shorts and a parka at the same time.
You have either a pet or a child named "Kirby."
Your town has an equal number of bars and churches.
You know how to say Wayzata, Mahtomedi, and Shakopee.
You grew up thinking rice was only for dessert.
You never had to rewind any part of "Fargo" because you missed some of the dialogue.
You always believed that vacation meant "going up north."
Your bank has the name of your town included in its name.
The temperature in March is above freezing for three days in a row, and you think it's summer.
You laugh out loud every time you see a news report about a blizzard shutting down the entire east coast.
The first time you saw "Grumpy Old Men" you thought it was a documentary.
Your state's pro football team beats San Francisco, but loses to Tampa Bay.
You've been made fun of for your northern accent.
You've been to an ice hockey game.
You've been snowmobiling.
You know how the wind chill factor works.
You constantly make fun of Iowa.
You keep an ice scraper in your back seat.
You call the childhood game "Duck, duck, gray duck."
You've ever built a snowman.
You consider 50 degrees in March a warm day.
You make fun of Wisconsin people.
You know where yellow snow comes from.
You know at least one person in your immediate family hate the "Packers."
You "go to the cabin" on the weekends during the summer.
You've ever taken a family vacation to either North or South Dakota.
You're still mad at the LA Lakers for not changing their name.
You or your family owns a snow blower.
You, your dad, or a close friend has a snow plow on the front of their pick up truck.
You expect school cancellations and delays to happen at least twice a winter.
You still hear/tell stories about the "Halloween Snow Storm" of 91.
You've been in, on, or near a lake within the past week.
You know the names of the Twin Cities.
You've been to the city of Duluth.

Need a mentor as a business student?

Life is tough for international student especially during our first year. We need to adjust to the life style here quickly, as well as the academic environment. That is why we need some experienced ones to be with us when we are not able to overcome the troubles. As a Carlson student, I would like to recommend two programs that mean a lot to me at some point.

-Carlson Buddies Program
In my freshmen year, I was involved in Carlson Buddies Program as a “little buddy”. Each “little buddy” matches with a “big buddy” based on the major and interests etc. I felt that I really enjoyed the time being with my “big buddy”. She, as a senior student in Carlson shared a lot of information and knowledge with me not only about the learning experience inside the classroom but also the opportunities outside the school. Furthermore, she introduced her friends to me and her friends might also hang out with me with their friends together which is called networking for all of us. I benefited a lot from it. The best thing of the program for me is that I still keep contact with my “big buddy” these days and the lifelong friendship is the most valuable thing that I took away from the program.

-Carlson Mentorship Program
Carlson Mentorship Program looks similar with the Buddies Program. However, the difference is that you will be matched with a successful professional from the Minneapolis/St. Paul business community or a professional outside of Minnesota. No wonder that the stories they talked about would be different from the ones that my “big buddy” told me. I always felt excited for my future with them because they just gave me too much insights and ideas. I enjoyed the feeling of being refreshed in mind. Because they are more “adult”, I would be more willing to expose my mistakes because they are more likely to understand me. Don’t be hesitated to ask, otherwise you miss the key part of the program.