September 21, 2009

. T. H. A. N. K . . Y. O. U .

Sometime in October last year, I told my mom that I was appointed as the undergraduate student leader for the International Ambassadors program. She asked me about what I had to do with that position and I told her that I would be writing blog, replying emails from prospective students, and facilitating the bi-weekly meetings. But, I was wrong. It actually turned out to be something bigger than that.

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May 22, 2009

Farewell For the Summer

This is my last blog before the summer. Thank you very much for reading my and our blogs throughout the semester. It has been a long semester and a long year, but believe me, time can fly when you are happy. The first semester was quite challenging for me. I had to deal with many things. The second was a lot better, and I would say that I really enjoyed it.

For those who are coming to the University of Minnesota next semester, I would like to congratulate you. You have got a great opportunity to be here. However, please keep in mind that life is not perfect sometimes. You may encounter a lot of problem throughout your first year here. Do not give up. Find some helps. There are a lot of people who can help you here. You might feel really confident now before you come, but anything can happen. Be ready for the changes that you are about to face. First year is always tough, but enjoy it because it can happen only once.

Good luck with your summer wherever you are. We will meet again next semester.

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.


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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

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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.

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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.

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April 2, 2009

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.

March 10, 2009

Clothes to wear

Today it is a very cold day in Minneapolis which follows two very strong winter storms from last week. Occasionally the University cancels classes if the storm is outrageous, but it is unusual (I enjoyed it only once in two years). So if I don’t want to miss classes, I have to be ready to leave the comfort of my apartment wearing the proper clothes.

I roll over on my bed to the window shortly after my alarm wakes me up, stretch my neck and head and very slowly try to open my eyes (at least one!) to see if the sky was clear and sunny. Shortly after and I would (wrongly) think that sunny days equals warm day… hahaha … I am so wrong! Who would think that getting dress is such a protocol? What a big deal!

Now, after almost two years I know that sunny days during the winter are tricky. I don’t check on my window any longer to see if the day is sunny…that is what technology is for! (Among millions of other purposes) I will talk about how to get dress for the snow, places to buy winter clothes, websites to check daily and hour-by-hour temperatures very important!, how to protect your skin (if you are interested too) and more…..nothing but a list of best practices!

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March 8, 2009

Activities as courses

Gabriela in her article has mentioned the importance of Fitness to keep a healthy mind and body. Keeping ourselves fit with some activity will also help us handle the pressure we have due to the course load and other academic activities. The university offers various activities in the form of one credit courses, some of them do not account for our graduation requirements depending on the degree we take and the course we register for.

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March 6, 2009

Diary of Asa: Preparing Departure to the US (Part 1)

It's unbelievable that time flies super fast! I still remember, two years ago around this time of the year, I was preparing everything upon my departure to Minneapolis. It was a bit hard to take care of a couple things since I was not in the US yet; therefore, I decided to write a series of how I got settled in at the University of Minnesota. Everything that I am going to write here would be my personal experiences. I am hoping they could be good references for you all, but am also hoping you would keep your minds open to other options (I am going to include them in the series or you could find them on your own). You decide what is best for you (but definitely feel free to leave a comment if you have any concerns ^^).

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March 4, 2009

Ready for school in mind and body?

No time to exercise during the semester?
I had the same problem that maybe many of you are having regarding to exercising and controlling your health, especially when we have little time to even get some sleep! I know that particular intervals of time during the semester you will not even think about getting close to the treadmill or the gym in general. I did this same mistake the first 3 semesters. Then I started to fill so tired, and completely bored of doing nothing but school related stuff. So at the beginning of this semester I changed my mind, and a little bit my schedule. I was determined to be healthier not only physically, but mentally too.
I will talk in this blog about working out and jump into the bike, and getting some quality time to relax and make new friends! It is amazing what happens when you open your circle of places, people, and activities just a little bit more ;)

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February 27, 2009

Making Friends: Are there any golden rules?

Whether or not you are a confident English speaker, you do have one universal language that helps you make friends in Minnesota. It's your SMILE! Minnesotans are known to be relaxed and friendly people, so your smile works perfect in this State. Aha! Isn't it good?

Let me share some more about making friends.


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February 17, 2009

One of the good things about Minneapolis

I just got back from Tokyo, Japan, where I collected data (i.e. interviewed people) for my thesis work. It was an interesting return trip because I was constantly comparing the two cities of Tokyo and Minneapolis while I was there. It was as if I was looking at the hustling and bustling city of Tokyo through a different pair of glasses. The city looked familiar, but not in the same way as it used to be.

During my stay in Tokyo, I really missed the coffee shops in Minneapolis. There are lots of good ones in Minneapolis where we can relax, chat, and have access to free wi-fi. Each coffee shop has its own atmosphere with cozy couches, arts, and music. Many students bring their laptops and textbooks to study there. You are never kicked out for staying too long or plugging in your laptop.

It was almost impossible to enjoy this environment in Tokyo. Yes, there are fancy cafes but they are just too crowded and hardly come with free wi-fi. There are very few outlets so even when I was lucky enough to find a place, my laptop's life was too short. Why not just read a book then? Umm, no, no. The noise and atmosphere was too distracting. The coffee shops did not seem as welcoming and comfortable for students like me as they are in Minneapolis.

So now you know you have more choices of study place in Minneapolis. If not at home, not in the student lounge or library on campus, go to one of your favorite coffee shops to study!

December 4, 2008

Getting Ready for Departure: Logistical Matters

As my departure for Minneapolis got nearer, I started to think more about logistical matters. How should I bring my money? Am I going to get a bank account after arrival, or should I open one at a worldwide network like CITI Bank? How do I purchase my student insurance? How am I going to register for classes? For those of you who are going over the same questions, I hope this will be of some help.

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December 2, 2008

What would you do if...

What would you do if you get stuck at the airport? What would you do if there is nobody you could talk to? What would you do if all you could do is waiting? What would you do if...


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December 1, 2008

My Second Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Last semester, I was with my mom during the holiday since she came to the US for some business reasons while this semester, I was here alone, literally. But actually I had great fun in different cliques.
- Wednesday
Let me introduce you an amazing place for seafood – Mystic Lake’s Casino Buffet! It is a place for gambling actually but they do offer buffet. But they only provide seafood buffet on Wednesday and that’s why we went there. I promise you it was the longest time for me to wait for food – 2 hours! The price for seafood buffet is $22.95. Besides the oyster and crab, the dessert tasted good as well.
- Thursday
On the afternoon I went to a friend’s apartment. We had hot pot and then the most exciting thing was that he has the karaoke system at home!! He connects the laptop with TV so that the songs are updating. I just couldn’t believe he even downloaded the most recent songs. We were having hot pot and singing for more than 4 hours. It reminded me of my hometown. Nowadays, Chinese young people’s most popular way to spend leisure time is karaoke. It is very cheap to stay there for a whole afternoon. In addition, my friend is from Taiwan and he is good at cooking. He asked friends to eat at his apartment and we can order the dishes online beforehand (he posts the pictures of his dishes online). After that, we decided to go shopping because it was nearly midnight which means Black Friday was coming. We went to Albertville Outlet and there were already too many people that we were not able to park closely. I felt like Chinese people all have the join-in-the-fun nature because I didn’t buy much stuff but I would rather go even it was cold and crowded.
- Saturday
Four of my friends drove to Akita Sushi and Hibachi to have sushi buffet for dinner. As I am taking Japanese course, I felt excited to have Japanese food. However, as I entered the restaurant, I saw white people wearing kimono and Chinese waitress speaking Chinese instead of English or Japanese. Err…literally I don’t know how to describe my feeling. Anyways, the food was good but a little bit expensive. After that, we went to AMC to watch the new movie Twilight. I was so into it even when I got back home. I downloaded the OST of the movie. I love this one although I saw many critiques online.
- Sunday
OMG… it is the end of my thanksgiving holiday. I felt stressed today because I played too much and final is coming. I am a sophomore right now but on one hand, I am still developing the ability to balance, on the other hand, I am learning the social skills such as being an ice-breaker which is definetely necessary in the future.


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.

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November 3, 2008

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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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
I was in the Metrodome for the Football Game of Minnesota Vikings VS. Houston Taxans.

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May 2, 2008


Well, the spring semester is almost done - about two weeks!!! The summer is coming along and it sure is going to be entertaining to enjoy a couple of nights without homeworks before my junior year!!!

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April 30, 2008

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

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

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April 17, 2008

The closest grocery store

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

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April 9, 2008

What to bring to the US?

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

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April 8, 2008

Spring Break in Daytona ( Travel Tips are included)

Living in such a cold place in Minnesota is always killing me.
In order to give myself a little break from the chill and all the school work,

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Being by myself.....

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

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March 31, 2008

Pi day and earth hour day!

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

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

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February 24, 2008

just relax...

Many students begin to feel stressful since the midterms are coming. Please stay calm and try to arrange your time because you will find you can be extraordinary productive. "Study hard, play hard." It is always the easiest thing to say but the hardest thing to do. Don't be too pusshing to yourself and try your best to balance your life.

Here, I am going to suggest some amazing spots for you to hang out with your friends, so just relax for a while.

The best place to check out is always the Coffman Union. They have free movies for U of M students, great parties every Friday and Saturday night, and also wonderful workshops for ambicious students. Want to know more? Just check out their website at

If you prefer to spend time by yourself, there are many libraries you can go. In addition, you may be supprised to find some Museum Adventure Pass at counters. Those passes are like free tickets to almost every museum in Minnesota. It is definitely a good way to relax while learning something.

Recreation Center is always my favorite. It is free to get in for all U of M students. They have very nice swimming pool, basketball fields, training equipments, and many other services. You can also buy a fitness pass to attent classes like yoga and aerobics. There is no better options than doing some exercises in the REC Center, cause while you release yourself, you are also getting healthier!

Want to know more? Tell me what you like, I can always find the best spot for you to relax!