Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why You Should Care About Michigan Football

If you come from anywhere besides North America, the mention of “football” probably brings up teams like Manchester United and Chelsea in your mind. But don’t worry about that; soon you’ll program your mind to call that sport “soccer,” and “football” will be the sport where men wearing padding charge into each other while passing an oblong ball. You will see it being showed in almost every restaurant and TV screen that is around. You will hear true Wolverine fans bashing Ohio State and MSU (Michigan State University). Even if you came here not knowing a thing about how the game is played or how many people are on a team, chances are you will leave Ann Arbor having Michigan football t-shirts and knowing who the quarterback is.
I was just like that, coming here insisting that “soccer” is the real “football” and thinking American football was just a rebranded rugby. Little did I know that the University of Michigan has one of the strongest college football teams in the country. I was amazed that our football games were aired on TV, and that people from all over the States, old and young included, were watching and supporting our football team. If that doesn’t amaze you, here’s a fact that will: Ann Arbor hosts the second largest stadium in the entire world!
So, why should you care about Michigan football? That’s because football is everything here. Wolverines are extremely proud of their football team and especially their coach, Jim Harbaugh. It’s all people ever talk about during Game days. It’s a topic that brings people together. If you ever run out of topics while meeting new people, just the mention of last week’s game will get the conversation going on and on. Even professors talk about it in classes. Once a season is over, Wolverines are already looking forward to the next. People in Ann Arbor breathe and bleed Michigan football.
I personally don’t keep up to date with any sport at all; but there’s one team that I will sit in front of a TV and watch the entire game – the Michigan Wolverines football team. From not knowing about what a field goal is, I can now tell what causes a foul and what is an interception. I find myself cheering with the rest of the crowd every time our team scores a touchdown, and I became upset at the referee when we lost to Ohio State.
Even if you have no interest in sports at all, I strongly recommend that you attend a Michigan football game at the Michigan Stadium. The sea of yellow that consists of 110,000 people singing “The Victors” and cheering on our team is more than enough reason for you to try it out. You can get students tickets for a low price of $25 per ticket. And don’t forget to get yourself a maize-colored t-shirt at the M Den before the game!

Written by Wen Hoong Ling
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Malaysia
Sophomore in Economics

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Game Plan for Your Stipend BEFORE You Arrive

Kristi Chin_blog photo.png

We come from all sorts of financial backgrounds and budgeting experiences. This may be the first time you’ve started paying for rent, phone bills, and groceries; or you may have been financially independent for years. My department had a financial consultant present during the first week of September when we arrived, and that was a real eye opener to budgeting on this stipend. You have many things to keep you busy in grad school – stressing over your finances should not be one of them!

Have no fear! Graduate students at the University of Michigan have one of the best funding packages in the country – we just have to budget accordingly. Saving money will become habit after a little bit of effort and practice. We all can do it, and so can you.

Before you arrive in Ann Arbor, think about what is important to you to have a comfortable and happy life here. Do you prioritize having a really nice space to come home to? Do you prefer going out to eat on a weekly basis? Want to save money to travel each summer? I chose to have a really nice single bedroom apartment during my first year in Ann Arbor. After, I realized I prefer having company and will be living with roommates in my second year. Things can change (and now I am saving money by living with roommates)!

Go over your contract from the University of Michigan and figure out what you can afford on rent. This is the biggest expense, and you’ll want to subtract it from your stipend to see how much it cuts into your pay. Then, figure out what other monthly and unchanging expenses you will have, such as cell phone bills, and subtract that too. With the remaining amount, you can divide by the weeks in the month so you know your weekly budget for food and other things.

Once you are in Ann Arbor, keep every receipt and write out what you spend your money on for the month. Sort it by categories (e.g., food, rent, personal, etc.) At the end of the month, subtract this amount from your stipend. Did you go over your budget? Did you save? Tracking what you spend gives you an idea of where your money is going. Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.

Save as much as you can to have your money float over into the next month, because there are always unexpected expenses, gaps in payment dates, and substantial decreases in pay over the summer. You can apply for Rackham Emergency Funds and departmental funding for some emergencies (e.g., flying out to a family funeral, laptop repair). Monthly spending will fluctuate: in September you may be working so much that you don’t spend anything, and let’s not forget December when buy presents for all our loved ones (who are hoping for University of Michigan apparel). A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.

Written by Kristi Chin
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Canada
Ph.D. student in Psychology

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Preparing for Ann Arbor Restaurant Week in January


Restaurant week is a semi-annual event in Ann Arbor. The 2017 dates are January 15-20 and June 11-16. It provides a good opportunity for food lovers to go out and try as many great restaurants as they want for an incredibly low price. That means you can have a full lunch for $15 and a three course dinner for $28, and many restaurants offer 2-for-1 pricing. There are 53 restaurants in total involved in the January restaurant week. Also, some restaurants will donate a portion of the revenue from their selected menu to Food Gatherers, which is the first food rescue program in Michigan providing food assistance to low-income adults, seniors, and children in Washtenaw County. Check out the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week website for more information.

It’s worth mentioning that restaurants select their menu based on different strategies. Some restaurants view restaurant week as an opportunity to introduce their new dishes, some promote their popular dishes, and others use this time to sell less known or less popular dishes with a lower price. I’ll give a brief insider view below on some of the restaurants I previously visited. Since I personally enjoy Asian food a lot, my comments will be limited to Asian restaurants.

-2c251d7354798c50.JPGo.jpgNagomi has two sites on campus - one located on E. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor, and the other one on North campus near Courtyard. Only Nagomi Downtown will participate in restaurant week, and it provides both a lunch and dinner menu. As a sushi restaurant, Nagomi has abundant choices of sushi that deserve a try. The selected menu provides three choices for both lunch and dinner: sushi, teriyaki rice, and ramen/udon, which pretty much covers the Japanese cuisine. With several appetizers, you’ll enjoy a full meal at Nagomi. Also, the restaurant will donate $3 to Food Gatherers for each Tokkuri Sake you have during restaurant week.

o (1).jpgSlurping Turtle also provides both lunch and dinner. The dinner menu provides more choices of cold snacks (sushi rolls) and dessert (cream puff) than the lunch menu. The other parts are the same for lunch and dinner. Slurping Turtle has really great cream puff that I promise you would love. I’ve tried three of four flavors: vanilla, green tea, and red bean, all of which are great. It also has a chocolate flavor that people who love chocolate would love too.

Written by Xiaoya Chen

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No Car? No Problem!

Moving to a totally new environment can be stressful, and the academic rigor of U-M tends to exacerbate the issue. I remember being best friends with Google Maps to help me navigate through the campus when I walked around my first two weeks of school. With a constant battle against time and shivery-cold winter, I had to look into means of transportation other than just walking. Now, I would to share what I have learned in the past year with you.

Lyft / Uber

Most people already know what Lyft and Uber are, but let me introduce them to those who do not. Lyft and Uber are companies that help users connect with drivers within the proximity through a mobile app. By having both apps, users have access to a driver almost whenever. I like Lyft and Uber because all the drivers are controlled and regulated by big companies, lowering the risk of me falling into a sketchy situation. The user is charged based on time and distance traveled, but the app is very helpful when you are crunched for time or have a lot of items to carry.

Tip: If you are a new user, ask your friend to give you a promo code so that you and your friend could get a free ride.

Welcome to Ann Arbor, where there are two different bus services to get you from point A to B. M-Buses and AATA are the most frequently used public transportation services. I am already so excited to inform you about how wonderful the buses are. Yeah, your commute will take longer than taking a cab. But if you time perfectly by monitoring where the buses are, saving money will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Both services offer mobile apps and real-time M-Buses and AATA buses can be seen here.

Free to the public

Free with M-Card

Runs 24 hours

Routes available beyond campus

Live bus tracking available
Equipped to assist the handicapped
Frontal bike racks available

If you are living on campus, you will most likely use the M-buses more frequently. The bus tracking is more precise with the M-buses and it hits all the dorms. If you are living off campus and/or shop for your groceries, the AATA buses will quickly become your friends. On weekdays, the AATA buses wait time depends heavily on the demand. During rush hour, you will see one every 10 minutes. But on Sundays, you will see one every hour.

Zipcar / Maven

Having either a Zipcar or Maven membership (or both!) will make you live on the fine line between having a car and being car-less. The process of becoming a member starts on their websites. Note that in order to sign up, you need to have a driver’s license (makes sense, right?). With Maven, your smartphone is the way to get into the car. With Zipcar, you will need to wait a bit until the company sends you a card that you scan on the top corner of the windshield. One downside may be that you need to return the car at the same location you had picked up the car. A good (borderline great) thing about the membership is that the service is available outside of just Ann Arbor! Let’s say you are traveling to the Sunshine State (Florida). You will be able to unlock into a car there with your card!

Blue Bikes & ArborBike

If gliding through the streets on two wheels is something that interests you, look no further. In Ann Arbor, you have two options to rent a bicycle. Blue Bikes lets you rent a bicycle, a helmet, and a lock at an affordable price! The bikes are available at one location on central campus, Outdoor Adventures. If you are looking for a more spontaneous option, go with ArborBike. Your membership could last from 1 day to a year - it’s your choice! You sign up with a credit or debit card and will use it as a membership card. During your membership, you can pick up a bike from any location found throughout Ann Arbor and return it to any designated ArborBike bicycle rack. Here is the selling point: any trip under 60 minutes is free! Using this service will not only save your time and money, but you will be able to put your body to work! This is very useful for any students who spend much of their time sitting in one spot and studying.

Written by Minji Namkoong

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Preparing for Winter Weather

Winter weather in Michigan is definitely famous for being bitterly cold, harsh winds, and lots of snow. Although this may be true, there are definitely ways to combat this winter weather and even learn to enjoy the season! Ann Arbor winters average temperatures from -15°C to 3°C. There is usually a lot of snow, especially in December and January, and it gets darker much earlier.
The best way to combat the cold is with proper clothing, jackets, and winter accessories. Different clothing materials also have an impact on how effective they will be. Anything made of wool, down, cotton, and/or fleece is surely to be a protectant from the winter weather. Winter clothes and accessories are essential to surviving a Michigan winter. These items include: winter coats, sweaters, boots, gloves or mittens, scarves, hats, headbands or ear muffs, thick socks, and long underwear (long johns or thermal underwear). Although some of these may seem unnecessary as the winter continues, they are all important pieces in protecting yourself from the winter weather.
A good way to avoid the cold winter is taking the Michigan bus more often to avoid walking outside, especially when the wind chills are high. Also, avoid biking, as the conditions outside can be very slippery and dangerous.
Although winter sounds sort of miserable, there are ways to enjoy the season. Some popular winter activities include: skiing, ice skating, sledding, hockey, and having snowball fights. There are some trips that are sponsored by the University of Michigan to do some of these activities. There is also the Yost Arena, where students can go ice skating or play hockey for a fee. These activities can pretty much exclusively be done in the winter, which also makes the season more special.
When it gets colder, people also get more concerned about getting ill easier. It is important in the winter to stay away from sick people, wash your hands often, get enough sleep and hydration, and have a well-balanced diet. However, if you do get sick and are worried about class, first check the syllabus to see the sick policy/reasons for missing class. Then, contact your professor ASAP to let them know of your illness, and visit the University of Michigan, University Health Service (UHS) to see what’s wrong and get a doctor’s note. Going to class while sick could cause more problems than not going at all.
Although there are definitely some things to be aware of before winter hits, there are definitely ways to combat it and enjoy the season! Here are some takeaways:
G: Get winter essentials to keep yourself warm
O: Outfits should be in layers
B: Be aware of a winter weather watch/advisory/warning
L: Learn how to take care of yourself
U: Understand that you don’t have to go to class/work if you are sick
E: Explore different winter activities!

Written by Charisma Thapa

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Getting Involved On Campus And Making Your Mark

Regardless of the season, whether it is Fall, Winter, Summer or Spring, arriving on campus for the first time as a Michigan student can be daunting. Not to mention the fact that you are far away from home, and know only a few people, if not none.

Well, it depends on you how you want to shape your Michigan experience. Do you want to keep feeling the way you feel as you first step foot on campus (the I-don’t-know-what-I-got-myself-into feeling), or do you desire to have an exhilarating and rewarding time at THE best university in the nation, around people you care about that have similar interests as you? The latter seems more fun, does it not?

One bull’s-eye way of ensuring that you have a fun time is through getting involved on campus. The University of Michigan is proud to have over 1,500 student-run organizations and programs on campus. That means each and every single one of you will find a niche, an organization or a movement you are interested in. From feeding squirrels (Michigan Squirrels Club) to joining a community service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega), Michigan has it all!

As Michigan students, we, more often than not, want to be involved and stay involved. As an example, I am a part of a couple organizations and councils, including the International Center Student Council, GlobeMed at the University of Michigan, Filipino American Student Association, Michigan International Students Society, and a few more. Yes, I’m a part of a lot. But that is who I am as a person. You have complete agency on what you want to do with your time here. If you’re interested in politics, there’s the Student Government. If you’re a pre-something or a pro-something: pre-health, pre-law, pro-clean energy or pro-diversity, you’re essentially covered.

The big question is, how do we find out about what club we’re interested in? Festifall and Winterfest are the two biggest pitching events of all organizations on campus. These are student organization fairs where clubs and organizations talk to students about what they are all about, sell themselves to student, and give out free goodies! I confess to being a little overzealous during these events as I sign up for like 50 clubs, partly due to the candy and pens they give out. It’s always a great time, so I do encourage going to these events every semester, so that you get to see the old and the new. Get out there, walk around, listen. Who knows, you might discover a club you’ve never heard of before, and end up loving it because it makes your experience at Michigan so much better!

The biggest online resource for all the organizations is Maize Pages, which is a list of all registered clubs and organizations. You can filter things you are interested in, for a narrower search, and you can see all that may fit you as a person. There is also the Center for Campus Involvement which ultimately helps students find opportunities and interests, to make for a more enriching time at the University of Michigan.

If you, however, decide that you want your own group with your friends, because your passion lies in something that has not been brought up before, you are more than welcome to create your own organization! Nothing is stopping you - brainstorm ideas, formulate an organization model, recruit friends and friends of friends, and go ahead and make your own club! Again, this all depends on you.

Make your mark. Find your niche by getting involved on campus. Join 1 or 10 organizations - whatever you prefer. Every day is a day you could spend doing something you are inherently interested in, with people that are interested in that too. You are a part of a community proud to be the Leaders and Best, where innovation and involvement are both encouraged. So I urge you be involved, stay involved, and discover what you’re interested in. Have the best time at Michigan, good luck and go blue forever.

Written by Wynona Bautista

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Things to do in winter - by Moshen Jafari

Things To Do In Winter
by Moshen Jafari

If you arrive in Ann Arbor in the wintertime, you might find that it is too cold to even open the trunk of your car to put in your suitcase! However, there are many fun things to do in Ann Arbor during the winter to beat the cold and keep those winter blues at bay. Let’s start with Ice-skating which is even being offered for free in some parks like: Burns, Allmendinger and Northside. Many people also enjoy sledding and cross country skiing around campus and in various Ann Arbor parks. If you are willing to venture outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan has many places to learn and practice alpine or “down hill” skiing. Luckily, the local ski areas offer equipment rental and lessons for a small fee. Even though, there are not many mountains here, you can ski resorts such as Alpine Valley Ski Area, Mt. Brighton and Mt. Holly.

Another, less expensive, winter activity that can be done in the Ann Arbor area is fishing. You only need a Michigan season pass license and a pole and you are all ready to go catch some if you are lucky. It might be a little tricky at first but, the odds are high that you will finally catch some Bass or Catfish.

If you are more inclined to spend the winter months indoors to escape the cold, many students spend their time browsing the University of Michigan’s many museums including the Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium, and the Museum of Art.  The UM museums contain exemplary collections and offer public programs, tours, workshops and other regular events.  Time flies by while taking a dinosaur tour at the Museum of Natural History or learning all about the different inhabitants of the ancient world at the Museum of Anthropology or the Museum of Archeology.  It is easy to get lost in the stars during the Planetarium’s frequent presentations. The Museum of Art is home to one of the largest university art museums in the United States with nearly 19,000 works of art collected over the last 150 years.

Of course Ann Arbor also offers all of the amenities of a regular city such as a shopping mall at Briarwood, movie theaters including the Michigan Theater located on E. Liberty, the State Theater located on State Street, and Goodrich Theater located on Jackson Avenue. There are also several bowling alleys where you can perfect your game, as well as a wide variety of restaurants and cafes in which to spend the winter months safely indoors reading a good book or catching up with friends.

There are plenty of great activities offered in and around Ann Arbor for both the outdoorsperson and the person who wants to stay in the warm indoors, but no matter what you choose to do, the most fun will be had sharing these experiences with friends.