Monday, June 27, 2016

Five Great Ways to Save Money - By Zainab Ali Ahmad

Five Great Ways To Save Money
By Zainab Ali Ahmad

Photo credits:

Love to shop, but don't like to spend all your money away? Worry no more! Here are some cool tips for you to become a savvy and happy consumer.

For cheap groceries, don't bother going anywhere else other than Walmart or Meijer. They offer quality products at competitive prices, and they also have mobile phone applications that you can download to compare prices and collect shopping points. In some cases, Walmart will give refunds for the price differences between their products and other grocery markets’.

If you get tired of cooking at home or the dining halls, you can always resort to eating out - while spending reasonably. Keep in mind about the lunch deals and buffet options available at Sadako Japanese Restaurant, Suvai Indian Restaurant, and Madras Masala. Besides that, the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week is usually held early in January and June, so watch out for that if you don't want to miss the fine dining experience and great taste! Another mobile phone application you can benefit from for food and drinks discounts is Hooked! Install it on your phone and keep yourself updated on all the deals.

To prepare for the changing seasons, especially for winter, you can visit Salvation Army Thrift Store, Ann Arbor Kiwanis Thrift Sale, and Plato’s Closet for cheap, used clothes. Good news is, Salvation Army and Kiwanis are accessible by simply walking or taking the AATA buses from central campus. If you personally prefer new clothes, you can also save money through online shopping websites such as Amazon and Kohl's, or go to the Briarwood Mall where there are shops like H&M, Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, and so on, or you can even visit the Great Lakes Outlet at the end of the year when Black Friday and Christmas sales are on.

As university students, I won't forget to suggest a few ways to spend less on your textbooks! Once you have confirmed which textbooks are required for class, there are three options to get them. First, you can search and rent from online websites such as CampusBookRentals, Valore Books, and Amazon Rentals. Second, you can join the Facebook group within Michigan students, “Textbook Exchange” to buy second-hand textbooks from other U-M students. Third, you can opt for renting textbooks at reasonable prices from book stores on campus, such as Ulrich's and Barnes & Nobles.

For those of you who live off-campus, you might need to shop for some furnitures as well. There are some unbelievably cheap furnitures at Ann Arbor Kiwanis Thrift Sale and Salvation Army, and you can also join a group on Facebook called “Free & For Sale” to vary your options. Moreover, you can get affordable and nice home essentials at Walmart, Target, and Kohl’s.

I hope you find these tips useful and worry less about spending over the budget. Happy shopping around Ann Arbor!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nature in Ann Arbor - Rawan Bonais

Nature in Ann Arbor
by Rawan Bonais, Saudi Arabia
From the moment I set foot in Arbor, I fell in love with its captivating landscape! Arriving in this beautiful college town, the first thing that may catch your eyes is the greenery surrounding the area. Ann Arbor, which is also known as the “Tree Town”, has more than 100,000 trees. The trees make Ann Arbor look enchanting in all seasons. You get to see the bright green color in the summer while in the fall when the leaves change their colors, it looks like a scene from a postcard.  Even in winter leafless trees still look amazing. In the spring, get ready to be fascinated by cherry blossom trees lighting up the streets of Ann Arbor.
As you walk around campus for the first time, you will be welcomed by U-M’s cute little squirrels. Don’t be scared when one of those furry creatures approaches you, it only wants food. Squirrel feeding is a U-M activity that you should experience. It is really awesome! Make sure to have some peanuts in your pocket to give to squirrels on a campus tour. If you become a squirrel lover, you can join The Squirrel Club, which is a student organization. Members of this club get together every Sunday and Thursday to feed squirrels near the Diag.  No wonder those squirrels are fat!

If you love outdoor sports and appreciate nature, Ann Arbor has so much to offer you, especially in the summer. If you like kayaking, canoeing or rafting, you can visit Gallup Park or Argo Canoe Livery by the Huron River. Try to avoid going on weekends, as it may get busy there, and the line can be very long. Those parks can be reached by either taking the bus or walking from campus. For more information about the parks and rental details you can visit the following links:
Biking is another fun outdoor activity in Ann Arbor. You can try the Border-to-border (B2B) bike trail, connecting Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Dexter along Huron River. The B2B trail is about 35 miles long, with a spectacular view of the river. If you don’t have a bicycle and wondering where to rent one, an option for you would be Arbor Bikes, which you can find in different locations on campus.
Ann Arbor is famous for having more than 100 parks. If you are looking for a place, within walking distance of campus to relax or work on your laptop while being surrounded by nature, Nichols Arboretum (or the Arb) should be the perfect spot for you.  In my experience, there is an advantage of studying in a natural beauty like Ann Arbor.  As a PhD student, my schedule can get really hectic and sometimes all I need is to be close to nature to release stress and restore energy. I can do that while I’m still a few minutes away from my department.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Entertainment In Ann Arbor During Your Study Break - Krisjanuardi Aditomo

Being named the best college town in the US doesn’t mean that Ann Arbor is only for studying and not for fun. Even though it’s not really a big city, you can always find a way to entertain yourself when in the city. These are several recommendations of entertainment around Ann Arbor that you can enjoy for your study break!

  1. Cinema
Who doesn’t like movies? There are several choices of cinema if you want to go watch a movie. If you want to watch the latest blockbuster movies, you can go either to Goodrich Quality 16 or Rave Cinemas Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX. Rave Cinemas is bigger and better compare to Quality 16, but it is farther since it is located in Ypsilanti. Both are reachable by AATA bus (if you want to use cheaper transportation mode). There are also cinemas in downtown in Ann Arbor, Michigan Theater and State Theater. Both are in walking distance from central campus. These are historical cinemas and usually used for movie exhibition and playing indie films. Michigan Theater is sometimes also used for concerts.  
  1. Concerts
From orchestra to university a cappella group, there are a number of concerts that you can attend in Ann Arbor throughout the year. In some occasions, you can even enjoy the concert for free! For orchestras, mostly they play in Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan’s great concert hall which the acoustics have been widely praised. How do we find the schedule of all these concerts? Facebook Events page is one good source, of course. You can also look at the season schedule in University of Michigan’s University Musical Society website.    
  1. Performing arts
There are also other forms of performing arts that you can enjoy in Ann Arbor, such as dance performance, theatrical play, and drama musical. You can find the list of the performances also in the University Musical Society (UMS) website. These performances listed in UMS website usually come from outside of Ann Arbor. But, Ann Arbor also has its own performing art group called Young People’s Theater (YPT). It’s a non-profit children’s performing art group, which usually plays dramas, comedies and musicals. I watched their performance once, playing Shrek the Musical, and it was so good!
  1. Cultural show
One amazing thing about University of Michigan is that there are lots of international students who come from wide variety of countries, and hence a variety of international student associations. These international student associations usually hold cultural shows annually  to introduce their culture to the society of University of Michigan and also Ann Arbor. Some of the cultural shows that I have been to are Thai Night (hosted by Thai Student Association), Annual Persian Cultural Show (hosted by Persian Student Association), and Annual Diwali Celebration (hosted by Indian Student Association). It’s a great opportunity to learn about other country’s culture while taking a break from your study!

Entertainment around Ann Arbor is not limited to those mentioned above, of course. There are other ways to entertain yourself when in the city, such as playing laser tag, bowling, and karaoke. Make the most of your time here in Ann Arbor by occasionally taking break from your study and
have some fun!

Written by Krisjanuardi Aditomo
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Indonesia
Master of Public Policy

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone as an International Student - By Minhee Choi

Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone as an International Student
By Minhee Choi

After a long plane ride with mixed emotions of excitement and anxiousness, you will soon find yourself in Ann Arbor. Buildings, roads, cars and people look unfamiliar and you will soon realize that there is no turning back. Congratulation! As international students at the University of Michigan, we already took the first step out of our comfort zone: The decision to study far from home.

Of course there are things that force you to step out of comfort zone as international students as you find out that participation is our 10% of grade which requires us to speak up in class and live in the same room with a stranger from different culture. This may take time but you will soon beginning to fully settle into your new home and get used to classes. But I want to encourage not to get settle into a fixed routine, but instead get out of your comfort zone and discover yourself in America.

Before we talk about some tangible things you can do to step out of your comfort zone, I want us to understand that everyone’s reaction to stress is different. According to the New York Times Article, Tiptoeing Out of One’s Comfort Zone (and of Course, Back IN) by Alina Tugend, the objective is to reach that optimal level so that our skills increase and we become comfortable with that new level of anxiety - then we are in an expanded comfort zone.

Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the author of “The Gifts of Imperfection”, has another definition of comfort zone: “Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized - where we believe we will have access to enough love, food, talent, time and admiration. Where we feel we have some control.” She concludes that when we get into times of social, political or financial stability, our comfort zones get smaller.”

From these two definitions of “comfort zone”, there are common themes that we experience as international students: social instability in new culture, insecurity about our language barrier and lack of social support. Although it may be uncomfortable for us, optimal anxiety of being out your comfort zone can help your mental productivity and perform reach their peak. According to an article by Alan Henry, The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should), here are the benefits from stepping out of your comfort zone:

  • You will be more productive
  • You will have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes
  • You will find it easier to push your boundaries in the future
  • You will find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity.

So are you ready to step out of your comfort zone? Here are some suggestions from me!

  1. Join a club or society (University Activities Center website)
In the beginning of the semester, different student organizations and departments participate in Festifall and Northfest. It is an event where majority of all 500+ organizations of the University of Michigan have information and recruiting tables lining sidewalks. This will be a good opportunity for you to browse and explore different clubs, sports or organization that you hope to try or join. The University website gives you Festifall/Northfest Tips if you are interested in looking at the before you step out of your comfort zone.
  1. Get to know your classmates and dormmates
  2. Take unique courses to enhance international student experiences
  1. Explore your local community and area
  1. Blogs about courses that enhance the international student experience
  1. Explore your local community and area

Monday, May 23, 2016

Couponing for Beginners - By Masataka Yoshikawa

Couponing for Beginners

Masataka Yoshikawa

If you are looking for ways to save money while studying at Michigan, couponing is a great way to save money on your grocery bills. It seems simple (and it is), but it takes a little getting used to. Tips in this blog post will give you a boost if you’ve never tried couponing before.

First thing first, you have to know that there are two types of coupons. One is a manufacturer’s coupon and the other is store coupon. The name says it all. The product’s manufacturer, like the manufacturing brand of Colgate for toothpastes, issues the manufacturer coupons. Retail shops, like CVS, issue store coupons. You can get effectively add the discounts by using these two coupons together. This is called stacking. For example, now, Colgate has a $0.75 off manufacturer coupon for toothpaste (the coupon can be found on their website.) CVS also has a $2.50 coupon (store coupon) for a selected Colgate toothpaste. You can buy the Colgate toothpaste, regular price $3.75, at the price of $0.50 by using these two coupons together. Here what you should keep in mind when couponing: 1) coupon are usually specific to a product so be sure to read and match up the coupon carefully 2) only one store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon can be used for an item, and 3) not all stores have store coupons. 

Stores like Kroger don’t have store coupons. However, you can combine manufacturer coupons with sale items. This takes a little bit of planning, but usually it’s rewarding. The best way to find out what items are on sale at Kroger is to visit This website updates discounted items in Kroger and matches up available manufacturer coupons with the specific item. You may also view the Kroger’s sales flyer online at or with the flipp app, which allows you to preview the sales flyers of multiple store and create your shopping list.

There are various methods to obtaining coupons. One method is to print from the site Another method is to get coupons from the Ann Arbor News’ Sunday newspaper. Coupons are only inserted into the Sunday newspaper. You may purchase a Sunday newspaper at any local gas stations, pharmacies, and Kroger. You don’t necessarily have to buy a paper every Sunday. You can find out what coupons will be in newspapers for the week from the website like You can also get coupons directly from the brands that you use. An example of this is the Colgate deal above where you can print a manufacturer’s coupon directly from the manufacturer’s site. The most recent method of obtaining coupons is with the store’s mobile app. Kroger’s mobile apps offers a limited selection of manufacturer’s coupon on their mobile app.

You can also save even more money with rebates. Ibotta, Mobisave and SavingStar are a few of the most beneficial rebate apps available today. For the rebate app of ibotta, you can easily review the rebate items available. Then you may purchase the specific item, and take a picture of the receipt to submit it on the app. Once you accumulate $20 or more of rebates redeemed, you can cash it out as a gift card or transfer cash to your PayPal or Venmo account. SavingStar and Mobisave work in the similar way.

If you are interested in finding out more about couponing, you can go to, where current coupon deals and how-to guides are posted daily. The website has great tips for couponing beginners. It is best to start couponing simple and at a comfortable pace. Start with a simple purchase of a sale item and match it with a manufacturer’s coupon. In our to respect for other shoppers and your wallet, always remember to only buy items you need, not just because you can get a great deal. Once the semester starts, you will be too busy for anything outside of the school, so use this free time during the summer to learn how to coupon and become a expert by the start of the semester. Happy couponing!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Finding Your Unique College Experience - Jiahong Min

Finding Your Unique College Experience
by Jiahong Min
Photo Credit: University of Michigan College of Engineering
When asking about college, the first thing that comes to our mind is probably finishing up assignments, studying for exams and getting high GPAs. However, here at the University of Michigan, there are plenty of ways to make your college experience a unique one.
Two years ago when I first transferred to Michigan, I was looking for an adventure. I wanted to do something that I would never do after I graduate, and then I met the University of Michigan Solar Car Team.
Every two years, the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia welcomes teams from more than 20 countries to race their solar electric vehicle across the continent, an epic 3000 kilometer journey through the desert. The University of Michigan Solar Car Team has been a top performer in this race since 1989, with five top three world finishes.
I joined the team in my junior year and worked on the aerodynamics of the team’s latest vehicle: Aurum, a one-seater electric car with its body covered in solar panel as the source of power. In the summer of 2015, I took my involvement in the team one step further by being part of the race crews who built the car piece by piece and eventually headed to Australia for the World Solar Challenge. .
The race was an once-in-a-lifetime experience. We started in Darwin, a northern city in Australia. It was hot and humid, with human-sized termite hills scattered around the road. As we travelled south, plants started to vanish and the terrain opened up. Crosswind and ‘willy-willy’ (small tornado) struck us violently without any mercy. During the day, we battled with other teams, passing each other back and forth. During the night, we camped next to the road, performing repair and maintenance on the car under the dusky light from our portable lamps. The night in the outback was truly amazing. We saw thousands of stars, and the lights from our opponents’ camps right down the road.
We eventually arrived fourth at the finish line in Adelaide, just five minutes behind the third place over a five day race. The result might’ve been disappointing but it didn’t keep me down. I saw the car started as a random spark of idea on a whiteboard to an insanely efficient machine piercing through the desert at 100 kilometer per hour. There were so many emotions inside of me at that day that I could not describe with language.
So that was my college adventure. At the University of Michigan, there are plenty of ways to start yours too. Here are my suggestions.
Maize Pages is a great website to check out all the student organizations on campus. The number and diversity of the organizations on this campus is so huge that I’m sure you will find one that interests you. During welcome week of each school year, student organizations will gather around the central, north campus diag, and the palmer field to show off what they have. It’s a great chance to meet with them. Be sure to check your email.
If you want to go somewhere beyond the campus or even the country, both LSA and College of Engineering have international programs that allow you be become an exchange student to foreign universities across Europe, Asia and many other places. It’s a great chance to experience different cultures and make friends across the globe.

For engineering students, be sure to check out the Multidisciplinary Design Program (MDP). It allows you to earn credits or even a minor for your commitment in any student project team such as Formula SAE, Baja Racing, Human Powered Submarine and the Solar Car Team. There are also projects funded by faculty members and companies that you can find on the MDP website. The hands on experience these projects provide can be extremely useful for your future career.

Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Find a Job on Campus

How to Find a Job on Campus
By Zhengxi Tan

Working as a student on campus can be one of the best experiences you could ever have in your life. You will gain some invaluable practical skills that you probably would never have from in-class lectures and textbooks. Plus, an on-campus job is a great way to get involved in college life since you will have the opportunity to meet your peers and college staff as well as familiarizing yourself with different aspects of your college. I will share my experiences of finding different jobs on campus and hopefully this blog will provide you with useful information to help you land an on-campus job.
UM Student is THE website you must visit when searching for an on-campus job. A plethora of student jobs are posted on this site and all jobs are nicely categorized so that it makes your job search very easy. A quite amount of jobs require you to submit a most updated resume. If you are a freshman or don’t have a resume for any reason, don’t panic! The Career Center is always there to help you! You are welcome to visit with any job or career related questions and the location (in the Student Activity Building) is very easy to find on GoogleMap.
If you don’t find a perfect match on the website I just mentioned, that’s totally fine. Pay close attentions to emails you receive, especially at the beginning of every semester. Many department will be recruiting for open positions and those information will usually be released via emails. For example, the University Housing department is one of the biggest employers of student jobs. Whenever the department wants to recruit, you will receive emails containing the relevant information. So do check your emails and read them carefully!
For those who want to work as an Undergraduate Instructor Aide or a research assistant, there is no better way to get that position than connecting with your professors. I worked as a research assistant in the summer of 2016 within Emergency Medicine at UM. So I can tell you that once you perform well in class and stand out from your peers, it is highly likely that the professor will be impressed and you don’t have to get through the competitive selection process in order to work with him/her.
Don’t give up even if none of the methods above eventually works out. Be proactive and start networking! This has been proven to be the most effective way to land the job your want. If you already have a desired position in mind, google the employers and email them directly.