Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A self-journey during spring break 2014

I’ve heard enough compliments about how beautiful the west coast is, and finally I got a chance to take the Coast Starlight Train from Los Angeles, along the west coast, all the way to Seattle.

Taking some quiet time and reflecting by myself is always enjoyable for me. This is a good opportunity to know myself better and clear my mind from everyday conversations, so I decided to take this trip alone.

LA, surprisingly, was raining upon my arrival. This was a bit disappointing at the beginning since everyone comes to LA with the expectation of enjoying sunshine.  But the climate there and the experiences of Hollywood still brought me enough joy.  I enjoyed the time I spent at Universal Studios, the Walk of Fame and Pasadena Old Town. My favorite part of the trip at LA was the VIP Tour at Warner Brother Studios. The VIP tour groups 12 people in a group, and the tour guide leads people through the studio to see filming places in well-known movies. The guide explains details about how moviemakers changed the decorations of these places to make them look differently in various movies. The most exciting part of the tour was to visit the site used for filming the most successful past TV show, FRIENDS, and the most popular current one, The Big Bang Theory.  Another reason I enjoyed LA is that cultural diverse brings various cuisines to LA. Walking around Little Tokyo and Little Thai Town added a tasty memory to my journey.



The long train trip from LA to Seattle was relaxing and beautiful. The Coast Starlight Train goes through areas with ocean, river, mountain, cropland and jungle. Diverse scenery along the west coast makes it enjoyable enough even just staring at the window and let your mind wondering freely.  Reading books and keeping journal was a great relaxing for me.  After 34 hours journey on the railway, the train arrived King Cross Station at Seattle.

Rain was patting Seattle gently when the train approached the station. Seattle is always rainy at early March.  Hot coffee at rainy windy winter is perfect to satisfy your body and soul; inspired by this idea, at the year 1971, the first Starbucks started at Seattle. The first Starbucks shop is still opening there. That is a small store, without any seat, located at Pike Place Market. Everyday there are many people from all around the world to find the original taste of Starbucks there. Pike Place is the most historic farmer market in the US, and attracts many venders and artists gathering there.  Every morning, fish venders through fresh fishes from one to another while yelling loudly to attract customers.  Different kinds of music keep hovering around the market; people can buy CDs from these artists as a way to support their music. All kind of free samples are available to customers, fruit, nuts, cheese, jam, you name it, and they have it.  My favorite shop is a French bakery called Le Panier.  I still miss the mornings I spend there with warm coffee and authentic French bread. Although Seattle is famous for keep raining during early March, my second day there turned out to be a super sunny day! The view from Space Needle was spectacular in such sunny weather. Besides Union Lake, downtown Seattle you can also clearly see the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. The campus of University of Washington was more than beautiful under sunshine. The grad library there has similar style as the reading room at Hogwarts. Many other buildings also have the medieval-castle style, which is my favorite. Seeing students playing Frisbee, talking to each other and playing music on the lawn make me started missing my campus at Ann Arbor. It was also near the time I should head back. After a vacation full of enjoyable memory and ambrosial foods, I was ready to back to classes. - Prepared by Cecily Wu

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Apply for Intercultural Leadership Seminar (ILS)

International Center is now accepting applications for ILS winter session. ILS is designed for students who want to learn how to be more effective in a global environment. To be eligible, you must be a continuing student and available for both Friday, Feb. 14th evening and Saturday, Feb. 15th. Attendance at ILS is free and acceptance priority will be given to students who have not attended ILS previously. 

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Complete the application and submit your resume by Friday, January 31st at midnight. 

Read more: http://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/events/ils.html.





Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter Driving and Maintaining Your Car

Friday, Nov. 1st, 1pm-2:30pm, International Center Conference Room

Driving in ice and snow conditions can be very challenging. This workshop will provide tips to help you prepare for driving as well as learning a few things about maintaining your car during winter weather.

U.S. Holidays and Traditions

Learn about a few major U.S. holidays and how people celebrate them as well as sharing some major holidays in the culture you are from. Tuesday, Oct. 29th, 3pm-4:30pm, International Center Conference Room. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Shopping for Furniture and Household Items in Ann Arbor

For those of you who are wondering where you can buy furniture and household items for a cheap price, this blog is for you.  The stores listed below have a good selection and/or have good prices.  Please remember that this is not a comprehensive list.

Arborland Shopping Center
3600 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI ‎
Bus route 4A, 4B, 7, and 22
·         Marshalls
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Not a great place to buy furniture because it is expensive
·         Bed Bath & Beyond
o   Can buy almost everything you need for your room/apartment: pillows, humidifier, fan, plates, drying rack, etc.
o   It can be a bit pricey

Carpenter Plaza Shopping Center
Bus route 5C and 22
·         TJ Maxx
o   Very similar to Marshalls since they are owned by the same company
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Not a great place to buy furniture because it is expensive
·         HomeGoods
o   Very similar to Marshalls since they are owned by the same company
o   Unlike Marshalls and TJ Maxx, it primarily sells only household items so there is a much bigger selection
o   You can buy pillows here

Arbor Square Plaza Shopping Center
4039 Carpenter Rd, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
Bus route 5C, 22, 6A/B/C
·         Meijer
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm/apartment items.
o   Can buy a mattress here, but you might have to order it online
·         Target
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm items.

Briarwood Mall
Bus route: 6, 7, 36
Lots of stores to choose from, so here are just a couple:
·         JC Penny
o   Big store where you can buy almost everything you need (pillows, mattresses, etc.) for a good price
o   Free shipping over $75
·         Sears
o   Big store where you can buy almost everything you need (pillows, mattresses, etc.) for a good price
·         Macy’s
o   Regular items can be pricey but they have great sales
o   Big store where you can buy almost everything you need (pillows, mattresses, etc.)
·         ArtVan
o   Outside of Briarwood Mall
o   Great selection of mattresses in the store
o   Can be pricey
o   425 E Eisenhower Pkwy, Ann Arbor, MI ‎

Near West Waters Road and Lohr Road
Bus Route 16
·         Target
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm/apartment items.
o   2000 West Waters Rd
·         Meijer
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm/apartment items.
o   Can buy a mattress here, but might have to order it online
o   3145 Ann Arbor-Saline Rd
·         Kohl’s
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm/apartment items.
o   Can buy a mattress here, but might have to order it online
o   3160 Lohr Road

Maple Village Shopping Center and Westgate Shopping Center
155 N Maple Rd and 2505 Jackson Ave in Ann Arbor MI
Bus route 12 (Bus route 9 and 8A are nearby)
·         Kmart
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Great place to buy furniture, especially this time of year when they have good prices on dorm/apartment items.
o   In Maple Village Shopping Center (155 North Maple Road)
·         TJ Maxx
o   Very similar to Marshalls since they are owned by the same company
o   Great place to buy household items, plates, cups, etc.
o   Not a great place to buy furniture because it is expensive
o   In Westgate Shopping Center (2505 Jackson Ave)

Roundtree Place Shopping Center
2321 Ellsworth Rd, Ypsilanti, MI
Bus route 6A and 6B
·         Walmart
o   It is a bit far, but you can buy almost everything you need for your room/apartment at a good price

Salvation Army
·         1621 South State Street
·         Bus route : 6 and 36
·         Great place to buy cups/plates at a really cheap price
·         If you are lucky, you might even find furniture such as tables and chairs.  However, you will need to find your own way to transport the items back to your apartment
           
All the stores listed above except TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and Salvation Army have a website where you can buy the items online.  For more information about online shopping in the U.S., please check out the blog from June 11.  If you want to buy something from TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and Salvation Army, then you need to go to the actual store.  In addition, since Labor Day is coming up, be sure to check out the sales, especially in the big stores such as JC Penny, Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s.  You might be able to get a really good price.  Hope this helps!


Written By: Sonja Grinfeld, UM Pharm D. Student 

‘AS CHANGEABLE AS THE WEATHER'



Coming from a typical tropical climate with temperatures averaging 33 degrees Celsius and immediately entering the frosting cold of Ann Arbor, acclimatizing was a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, I survived. Michigan and for that matter Ann Arbor is blessed with four seasons Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall/ Autumn, even though one chap said its basically cold for about 8 months.


Winter is basically winter, freezing cold temperatures coupled with snow. Walking from my apartment to my classroom was more of a punishment until I understood the concept of ‘layering’.This involves wearing the right fabric of clothing in layers- an underlayer, a first insulating layer, a second insulating layer and finally an outer layer. The insulation layer primarily keeps you warm by trapping warm air next to your body. Also you must layer up such that when you perspire, the layering can quickly transfer moisture to the outermost layer where it can evaporate. So it’s basically up to you to juggle between layers of socks, gloves, synthetic long underwear tops and bottoms, fleece clothing, jeans and jackets. I can vividly remember one Saturday, I was waiting for the AATA bus on Ellsworth road, and it started snowing. Unfortunately I hadn’t layered appropriately. My advice - please master the art of layering.

Spring is the beginning of happiness. It rains a bit, but the brief spells of sunshine offer a glimmer of hope. But don’t be deceived, it’s a bit windy which still gives you some chills. Also present are thunderstorms and a couple of tornado warnings. One thing I realized about spring was how quickly the weather changes. Even the weather application on my phone couldn’t keep up. One minute there’s a downpour, the next minute it’s blazing hot. Can’t the weather just make up its mind already, I thought. So the challenge here is dressing smart. Something casual but don’t forget to carry an umbrella and a jacket.

Summer is bliss. The sun is out with a cool breeze. I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t enjoy summer.  Everyone is so joyful like children granted permission by their parents to play outside. There are a number of outdoor activities, reading and meeting people at restaurants, etc. I hope you can imagine the picture I’m trying to paint. Yes, the world is suddenly a perfect place.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet experienced fall. But, hey, don’t be disappointed. I’m well informed that fall is short, somewhere between summer and winter temperatures and without rain. For those of you in tune with Mother Nature, it’s very colorful in Ann Arbor with all the vibrant red, yellow and turning leaves. But winter will come knocking at your door very soon.

Welcome to the University of Michigan!

Written By: Robert Lawson, UM Masters Student in Aerospace Engineering 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Exciting Times for Entertainment, Cultural Learning and Fellowship through the University of Michigan Music Society

 Very important to learning about a country’s culture, is exposure to its artistic traditions. The University of Michigan affords these opportunities through the work of the University of Michigan Music Society (UMS).  Through UMS, you will not only have opportunities to experience elements of American arts but also, you will be exposed to various international artistes that the University of Michigan brings to the campus each year.  This, in addition to the fact that UM hosts many international students/scholars, is confirmation of the University’s welcoming of diversity!

At the start of the winter semester, I attended an excellent Martin Luther King Junior Day concert titled, From Cass Corridor to the World: A Tribute to Detroit’s Musical Golden Age. This show brought together a range of musical styles from gospel, to Motown, rap, to Jazz and featured the sons and daughters of Detroit across the age spectrum.  The renditions were soulful and spirited. The audience was lively and fully engaged. The only problem was that we could only dance in our seats.

A fabulous Saturday night concert by the young American bassist and singer Esperanza Spaulding came at the end of winter semester. Her musical selections were a mixture of traditional Jazz standards and original songs.  Her originals consisted of compositions expressing her deep feelings on human connection, communication, growth and healing. Ms. Spaulding is clearly both a competent bassist and a singer with unique, evocative and highly personal vocal stylings.  She is without a doubt deeply human, deeply thoughtful and a messenger of peace.

Of the concerts I attended, the highlight was that of Gilberto Gil, a famous Brazilian vocalist/guitarist and now, Minister of Culture of Brazil.  While his concert was held during the fall semester, I thought I’d share it with you last because I have so much more to say about this event. Mr. Gil’s show represented one of the best international offerings of the Music Society for the academic year 2012-2013.  This artiste not only performed spectacularly on voice and guitar but covered a wide swathe of the human tapestry of issues, concerns, and emotions. Like Esperanza Spaulding, Gilberto Gil compelled one to think of the depth of human connection across differences.  For much of the concert many people (including me) danced in their seats and afterwards, I felt the need to somehow find time to explore the work of other Brazilian musicians, artists, historians and cultural commentators.

What was also great about this particular concert, was that for UM students, it was an “Arts and Eats” occasion. This means that one comes to the Hill Auditorium at an earlier hour than the show’s start time, have some pizza and hear an informative talk about the performer’s life and work.  The talk on Gilberto Gil and the history of his musical evolution was done by a University of Michigan professor who provided an excellent but simply expressed historical/cultural background to the music. It was both a time to be educated and a time to have fellowship and fun with friends.

The Music Society offers not only music of various genres, but dance, plays and theater!
To view excerpts of performances and hear the excitement of Music Society organizers as they speak about what they offer to students and other patrons, follow the link below:

Also be sure to go to the “Best of Artists’ Playlist” where you can listen to some great performances: http://www.umslobby.org/index.php/category/listen

What you will see and hear at these links is merely a slice of what UMS offers.

A sampling of this year’s (2013 to 2014) schedule is as follows:
·      September 6, 2013: Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party at the Downtown Home and Garden
·      September 27, 2013: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at the Power Center
·      March 30, 2014: Jazz at the Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis at the Hill Auditorium.

For more, go to the full year schedule, http://ums.org/tickets/2013-2014-season-listing  which combines US artists with a range of world artistes – from Mali, Israel, Germany, and Britain, among others.  The shows encompass jazz and classical music as well as Qawwali Music of Pakistan, and many more. 
To get cheaper ticket prices, please be sure to look at the menu to the left of the screen and click “for college students”. Within this section of the website you will find the menu items: “half-price tickets”, “UMS Rush Tickets” and the “Arts and Eats” tickets.  You may purchase online or in person at the Michigan League.

Also, ensure that you pay close attention to the various dates, times and locations of the concerts. Be at the right place at the right time! Whether you attend alone or with a group of friends, many of these concerts/productions can be great cultural learning experiences! 

Written By: Jennifer Pollard, PhD. Student in Higher Education