Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ann Arbor Food 101

Whether you are looking for a quick meal to grab with your morning coffee or a fancy dining place to treat yourself after a difficult week, you are bound to find a restaurant that suits your cravings in this popular college town. If you are a foodie, just like me, you will be relieved by the fact that Ann Arbor's food scene is one of the most diverse around the country - you are bound to find anything from global flavors, such as the famous chicken tikka masala, to American Classics, such as hot dogs.

P.S - The photos included are intended to make you hungry and get you excited to be on campus.

As most of us are college students on a budget, it would be ideal to start off by mentioning the fast food joints on campus which are preferred by several Wolverines and those which may grab your attention. Just like any other college city, Ann Arbor also welcomes almost all known fast food restaurants. Fast food joints, such as Subway, Dominos, Panda Express, are easily accessible within walking distance on both Central and North campus while fast food joints, such as Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy’s, are a ride away by using theRide transportation system. However, they are three fast food restaurants which are kind of unique to Ann Arbor itself.


  1. Joe’s Pizza NYC - Ann Arbor - Now as International students, when we hear of American Pizza all we think about is how huge the slices are and Joe's Pizza is basically that. Joe’s Pizza may have their main branch in New York City (NYC) but Ann Arbor is lucky to have a sub-branch. Joe’s Pizza is one of the student favorites not only because of their slice selling strategy which allows students to grab a pizza slice during class breaks but also because it remains open till the early hours of the morning allowing you to grab a meal after a long night out or a late night study session.


  1. No Thai! - This one is my personal favorite. It is one of the best places I have ever eaten Thai food and it is also served within 5 minutes. Plus, all dishes on the menu are less than $10.00 (before tax) and the portion is so huge that one serving could definitely last you two meals. No Thai! Is available on Central Campus, North Campus, and Kerrytown. My personal favorite is the sweet and sour chicken with the Yoga Flame spice.


  1. Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger - Ann Arbor’s oldest hamburger stand with a unique method of ordering which will make you feel as if you are in Karen's Diner, but once your burger is ready and you have had your first bite you will want to keep on coming back for more. This is one of my favorite places in downtown Ann Arbor and I would suggest checking out the link to learn how to order before going there. My personal order is a small onion rings, triple regular bun with swiss cheese, bacon, and egg. 



 


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When you start exploring campus and most importantly, in this situation, looking at all restaurants you are bound to notice that one of the more popular cuisines is Mexican and one thing is for sure - you will be caught within the debate as to whether you would rather eat at Chipotle or Pancheros. My personal favorite is Pancheros because of the warm burritos and it never runs out of food unlike the Chipotle on State Street which once only had corn and salsa. Apart from the fast food joints, you will find more authentic Mexican restaurants famous for different reasons. There is TAQ (famous for its variety of different tacos), Isalita (famous for having a variety of Mexican dishes), Condado Tacos (famous for its loaded tacos) and Chapala (famous for its Margaritas). 


Finally, I am just going to list a few more restaurants that are popular with students and what they are known for, just to add a little bit more temptation. 


  1. Mani Osteria - Popular Italian restaurant on East Liberty. Gets really packed at night during the weekends so would suggest reserving a table. At night, I would recommend wearing Jeans but even any casual outfit would do during any time of the day. Make sure you try their famous wood fired pizzas.


  1. HopCat - An American Bar & Grill which serves food to ages of all people but for drinks need to be 21+. You can go to HopCat at any time of the day and you will be served with amazing bar food. The recommended dress code is casual, so do not dress up as it is a bar and during game days it will get packed up so you do not want to be left sweating. I would recommend trying out their fries/chips.

  2. Frita Batidos - One of the most famous restaurants in Ann Arbor which serves Cuban inspired street food. It is popular among college students because of its unique presentation and cuisine. Pick a frita of your choice and design it with the toppings of your choice and have it alongside your batido, a tropical milkshake. Fritas is always exceptional but better during a hot day.


That was your FOOD 101 but do not forget to explore the 100 other restaurants that are available on campus and make sure you also try the above so you can live the Michigan Experience.


Written by Lakhvir Sohal

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Undergraduate Student

Kenya

Where to Get Your Bubble Tea in Ann Arbor

Welcome to Ann Arbor!


Ann Arbor is a highly inclusive and culturally diverse city where you can find not only an abundance of restaurants and stores, but also many milk tea shops that opened in recent years. If you like milk tea, there is always a choice to satisfy your taste and could let you enjoy 15 minutes of "Bubble tea time.”


If you live around Central Campus, or have chosen to take a course on Central Campus, then congratulations, you're surrounded by all kinds of bubble teas! There is a great selection of milk teas shops at Central Campus, as you can see from the map below.

Central Campus

Sharetea

A milk tea chain with branches in many cities in the U.S. It supports self-ordering, and drinks come out very quickly. The fruit teas and milk teas both taste great, and they often have new seasonal products. You can freely choose sweetness and icing levels. This store has plenty of seating, so if you're looking for a milk tea store to sit in and chat with friends, go there!


Wolverines’ recommendation:

Classic Pearl Milktea

Oolong milk tea

Strawberry fresh Milk with Pearl

Taro Ice Blended wIth Pudding

Strawberry, Ice blended with lychee Jelly & ICe Cream

Black tea with cream foam 


Chatime

Chatime is also a chain of milk tea shops and a “can't go wrong” choice. Milk tea is more recommended than the fruit tea here, with a very strong tea flavor! The overall taste is rather sweet, but you can choose sweetness and icing level. (Not many seats in the shop)


Wolverines’ recommendation:

Roasted Milk Tea


Tea Ninja

The milk tea is more like powdered drinks, but the fruit tea series taste pretty nice, the flavor is very refreshing!


Wolverines recommendation:

Jasmine Honey Tea


Ding Tea

The overall taste of the drink is rather light, and the tea flavor is heavier than the milk. Flavored tea series drinks here are very refreshing, perfect for summer. Cream foam drinks are recommended as well. If you like refreshing tea drinks, Ding tea might be a good choice for you! (This store is often open during the holidays)


Wolverines recommendation:

Peach Oolong tea with crystal boba


Uni Tea

The decoration of the shop is very cute and picturesque. In Uni Tea, you can't choose the sweetness and ice level directly, but if you do have a preference, write them in the notes. This store uses great ingredients, fresh milk series are very rich and creamy, there are also ice cream and Taiyaki, a perfect place for those of you who like rich milk flavor. (Note that there are not many seats in the shop)


Wolverines recommendation:

Golden Swirl Cup (Sweet potato)

Taro Milk Tea

Thai Green Milk Tea

Ube Swirl Cup

Matcha Ooling Swirl


Sweeting

This shop is on S university Ave, about fifteen minutes walking distance from the other milk tea shops in Central Campus. Besides milk tea and fruit tea, this shop has many snack options. Takoyaki balls, fried tofu, fried ice cream, chicken wings, curry rice are all worth trying. If lucky, you can also find Lady M's cakes here! (No choice of sweet and icing level)



Quickly

Just across the street from Sweeting and also has a great selection of snacks. Mochi waffles and egg puffs are very tasty. Milk tea is also powdered, but the overall taste is decent, and there are often promotions of $1.99 drinks!


North Campus:

North Campus does not have as many milk tea options as Central Campus, but it still has you covered!


Coco Fresh Tea and Juice


Very trustworthy chain bubble tea brand, tea tastes aromatic, milk is fresh. Every kind on the menu is good as long as you choose the sweetness and ice level that suits your taste. Location is pretty close to the north campus.

Wolverines recommendation:

Tropical Special

Iced coffee

Macha Macchiato

Moge Tea

My personal favorite milk tea shop! I highly recommend their Cheese Foam fruit tea slush. Each one is made with fresh fruit and you can see the making process directly through the glass. They often introduce new seasonal fruit products. I have tried the watermelon flavored cheese foam slush before, it was amazing and above expectations. The distance is a bit far, but they offer delivery service covering both North and Central Campus!


Wolverines recommendation:

Black Grape tea slush

Mango tea slush

Taro tofu pudding

Super fruit tea.


Written by Queeny Gao

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student

China

How I Work with the Pressure of Having to “Make the Most of the Michigan Experience”

“How do I do this right?” Each of us is an inherently unique story that's still unraveling, yet it feels like it is up to us to take control of this story, to become the protagonist that’s supposed to succeed when there’s so much that’s unknown. This is especially true for international students. Many of us are departing from family and close friends, from people that we look to for refuge and guidance. We forgo familiarity and our sense of control, plunging head first into an uncharted world where every step is as exciting as it is daunting. 

“How do I do this right?” I think about it almost every month since I entered college. For me, entering college was like entering a huge, complex game that I somehow am supposed to know all the rules to. And college doesn't last forever. So not only do I have to do the right things, I have to do them all given the little time I have. Over time though, I understood better that, while it is important for me to spend time exploring the mysteries of college, of American culture, taxes, and academic networking, it is even more important for me to believe that I can continue moving forward while accepting the fact that there’s much I still don’t know and haven't done. This is a journey still in progress - like reallyyy in progress - but one that has taught me a thing or two along the way.



A few things that have helped me:


  1. Redefining my success in a more balanced and sustainable way. When I started my first few weeks of college, my instinct was to dive head first into one thing - my grades. I told myself that if I get good grades in classes, which was my definition of what it meant to excel in college, then everything else will eventually fall into place. This was not true. After a while of focusing only on my GPA, I started to burn out. I didn’t feel accomplished or motivated the way I used to, even though I know I tried my best. Not only that, my life felt a bit hollow (like have you ever cracked into a big egg but only like ⅓ of it is actually filled with egg content? Super disappointing stuff). I was dedicating more and more time to something that did not make me feel happy nor help me grow as much as I feel like I can. I had to redefine my idea of success. What helped me was when I began simply putting more care into what goes on in my life outside of academics, which includes trying out new things: going to game nights more often with friends, meditating, actually getting consistently enough sleep, learning to cook Vietnamese dishes, revisiting Taekwondo… By expanding my definition of success to these different areas of my life, I found that they work in tandem with each other to motivate and nourish me. Going on morning runs made me feel free and helped me stay focused better for homework, engaging with my local monastery open up new ways to approach mental health, while working at the university’s dining hall and cafe shop builds my self-esteem and soft skills. 


  1. Measuring my progress in a way that’s fair to me (and not just by comparing myself to others). This is a very logical statement, and yet it can take incredible effort for me to wrap my head around the fact that comparing my progress to that of others often makes absolutely no sense. I expected to fully grasp U.S politics when I did not live in this environment since childhood like my American friends did. I feel unworthy when I see the incredible things my classmates have already achieved, even though I know that my insecurities often paint a much more glorified picture of everyone else’s life while downplaying my own; plus as people we are all different in, among other things, our life challenges and privileges - it is unreasonable to use others as a measure of our own worth. When my friends experienced failure, I understood and comforted them, yet I don’t show the same empathy and acceptance for myself. I am sure you can relate to this with your own examples. It is easy for us to fall into unrealistic expectations for ourselves, but I do think that taking the time to reflect on the way we view and treat ourselves vs. others can provide a more realistic view of things and help us move forward from our failure, rather than feel defeated by them. Talking through our insecurities with people we trust can also help us see ourselves in a different light. No one said we have to do this alone!


  1. Let others help me, and understand that they want to help. The idealistic images that I often paint of others can also distort my relationship with them. Rather than seeing others as teachers and resources that could help me grow, I saw them as idols and ideals that I will never get to the level of. I was so trapped in the illusion of my inferiority that I constantly worry my presence is somehow burdensome or unwarranted. I was hesitant to speak with professors after class because I feel like I’m taking up their valuable time. I didn’t tell friends and alumni about my half-formed, half-baked goals, because I was afraid those goals were not good enough for them to waste their time on. Yet, if a friend or underclassman wants to share with me their goals, of course I would work with them to resolve any potential flaws because I want to see them succeed in the same ways others want me to succeed. Working with this insecurity, nervousness, shame, and feeling of inferiority that arise when I feel the need to ask for help can take time, but getting to a better understanding that they are merely distorted feelings, I can allow myself to be helped and to actively seek assistance from others.


  1. Take my breaks. College for many of us is all about making the most of the little time we have. “Go go go”, we say as we stretch ourselves thin between more and more tasks until there is no room left for a break. But when you constantly have to keep yourself above water, eventually, you will realize that you can’t sustain it for long. For me, those moments when I finally gave up on the chaos around me were very difficult to recover from. Not only that, when I focus too much on doing, I have less time to reflect on what I have done, which I later understood was crucial for me to understand my progress, give appropriate kudos to my achievements, and guide me on where to go next. Stopping and taking a break helped me move forward.


  1. Know that I don’t, and don’t have to, know everything. I know this is pretty much what my blog has been alluding to, but it is something that can be very hard for us to wrap our heads around especially when we feel like we have to do everything and be everything (I know I sound like a broken record at this point). Whenever I don’t know something, I can bet my entire asset (which isn’t much) that someone, somewhere, including Mr. Google, can give me the answer. Don’t know how to write a good resume? There is at least one university resource and a dozen Youtube videos that can show you. Don’t know what your industry of interest is like? There’s an alum on University Career Alumni Network (UCAN) that can tell you about it. Don’t know how to do that homework? The person sitting 3 rows above you probably does (your instructor most definitely does, I hope), go ask them! I bet you’re thinking “duh Phat I know, if I need help of course I’ll go ask for help”. But just sticking to the theme of me being a broken record, I just want you to know that you are here for a reason, your unique identity as an international student alone is an asset to the university, and you’ll do great, but even great people need help sometimes! 


So go out there, do your best, have fun in the summer sun (because it isn’t going to last long), and make your own Michigan Experience!


Written by Phat Nguyen

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Undergraduate Student

Vietnam

Shopping in Ann Arbor

Groceries

The first time living in a new city can be hard, especially for shopping. You might wonder where you can get everyday household goods and groceries. Here are some stores in Ann Arbor that might be helpful to fit your needs:


Store

Location/method of travel

Good for

Target

State Street on Central Campus

Some groceries, everyday goods

Kroger

10-15 bus ride from North Campus

Groceries, everyday goods

Way 1

10-15 bus ride from North Campus

Asian groceries

Whole Foods Market

Requires travel by bus/car

Groceries

Meijer


Requires travel by bus/car

Groceries, everyday goods

Costco Wholesale

Requires travel by bus/car

Groceries, household appliances, and gas

Walmart

Extremely far, requires a car

Groceries, everyday goods


Here’s the stores in more detail:


  1. Target

Target sells both groceries and household items. There is a small Target store at Central Campus. A bit more expensive than superstores like Kroger, Walmart, Meijer, and Costco, but very convenient.

Tips: Last year, there was a Back to School 15% discount in August. It is a nice store to buy bedding and school supplies. You can also register for a Target account and get additional savings.

  1. Kroger

Kroger is only a 10-15 minutes bus ride from North Campus. It sells mainly groceries and daily products. The pricing is affordable. 

Tip: You can also ask for a Kroger Plus Shopper’s Card directly to the staff at the checkout area. You can use it to save up more. 

  1. Way 1

Way 1 is an Asian grocery store located in the same plaza as Kroger. It is great for buying Asian foods and has a lot of its items written in Chinese as well.

  1. Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods sells high-quality food and other goods, with a ton of selection for organic goods. You will need to take a bus or car to Whole Foods, and the prices at Whole Foods are more expensive than at other stores, especially for meat.

Tip: If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get some special discounts. Additionally, if you have the Prime Visa card and Prime, you can get 5% back at Whole Foods.

  1. Meijer

Much like Kroger, Meijer sells a wide variety of products, with everything from groceries and everyday household items to even clothes.

  1. Costco Wholesale

Out of all the stores, Costco has the lowest prices for nearly everything, especially groceries. However, it requires a yearly membership, and it also requires you to buy a lot more of the same item than other stores. If you are buying for multiple people, or if you want to buy a lot of meat and store it in the fridge, this is a great place to go to.

  1. Walmart 

Being one of the largest retailers in the world, you can find nearly anything at Walmart, all at a low price. However, it is very far from campus, and you will need to take a car there.


Medicine

For buying medicinal products, there are several pharmacies you can go to: 


Central Campus:

  1. CVS

  2. Walgreens

North Campus:

  1. Rite Aid

This will be important if you need to pick up medicine from somewhere, or you need to buy anything related to personal health. 

Note: Meijer also has a pharmacy, but it is pretty far comparatively.


Delivery

Most stores also offer delivery services, often through another service or through their own website, but for a fee. InstaCart and Shipt partner with most of the stores but require additional fees/subscriptions.


If you don’t have a car and you’d like to rent one for a bit of time, you can also try ZipCar. It has an hourly cost and membership cost, but it is usually cheaper than Uber and Lyft, and you have more freedom to drive around.


Written by Yiran Yang

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Undergraduate Student

China


To-Do for Newcomers: Three Non-School Essential Needs and How to Get Them

Moving to a new country for any long-term reason could somehow feel as if someone had clicked the reset button on your life. At least, this was how I felt moving to U-M for graduate school and having to resettle in Ann Arbor. There were the little things that made the big cumulative difference; take for instance, changing my address and phone number, opening a new bank account, getting a new driver license, registering for a US Social Security Number, etc. While they seem easily doable in retrospect, they were really not so easy at the actual periods when I had to do them as a newcomer. Below is a list of three non-school essential needs for new students and how to get them done.

Getting a New Phone Number: This is the first thing you want to do because several other services will have to be linked to your phone number. Whether you want to open a bank account, sign up on Uber and other such services, or need a 2-factor authentication tool, having a US phone number comes first. Luckily, it is also one of the easiest things to get. 


In Ann Arbor, there are three main phone companies: T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. All you need to do is walk into any of their stores and the assistants on duty will do the rest. Monthly prepaid cost of their lines is between $40 and $60.


Opening a US Bank Account: This is the next thing to do and comes in handy for setting up direct deposit, paying student fees, shopping, and just about everything else. In Ann Arbor, there are about four popular banks: Chase, Huntington, Comerica, and Bank of Ann Arbor. (Also, PNC is the official bank of U-M).


In most cases, opening a bank account is straightforward; most banks make special provisions in the Fall for international students coming in to open accounts. Make sure to have your passport, I-20, and other immigration documents when going to the bank. Most banks will not require an appointment before visiting or an initial deposit either for a checking or a savings account.


Getting a Michigan Driver License: This is about the one document one is likely to find tedious to get because of the several official processes it requires. However, some of the perks are that a driver license doubles as an authorization to operate a private motor vehicle and a state government ID. You will also need it to register on car rental services like Zipcar and Uber, which are useful for personal trips or running errands. 


Not to worry, it is very doable and gets easier the more time you give it. A step-by-step process for applying for a new driver license can be found on the Michigan Department of State website and the U-M International Center website. Make sure to book an appointment online or by phone before visiting. Most important, don’t forget to go with your passport, I-20, and other immigration documents.


Written by Eezer Agu

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student

Nigeria