Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Plant-Based Paradise: How to Enjoy Ann Arbor as a Vegetarian/Vegan!

I have been a vegetarian all my life and as a transitioning vegan in Ann Arbor, I have discovered a vibrant and diverse food scene that caters to my dietary preferences. This charming city in Michigan is known for its culinary offerings, and it doesn't disappoint when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options. From cozy cafes and innovative restaurants to farmers' markets and food trucks, Ann Arbor has plenty to offer for those seeking delicious plant-based meals.

Being a vegetarian or vegan in Ann Arbor means being spoiled for choice. The city embraces the concept of mindful eating and caters to a variety of dietary needs. Whether you're a lifelong vegetarian or recently embarked on a plant-based journey, you'll find an abundance of flavorful and satisfying options that celebrate the beauty of vegetables, legumes, grains, and more. From hearty vegan burgers to creative vegetarian sushi rolls, the local eateries in Ann Arbor have embraced the art of plant-based cooking. Many restaurants provide dedicated vegetarian or vegan menus, making it easier than ever to explore a diverse range of culinary delights. Whether you're in the mood for Indian, Mediterranean, Asian, or classic American cuisine, you'll find numerous options that showcase the versatility and deliciousness of vegetarian and vegan fare.

But it's not just the restaurants that make Ann Arbor a vegetarian and vegan haven. The city's farmers' markets and local produce scene are a treasure trove for those seeking fresh ingredients. With a strong emphasis on sustainability and farm-to-table practices, the markets offer an array of seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, and plant-based products. Exploring the stalls at the farmers' market is an excellent way to connect with local growers, discover new flavors, and support the community's commitment to sustainable food practices.

In this guide, I'll take you on a culinary journey through Ann Arbor, highlighting some of the must-visit vegetarian and vegan establishments. So, let's dive in and uncover the mouthwatering world of vegetarian and vegan cuisine that awaits in the charming city of Ann Arbor!

1. Detroit Street Filling Station - Completely Vegan (my favourite)

2. Seva’s - Completely Vegetarian

3. Anna’s House - Special Elaborate Vegan Menu

4. Fresh Forage - Separate Vegetarian and Vegan Menus

5. Earthen Jar - Vegan Buffet

6. Cinnaholic - A 100% Vegan Bakery

7. The Lunch Room - Completely Plant-based  

8. Cardamom - Best Indian Vegetarian in AA

9. Avalon Cafe and Kitchen - Options for Vegan/Vegetarian Brunch 

10. Jerusalem Garden - Mediterranean Cuisine with tonnes of Veg options

Written by Nishant Shah

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student


6 Tips You Need to Survive Michigan’s Winter


As we gear up for the Fall semester, I can practically feel the excitement in the air. If you're anything like me, when you shared the news about heading to Michigan with friends and family, the first thing they chimed in with was, "It's cold, you know?"

Well, after surviving my first Michigan winter and living to tell the tale, I can confirm they weren't kidding. It can get cold, seriously cold.

But I feel that there's more to the story than how cold it is. Yes, it's cold, but it's even colder if you’re not prepared physically or mentally. So this is all you need to know about surviving an infamous “Michigan Winter”. 

  1. Invest in really good winter gear. 

This could mean a really thick puffer jacket (preferably one that gets to your knees) but, if you’re worried about re-wearing the same jacket over, experiment with puffers of different colors, sleeveless puffers, fleece jackets, trench coats, faux-fur, and so on. Extra points if you can get coats in Michigan colours (@umichapparel is an excellent resource for that) because they are perfect for those chilly winter games!

It also really helps to have a thick outer layer jacket that you can take off once you get indoors (because central indoor heating keeps inside buildings warm enough!). I would also recommend starting to purchase winter gear off-season (in fall/summer)! Brands like H&M or Canada Goose (or even Amazon) might suit you or, if you’re on a little bit of a budget, thrift shops like Salvation Army and Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop have great choices too. 

On really chilly days, you would need more accessories to really cover up. I would suggest exploring additions to your wardrobe, like a cozy wool scarf, thick matching socks, a snug beanie, gloves/ mittens, and so on. I realized my ears get pretty cold, so if you’re anything like me, I would recommend a set of ear warmers (or headphones, that way you can play music and keep warm too!). So pro tip: figure out which body part feels the cold most and cover it! 

  1. Add inner layers

A big tip to add clothes beneath your tops/ pants for extra warmth. I had an Under Armour top that I wore under my shirt to protect my chest and a thin pair of joggers that I wore under my jeans for an added buffer. These did wonders in keeping me warm in places that my puffers could not reach. 

I also think a very underrated tip is to wear thick winter socks that go up to your shins. I discovered that while my feet are snug (thanks to socks and shoes), my shins will feel really exposed. So it really helps to cover them to keep them warm. Leg warmers could also come in really handy with that. 

  1. Snow boots, snow boots, snow boots

I'll say it thrice – snow boots are your winter warriors. Find a warm, comfy pair of boots which, write this down, are slip/waterproof. The roads/paths can get really icy and really slippery so slip-proof snow boots are such a crucial factor! 

Keep in mind, if you opt out of snow boots, you would have to rely on your regular sneakers or tennis shoes (and those can really wear down over time). To preserve your footwear, investing in a pair of boots is a wise move – it'll keep you from wearing them too much, too quickly.

  1. Keeping active! 

Just because we’ll be indoors more, doesn’t mean you need to be bored the whole time. You can still explore new sports: ice skating, sledding, or snowboarding in the winter! Yost Ice Rink offers discounted ice skating for students, and the city of Detroit also has quite a few fun winter activities! I also hear that Lake Michigan, when covered in a layer of fresh snow, is ridiculously photogenic so that could be something you could check out!

You can also keep moving by going to the gym! There are many places on campus to keep fit, like the North Campus recreation building (NCRB), the Intramural Sports Building (IM), or the Palmer Field Temporary Facility. These recreational centers are also a great way to play sports like basketball, racquetball, volleyball, yoga, and even swimming (because the indoor pools are heated). The NCRB also has a great sauna, offering a sweet escape from the cold!

Winter is also a great time to try new activities like board games, decorating/redecorating, cleaning, organizing for the new semester, making snow angels or snowmen, putting up pretty holiday lights, etc. Some Michigan buildings have lovely fireplaces like the Trotter Multicultural Center or Chrysler Center on North Campus, where you can bundle up, sip a coffee, and read a book! This isn't just about surviving winter; it's about thriving in it!

  1. Seasonal depression is real!

In wintertime, Michigan only gets about 9 hours of sun on average. That means the sun comes up at 8 am and goes down pretty early, around 5 pm! This might not be a big deal if you're used to places near the Equator, but remember, in summer, the sun rises at 6 am and hangs out until 9 pm. That's a pretty big shift in daylight hours!

So, for people who are not used to such drastic seasonal changes (I know I wasn’t when I first got here), the lack of sunlight can really take a toll on your mood and mental health! I personally found CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) to be a great resource, helping me come to terms with what I was feeling. And I know a lot of you may be thinking, this sounds a little crazy (how can fewer hours of sunlight have such an effect on someone’s mood?). Trust me, I thought it was a little dramatic too until I lived it, and let me tell you, it is not worth going through!

Some personal things that helped me get through the season was a sun lamp (they can be found in the CAPS area in the Union and Pierpoint but you can also buy it off Amazon). Specific medications like melatonin, vitamin D and vitamin B complex, also helped me with the reduced sunlight. Moisturizer & Chapstick (Burt's Bees is a personal fav) is also very important, because even though it might not be that sunny, it also gets very dry, so your skin and lips would need that extra protection.

I would recommend, however, speaking to a medical professional before purchasing anything medical. 


  1. As we wind down, here's my sixth and final set of tips - a mix of recommendations for when the winter months roll around:

  • The bus is usually heated during the winter, so you can use it, or stay indoors to keep warm. Know when buildings close though so you don't get locked outside when you really need to warm up. 

  • Heated buses during winter are such a neglected plus! You would not imagine the number of times I took a bus ride just to warm up! Sticking indoors is also wise, just remember building hours to avoid chilly lockouts when you need to defrost.

  • Keep in mind, winter slows things down – buses, walks, the whole gig. You can fight it, or you can be savvy and start your journeys a bit earlier.

  • If you love tea, for my English, Kenyan, Indian, South African or Turkish peers, this could come in really handy. Bring/buy a nice thermoflask or tea set because a good cup of Roiboos or Kericho tea or a bowl of soup can really work wonders

  • An electric blanket can also come in very handy, though if you are living in the dorms it is not that necessary because the rooms will be pretty well heated! (sometimes a little too heated)

  • Wear eye protection when looking at snow in bright sunlight, as you can get snow blindness from light reflecting off its surface.

  • Buy an umbrella! It's a snowstorm hero (and it comes in handy throughout other seasons too: rain, sunshine, hail…you name it).

And finally… remember to take all these tips, add your own as you go, but above all, enjoy your time in Michigan. Through the summer breeze, the fall leaves, and winter freeze, it is all part of the Michigan experience! So soak it in, while it lasts, and of course, Go Blue!

​​Written by Ayeyi Asamoah Manu

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Undergraduate Student

Ghana, South Africa

Summer Adventures: National Parks and More for the Adventure Geeks in the US

Coming to the US, I didn’t realize how gifted the country is, in terms of topographical variations. I had no idea there were mountains to hike and desert valleys to walk through. I had been eyeing the national parks in the US since my undergrad days. I had heard and seen so much about the hikes and the incredible views all the national parks have to offer. 

There are a total of 63 national parks in the US. This summer, I was finally able to hike some of the most beautiful national parks: Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Just as I was talking about the topographical variations in the US, both Yosemite and Grand Canyon offer totally different views and features. 

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To enter any national park, there is a fee of $35 which lets you enter the park for up to 7 days (with the receipt). If you plan on going to multiple national parks in a year, I will recommend getting the America the Beautiful Pass. This pass costs $80 and is valid for an entire year. If you plan on going to more than 2 national parks, then you basically redeem the price of the pass easily. You can also have a second holder of the pass and split the cost with them, making it even more affordable and worth your money. 

We are lucky to be a part of the University of Michigan. Little did I know, we can rent a plethora of camping gear through the recreational sports center. So for the newbies trying to get into hiking/camping, UMich offers a variety of camping gear for you to rent if you don’t want to spend all that money for just one trip. 

Coming back to Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. I was able to complete 8 different trails, totaling up to about 45 miles with the highest elevation gain of about 2,000 ft. As a new hiker, you should not just be looking into the length of a trail but also its elevation. The elevation is what gets you. It is very important to know your limits because some of these hikes can get VERY strenuous.

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If you ever plan on hiking, I would definitely recommend downloading the AllTrails app. This app has information about every trail in every national park, state park or literally any other possible trail, short or long. It also tells you the elevation gain and other facts about the trail. 

The US is not only the home to these 63 national parks but also some amazing state parks, lakes, historic sites, etc. During my trip I was also able to hike and enjoy Lake Tahoe, which is another amazing and beautiful area for adventure geeks. 

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Coming closer to our home, there are some mind-blowing places to hike, camp and relax in Michigan. Some of my favorites are Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Porcupine Mountains, and Sleeping Bear Dunes. There is also a freshwater spring called Kitch-iti-kipi in the upper peninsula of Michigan that has some breathtaking views. 

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Hiking, camping and traveling has been the best part of my journey in the US so far. I hope everyone takes advantage of everything this beautiful country has to offer while they are here. 

Written by

Abhyuday Rastogi

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student


Finding Mentors and Building Your Network

I was having dinner in a restaurant across busy State Street, Ann Arbor with my older friend and mentor, whose pseudonym I am going to call William. William – a PhD student in Electrical Engineering – knew the nooks and crannies of pursuing a career in the field, knowledge that would help me navigate my own journey as an aspiring electrical engineer. As we ate and enjoyed the company, I listened intently to William delivering wisdom on doing research, succeeding in class, building strong professor-student relationships. Having dinner with William was a milestone that marked my progress in finding people and support in this new country. 

Moving to the US as an international student comes with finding a career without the support you would get in your home country. But a strong network of mentors reduces the stress and guides you to your intended profession. William, other older students, and my professors have helped me in ways that I didn’t know I needed, and have shown me that listening to people who have trodden the same paths you plan on venturing into is highly advantageous if you want to achieve your goals. This applies to all fields, not only electrical engineering.

How can you find mentors and direction to your intended career?

  1. Join professional clubs and student organizations: Many have mentorship programs that match older students, who have first-hand experience in your chosen field, with younger students looking to break into a specific area. 

  2. Talk to your professors, especially through office hours: Professors hold office hours where you can ask questions about class and the professor’s area of speciality as well, a golden opportunity for you to discover insights into a particular career or field.

  3. Join professional networking platforms: These include LinkedIn and university-affiliated platforms that act as a hub for professionals and aspiring professionals to connect with each other.

  4. Cold outreach: You’d be surprised how successful reaching out through, for example, a cold email works for turning strangers into people who support your goals. Suppose you find someone with the job you want – reach out to them; there’s a decent chance they’d be willing to share their experiences with you. A lot of professionals like helping college students, so use this opportunity whenever you can.

These are among the ways you can find people who support you in your professional endeavors. At first it may feel a little awkward asking for help in a seemingly transactional way. But mentorship isn’t just a one-way street; it goes both ways. By asking for help, you acknowledge the other person has valuable experience and expertise that has the potential to improve someone’s life. People are also willing to help you because in the future you’ll likely be able to do the same. Help someone today and, if they are a decent person, they’ll return the favor. Keeping your head down and being a lone wolf doesn’t work well in the US (and other places too). Be a social hominid who gives and receives help and you’ll find your footing in this country. 

Written by Andy Wang

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Undergraduate Student

New Zealand

Exploring Michigan's Museums: A Student's Guide to Unveiling History

Navigating the academic rigors at the University of Michigan can be challenging, but finding a balance between classes and hobbies is essential. Drawing from my experience during my first year, I found solace in exploring archaeological sites and museums. Michigan boasts some of the finest museums in the country, making them perfect weekend getaways or escapes during free time. Here's a guide to some of Michigan's museums, along with intriguing fun facts:

University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA):

Situated at the heart of the University of Michigan's central campus, UMMA boasts a vast collection of more than 20,000 artworks, spanning diverse cultures and epochs. It showcases an array of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other visual art forms. An interesting fact about UMMA is that it was one of the first museums in the U.S. to digitize its collections, allowing it to transcend the traditional barrier of physical location and to afford complete access to research and teaching via the web. For students, admission to the museum is free, and it welcomes visitors every day during business hours.

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Kelsey Museum of Archaeology:

Also located on the University of Michigan's central campus, the Kelsey Museum is a haven for enthusiasts of archaeology and ancient civilizations. With artifacts hailing from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome, it offers a glimpse into the cultures of yore. Beyond its collection, the Kelsey Museum offers educational programs and events. A fun fact about the museum is that its name honors Henry Kelsey, a 17th-century British explorer who traversed the Canadian prairies. It opens its doors to the public without any admission charge.

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Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) - Detroit:

Located 42 miles away from Ann Arbor, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) stands as a monumental treasure trove of art. Boasting an extensive collection that spans ancient to contemporary creations, the DIA commands prestige and admiration. One standout feature is the colossal Diego Rivera murals, collectively named "Detroit Industry." These murals, painted between 1932 and 1933, narrate the automotive industry's history in Detroit. Visitors can explore these murals, a hallmark attraction, within the DIA's main building. For students, the entry fee is $10 with a valid student ID, and the museum welcomes visitors during regular business hours.

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The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation - Dearborn:

This is my favorite and one of Michigan's crown jewels, the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, located in Dearborn, offers a unique blend of history, technology, and innovation. Remarkably, it holds the distinction of being the largest indoor-outdoor museum complex in the United States, drawing over 2 million visitors annually. A captivating fact lies in the museum's possession of the actual bus that Rosa Parks courageously occupied, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott and epitomizing the Civil Rights Movement. This bus, aptly named the "Rosa Parks Bus," stands as an enduring symbol of courage, resistance, and the fight for racial equality. Entry fee is $25 and there is an Amtrack train which connects Ann Arbor and Dearborn. 

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Written by Haggai Chomba

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student


Let's Work Out Together!

Welcome to UofM, all newbies! As you embark on this new chapter of your life, it's essential to focus not only on academic success but also on your overall well-being. Work-out can be a fantastic way to stay healthy, make new friends, and enhance your university experience! So here are some good starting points!

  1. Group-X Class (Group Fitness)

Starting university in a foreign country can be both exhilarating and daunting. Working out together provides an excellent opportunity to break the ice and form meaningful connections with your fellow students. Joining group fitness classes and sharing the experience of exercise fosters a sense of camaraderie, making it easier to build friendships that will last throughout your academic journey! 

As a Zumba Instructor and lover myself, I met so many good and passionate people in the class and they are always there cheering me on and supporting me. This might be the very start of your new friendships in U-M!

Below is me with my students at the end of Zumba class. Do you see everyone with a big, big smile! There are so many options other than Zumba and don’t be afraid to try them out, especially when Rec Sports provides FREE classes in the first two weeks of the semester :)

  1. Personal Training

When you move to this part, there must be someone asking what about I am so shy and I feel uncomfortable working out with a group of strangers? Good news for all of you like that! Do you know we offer personal training and have a student discount for that  on campus? Personal training offers a one-on-one approach tailored to your specific fitness needs and goals. With a personal trainer by your side, you'll receive individualized attention, guidance, and support throughout your fitness journey. Your trainer will take into account your fitness level, preferences, and any concerns you may have, creating a personalized workout plan that suits you perfectly. Hope you will enjoy the ‘private’ work out!

There are numerous reasons to embrace fitness during this exciting time. So, let the journey begin and hope all of you can add some new ‘flavor’ to your U-M life!

Written by Yizhuo (Cary) Li

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student


Places to Visit in Michigan

After finishing two hectic semesters, students are eagerly looking forward to a well-deserved summer vacation that stretches from the end of April to the end of August. As the flowers bloom in May, it is a perfect time to escape to a destination not too far from Ann Arbor but filled with natural wonders. There are several nice places to visit in Michigan. Let’s find out more!


What flowers come to your mind in May? Personally, the beautiful and colorful tulips come to my mind. In May, you can see many tulips in Ann Arbor but you can be surrounded by millions of tulips if you visit Holland, Michigan. Holland stands out as a must-visit during the annual Tulip Time Festival, scheduled from May 4 to May 12, 2024. When I visited Holland during the last weekend of the festival in 2023, many tulips started to wither (they were still remarkably beautiful though). To enjoy more fresh tulips with fewer crowds, I recommend visiting during the festival's first weekday. There are several popular spots where you can capture the best tulip photos.

1) Windmill Island Garden : Windmill Island Gardens houses the de Zwaan windmill, the final mill allowed to be brought from the Netherlands. It remains operational, grinding locally-grown grain into flour for sale to visitors and local businesses. A major attraction is the tour of this historic working windmill. Besides, visitors can enjoy music from an antique Dutch street organ, a gift from Amsterdam to Holland after World War II. Kids can have fun riding an antique carousel from the Netherlands. The Island features several replica Dutch buildings and shops, along with beautiful gardens showcasing tulips in spring and various annuals and perennials in summer. 

2) Nelis’ Dutch Village: If you want to find out more about Dutch heritage, Nelis’ Dutch Village can be your next place to visit in Holland. The village offers a variety of enjoyable activities, including shoecarving, cheesemaking, and traditional Dutch dancing. For added fun, you can take rides on the Carousel, Zweefmolen (Dutch Chair Swing Ride), and Ferris wheel. Of course, there will be many kids with their guardians standing in lines but don’t worry! These rides are for all ages! Admission fee is $17 for adults but you can save $2 online! So, plan your visit and immerse yourself in the rich Dutch culture and entertainment at Nelis’ Dutch Village!

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is a captivating and historic destination located in Lake Huron, between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Renowned for its charming Victorian architecture, the island offers a unique experience as it is entirely free of motor vehicles. Instead, visitors and locals alike travel by horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, or on foot. If you want to step back in time and take a break from the modern world, Mackinac Island is a perfect place to visit. Visit Mackinac Island and enjoy its picturesque landscapes, historic sites, and vibrant community. I recommend visiting this beautiful island as a one-day trip because if you try to book a hotel, you will find out that the hotel fee is really expensive. 

  1. Tulip Time Festival: https://www.tuliptime.com/

  2. Windmill Garden Island: https://www.cityofholland.com/471/Windmill-Island-Gardens

  3. Neli’s Dutch Village: https://www.dutchvillage.com/

  4. Mackinac Island: https://www.mackinacisland.org/

Written by Jinshil Choi

Summer Orientation Peer Advisor

Graduate Student

Republic of Korea (South Korea)