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