Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No Car? No Problem!

Moving to a totally new environment can be stressful, and the academic rigor of U-M tends to exacerbate the issue. I remember being best friends with Google Maps to help me navigate through the campus when I walked around my first two weeks of school. With a constant battle against time and shivery-cold winter, I had to look into means of transportation other than just walking. Now, I would to share what I have learned in the past year with you.

Lyft / Uber

Most people already know what Lyft and Uber are, but let me introduce them to those who do not. Lyft and Uber are companies that help users connect with drivers within the proximity through a mobile app. By having both apps, users have access to a driver almost whenever. I like Lyft and Uber because all the drivers are controlled and regulated by big companies, lowering the risk of me falling into a sketchy situation. The user is charged based on time and distance traveled, but the app is very helpful when you are crunched for time or have a lot of items to carry.

Tip: If you are a new user, ask your friend to give you a promo code so that you and your friend could get a free ride.

Welcome to Ann Arbor, where there are two different bus services to get you from point A to B. M-Buses and AATA are the most frequently used public transportation services. I am already so excited to inform you about how wonderful the buses are. Yeah, your commute will take longer than taking a cab. But if you time perfectly by monitoring where the buses are, saving money will be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Both services offer mobile apps and real-time M-Buses and AATA buses can be seen here.

Free to the public

Free with M-Card

Runs 24 hours

Routes available beyond campus

Live bus tracking available
Equipped to assist the handicapped
Frontal bike racks available

If you are living on campus, you will most likely use the M-buses more frequently. The bus tracking is more precise with the M-buses and it hits all the dorms. If you are living off campus and/or shop for your groceries, the AATA buses will quickly become your friends. On weekdays, the AATA buses wait time depends heavily on the demand. During rush hour, you will see one every 10 minutes. But on Sundays, you will see one every hour.

Zipcar / Maven

Having either a Zipcar or Maven membership (or both!) will make you live on the fine line between having a car and being car-less. The process of becoming a member starts on their websites. Note that in order to sign up, you need to have a driver’s license (makes sense, right?). With Maven, your smartphone is the way to get into the car. With Zipcar, you will need to wait a bit until the company sends you a card that you scan on the top corner of the windshield. One downside may be that you need to return the car at the same location you had picked up the car. A good (borderline great) thing about the membership is that the service is available outside of just Ann Arbor! Let’s say you are traveling to the Sunshine State (Florida). You will be able to unlock into a car there with your card!

Blue Bikes & ArborBike

If gliding through the streets on two wheels is something that interests you, look no further. In Ann Arbor, you have two options to rent a bicycle. Blue Bikes lets you rent a bicycle, a helmet, and a lock at an affordable price! The bikes are available at one location on central campus, Outdoor Adventures. If you are looking for a more spontaneous option, go with ArborBike. Your membership could last from 1 day to a year - it’s your choice! You sign up with a credit or debit card and will use it as a membership card. During your membership, you can pick up a bike from any location found throughout Ann Arbor and return it to any designated ArborBike bicycle rack. Here is the selling point: any trip under 60 minutes is free! Using this service will not only save your time and money, but you will be able to put your body to work! This is very useful for any students who spend much of their time sitting in one spot and studying.

Written by Minji Namkoong

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Preparing for Winter Weather

Winter weather in Michigan is definitely famous for being bitterly cold, harsh winds, and lots of snow. Although this may be true, there are definitely ways to combat this winter weather and even learn to enjoy the season! Ann Arbor winters average temperatures from -15°C to 3°C. There is usually a lot of snow, especially in December and January, and it gets darker much earlier.
The best way to combat the cold is with proper clothing, jackets, and winter accessories. Different clothing materials also have an impact on how effective they will be. Anything made of wool, down, cotton, and/or fleece is surely to be a protectant from the winter weather. Winter clothes and accessories are essential to surviving a Michigan winter. These items include: winter coats, sweaters, boots, gloves or mittens, scarves, hats, headbands or ear muffs, thick socks, and long underwear (long johns or thermal underwear). Although some of these may seem unnecessary as the winter continues, they are all important pieces in protecting yourself from the winter weather.
A good way to avoid the cold winter is taking the Michigan bus more often to avoid walking outside, especially when the wind chills are high. Also, avoid biking, as the conditions outside can be very slippery and dangerous.
Although winter sounds sort of miserable, there are ways to enjoy the season. Some popular winter activities include: skiing, ice skating, sledding, hockey, and having snowball fights. There are some trips that are sponsored by the University of Michigan to do some of these activities. There is also the Yost Arena, where students can go ice skating or play hockey for a fee. These activities can pretty much exclusively be done in the winter, which also makes the season more special.
When it gets colder, people also get more concerned about getting ill easier. It is important in the winter to stay away from sick people, wash your hands often, get enough sleep and hydration, and have a well-balanced diet. However, if you do get sick and are worried about class, first check the syllabus to see the sick policy/reasons for missing class. Then, contact your professor ASAP to let them know of your illness, and visit the University of Michigan, University Health Service (UHS) to see what’s wrong and get a doctor’s note. Going to class while sick could cause more problems than not going at all.
Although there are definitely some things to be aware of before winter hits, there are definitely ways to combat it and enjoy the season! Here are some takeaways:
G: Get winter essentials to keep yourself warm
O: Outfits should be in layers
B: Be aware of a winter weather watch/advisory/warning
L: Learn how to take care of yourself
U: Understand that you don’t have to go to class/work if you are sick
E: Explore different winter activities!

Written by Charisma Thapa