Thursday, June 29, 2017

Exploring the University of Michigan’s Museums

One of the best parts about living in Ann Arbor is visiting the various museums scattered around campus. Even better, the University of Michigan museums have free admission!

The UM Museum of Natural History, on 1109 Geddes Ave, is my personal favorite. It boasts a planetarium on the 4th floor, where you can listen to live star talks and see exploding stars and galaxies swirl overhead. You can also see what UM researchers are currently working on, like the Bristle mammoth discovered only 25 miles away in nearby Chelsea, Michigan. The 2nd floor has Michigan’s largest display of prehistoric artifacts, including huge dinosaur fossils and exhibits. There are free dinosaur tours and hands on demonstrations for children, though in my experience, even kids-at-heart are welcome to join in the fun!


The Museum of Natural History also has annual events like a Family Halloween Party in the fall, where everyone can wear costumes and enjoy themed activities. Earlier this year, I was able to participate in the annual Student Night, where the museum stays open late and you get to visit the exhibits at night, eat free pizza, and do a scavenger hunt – quite a unique experience.

If you are more into art and sculptures, check out the UM Museum of Art (UMMA), housed in a beautiful building on State St across from Michigan Union. On Sundays, you can choose to join a free guided tour of the exhibits, or just pick up a map from the lobby and explore the museum’s over 90,000 square feet of galleries. Highlights include a Rembrandt self-portrait, a Monet, Warhol prints, as well as a large collection of art from around the world.

The first floor of UMMA also houses a coffee shop and an area with tables that is a fantastic place to get some reading done or to meet up with a friend. The giant floor-to-ceiling windows also provide an opportunity to observe Ann Arbor’s seasons go by. You can also sign up for a free membership at UMMA and get invites to special exhibitions.

The Kelsey Museum of Archeology, across the street from UMMA, houses 10,000 artifacts, mostly from UM-sponsored excavations in Egypt and the Near East. This includes an extensive collection of ancient coins, pottery, and a beautifully-preserved Egyptian sarcophagus. There is also a small gift shop near the entrance where you can purchase mementoes inspired by the museum’s collections.

And we’re not even close to done with the museums that UM has to offer! There’s the Museum of Dentistry on N. University, devoted to exhibiting the history of dentistry. The Detroit Observatory, which despite its name, is right here in Ann Arbor, preserves the original astronomical instruments from 1894, which are all still operational. The Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments consists of over 2,500 historical and contemporary musical instruments. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum have conservatories, gardens, and greenhouses.

Ann Arbor’s museums have a lot to offer and are very accessible. You can just pop over to one during your lunch break or between classes. So go ahead and explore UM’s museums!

Written by Gail Lucasan
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Philippines
Ph.D. student in Economics

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Living with Family, Why not?

I will say congratulations as you got admitted in the University of Michigan, a world class University in one of the best towns in the United States of America.  Maybe you also got admitted to some other universities, but your choice to study at U-M will be a great investment for your career and life in the future.  Also, if you have family, this is a moment that can be a good opportunity for you and family to gain living experiences outside your home country together.  But, you need to be aware that if you fail to manage both your life and your family life, it may jeopardize your academic achievement - which is not good.  Here are two things that I will share to you as a brief picture of living with family in Ann Arbor.

First of all, as an international student, it is important for you to prove a certain amount of money to obtain a visa.  To me, that amount of money is adequate enough to shop for groceries for cooking and purchase some fast foods or hangout on the weekends.  But, please keep in mind although you have that required amount of money, you still need to have a little bit extra money for an emergency call or vacation purposes.  Healthcare costs, for example, which are known as a co-pay, may occur when you are having illness or injury.  The costs are various and you can visit this website to get further information.  Another example is that a weekend or holiday is the best moment for you and your family to get rid of stress and have fun.  But, unfortunately, during that time the public transport (like buses) is not as frequent as a weekday.  Even on some national holidays they stop operating.  So, all you need to do is rent or buy a car, unless you are willing to spend your days at home.  But, you do not need to worry: the International Center would provide a presentation on how to rent or buy a car so you can get a better understanding on how to do it.

Next is housing.  If you do not have any idea where you are going to look, it is a good for you to start with visiting the University housing website.  There are a lot of options to live either on-campus or off-campus.  I would suggest you to observe following things: public transport access, marketplaces, amenities, and the neighborhood.  Last year, after doing some research I chose Northwood V because of many reasons.  The bus service is available over most of the semester and has many bus stops which are located at strategic places, such as markets, university housing, hospitals and clinics, sport stadiums, recreational centers, parks, and more.  Another reason is the neighborhood is also friendly, so it is safe for your family to stay at, even when you have to be away from home past midnight to do your homework.  Furthermore, the housing security and the police frequently patrol around the apartment complexes.  Lastly, the room rate is affordable with amenities that a family needs to do their daily work and there is a 24-hour support staff.  The latter is the most important thing when you there is a failure in your apartment and you do not know how to fix it.

All in all, I would say it is possible for you to live in Ann Arbor with family.  Even though there could be more burdens that you may get, you can still overcome it when you can identify as early as possible what your family needs in Ann Arbor!  I hope you can easily do your research and get success.  If you still have questions you can call the International Center for help.

Written by Gatot Arif Triaji
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Indonesia
Master’s Student in Public Policy

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Unwinding in Ann Arbor

“Stress relief” is perhaps one of the most common terms I have heard while studying in University of Michigan. Indeed, learning to manage one’s stress is essential in maintaining your mental and physical health during your studies. Furthermore, the stress management skills you acquired will benefit you beyond graduation. Everyone may have different ways in managing stress but I am going to write about the few things I like to do in Ann Arbor to unwind.

Going to the movies is always a nice way to take your mind off things. Michigan Theatre on East Liberty Street is a good choice for viewing independent and artistic films. The theatre also hosts concerts and plays which are also good for a distraction from students’ stressful academic life. Rave Cinema in Ypsilanti shows a variety of films and it has larger movie halls than Michigan Theatre. They also have more show times, thus making it a popular choice among students.

One of the easiest methods to unwind is to have a workout at the gym. The university has two gyms opened throughout the semesters (NCRB will reopen in September 2018), and these gyms are well equipped for students to do cardio, strength and other types of workouts. Moreover, the CCRB has regular spinning, yoga and dance classes which students are welcome to participate for a fee. These classes are great for students to join with their friends and enjoy a nice workout to unwind from their studies. There are also other gyms and yoga studios in Ann Arbor that students can go for a workout session.

If working out is too physically demanding, one can always go out for a nice stroll. There are twenty parks in Ann Arbor where one can enjoy the natural scenery. The more popular options are Bandemer Park and Gallup Park. Both of these parks are next to the Huron River, and they have barbeque equipment and open areas for social gatherings. However, parks may not be ideal during the winter for a nice stroll, therefore one may go indoors for their stroll during winter, such as Kerrytown and Briarwood Mall. Kerrytown hosts farmers’ market every Sunday and has a variety of shops and restaurants. Briarwood mall, on the other hand, is more of a conventional mall.

Lastly, the wellness zone is often overlooked by students for some relaxing time. The wellness zone is provided by the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); it has massage chairs, yoga and meditation tools, Xbox Kinect system, seasonal affective disorder light therapy and other wellness resources. These facilities are opened to students at no cost Monday to Thursday 8am – 7pm, and Friday 8am – 5pm. There is no reservation needed so students can drop in to use the facilities. If one is interested in playing games for unwinding, there is a gaming archive in Duderstadt. They have many gaming consoles, both old and new, and are free for students to use.

The variety of activities available in Ann Arbor and in the university are numerous and accessible to all students. So be sure to try them out when feeling stressed from studies!

Written by Stephanie Tong
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Advisor
Country of Origin: Canada
Master’s Student in Architecture

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Utilizing Library Resources for Free Access to Textbooks

Have you ever thought about the portion of your budget that might go toward having access to the textbooks you need? Well, there might be a couple of saving options like buying used books, borrowing from a friend who had the course before, or renting a book. However, none of them are free and in many cases, they might be relatively expensive in a way that even buying the used ones or renting them may not be so different from the new books.
But, you may not need to pay for your textbooks. All you need is some patience, planning, and knowing where to look for them! I want to share how I utilize a combination of library resources to have free access to the textbooks I need. These resources are the University of Michigan Libraries, the Interlibrary-loan (ILL) system through the university library, and the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL).
The University of Michigan has an extensive catalogue of all types of materials including textbooks. You can easily search the catalogue upon visiting their website. It shows you all the copies (either online or paperback) and you can request to pick them up at any UM library you choose.
If for whatever reason you could not find the book you want, you can request it through the Interlibrary-loan (ILL) system for which you simply fill out a form and the university will obtain the book for you from any library throughout the country that has a copy available for checkout.
In both cases (UM library and ILL) you will receive an email when the book is available for pick-up. You simply go to the library you selected as your pick-up location and check-out the book with your MCard at the information desk.
The last resource, that I personally use a lot, is the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL). There are several branches in the city from which the Traverwood branch is closer to the north campus and can be accessed by taking the Ann Arbor city bus (“the Ride”, free to UM students upon presenting your MCard) route number 22 which has a stop at Pierpont Commons on north campus and a stop at/close to the library. The Downtown library is the one close to the central campus and can be reached by walking or taking any city bus that has a stop at the Blake Transit Center (BTC) which is within 2 minutes of walk from this library branch.
The library membership and use of materials are free for people who live inside the Ann Arbor city limit. You can register and get a card at any branch by providing a photo ID and a proof of address. Having a card, you can request any material through the library website or check them out by visiting a branch. You can also request the book (either through your online account or in person) so that they can borrow it for you from another library, just like how the ILL works.
A nice feature of being a library patron is that you can use your membership information on some eBook provider websites that have a contract with this library like OverDrive. Upon visiting the website, you can search for and find your library (Ann Arbor district library) on its list and simply login using your library card number.
Final points:
1. It takes time and effort so DO NOT GIVE UP EASILY!
2. Take good care of your AADL card and report a lost/stolen card AS SOON AS POSSIBLE so that they can block your card.
3. Beware of the fine for late return of library materials.
All in all, these might seem harder than buying or renting a book but will save you a lot on the long run!

Written by Shiva RaissiCharmakani
International Center Summer Orientation Peer Adviser
Country of Origin: Iran
Master’s Student in Sustainable Systems