July 17, 2009
Getting To Know Ann Arbor
So you're here-now what? What to do, what to do? Ann Arbor is a small city. "Small" may be the operative word for transplants from major cities, while "city" may bring major changes for those used to small-town life. Personally, I call it "just my size." I'm a city-dweller at heart with a small town background, so Ann Arbor is nice because it is small enough that you can own a car and get around in it, but big enough to offer a wealth of culture and resources. Just my size.
Either way, once you're here I recommend taking some time to get to know your fair city. As a full-time resident with UofM roots I've met a LOT of people who center their lives on campus and never look beyond Main Street (or Washtenaw, or Packard...look at a map and you'll get my drift). Still, Ann Arbor and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer.
Make sure to spend a day walking around campus and downtown. See what resources are walking-distance on a nice day. Give the city bus system a trial run. Those of you with a car (or a roommate with a car): take a drive on a sunny day. Drive North, South or West and you'll get to see to Ann Arbor's small town neighbors (Chelsea, Saline, South Lyon) via a beautiful drive through the country.Drive East to Ypsi for music and drinks at the Elbow Room or Pub 13, get dinner or play pool in Depot Town. Walk through Riverside Park or hit up a festival. It's a great city with a lot to offer. When you get back to town take the long way back-check out some of the neighborhoods. See what the city is like outside of the University.
Things to Do
There are two big movie theaters (and a few smaller ones), multiple theater companies, and a lot of chances to hear live music. The public library has some great programming, and branches all over town. As a foodie-I must mention that Ann Arbor has a lot of great restaurants (diners and dives, too). You can use city guides like Yelp or Arborweb to find good places to eat or things to do, but I recommend just asking around on the CTools site, on facebook, etc. Heck, I bet if you asked a few people on the street you'd probably get some good feedback on where to go and what to do. Also, there's a great free guide to entertainment called The Current. It has a website but it's not very useful (could use an SI overhaul)-find a print copy. You can often find them near the door of any coffee shop or store that has a pile of free papers. It has listings and descriptions of regularly scheduled events and special events, often by day so you can just look up the date and find something to do. Great stuff.
Connecting with SI Folks in Summer
Since there are no classes in the spring/summer semester (May through August), most SI students use this opportunity to complete an internship, work full- or part-time, or both. While many students travel to other states, or even other countries (following a dream internship, or just saving some cash by living with their parents for four months), a good number of SI students stay in Ann Arbor for the summer. To keep in touch and plan the occasional get-together, they for email lists and Facebook groups. If you get here before orientation, I recommend joining these in case you want to get a head start on meeting your future classmates.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (go to directory.umich.edu to join the list)
There are also some student groups that continue into the summer when most members are around-I know that the Community Information Corps has potlucks once a month, and the YASL book club is still active during summer. If you're interested in either you should find them on Facebook/email (check the SI Student Groups page to find email contact info) to get involved early.
Once school starts, you'll also have opportunities to meet people and socialize through student groups. These groups not only help you with professional development activities and other enrichment, it can be a nice way to connect with other students outside of class and build social relationships. Involvement in student groups at SI occurs at two levels: There are those who take an active role in running a student group-running for a position on its board and planning events, etc. Others attend meetings and events, but don't participate in leading the group in any one direction. Though most people only participate in one (maybe two) groups at the first level, you can easily get involved with many groups on the second level. Simply sign up for their email lists and attend whatever events suit you-you can drop into your first happy hour in March if that's the first chance you get. It's a great way to let off some steam of take part in a good discussion on things that matter to you.
With Fall comes football-if you live anywhere near campus or the stadium (and I use "near" loosely) you will notice that Michigan Football is very important in Ann Arbor. If you don't love it you will learn to coexist, because it's not going anywhere-and neither are you if you get stuck in it's awesome traffic. Schedule driving on game days (at least the big ones-State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, etc.) so that you're not driving on roads that lead to/away from the stadium in the two hours before the game starts and after it lets out. Just trust me on this. The upside to this is...well...Michigan Football. People love it for a reason, and they don't call it "The Big House" for nothing. Season tickets are about $200-which is what some people pay for a big game ticket when we host Ohio State. Krystle Williams wrote a pretty good post on the topic-I'll let her explain: http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/~krosalia/archives/2007/10/um_football.html
Posted by messelti at July 17, 2009 06:39 PM