Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Global Information Engagement Program - project overviews and video

In just a couple of weeks, 19 students (many of them in the MSI program) will travel to India as part of the Global Information Engagement Program.

Learn more and visit their websites here and check out this brief video which explains some of the work:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ann Arbor Life

The purpose of this post is to give newcomers an idea of what Ann Arbor’s like for those that have never visited, but, as I quickly found when sitting down to work on this entry, the city is so diverse that it is really difficult to accurately describe without waxing poetic and meandering into an extremely lengthy post. In short, Ann Arbor is a college town, built around the University of Michigan, and the downtown area circles the school’s quad. The entire city only houses 113,000 people or so, and it is one of the safest cities in the entire United States for its size. Thanks to central location of the university, downtown Ann Arbor is extremely lively, with tons of restaurants and shops around the State Street and Main Street areas. Moreover, while, we do not have anywhere near as many restaurants as a bigger city like Chicago or New York, many of the restaurants we do have are excellent. Furthermore, because of the diverse population around campus, you will find all sorts of different venues for whatever type of nightlife you desire, from the Last Word’s delicious cocktails, to the unassuming karaoke at Circus. If the bar life isn’t your scene, there are two art house movie theaters in the midst of downtown that are always hosting events like Q&A’s with directors and midnight showings of classic movies.

As soon as you get out of the immediate downtown area, you will find quiet residential areas perfect for small families looking for fewer crowds and more bang for your housing buck. After coming from New York City, Ann Arbor has felt like the greenest place I have been in years. Nichols Arboretum is a sprawling park just north of downtown central campus that offers a huge space for picnics, walking, and any other outdoor activities you desire. The Huron River runs right through the middle of the Arboretum, and in the summer, you can rent kayaks and canoes from Gallup Park and spend a leisurely afternoon paddling along. In short, Ann Arbor has a little bit of everything for everyone. However, I am sure you all want to know some nitty-gritty details about actually living there.

First, it is definitely possible to get around Ann Arbor and its surrounding areas without a car using both the University of Michigan buses and Ann Arbor Transit Authority buses, both of which students can ride free. This is especially helpful, as there really is not a good grocery store in downtown Ann Arbor, making the public transportation essential if you want to get to a large Meijer or Kroger. Unfortunately, the buses stop running at 11pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends, so if you are a real night owl, you might have to take advantage of the U of M’s SafeRide service or a cab. Single apartments downtown might run you around $800 per month, so look outside of the downtown area or find a roommate if you are looking for something on a budget. I live about two miles away and pay much less than $800, for much more space. If you want to go even cheaper, you can go about 10 miles east of Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, which, while not quite as close to campus, I have heard it is still a very pleasant place to live. In addition, to top it all off, Ann Arbor is only about thirty miles away from downtown Detroit, where you can go see the Tigers or woeful Pistons play, check out some live music, and take in even more fine dining.

Personally, I love the feel of Ann Arbor, which is small enough to make people feel part of a small community, but big enough to provide all of the amenities of a city five times its size. Additionally, every June and July, Ann Arbor hosts their Summer Festival, which includes events called “Top of the Park”, which projects movies onto big screens at night. It’s a total blast, and definitely not an experience I could have had while I was living in New York City. Furthermore, I have taken great advantage of the State Theater’s midnight movies; I think I have seen Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, Clueless, Anchorman, and Wet Hot American Summer over the two years I have been in Ann Arbor. Every spring also brings the Ann Arbor Film Festival, where you can check out some great indie films, if you are into that sort of thing. Finally, on a consumerist note, I love that you can walk three blocks from campus, and find a great independent bookstore, two small movie theaters, dozens of coffee shops, and one of the best toy and comic book stores in the country. While Ann Arbor may not be perfect, it is a lovely place to live and work.

If you want to find some more general information about Ann Arbor, I will point you to the local Ann Arbornews and the Ann Arbor Wiki. You Redditors can also peruse the Ann Arbor subreddit and talk to some locals. I hope you all join us here in the fall.

--Patrick Galligan, MSI '13 (post from April 2013)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There's still time to apply for Fall 2014!

April is here, but there there is still time to apply for the Master of Science in Information program for fall 2014!

The application deadline is May 1.

We understand that it's difficult to wait for decisions, or to make decisions, about graduate school. Please remember you can always contact us at umsi.admissions@umich.edu with questions. Our fall 2014 prospective student Facebook group can also be a terrific resource for having your questions answered. We look forward to staying in touch with you as the spring progresses.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Visiting Days - a Demonstration of what UMSI has to Offer

UMSI Visiting Days - one fun-filled weekend, three fast-paced days, 48 non-stop intense hours - admitted students were invited to Ann Arbor for UMSI Visiting Days in March to talk to faculty, staff, and current students to learn about the school and its programs. It was the time when incoming students meet new friends and have a taste of the school (Yes, when school starts, life at UMSI can be as busy and intense as those 48 hours, if not more).  

A year ago, when I was an incoming student, I hopped on the Megabus and traveled to Ann Arbor with no idea what I should be expecting. I sort of knew the agenda would be intense, but fortunately, the staff made the weekend very busy but not hectic at all. 

Even though I had received emails from current students then, I was still surprised when I saw the warm and smiling faces at UMSI when I arrived. No matter whom I talked to that weekend, they were always patiently listening and were ready to offer great insights and supports. That was a new thing for me as an international student - I graduated from a big public university in Pittsburgh, PA, where the staff had never provided such strong supports to us and I always had felt,,, forgotten. I thought to myself, this was where I wanted to be and where I would thrive. I was sold on that weekend. I felt loved and not left out.

Being a skeptical person, I had this little silly concern that what happened during Visiting Days wouldn’t last, and that the whole weekend might have been a lure to get students to come to UMSI. I was SO wrong. UMSI Visiting Days was the start of everything. The best is yet to come…