What TBG loves about November

What TBG loves about November

NovemberCalendar

10. Beginning of the holidays

Halloween is just finished and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner. The holidays are one of the most joyous times of year—fun, friends, family and food are abundant. Worth checking out is Lansing’s annual Silver Bells in the City Festival will kick off the holiday season in mid-Michigan on Nov. 21 from 5 pm to 9 pm.
9. Stress relief

Midterms are done (for the most part) and there’s still a month until finals. For most MSU students, there is usually a bit of an academic breather come the month of November.
8. Colors on campus

November is the last time to enjoy the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows that grace the trees on campus before the trees turn barren for the winter.
7. Warm drinks

Let’s be honest: hot chocolate, tea and coffee go perfect with November weather.
6. Black Friday
Even if you don’t go shopping on the actual date, the beginning of holiday sales at your favorite stores is worth a celebration. If you do go shopping on Black Friday, TBG honors your bravery.
5. Michigan State Football

MSU Football kicks into high gear in November as the team pushes closer to a trip to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. A night game against Ohio State on the Nov. 8 and a trip to Maryland on Nov. 15 are highlights of the Spartans’ schedule.
4. Michigan State Basketball

November means the return of Spartan basketball. The Spartans kick off the 2014-15 season with two exhibition games against The Master’s College on Nov. 3 and St. Cloud State on Nov. 7. The first regular season game will be against in Annapolis, Md. against Navy on Nov. 14, just one day before the football team faces off against the Terps in College Park, Md.
3. Fall Fashion

For girls, it likely means leggings, warm scarves and boots. For guys, it likely means hoodies and flannels. Either way, there’s no arguing that fall is easily the most chic and comfortable fashion season of the year.
2. Thanksgiving break

Four days off of school and time to spend back home with family and friends. Enough said.
1. Thanksgiving food

The best meal of the year.

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Top Memorable Moments of the Olympics—so far

Top Memorable Moments of the Olympics—so far

10. Opening Ceremonies

The Opening Ceremonies of Sochi 2014 were considered to be uneventful by many, especially when compared to the most recent Olympic games: Summer 2012 in London. What most Americans will remember about this year’s opening ceremonies are likely the “ugly sweater” outfits worn by US Olympians and a viral video of Russian police performing Daft Punk’s summer 2013 hit “Get Lucky.”

Photo via Know your meme

9. Ashley Wagner’s meme

Move over, Mikayla Maroney. You’ve got some meme competition.

Ashley Wagner came into the Olympics as the skater every American wanted to cheer for. Despite a devastating fall at Nationals, Wagner was still selected for the US Olympic team. Wagner performed a well-executed routine, but did not agree with the score she was given and a camera caught her making faces of disbelief and mouthing “bullsh***” to her US teammates. Naturally, the Internet exploded and the world was graced with a meme that rivals Maroney’s “Not Impressed” from the 2012 summer games in London.

8. Shaun White

White shocked the world not once, not twice, but three times. The “Flying Tomato” came into the games no longer sporting his signature long locks and withdrew from the slopestyle event, stating that the course was too dangerous. The American snowboarder also failed to medal in his strongest event, finishing fourth in halfpipe.

7. Bob Costas’ eye

NBC broadcaster Bob Costas had anchored 157 primetime Olympic telecasts coming into Sochi 2014. While in Sochi, Costas developed a mysterious eye infection. He had to wear glasses on air and visibly struggled to see. On Feb. 11, five days after NBC started primetime coverage, the infection became too severe for Costas to effectively carry out his responsibilities and NBC transferred broadcasting duties to Today Show anchor Matt Lauer. Meredith Viera also covered for Costas, becoming the first solo female anchor to host primetime Olympics coverage. Costas hopes to return in the second half of the games.

6. Jamaican Bobsled team

A bobsled team from the Caribbean qualifying for the Winter Games for the first time since 2002. Need we say more?

5 (tie). Falls: Shiva Keshavan, luge & Jeremy Abbot, figure skating

Keshavan: Five-time Olympian Shiva Keshavan had a scary fall off of his sled during a luge training run but managed to gain control and finish. Keshavan, who hails from India but is performing under the Olympic flag due to India’s IOC sanctioned suspension, came into Sochi internet-famous from his videos of intense training on a Himalyan highway.

Abbott: American figure skater Jeremy Abbott crashed into a wall following a spin during his routine in men’s short program team figure skating. Abbott, a member of the Detroit Skating Club who trains in West Bloomfield, Mich., managed to push through and finish his routine with a score of 72.58

4. US Men Sweep Slopestyle and ask for a date

American skiers Josh Christenson, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in the event. And in the spirit of the holiday, Goepper is holding an online contest to go on a date with him using the hashtag #iwanttodatenick

3. TJ Oshie shootout Goal vs. Russia

The St. Louis Blues center scored the winning goal for Team USA after going head-to-head with Russian captain and Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk for the majority of eight shootout rounds to lead America to a 3-2 victory over the host country.

2. Julia Lipnitskaia, 15-year-old Russian figure skater

It may be too early to call, but chances are high that Lipnitskaia becomes the breakout athlete of Sochi 2014. Her performance in team figure skating earned Russia the gold and ever since then she has since taken the world by storm with her unbelievable twists and spins.

1. #SochiProblems

Tap water the color of beer, doors that won’t unlock and a climate better suited for spring break than the Olympics are just many problems that sports journalists and athletes alike have experienced during their stay in Sochi. The hashtag “Sochi Problems” has taken the Twitter world by storm with many wondering what makes the Russian vacation city a viable location for the Olympic Games.

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Hot and Healthy December: Tortilla Soup

Hot and Healthy December: Tortilla Soup

My biggest problems cooking for myself are as follows:

  1. I’m busy and don’t have time to cook.
  2. When I’m not busy, I’m lazy. Pizza rolls, egg sandwiches, and bagels are not an uncommon dinner.

However, turns out that when I actually have time to cook, I can successfully make foods such as this soup.  Mom’s tortilla soup was a favorite meal of mine growing up and while I didn’t make it just like hers, I think I came pretty darn close.

 

Heart healthy tortilla soup. Photo: Alex Tekip

Heart Healthy Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (16 oz.) fat-free refried beans
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) low-fat or fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 can (5 oz.) 94 percent fat-free chunk chicken, drained or broiled chicken breast (or  do what I did just rip apart a store-bought rotisserie chicken, it’s a little nasty but it’s easy…plus it leaves you with leftovers)
  • 1 can (11oz.) whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) black or navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup chunky salsa OR 1 can of diced tomatoes (or even a combination of both)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 2 cups (1 bag) light shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips 

Although I was initially scared by the list of ingredients, it proved to be highly unintimidating. Plus the preparation that followed was super quick and much easier than I thought.

  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in an appropriately sized pot.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil over medium height stirring until the refried beans have completely melted and mixed with all of the other ingredients.
  3. Turn the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes. Be sure to check on the soup and stir it occasionally during this time.
  4. Add 1 cup (1/2 the bag) of shredded cheese into the soup and stir until melted.
  5. To serve, crush a handful or tortilla chips and places them at the bottom of the bowl. Pour soup into bowl and sprinkle some shredded cheese on top if desired.

I had only intended on making this dinner to share with one of my friends, but a bunch unexpectedly showed up and to my surprise, everyone ended up loving the soup! One friend told me he was bummed I didn’t leave any extra for him and the other two told me they couldn’t stop talking about how good it was…three days after I had made it. I felt like a real chef, if only for a day. Heart healthy tortilla soup is not only a quick and easy dinner, but also a great way to impress friends. Heat, re-heat, and enjoy!

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Hot and Healthy October: Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Hot and Healthy October: Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Moving out of the dorms often results in being asked a multitude of questions: How much is the rent? Do you like your roommates? How close is the apartment to campus? There’s one inquiry, though, that always seems to pop up more than others: Is the apartment nicer than the dorms? And, just throwing a reasonable guess out here, nine times out of ten, the answer is along the lines of: I like my apartment, but I miss the convenience of the cafeterias.

Not being able to have food readily prepared for me was one of the biggest adjustments I had to make after moving a few blocks down the road from my former home of Brody Neighborhood. I will admit that I am not the best cook out there, and often times my good friends will ask how I am doing cooking for myself. Occasionally, I will prepare “fancy meals”, however, easy-to-cook boxed and frozen foods make up about 95 percent of my diet.

But this recipe is neither boxed nor frozen and is great for those who need a boost of energy or something easy and simple that will hold off hunger for a few hours. I usually have one of these guys right after a morning workout on the elliptical, but they are great for anytime of day, as a small meal or with a light snack.

smoothie-ingredients

Ingredients:

1 handful frozen strawberries
1 handful frozen banana slices
(Note: This can be replaced five fresh strawberries and one fresh banana. I like to use frozen fruit because it lasts longer and saves money.)
1 serving vanilla Greek yogurt
¾ scoop chocolate protein powder
1 handful of baby spinach leaves (about five or six, don’t worry-you won’t taste them!)
1 handful of chocolate chips
Splash of fruit juice (I typically use apple cranberry or cranberry raspberry, but orange is also an option as well)
Splash of water/milk
4-5 ice cubes
Optional: spoonful of peanut butter

What you’ll need:

Spoon (for scooping out the yogurt and miscellaneous mixing needs if the fruit and ice get stuck together)
Blender
Large cup or glass

smoothie-blended

Preparation:

1. Gather ingredients. It’s best to have them all in one spot so that the frozen/cold items don’t get too warm when you realize you have gotten everything out but the yogurt, which happens to be in the back of the fridge (no, I haven’t done that…)

2. Begin putting the fruit (fresh and or frozen) and ice cubes into the blender. I suggest these items go first because they’re the most difficult items for the blender to mix.

3. Place all other ingredients in the blender. It doesn’t matter what order they go in, but I usually find it best to put the juice and water/milk in last, so liquid isn’t splashing around everywhere when other ingredients are being mixed.

4. Blend smoothie. If your blender has settings like mine, I’d start with the ice crush setting and then move to liquefy once all the frozen items have been mixed in. If the blender just has one setting, go with that.

5. Pour out the smoothie into a tall glass and enjoy.

smoothie-final

This smoothie has become a quick favorite of mine in less than a month of living off campus and gives Tropical Smoothie a run for its money (which is no easy task in my book.) It’s easy, simple, and cheap, and not to mention healthy–everything college students are looking for. Grab a blender, grab the ingredients, mix up, drink up, and prepare to get energized with a great recipe that even the worst of cooks can make.

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Why we loved March: Madness, Reading, Pi[e], and more!

Why we loved March: Madness, Reading, Pi[e], and more!

March is without a doubt one of the greatest months to be a Spartan. From March Madness to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, to the bare tree branches of the Red Cedar River finally starting to bloom, here are ten reasons why TBG loves March.

10. March is Reading Month 

We all celebrated this way back in the elementary school days, when the workload from classes was significantly lighter by a large margin and finding time to enjoy a good book was not a struggle. As college students, it can be difficult to fit time for a daily session with a favorite novel into a busy schedule… and March is Reading Month gives bookworms the perfect excuse to take a break from that statistics homework, curl up on the futon, and read.

9. “I Want You to Be Happy” Day

Falling annually on March 3, “I Want You to Be Happy Day” is a commemoration of unselfishness, going above and beyond to show someone you care. This can be as simple as smiling at a stranger who looks to be having a rough day, or making time for coffee with a high school friend. “I Want You to be Happy” Day is an easy way to celebrate smiles, love, and laughter, get into a positive mentality and tough out the last half of the semester.

8.  Campus Scenery

The snow begins to melt, the trees begin to bloom, and the Red Cedar river is no longer iced over. During March, the MSU campus comes back to life again. Spring arrives and the overall spirits of fellow Spartans are high as the sun shines over East Lansing.

7. Spring Break

A much-needed  relief  from post-midterm stress, Spring Break is something all Spartans look forward to. It doesn’t matter if it is spent in the mountains of Colorado, the beaches of Panama, or your hometown, the opportunity to spend an entire week doing nothing but relaxing and having fun (not to mention actually getting a full night’s sleep) is one to be cherished.

6. Pi Day

Photo Credit: thinkgeek.com

March 14 is also known as Pi Day, due to the date’s similarity with the mathematical figure.  Actual pie is in no way correlated to mathematics, however this holiday provides Spartans with the perfect reason to indulge in the tasty desert.

5. St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

“Go Green!” takes on a whole new meaning as the campus becomes Irish for a day, engaging in friendships, spirits, and celebration. St. Patrick’s day is a wonderful day celebrate with new friends and old friends, and there is no better place to do it than the land of Green and White.

4. National Bubble Week

The second week of March is a call to embrace childhood and have fun. Go outside with a friend and blow some bubbles in almost-spring weather to celebrate National Bubble Week! Or, if you don’t feel that wacky, celebrate with some bubble tea, which is also a fun treat.

3.  Easter Weekend

There is no official holiday for the university this weekend, however many students head home to enjoy time with their families before the end of school year.  The atmosphere of Easter weekend is slower paced, providing many students with a minimal stress break from studies and the generally fast-paced environment of college.

2. Girl Scout Cookies

If you are able to resist Girl Scout Cookies, TBG applauds you. The delectable treats sold in over-priced packages are worth every penny.

1. March Madness Julia Grippe

Even if you don’t like basketball, its difficult to ignore the hype of March Madness while at Michigan State University

The whole student body comes together to cheer on the men’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament. Studying becomes more difficult than ever with a weekend packed full of college basketball games and the general topic of conversation is “how is your bracket doing?”  Spartans are dedicated in supporting their team: The energy of the excitement on campus during this time could rival the energy given off by, say,  the heat of burning couches.

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Wharton Center goes Blue

Wharton Center goes Blue

Photo credit: Alex Tekip

“When meeting people from a foreign culture, offer a few gifts that reflect your interests as a gesture of friendship. Better yet, give things you’ve created yourself. Also, explore their interests and their culture. Ultimately, the best way to forge a lasting relationship is to create something together. Whether it is a meal, an art project, or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.”

These words, some borrowed from the International Diplomacy Guidebook, were graced upon a projector before Blue Man Group took the stage at Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall on Sunday, Feb. 22. These simple, powerful paragraph was only the starting point of a performance filled with culture, creativity, and chaos. It was almost as if these words sufficed as a  screenplay of sorts, embodying the entire philosophy of Blue Man Group and the ways in which they perform in a show that exceeded my expectations.

“When meeting people of a foreign culture, offer a few gifts that reflect your interests as a gesture of friendship. Better yet give them things you’ve created yourself.”

The Blue Man Group forms a culture of their own: one where they communicate without speech, motion with acknowledgement, and explore with constant curiosity. These characters understand each other, but do not understand the marvels of our modern society; therefore, they give gifts to reach out to the audience in an attempt to do so.

The Blue Man Group created art projects on stage, such as a pinwheel painting or a mini snowman, and gave them to random audience members. Gifts like these were openly accepted, whereas gifts such as “twinkie mush” in a takeout box (more details to be explained later) were taken very reluctantly.

However, it was not the gift that was important: it was the message behind the gift. It was almost as if the Blue Men were saying “this is what we like, this is a representation of our culture and ourselves, and we would like to share it with you” as a way to fully engage the audience in their creative endeavors. And it worked.

“Also, explore their interests and their culture.”

The Blue Man Group seemed to amazed yet questioning of the technological society that currently defines our culture: baffled and excited about all the things technology can do, yet dismayed at its effects on interaction and personal growth.

An act of the show with 2-d characters afraid to step out of their comfor zone and interact with one another in 3-D instead,effectively conveyed this message.

The performers also encouraged the audience to be aware of the effects technology can have on mental capacity and social interaction (another act where classic literature was dumbed down into tweet language in a fake iPhone app called “Twit that Lit!” was indicative of this).

The Blue Man Group found a less digitized way to interact with the audience based on the culture that we in the crowd were familiar with, col collaboratively playing  popular songs such as Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” on a  xylophone.”  During group’s rendition of  “Bad Romance,” each Blue Man disappeared under the xylophone for a few seconds and came back up wearing some sort of headgear. The first two reappeared wearing over-the-top headdresses reminiscent of Gaga’s style, but the third one reappeared wearing a Spartan helmet. This provoked a roar of applause from the audience, one that lasted significantly longer than any cheering during the entire show. Through the simple gesture of putting on the helmet, the Blue Man was showing us that he knew what Michigan State valued, what was important to us, and that he understood our culture…so we welcomed the Blue Men.

“Ultimately, the best way to forge a lasting relationship is to create something together.”

The Blue Men didn’t just perform for the audience; they made the audience a part of their performance.

After giving a gift to an audience member, a Blue Man would raise the audience member’s hand and have the crowd cheer for him or her.

Blue Man Group also took audience members on stage in acts involving a dinner table setting and human painting.

During an act centered around setting a dinner table and eating a meal.  an audience member, presumably in her late teens or early twenties, taught the Blue Men her ways of eating while they taught her theirs-all without speaking. The Blue Men and the girl created a communication system to exchange cultural customs through working together, and a relationship was built.

Later in the show, an adult male audience member was taken backstage and covered in paint. He was then hung from the ceiling by his ankles and swung against a canvas by the Blue Men. The outline of his body was left on the canvas, which was then splattered with even more color. All of this was shown on a camera on the main stage as it was happening, and the man was able to keep the painting of himself that the Blue Men helped create- a memory to remember the moment of collaboration he had with them.

 “Whether it is a meal, an art project, or a spontaneous dance party…”

All of the act previously mentioned  lead up to the big finale of the show: a dance party to the Blue Man Group’s song “Shake Your Euphemism”.

Complete with a techno beat, bright digital images, and a giant dancing stick man operated by the Blue Men, the finale encouraged the audience to stand on their feet and shake their “rump,” “hindquarters,” “hippobottomus” as the Blue Men threw out streamers and giant lighted globes into the crowd.

This act was filled with  hilarity- I was thoroughly amazed at how many words could be used to describe one’s rear end. However, it also exemplified everything wonderful about the Blue Man Group’s performance: well-executed props, spectacular colorful lighting, creative music, unity, and fun. I found myself smiling throughout the entire song (even though I had to sit down after a while), and left the show in awe of the artistic capabilities of Blue Man Group.

“…when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.”

Blue Man Group’s time at Wharton may have ended on the 24th, however the groups philosophy of unity through creativity remains. Working together to make something, no matter what that something is, is a lesson that can be taken beyond the world of the Blue Man. A Blue Man Group show is a truly unique, one of a kind experience that has the power to change one’s thinking in unexpected ways…and I can only hope that Wharton Center decides to go blue again in the near future.

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Insight from Abroad: Cameroon

Insight from Abroad: Cameroon

Elijah Dikong is a visiting assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Statistics and Probability. Dikong hails from the West African country of Cameroon, but has spent a considerable amount of time in the United States. The Big Green talked to Dikong about his education background and cultural differences he has observed in American both within and outside of the college environment.

The Big Green: What made you want to teach in America?

Professor Elijah Dikong: Everybody wants to come here. America is the number one country in the world… probably in everything. I say probably because I think there are some things that other parts of the world put America maybe second or third.  First of all, I did my Ph.D. and I wanted to gain more experience teaching here. When I had my PhD, I went back home [to Cameroon], worked for two and a half years; but I really wanted to come back to benefit from the scientific group in my area, and expanding my knowledge, and not to forget the American Dream.

TBG: Where did you get your Ph.D.?

Prof. ED: Florida Institute of Technology.

TBG: And how did you end up here [at Michigan State]?

Prof. ED: See, when I went back home… there [were] two full ride scholars, from [the United States] who came to teach where I was teaching in Cameroon. They were just fascinated with my work-the devotedness, the seriousness- I’m using the words that they themselves used. So, when they were leaving. I chatted with them and asked them if they could invite me over to their institution. Well, they promised when the got back they would talk to the chair of the [statistics] department, so when they got back they put me in contact with the chair of the department. I was invited for two semesters, but I had the possibility to stay for three years. But they started to have budget problems; because of that I moved over to Southern Illinois University. They too started to have budgetary problems, so they couldn’t support my scientific work, and I then moved on to Michigan State University. I applied with the Department of Statistics and Probability, I came for the interview, everything went smoothly, and here I am.

TBG: From what you’ve observed, can you describe about how collegiate students in America are different than collegiate students back home?

Prof. ED: It was very evident to me. One of the first things I [noticed] when I started teaching here. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a good chunk of American students who are very serious. But, if I take the whole group, I’m really disappointed. If I take students in my [home] country, they’re very serious, very concentrated, very devoted. Now, you find some American students who are like that, again, don’t get me wrong. But, if I take the whole group of students [in Cameroon] in terms of seriousness, devotedness, they are the top and with limited resources. Here, there is almost everything and most of the students don’t want to take advantage of [it]. Now one other thing I noticed between American students and the students in my home country is that, you know, the students in my country are very respectful to their professors. [In Cameroon] you don’t call your professor by his first name; I know that is a culture here. Or…what I’ve noticed sometimes: a student gets into my office, doesn’t even greet me. Can’t say ‘Hi’ or ‘Good morning’. Just bumps into the office: ‘I’ve come to take that quiz that I didn’t take.’ To us, it’s like an insult. But, I’ve learned that that’s the society, and it doesn’t bother me, but initially that troubled me a lot. [In my country], you come into your professor’s office, it’s ‘Good morning sir’ or ‘Good afternoon’, you ask what  you’ve come for. You don’t just get in and you start telling the professor why you’re there without greeting, or at least acknowledging him, his position, and so on.

TBG: Are there any other cultural differences you’ve noticed outside of the collegiate environment? Like food or strange little things?

Prof. ED:  Food is very evident. In my country it’s totally different. Here, you eat a lot of fast food, you know, burgers. I think about five years now I still have problems eating burgers.

TBG: You’ve been in America for five years now?

Prof. ED: Yes, close to six even. I still have problems with food, typical American food. You know, I go to the Trowbridge, the nearest city [that] will have some African food stores and get some African food and come home and cook. I eat American food, but it’s not my priority. I have American friends, they visit me, you know, and I enjoy barbequing. But in terms of food, if you were to ask me if it were possible for me to bring all my traditional food from Cameroon over here, I would do it.

 TBG: Slang is probably a big difference as well.

Prof. ED: You mean like slang used by Americans? Yeah, I’m getting used to that. Initially it was tough, ‘cause a student would talk to me and I would not even understand. Now, they are not conscious that they are talking to a professor, they want to maybe be a little more formal. They use more of the ‘street slang’ of language. The one difficulty I had when I came back [to America], our society [in Cameroon] is slow-paced, so we don’t speak fast. Americans speak fast, they like shortcuts. Like I always say ‘I’m going to’, you say ‘I’m gonna,’ -something like that.  Now I understand that.

TBG: Now, overall how would you describe your time in America? An enjoyable experience?

Prof ED: Oh yes, yes overall. I don’t regret coming back here, I love it. If I have the opportunity to still teach here as long as possible until I start having grey hair, then I will go back home.

 

 

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Insight From Abroad: China

Insight From Abroad: China

Meet Yushen Xiang, a political science freshman. Although born in Beijing, Xiang, who goes by the American name of Christina, has lived in America since 2009, when she enrolled at a boarding school in Maine. 

The Big Green: What drew you to America?
Yushen Xiang: “I came here for high school first, and I think the culture and education make me really wanna come here.”

TBG: What drew you to Michigan State?
YX: “I heard there’s an ice rink, ‘cause I do figure skating. I didn’t do figure skating during high school because we only have snow but we don’t have an ice rink. I was like, ‘Well, I’ll join the team,’ and so I just came here.

TBG: Are you on the team?
YX: “I was before but not right now. I just quit cause I had work to do.”

TBG : Did you go to a boarding school [for high school]?
YX: “Yeah….I lived on campus and we only had like 250 students. It [was] a small school. [We would] go snowboarding during winter trimester like every single day, and people there are really nice. I enjoyed my life there.”

TBG: What do you like about living on campus at Michigan State?
YX: “Its near the dining hall. I know Brody Square [near Rather hall, where Xiang lives] is the best dining hall on campus…I can go have dinner or lunch whenever I want, it’s just near my residential hall. I feel like its pretty convienent to live on campus, I can take buses to wherever I’m going to class…and I don’t need to worry about eating.”

TBG: Have you made any new friends on campus?
YX: “I have a couple friends.”

TBG: Can you talk a little bit about your culture at home in China?
YX: “There’s so many people in China, so it’s hard to findI have friends back in China, but it’s different, actually with American people. When I went to high school I felt like Americans are really friendly…you can talk to them, you don’t have to think about it too much. When I talk to Chinese [people] , I have [to be careful].”

TBG: Like manners-wise?
YX: “Yeah. And the education is definitely [different]. Like in China, we have large classes and many students, teachers wont care about you…you just do your work by yourself. But like in America…has a good enviorment for me to study.”

TBG: What are some other difference between life home and life here?
YX: “Well..I became more independent since I came here, since my parents are not here. Like, when I was at home, my mom[did] everything for me…she washed the clothes, and [cooked] breakfast, dinner, for me. I just need to care about my studies, I don’t need to care about anything else. But since I’ve been here… I’ve had to take care of myself. But, I think I’ve learned a lot. I have to do that, because when I get into society I have to do everything by myself.”

TBG: What’s your favorite part about being in America, or what has been over the past few years?
YX: “Culture and making a lot of friends. The openess [of the culture]…and I can make choices by myself. I can do whatever I want… in China, most Chinese students are doing what their parents want them to do. I was like, what I want to do is that thing that I can do very well.”

TBG: What about American culture has surprised you the most?
YX: “Teachers are more friendly…. Not right now, but when I first came to the United States. I had an advisor in high school and [she] was like my mom. [She was] just like family, [she] cared not only about my school and academic work but also my life, like helped me get involved into American culture.

TBG: How has your experience at Michigan State been so far?
YX: “Pretty good. My major [is] political science, so I was planning to transfer to another college…but I’m still working on it right now. I want to go to to George Washington because they have a good major. If I successfully transfer to that school, I’m going to go there, but if I fail again, then I think I’m going to stay here.”

TBG: What do you miss the most about home?
YX: “Food! Athough I love the food here, but it’s kind of different. The Chinese rice they have here… it’s good, but [it’s] not real Chinese food.”

TBG: What are your future plans?
YX: “I want to get a job that can connect both America and China… like international relations. I know that I’m gonna miss my mom, I might stay in America, but I want to be able to travel between the United States and China.”

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Insight from Abroad: Australia

Insight from Abroad: Australia

Meet Andrew Cox, a mathematics junior who comes from a land down under, hailing straight from Melbourne, Australia.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Cox

The Big Green: What drew you to America, and more specifically, Michigan State?

Andrew Cox: “I came to America because I was interested in seeing what it would be like to study in a different English speaking culture. I was born in Ohio, so I was very keen to study somewhere in the mid-west and I wanted to go to a big university with an active sports program as well. In the end I chose MSU because it had the academic program I was after, as well as hundreds of school groups to be a part of.”

TBG: How has your family supported your choice to study abroad?

AC:  “I’ve been away from home for about six months now, which has been the longest time in my life. My parents and family have all been very supportive of me going away, but I miss them and am looking forward to seeing them again next year. I miss my brother, who will have graduated school and be at university by the next time I see him.”

TBG: Where do you live at MSU? How has that experience been for you?

AC: “I live in Wilson Hall in the South Neighborhood. It’s been a really good way to get to know people and I’ve really enjoyed the experience for the most part. It is slightly strange though, because in Australia by the time you graduated high school, you wouldn’t share a room with anyone ever.”

TBG: What activities are you involved in on campus?

AC: “I play underwater hockey at MSU, which is a lot of fun. We train twice a week, and I went to London, Canada for a tournament with my team, which was a really memorable weekend.”

TBG: Can you talk a little bit about your culture at home?

AC: “Australia is quite similar to America in many ways, but there are some differences. While we still love our sport we play Australian Football, Rugby and Cricket at home. Because there aren’t as many big cities in Australia, there will generally be a fairly even mix of fans at a game, and the stadiums aren’t like fortresses for the home team chants. It’s also much warmer at home, which is something I miss a lot!”

TBG: What are some other differences between life at home and life in America?

 “While we speak the same language in Australia, I often get caught out saying things that have absolutely no meaning to American people. I think attitudes towards things like politics are very different in Australia, as the intensity of the attack ads in the recent election was a real shock [to me]. At home I am also really used to eating food from all over Asia and across the world such as Indian, Thai and Ethiopian but I’m finding that most people here don’t really like food like that.”

TBG: What is your favorite part about being in America?

AC: “I love getting to discover something new every day. There are hundreds of little differences, which I am slowly finding out about. Halloween was a particular highlight for me, and a huge change from Halloween at Australia where it falls in the middle of our exam period and is not really celebrated.”

TBG: What has surprised you the most about America?

AC: “How nice and welcoming the people are. Before I came to Michigan I was traveling around the U.S. and people would invite me to stay with them or help me find where I was going. It’s the same at MSU, people will go out of their way to make you feel welcome and are very friendly and more than happy to start up a conversation with you.”

TBG: So you’ve been treated pretty well here then?

AC: “People have always been really nice to me and really interested in what I’m up to. Everyone seems to enjoy my accent so I think I’ve been asked to ‘just talk’ by people I’ve just met about 500 times since I got here

TBG: How would you describe your experience as a study abroad student at Michigan State so far?

AC: “Studying abroad at MSU has been a lot of fun. All the study abroad students went through orientation together, so I have lots of friends also studying abroad here. It has been a bit of a shock compared to university at home, where most people live off campus in the main part of the city, go to their classes at university each day and then go home again. Attendance has never been marked in lectures for my degree, and your lecturers don’t know you at all and don’t really worry whether everyone passes or fails, so you have to be much more proactive in getting help. There is also a lot more continuous assessment in the form of homework and projects here, at home I am used to exams worth about 70% of the final grade for a subject.”

TBG: What do you miss most about home?

AC: “I miss my dogs the most! Every time I talk to my family, I Skype the dogs in the backyard and get them to do tricks through Skype. I also miss my friends, and just hanging out with them. I also miss the food from home, and being able to go to the beach whenever I want to.”

TBG: What are your plans for the future?

AC: “Unfortunately I need to go home after this semester to continue my studies in Australia, but I’m hoping I can come back soon and see all the people I’ve met here, because I’m going to miss them!”

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Insight from Abroad: Ghana

Insight from Abroad: Ghana

Each month, global view will feature in international student at Michigan State, and share their insights on life at home and abroad.

Barbara Kotei took a path that includes not only highways and streets, but also oceans when she first arrived at Michigan State University.

Kotei, a molecular biology freshman, is an international student from Ghana, located in West Africa.

Barbara Kotei is an international student from Ghana.

Kotei said she was already familiar with MSU before she became a student.

“I met with the admissions office [before choosing to attend MSU],” said Kotei. “I had a couple of friends here, and I even came here with another boy from high school.”

In addition to the friends that Kotei knew before she came here, she said she appreciates the friends she has made on her floor.

Kotei said she made friends on the floor through intramural soccer and has made more friends at MSU from going to salsa dancing classes.

However, she also said that although her American friends are generally receptive, a lot of them don’t fully understand where she is from.

“People don’t know much about Africa,” said Kotei. “I have to explain that [Ghana] is a country, and that Africa has countries.”

Kotei said that Ghana is a unique country with many different cultures and languages, with many of those languages being a tribal dialect representative of Ghana’s diverse culture.

“I can speak three languages: Gha and Twi, which are tribal languages, and English,” said Kotei. “Many people are unaware that English is actually the official language of Ghana.”

Kotei said that she also tried to study French in school, but found her experience to be difficult and uninteresting.

Kotei lived South Africa for two years, and she said the culture of both countries was similar.

She also said that her hobbies at home are not much different than those of average young Americans.

“I like to hang out with my family and friends a lot,” said Kotei. “I really was able to bond with my friends there, as well as my family at home.”

The major difference she noticed in American culture upon arriving at MSU was the freedom of expression.

“People express themselves a lot more freely here,” she said. “The dress is different, there [are] transgender individuals, too.”

Kotei also said that this freedom of expression applies to language as well.

“The way [Americans] speak in general […]at home, it’s rare to see people cuss so much,” she said.

However, Kotei said that her experience in America and at MSU has been a good one so far.

“People have been very receptive; it’s been a good time so far,” she said.

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