Salju di Michigan Januari 2013

American Midwest: Destinasi Menarik untuk Jenjang Universitas

It is always exciting to tell people how I transferred from warm weather California to the snowy state of Michigan. Before I moved to Michigan, I had little idea how cold it would be. On January 23, 2013 I wrote on my blog: “So, winter is here. Winter is DEFINITELY here. What do you think the temperature yesterday? It reached -4 Fahrenheit… which means -20 Celsius!”It didn’t stop there. The next year, Michigan experienced colder weather. In January 2014, the lowest temperature was about -18oF (-28oC) in January 2014.

This is how Michigan welcomed me to the Midwest, a region in the United States that consists of twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Some of the famous cities are Windy City Chicago, Motor City Detroit, Circle City Indianapolis, Brew City Milwaukee, and others. Students and families in the Midwest can also travel to Canada, New York, Florida, or Washington DC.

While migrating from the West Coast to the Midwest, I noticed how different the people are. There are more Caucasians in Michigan compared to California. I used the opportunity to better improve my English by speaking to locals. During Spring Break in March, I joined a volunteering group from St. Mary Church.

Michigan-ers plus one Indonesian student!! St. Mary Alternative Spring Break

We worked at an elementary school, a soup kitchen for the homeless, and a senior house at Chicago. I made friends with eleven Westerners in that opportunity. After graduation, I decided to join a study/intern program in Australia. I was again, the only international Asian student and met 28 Americans who mostly are Westerners. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

On the downside, there is less Asian food in Michigan. California offered so many bubble tea (boba) shops, countless Asian stores with varieties of food, and numerous Asian restaurants. In Michigan, we have some of them but not many. We still have Chinese Dim Sum, Thailand’s Pad Thai, Japanese sushi, Vietnamese Pho, and Korean Kimchee Fried Rice. At grocery stores, there are few stocks of Indomie and MAMA instant noodles. But still, we sometimes crave for more Asian food in the surroundings

The small amount of Indonesians in Michigan is in fact the reason why Indonesians are close to each other. Persekutuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat (PERMIAS) Ann Arbor – Ypsilanti has 50 members as of 2014. Our main event is an annual Indonesian Cultural Night that is held in the University of Michigan. Our students perform a drama, cultural dances and songs, and offers authentic Indonesian cuisines prepared by Indonesian families. The community is like a family where we’d surprise people’s birthday and play soccer and basketball weekly.

Now finally, let me address the cold weather problem. I honestly feel proud that I have lived in Michigan and survived the winters. Here are some bucket list I would suggest people to do:

  • Buy winter coat. Down or goose down feathers are the best material for your winter coat.
  • Wear layers. Leggings or long johns, sweaters, winter boots, winter hats, and gloves are helpful as well. For shoes, considering buying spray. This article might help you on maintaining your shoes
  • This is not and advise, but in winter I do eat more. From snacks to hot chocolate, mint mocha, warm soup, etc.
  • Have hotpot gatherings! The food will keep you warm, you share the fun, and well.. the cost too!
  • Exercise more. It will be great if you have access to indoor facilities!
  • If you have a car, consider snow chains for your tires. My area doesn’t need snow chains, but sometimes you need them in mountains area. Drive safe because it will be slippery.
  • Keep having fun! Go on sledding, skiing or snowboarding in winter! Celebrate  christmas, new year, chinese new year, birthdays or any other events! The cold winter will give you a different experience

Looking at these benefits, I’d totally suggest Indonesian students to consider the Midwest region. Not only you’d meet more Westerners, you’d have stronger Indonesian community and places to travel. You’ll get . Not many people get to live in snowy countries and therefore, you can take it as a memorable experience.

The photos were supplied by the author




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Griselda is a fresh civil engineering graduate from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. She values education, multiculturalism, and family relationship the most. In the future, she looks forward to contribute more to Indonesia through different programs especially in education.
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