Whether you’re considering applying to the University of Michigan or have already received an offer, here are some fun facts and top tips about life as a Wolverine!
Unlike King’s, UMich is found on a sprawling, close-knit campus that takes up most of the small city of Ann Arbor (also known as A2). This is a great opportunity to experience the more community-based, inclusive campus lifestyle, as everywhere you go, you’ll be surrounded by fellow students. If you live on or near Central Campus, you’ll likely be able to walk to all of your classes, the libraries, gym, and downtown Ann Arbor where you will find some amazing restaurants and entertainment. There is also North Campus, which is connected by a free bus service. In fact, all AATA buses are free for students using your MCard. For an exchange student, this is an ideal situation as you will get to know the area very quickly, and it has a very student-friendly atmosphere.
If you’re headed to Michigan for the full year or semester 2, be prepared for some seriously cold weather! With temperatures dropping as low as -20°C in January and February, it’s essential to pack some thermals and a big pair of boots (I found Dr Martens did the trick) to take on the snow. Unlike London, however, the Midwest is well-used to the winter, so don’t expect any snow days with cancelled classes! As long as you’re wrapped up and adopt the fool-proof penguin shuffle when crossing icy paths, you’ll be fine. And on the plus side, the deep snow makes the historic campus look even more stunning! Don’t worry though, by March and April the snow starts to melt, and spring in Ann Arbor is definitely worth the wait.
3. Class schedule
One thing to get your head around before heading to the US is the timetabling. At UMich, you pick your classes from a catalogue and build your own schedule from the available time slots. You do this before arriving, but there is a period to add/drop classes if you have a change of heart. Some classes ask for prerequisite courses, but if you feel qualified to take that class based on your studies at King’s, just email the professor and they might waive the requirements. There may also be fees associated with certain classes, as you may have to buy particular course materials, but this is usually indicated in the catalogue. Another great thing about the liberal arts college system is the opportunities to take classes outside of your home department at King’s. I took an introductory Women’s Studies course, and it was one of the highlights of my study at UMich!
Like King’s, UMich has fairs at the beginning of each semester (Festifall in August and Winterfest in January) that show off the variety of student clubs and organisations you can join. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to activities on campus; I personally joined the Students for Choice feminist organisation and the Badminton Club, where I made some great friends and which got me out of the house for practice on weekends! Sports can be played on both a competitive and recreational level. Another benefit of studying at UMich is that the Recreation Building is completely free to use, including the gym equipment, swimming pool, and courts. UMich also boasts a phenomenal performing arts department, who put on a full-scale musical production each semester.
5. School spirit
One last thing you might not be prepared for is the level of school spirit at UMich! This probably goes for most US universities, but Michigan really values school spirit and sports events, which run throughout the year (though specific sports vary by season). Whilst I was studying at UMich, the men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA final, which as I discovered, was a major deal. Even though we didn’t win, the buzz around campus was amazing in the lead up to the game. Lastly, you won’t be able to avoid the M Den, which is the enormous university merchandise store that sells everything from football jerseys to outdoor barbecues. So, whatever your style, you’ll be repping the famous maize and blue in no time.