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ghanada last won the day on July 2 2012

ghanada had the most liked content!

About ghanada

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    Ann Arbor, MI
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    BME PhD

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  1. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Congrats on getting into UMich and starting your new journey. I just finished my PhD there last August and was living there for 6 years so I feel like I am in a good position to offer some words of advice. I have no idea your gender/age so you may or may not be able to relate to me, but I am a 35 year old male. I grew up in California and have mostly lived in big cities. Most notably I lived in LA for 8 years before moving to Boston to do my Masters for 3 years, and then Ann Arbor after that. I currently live in San Diego. So I do consider myself a big city person and I never pictured myself living in a small midwestern town before considering Ann Arbor. I'll detail more answers below, but I'll give you the conclusions right now. I absolutely loved my time in Ann Arbor and I miss it already. Now, I will say that I am not sure I could live in Ann Arbor for the rest of my life, particularly because of my industry, and also because my friends family are mostly in California, but honestly if I was absolutely forced to live there forever, I could make it work and live a happy and fulfilling life. Living there for 6 years was the right amount of time for me and I thoroughly enjoyed my entire experience there. Now, the most important words of advice I can give you are "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". What I mean by this is you have to accept that Ann Arbor will in no way compare to the big city offerings (e.g. restaurants, clubs, bars, number of stores, number of events, etc) of London, Toronto, or NYC. And don't let any locals try to convince you otherwise. BUT, you may learn that isn't a negative thing. By giving up the sheer number of offerings of big cities, you gain a ton in other lifestyle options that may or may not be more important to you. So going back to the "When in Rome" phrase, I am a firm believer that if you are open-minded and willing to adapt to your new home, you can learn to love it in a different way than your past homes, and you might end up loving it just as much if not more. But that is completely on you and your attitude. The worst thing you can do is spend all your time dwelling on all the big city things you are "missing" when you are there. That is a nasty trap. I fell for it the first time I made my big move from LA to Boston and it hindered me from embracing my new city because I just kept making comparisons. Once I gave that up and stopped comparing, I learned to embrace the differences and figure out why those differences don't have to be negative. That completely shaped my attitude which then shaped my experiences. I didn't make that same mistake when I moved to Ann Arbor. Instead, I immediately got there and tried to figure out what lifestyle changes made Ann Arbor so special and then adapted those into my experiences. I really want to emphasize the importance of this paragraph because I can already tell from your post that you are fighting against what Ann Arbor doesn't have instead of realizing what new things you will learn. For me, what I came to love about Ann Arbor was the small town charm. I never understood that before living there. I always thought I needed a big city with endless options to be happy. Well I found out I don't. I learned that giving up billions of options meant I got to focus on smaller number of things, but in a much deeper way and with much richer quality. An example of this is the weekly Kerrytown Farmer's Market. It is a wonderful Farmer's Market and because of the smaller size town, it means that a high percentage of people attend. That means you get to run into familiar faces often, catch up with people you haven't talked to for a bit, and build relationships with a community. I used to make it a habit of stopping into the Kerrytown grocery store that has a sandwich shop and the cook there is amazing. I would just chat with him while he was cooking my food and it became a regular thing such that we would talk about travels, music, whatever. Those random relationships are easy to build in a small community that I never appreciated before. Similarly, things like bars and restaurants become more personal. In big cities you have so many choices that you tend to make a huge list of all the restaurants you want to check out, which is a ton of fun for sure, but at the same time it often means you never go back to the same places (even if you loved the food) because you have so many other places on your list to get to. I'm a foodie and I'm guilty of this. But in Ann Arbor you have fewer options, and that gives you the opportunity to make a spot your own. You will develop your own favorites, go there regularly, try more things on the menu, argue with your friends why this spot is special to you, etc. Like you have a deeper connection with a place and it means more to you. There is a wonderful charm in that. There's also the benefits of not needing reservations for places and not having to wait an hour to sit down. You can literally call your friends for a casual dinner and everyone can get into town within 15 minutes (whether by bus, car, or walk) and go straight into a restaurant and get seated. The other thing that really awakened new experiences for me was the nature aspect. I noticed you didn't mention this in your post, and I didn't think that much about it previously either. But if you have lived in cities your entire life, I urge you to spend some time tracing your roots back to nature. Ann Arbor is simply beautiful. It is littered with parks and an awesome river that flows through the middle of it. There are little trails all along this river and you can spend hours getting lost in serene places while rarely running into other humans. You will probably encounter more deer in these areas then you will people. I picked up both trail running and mountain biking because of this. And then I got into road cycling because you can actually ride on quiet country roads across miles of farmland with very light car traffic. And what is great about these things is that they aren't a destination that you have to plan for. These places are right outside your door. You can be outside and in the heart of nature within a few blocks of campus. And if you really want to experience the joy of real wilderness, take a trip to the Upper Peninsula. That area is one of my absolute favorite places in the country. It is so remote and a place you would never really visit unless you lived in Michigan. And again, I wasn't necessarily a huge nature person before getting to Ann Arbor, but that is a big part of the lifestyle and something so easy to embrace when there. Finally, I'll leave you with some practical and logistical words of advice. Yes, you can live in Ann Arbor without a car. Personally, I always owned a car because I like the freedom of getting out on a whim and I just love traveling around, but I did keep my daily driving to a minimum. If you go sans car, opt to live as close to campus as you can afford. Living in walking distance will really make your day to day life easier, particularly in the winter time. The bus system is actually pretty decent, but it doesn't run super late and they become fairly infrequent (like once an hour or half hour) once you get to early evening. Also, living nearby downtown will just make your social life easier since you won't know anyone when you move there. And once winter comes it gets so much harder to motivate yourself to go out and do things if you are living further away, don't have a car, and have to rely on standing outside in the bitter cold for a bus to arrive. And I know you mentioned not caring about sports. But I advise you to ponder that a bit and consider why you don't like sports. Just because it was never your thing before doesn't mean it can never become a part of your life if you are open-minded. Part of the fun of being at UMich is school spirit. Would your interest be different if all your friends were into sports and going to games? Have you ever thought about the social aspect of it? There are lots of people that don't necessarily care about the team itself, but there is a lot of fun in just hanging out with friends in a lively environment while day drinking and laughing. I just advise that you don't automatically write off sports when you are there. It is undoubtedly a part of the lifestyle of UMich and it might mean more to you when you are there and feel a sense of community around it. See if there's an aspect of it that you can get into. As far as social stuff, yes there are places to dance. There are clubs that do have "club" type of dancing. But there's also salsa and swing clubs as well if you really want to do more serious dancing. And yes, there are plenty of vegetarian options. A lot of my best friends at UMich were vegetarian. There is a pretty big farm-to-table scene there and a lot of emphasis on fresh foods. Ann Arbor can be quite hipsterish so you won't have a hard time finding good food, coffee, and drinks. There won't be a dozen Indian restaurants or anything, but there will be a handful, and the best ones (Cardamom) won't be far off the best ones you can find in big cities. And yes, there are plenty of bars that are not just sports bars. Check out The Last Word or The Ravens Club. There is also a really vibrant art scene there. Google Ann Arbor Art Fair. That fair is on par with many big city art fairs. Also, look into UMich's "Passport to the arts" program. As a student you will be able to pick up free tickets to many different art performances, movies, musicals, etc. Check out UMich's School of Music, Theater, and Dance calendar. Look at how many events are free. You can literally walk in and sit down on a live performance without any tickets or anything. And these things are going on a daily basis, right in the heart of campus. For bigger and more professional performances, check out UMS as there are lots of famous performers that come through (e.g. Yo-yo Ma) and there are discounted student tickets available for most shows. Hopefully that reply helps settle your anxiety a bit. Again, just be open-minded and you will be fine. I tried to give more general outlook advice here, but if you have more questions or want more specific names of places you can shoot me a message. Best of luck on your upcoming journey!
  2. ghanada

    Boston University LEAP Program

    This is good advice. The reason BU's LEAP program initially gained popularity in the mid 2000's is because it was pretty much the only option for non-engineers to get into an engineering Masters program. The kicker was that nearly every person received substantial scholarship, I believe I had around 75% scholarship when I started. So the cost of attending was on par or even cheaper than attending a public university. Also, at that time BU's grad BME rank was like #7 or something in US News and World Report so it was prestigious, almost fully funded, and located in a cool city. I haven't kept up with LEAP recently but even by the end of my time there things drastically changed (e.g. firing of Helaine was a massive hit) and they made a huge cutback in funding. I basically stopped recommending it to people. Bottom line is that there are most likely many ways of achieving your end goal and everyone should really explore all options available. If attending LEAP is the best fit, I would recommend at least completing every possible pre-requisite course you can at a local community college to save money and then just do the last of the courses through LEAP. But if you can find other programs that are open to accepting non-engineering undergrads, look into those too. Some engineering disciplines are more flexible about this. BME is often pretty flexible with what undergrad majors they accept. But say electrical engineering might not be as flexible.
  3. ghanada

    Boston University LEAP Program

    Hi everyone! I've been subscribed to this thread since the very start of it (2011) and figured I would just share a "success" story for those of you getting ready to start the LEAP program or thinking about it. I started LEAP in Fall 2009, basically during its inception phase. I started as BME, switched to ECE and got my MS in Summer 2012. Coursework took me less than 2 years, but I spent the last full year working on a very intensive thesis project (I ended up getting a first author publication from it) while I was also applying for PhD programs. I then went on to University of Michigan for my BME PhD. The LEAP program was instrumental in my journey to getting to the PhD. UMich is maybe not well known around here, but it is usually considered a top 5 engineering grad school so that was a big deal for me and really speaks more about how important LEAP was for me, rather than my own abilities. There's just no way I would have gotten that far on my own without having done LEAP. Anyways, I just graduated from UMich this last summer and had an awesome experience. I am now living in San Diego working for a neurotech startup company that is the dream job I had envisioned when I first made the choice to apply to LEAP. It took 9 years of grad school, but I made it and had a blast the entire way. I'm not posting to toot my own horn, but I thought it would be nice for new or current LEAPers to at least hear what happens after LEAP and get some type of confirmation that all the money and time put into it will pay off. I have of course met and maintained friendships with a number of LEAP people throughout the years and I can tell you that everyone is doing well for themselves. The directions people chose after LEAP varied significantly, some went into more grad school like myself, many went into industry jobs, some went into consulting, some went to med school, and some didn't even do anything with engineering. But everyone I know that finished seems to be happy with wherever they ended up. Anyways, I've been out of touch with the current LEAP program, but I am happy to answer any questions or provide any advice. If there's anything general that could be helpful to many people I'll try and keep up with the thread and respond here. Otherwise, people are welcome to message me directly with more personal/specific questions. Good luck to you all!
  4. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Hi everyone, In case anyone is moving to Ann Arbor around January and is looking for a place, I am searching for a new roommate and leasing terms are pretty flexible. I am in Ypsilanti, just adjacent to Ann Arbor, but it is only about a 15 minute drive to campus and rent is cheap. Here is my craigslist ad with details. Message me if you are interested. https://annarbor.craigslist.org/roo/d/looking-for-roommate-or/6372941759.html
  5. ghanada

    University of Michigan

    Welcome newcomers! For those seeking housing advice, I would highly recommend checking out the Ann Arbor city thread forum. I, as well as many others, across many years have been giving lots of housing advice and not much has changed over the years so old advice is almost certainly still relevant. We even just had a discussion about the pros/cons of living in graduate housing (Northwood) not too long ago.
  6. It sucks, but in my personal experience (as well as others) from going through this process a handful of times at this point in the game if you haven't heard anything at all from a university it is probably 95% of the time a rejection. During my last application season (2012) I applied to UPenn and to this day I have never been told I was rejected haha. I believe UCLA might have been the same. Kinda sucks that universities are happy to take your application fee but can't be bothered to let you know you weren't accepted. So yeah, in short, don't hold out for the places you haven't heard a word from, assume rejection, and move on to your other options. Unless you have external funding like NSF, then go crazy telling all your applied to universities and I am sure they will have no problems changing their minds.
  7. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    This is pretty much my same sentiment which I tried to convey in my previous post. Central (and moreso downtown Ann Arbor) is undeniably a better area/lifestyle than North so most people that are based on Central wouldn't choose Northwood/North Campus housing, such as myself. Really, the only people I know that choose to live in Northwood that aren't North Campus majors are people with families, because Northwood has a really nice family community that I know many people appreciate if that is your situation.
  8. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    I actually posted a decent amount about housing recommendations in this thread a while ago. I recommend going through my old posts or reading the earlier pages in this forum for more detailed info. I haven't personally lived in Northwood, but I have had many friends, classmates, and co-workers that have. From my experience, everyone has been generally happy living there. The pricing is reasonable for what it is and how close to campus you are. If I worked on North Campus I would move there in a heartbeat. For Central, it isn't bad by any means. The UMich blue bus systems is good, not amazing, but good. Buses run frequently, but it also depends on where you want to go. And while they do continuously run, the scheduled time isn't usually that accurate. However, there is a live tracking system so that helps. My only real complaint about the blue buses are they can fill up around typical "rush hour" times. But if you avoid those times, they are fine. Now if you are going to be based on Central Campus, I think it is worth investigating other places. Again, Northwood is fine, but I personally think there is better. If you are going to pick a place sight unseen, most of the large apartment complexes here are well reviewed on apartment ratings websites. When I first moved here, I picked Spicetree Apartments based on ratings and I lived there for 3 years with no problems. I now live in a McKinley (huge chain of complexes all over town) apartment, and recommend them as well.
  9. I haven't been on this site in years but was just randomly browsing this thread, UMich already had the first interview session last week and is having the smaller, second one during the 2nd week of March. If you haven't heard anything from them yet, you are are most likely getting rejected. However, if you end up getting your own funding (e.g. NSF) after being rejected (from any school), I HIGHLY recommend you go back to those schools and see if they will change their mind. I've seen that work out multiple times here at UMich and assume it happens a lot at other schools as well. Also, if you were in personal talks with any profs up to this point, it doesn't hurt to check-in with them after all the admits make their decisions. If the prof didn't get their target students and has money and still really wants you, it isn't hard for them to get your rejection overturned...that happened with me a while back (you can probably find a past post of mine about it). Anyways, if anyone here gets accepted and is considering UMich and wants to know anything about the school/city, feel free to shoot me a message. I've been in the program for almost 5 years now. Good luck!
  10. ghanada

    Los Angeles, CA

    I also agree with NoirFemme about needing a car in LA. I dug up this old post I wrote about 4 years ago in this very thread and gave a little rant about my reasons. While I haven't lived in LA for a while now and know the public transportation situation has vastly improved, I still visit quite often and still think it isn't at the same level as more "walking friendly" big cities like Boston (I lived there), NYC, DC, etc. Read below for the full spiel, but my updated feelings are less harsh and that I think it depends on what you want to get out of LA. If you are mostly happy in your local neighborhood/community and are satisfied with just going back and forth between school/work and, then yes, you are perfectly fine without a car. Lots of people are like this and have deep connections in their local area and don't feel the need to drive around for billions of hours. Just uber, bus, train, rent, bum rides, etc. for the few times you need to get somewhere outside. I absolutely understand and appreciate this choice and I too think I could make that lifestyle work if I really wanted to. My only hesitation about that is I personally know I wouldn't get out as much if I didn't have my own car parked next to my house. As slight of an inconvenience as it is to request an Uber or walk a few blocks to get a zip car, it is enough (again, for me personally) that there would be many cases I just wouldn't go out to something because of it. I understand I might be more lazy/cheap than others. And I recognize that also means I would prioritize the people/events that are most important to me, but at the same time I know I would miss out on those unplanned random adventures that I last minute got up and drove out somewhere just because I could. There were countless times I would get spur of the moment invites to shows, movies, dinners, or even friends calling for help and just needing to talk in person at 12am. And looking back, I think there's a lot I would have missed out on without a car and it was often those moments that I remember and cherish the most. However, I know that might not be relevant for many people. But if you are at all like me and the type of person that wants to experience everything a new city can offer you, having a car is the way to go. Here's what I originally posted: Now, this advice goes to you and ANYONE reading this post...GET A CAR! I know you might be used to cities where you walked everywhere or had nice transportation systems. Los Angeles is not like that. Only if you are planning on staying for like 1 year, then maybe you can go without a car. But if you are planning on being there for 2+ years, you should definitely get a car. Just something cheapy like $2,000 is fine. And I have heard EVERY argument about why you will be fine without a car. And yes, I agree it is POSSIBLE to get by without a car, but I argue that you are missing the entire culture and point of LA. Many people say LA sucks because there is no culture and it is fake and blah blah blah. That is BS. I lived there for 8+ years and if you understand what makes LA great, you will absolutely love it there. What makes LA great is that there are so many communities and different cities/regions all spread out. Each one has an incredibly different vibe with different types of shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. But that means you have CHOICE. There is a scene for everyone. And if you are adventurous, you will love checking out all the different areas in southern Cali and appreciate various things in each. For instance, Santa Monica is awesome for a chill beach vibe that is family friendly and convenient. There are some cool bars out there and 3rd Street Promenade is a fun touristy thing to do. Venice beach is more eclectic with a cool art scene and hippies abound. Especially in the Abbot Kinney area. Manhattan/Hermosa Beach are small, little surfer-attitude beach towns for lazy afternoons and beach type bars. Downtown LA is a gentrified hip scene, with interesting restaurants and bars littered with young professionals trying to stand out. Silver Lake area is the home of the hipsters where creation and art happens. Lots of trippy, unique things going on over there. West Hollywood is the unofficial socal capitol of LGBT and alternative lifestyles. Lots of great restaurants and laid back bars. Hollywood is the ghetto touristy area, but with the highest class clubs and hottest singles trying to hook up. And all those places are a just a small fraction of socal, which are nearest to UCLA. I didn't even mention more northern areas like Griffith Park, the Valley, Studio City, Pasadena, etc. Or Southern areas like Long Beach, Fullerton, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, etc. Each of those ares are completely different from the rest and offer their own unique things to do. I also didn't mention all the amazing ethnic areas, like Little Tokyo (both in Sawtelle area and Downtown), Chinatown, Little Ethiopia, and Korea Town. There are also full on ethnic REGIONS in socal like Inland Empire for Chinese people (Covina, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, El Monte, etc) or the Valley and East LA for Mexican people. There are just really cool pockets of areas that can't be found anywhere else in the world. The main point of this, is that you HAVE TO DRIVE to get to these areas. Yes, there will be traffic. Yes, you will be irritated and be running late for everything. But I guarantee you, you will discover awesome things and create new experiences that will blow your mind. You will also have the right to say you lived in LA and dealt with the traffic. It toughens you up a bit. The traffic itself is part of the LA culture. You would be doing yourself an incredible injustice to not have a car and trap yourself in Westwood/West LA. There is definitely enough things to do around that area to which you can make do. But seriously, you will be trapped in this bubble and never experience the beauty of LA. Ok that is my rant for the day. I love LA and miss it dearly. I want to do anything I can to promote the awesomeness of socal and help the non-believers understand what it truly means to be an Angelino. Anyone can message me for advice as well.
  11. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Haha you haven't looked into the weather yet?? I'm not going to lie, winter will be rough coming from tropical areas. Fortunately, the last couple winters were mild. But a couple years ago was a particularly bad year here. We had over 100 days with temperatures below 0 degrees F, so around the -20 to -40 C range. And really, the temps aren't the worst, it is the wind. For whatever reason Ann Arbor gets pretty windy. So yeah, you will see that once the winter comes you will be indoors most the time. All those neighborhoods will be fine in terms of safety. Ann Arbor in general is really safe. There are some robberies and that sort of thing every once in a while, but nothing to worry much about. You can use sites like this (http://www.crimemapping.com/map/mi/annarbor) to check out more specifics. Just use common sense and avoid walking alone at dark. Convenience wise, both areas emphasize different things. Being near the law school will be more lively and louder as I mentioned before. It really puts you in the heart of the school and will feel like a college town. You will be surrounded by students. It also puts you close to downtown Ann Arbor where all the restaurants and events take place. Being able to walk into downtown is really wonderful if you are used to small city squares. However, the major drawback is that you won't be walking distance to any of the cheaper, major grocery stores. Even using the city buses to get to grocery stores from there isn't great. So if you cook a lot, you will be driving a lot to get food. Anywhere off of Plymouth is sort of the opposite experience. Plymouth neighborhoods tend to be geared more toward the grad students, and particularly the engineers since that is close to North Campus. Those are definitely quieter neighborhoods and a lot less lively. And depending exactly where on Plymouth you are, you would be pretty close to shops and grocery stores, potentially walking distance or even a short bus ride. But those shops are in more strip mall types of places. And getting into downtown from there is a bit more inconvenient, and not walking distance. So you just have to decide which style is more fitting for you. They are kind of on opposite ends of the spectrum. That's actually why I chose to live in Kerrytown because it is pretty much exactly in the middle of the 2 neighborhoods you mentioned, giving it the best of both worlds without many compromises. But that is also why it is much more expensive to live in.
  12. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Yeah, that's understandable, and pretty much the goal of every student at UM. The Hill St area is definitely the most affordable walking distance, but the closer you are to South Campus the more party-ish it gets. The other factor you run into is that around the intersection of Hill and Church, that neighborhood is all sorority houses, so that area can get busy and loud as well. If you want to be walking distance and quiet where most the grad students are, you have to go more north toward the houses near State and Ann. There are other quieter pockets of neighborhoods a little more to the west of downtown and the east. If you want really a really nice and peaceful area, Kerrytown is the way to go. That's where I am at now. But any way you look at it, if you are walking distance the prices go way up so that is something to consider. Also, I'm not sure what type of climate you are used to, but another consideration with walking is the snow and cold. Right now I live about a 30 min walk to campus, which is wonderful in the summer/fall. But throughout the winter (which last for about 5-6 months of the year), 30 min walking in the snow and single digit temperatures (in F, not C) can be a bit daunting. My roommates and I usually switch to taking the bus at that point. But I am also from California so I tend to hate the cold weather more than most. Anyways, I thought I would throw that out there. Even if you find a place that is walking distance, I still think it is worth knowing how close the nearest buses are as well.
  13. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    You are correct, the area between South and Central Campus is mostly where undergrads live and the more buys and louder parts of town. Now, I wouldn't say Ann Arbor is particularly a crazy party town, so those neighborhoods you mentioned might be ok depending what you can tolerate. They will mostly be loud on Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights. During the day and most evenings, it shouldn't be bad. However, those neighborhoods are in the heart of Michigan Stadium street parking. So any home football games there will be tens of thousands of people parking in those neighborhoods. That is also where the streets pretty much shut down so you will never be able to drive in or out of that area pretty much all day Saturday on home games. But that area is cheap, and if you can find some of the more secluded neighborhoods than it might be worth it. But if you are truly looking for more quiet, peaceful neighborhoods, you need to go more south (past Stadium Blvd) and more east (closer or beyond Packard St).
  14. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Go back to page 14 and read my post on January 31st, I address the parking situation in detail there. Long story short, living in Ypsi and getting to north campus is not straight forward. The yellow permit is doable, but those are commuter lots and they can fill up completely by mid morning depending on the lot you pick. See that previous post for my other suggestions.
  15. ghanada

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town in my opinion (although I did my Masters in Boston which is arguably up there but I consider it more of a college "city"). Seriously, probably more than half the population of Ann Arbor is somehow associated with the university. If UMichigan was not located in Ann Arbor, there really wouldn't be a reason for this town to exist. But with that, there is no guarantee of experience. To me, your experience is what you make of it. I have moved around the country a number of times now, usually by myself without knowing anyone, and I have had no problems finding friends and social outlets in any place I have lived or traveled to and I am by no means a social butterfly. I think Ann Arbor works the same way. I know some people here who have practically no social life, but I think that is what they prefer. I am on the "older" side of grad students, I'm 32, but I probably do some sort of social outing just about every single day, from small things to grabbing coffee or lunch to going to bars for trivia or to watch a game, to bigger things like movies, bowling, mini-golf, arcade, concerts, sporting events, etc. Ann Arbor and the rest of Michigan have all the opportunities of any other reasonably sized city so the options are always there. Now granted, I recognize that depending on your department, that may largely affect how you divide your social groups and interactions. I can tell you that some PhD programs here, like social psych, don't have traditional "labs" where there's a designated lab office in which all the students/staff work in and interact on a regular basis. That also means they don't have "lab" functions like parties, events, etc. So often times those grad students aren't close with their labmates, but rather rely on making friends within their department through classes or collaborative projects. Whereas, for instance in the engineering departments, we have central lab locations in which I get to interact with my co-workers on a regular basis so my labmates tend to be my closest friends, and they are not necessarily in my own department. We do tend to have designated lab social outings and events because of the way our labs are setup. However, that also means I am less close with my actual department cohort since I don't see them as much. But either way, most departments have hundreds of grad students so there is always a way to make friends and have social gatherings in some way or another if that is something you seek. Basically, what it comes down to is that I don't know anyone out here who has made an effort to be social and not find success. I'm not sure if that answers your question or not, but hopefully it helps a bit. And heck, if you come visit soon and have some free time and want to grab a coffee or something, shoot me a message.

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