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Flip Flops to Snowboots- A Cali Transplant

January 31, 2011

Snowflakes- not just for Disney films

Coming from Los Angeles, California, it would be an understatement and a complete joke to even attempt to say I wasn’t a little apprehensive about moving out to Ann Arbor. Where was Ann Arbor again? I know I went there for interviews, but I was so focused on the actual interview, I don’t remember anything else! To make matters worse, there wasn’t a person that knew about the possibility of my going to University of Michigan that DIDN’T warn me about the infamous winters there. Even one of the interviewers had mentioned how rough the weather could be, and asked if I thought I would be able to bear it. Would I be able to bear it?! What the heck did I sign up for? Is the sacrificial move out there really worth it?

I’m not much of a betting man, but I’d be willing to bet these are probably some questions you’re asking yourself if you’re considering interviewing and/or attending UMich, and that’s where I come in. I’m here to bust some of the myths and to confirm some of the other rumors. Some may argue that I’m biased because I’m currently attending school at UMich, but I can honestly say I have no reason to be biased. Yes, I’m a student here, but that doesn’t mean I’m a die-hard Wolverine ready to claw at anyone that has gripes. I have some of my own as well.

WEATHER – Now, my biggest concern moving here, was obviously going from an average 70+ degrees, sunny, t-shirt-and-shorts-with-flip-flops kind of weather to, what did the interviewer say? Below zero? Below zero?! Yea ok, I finally experienced below zero temperatures, but it’s not all THAT bad. You learn quick how to bundle yourself up and walk fast to and from wherever you’re going. The biggest change, hands down, is going to be your wardrobe. Your wardrobe changes from whatever you’re used to wearing to the standard, beanie, earmuffs, scarf, down jacket, and boots look. Anyone who deviates too far looks like an outsider, and more importantly risks freezing to death. The cold can be painful, but on the other hand, my fellow Californians may disown me, but I’ve come to realize how absolutely beautiful the winters are. Snowflakes aren’t just a shape that Disney made up, and the quiet walk back and forth is actually quite revitalizing after a long day of lectures. The driving can be a headache, but really, you don’t drive much to begin with, since everything is in walking distance.

SCHOOL- If you’re like me, you’ve done some of your own research. If you’re not like me, I’ve done the research for you. UMich is theoretically (since there’s not a ranking system for dental schools) ranked in the top five in the nation. The campus is gigantic, and when I say gigantic I mean big. Coming from University of California, Berkeley, I had thought I’d come from a big school, but in comparison I now feel like UCB is like an elementary school next to UMich. It has the typical brick and mortar look that east coast universities are known for, and I won’t lie, the buildings are quite beautiful to look at. The faculty is very accessible, the dental labs are open for extra practice whenever you need, and students here are always willing to work together and help each other out.

ACADEMIC LIFE- The curriculum here is tough, and you should expect it to be especially grueling the first year. My parents always said, “The better the school, the harder work is.” And now that I think about it, everyone would be a dentist if it were easy, right? Like I mentioned, the faculty is always accessible, not just during office hours, but also right before and after lectures. If you have questions, you’re always encouraged to ask, and there’s never been a time I felt inadequate for asking a “silly/dumb” question. You figure out quickly who your “study buddies” are, and since dental school becomes your whole life, they in essence, become family.

LIFE (outside of school) – Now, to the good stuff…the first couple months it was easy to be content and immerse myself in studies, but by mid-semester, I was getting bad cabin fever. I had to get out! Your free time is so few and far between, but you learn how to stop and smell the roses, or else risk losing your sanity. But was there anything to do or see in Ann Arbor? I realized, that Ann Arbor is genuinely what is called a diamond in the rough. There’s much to go do and see, from Apple Cider Mills to farmer’s markets to fishing and biking. As a college town, you can always count on an open bar or pub nearby and the little street boutiques are “quaint and cute”, so I’ve heard. Although, there hasn’t been as much time as I would like to explore, I have already amassed a list of “things to do” before my four years are up.

I believe strongly that Ann Arbor as a location for dental school is truly ideal for many reasons. First and foremost, students aren’t distracted as much as you can be from a bigger city school. Because U of M is in a small city, everything is focused on the university. Students here are focused, and as hard as we work, we play hard as well. A year and a half into it, I already know that I’ll be walking away from this journey with friends for life. The Ann Arbor culture is simple, life here is school and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

So I’ll end on this note, I heard this quote while I was in high school and it always stuck with me, to the point that I’ll admit I have a post-it on my wall above my computer. It says, “I do not know a person who has gotten to the top without hard work and sacrifice. That is the recipe. It might not always get you to the top, but it’ll get you close.”

Good luck and hope to see you soon in Ann Arbor.

William Shin is a D2 who is happy to report that his t-shirts and flip flops get quite a work out during our HOT michigan summers!

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