Growing up in a smaller tourist town in Northern Michigan meant that any larger town would feel like the big city. I knew that no matter where I ended up for college, it would be in a place that had a lot more to offer than the community I had come to know growing up.

As a city, Ann Arbor has a lot to offer for students. From restaurants and coffee shops to local and national stores, it is easy to find a place to settle down and work, or treat yourself and spend a little money.

Where I study depends on both how much work I need to get done and how much noise I am willing to deal with. If I have a few short assignments I can stay in East Quad (where I live) and work in a spot with some noise such as Blue Café or Greene Lounge. These homework assignments are usually lighter, such as Spanish practice or Linguistics readings. On the other hand, If I need to get a paper done for French or finish a project for Poetry, I like to venture out to either the Hatcher Graduate Library, the Law Library, or the third floor of the Ugli. 

Studying in libraries is the best way to stay focused because surrounding yourself with focused people keeps your work habits in-check. If I’m surrounded by focused people, I’m more encouraged to stay focused myself. In addition to that, there’s something so classic about studying in a library that I can’t quite put into words. It’s almost as if you’re absorbing all of the information around you! 


Hayden poses with his friend Cloe on gameday before walking to the Big House!

When it’s time to take a break from studying, I enjoy taking time for myself. Apart from the many activities and opportunities that U of M has to offer for students, one of my favorite off-campus activities include walking down Main St and Liberty St. On evenings during the weekends, these parts of town become a lively spot to enjoy a walk. Restaurant smells, packed storefronts, and cheerful conversation create a very welcoming and inviting atmosphere. Watch people waiting in line for a movie or outside a bar. See families trotting around in their Michigan gear. Join the jubilation of the beginning of another semester! 

The best times to do this are in the fall and right around the first snowfall before Holiday Break. The fall is great for a couple of reasons. First, it’s your first chance to show off your new outfits for the cold seasons to come. And second, the air is the perfect balance of warm and cold where you can enjoy an ice cream cone, a cup of hot cocoa, or both! The holiday season is another great time to trot down Main St as well! See the beautiful holiday storefronts and take advantage of the myriad of deals. The city of Ann Arbor also sets up Christmas lights all down Main St so this area is especially magical during the first snowfall and will most certainly get you in the holiday spirit!

On the weekends I also find myself going out to eat with friends. As somebody that comes from a very food-oriented community, I knew that I wanted that kind of community when I went to college. Thankfully, Ann Arbor is that kind of place! A few of my favorite local spots are Frita Batidos, Chela’s, and Totoro. What should you try from these places? My favorite at Frita Batidos is the Chicken Frita and Passionfruit Batido. At Chela’s, I’d highly recommend their $9 deal that gets you two tacos, beans, rice, and a drink! Finally, at Totoro, their sushi is divine but I usually enjoy one bowl of their Udon. If you’re still getting used to the area, don’t worry--Ann Arbor has the basics! Every now and again I cave by grabbing a burrito bowl from Chipotle or a You-Pick-Two from Panera.

All in all, moving to Ann Arbor was a challenge, but not one to be afraid of. While this change may be daunting for some people, I can guarantee that anyone who makes the journey will adjust easily, seeing as the two communities of university and city are woven together tightly. No matter what, you will never feel out-of-place in your new hoMe.


About the author

Hayden Graves is a second year in the Residential College from Traverse City, MI. He is majoring in Romance Languages and Literatures alongside International Studies with a minor in Translation. Hayden enjoys listening to music, hiking, and spending time with his family, friends, and dogs. He has taken many different courses through the RC and has enjoyed every single one of them.