Parents Weekend

Despite the cold winters, most Twin City residents can’t get enough of Minneapolis and St. Paul. As a result, the hipsters in uptown, the professionals power-walking down Nicollet, and even the retirees relaxing on Grand Ave can come off as a bit annoying.

Each year I live here, I become a bigger part of the problem.

This weekend, I was able to host my parents and show them all the reasons they should be drinking the Kool-Aid as well. Interested visitors and proud residents looking for a staycation, here’s a few things from my Thursday-Monday you can’t miss:

1. Find a fair– The Uptown Art Fair was a perfect snapshot of the Twin Cities for my parents to experience. Even though not all the vendors are from Minnesota, the people, abundance of dogs and relaxed atmosphere rang true to the Cities. Even if you’re not an art expert, there’s something to be said for adventuring out of your comfort zone. It’s not too late to fit some culture into your summer, visit the Irish Fair this weekend, take throwbacks to a new level with the Renaissance Festival, mix things up with the Japanese Lighting Lantern Festival, celebrate my favorite fast-food place at the Chipotle Cultivate Festival, or of course, go big at the Minnesota State Fair!

The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie
The view from the 5th floor of the Guthrie

2. Mill City & St. Anthony Main- Visiting the Stone Arch Bridge is a staple of a stroll in Minneapolis. However, the bookends of the bridge are rarely given as much attention. After we watched some kayakers get lowered down by the lock (new bucket list item) we wandered over to the Mill City Museum and Guthrie Theatre. This area is the place to be Saturday mornings for the farmer’s market, but it was stunning on a Monday afternoon as well. The biking and walking trails are perfect for exercising or enjoying the view of the Mississippi River. On the St. Anthony Main side of the River, enjoy wonderful restaurants, exploring trails and people watching. Farther Northeast, you’ll find my favorite meditation spot- Boom Island Park- perfect for picnics, laying out and bike rides.

3. Party with the whole block– Northeast, my favorite neighborhood, hosted In Cahoots this weekend at the Red Stag. Eight local breweries combined into four teams, each team then collaborated to create a new beer. Attendees of the event voted on the best brew, and a portion of the proceeds went to the winning team’s charity of choice. From the live music, to the people-watching, to our delicious dinner at nearby Gorkha Palace, Northeast did it again.

4. Easy Ride– Available everywhere across the Twin Cities, this self-service bike rental system is perfect for exploring different areas of the cities, while getting some exercise and a true MSP experience. My parents and I biked over to West Bank, looped through campus and rode along the East River Parkway trail- all areas we wouldn’t have had time to see on foot. You can drop the bikes off at any station throughout the city, making it as much of a commitment as you’d like.

5. Drink local– My roommates and I really out-Minneapolised ourselves and biked to the photo 1microbrewery, Dangerous Man. Upon our arrival, we found ourselves in the middle of a Donut Showdown viewing party. The head baker of the downtown shop, Angel Food, was featured on the Cooking Channel show and gathered family and friends at DM for the episode premiere. Although we weren’t aware of this event, by the end of the episode we were personally invested in her success. The evening of community engagement, biking, amazing craft beers, and samples of Angel Food donuts was the Twin Cities in a nutshell. Microbreweries are perfect for small parties, large receptions or networking events; and in case you were worried, your options aren’t limited.

For the record, I love me some St. Paul, but I didn’t venture there this weekend. Luckily, the parents are obligated to visit me throughout senior year, and that wonderful city will be at the top of the to-do list.

Midterm Madness

After hearing continuous complaints about “hell weeks” I’ve realized the term “week” is a bit vague.

Oddly enough, these back to back weeks of back to back midterms, are corresponding with other campuses’ fall breaks. I don’t have first hand experience with this fall break concept, but it sounds like a glorious life.

A serene scene far from the U of M

It’s this absence of a fall break that makes midterms worse than finals, in my opinion. During finals week, all other classes are cancelled, allowing students time to study. With midterms, classes continue on, making homework and projects just as much of a priority as upcoming exams. Additionally, with midterms there is no end reward of a vacation. Look alive U of M.

However, it has recently been brought to my attention (and then again and again) that I will be busier after college than I am now. I have attempted to argue that there aren’t enough hours in a day for that to be possible, but these graduates are persistent. Most recently, a young professional explained that it’s just a different, more structured and consistent type of busy.

So it made me wonder, is expecting no classes during midterms, or a fall break unrealistic? Would having these things be a bittersweet luxury?

In the real world, I doubt all other work halts when one project takes priority or nears a deadline. I doubt a few days of working overtime are always followed by a few days off.

Would our energy be better spent finding the dedication and organization to make these hell weeks manageable, over trying to convince the University to change its policies?

In the meantime, find productive study spaces and effective stress releasors. While we are creatures of habit, studying somewhere new may be the thing that allows you to focus on the material, rather than feeling overly comfortable. If every time you study you go to Purple Onion, that cafe will remind you of every assignment you’ve done there. No thank you.

If watching a few episodes of New Girl calms your energy and makes you laugh, recognize that power. However, mixing up your routine, especially for something physical, will have a much greater impact. A run may clear your head, but climbing the new rock wall at the Rec will do the same, while exciting and rejuvenating the brain.