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3 Relaxing Places to Visit around Ames

With exams, papers, homework and clubs, student life at Iowa State can be pretty stressful sometimes and though it is often nice to distress by binge watching Friends on Netflix, it can be even more relaxing to explore the great outdoors. Here are some of the best places around Ames to enjoy a nice warm day.

Ledges State Park

Though Iowa is known for its flat landscape and corn fields, there is actually many locations near Ames that are fun to visit and explore. Most of the Iowa State Parks offer steep hiking trails and great views, the closest of which is Ledges State Park.

With its sandstone cliffs, winding wilderness trails and nearby lakes, Ledges is one of the best places in Iowa to enjoy a nice summer day. Located only 25 minutes from Ames in Madrid, Iowa, Ledges is one of the best nearby places to go hiking, camping and fishing.

Ledges has a variety of hiking trails including one that leads to the ruins of an old cabin, a few that end next to the Des Moines River, and some that offer breathtaking views of Pea’s Creek ‘Canyon’.

My top 3 favorite trails are:

  • Crow’s Nest Trail
    • This popular 1 mile trail up the north side of Canyon road leads to scenic views of sandstone cliffs and the Des Moines River valley from the Crow’s Nest look out.
  • Lost Lake Trail
    • This 1.1 mile trail includes prime birdwatching spots, markers for various plants and a fully accessible A.D.A route for those who cannot hike the more difficult areas of the park.
  • Reindeer Ridge Trail
    • This short .35 mile connector path on the south side of Canyon road leads to breathtaking views from the Table Rock overlook.

Ledges also has 95 different campsites including some in secluded areas that you have to hike to access. As an Iowa State students, you can rent outdoor equipment like tents, sleeping bags, canoes and more for low prices from the ISU’s Recreation Services.

Plan your visit to ledges here.


Reiman Gardens

In my opinion, Reiman Gardens is one of the prettiest locations at Iowa State. Located next to Jack Trice Stadium, Reiman Gardens is home to a collection of elaborate gardens, many artistic statues and even a serene butterfly enclosure. It is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing stroll, to see art or even to learn a new skill!


Reiman Gardens hosts a variety of fun events and classes for people of all ages looking to gain new skills. The list of their classes and events includes:

  • Kids Story time every Thursday from 10 to 11 am,
  • Photography classes from professionals that teach beginners and intermediates about lighting, shutter speed and framing,
  • And a cooking/ gardening class that shows how you can use different herbs and vegetables in recipes.

You can also plan fun things to do at Reiman Gardens on your own or with friends like:

  • Study for a big test,
  • Bring your lunch and have a picnic,
  • enjoy a romantic first date,
  • And so much more!

To learn more about Reiman Gardens’ events, art exhibits and to register for classes, click here.


Art Around Campus

If you’re looking forward to enjoying a little bit of art on campus, you won’t have to search very hard! Iowa State’s campus is covered with beautiful paintings, sculptures and architecture both indoors and outside. You can even enjoy the art on campus from your computer screen by using Iowa State’s interactive art map.

My favorite art pieces or exhibitions on campus are:

  • The Brunnier Art Museum
    • The Brunnier Art Museum, located in the Scheman Building on campus, is the only accredited museum emphasizing a decorative art collection in Iowa. Inside this exhibit you will be able to enjoy a wide array of different art including textiles, ceramic pottery and sculptures, paintings and so much more.
  • The G-Nomes and DNA Double Helix
    • These 12-foot-tall terra-cotta sculptures are located on top of each corner of the Molecular Biology building on the northwest end of campus. The artist, Andrew Leicester, created the large G-Nomes to represent the research being done within the Molecular Biology Building on the genetic code.2
  • The Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden
    • This outdoor art exhibit wraps around Morrill Hall on central campus (next to Parks Library) and includes winding footpaths, beautiful landscaping and unique sculptures like the Panther below.3

Whether you’re hiking to Lost Lake at Ledges State Park, having a picnic at Reiman Gardens, or even just taking a leisurely walk around campus it is important to get out, relax and enjoy the warm summer weather (while we still can)!

Where are some of your favorite outdoor places in Ames? Comment below and let us know!


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What to expect your first week at ISU

Your first week in college can be very overwhelming—­­­even more so if you’re an international student! You’ll likely meet a lot of new people, be given a lot of flyers from different organizations on campus, and feel lost walking on campus. No matter how overwhelming your first couple of weeks are, remember that every single student and professor at Iowa State has experienced the same confusion you are going through at one point in their lives.

Follow the advice below and ask any questions you have and soon you’ll be an expert on university life!


What to bring to class

Professors at Iowa State usually use the first few classes of the semester to explain their course expectations and introduce the class subject to students. However, that does not mean that you won’t be expected to be on time, take notes and do all assigned homework. Be prepared on your first day by making sure that you have:

  • a sturdy backpack
  • your student ID
  • a copy class syllabus
  • a print out of your class schedule
  • a map of campus
  • notebooks or laptop
  • pens or pencils
  • a water bottle
  • and a snack


Tip:  Save money by waiting to buy required textbooks until you are able to ask the professor how often you will use the books. In some courses, students never have to use their expensive ‘required’ textbooks. However, if you know that you will use the course books often in class you can buy textbooks though the Memorial Union Bookstore, Amazon or Chegg.


Getting around campus

Although Iowa State is located in the relatively small city of Ames, it has a pretty large campus. Even with resources, like a campus map, there is a good chance that at one point or another you will not know where you are going. The MyState app, which is available on the App Store or Google play, can be used to find out when the next bus is coming, what route you need to take to get around campus and Ames, and will allow you to search for different buildings on campus.

Tip:  Feel confident heading to class on your first day by walking to each of your classrooms before classes begin. That way you won’t have to worry about being late or lost on your first day! (Make sure that you find your class room and not just the building. Some buildings on campus, like Physics Hall, can be very confusing to navigate.)

If you do get lost on campus, do not be afraid to ask directions from other students walking by. The upperclassmen will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.


Understanding the syllabus

Every class at Iowa State is required to provide students with a course syllabus. The syllabus, which should be available to you on the first day of classes, is your guide to doing well in the course. It will be given to you either in person the first day of class or online through Blackboard.

The syllabus will include basic information, like the professor’s email, office hours and a list of required textbooks, as well as more course-specific information, like course expectations and possibly a schedule of assignments.

Tip: Bring a hard copy of the syllabus with you to every class and highlight any important passages. Professors will expect you to read and understand the syllabus. Many even answer common questions within the syllabus.


Welcome week events

Enjoy your first week on campus by attending some of the fun events listed below!

Thursday, August 17th to Saturday, August 19th: Prepare for campus life and meet new people by registering for Destination Iowa State. At Destination Iowa State you will be able to meet other freshmen, learn more about Iowa State’s campus and even see a hypnotist in Hilton coliseum! Register and learn more here!

Tuesday, August 22nd: Grab some friends, movie snack and a blanket and head over to the MU parking ramp to watch The Fate of the Furious from 9-11 pm. Find out more about this event here!

Wednesday, August 23rd: Come see pop singer Ben Rector sing some of his hit songs, like Brand new, in the Great Hall in the MU for only $18 (with an ISU student ID). Doors open at 7 pm and music starts at 8 pm.

Thursday, August 24th: Stop by WelcomeFest from 5:30 – 8:30 pm in the Great Hall, MU to learn more about student and community organizations around Ames and receive coupons from local businesses.

Friday, August 25th: Get ready to laugh at Saturday Night Live Comedian Melissa Villaseñor. Her free show will be held in the Great Hall in the MU at 9 pm.

Do you have any other questions or comments about preparing for your first week on campus? Are you looking forward to your time at Iowa State? Comment below and let us know!


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How Americans celebrate the 4th of July

The 4th of July, or American Independence Day, is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons. It takes place in the summer, there are always fun Independence Day parades and barbecues, and fireworks light up the night sky for a week. It’s one of the many times of the year when people in America come together to enjoy warm weather and celebrate freedom. But what is so special about the 4th of July?

Why we celebrate

Before the United States of America became a country, it was a group of 13 colonies owned and governed by England. When the English began to heavily tax the American colonies and repeatedly refused to allow American colony leaders take part in the British government the American colonies decided to rebel against the British.

The 4th of July marks the day in 1776 when American colonists gathered together to sign the Declaration of Independence. Signing the Declaration of Independence was a great risk for America’s founding fathers. They knew that by signing the document and working to separate the American colonies from England they were committing treason to England. They also knew that war with England was the only way the colonies would be able to govern themselves.

The American Revolutionary war lasted from 1765 to 1783, when, with help from France and unique military tactics, the colonies won the war for independence. The American Constitution, which created the guidelines for how the American government works today, was then signed on September 17, 1787.

How we celebrate

The traditional ways that Americans celebrate independence from England are through fireworks, parades and picnics, but Americans also celebrate the holiday in many other ways. Some will go camping, some will visit their family, some will go to a favorite restaurant and some will stay home and watch fireworks from their windows. In my opinion, the best way to celebrate the 4th of July is to spend time with good friends, eat great food and watch amazing fireworks shows.

Fireworks of various colors bursting against a black background


Fireworks are one of the most widely loved Independence Day traditions. For that reason, many people will set off fireworks for days before and after the 4th of July. Though it is newly legal to buy and set off fireworks in Iowa, the City of Ames bans the use of fireworks within the city limits. So if you or your friends decide to try to set off fireworks this weekend make sure that you follow Iowa law and all fireworks safety rules.

If you’re just excited to watch fireworks light up the night sky you can join in as thousands of Ames residents gather together 4th of July weekend. Ames will set off fireworks close to Jack Trice Stadium on July 3rd around 9:30 p.m. Most people will bring lawn chairs or blankets to the parking lots near the stadium at the edge of campus to watch the show.


Almost every city in America celebrates the 4th of July by hosting and Independence Day parade. These parades showcase the organizations and people of their communities. Different groups within the Ames community like, members of the US military, Ames Firefighters, and Ames and Iowa State police will walk in the parade along with marching bands, children handing out candy and even clowns on bicycles. The 4th of July parade is a fun way to spend time with friends and family and get to know more about the Ames community.

If you are interested in going to the parade you can sign up to watch the parade with ISSO staff and other international students and scholars here. ISSO staff will meet you on Main Street outside the Ames Public Library at 10:15 a.m. on the 4th of July. Then everyone will find a place to watch the parade together. If you’d like you can bring lawn chairs of blankets to sit on as you watch the parade.


Most 4th of July celebrations are about bringing people together to celebrate Independence, America and the community and the best way to bring people together is through great food!

The Ames Mayor and City Council is hosting a free pancake breakfast on the morning of the 4th of July from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. The event, which is open to the public, will take place at the front entrance of the Ames City Hall. (That’s only a 6 minute walk from the Ames Public Library!) That means you can wake up early, eat a delicious (and free) breakfast, and then meet ISSO in from of the Library at 10:15 to watch the parade!

Do you have any questions or comments about what you’re most excited to do this 4th of July? Follow us on our social media and let us know, or comment below!

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October 31th, Halloween is coming to Ames!

Halloween is huge American holiday. Many people in America celebrate halloween by wearing special costumes, decorating their house, and carving pumpkins. I would like to share with you some fun activities you can do during this halloween weekend!

Workspace: Paint your Own Pottery – Halloween

When: October 31th, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Painting a bisque from decorative a skull or skull mug for halloween! It is fun thing to do. For ISU students, it costs 4 dollars which doesn’t include the price of the bisque. Check out here!

Halloween “Costume Skate” at the Ice Arena

When: October 31th, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

The city of Ames will hold this event for all people in Ames. If you wearing a costume, the admission is only 2 dollar and you can lend your skate with 3 dollar! Don’t miss to get this unique experience. For more information, please check here:

Ames Haunted Forest

When: October 30 & 31th7 p.m. – 12 p.m.

Do you want to feel real scary? Then, visit the Haunted Forest in Ames.It is well-known and annual events in Ames. You can meet lots of real ghost from this forest. If you want to know more information, please check out this homepage below.

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Fun Events During July!

North Grand Mall Farmer’s Market

When: Every Wednesday 3-6pm

Where: North Grand Mall

Every Wednesday, Famer’s Market is held at North Grand Mall. There are lots of the finest local goods which range from fresh seasonal fruits to soap to flower! Stop by and look if they have what you need!

Plant Pals

When: July 2nd

Where: Ruiman Garden in ISU

On July 2nd, you can get an experience about gardening. Check out this Website to get more information!

Independence Day Fireworks

When: July 3rd, at dusk.

Where: Jack Trice Stadium parking lot

For celebrating Independence Day, which is July 4th, the city of Ames and Iowa State University will present fireworks! It is not illegal ONLY that day! So, save your time for it so that you don’t miss this special and beautiful event!

Independence Day Parade and Old fashioned Independence Day Celebration

When: July 4th 11 am for the parade and 12 to 4 pm for Old fashioned Celebration.

Where: Main Street Cultural District for the parade and Farm House Museum ISU.

It’s Independence Day! There will be a parade and festival for celebrating this Independence Day. Join this festival with other thousands of people and enjoy! After the Parade, don’t miss these special events in Farm House Museum in ISU.  There will be great activities including the Onion Cloggers and Band and opening time capsule created in the early days of the farm house as a museum! Check out here for more information about Old fashioned Independence Day Celebration:

Furman Aquatic Center

When: Please check their Facebook!

Where: Furman Aquatic Center, 1635 13th St, Ames IA

We are in the summer! You can enjoy swimming in the Furman Aquatic Center. Check out their Facebook for more information :

Free Movie Night in Campustown

When: July 10th (It’s Friday!) 7-10 pm

Where: St. Thomas Aquinas Parking Deck between Lynn Ave and Ash Ave, Ames

It is Free!! Campustown will show How To Train Your Dragon 2 at dusk. Go enjoy this free movie with your friends. There will be also Free family activities and live music before starting the movie. So if you have a time, go early and enjoy them too! If you need more information, check out:

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Friendship International Last Event!

Friendships International

Friendships International – Spring 2015

The International Students and Scholars Office of Iowa State University is excited to announce Friendships International’s spring activities!

Last Event of the Spring May 1st!

Join Friendships International for a fun and food-filled event to kick off finals week! ISSO is partnering with F.I.S.H. Dinner, a monthly event that brings together international students and community members over a shared meal. Our May 1st meal will be Cajun-themed, with staple foods from the American South.

Where: Meet on the South side of the Memorial Union, outside. We will then walk across the street together to the location of the dinner. Dinner is located in Memorial Lutheran Church.

When: Friday, May 1st at 5:45pm.

What: Cajun food, games, and new friends!

Students and Scholars:

Please sign up to attend our upcoming May 1st, for a F.I.S.H Dinner at Memorial Lutheran! Students and Scholars are encouraged to bring friends!

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Office Jams: Sujung Seo

All songs from the artists listed below are awesome. So, I make my theme, “LOVE.” Hope you can enjoy them.

1. Jason Mraz – The woman I love

2. Jason Mraz – Hello, You Beautiful Thing

3.Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are

4. Maroon 5 – She will be loved

5. Taylor Swift – Love Story

6. Juck Lee – It is fortunate.

7. Juck Lee – With You

8. One Direction – You & I

9. Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

10. Christina Perri – Distance (feat. Jason Mraz)