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On Having Lived in Both the Hottest and “Coolest” Places in the World


By Maaz Khalid, MBA ‘18

My first taste of Ann Arbor came just over 10 years ago, when I arrived as a transfer student from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Having never lived or traveled on my own, I found myself walking around North Campus at midnight trying to find the community center where my welcome packet ‒ including my apartment key ‒ was waiting for me. I had left the 100+ ℉ heat back home only to find myself going through trial by fire right here in Ann Arbor!

Since then, I have had the opportunity to spend nearly four years on campus, as an undergraduate as well as a graduate student on my way to being a triple-Wolverine. The most important thing all this education has taught me is that a Pakistani kid raised in the UAE can never really get used to fluctuating weather patterns. Still, I can now lay claim to having lived in both the hottest and “coolest” places in the world.

The arts and entertainment scene, for one, is possibly one of the most underrated “cool” aspects of Ann Arbor. I would be remiss to mention arts and entertainment in the city without talking about the University Musical Society (UMS), which was founded in 1880. Coming from a country that just celebrated its 46th independence day, it’s mind-boggling to think of a musical society that was around for nearly a century before that!

UMS has a long history of bringing the best and brightest stars in the arts and entertainment world to Ann Arbor. This year alone, I have had the pleasure of watching the Budapest Festival Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Bassem Youssef perform at the awe-inspiring Hill Auditorium and Michigan Theater. I also can’t wait to watch Joshua Bell perform in February. The best part is, as a student I have been lucky enough to catch these performances for a fraction of the full ticket price!

UMS isn’t the only source of a great night out, of course, it just happens to be my go-to option. Here’s a short list of the otherwise very long list of venues and organizations bringing great performances and cultural experiences to Ann Arbor every day of the week: The Ark, Michigan Theater, EventJazz, Power Center for the Performing Arts, The Blind Pig, Arbor Opera Theater, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, Cavern Club, and Shakespeare in the Arb.

The incredible talent of these artists, and the way in which Ann Arbor makes them and so many others like them accessible to students, brings a warmth to my heart and soul. It may not be the same warmth of the UAE, but for these few weeks of winter there’s always hot coffee and a beanie.

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