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September 23, 2009 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-23

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3

A cold United States welcome

ext spring, I graduate and
leave Ann Arbor for good.
Even with still two semes-
ters to go, I am already feeling
myself terribly nostalgic at the
prospect of bidding farewell to
the only place in this country I've
called home.
But when I first arrived on cam-
pus, I was less inclined to label
Ann Arbor the best college town
in the world. At the beginning of
freshman year, I saw the campus
as a collection of unappealing,
brick academic buildings dotting a
largely barren countryside. And in
this unwelcoming dystopia, people
rarely talked - they only nodded
soundlessly in recognition. Who
would have blamed me for see-
ing that? I was, after all, an inter-
national student who had, upon
arriving to Ann Arbor, been mer-
cilessly placed in the sedate, outer-
most edge of campus - Baits I.
On one of my first days on cam-
pus, I watched a deer outside my
residence hall search despon-
dently for food. It was an unsuc-
cessful attempt, of course, for
Baits housed no dining facility.

On a casual foray near the shrub-
bery outside the building, I found
an odd-smelling sofa and squirrels
large enough to devour the deer. A
drunken, haggard man lay uncon-
scious by a walking path. Where
- and how else - could I have cre-
ated a preconceived general image
of Ann Arbor that was farther
from the truth?
Fortunately, a lifetime's expo-
sure to cable television in Pakistan
had me sufficiently well versed in
American pop culture to stop me
from applying generalizations to a
city I had only partly experienced.
So I remained cautiously optimis-
tic, convinced that I would soon
witness America in all its quintes-
sential Rambo-esque glory.
Not even an earlier encounter
with a brusque immigration officer
at Chicago airport had dampened
my excitement or euphoria. After
requesting passengers holding
Pakistani and United Arab Emir-
ates passports to step aside, the
officer proceeded to make us wait
three hours until our names were
called out in ominous tones. The
subsequent interview had been

straightforward. Until, of course,
we got to a harder question: what
color was my hair? "Black," I had
answered coolly. "No, it isn't," he
replied angrily. "It's dark brown."
Then he needlessly reprimanded
Why my first
months in Ann
Arbor were
difficult
me for my flippant outlook on life
as I stood bewildered and per-
plexed before a scared South Asian
student audience.
Still, it seemed the University
was determined to test how much
my optimistic patience would
endure. Following University pro-
cedure, first-year international
students had to register in the
final weeks of August, later than
all other freshmen. Caught in the

urgency of simultaneously pick-
ing classes and figuring out how to
use Wolverine Access and CTools,
I found myself with a class sched-
ule that required four hours of
travel time shuttling back and forth
between Baits and the corridors of
Angell Hall.
On my first day of classes, with
my head still spinning from orien-
tation lessons and tentative class
schedules, I waltzed absentmind-
edly onto a bus when I was ready
to return to North Campus. Instead
of being conveniently deposited at
the Baits bus stop, I found myself
looking at scenery I had never seen
before, realizing far too late I had
taken the wrong bus and ended up
near the Northwood apartment
complex.
Sadly, that wasn't my last
exhausting bus ride. Later that
year, the state of Michigan, eager
to contribute to the international
student's freshman-year obstacle
course, decided to impose a blan-
ket ban preventing temporary
residents from acquiring driver's
licenses. Limited to travel itiner-
aries that depended on Amtrak

and Greyhound routes, I spent fall
break touring Midwestern cities
like Grand Rapids, Cleveland and
Toledo. But unfortunately, I wasted
much of the time waiting at Grey-
hound stops in Jackson, Mich., Gary,
Ind., and a host of other cities with
names that would be more appro-
priate in a University yearbook.
Luckily, first appearances can be
deceiving. Infollowingyears, I man-
aged to erase lingering memories of
monotonous bus rides, immigra-
tion waiting rooms and needless
detours to Detroit and develop a
thorough appreciation of the city.
Now, from the heart of Central
Campus - driver's license in hand
and officially brown-haired - I
find myself in my senior year at
the University. But it was only
after successfully maneuvering an
obstacle course - that may well
have skewed perceptions, for me
or any other international student,
the other way - that I learned to
make the most of my foreign expe-
rience.
-Emad Ansari is a senior in
the School of Public Policy.

The real-life application of medical marijuana
From page 5B

Right now, Joe has 12 plants in
a small grow room that he is pre-
venting from flowering by keeping
them in 22.5 hours of light a day.
He is working on finishing a larger
grow room with the help of some
younger friends, who often come
over to work on projects in Joe's
loft and mechanic shop. When he
moves the plants into the main
room later, he will change their
lighting schedule to 12 hours of
light so they will flower.
"See how tall that ceiling is?" he
said. "We're going to make them
big."
Joe hopes to convince his doc-
tor that marijuana can be benefi-
cial if managed in a safe way. If the
doctor still won't see the value in
medical marijuana, Joe said he
will find another who has learned
about the treatment.
"How can you make a decision

about something you haven't stud-
ied or been to a seminar on?" Joe
said. "I would rather have a doctor
who's trained in the treatment of
leukemia than a doctor who (has)
just heard of the treatment of leu-
kemia."
Joe is used to figuring things
out for himself. It's what he prid-
ed himself on during his 18-year
career as a Dodge mechanic, and
it's what he prides himself on now
as a cancer patient who is making
the most of his remaining years.
"You tell me I can't do some-
thing, I'm going to ask you why
and I'm going to figure out a way I
can do it," Joe said.
Joe's home in Ionia is a testi-
mony to his determination and
indomitable spirit. After he was
diagnosed, Joe moved to be with
his mother on a large plot of land
his niece inherited. With his

mother in the house, Joe decided
to turn a barn loft on the property
into a makeshift apartment. The
loft has no glass windows, and the
only heating is a radiation system
in the walls and concrete floors.
It is not the type of living situ-
ation you would expect for a leu-
kemia patient who has lived much
longer than expected in blast cell
crisis. But Joe has more plans for
the place. Along with the grow
room, Joe is currently adding a
master bedroom and bathroom.
Originally a car mechanic,
Joe has made himself a jack-of-
all-trades through researching
building and growing techniques
online. In that way, Joe is a model
for all of the state's medical mari-
juana patients who, in the absence
of a state-run dispensary system,
have had to engineer their own
way to get medicated.

SAM WOLSON/Daily
A marijuana patient stands in the barn where he is building a hydroponics grow room.

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