April Events You Don’t Want to Miss

As a student living in Seattle, you never want to miss the most beautiful season of the year: the spring. You can go hiking in the national park, see the cherry blossoms on campus, and have a picnic with your friends at Gas Works Park. In addition, there are lots of interesting events and activities happening around Seattle in April with thousands of people participating. Let’s see what is happening in April and be part of the community!

1. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Time: April 1-30, 2017

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival was inaugurated in 1984 by the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce to attract more visitors to see the tulips in Skagit Valley. Today, the festival is composed of a variety of fun events including art shows, gala celebrations, concerts, tours of local shellfish, and cheese operations etc. Two major events during this period are Downtown Mount Vermon Street Fair and the Kiwainis Salmon Barbecue.  The tulips will bloom depending on their own schedule during the festival. Don’t worry if you can’t make it on the weekend when the tulips started blooming!


2. Seattle Restaurant Week

Time: April 2-6 and 9-13, 2017

Seattle Restaurant Week is a ten-day celebration of food in King County that always takes place in April and October. The dining celebration features over 165 restaurants in King County. All the participating restaurants will offer a three-course dinner for $32 (some restaurants even offer $18 deal) with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert with at least three options under each course. It is absolutely a great opportunity to have some awesome Seattle food!


Seattle Restaurant Week, The Seattle Times


3. National Park Week

Time: April 15-16, and 22-23, 2017

National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. As you have read from our previous posts, Washington State has lots of resources of national parks. So why don’t you take the advantage of the resources you have, discover and make connections with the nature? During these days, all National Park Services that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. The fee waiver will include entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees.


Credit to Pinterest


4. Seattle Cheery Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival

Time: April 21-23, 2017

The Festival first started when Japan’s former Prime Minister, Takeo Miki, sent 1,000 cherry trees to Seattle on May 8, 1976 in commemoration of the long friendship between people of Japan and Washing State. The Festival is free with beautiful sakura, cherry tree, and traditional Japanese music and dances.


5. National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) 

Time: April 27-30, 2017

NFFTY is the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors. It is the premier showcase for young directors who are 24 and younger from all over the world to express their voices and their understanding of the world. The festival includes film screenings, filmmaking workshops, panels, concerts, and a gala opening night.


There are lots of events going on our campus as well. Make sure to check out our Campus Calendar regularly to keep updated about what is going on in our school! Go Huskies!

How to Improve your English

This blog post was written by Almaprok Alkarami, a Campus IEP student.

In order to enhance your speaking skills, the first thing you have to do is create a comfortable environment for “language immersion”.

  1. If you have never been to an English speaking country, try to combine different activities:  read blogs, articles, listen to music you like (don’t forget to pay attention to lyrics, as you can learn some new colloquial expressions from them), watch series and TV shows in English. These are effective ways to learn expressions that you may not find in textbooks. While practicing any of the activities above, try to guess the meaning of words from their context before looking them up in the dictionary.
  2. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. As a graduate student, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, to enjoying poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, I think of fun things that I want to do anyway, and make them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of my advisors shared this advice. Find one in the language you’re trying to learn for future careers. almaprok
  3. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Search for an American native speaker or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.

almaprok friends

Using the Libraries at UW!

Libraries are excellent places to borrow books, study, do research, or complete your homework! Here at the University of Washington (Seattle Campus) there are many libraries – the East Asian Library, the Law Library, Drama Library etc. However the two major libraries on campus are Odegaard Library and Suzzallo Library.


Students at UW call Odegaard Library “Ode” (pronounced Oh-d)

Odegaard Library has three floors – the bottom floor has a lot of tables for studying in addition to white boards! You can ask for white board markers from the information desk near the doors.

The second floor is full of computers and printers; you only need your UW netID and password to be able to use the computers.

The third floor is a quiet floor – loud talking and noises are not allowed. This floor has several bookshelves for research and a lot of desks for studying in silence. Monday- Thursday the library is open 24 hours! However, you will NEED to have your husky card with you if you want to be in the library after 7PM.


You need your husky card to be in the library after 7PM

Suzzallo is another great library! It has several floors and a lot of study space available. On the third floor there is the famous Reading Room. Students call it the Harry Potter Room because of the architecture style. This is a silent study space. You can find more study spaces in Suzzallo here.


The Reading Room is a beautiful, quiet study area

If you want to check out any books from the library you only need to use your husky card. Bring the book to one of the help desks and they can check it out for you! You can also check out movies from the Media Centers in the libraries.


This is where the Media Center in Suzzallo is located

Don’t be afraid to ask the librarians at the help desk for help! They love questions!


Find a Help Desk if you have questions!

You can find the hours and contact information of the UW libraries here

Getting to Know UW’s Campus


This map of campus can be found online here.

It can be a little difficult to find your way around UW’s campus. Here is a virtual tour of the UW’s Campus. For new or prospective students, it is good to know major landmarks on campus in order to get around. For current students, you may learn more about buildings you see every day!


Red Square is officially called Central Plaza.

Red Square is truly the heart of UW’s campus. Known for its red brick, Red Square is located between two major libraries: Odegaard Undergraduate Library, which can be seen on the right side of the photo, and Suzzallo Graduate Library. Be careful though! The bricks are super slippery when they are wet!


Suzzallo Library on a rainy day by Katherine B. Turner

When facing the Suzzallo library, if you turn to your right you will see a big fountain. Drumheller Fountain is another major landmark on the UW campus. On a sunny day you can see a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier – This spot is called Rainier Vista.


Drumheller Fountain with Mt. Rainier in the background by Doug Plummer

To the left of Drumheller Fountain is Guggenheim Hall. Guggenheim is where our new students take their placement tests!


Guggenheim Hall is where new IEP students meet on the first day of orientation!

If we now go the opposite direction from where we came, past Red Square, we can see the Quad! The Quad is one of the most photographed parts of the UW Seattle Campus. During the Spring time when the cherry blossoms bloom, it is beautiful!

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad. Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Cherry blossoms on the UW Quad by Katherine B. Turner

Another beautiful spot on campus Sylvan Grove, is somewhat difficult to find. Known as the Sylvan Grove Theater and Columns, this outdoor space of land has four Ionic columns from the original University of Washington building, back when it was built in 1861!

Sylvan Grove Map

Sylvan Grove is located near the fountain

Sylvan Grove theater can be accessed near the fountain. There is also a path on East Stevens Way. Each of the four columns has a name: Loyalty, Industry, Faith, and Efficiency; together spelling LIFE.

Sylvan Grove Columns on a sunny winter day. Photo by Katherine B. Turner/ UW

Sylvan Grove Columns by Katherine B. Turner


George Washington Statue by Katherine B. Turner

Another major meeting spot and landmark on the UW campus, is located near Red Square. The George Washington Statue can be found just before entering Red Square from 15th Avenue. He is located between Odegaard Library and Meany Hall. This is where IEP Students meet to go on activities!


The UW Tower is where the IELP office is located: on the 13th floor!

And last but not least: The UW Tower! This is where our offices are – on the 13th floor! Most of orientation for new students will be held here. If you have any questions or concerns please visit us here. We are open from 8AM to 5PM on weekdays.

Free First Thursdays!

On the first Thursday of the month many museums in Seattle are FREE!

Here is a list of some museums and links to see more. You can find more free Seattle museums  here.

The Center for Wooden Boats


The center for wooden boats is a maritime museum where you can rent boats and go sailing or rowing! You can also enroll in sailing classes, woodworking classes, boat building classes for kids and much more!

The Center for Wooden Boats is located right next to MOHAI – another interesting museum which is free on the first Thursday of the month!

Admissions is ALWAYS free, however rentals may have some fees or suggested donations.

First Thursday Art Walk

First Thursday art walk takes place every month in Pioneer Square from 6PM to 8PM. This art walk is the first art walk in the USA! Many art galleries in the area will open their doors to introduce their new exhibits and artists to the public, there are also  public art installations between galleries as well.

Henry Art Gallery


The Henry Art Gallery is located on the UW campus right in front of the George Washington Statue.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card) and children.

Admission on the first Thursday and every Sunday is free for everyone!

Burke Museum


Like the Henry Art Gallery, the Burke Museum is located on the UW campus! The Burke Museum exhibits objects that demonstrate the natural and cultural heritage of Washington State such as plants, animals, and Northwest Native art.

Admission is ALWAYS free for UW students (with their husky card).

Admission is free for everyone on the first Thursday of the month!

Washington Park Arboretum


The Washington Park Arboretum (a type of botanical garden) is FREE for the everyone. If you’re interested there are tours on Sundays starting at 1:00PM at the Graham Visitors Center. Look at the schedule here.

The Washington Park also includes a play field and the Seattle Japanese Garden. You can get to this park from campus by a short bus ride on either bus 43 or bus 48 headed south.

Interested in the parks in the Seattle area? Look at some more cool parks here!


Volunteer in Seattle

On Monday, January 18th it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a holiday to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., a very influential leader of American Civil Rights. On Monday many of IELP Students worked with UW students and other volunteers from the public to help clean up Magnuson Park!


Student worker Joyce and IELP Students volunteering at Magnuson Park

Volunteer work is service for an organization without pay, usually to benefit a community or the environment. Many organizations, such as non-profit organizations, depend on volunteers to assist with day-to-day operations and to carry out the mission of the organization. Some volunteer positions require experience, skill, or training in a specific area, while others do not!

Volunteering is very popular in America. Many high schools require their students to volunteer at least 40 hours over the course of four years – but many students volunteer much more than that! Volunteering can teach people new skills and is incredibly helpful to the community. It is also a great opportunity to meet new people with similar interests! It can supplement your resume, university application, and be rewarding and fulfilling.20160118_112731

While F-1 visa holders are restricted from working outside of the University of Washington, volunteering means that you will not receive any compensation, which include money, awards, credit, or gifts; making this an excellent opportunity for F-1 visa holders to gain experience and perhaps find a new hobby!

Some volunteer positions require a long-term commitment; however others are simply a onetime activity. Some volunteer websites like Seattle works require you to make an online account, but once you do it is easy to look at an updated list of upcoming volunteering opportunities!

Below are some volunteer opportunities in Seattle:

If you’re interested in Animal Welfare:

PAWS: http://www.paws.org/get-involved/volunteer/opportunities/

Seattle Humane Society: http://www.seattlehumane.org/volunteer/signup

If you’re interested in Education, the Environment, or Health:

Seattle Public Library: http://www.spl.org/about-the-library/support-your-library/volunteer-opportunities/volunteer-opportunities-for-adults

Seattle Parks and Recreation: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/calendar/volunteer.htm#

One Brick: http://seattle.onebrick.org/calendar/

Lifelong AIDS Alliance: http://www.llaa.org/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities

Nature Consortium: http://www.naturec.org/forest-restoration/

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS): http://www.acrs.org/volunteering/

FareStart: http://www.farestart.org/help/volunteer/index.html

ROOTS Young Adult Shelter: http://www.rootsinfo.org/volunteer/opportunities/

YMCA: http://www.seattleymca.org/Pages/Volunteer.aspx

If you’re interested in working with a Food Bank:

Food Lifeline: https://foodlifeline.org/how-to-help/volunteer

University District Food Bank: http://www.udistrictfoodbank.org/involved/

Rainier Valley Food Bank: http://www.rvfb.org/take-action/volunteer/

West Seattle Food Bank: http://www.westseattlefoodbank.org/help-end-hunger/volunteer/

If you’re not sure what you’re interested in:

Carlson Center at UW: https://www.washington.edu/carlson/category/opportunities/volunteer/

Seattle Works: http://www.seattleworks.org/calendar

United Way: http://www.uwkc.org/ways-to-volunteer/

Volunteer Match: http://www.volunteermatch.org/

If you have any questions ask your DSO! Our DSOs here at IELP are Suzy and Marissa and Ethan (for Downtown)!

If you need help filing out a volunteer application send us an email or make an appointment to meet with us. We are here to help!

Let us know about your experiences volunteering in Seattle!

Winter Activities!

The first day of Winter is December 22nd. With no school after December 11th and until January 4th, there are many ways to enjoy your winter break in Seattle.

One fun activity is ice skating! Ice Skating is a fun and cheap activity to attend with friends or family. Admission usually costs around $7-$12 depending on the ice rink.


Ice Skating in Seattle Center

There are ice rinks in Shoreline, Bellevue, and Seattle Center which you can bus to. Remember to bundle up and stay warm! Bring thick socks because ice skates may hurt your feet.


The Ice Arena near Bellevue Square

During the Winter, skiing and snowboarding are another popular activity. The closest place for this is Snoqualmie Mountain. Unfortunately,  equipment, clothing, and admission may be very expensive. If you would like to learn, you should make sure to take lessons.


Skiing takes practice and skill!

However, there is another alternative, tubing! Snoqualmie has a great tubing center with lifts and tubes available for you. No previous experience is needed, and children are able to participate. Sliding down hills of snow is thrilling and fun.


Inner tubing is great for all ages!


Lifts help you go up the hills so that you don’t get too tired

A great nighttime activity is seeing decorative light displays. Woodland Park Zoo’s WildLights is held within the zoo at night and includes 600,000 lights, a few reindeer and a carousel. Admission is $10 for adults.


Woodland Park Zoo’s Entrance during Wild Lights

Bellevue’s Botanical Garden holds Garden d’Lights which has 500,000 lights decorating their plant collection. Admission is $5, and there are multiple nights with free admission on their websites.


Beautiful illuminated displays

Garden D'Lights 2012

Another image of the extensive light displays

If you enjoy staying warm, the iconic ballet, The Nutcracker, will be performed in many theaters in Seattle. The Nutcracker is about a young girl’s dream of a war between the Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King.


The ballet has many dancers

Theaters include:

There’s many great events happening in Seattle. Here is a list of more! Whether you are going home, staying in Seattle, or traveling, enjoy your break and the cold weather!



This page has helpful websites and videos for students on a wide array of topics including grammar, graduate school, testing, and more!

Web Grammar Resources for Students

Looking for great ways to practice your English grammar? Click on the links below! Explore! See what helps you!

Thanks to UW IELP Instructors Patty Heiser, Renee Lynch, Dirk Hommer, UW MATESOL student Christine Unutzer, and others for contributing ideas, and to Julie Scales for compiling the suggestions below:

Pronunciation Websites