Over the weekend my friends and I saw Sam Feldt
, a tropical house DJ I’ve been listening to for years. Rather than performing at a typical music venue he played his set at PRYSM
, a nightclub in River North known for periodically hosting musical talents.
Although it is smaller than most venues in the city, this makes for an intimate and immersive set. We ended up arriving later than we planned, but were still able to shoulder our way right next to the stage. Sam Feldt pulled out all the stops for his show, including white fog, a stunning light show, and tons of confetti. His version of EDM incorporates tropical beats reminiscent of summertime, island vibes, and warm weather. Since Chicago is still stuck in a seemingly neverending winter, spending the evening dancing to tropical music was just what my friends and I needed to get through these final weeks of classes and exams before spring break.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to present research at an on-campus event called "Mining, Forests, and Communities in Peru." My classmates and I have been studying the political history and current environmental predicaments of Peru since the beginning of Fall quarter, which culminated with a two week trip through Lima, Puerto Maldonado, and Arequipa. Last December, we gained hands-on knowledge and experience from locals and nonprofit organizations doing conservation and reforestation work. Since arriving home from Peru, each of us has been further exploring a topic of interest in order to present a body of research at last week’s event.
My own project, entitled “The Drivers Behind Destruction: Root Causes of Ongoing Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon,” focused on the main causes of deforestation and how they are being addressed in Peru by local people and the government. Being able to draw from experiences I had in Peru including the organizations I visited and people I talked with allowed me to take this research much deeper than any I’d previously done. Presenting research to strangers for the first time was a little bit nerve-wracking, but it was pretty incredible to be able to share what I’ve learned from my experiences in Peru and delve into issues I’m very passionate about. If you’re thinking about studying abroad and are interested in environmental and/or political issues, check out the program Peru: Forests, Mining, and Communities.
After nearly three years of being a student here, the number of late nights and all day study sessions I have spent in DePaul’s John T. Richardson Library (JTR) is a little excessive. Lucky for DePaul students, being in Chicago means that potential study spots beyond the library are almost endless. Here are a few of my favorites: 1. Floriole Cafe and Bakery. Being right around the corner from campus is not the only thing I love about Floriole. Even if I’m not in the mood to study, the upstairs area with its skylights and bright aesthetic usually forces me to be productive. Especially in the winter, setting yourself up with a hot drink (their oat milk latte is my favorite) and a sweet treat from the bakery makes studying just a little bit easier.
2. The top floor of Harold Washington Library. This library located downtown (adjacent to DePaul’s Loop campus) features a top floor called the Winter Garden. The glass ceiling and array of plants makes the entire space appear a serene blue-green color that creates the perfect environment for studying. It’s even rented out as a venue for weddings and other events from time to time. If you have a class downtown or simply want to check out this beautiful space, Harold Washington’s top floor is a hidden gem you must take advantage of.
3. Osmium Coffee Bar. There are a few locations for this particular spot, my favorite being the one in Lakeview a few minutes from the Belmont red line stop. It’s easily accessible from DePaul, and I find that I’m able to get a lot done sitting at the coffee bar with one of their drink specialties in hand. In the warmer months, there’s even a back patio filled with picnic tables. On a sunny winter day (they do exist!) you can usually find a few people braving the cold, pretending like it’s 72 and warm.
Even though we all know and love JTR, sometimes it can be a nice change of scenery to take your studying elsewhere for the day. With finals quickly approaching, I hope these recommendations come in handy.
Over the summer, my roommates and I adopted a sweet 14-year old cat named Dexter after seeing in a Facebook post that he needed a new home. As soon as we saw his photo, we knew we wanted him. Since we all have such busy schedules, adopting an independent older cat who would not need as much attention was key. His relaxed demeanor and laid-back lifestyle fits perfectly with ours, and (as cheesy as it sounds) we can’t imagine not having him.
Although our situation worked out perfectly, it’s important to weigh all of your options before making a big decision like adopting a pet during one of the busiest periods of our lives. Since my roommates and I like to travel, we made sure that we had multiple friends in the neighborhood who were willing and able to take care of him in our absence. When we head off to Arizona for spring break this year, we won’t be worried about him because of how well our friends take care of him. During the holidays, my roommate, whose family lives in the suburbs, is able to take him home with her so he isn’t alone.
Another important thing to note is cost. Since my roommates and I all have steady jobs apart from our studies, we’re able to not worry about this as much. Ensuring you have the means to provide a good life for an animal is a seemingly simple but often overlooked prerequisite to adopting a pet. If you’re able to do this, I highly recommend adding a sweet pet like Dexter to your household. If not, consider walking dogs for Wag! or Rover or volunteering at a local Paws shelter to be able to spend time with animals without the commitment of ownership. I did this for years until adopting my own!
One of my roommates recently secured a summer internship with Osteria Via Stato
, a well-known Chicago restaurant located in the loop serving Italian food and drinks. To celebrate her success, we headed downtown for dinner at her new workplace. As a working college, student I do not often go out to fancy restaurants such as this one, but it was nice to be able to treat ourselves after a busy week and experience something a little bit out of our ordinary from our day-to-day. At Osteria, there is the option to either eat at the full-service restaurant or the attached pizzeria/bar, which we opted for since it was slightly less expensive. A bottle of wine and four personal pizzas later, we left feeling satisfied and eager to visit again once our roommate begins her internship this summer.
Although sticking to a budget can be stressful in college, it is important to allocate funds for nights such as this one. Every once in awhile we all need a chance to unwind and treat ourselves to a nice dinner with friends. We probably will not be making Osteria a weekly tradition (my bank account simply could not withstand it), but I’m glad I had the chance to celebrate a friend’s success and try something new. Pro tip: visit Osteria Via Stato when your parents are in town so they foot the bill!
Despite the icy temperatures descending upon Chicago this week, some friends and I were able to celebrate my birthday at a lovely restaurant called Earth’s Kitchen
in Wrigleyville, a favorite of mine and one of the best in the city (in my humble opinion). Earth’s Kitchen is a Japanese fusion restaurant, with an extensive menu containing dishes ranging from sushi rolls to noodle and poke bowls. One of the greatest parts of this restaurant is that it’s BYOB, a common occurrence in this area and all of Chicago.
The staff are kind and always quick to offer additional discounts and/or recommendations. Since the weather is borderline apocalyptic this week (with temperatures factoring in windchill reaching lows of -48 degrees Fahrenheit), we even had the whole restaurant to ourselves. With many restaurants being closed due to severe weather, I was thankful this one stayed open. Afterwards we dropped by a local spot around my apartment, then hurried home before the temperatures dipped too low. I can now say I’ve celebrated my birthday during one of the most intense weather occurrences unfolding in Chicago over the past two decades!
This past weekend Chicago started to feel the effects of the Northern Hemisphere’s polar vortex
. With nonstop snowfall all weekend and temperatures in the low teens, the term “Chiberia” has been re-appearing all over social media. Although this can seem daunting, there is nothing better than curling up with some blankets and a mug of hot coffee as snow swirls around outside your windows. If you do have to go outside, covering every inch of exposed skin is a good idea. Even a five minute walk down the street can you leave your ears, hands and face feeling completely frozen. My roommate and I ventured outside over the weekend to see what all the fuss was about and ended up back in our apartment about fifteen minutes later because we didn’t have enough layers on.
Along with cold temperatures, be careful of icy sidewalks and streets. No matter how late you are, it is simply not worth it to rush and end up slipping on the ice. Baby steps are key when inching your way over a solid sheet of ice. Since this year’s winter started out fairly mild, many are feeling overwhelmed and/or shocked at this influx of winter weather. As long as you are taking the right precautions, surviving Chicago’s 2019 winter will be just another accomplishment you can add to your list.
As 2018 slipped away, my friends and I slipped into Aragon Ballroom
to see one of our favorite DJ duos, Galantis
, and celebrate the beginning of a new year the best way we knew how. We had been overwhelmed with what to do since there are an abundance of NYE events in Chicago, but we definitely picked the right choice. Amid a beautiful light show, Galantis performed an incredible set full of crowd favorites as well as never before heard songs they premiered for us.
As someone who loves high-energy music and dancing, it was one of the best NYE events I have attended and I intend on celebrating in a similar way next year. Being in Chicago for any holiday is exciting, but New Year’s in particular is one full of a range of opportunities and events for whatever you may be interested in doing. Tons of artists perform at venues across the city and surrounding suburbs, and there are plenty of other events such as fireworks at Navy Pier to suit your mood for the evening. Whether you want to sit back and watch a fireworks show, enjoy Zoo Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Park Zoo, or dance the night away, Chicago has something to fit everyone’s interests.
A few da
ys after Thanksgiving, after spending Fall quarter learning about Peru’s political climate regarding resource extraction and mining, I boarded a plane to Lima, Peru. Throughout fall quarter, my classmates and I spent a significant amount of time delving into the economic and environmental histories of Peru in order to better understand what we would be seeing on our trip. It would be impossible to recount our entire 14 day itinerary, but I’ll run through some highlights that will make you want to sign up
for this program ASAP:
1) Spending the night in an off-the-grid research station ran by Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon located in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. This was by far my favorite part of the trip due to how immersive it was. We bathed in a local river at sunset, and fell asleep under mosquito nets to the sounds and songs of Amazonian birds and insects. Learning about how to better protect nature while being in one of the most beautiful areas of Peru was incredible to say the least, and there is no other way I would have wanted to spend this part of the trip.
2. Trekking through the Amazon Rainforest through a torrential downpour. This may not sound like a highlight, but my professors and fellow students both agreed this experience was one of the most meaningful. We had all been in heavy rainstorms, but these were nothing in comparison to how it feels during rainy season in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. As rain poured down on us in a deafening roar, we could still hear monkeys swinging through the trees, macaws singing, and much more I could not identify. It was one of the most awe-inspiring natural occurrences I have ever experienced.
Traveling through Peru was a beautiful and educational experience like no other. I would highly recommend anyone interested in environmental or political issues to apply for this program next year. If you or anyone you know have any questions, feel free to reach out to me!
As fall quarter winds down, I’m getting ready to study abroad in Peru over Winter break. I’ve been taking a Latin American Politics course throughout the quarter to learn about the political climate in Peru and gain background information to better understand the country’s current state. Along with this course, there is a lot of other preparation I need to do in order to have a successful trip. For example, since we are spending time in the Amazon Rainforest, all students are required to get a Yellow Fever vaccination. Rather than packing what I normally bring on international trips, I have to think about versatile clothing I can wear on a variety of excursions since we are doing everything from trekking through the rainforest to going deep into the Earth to explore some of Peru’s gold mines.
The trip I’m taking is a combination program for students studying either Political Science or Environmental Science, which happen to be the two majors one of my roommates and I are studying. Ever since it was announced earlier this year, we knew we had to go. It combines both of our disciplines in a really interesting way; we are learning about sustainable resource extraction and the politics and environmental consequences that are involved. By spending two weeks exploring these issues in a hands-on way in Peru meeting with local leaders and traveling to sites of resource extraction, we will learn an incredible amount of valuable knowledge that simply could not have been learned in the classroom. Stay tuned for my first blog of next quarter to find out how it goes!
As finals season descends on us once more, it’s important to keep in mind your own health and wellness in addition to doing well on your exams. Although it may seem hard to balance both, I assure you it is possible. It seems like everyone I know develops some kind of minor illness during finals, so here are some tips for you to avoid getting sick.
At the end of the day, not taking care of yourself during finals is a good way for you to become sick, and no one wants to spend their vacation time feeling ill. Do yourself a favor and focus on your own well-being over perfect grades this finals season.
- Sleep is VITAL. We all hear this from parents and teachers from the time we’re in elementary school, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Pulling consecutive all-nighters in order to ace every exam is not as important as taking care of yourself and getting a decent amount of sleep. Without sleep, your body simply cannot function at its full capacity which makes it harder for you to do well on finals.
- Set aside time to eat. It’s too easy to get caught up studying and forget to eat nutritious meals during finals. Surviving off of granola bars and coffee is not a good idea any other time of the year, so try not to fall into this habit during exam week either.
- Need a study break? Head over to the Ray. Working out is a great way to alleviate stress and get yourself moving when you’ve been stuck at a table in the library all day/night. Since the Ray Meyer Fitness Center is open until 11:30 pm during the week, fitting in a quick jog or workout is not as hard as it might seem.
This weekend I had the privilege of seeing not just one of my favorite artists perform but two! On Thursday night one of my roommates and I headed to the Metro, a music venue only a couple ‘L’ stops north from where we live, to see Masego. Along with being a talented rapper, Masego plays a variety of instruments which he incorporated into his show. From the second he picked up his saxophone toward the beginning of his performance, the audience went wild with adoration. Throughout the entire show, Masego continually amazed everyone in attendance with his musicianship and charisma.
The following night some friends and I headed to Lincoln Hall, a local venue, to see Kweku Collins. This show was more intimate since it was in a smaller venue, but there was just as much energy. Kweku Collins has a smaller fan base than Masego, but as a Chicago native (Evanston to be specific) he had a lot of support coming from the audience. Even though it was his first U.S. tour, he performed seamlessly and with tons of energy. At only 21 years old, Kweku is an incredible performer and I would love to see him again soon. I felt lucky to be attending one of the first shows of his first American tour! Seeing both of these artists was unreal, and I’m even more excited for the rest of the shows I’ll be attending this month.
DePaul has a significant amount of out-of-state students, which means many freshmen are forced to acclimate to winter weather they may not be used to. Many of my friends from California, Louisiana, Texas, and a range of other southern states came to college having never lived in a place where it snowed in the winter, but they have quickly become familiar with the ins and outs of Chicago’s winters. Since I came to college from another Midwest state, I consider myself an expert on handling freezing, below-zero temperatures. In order to stay warm, here are some tips for first timers:
- You can never have too many layers. In the middle of winter, it will most definitely be cold outside, but it’s likely that most of your classrooms will be warm. Instead of dressing lightly, I prefer to dress myself in layers that are easy to take on and off in order to adapt to changing temperatures in a variety of environments. It’s always better to have an extra layer you can easily slip off than to wish you had another.
- Blanket scarves are a game-changer. The term ‘Windy City’ is no joke. Covering your face and neck completely with a huge oversized scarf is the only way to protect yourself without having to buy a ski mask or balaclava.
- Invest in a quality winter coat and a pair of boots that will get you through the snow and slush every day. This is not an area you want to fall short in. A coat that keeps you warm while you’re waiting for the train in the morning and boots that keep your feet dry really is important, and you’ll be wishing for both if you don’t have them.
- Take the long way if it means you can cut through a warm building. Even if I’m running late in the winter, chances are I’d rather go through the library on my way to class in order to escape the outside air. Taking the route in which you’re inside for the most amount of time is always the way to go.
While winter in Chicago can seem daunting, being prepared goes a long way. It may be freezing cold and windy, but winter is also one of the prettiest times of year because of the Christmas decorations that fill the Magnificent Mile and the rest of the city. As the temperature continues to drop, there are still plenty of parades and holiday markets to look forward to!
As midterms come to an end I’m once again left wondering how another quarter could be flying by so quickly. It seems like I was just being handed the syllabus in most of my classes when in actuality I am beginning to prepare for final projects and exams that are only one month away. While this fast-paced system may sound daunting, it has become one of my favorite aspects of DePaul.
When I’m struggling with a tough class like Chemistry, it is a relief to know that it only lasts for ten weeks as opposed to a typical semester school which breaks classes up differently. Although the faster pace of the quarter system can be overwhelming at first, many students prefer it once they get a feel for it since there are so many perks. Rather than taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, DePaul students take finals the week prior and then get to enjoy a six-week holiday break before jumping into the Winter quarter. This period of time can be used for many different opportunities, and this year I’m choosing to study abroad in Peru for the majority of it.
Another benefit of the quarter system is the number of classes DePaul students will have taken once they graduate. Instead of taking one set of classes in the Fall and another set in the Spring, DePaul students take three different sets of classes throughout the year. There is also an additional Summer quarter that some students take advantage of by enrolling in a class or two during summer break. Although the quarter system may be unfamiliar to some, the knowledge and experience that is gained from it make the hard work worthwhile.
For my Ecology class this quarter there is a lab component in which we meet for an extra three hours per week to conduct experiments and gain hands-on experience with what we are learning in the classroom. On Tuesday, my class and I drove to La Bogh Woods rather than meeting in our usual lab. We have been learning about plant ecology and the different components that make up each interaction, and for the lab, we headed to the woods to analyze and document plants that are growing within Chicago. It was a unique experience because I typically do not get the chance to immerse myself in nature to the degree of being in a forest like La Bogh.
At DePaul, experiential learning is emphasized in a variety of ways and this was one of the biggest draws for me when I was choosing where I wanted to go to school. Since we are located in Chicago, it is easy for classroom learning to expand to hands-on learning within the city. By connecting students with organizations and events all over the city, professors at DePaul are able to successfully integrate what they are teaching in the classroom with valuable experiences. Trips such as the one we took to La Bogh Woods are important in adding value to the coursework that we are learning in the classroom.
Last weekend my roommate and I decided to take a last minute trip to Portland, Oregon. My brother who lives in New York City met us there, and the three of us spent the weekend exploring the city and checking out some of Portland’s best eats (Voodoo Doughnut, we love you). Portland is a great city because you are able to spend time downtown where there are tons of things to do and see, and also explore some of the most beautiful natural areas surrounding the city. We spent our mornings' scootering around the city using Lime, and our afternoons hiking through areas such as Forest Park and Portland’s famous International Rose Test Garden.
A lot of people ask me how I travel so often while living on a student budget, working five days a week, and taking a full course load. The first part of my answer is that I am lucky to have siblings and friends who are always down for a trip. Along with this, I make traveling a significant priority in my life. I might be missing a party or losing time I could have spent studying, but a weekend trip like the one we took to Portland is more important to me than those things. Whenever I go to a new place I am constantly evolving and learning based off of new experiences and meeting new people, and I find it important to constantly be broadening my worldview and cultural understanding. Whether I am traveling to Portland or Portugal, I know I will be learning a lot about myself and the world around me.
This quarter I am taking another service-learning class called Community Food Systems. It counts as an elective for my Environmental Studies major as well as for my Food Studies minor, which made it an extremely beneficial class to take for my degree. For this class, in particular, the service-learning component means each student is partnered with a nonprofit in Chicago focused on urban agriculture, food inequities, etc. I am working with a nonprofit called Chicago Farmworks at their urban farm located in East Garfield Park. Every Wednesday morning I take the green line to Kedzie to help out with harvesting at the farm, which includes picking and washing a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, collard greens, bell peppers, and jalapenos. The vegetables harvested from the farm are then transported to soup kitchens across the city on the south and west sides of Chicago.
Gaining experience working in urban agriculture in Chicago is an opportunity I would not get at any other college. Classes such as Community Food Systems make me feel grateful for being able to attend an institution that is focused on social justice and service learning. I have been able to take a variety of these classes during my time at DePaul, giving me a wide range of experience working in different types of nonprofits I am interested in. If you’re also interested in gaining experience working within a city while attending school, DePaul may be a good fit for you too.
With the start of another fall quarter, I can’t help but reflect on this past summer - that once again flew by way too quickly. I stayed in Chicago like I have the past two summers, but managed to take quite a few trips throughout June-August. From spending the first three weeks of summer exploring Portugal to traveling all the way to Montreal, Canada for a music festival, this summer was the perfect mix of work and play. I worked nearly full-time at my regular waitressing job at Athenian Room , but fit in some amazing trips to make it worthwhile.
Right before school resumed I was even able to take a trip down to Cuba with my sister to celebrate the end of another incredible summer and explore a country nearly untouched by tourism/outside influence. It was the perfect way to relax and immerse myself in a beautiful culture before returning to my regular schedule of work, classes, and very minimal free time.
Traveling with my friends and family is one of my favorite ways to spend my time, and I’m thankful for a summer filled to the brim with adventures and new experiences. I’ll be spending the next ten weeks before Winter break, posting throwbacks on Instagram and reminiscing on one of the best summers yet.
For now, it’s time to get back into the swing of things and focus on the interesting classes I’m taking this quarter and the exciting opportunities that already await!
Although we still have a week left of school and another week of finals, summertime Chicago is already here! From beautiful weather to fun neighborhood events, the city is in full summer mode (which makes it difficult to study for these final exams!). This weekend was filled with people heading to the beach, enjoying live music outdoors, and participating in a wide range of outdoor activities that are popular in Chicago such as biking, rollerblading, and jogging down the Lakefront Trail. It was a little taste of summer to rejuvenate us just in time to study hard for our finals so that we can finally start enjoying our relaxing three-month break.
By staying in the city, I am opening up my summer experience to all kinds of possibilities for adventures and events. While some students prefer to spend their summer breaks relaxing at home where they’re from, summertime in Chicago is one of my favorite things to experience! From music festivals like Mamby on the Beach and Lollapalooza to farmers markets like Green City Market and the Lincoln Park Farmers Market, there is no shortage of events to fill your free time in the summer months. It’s the best time to try new restaurants, volunteer your time, explore new neighborhoods, and do all of the things you’ve been meaning to do during the school year but haven’t had time for.
Living in Chicago means being surrounded by countless new restaurants to try all over the city. Although this can be exciting, it’s also important to not go overboard spending money. When I first arrived in Chicago as a freshman I wanted to try anything and everything, but my spending habits quickly caught up with me. Almost two years later, I’ve found a balance between going out and trying new restaurants but not breaking the bank. One of the biggest changes I’ve made since moving into an apartment is cooking meals for myself and planning ahead for busy days by cooking meals in advance. This is a good strategy to utilize when trying to save money, but it’s also important to go out now and then and give in to your inner foodie!
One of my new favorite restaurants is Earth’s Kitchen, a Japanese American fusion restaurant located in Uptown. My friend and I accidentally happened upon it after visiting a used bike shop in Uptown, and it turned out to be everything we didn’t know we were looking for. This is one of my favorite ways to find restaurants; simply looking around wherever you are instead of solely relying on Yelp reviews and the internet. Our bike shopping adventure turned into apartment hunting, and we’re now thinking of moving to Uptown! Anything can happen when you explore a new neighborhood.
Last week I attended an MFA show put on by the SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) downtown with my art and artists in contemporary society class. Wandering through compelling and interactive art exhibits for an hour and a half may not sound like a typical college class setting, but this happens quite often at DePaul. For example, my environmental justice class traveled to Springfield, Illinois a couple weeks ago to meet with representatives in order to propose legislation relating to environmental justice. Gaining real-world experience lobbying with representatives was truly amazing. Class trips like these are one of my favorite things about attending DePaul. Being surrounded by relevant events and exhibits related to what I’m studying in the classroom allows me to truly immerse myself rather than simply reading about it in textbooks.
Classes at DePaul truly incorporate the city of Chicago into the curriculum. Attending art shows for my photography minor, participating in activism events and getting to listen to influential speakers for my peace, justice, and conflict studies minor, and even working with environmental non-profits for my environmental studies major are all examples of this. Without being in this city, I would not have had the opportunities and experiences that have shaped my college experience as well as shaped me on an individual level. When I hear stories from my friends who go to schools in the middle of nowhere, I am grateful for DePaul and the opportunity to study right in the heart of Chicago. The city truly is our campus!
At the beginning of last quarter, a friend and I decided that we needed to get more involved at DePaul. We have attended various meetings for clubs, but it has been difficult finding something that we can both attend regularly due to our hectic work and school schedules. As we were browsing Orgsync, DePaul’s website listing all of its clubs and organizations, we found something called ARCH. According to the website, “ARCH is an organization that promotes awareness of homelessness and mental illness in Chicago through service and reflection.” As students who have always been involved in service in our own communities, ARCH’s mission statement appealed to both of us. As we read more about it, we found out that ARCH travels to a local women’s shelter, Deborah’s Place, every Sunday morning to cook brunch for the women staying there and engage in dialogue with them.
Ever since we discovered ARCH, we have learned a lot through this engagement. Last year I interned with a nonprofit working toward connecting homeless people in Chicago with permanent housing, so it felt right to involve myself in something along the same lines. Traveling to Deborah’s Place on Sunday mornings is the best way to start my week and is a deeply meaningful use of my time. I would encourage anyone looking for an impactful way to spend a couple hours each week to become involved in ARCH. It has allowed my friend and me to gain a lot of perspective as well as to feel as if we are positively contributing to our community.
It may sound cheesy, but something that has made my DePaul experience memorable is being passionate about what I am studying and being surrounded by peers and professors who share this passion. When I came to college I did not think I would be majoring in Environmental Studies because I wrote it off as being too difficult and wrote myself off as being not smart enough. I worked my way through a variety of majors before finally realizing what I was meant to be doing, and that is studying the environment. The restoration and preservation of the planet is the most important thing in the world to me, and being able to study what I love most every day is such a meaningful experience.
Without my professors encouraging me to declare an
Environmental Studies major and the support of my friends and family, I would
probably still be stuck in a major I am not proud of. I am thankful I decided
to take a leap of faith and declare a major I was extremely intimidated by
because I have gained such an immense amount of knowledge and experience in
this process. Nothing compares to the feeling of talking with a professor about
a rainforest we both visited in Costa Rica and felt connected to or talking
with my peers about the actions we take to help the planet. Within my own circle
of friends I am often referred to as the crazy environmentalist, but within my
classes, many of my peers share the same mindset as me. They are an inspiration
to me and we all encourage each other to do more for the environment. Since my
major is so closely intertwined with my daily lifestyle, it is important to me
that I’m surrounded by people who share my struggles, passions, and triumphs.
Struggling through three-hour labs has not been a walk in the park, but all of
my hard work will pay off when I graduate with a degree I’m proud of and am
excited to use.
Being an out-of-state student is difficult, even though the state I am from is only a six-hour drive from Chicago. Since I am constantly working, studying, or in class, the number of times I am actually able to make it home for even a weekend are slim to none. For this reason, I decided to fly home this past Sunday and surprise my dad for his birthday. I had not been home since Christmas, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a trip back and see some of my family while also celebrating my dad.
I arrived in Ohio Sunday
morning and spent the entire car ride to my house laughing and catching up
with a few of my siblings. When we made it home, they all went inside before me
while I waited to surprise my dad. After a few minutes, I rushed inside and he
couldn’t believe it! He kept asking me how I made it and did not stop smiling
for the longest time.
Although spending a day
at home was a very short trip, it was also just what I needed and I am thankful
to have been able to make it for my dad’s birthday. Being fairly far from home
with no family in the city can start to become a little tough after a while, so
it’s important for me to make time to go home and see my family. Although I
usually force them to come visit me in Chicago because I love showing them
around the city and introducing them to my friends, sometimes I miss spending
time in the place where I grew up. Hopefully, my family will be visiting me in
Chicago sometime soon!
This quarter I am participating in another service learning class called Environmental Justice and Advocacy. It’s an elective for my major, so while not everyone is required to take this class it sounded like a great opportunity to get more involved in environmental justice outside of the classroom. In the first week of class, I was placed with Rebuilding Exchange, a nonprofit focused on diverting building materials that would go to landfills and repurposing them for sustainable reuse. They also have a job training program to assist individuals who face barriers to employment (due to previous incarceration, homelessness, etc.) in gaining skills in the field of sustainable reconstruction. This organization does a multitude of amazing things for communities in Chicago, and I feel lucky to be able to intern with them this quarter! Service learning classes are truly some of my favorite. Although a lot of extra time and effort is required, the people you meet and the experience you have makes everything worth it.
Since I want to work at an environmental nonprofit in the future,
gaining experience with one as an undergraduate is one of the best
opportunities to set myself up for success. DePaul offers a variety of service-learning courses that match you up with nonprofits in Chicago, and this will be
my third time taking one. These classes are unique to DePaul and reflect the
Vincentian mission of the University, which was one of my initial reasons for
choosing this school. DePaul truly puts an emphasis on service, and being in
the city of Chicago offers so many opportunities to get involved. From service
learning classes to countless service organizations, DePaul has countless ways
for students to serve the community around them.
This quarter I am enrolled in a service-learning class called Environmental Justice & Advocacy as one of my Environmental Studies electives. Service-learning classes at DePaul involve a service aspect in which students are paired up with a local nonprofit organization as an intern for a set amount of hours each week, and they can count for Junior Year Experiential Learning credit. I’ve taken two service-learning classes in the past, and have had amazing experiences with the partner organizations. For this class, I am working with Rebuilding Exchange, a non-profit that diverts building materials from landfills and makes them available for reuse by promoting sustainable deconstruction practices, providing job training programs for those experiencing barriers to employment, and creating innovative models for sustainable reuse.
Since DePaul students usually do not have classes on Fridays, I was able to set up a schedule in which I intern with Rebuilding Exchange every Friday morning. I’ve only been doing this for one week, but I already am learning useful information and knowledge that will be applicable to my future career in the nonprofit sector. The staff at Rebuilding Exchange allow me to focus on areas of interest while also encouraging me to try things I have never done before. I’m excited to continue to contribute to such an inspiring organization and hopefully gain new insights into what it’s like to work for a successful nonprofit in Chicago.
Finding a place to live or people to live with can be extremely
stressful, but DePaul provides a number of resources to help students through
the housing process. Here are three of my favorites!
Although the housing process can seem overwhelming, DePaul does everything they can to make the experience go as smoothly and stress-free as possible. I’ve used all of these resources at one time or another, and I would have had a much harder time without them.
- Your class Facebook
page. When you are first accepted to DePaul, you are invited to join a
Facebook page of everyone in your class attending DePaul. For example, I
am part of the DePaul Class of 2020 Facebook page, and this is where I
found a lot of helpful information before coming to school and even now.
This is where I found my freshman year roommate who I am still living with
today, and it’s a great place to get to know your classmates, scope out
potential roommates (and friends!), and get a feel for DePaul.
- Offcampushousing.depaul.edu. This website is another resource students can use in order to find available apartments and roommates. It is more formal than the Facebook page; students can create listings for available rooms as well as roommate profiles for themselves. The website asks important preference questions about your habits and ideal roommate in order to match people up with others they will get along with.
- DePaul Students Living Off-Campus Facebook page. This is another Facebook page, but its sole purpose is to help students connect with each other regarding housing, roommates, and even furniture for sale. It’s closely monitored,
and you are only granted access to join if you are a DePaul student. One
of my roommates for next year found a summer sublet using this page, and I
know plenty of people who have used it to find their current roommates as
DePaul’s spring break was a little bit shorter this year, so I decided to take my exams early so I could enjoy the full week. It kicked off with St. Patrick’s Day, which Chicago is known for celebrating by dyeing the Chicago River bright green. My friends and I had the best time adventuring around the city attending various parties and get-togethers and going downtown to see the river. It was a great way to celebrate the end of winter quarter and relax a little.
Next stop for spring break was Puerto Rico. I decided to take a solo trip and go on an adventure of my own, which might seem unusual for spring break when people are usually gathering a bunch of their friends to head down to Florida or Mexico. I wanted to take a trip by myself because I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about solo travel before I study abroad this fall in Budapest, Hungary. My older sister has also taken countless trips by herself through Southeast Asia and Central America, and seeing how much she learned and grew from these experiences inspired me and pushed me to take a trip of my own.
My trip to Puerto Rico was a huge success! I was able to navigate the country pretty well, and a native Puerto Rican even complimented my Spanish skills (which I’ll be honest are very weak). It was a huge challenge, but it turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. I saw beautiful sights, swam in the Atlantic, learned a lot about how the people are recovering from Hurricane Maria, and even formed friendships with people from all over the world who were staying in my hostels. I highly encourage everyone to take a solo trip of their own, even if it sounds daunting. My experience traveling to Puerto Rico taught me many lessons and has also inspired me to take more trips like these in the future.
As an Honors student at DePaul, I am required to take a sequence of language courses that end in me reaching intermediate proficiency. For this requirement, I chose to focus on American Sign Language even though I had no prior knowledge of the language. As I finish my second quarter of ASL, I can honestly say it is nothing like I thought it would be. When I used to think about sign language, I thought of charades, miming, and trying to convey English words through body movements and hand signals. This is a huge misconception, and ASL is actually a complex, beautiful language of its own. It does not exactly mirror English as I had initially thought, but uses its own syntax and contains unique differences from English.
Another aspect of ASL at DePaul that was surprising for me is the idea of ‘deaf events.’ As a requirement for ASL classes, students must attend three of these events in which deaf people along with ASL students from all over Chicago interact and communicate with each other. We typically meet at either Starbucks or Blaze Pizza and spend a couple hours mingling and meeting new people. In most language classes, this would be completely unheard of. The opportunity to use what you are learning in class to communicate with others is incredibly helpful and I am glad that this is such an integral part of the classes I have taken. The ASL program at DePaul is truly a great program, and I would recommend taking an introductory class if you are at all interested!
Last weekend I had the chance to visit my best friend from home at Miami University in Ohio. Since DePaul students typically do not have classes on Friday’s, it is easier to take weekend trips during the school year. I was able to leave on Friday morning and return on Sunday night which allowed me to spend more time with my friend and get the most out of the weekend.
DePaul’s proximity to O’Hare also
makes it easier to take trips like this one. A short 30-minute drive or about an hour on the L will get you to the airport. Taking the L to O’Hare is what I prefer simply because it’s free with your student U-Pass and
the ride to the airport is fairly scenic and enjoyable. However, for those 5 am flights, I usually call an Uber or a Lyft.
Visiting other schools makes me realize how grateful I am to go to DePaul and be in the city of Chicago. Most typical colleges throughout the United States do not have even close to the number of opportunities offered at DePaul because of its location, and I’m thankful I ended up in such an exciting city for my four years of college. Being away for only one weekend made me miss it here, which reaffirms that this is the school for me.
I just found out I received a scholarship that will enable me to study abroad in Budapest this fall, and I’m so excited! Study abroad scholarships at DePaul are easy to apply for and can be extremely helpful in regards to saving on travel and living expenses. My scholarship pays for half of the fee to study abroad, which means I will likely be able to participate in the program.
DePaul study abroad programs range from week-long trips during Spring Break to academic year-long trips, and everything in between. The program I am interested in lasts for Fall quarter at DePaul, but actually goes a little bit longer due to the difference in DePaul’s quarter system and my study abroad institution’s semester system. Rather than being in school from September-November, I will be in Budapest from August-December. Some people see this as a disadvantage, but I disagree since it will give me more time to be abroad and experience living and studying in another country.
Since DePaul has such a variety of programs, it is easy to find one that will fit your needs and preferences. DePaul’s study abroad website makes it even easier by allowing you to search for programs based on specific filters and specifications. For me, Budapest seemed perfect due to the low cost of living and prime location. Whatever you are looking for, DePaul has it!
Although I still am unsure whether or not I will be studying abroad in Budapest this fall since there are many factors to consider, I’m grateful for the opportunity to even consider such an experience. Due to the vast array of resources DePaul offers for those interested in studying abroad, this entire process has been made much smoother and easier to navigate.
Discover Chicago was one of my favorite parts of freshman year at DePaul, and I’m so thankful for the experience I had. The course I enrolled in was called Nonprofits in Chicago: The Business of Helping, and was taught by Professor Melissa Markley. Throughout the quarter we traveled to nonprofits all over the city and spent time in class coming up with our own ideas for the nonprofits we envisioned within the city. By delving into the details of how each nonprofit worked, we were able to learn what a nonprofit needed to succeed and implement it into the creation of our own. This course inspired me in numerous ways and acted as a catalyst for me to become more involved in community service and volunteer work at DePaul. A few weeks into the quarter I even landed my first internship with a nonprofit, and I’m not sure I would have pursued that opportunity without this class.
For Discover courses
, students arrive at school one week earlier than everyone else and are plunged into a week-long immersive experience traveling throughout the entire city of Chicago. In my class, we took field trips all over the city including to the Chicago History Museum, Ronald McDonald House, Tree House Humane Society, Pilsen Alliance, The Plant, and Growing Home. We traveled by bus and train, learning how to navigate the CTA along the way. Most of the days were pretty long, ranging from a few hours to all day. However, nothing compares to having an entire week to simply explore the city you’re going to call home for at least the next four years and learn about a specific aspect of it (for me it was nonprofits). It was also nice to have the campus to ourselves before the rest of the student body arrived.
My classmates from my Discover course are now some of my best friends, and the experience we shared brought us together in a different way than any of my other courses ever have. Last summer I even spent time traveling with a friend who I sat next to on the first day of Discover week. One of the best parts of this class is that each student picked it for a reason, so you’re all brought together by this passion you share. You’ll truly make connections that last, and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything!
This past weekend I spent an afternoon wandering through art exhibits and displays at the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Chicago. Although this is my favorite Chicago museum, I have not been since last December. Due to the combination of heavy class and work schedules, it has been difficult to make time to go, however, my brother and his friend’s visit to Chicago was a perfect excuse for me to return and immerse myself in the museum. I was in a rush to get to work, but we still ended up spending a couple hours exploring and taking a lot of pictures along the way.
Being a short train ride away from some of the best museums in the country is one of the best parts about being a DePaul student. Along with our proximity, DePaul students are also offered steep discounts for museum admission. For example, the Art Institute is completely free with a DePaul ID, and the student discount at the Museum of Contemporary Art lowers the admission price to only $8. Students learning about art movements or historical time periods in their classes can then go and see exhibits and installations about these topics in person. Even if you’re not in any of these classes, spending a day museum-hopping can be a great way to destress while also being surrounded by inspiring exhibits that make you think and get your creativity flowing!
This quarter has already proven to be incredibly stressful and busy, so it’s important to take some time every once in a while to focus on something creative. I had a couple hours of free time yesterday, so I decided to grab a friend and experiment with a photography idea I had thought of earlier.
We headed over to Levan, an academic building on campus, and found an empty classroom with a projector. I played various videos on the projector while my friend posed in front of it, and even though I’m still figuring out the correct camera settings to use for this specific idea, the photos turned out pretty well.
I’m glad I was able to focus on something creative for a little while before getting back to my apartment to work on homework for the rest of the evening. I’ve only just started learning about photography, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to de-stress. Coming up with interesting ideas for creating photos has shown me that I’m more creative than I initially thought. I have always thought I lacked creativity and was not artistic, but being forced to experiment with creating unique photos within my photography class has shown me I’m capable of more than I thought. As each week goes by and I gain more constructive criticism from my classmates and professor, I can feel myself growing as a photographer. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the quarter takes me!
Since there were no classes this Monday due to Martin Luther King Day, I decided to convince a couple of my friends to be my subjects for a photography project for class (see my last post
). Throughout the morning I trudged through the snow trying to create some quality pictures by posing my roommate in various settings and positions, but I actually ended up taking my favorites when we stopped for a quick coffee to warm up at Le Pain Quotidien
, a coffee shop near campus.
The theme of the project was ‘Day and Night’ which meant I needed to take some photos in semi-darkness to create the image of ‘night.’ For this part of the project, I asked another friend to pose for some pictures in the front hallway of my apartment which is illuminated by a single string of lights. I was skeptical about taking pictures in semi-darkness without flash, but they turned out pretty well.
Although I ended up taking over 300 photos, only five made the final cut. I’ve only just started my photography class, but I’m already learning a lot about technique and the general rules of creating photos. I’m excited to work on upcoming projects and share them here on my blog!
This quarter my schedule is packed with tough environmental studies courses, but I am also taking a photography class for the honors program arts requirement. Although it’s only week two, I can already tell it’s going to be a challenging yet fulfilling course. Since I am spending most of my time doing scientific work, it’s a welcome relief to be able to devote a few hours each week toward being creative and delving into artistic expression.
For the honors arts requirement, students have a wide range of choices including but not limited to: creative writing, acting, screenwriting, game design, and of course photography. Within photography, students even have the option between digital and still photography. While some of my other requirements feel like something I ‘have’ to do, for this one I had a hard time choosing just one!
For our first project, the assignment was to create photos portraying eggs in a dynamic way. Since I don’t eat eggs and find them completely unappetizing and unappealing, it was difficult to have to spend so much time taking photos of them and attempting to make them appear in an aesthetically pleasing way. After quite a bit of a time setting them up in a million different ways, I finally was able to take some that I liked.
Although I’m already feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work I am going to have to do this quarter with my course load, I am feeling grateful that I decided to add a photography class to my schedule. Additionally, I am glad DePaul encourages students to be creative no matter what major or field they’re studying. Stay tuned to see more photos from my photography class, hopefully, we begin to focus on a subject other than eggs sometime soon!
This winter, I spent the majority of DePaul’s six-week break here in Chicago. Last year I divided my time between working an internship and taking an extra class, while this year I only worked my regular job as a waitress at Athenian Room which gave me the chance to rest and rejuvenate for winter quarter.
From going downtown to take pictures of Chicago’s beautiful Christmas decorations to enjoying brunch with friends (& my sister who came to visit), this winter break was definitely restful and a welcome relief from the stress of fall finals. Having an entire six weeks off of school allowed me to take a much-needed break while also spending time with those I love and continuing to work and make money.
Although DePaul’s quarter system can seem daunting or strange, it offers students some major perks. Along with our extended break, the school year also does not start until September while most other universities are beginning their academic year in mid-August. It has taken some getting used to, but I would not trade the quarter system for anything else.
I hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating winter break!
There’s no feeling more bittersweet than being halfway done with finals. Although I still have a lot more work to do and all-nighters in the library to suffer through, I already know how good it’s going to feel when I’m officially done with schoolwork for six whole blissful weeks! At DePaul, we do things a little differently than most schools. Rather than coming back to school after Thanksgiving, we take our fall quarter finals beforehand and then have a six-week long break for the whole holiday season. The break can seem a little unusual, but it’s the perfect opportunity to work a seasonal job, take extra classes to get ahead, get a “winternship,” go on an incredible study abroad adventure or simply spend some time at home with family and friends enjoying some much-needed relaxation time.
This year, I’ll be staying in Chicago and picking up extra hours at my regular job. Last winter I stayed in Chicago as well to work and take extra
classes; so I’m a little relieved to actually get a little bit of a break from schoolwork this year. I’ll be going home for a few days for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’m excited to experience the holiday season here in Chicago for the remainder of break because the city celebrates in so many beautiful ways. Just thinking about ice skating in Millennium Park, attending the annual tree lighting, and shopping for gifts while walking down the Magnificent Mile is what’s getting me through this week. Good luck to everyone who is still finishing up finals! The holidays will be here before we know it (along with a much-needed break from classes).
Being from another state has pushed me to be more independent and reliant on myself. Rather than being able to call my parents to come check out an apartment I am interested in, I have to be attentive and responsible and decide for myself whether it seems like a safe place to live and a good fit. Instead of going home when I get sick or have had a hard week like some of my friends are able to do, I do not have that option. Being completely on my own has pushed me to succeed on my own without falling back on anyone else, and I am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved while living here in Chicago.
Another thing that going to school in another state has taught me is to treasure the time I have with my family and friends at home. When I fly home for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks, I will not have been home for eight whole months! Since this is the case, when I do have a few days at home I make sure that I take full advantage of them. Rather than spending any time watching Netflix in my room, I’m usually hanging out with my grandma, going on lunch dates with friends I rarely see, or catching up with my five siblings. I don’t waste a single moment because I understand how precious this time truly is.
Although it is difficult when one of my roommates meets her family downtown for dinner and I’m missing my family, or my other roommate calls her parents to bring her something she forgot at home and I crave that convenience, I do not regret my decision to go to school in another state. I would not be the person I have become if I had not pushed myself to do this, and there is truly no place I would rather be than living and learning in Chicago. My experience at DePaul is simply not something I would have been able to have at any school in Ohio where I am from.
Although the temperature was dipping below 30 on the night of the concert, my friends and I bundled up in our winter coats with our vampire costumes underneath and trekked out into “Chiberia,” the nickname for Chicago when it gets nearly as cold as Siberia. We were feeling a little skeptical because of the weather, but we ended up having the best time! Once we made it inside the Aragon Ballroom and out of the freezing weather, we all let loose and danced all night. For anyone who likes EDM music or just wants to have a lively, exciting concert experience I highly recommend attending Freaky Deaky next year for Halloween!
As some of you may know I recently joined Alpha Omicron Pi which is a sorority here at DePaul. This past Saturday was our semi-formal, and it was one of my favorite experiences of this year!
Here are a few reasons why:
This year’s semi-formal was such a blast, and I can not wait to see what the rest of the year brings within Alpha Omicron Pi. I have only been a part of this amazing group of girls for less than a month, but it already is starting to feel like home!
- AOII Semi was on a yacht! Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Rather than having our semi-formal at some fancy hotel downtown, it was on a yacht that took us up and down the Chicago River. The backdrop of all of the beautiful skyscrapers lit up at night was truly indescribable, and it was an unforgettable experience I would likely not have gotten through any other organization.
- Chicago weather this October has been surprisingly perfect. On Saturday night it was warm enough for my friends and me to spend most of the night dancing up top on the open-air part of the yacht rather than down below deck. The weather could not have been more ideal!
- The food. Chipotle was catered this year, which meant endless amounts of guacamole for free! I did not even have to try to hide it under extra lettuce which was a huge perk. Eating good food while surrounded by beautiful buildings and dancing with my friends between bites made for such a fun time.
On Tuesday, I was able to see Aquilo and Yoke Lore perform at a venue right down the street, Lincoln Hall . They both put on phenomenal performances, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in Chicago where the music scene is so vibrant. For example, there are multiple concerts each week at Lincoln Hall, and most of them are under $20. Since the venue is fairly small, the concerts feel more intimate and personal which makes the experience even better. During Aquilo, I was close enough to the lead singer that I could have reached out and touched him! I’ve already seen a handful of artists at Lincoln Hall, and I have plans to see even more in the coming months.
The opportunities for experiencing live music are endless in Chicago, and I try to take advantage of them as much as I can. In the next couple weeks, I’m seeing LEON, Snakehips, Klingande, and Oliver Heldens which are all artists that I am incredibly excited about! Besides Lincoln Hall, there are plenty of other fantastic venues such as Concord Music Hall , The Riviera Theatre , etc. Having access to such a wide variety of music performances, events, and venues is truly one of my favorite things about this city. I cannot imagine getting this same experience at a state school because it just is not offered. Chicago’s music scene is simply unparalleled!
When I was a senior in high school, my head was spinning with the thought of all of the colleges I could apply to and potentially attend. It seemed as if the opportunities were endless, which caused me to feel extremely overwhelmed and unsure of which choices to make. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to attend school in a city filled with opportunity and potential for growth. I wanted to be in a place where I could do a million different things and not feel as if I was limited in any way. For me, that ended up being Chicago due to its location (six hours from home) as well as my love for the city and all that it has to offer.
Once I knew I wanted to go to school in Chicago, the next step was to decide which school was right for me. My situation was a little bit different than your average applicant because I applied before I even visited DePaul due to being an out-of-state student. By spending a lot of time on DePaul’s website, I gained some insight that led me to realize how important service is to the DePaul community. As secretary of my high school service club and an extremely active volunteer in my community, I knew service was something I wanted to continue to be a part of in my college career. DePaul’s emphasis on service was a large factor in my decision to apply as well as one of the reasons I was drawn to DePaul in particular over other Chicago schools.
Once I applied to DePaul, the decision to attend school here was fairly easy. It’s cliché to say that once I stepped on campus it felt like home, but it did. DePaul is unique because it does not feel like you are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. When you are on campus in Lincoln Park it feels like a college campus, and when you are downtown in the Loop it feels like you are right in the middle of Chicago. You could go from a class in 14 E. Jackson to an internship with any of Chicago’s Fortune 500 companies within ten minutes. On the other hand, you could also go from a class in Lincoln Park to relaxing on North Ave. Beach within about twenty minutes. At DePaul, you really do have the best of both worlds, and this is another significant reason that I was drawn to this school in the first place.
Good luck to all of you seniors who are in the application process! I know you’ll find the right school for you, and hopefully, that means being a blue demon for the next four years here at DePaul.
As recruitment came to an end last weekend, my nerves were at an all-time high. The night before bid day my roommates and I stayed up late running through every possible scenario, but we really did not know what to expect. On Sunday morning, hundreds of girls crowded into Cortelyou Commons to wait to see which sorority gave them a bid, and it was such an exciting environment! Everyone was dancing and having a good time while trying not to think about the sealed bid cards our recruitment counselors were holding.
When I opened my bid, I found out that I had received it from Alpha Omicron Pi. When I met with them for Preference Tea on Saturday I had really enjoyed the conversations I had and the people I spent time with, so I was really excited to receive an offer to join. After finding out my bid, I walked over to the quad where I “ran home” to Alpha Omicron Pi. It was such a heartwarming experience to arrive at their spot on the quad and receive countless hugs from people I was excited to get to know better. Spirits were high and everyone was happy and excited to see the new members of their chapter.
After hanging out on the quad and taking tons of pictures, we headed to Buckingham Fountain to take even more! Everyone boarded trolleys and we ended up blasting some throwback hits and singing our hearts out the whole way there. The girls in AOII were all incredibly welcoming and inviting, which made the experience that much more fun.
Once a million pictures had been taken, we boarded the trolleys once again and headed back toward Lincoln Park to an arcade called Replay. When we arrived, there was tons of food waiting for us and free games to play ranging from pinball to Pacman. With icebreakers, good food, and lots of laughs, we ended the day right and had a blast doing so.
Bid day was a really great experience for me this year, and I am so glad I ended up signing up for recruitment and giving Greek life a chance. Although I came in with a lot of preconceived notions and misconceptions, the process taught me a lot about what Greek life at DePaul truly stands for, and I am incredibly excited to find out all that this year has to offer within AOII and the Panhellenic community as a whole.
With family weekend coming up next month, many students are arranging to have their family members come visit them at DePaul. When hosting visitors, it is often hard to figure out which activities to do and which attractions to see since Chicago is such a vast city overflowing with opportunities. Here’s a list of some of my personal favorite things I’ve done with family and friends that have visited me in the past to help you out!
The Chicago Cultural Center: Located right across from Maggie Daley Park and The Bean, the cultural center is a hidden gem often overlooked in favor of nearby attractions such as the Art Institute. It’s completely free (my favorite part), and offers a wide array of culturally diverse exhibits and rooms. This is one of my favorite places in all of Chicago!
Lurie Gardens: If you walk further past The Bean, you’ll come across a serene set of gardens nestled right in the city. It’s such a good spot to rest your legs and spend some time relaxing before your next venture. For me, I love bringing my camera along and snapping some pictures within this beautiful hidden treasure.
North Avenue Beach: In the warmer months, the beach is a must! It’s a fairly short walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, and offers many things to do. From biking along the lakefront to simply lounging on a towel, North Avenue Beach has something for everyone.
Pick Me Up Cafe: This spot is perfect for when you and your friends are plagued with the late night munchies since it is open until 2am (& serves breakfast until 2 as well!). Quirky art pieces cover the walls and the menu is filled with creations unique to the restaurant such as pizzadillas and magic caps.
Little Goat Diner: Located in West Loop, Little Goat is where you would go for a more upscale dinner experience. The menu was created by Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef, and features a wide array of delicious options. If you go during the warmer months, request a seat outdoors to enjoy a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline.
Festivals: There is a festival going on in Chicago nearly every weekend, so check out what’s happening while your visitors are in town. By simply logging into Facebook, you’ll have access to every festival/celebration going on in Chicago on any given weekend.
While there are many more things that your visitors would enjoy, this is just a list of a few favorites of mine that have been a big hit with my family and friends. Enjoy your time with your loved ones and do whatever will make you happiest!
As I start recruitment this week, I’m excited to get to know how Greek life at DePaul differs from my initial misconceptions. Meeting each chapter and getting to know the girls who are a part of them is something I’m looking forward to, and I’m hoping that my open-mindedness going into this process helps me to find what works for me, whatever that may be.
Even if I don’t find my “Home away from home” as many sororities proudly advertise, I hope to take some lessons away from the experience of recruitment and learn more about myself as well as the countless girls I will be meeting. Although I am anxious about how the whole process will play out, I also can’t wait to start meeting all of the strong women who represent the 8 chapters at DePaul.
With Fall Quarter beginning last Wednesday, DePaul students are finally getting back into the academic routine. For me, this means transitioning from focusing solely on working to balancing work with my class schedule and school activities. Although it will be a challenging ten weeks since I am taking five classes and maxing out my credit hours, I am eager to delve deeper into some of the subjects I’ll be studying such as Global Climate and American Sign Language .
Most students at DePaul typically take 16 credit hours per quarter which is a total of four classes. However, the tuition that you are paying includes 18 credit hours, so you get more for your money if you enroll in the full 18. This quarter, I am using this to my advantage by picking up an extra two credit class that fulfills a requirement for my Peace, Justice, and Conflict studies minor. Although I do not have to do this by any means, it is helping me to get ahead and potentially graduate early.
Taking this class along with my regular schedule is difficult, but it is manageable since a two credit hour class is not nearly as much work as my other classes. I highly recommend maxing out your credit hours, but it is also not necessary for many students. If it is going to be too much, don’t stress yourself out about it and simply take the normal amount. I’ve always been one to take on more than I can handle, so maxing out my credit hours was not a decision I took lightly.
For example, I signed up for 18 credit hours in the spring, but dropped my two credit hour class when I realized it was going to be too difficult to balance with my internship, job, and other activities. Finding what works for you is all about balance, and sometimes it takes making some mistakes to realize what will work best.
Although I’ve only had one full day of classes, I can already tell this quarter is going to be full of interesting lectures/debates and engaging assignments. Taking 18 credit hours will be a challenge, but it is one that I am prepared for and excited about. Sophomore year is going to be a good one, I can already feel it!
Yesterday, I hopped on a plane to head to Santorini, Greece
for a wedding, and from there I'll be spending the summer in Cyprus, the country I'm from. Having to complete all of my finals early was stressful, to say the least (I wrote 21 pages of essays in one night...), but I'm finally do
ne and it feels amazing! While most of my friends were still in Chicago studying and taking finals, I was able to leave early and get my summer started a little sooner.
Being officially done with my freshman year feels bittersweet. I spent the day before I left crying with my friends, reminiscing on our year, and thinking about how we'll never again live right down the hall from each other. Although I'm really looking forward to living in an apartment next year, I also have come to realize just how convenient and easy it has been living in such close proximity to all of my closest friends. I'm really going to miss it! No matter how many times we complained about having to share rooms or constantly being surrounded by people, we all loved the experience and would not trade it for the world.
Looking back, this year has truly been one of the best and most challenging of my life. Living and studying in Chicago has been even more exciting than I expected, and the opportunities I have had make me feel extremely grateful. From having an internship as a freshman to simply studying downtown in the beautiful Harold Washington Library
, being at DePaul has allowed me access to numerous things I would not have had at any other school. There's simply nowhere else I'd rather be for the next three years. While I'm still really sad about the end of this one, I can't wait to see what the next three hold.
Living in University Hall definitely
has its perks. One of my personal favorites is that FEST, DePaul’s annual end of the year concert, is hosted on the Quad just steps away from my front door. While the concert was happening, some people even watched from their windows instead of paying for a ticket. It was cool to be able to say that this year’s artists performed in my front yard.
On Friday night, my friends and I attended FEST. Even though it was raining, that didn’t put a damper on the concert. This year’s lineup was Jesse McCartney and Logic, and the pair did not disappoint! I have been obsessed with Jesse McCartney ever
since I was a little girl jamming out to Beautiful Soul with my sisters, which made seeing him live that much better of an experience. The entire crowd was singing all of the lyrics along with him, and when Beautiful Soul came on I’m pretty sure half of the girls cried.
When Logic came on stage, I was unsure how it was going to go because I had not heard much of his music. As soon as he started his set, I knew it was going to be a good time. He was extremely high energy and really amped up the crowd. After Jesse had us all in our feels, Logic was able to get us dancing and unable to stand still.
One of the best parts of Logic
’s set was that he played songs off of his new album for the first time live. We were the first audience to ever hear them! It was really cool to be able to hear his music like this, and I was really glad that he picked DePaul to be his first live audience.
FEST was such a cool event to be a part of! I am so glad that my friends and I decided to go, and we will definitely be attending next year as well. It’s so awesome that DePaul offers an event like this right before finals for students to let loose and destress for a couple hours.
Warm weather has finally returned to Chicago! This week has been filled with study sessions on the quad, spontaneous adventures to the beach, and simply hanging out with friends in the sunshine. Since the weather seems to be here to stay for now, here’s a list of fun things to do at DePaul when it’s warm outside:
1. Hang out on the Quad. As cheesy as it sounds, laying a blanket out on the grass and spending time with your friends just listening to music and doing homework is such a fun and relaxing way to spend time during the week. If you have a hammock, this is also a great place to set it up and get comfortable.
2. Walk to the beach. North Avenue Beach is about a 30 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus and is one of the most popular beach hangouts for DePaul students as well as a lot of Lincoln Park residents. If you want to go a little further, Ohio Street Beach is another great beach that is only a train ride away. Whether you’re just hanging out on the sand or going for a dip in the water, being at the beach makes it feel like you’re not in the middle of one of the largest cities in the U.S.
3. Rent bikes! This is something I’ve been wanting to do since fall quarter, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity again. Divvy bikes are available to rent and are located all around the city, making them super convenient for DePaul students.
4. Treat yourself to some ice cream. With Annette’s Italian Ice and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream both located in Lincoln Park, the options for a sweet, frozen treat are endless. In fact, my friends and I were just at Jeni’s last night enjoying some sorbet and ice cream. My personal favorite is the brambleberry sorbet, but all of the flavors are delicious!
5. Spend some time with nature. Although this seems like an odd recommendation for Chicago, the city is actually filled with numerous green spaces. From the Lincoln Park Conservatory to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond, Lincoln Park alone has many places to go and enjoy nature on a beautiful day.
In the end, the most important thing is just to get outside and enjoy this warm weather with friends! After all, this is Chicago; it could be freezing again in a week.
On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to see an amazing artist in concert: Lewis Watson
. Two days before the show, some friends and I impulsively bought tickets and decided that we needed to go see him. I’ve liked his music for a long time, so it was really cool to finally see him perform live. Although I thought there would be more people, it ended up being a fairly small crowd which made for a really intimate and personal experience. At one point, he even walked off stage and into the audience and started singing with us.
The concert was at Lincoln Hall
, a venue that is a 5-minute walk from my dorm. I did not realize how close it was, and I will definitely be going to more shows there in the future. My roommate and I even bought tickets for another concert in a couple months! After the show, everyone had the opportunity to meet Lewis and it was unreal. He signed some autographs and gave me a hug, what a sweet guy!
Having so many opportunities for concerts is a huge perk of going to school in such a lively, exciting city. A couple months ago, my friends and I went to see Jon Bellion
at The Riviera
and it was another amazing experience. When I lived in Ohio, I was lucky if I made it to one concert per year, but here in the city, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of cheap tickets and nearby venues.
One of my favorite things about going to school in Chicago is the vast array of food options. When it’s 1am and the only thing my friends and I want is tacos, we can walk two blocks down the street and our cravings are satisfied (shout out to Holy Taco for being there for us). One thing I was nervous about before coming to college was how my new home would accommodate my dietary restrictions because I’m vegan. Howe
ver, there are literally options around every corner and I’m never left feeling like there’s nothing available for me.
For example, Chicago is home to arguably the best vegan restaurant in the country, the Chicago Diner
. Their milkshakes have won countless awards and their entire menu is fantastic (I would know... I’ve tried almost everything). From hearty veggie burgers with a side of mac and ‘tease’ to chocolate chip pancakes topped with whipped cream, the concoctions that are created here are out of this world. Coming from a small town, I was used to having extremely limited options when it comes to food, but the food scene in Chicago is vibrant and expanding all the time! Having so many options is actually overwhelming, and I sometimes feel like I’m not taking advantage of everything that’s out there.
When my parents visited me from Ohio, they wanted to try something unique and interesting so I took them to Demera
, a nearby Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended by a friend. It was unlike anything that any of us had ever tried at home, and ever since then I’ve been trying to find an excuse to go back. From authentic Ethiopian cuisine to nationally renowned vegan comfort food, the Chicago food scene fits a variety of needs.
No matter what you like, it’s almost guaranteed that you will find something within the city that can satisfy your preferences. Although DePaul also has a diverse selection of food available at its two dining hall locations, it can get a little old when you eat there three times every day. Being able to go out into the city and try new things is one of the best parts of living here and going to school in Chicago.
On Earth Day this year, I attended an event in Grant Park called the March for Science. It was a nonpartisan gathering for the purpose of calling on the current administration to enact science-based policies, respect scientists and the facts they offer, and refrain from cutting funding for important scientific research. Also, the march served to unite people all around the world in their dedication to protecting the planet. Along with the march, the event included a rally and a science expo which took place on the steps of the Field Museum and offered discounted tickets into the museum to encourage scientific curiosity and education.
Since none of my friends were able to attend the March for Science with me, I went with a group of DePaul students who had organized a meet-up beforehand. This group helped me to feel even more excited about the march, and I made some lasting connections with other students.
Being surrounded by so many like-minded individuals was inspiring and empowering. Many of those who attended the March for Science were young, which gave me hope for the future. Everyone was in good spirits and excited about the huge turnout. Around midday, Chicago PD even asked that people who were still planning to attend the march refrain from coming because of how large the gathering had become. According to local news, around 40,000 people attended the march even though only 16,000 were expected.
One of the reasons I love going to school in Chicago is how vibrant the activist scene is throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Being able to be a part of such important movements is something that I value, and I’m grateful that Chicago offers so much for me to get involved with. Whether it’s the March for Science, the Women's March, or informative events throughout the year that teach me about how I can get involved in what I’m passionate about, there is no shortage of opportunities if activism is something you’re interested in.
Around this time last year, I was in the process of making the seemingly impossible decision regarding where I would go to school in the fall. There are so many reasons that I had for choosing to come to DePaul that I’ve decided that the best way to share them is by making a list:
1. Location, location, location
! DePaul is centrally located in one of the most exciting cities in the country for a college student to live and study in. Chicago offers so much to do and see that sometimes it can even be overwhelming. Coming from a small town in rural Ohio, this was really important for me, and I wanted to ensure that I was choosing a place that would be able to offer me a wide range of opportunities. You definitely won’t get that at a state school in the middle of nowhere.
2. The truthfulness to the cheesy slogan, “The city is your campus.”
While this line was probably repeated endlessly on your visit to DePaul, it’s completely accurate. With an unlimited CTA pass at your disposal that allows you to ride all the trains and buses throughout the city, you could potentially explore the entirety of Chicago and its surrounding neighborhoods during your time here. From heading downtown for class to simply taking the train over to Wicker Park to indulge in some late night tacos, the easy-to-navigate and convenient CTA system connects you with the city in numerous ways.
3. Depaul’s emphasis on service
. Another key slogan that is often repeated at DePaul is “What must be done?” These four words are integral to DePaul’s mission because they reflect how dedicated the DePaul students and faculty are to helping communities around them in whatever capacity they are able to. Through service-learning classes, service trips that are offered over winter and spring breaks, service-oriented clubs, designated community service days, etc., DePaul makes it possible for you to get involved however you want to. This combination of activities was really appealing to me because I’ve always wanted to get more involved in my community, and throughout my freshman year I have only become more impressed with the extensive amount of service work that DePaul offers and encourages each student to take advantage of.
4. How many interesting majors are offered.
When I entered college I had no idea what I wanted to major in, so it put me at ease knowing how many diverse majors DePaul offers. For example, it’s one of the few schools in the country that has a Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies major, which was a huge draw for me seeing as I picked it up as my minor. Even if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing, DePaul has so many resources and opportunities for you that it will only be a matter of time until you’ve figured it out.
5. The feeling I felt when I stepped onto campus for the first time
. In the end, this is what made my decision for me. When I arrived for my visit, DePaul completely blew me away. After walking through the Quad (I did not realize a city school could have such a beautiful Quad!), hearing from students, and exploring the neighborhood, I subconsciously started picturing my life here, and it was surprisingly effortless. It’s so easy to feel at home on campus, and this feeling only grew when I attended orientation and eventually moved in.
DePaul truly has become my home away from home, and the decision to come here was one of the best I have ever made. Now that I have experienced what it’s like to be a student here, I can’t imagine living anywhere else for such an exciting time in my life. I hope this insight into how I made my decision helps you to make yours!
Throughout high school, my class schedule was mainly dictated by which courses would allow me to receive college credit. Rather than taking classes I was interested in, I packed my schedule with AP
's and dual enrollment courses. In college, the experience is a lot different and here's why.
As I began scheduling classes last summer, I realized just how vast my choices are now that I've entered an entirely new educational setting. There are still core courses required for every student, but they don't even come close to filling up an entire schedule. Rather than only taking classes that I have to take, I'm taking classes that I want to take. What an exciting concept! Even though homework, essays and finals aren’t exactly thrilling, they’re much easier to deal with when they’re centered around subjects that I'm excited and passionate about. A class centered entirely on the multitude and variety of food in Chicago? Sign me up!
Another thing I’ve noticed with college classes is that I have more free time than ever before. Instead of being in class for seven hours straight, five days a week, I'm in charge of choosing which times work best for me. Being able to create my own schedule allows me to do a number of things I couldn’t in high school, such as picking up a dog walking job in the morning or spending time during the week at an internship.
In college, Rate My Professors
is an extremely valuable resource for students across the entire nation. Before scheduling classes, I am able to see which professors will work best with my learning style, and which ones probably wouldn't be as good of a fit. Even though I am not always able to get into the classes with the professors I want, being able to look through reviews of all of them is helpful in the scheduling process.
We all had a guidance counselor in high school, but how many times did you actually meet with them one-on-one? If you're like most high school students, your answer is probably fairly low. In college, it's a completely different story. I've already been assigned two advisors, one is an advisor in my major and the other is an advisor in the honors program that I'm a part of. When I attended orientation, they helped me immensely with scheduling and figuring out a solid plan for my educational path. I had expected to be pretty much on my own because it's college and we're all supposed to be "experiencing the real world" and all that jazz, but my advisors went to great lengths to help me figure things out in regards to not only my schedule, but being a freshman in general.
Throughout high school, many teachers constantly bombarded me with homework that was not beneficial to either me or my teacher. Frequently, a teacher would give an assignment and tell the class that we needed to do it simply because we didn't have any graded work in yet. For me, this seemed pointless and I tended to get pretty frustrated. Although it's scary that in college your final grade only depends on a few tests/papers, it also makes me relieved that I'll never have to do any more "busy work."
Although my classes are much more challenging than they were in high school, having a say in my education makes it a lot more exciting than torturous. More time out of class also means more time studying but hey, at least I didn't schedule any 8 AM’s!
As spring quarter began, I anxiously (and excitedly) awaited the start of my Introduction to Sustainability class. Having just declared my major as Environmental Studies
with a Sustainability concentration
, I was eager to dig in to a subject I was interested in and felt passionate about.
When I read through the syllabus for the class, one thing stuck out to me as especially daunting: the Impact Project. The main idea of the Impact Project is for students to lessen their environmental impact on specified days throughout the week by altering how they consume food, use transportation and electricity/water, and produce waste.
For food, students are encouraged to become vegetarian in order to conserve resources (such as land and water), reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the amount of methane emissions going into the atmosphere. Since I am already vegan I decided not to pursue this category, but many of the students in my class did choose it and are giving up many of the foods they previously thought they couldn’t live without.
For those who choose transportation, there is the option of either committing to entirely self-propelled transportation (biking, walking, etc.) or simply refraining from driving/riding in Ubers
and instead taking public transportation. This seemed like a good challenge for me because I am often taking users when I am in a rush. Rather than paying extra money for an Uber, I have been trying to wake up a little bit earlier in order to make time for getting on the bus or the ‘L’.
In the electricity/water category, students are supposed to lessen their water and electricity use by at least 50% through strategies such as using a shower timer, unplugging appliances, charging electronics during the day so they’re not plugged in all night, etc. This part of the project has shown me that it’s easier than most people think to lessen shower time and conserve water.
Finally, the hardest category (for me anyway) is waste. On these days, students are challenged to produce zero waste. This includes food packaging, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, etc. I initially did not think it would be as hard as it seemed, but this changed immediately when I woke up and realized I couldn’t even eat my usual granola bar for breakfast because it was wrapped in plastic packaging. I am learning to carry around reusable containers/cutlery in my backpack and never leave home without my reusable water bottle.
Though the Impact Project has just started, I am already gaining a different perspective and understanding of the Earth and how I can make lifestyle changes that have the potential to significantly benefit it. Although this project is already extremely challenging, I can’t wait to learn more about what I can do to help the environment, and I’m so glad that DePaul offers classes that have the capacity to alter
students lifestyles and make them into better and more well-rounded members of society.
Although many people are under the impression that internships are purely for upperclassmen, this is a widespread misconception. If you're interested in getting an internship as a freshman, DePaul has a few programs through the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning
& Community Service Studies
that allow you to do so, including the Community Partners Internship
(CPI) program which I have been a part of since October.
Being a CPI Intern means w
orking 15-20 hours/week at a local non-profit organization. This time could be spent doing a vast array of things, from teaching English to new immigrants to revamping an organization’s online presence. There is such a multitude of opportunities that anyone can find something they are interested in.
To become a CPI Intern I filled out an online application, was interviewed by someone at the Steans Center, and then was interviewed by the Executive Director who worked at the site I was placed at to see if it would be a good fit. It was a relatively quick process and I started working a couple weeks after my initial application. The Steans Center ensures that you are being placed somewhere that will be most beneficial to you as well as the organization, and you are encouraged to be a part of this process and share which organizations you could see yourself working with.
Although it has been challenging spending 15 hours a week at the organization I am interning with, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything in the world. I am gaining firsthand experience in a field that I could see myself working with after I graduate, and it is helping me immensely with figuring out what I want to do in the future. It even pays better than most on-campus jobs!
Last week, I had a conversation with one of the employees who had graduated from my school and been in the intern program that I'm currently in, and it was inspiring to hear that she had started as an intern and is now a full-time employee at the same organization. An important lesson that I have learned is that internships are not only for seniors, and it's never too early to start gaining experience in a field you're interested in.
Hey there! My name is Aggie and I am a freshman majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Community Service and Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies. I’m currently interning with an organization called La Casa Norte
in Logan Square that focuses on alleviating youth homelessness. I’m also working as a community organizing assistant for Pilsen Alliance, a nonprofit working toward immigrant justice. I love being involved in the social justice scene in Chicago, and hope that my experiences will inspire others to get involved as well!
When I’m not in class or at work, you can usually find me binge-watching Friends in my dorm room in University Hall, playing piano, refreshing Skyscanner
to find cheap flights, or eating at one of the many out-of-this-world vegan restaurants in Chicago (moving to this city has really opened my eyes to the vegan food scene, and my bank account has been suffering).
A few fun facts about me:
I was born in Cyprus
, which is an island in the Mediterranean.
2. My siblings are quadruplets.
3. I’ve been vegan for a year.
4. I’m planning on studying abroad in Budapest in the fall of 2018.
5. I’ve been to 6 countries (& it’ll be 10 after this summer).
Writing has always been an important part of my life, from competing in Power of the Pen
competitions in 8th grade to writing for Fresh U, a website for college freshmen. It has been a great way for me to use my skills to benefit the people and community around me. As a senior in high school, DeBlogs was an invaluable resource for me and helped me to really get a feel for life at DePaul. I hope to be able to do the same for those who may be in the same situation as well as current students looking for more information.
If you have any comments/questions about my articles, feel free to reach out!