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Farewell Freshmen Year

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 done 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. 

Greece
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. 

FEST 2k17

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. 

FEST
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. 

FEST
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

​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:

Beach
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.
Friends
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.

Lewis Watson at Lincoln Hall

Lewis Watson
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! 

Lewis Watson
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. 

Food in Chicago

Holy Taco
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. However, 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.

Food
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. 
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March for Science

March for Science
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. 

March for Science
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. 

March for Science
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. 

Why I Chose DePaul

​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.

DePaul
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!

Why You Should Be Excited About Taking College Courses

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! 

Class Schedule
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!

Introduction to Sustainability

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.

Shower Timer
The picture is of the shower timer I’m using
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.

Community Partners Internship

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 working 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.

Steans Center
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.

Meet Aggie!

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: 
1. 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!