The Topics

The Latest

Urban and Community Agriculture

succulents


I’ve written previously about one of the classes I’m taking this quarter called Urban and Community Agriculture, but I want to introduce another aspect of this unique class. In addition to a service-learning component, we also participate in a lot of hands-on activities that do not occur in a typical classroom setting. 

For example, since we are learning about how to get a community garden started, our professor brought us into DePaul’s greenhouse (located on the roof of McGowan South, one of our primary science buildings) last week to plant seeds ourselves and get our own personal gardens started. I planted a series of lavender seeds, and I will be able to transfer them to bigger containers next week. 

At the end of the quarter, each student will be able to take their plants home and hopefully continue to implement strategies we learned in class regarding plant life and engaging with the natural world. By giving us the tools to be able to establish community gardens in our own neighborhoods, this class had already taught us a variety of valuable lessons that can be taken into other contexts beyond the classroom. 

HON 350 Senior Capstone: Memory and Memorialization

view of NYC 9/11 memorial from above


This quarter I am enrolled in HON 350: Memory and Memorialization for my senior capstone requirement for the honors program. It is centered around the challenges that arise in the memorialization of trauma, and how these can be addressed through counter-memorials and alternative designs that reject traditional memorialization techniques. For example, last week we presented analyses of memorial designs submitted for the 9/11 memorial in NYC; the one I chose is pictured above. 

One of the main focuses of HON 350 is the memorialization process that is currently underway commemorating Chicago police justice torture survivors from atrocities that were commited by CPD in the 1980’s, and our final project will be to create our own memorial design. 

The class is team-taught by two DePaul professors from the art and philosophy departments, which creates a unique learning environment in which students are able to gain even more knowledge and experience than in a traditional classroom setting. Both professors provide feedback on the work we turn in and present for class as opposed to only getting evaluated by one. This has been one of my favorite classes at DePaul thus far, and I am looking forward to the interesting material we delve into throughout the rest of the quarter.

Service-Learning with Just Roots

This quarter I am participating in a service-learning course, ENV 245 Urban and Community Agriculture. For courses like this one, there is an additional component that involves students fulfilling a set amount of work with a community organization or non-profit. Since this class in particular is centered around urban agriculture, most of my peers and I are working with urban farms or gardens throughout the Chicagoland area. I picked an urban farm called Just Roots​ located in Bronzeville, and I’ve been working with them for about four weeks now assisting with various projects and day-to-day tasks. 

One of the reasons I have continuously chosen service-learning courses to fulfill my academic requirements over more traditional classes is because of the unique learning process that unfolds when classroom material is complemented by community engagement centered around the same topics. For example, last week my professor delivered a lecture on the barriers that many people face in order to gain food access. Once on the farm, Sean (one of the co-founders) began telling me about the reasons that the farm started and the issues it sought to address, including issues surrounding food access in the community. 

Every time I take a service-learning course, I gain experience and knowledge that I would not have taken away simply from reading class material. Engaging with the class content in a hands-on way each week is a unique experience, and one that I’m thankful DePaul has offered me. If you’re thinking of taking a service-learning class but are unsure about the extra work or commitment, be assured it will be worth it in the end and you’ll come away from the quarter with an experience you would not have gained anywhere else. 

farm

Presenting Research on Peru

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.

Aggie's research on Peru



Best Study Spots in the City

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. 

Studying with laptop and latte


Studying Abroad Over Winter Break


A few days 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. 

The research station run by Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon
The research station run by Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon

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! 

Aggie in the rainforest




Preparing to Study Abroad

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!  


Taking Care of Yourself During Finals

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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.  

Quarters vs Semesters

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.  


La Bogh Woods

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.  


Community Food Systems

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.


Class Trips

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! 


Service in the City

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. ​


Environmental Justice & Advocacy

rebuilding exchange

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.​


American Sign Language

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!

​​​​

Study Abroad Opportunities

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.


Finding Your Creativity

photo 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!​


Day and Night

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! 


Intro To Digital Photography

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!


Fall Quarter Finals

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).​


Life as an Out of State Student

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.


#WhyApply

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.


Welcome Back!

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 .

Planner

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.

Succulents and Pens

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!​


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. 

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.