San Holo and Medasin at Aragon Ballroom

aggie and friends at the aragon


Chicago truly has it all when it comes to its music scene, but before moving here I had no idea going to live shows and performances would become one of my favorite parts of living in the city. Most of them are relatively inexpensive as well, which fits well with my college budget. This past weekend I was able to see San Holo and Medasin at Aragon Ballroom​, another one of my favorite venues. 

One of the best parts about Aragon is how easily accessible it is; the front doors are steps away from the Lawrence red line stop which makes getting home afterward much easier than standing on a street corner waiting for an Uber alongside tons of other people trying to do the same thing. Another great thing about Aragon is the beautiful graphics painted on the ceiling inside. Rather than a typical black ceiling, it’s painted to resemble the night sky with tons of stars and other celestial objects. 

The show itself was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Medasin played a lot of bass-heavy trap remixes, while incorporating some of his older music into the set as well. He had the entire venue awaiting what he played next; as a newer artist he’s more unpredictable than most. By the time San Holo began his performance, the energy in the crowd was at an all-time high. His piano and electric guitar abilities took a lot of people by surprise, as talent like this is not commonplace for a lot of  DJ’s who focus more on production. Every once in awhile the music would stop and he would take a minute to chat with the crowd, which was another unique aspect of his performance style. San Holo focuses on how to connect with and uplift his audience, and this emphasis created a meaningful show that my friends and I will remember for a long time.


san holo


Jai Wolf and ford. at Concord Music Hall


This past weekend I saw ford. and Jai Wolf at Concord Music Hall, one of the most intimate venues in the city. Being right in front of an artist rather than looking down on them in a huge stadium makes such a significant difference to me, which is why most of the shows I go to are at smaller venues where I can make more of a connection with who I’m seeing. 
The opener, ford., is an newer artist but no less talented than any who have been performing for years. He played a relaxing yet upbeat electronic set, featuring some of his more popular remixes as well as a few of his most recent releases. Ford. is the type of musician who is extremely humble, and the crowd’s enthusiastic reactions to what he was playing seemed to continually surprise him. It’s been a breakout year for him, as he played Coachella earlier this year at only 18 years old. 
After ford.’s opening set, Jai Wolf performed an incredible show for his most recent album, The Cure to Loneliness​, revealing a variety of new visuals that captivated everyone in Concord. I had heard from a few people that the graphics that accompany his new show were off-the-charts, but was still awed by how beautifully it was put together. I’ve been waiting to see him for years, which made it even more special to finally be experiencing his stunning performance. Another incredible show in the books! Chicago’s music scene never fails to surprise me in the best ways. 
Jai Wolf and ford.


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Smino at House of Blues

rap artist Smino

At the end of last quarter, one of my roommates and I attended a show at the House of Blues for a rap artist we’ve been dying to see for awhile, Smino. He’s originally from St. Louis but has ties to Chicago and the rappers that reside here so we knew he would make an appearance at some point, we just didn’t know when. Finally, a few months ago he announced he would be headlining his first U.S. tour, and we immediately bought tickets to what quickly became a sold-out show. Another show was even added for the following night since the first one sold out so quickly and unexpectedly. 
Since I have been listening to Smino’s music since I started college, finally seeing him live was an experience like no other. Although there were definitely a few technical difficulties and little hiccups, the end result was something special. Smino put on an incredible performance, and everyone who attended was buzzing with excitement from start to finish. 
His opener, Phoelix, was extremely talented as well and complemented his performance in the best way. Toward the end of Smino’s show, he even brought out fellow rapper Saba who is well-known in the Chicago rap scene and an integral part of the group Pivot Gang​. All of these rappers do what they can to help each other succeed and it’s one of my favorite parts about Chicago’s rap culture. 
Seeing so many talented artists in one evening made me excited to see what these guys do next. Nights like this one remind me how grateful I am to live in Chicago and be able to experience such exciting shows on a regular basis. 


Sam Feldt at PRYSM

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. 

Sam Feldt

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. 

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


R3hab at Concord Music Hall​



r3hab concert
This past Saturday, I attended a show with a couple friends at Concord Music Hall, one of my favorite music venues in Chicago. The DJ was R3hab, a well-known Dutch EDM artist currently on tour for his new album The Wave​. Since my friends and I have been extremely busy and stressed out the past couple weeks from midterms, spending all night dancing and letting loose was a welcome relief. Not to mention R3hab put on one of the best shows any of us have seen out of quite a few that we have attended over the years. Standing in line for a little while in the rain could not even put a damper on the evening, as everyone in line was chatting about their excitement and anticipation for what was sure to be an incredible night. From a seemingly endless beautiful light show to a constant stream of unreleased songs, R3hab’s performance only became better as the night went on.

R3hab concert
Even R3hab’s opener Win and Woo was able to connect well with the crowd and steadily increase everyone’s excitement levels for the main event. Since Concord is such an intimate venue, my friends and I were able to be very close to the front stage without having to arrive hours early or shouldering past tons of people even though it was a sold out show. All in all it was a much-needed evening that provided quite a bit of stress relief, and I encourage anyone who’s still feeling the pain of midterms to try something similar. 


Owning a Cat in College

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.


Dexter the cat
 

 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! 

Dexter the cat


A Nice Night Out


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. 

Eating at Osteria Via Stato

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! ​

Sushi in the Snow


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. 

Eating Sushi at Earth's Kitchen in 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! 
Eating Sushi at Earth's Kitchen in Chicago

Winter in Chiberia


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. 

Aggie in her best winter coat
Here I am (mostly) prepared for Chiberia.
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. 

NYE


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. 
Galantis
Galantis

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. 

Aggie and her friend


Masego & Kweku Collins

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.  


Preparing For Your First Chicago Winter

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!  


Sofar Sounds Chicago


Summer is Not as Long as It Used to Be

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! 


Summer in the City

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.  


New Restaurants

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.  


Housing Resources

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!
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 well.
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.

Museum of Contempory Art Chicago

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!


Lincoln Park Conservatory


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! 


Winter Break at DePaul

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!  


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.


Halloweekend 2017

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!


Alpha Omicron Pi Semi-Formal

 
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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
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!
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Chicago's Music Scene

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!


Family Weekend

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!


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. 

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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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.​​