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Fest 2019

lil yachty at fest


Every year DePaul hosts an outdoor concert called FEST for students to relieve some stress before finals. This year’s performance featured 3OH3! and Lil Yachty​ and was held on the Quad on our Lincoln Park campus. FEST is a unique tradition hosted annually by the DePaul Activities Board (DAB), a student organization responsible for organizing on-campus student events. Previous FEST artists have ranged from T-Pain to Childish Gambino, and DAB usually includes two artists from different genres to appeal to a wider demographic of students. 

Before the main event there was even a series of additional openers, many of which were students from DePaul. Along with musical performances, DePaul hosted a series of food trucks and festival activities such as carnival games. Since we are officially in week eight of the quarter and final exams are only two weeks away, FEST was a great way for students to blow off some steam before cracking down to study and focusing on final projects and papers. 


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.

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.


​​​

Eating Well Beyond the Dining Hall

As a freshman at DePaul, meal planning or grocery shopping is not something that often crosses your mind. With an on-campus dining hall​ located in Lincoln Park as well as the Loop campus offering a variety of choices for you to spend your meal plan money, most of the work is done for you when it comes to food. However, most sophomores, juniors, and seniors opt to live off-campus without a meal plan, and this comes with a new set of challenges. 

Fall quarter of sophomore year, I spent a lot of money eating out and ordering delivery because I was used to having a meal plan and the prepared food that came with it. This was not sustainable for me monetarily, which is why I ended up instead beginning to invest time in grocery shopping and cooking for myself. It’s not as difficult as it may seem, and is even easier once it becomes habit. Some of the staples in my daily routine include avocado toast for breakfast, smoothie bowls for lunch, and some type of grain and vegetable combination for dinner. None of these foods are particularly pricey, and they each leave room for creativity and variation. 

When you move off-campus and begin to live more independently, it is important to set a routine for yourself that is realistic to follow. This is what works for me, but something completely different may work better for you. The important thing is that you’re taking care of yourself (and your bank account) with the food choices you make. 

avocado toast


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. 


Spring Break in the West

Aggie at the Mountains
road trip

​​​​​​​​​This spring break, my roommates and I headed out West for our first road trip. We rented a car in Phoenix and spent a week driving through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Not having cars in Chicago meant we were all itching to get back behind the wheel and drive along the beautiful mountainous roads. Since we did not do a ton of planning beforehand, we were able to stop whenever we saw something interesting, and ended up taking a lot of hikes and roadside adventures we would not have otherwise. 

Even though we planned a few big attractions like the Gran​d Canyon and the Four Corners, some of my favorite experiences were those that happened spontaneously like hiking down into a canyon overlooking Lake Powell​ in Utah as the sunset dipped over the lake. Living in Chicago has its perks, but it was extremely refreshing to be completely immersed in nature for a full week before jumping back into another quarter. Hopefully we will be making our trip out West an annual tradition! ​

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


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


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




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.  

From Portugal to Portland

Last weekend my roommate and I decided to take a last minute trip to Portland, Oregon. My brother who lives in New York City met us there, and the three of us spent the weekend exploring the city and checking out some of Portland’s best eats (Voodoo Doughnut, we love you). 
Portland is a great city because you are able to spend time downtown where there are tons of things to do and see, and also explore some of the most beautiful natural areas surrounding the city. We spent our mornings' scootering around the city using Lime, and our afternoons hiking through areas such as Forest Park and Portland’s famous International Rose Test Garden.

A lot of people ask me how I travel so often while living on a student budget, working five days a week, and taking a full course load. The first part of my answer is that I am lucky to have siblings and friends who are always down for a trip. Along with this, I make traveling a significant priority in my life. I might be missing a party or losing time I could have spent studying, but a weekend trip like the one we took to Portland is more important to me than those things. Whenever I go to a new place I am constantly evolving and learning based off of new experiences and meeting new people, and I find it important to constantly be broadening my worldview and cultural understanding. Whether I am traveling to Portland or Portugal, I know I will be learning a lot about myself and the world around me.


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! 


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! 


ARCH

At the beginning of last quarter, a friend and I decided that we needed to get more involved at DePaul. We have attended various meetings for clubs, but it has been difficult finding something that we can both attend regularly due to our hectic work and school schedules. As we were browsing Orgsync, DePaul’s website listing all of its clubs and organizations, we found something called ARCH. According to the website, “ARCH is an organization that promotes awareness of homelessness and mental illness in Chicago through service and reflection.” As students who have always been involved in service in our own communities, ARCH’s mission statement appealed to both of us. As we read more about it, we found out that ARCH travels to a local women’s shelter, Deborah’s Place, every Sunday morning to cook brunch for the women staying there and engage in dialogue with them.

Ever since we discovered ARCH, we have learned a lot through this engagement. Last year I interned with a nonprofit working toward connecting homeless people in Chicago with permanent housing, so it felt right to involve myself in something along the same lines. Traveling to Deborah’s Place on Sunday mornings is the best way to start my week and is a deeply meaningful use of my time. I would encourage anyone looking for an impactful way to spend a couple hours each week to become involved in ARCH. It has allowed my friend and me to gain a lot of perspective as well as to feel as if we are positively contributing to our community.  


Uncovering My Passion at DePaul

It may sound cheesy, but something that has made my DePaul experience memorable is being passionate about what I am studying and being surrounded by peers and professors who share this passion. When I came to college I did not think I would be majoring in Environmental Studies because I wrote it off as being too difficult and wrote myself off as being not smart enough. I worked my way through a variety of majors before finally realizing what I was meant to be doing, and that is studying the environment. The restoration and preservation of the planet is the most important thing in the world to me, and being able to study what I love most every day is such a meaningful experience.

Without my professors encouraging me to declare an Environmental Studies major and the support of my friends and family, I would probably still be stuck in a major I am not proud of. I am thankful I decided to take a leap of faith and declare a major I was extremely intimidated by because I have gained such an immense amount of knowledge and experience in this process. Nothing compares to the feeling of talking with a professor about a rainforest we both visited in Costa Rica and felt connected to or talking with my peers about the actions we take to help the planet. Within my own circle of friends I am often referred to as the crazy environmentalist, but within my classes, many of my peers share the same mindset as me. They are an inspiration to me and we all encourage each other to do more for the environment. Since my major is so closely intertwined with my daily lifestyle, it is important to me that I’m surrounded by people who share my struggles, passions, and triumphs. Struggling through three-hour labs has not been a walk in the park, but all of my hard work will pay off when I graduate with a degree I’m proud of and am excited to use. ​


Visiting Home

Being an out-of-state student is difficult, even though the state I am from is only a six-hour drive from Chicago. Since I am constantly working, studying, or in class, the number of times I am actually able to make it home for even a weekend are slim to none. For this reason, I decided to fly home this past Sunday and surprise my dad for his birthday. I had not been home since Christmas, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a trip back and see some of my family while also celebrating my dad.

I arrived in Ohio Sunday morning and spent the entire car ride to my house laughing and catching up with a few of my siblings. When we made it home, they all went inside before me while I waited to surprise my dad. After a few minutes, I rushed inside and he couldn’t believe it! He kept asking me how I made it and did not stop smiling for the longest time.

Although spending a day at home was a very short trip, it was also just what I needed and I am thankful to have been able to make it for my dad’s birthday. Being fairly far from home with no family in the city can start to become a little tough after a while, so it’s important for me to make time to go home and see my family. Although I usually force them to come visit me in Chicago because I love showing them around the city and introducing them to my friends, sometimes I miss spending time in the place where I grew up. Hopefully, my family will be visiting me in Chicago sometime soon! ​

Solo Spring Break

DePaul’s spring break was a little bit shorter this year, so I decided to take my exams early so I could enjoy the full week. It kicked off with St. Patrick’s Day, which Chicago is known for celebrating by dyeing the Chicago River bright green. My friends and I had the best time adventuring around the city attending various parties and get-togethers and going downtown to see the river. It was a great way to celebrate the end of winter quarter and relax a little.

Next stop for spring break was Puerto Rico. I decided to take a solo trip and go on an adventure of my own, which might seem unusual for spring break when people are usually gathering a bunch of their friends to head down to Florida or Mexico. I wanted to take a trip by myself because I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about solo travel before I study abroad this fall in Budapest, Hungary. My older sister has also taken countless trips by herself through Southeast Asia and Central America, and seeing how much she learned and grew from these experiences inspired me and pushed me to take a trip of my own.

My trip to Puerto Rico was a huge success! I was able to navigate the country pretty well, and a native Puerto Rican even complimented my Spanish skills (which I’ll be honest are very weak). It was a huge challenge, but it turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. I saw beautiful sights, swam in the Atlantic, learned a lot about how the people are recovering from Hurricane Maria, and even formed friendships with people from all over the world who were staying in my hostels. I highly encourage everyone to take a solo trip of their own, even if it sounds daunting. My experience traveling to Puerto Rico taught me many lessons and has also inspired me to take more trips like these in the future.


Weekend Traveling

Last weekend I had the chance to visit my best friend from home at Miami University in Ohio. Since DePaul students typically do not have classes on Friday’s, it is easier to take weekend trips during the school year. I was able to leave on Friday morning and return on Sunday night which allowed me to spend more time with my friend and get the most out of the weekend.

DePaul’s proximity to O’Hare also makes it easier to take trips like this one. A short 30-minute drive or about an hour on the L will get you to the airport. Taking the L to O’Hare is what I prefer simply because it’s free with your student U-Pass and the ride to the airport is fairly scenic and enjoyable. However, for those 5 am flights, I usually call an Uber or a Lyft.

Visiting other schools makes me realize how grateful I am to go to DePaul and be in the city of Chicago. Most typical colleges throughout the United States do not have even close to the number of opportunities offered at DePaul because of its location, and I’m thankful I ended up in such an exciting city for my four years of college. Being away for only one weekend made me miss it here, which reaffirms that this is the school for me.


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! 


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!


#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.


Bid Day

As recruitment came to an end last weekend, my nerves were at an all-time high. The night before bid day my roommates and I stayed up late running through every possible scenario, but we really did not know what to expect. On Sunday morning, hundreds of girls crowded into Cortelyou Commons to wait to see which sorority gave them a bid, and it was such an exciting environment! Everyone was dancing and having a good time while trying not to think about the sealed bid cards our recruitment counselors were holding.

When I opened my bid, I found out that I had received it from Alpha Omicron Pi. When I met with them for Preference Tea on Saturday I had really enjoyed the conversations I had and the people I spent time with, so I was really excited to receive an offer to join. After finding out my bid, I walked over to the quad where I “ran home” to Alpha Omicron Pi​. It was such a heartwarming experience to arrive at their spot on the quad and receive countless hugs from people I was excited to get to know better. Spirits were high and everyone was happy and excited to see the new members of their chapter.

After hanging out on the quad and taking tons of pictures, we headed to Buckingham Fountain to take even more! Everyone boarded trolleys and we ended up blasting some throwback hits and singing our hearts out the whole way there. The girls in AOII were all incredibly welcoming and inviting, which made the experience that much more fun.

Once a million pictures had been taken, we boarded the trolleys once again and headed back toward Lincoln Park to an arcade called Replay. When we arrived, there was tons of food waiting for us and free games to play ranging from pinball to Pacman. With icebreakers, good food, and lots of laughs, we ended the day right and had a blast doing so.

Bid day was a really great experience for me this year, and I am so glad I ended up signing up for recruitment and giving Greek life a chance. Although I came in with a lot of preconceived notions and misconceptions, the process taught me a lot about what Greek life at DePaul truly stands for, and I am incredibly excited to find out all that this year has to offer within AOII​ and the Panhellenic community as a whole. ​


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!


Panhellenic Recruitment

As I start recruitment this week, I’m excited to get to know how Greek life at DePaul differs from my initial misconceptions. Meeting each chapter and getting to know the girls who are a part of them is something I’m looking forward to, and I’m hoping that my open-mindedness going into this process helps me to find what works for me, whatever that may be.

Even if I don’t find my “Home away from home” as many sororities proudly advertise, I hope to take some lessons away from the experience of recruitment and learn more about myself as well as the countless girls I will be meeting. Although I am anxious about how the whole process will play out, I also can’t wait to start meeting all of the strong women who represent the 8 chapters at DePaul.

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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. 

FEST 2k17

Living in University Hall definitely has its perks. One of my personal favorites is that FEST, DePaul’s annual end of the year concert, is hosted on the Quad just steps away from my front door. While the concert was happening, some people even watched from their windows instead of paying for a ticket. It was cool to be able to say that this year’s artists performed in my front yard. 

FEST
On Friday night, my friends and I attended FEST. Even though it was raining, that didn’t put a damper on the concert. This year’s lineup was Jesse McCartney and Logic, and the pair did not disappoint! I have been obsessed with Jesse McCartney ever since I was a little girl jamming out to Beautiful Soul with my sisters, which made seeing him live that much better of an experience. The entire crowd was singing all of the lyrics along with him, and when Beautiful Soul came on I’m pretty sure half of the girls cried. 

When Logic came on stage, I was unsure how it was going to go because I had not heard much of his music. As soon as he started his set, I knew it was going to be a good time. He was extremely high energy and really amped up the crowd. After Jesse had us all in our feels, Logic was able to get us dancing and unable to stand still. 

FEST
One of the best parts of Logic​’s set was that he played songs off of his new album for the first time live. We were the first audience to ever hear them! It was really cool to be able to hear his music like this, and I was really glad that he picked DePaul to be his first live audience. 

FEST was such a cool event to be a part of! I am so glad that my friends and I decided to go, and we will definitely be attending next year as well. It’s so awesome that DePaul offers an event like this right before finals for students to let loose and destress for a couple hours.  

Warm Weather

​Warm weather has finally returned to Chicago! This week has been filled with study sessions on the quad, spontaneous adventures to the beach, and simply hanging out with friends in the sunshine. Since the weather seems to be here to stay for now, here’s a list of fun things to do at DePaul when it’s warm outside:

Beach
1. Hang out on the Quad. As cheesy as it sounds, laying a blanket out on the grass and spending time with your friends just listening to music and doing homework is such a fun and relaxing way to spend time during the week. If you have a hammock, this is also a great place to set it up and get comfortable.
2. Walk to the beach. North Avenue Beach is about a 30 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus and is one of the most popular beach hangouts for DePaul students as well as a lot of Lincoln Park residents. If you want to go a little further, Ohio Street Beach is another great beach that is only a train ride away. Whether you’re just hanging out on the sand or going for a dip in the water, being at the beach makes it feel like you’re not in the middle of one of the largest cities in the U.S.
3. Rent bikes! This is something I’ve been wanting to do since fall quarter, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity again. Divvy bikes are available to rent and are located all around the city, making them super convenient for DePaul students.
Friends
4. Treat yourself to some ice cream. With Annette’s Italian Ice and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream both located in Lincoln Park, the options for a sweet, frozen treat are endless. In fact, my friends and I were just at Jeni’s last night enjoying some sorbet and ice cream. My personal favorite is the brambleberry sorbet, but all of the flavors are delicious!
5. Spend some time with nature. Although this seems like an odd recommendation for Chicago, the city is actually filled with numerous green spaces. From the Lincoln Park Conservatory to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond, Lincoln Park alone has many places to go and enjoy nature on a beautiful day.
In the end, the most important thing is just to get outside and enjoy this warm weather with friends! After all, this is Chicago; it could be freezing again in a week.

Lewis Watson at Lincoln Hall

Lewis Watson
On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to see an amazing artist in concert: Lewis Watson. Two days before the show, some friends and I impulsively bought tickets and decided that we needed to go see him. I’ve liked his music for a long time, so it was really cool to finally see him perform live. Although I thought there would be more people, it ended up being a fairly small crowd which made for a really intimate and personal experience. At one point, he even walked off stage and into the audience and started singing with us.

The concert was at Lincoln Hall, a venue that is a 5-minute walk from my dorm. I did not realize how close it was, and I will definitely be going to more shows there in the future. My roommate and I even bought tickets for another concert in a couple months! After the show, everyone had the opportunity to meet Lewis and it was unreal. He signed some autographs and gave me a hug, what a sweet guy! 

Lewis Watson
Having so many opportunities for concerts is a huge perk of going to school in such a lively, exciting city. A couple months ago, my friends and I went to see Jon Bellion at The Riviera and it was another amazing experience. When I lived in Ohio, I was lucky if I made it to one concert per year, but here in the city, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of cheap tickets and nearby venues. 

Food in Chicago

Holy Taco
One of my favorite things about going to school in Chicago is the vast array of food options. When it’s 1am and the only thing my friends and I want is tacos, we can walk two blocks down the street and our cravings are satisfied (shout out to Holy Taco for being there for us). One thing I was nervous about before coming to college was how my new home would accommodate my dietary restrictions because I’m vegan. However, there are literally options around every corner and I’m never left feeling like there’s nothing available for me.

For example, Chicago is home to arguably the best vegan restaurant in the country, the Chicago Diner. Their milkshakes have won countless awards and their entire menu is fantastic (I would know... I’ve tried almost everything). From hearty veggie burgers with a side of mac and ‘tease’ to chocolate chip pancakes topped with whipped cream, the concoctions that are created here are out of this world. Coming from a small town, I was used to having extremely limited options when it comes to food, but the food scene in Chicago is vibrant and expanding all the time! Having so many options is actually overwhelming, and I sometimes feel like I’m not taking advantage of everything that’s out there.

Food
When my parents visited me from Ohio, they wanted to try something unique and interesting so I took them to Demera​, a nearby Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended by a friend. It was unlike anything that any of us had ever tried at home, and ever since then I’ve been trying to find an excuse to go back. From authentic Ethiopian cuisine to nationally renowned vegan comfort food, the Chicago food scene fits a variety of needs.

No matter what you like, it’s almost guaranteed that you will find something within the city that can satisfy your preferences. Although DePaul also has a diverse selection of food available at its two dining hall locations, it can get a little old when you eat there three times every day. Being able to go out into the city and try new things is one of the best parts of living here and going to school in Chicago. 
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March for Science

March for Science
On Earth Day this year, I attended an event in Grant Park called the March for Science. It was a nonpartisan gathering for the purpose of calling on the current administration to enact science-based policies, respect scientists and the facts they offer, and refrain from cutting funding for important scientific research. Also, the march served to unite people all around the world in their dedication to protecting the planet. Along with the march, the event included a rally and a science expo which took place on the steps of the Field Museum and offered discounted tickets into the museum to encourage scientific curiosity and education. 

March for Science
Since none of my friends were able to attend the March for Science with me, I went with a group of DePaul students who had organized a meet-up beforehand. This group helped me to feel even more excited about the march, and I made some lasting connections with other students. 

Being surrounded by so many like-minded individuals was inspiring and empowering. Many of those who attended the March for Science were young, which gave me hope for the future. Everyone was in good spirits and excited about the huge turnout. Around midday, Chicago PD even asked that people who were still planning to attend the march refrain from coming because of how large the gathering had become. According to local news, around 40,000 people attended the march even though only 16,000 were expected. 

March for Science
One of the reasons I love going to school in Chicago is how vibrant the activist scene is throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Being able to be a part of such important movements is something that I value, and I’m grateful that Chicago offers so much for me to get involved with. Whether it’s the March for Science, the Women's March, or informative events throughout the year that teach me about how I can get involved in what I’m passionate about, there is no shortage of opportunities if activism is something you’re interested in. 

Introduction to Sustainability

As spring quarter began, I anxiously (and excitedly) awaited the start of my Introduction to Sustainability class. Having just declared my major as Environmental Studies with a Sustainability concentration, I was eager to dig in to a subject I was interested in and felt passionate about.

When I read through the syllabus for the class, one thing stuck out to me as especially daunting: the Impact Project. The main idea of the Impact Project is for students to lessen their environmental impact on specified days throughout the week by altering how they consume food, use transportation and electricity/water, and produce waste.

Shower Timer
The picture is of the shower timer I’m using
For food, students are encouraged to become vegetarian in order to conserve resources (such as land and water), reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the amount of methane emissions going into the atmosphere. Since I am already vegan I decided not to pursue this category, but many of the students in my class did choose it and are giving up many of the foods they previously thought they couldn’t live without.

For those who choose transportation, there is the option of either committing to entirely self-propelled transportation (biking, walking, etc.) or simply refraining from driving/riding in Ubers and instead taking public transportation. This seemed like a good challenge for me because I am often taking users when I am in a rush. Rather than paying extra money for an Uber, I have been trying to wake up a little bit earlier in order to make time for getting on the bus or the ‘L’.

In the electricity/water category, students are supposed to lessen their water and electricity use by at least 50% through strategies such as using a shower timer, unplugging appliances, charging electronics during the day so they’re not plugged in all night, etc. This part of the project has shown me that it’s easier than most people think to lessen shower time and conserve water.

Finally, the hardest category (for me anyway) is waste. On these days, students are challenged to produce zero waste. This includes food packaging, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, etc. I initially did not think it would be as hard as it seemed, but this changed immediately when I woke up and realized I couldn’t even eat my usual granola bar for breakfast because it was wrapped in plastic packaging. I am learning to carry around reusable containers/cutlery in my backpack and never leave home without my reusable water bottle.

Though the Impact Project has just started, I am already gaining a different perspective and understanding of the Earth and how I can make lifestyle changes that have the potential to significantly benefit it. Although this project is already extremely challenging, I can’t wait to learn more about what I can do to help the environment, and I’m so glad that DePaul offers classes that have the capacity to alter students lifestyles and make them into better and more well-rounded members of society.

Community Partners Internship

Although many people are under the impression that internships are purely for upperclassmen, this is a widespread misconception. If you're interested in getting an internship as a freshman, DePaul has a few programs through the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning & Community Service Studies that allow you to do so, including the Community Partners Internship (CPI) program which I have been a part of since October.

Being a CPI Intern means working 15-20 hours/week at a local non-profit organization. This time could be spent doing a vast array of things, from teaching English to new immigrants to revamping an organization’s online presence. There is such a multitude of opportunities that anyone can find something they are interested in.

Steans Center
To become a CPI Intern I filled out an online application, was interviewed by someone at the Steans Center, and then was interviewed by the Executive Director who worked at the site I was placed at to see if it would be a good fit. It was a relatively quick process and I started working a couple weeks after my initial application. The Steans Center ensures that you are being placed somewhere that will be most beneficial to you as well as the organization, and you are encouraged to be a part of this process and share which organizations you could see yourself working with.

Although it has been challenging spending 15 hours a week at the organization I am interning with, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything in the world. I am gaining firsthand experience in a field that I could see myself working with after I graduate, and it is helping me immensely with figuring out what I want to do in the future. It even pays better than most on-campus jobs!

Last week, I had a conversation with one of the employees who had graduated from my school and been in the intern program that I'm currently in, and it was inspiring to hear that she had started as an intern and is now a full-time employee at the same organization. An important lesson that I have learned is that internships are not only for seniors, and it's never too early to start gaining experience in a field you're interested in.​​

Meet Aggie!

Hey there! My name is Aggie and I am a freshman majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Community Service and Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies. I’m currently interning with an organization called La Casa Norte in Logan Square that focuses on alleviating youth homelessness. I’m also working as a community organizing assistant for Pilsen Alliance, a nonprofit working toward immigrant justice. I love being involved in the social justice scene in Chicago, and hope that my experiences will inspire others to get involved as well! 

When I’m not in class or at work, you can usually find me binge-watching Friends in my dorm room in University Hall, playing piano, refreshing Skyscanner to find cheap flights, or eating at one of the many out-of-this-world vegan restaurants in Chicago (moving to this city has really opened my eyes to the vegan food scene, and my bank account has been suffering). 

A few fun facts about me: 
1. I was born in Cyprus, which is an island in the Mediterranean. 
2. My siblings are quadruplets. 
3. I’ve been vegan for a year.
4. I’m planning on studying abroad in Budapest in the fall of 2018. 
5. I’ve been to 6 countries (& it’ll be 10 after this summer). 

Writing has always been an important part of my life, from competing in Power of the Pen​ competitions in 8th grade to writing for Fresh U, a website for college freshmen. It has been a great way for me to use my skills to benefit the people and community around me. As a senior in high school, DeBlogs was an invaluable resource for me and helped me to really get a feel for life at DePaul. I hope to be able to do the same for those who may be in the same situation as well as current students looking for more information. 

If you have any comments/questions about my articles, feel free to reach out!