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Articles by Amanda Bergeron

Who Live In A Pineapple Under the Sea?

Honestly, the Chicago theater scene never ceases to amaze me. 

An original score for a musical was created by the famous David Bowie, Aerosmith, and more. Which musical you ask? Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants​. I seriously have never thought of ever seeing Bowie and SpongeBob musically intertwine, but why not? Although I have yet to actually see the musical the word on the street is that it is truly entertaining. Bands like Panic! At the Disco and Plain White T’s also composed songs for the musical which makes the middle school version of myself scream.  

SpongeBob Musical
The first thing I wondered was what the musical was going to be about? I feel like SpongeBob has short plot points, but making a two hours long musical sounds daunting. The co-director, and member of Chicago’s very own Steppenwolf Theater, Tina Landau said “The SpongeBob Musical. One of our challenges has been to take an episodic art form, remain true to its spirit of non-sequiturs and outrageousness and then create a really strong storyline that will not only get people involved but pay off emotionally. So we have a story and a subplot, but it's all spiced with the particular flavorings of the SpongeBob universe." So in essence, it is still going to keep its place of having a broad appeal to many demographics.

I hope no one thinks I’m silly for being so intrigued with SpongeBob at 21, but I really think theater is sophisticated enough to bring out the childish and story-telling nature we used to have before we grew up. I think theater has the power to transcend reality and bring us to a lace we once knew, and for me that is being a kid and watching cartoons without a care in the world. I hope you all find this perspective interesting as well!
 
Bikini Bottom is waiting! Find tickets at this website.

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Creating Campaigns

As a communication major, I have certain core classes that need to be fulfilled before graduation. Some of these classes consist of 300 level courses. This quarter, I am enrolled in Public Relations and Advertising Ethics and the final project consists of creating a campaign that you would like to see actually implemented in the world. I thought I would take this opportunity to show you the beginning steps to creating a campaign and where my group is in that process!

The basics consist of establishing an issue, an audience, and an organization that will sponsor the campaign. All of my group members are interested in global feminism so we decided to tackle the issue of violence against women in the Middle East.

Issue:

In many Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Nauru, Chad, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt, the world is seeing a crisis. Due to a spread in war and poverty, millions of Middle Eastern civilians have fled their countries in order to seek refuge in neighboring countries. The majority of these refugees come from Syria, where more than 250,000 people have been killed in a four-and-a-half-year conflict. Upon arriving in neighboring countries, many refugees are placed in refugee camps. Our campaign will focus on the mistreatment of women in these refugee camps where women are frequently targeted as subjects of violence and sexual abuse.

Our group chose to create a social media campaign based on this issue because we felt this issue was in need of public recognition. We all feel passionate about gender equality and wanted to focus on a branch of the issue that is not as frequently talked about or illustrated in the media. The women in these refugee camps are subjected to violence and mistreatment every day and have limited opportunities to have their voices heard. Our campaign will urge young women in America to realize the severity of this situation and urge them to take action to empower these refugee women, stop the violence, and change the gender norm.

Audience:

In order to generate the most awareness and effect the most change, we have chosen to target women between the ages of 18-25 living in the United States. These will be young women who are either already passionate about human rights and gender equality issues, or who are socially conscious individuals looking for a social cause to become passionate about.  By targeting this specific audience, it is our hope that the young female population in America will make the voices of the refugee women heard.

Sponsor:

Our sponsor for this campaign will be the Global Fund for Women (GFW). GFW is a nonprofit organization that focuses on women’s rights initiatives throughout the world. They have over 2,000 advisers and partners worldwide, and seek to strengthen women’s rights in the most marginalized areas of the world.  Their mission is to empower women to change their own lives.

We chose GFW as our sponsor for two main reasons. First, they partner with thousands of other women’s rights groups and would therefore be likely and glad to sponsor this social media campaign. Secondly, they are presently doing work on this specific issue. The organization works with other women’s groups in refugee areas and publishes women’s personal stories on their website. Their connection and work for this issue, along with their connection to thousands of other women’s rights groups makes them the perfect sponsor.


After these initial steps, we must look for campaign goals and objectives as well as the ethical values that are embedded in the campaign. What I love most about this type of group work is it creates an opportunity for real world feedback from experienced faculty on our ability to curate a campaign.
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Candy Expo

Sweets and Snacks Expo ​is a 3 day event filled with….. well, snacks. A new hall was added to the convention center which made the event a whopping 4 acres long. I repeat. FOUR ACRES OF CANDY. Although I do not have the biggest sweet tooth, I am intrigued by the hardier snack freebies.

One of the coolest, and most technologically advanced things I have experienced lately was the fact that this event had a “plan my show” app available. This App was created for show-goers to maximize their time at the expo by creating a personal action plan! As someone who LOVES planning and sticking to a schedule I thought this was helpful, especially because going through 4 acres of product sounds daunting. Basically, the app allows you to compile a list of must-sees for you. You can search through companies by category and easily add them to your agenda. This made it possible for me to make the most of my time at the expo!

The thing that interested me the most at the event was the chance to gain insight into the more educational part of consuming snacks. 700+ exhibits were showcased and displayed their products for all of Chicago to see. Once this comes around again next year, I suggest taking a look!


Garage Sales in Chicago

Besides baseball and FINALLY seeing the sun come out, the main reason I love this spring is….garage sales. Well, typically the sales are not actually out of a garage as Chicago apartments usually do not come with one of those unless you pay extra. What I am talking about is the vast array of vintage and plant sales around Chicago when the beautiful spring season arrives. Nothing gets a college kid who is already in crippling debt more excited than the word “bargain.”

A place I have yet to visit is an event called Vintage Garage Chicago​. These events start in the middle of April and continue until mid-fall. From what I have gathered, each month there is a theme which is just a fun added bonus. There is always merchandise from antiques to vintage from 1880’s to the late 90’s in many categories like home goods and lawn decorations. 

I truly love benefiting from the wastefulness of others, which reminds me tell you all to not be afraid of a little alley hunting. You’d be surprised what amazing furniture and decorations people throw out (especially in the more ritzy areas of town). For example, my buddy just found a vintage Guinness poster and a book shelf that they restained a nice dark brown. Another reason I really love the bargain hunt is because guilt free shopping feels better than paying full retail price.  Once you’ve done the majority of your shopping in a stranger’s front yards, a $25 shirt from Target begins to look absurd, which really puts into perspective how much things are worth. 


Living in Wrigley

Come springtime I become a lot more irritated walking through my neighborhood. I live in Wrigleyville a few blocks from the famous Wrigley Field. Opening day was about a week ago and it was a very blatant reminder of how important the Cubs are to fans, and how belligerent said fans can be. Yes, I did choose this location to rent an apartment the last 2 years, but sometimes being surrounded by bars and crowded intersections can be a drag. This year I am trying a new thing called “positivity". Are you ready?

1. Quality late night food or higher end restaurants are all around! You will never run out of options and can pick places to munch at regardless of how much money you have in your wallet.
Reasons to love living in Wrigleyville

2. SO close to the lake. If I bike I can get to the beach in about 7 minutes and walking takes closer to 15. When you are surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the big city sometimes it is completely necessary to revamp and relax by the lake and soak up the sun.

3. There is a dog park by my house that is always popping. Owning a dog is something I hope to do when I am a REAL ADULT but for now I am totally okay with watching them play from afar.

4. There are multiple music venues around my neighborhood, and if you play your cards right you can meet a few friends that ALWAYS have a plus one to a show.

5. The brown line AND the red line are equidistant to me. This is especially convenient because some places are only accessible form the brown line stops (Trader Joe's​, several thrift stores, anywhere between here and DePaul).


Organization

Ok so, I was not born an organized person. The four corners of my room are usually filled with half folded clothes and books I’ve never read. Color coding and shaping deadlines does not come naturally, but over time (and after a lot of mistakes and missed events) I have learned that getting things done comes easier when I actually KNOW what I need to do and when. Obvious, right? I wish it was that easy to actually implement though. I have curated a little list that’ll hopefully help all of those people like me that were not born with an organizational bone in their body.

1. Write things down: You know that family member that always remembers every significant birthday and holiday? It is not magic they are using….it’s a pen and paper. We have all been at the point where we go “oh pshhh I’ll remember that” and then 2 weeks pass and you forget your mother's birthday. You’re only going to complicate your life more if you try to pack your brain with reminders. This is also helpful around midterms and finals time. When deadlines come quick and assignments pile up, the best way for me to get started is to write it out and see what needs to be done first.

2. Only keep what you really need: More things means less space. This can create too much clutter. I am quite the packrat and I realize that it sometimes hinders my ability to feel organized and put together. When I started to down size I did it with the “3 day rule” in mind. If I do not use it or think about it for 3 days straight than get rid of it or find it a new home. Decorations are nice and all but sometimes it comes to the point where it overloads your space and inevitably you mind.

3. Stay away from bargains: if u have recently downsized, will you just replace the things you’ve left behind with something new you see on sale? NO. Do you really need 4 pairs of bookends? Probably not. Sometimes sales just create new clutter that is unnecessary.

4. Work hard: put some elbow grease up in there. Things are not naturally going to get organized, unless you are privileged enough to have a personal assistant. It does require real work to be and stay organized. If you put in the effort and time, than you will enjoy a clutter-free life.


Body Positivity on Campus

One of my favorite things about DePaul is the social awareness campaigns that are spread throughout campus. Due to the diverse nature of the student body, it seems to me that many topics are covered and are ever-changing. For example, when I went to the Ray they had an area in the middle with a poster showcasing that it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The poster was about body positivity and encouraged people to add a note to the body positive board and share what they love about themselves.

I thought that the poster was perfectly placed since the Ray is a place where people go to get in shape, and it is frequently ignored that body image is something that can destroy a person’s self-esteem. Eating disorders are a huge epidemic on college campuses and I love that DePaul I taking action this week, and every other week, to educate, screen, refer and treat college students who struggle with eating disorders of all kinds.

I think that with early detection and showing students that there is a safe community of people who want to help will make all the difference.

This is an issue that not many people feel comfortable talking about even to their best friends, but it is admirable that DePaul is making it a point to create outreach to vulnerable people with these disorders.   

For those who don’t know, being body positive is all about working to change the common ideas of what a body SHOULD look like. It stresses the important of self-love, regardless of size, and that body images projected through the media does not reflect the real reality of the human body and the many forms it takes.

Below is a cool picture of 10 ways to incorporate body positivity into your life!


Easy Photo Guidelines

Fueled by the desire to showcase your life, it is important to keep in mind the power that well-shot photographs hold. You do not need a fancy DSLR camera to properly immortalize the things you have been involved with or the people in your life. DePaul offers some beginner photo classes, but these tips below have been mighty helpful for me as an amateur photographer that enjoys taking photos day-to-day.

TIPS:

Rule of Thirds: Essentially, the photos will look better if the subject isn’t centered. That may sound counter intuitive, but it makes for a more interesting composition. Many camera phones come with grid options. Place items of interest onto the intersections of lines for a stimulating photo arrangement. Let’s take for example a horizon. Don’t place it dead center but instead align the subject along the left or right grid line. Pictured on the right is a quick example

Change Viewpoint and Watch Out for Clutter: Sometimes eye level can get boring. Try moving the camera up or down, or even tilting it downwards for a more dynamic and dimensional shot.  Also, try to keep one main subject where you want the focus if you’re shooting something other than a group photo.​

Resolution: Always take the time to make sure your device is set to full resolution and quality. Also, don’t zoom in with your camera, but rather zoom in with your feet. Your photo will lose heaps of quality if you manually zoom! For better lighting and contrast, make sure to tap your cell phone screen before taking the picture. This allows for your phone’s camera to adjust the lighting. If not, the subject or background might be too heavily contrasted and the photo will turn out unusable.

Shoot Multiple Times: The beauty about digital photography is it allows for multiple attempts and mistakes, you can take multiple shots of the same thing and one of them could, surprisingly, be vastly different than the rest. Try not to delete when you’re out and about because sometimes the photo could look interesting on a computer monitor as compared to a phone screen.

I know many of these tips seem pretty basic, but small adjustments in the way you photograph can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Luckily, the cost of errors on digital cameras is free!


Yoga at DePaul

Typically speaking, winter is usually a season that comes with a pinch of sadness and a lack of motivation for me. This season, I took it upon myself to become more physically active during a season in which I normally just stay inside and cuddle next to my room heater. Luckily, enrolled students at DePaul get a discounted fee for instructional classes at the Ray​, our fitness center. The yoga classes provide people with the opportunity to learn more about their body and experience a workout that connects mind and body.

The particular class I signed up for a month ago was called Ashtanga​ or Power Yoga. It was described as a vigorous and dynamic form of yoga that sculpts and tones every muscles. It was said to be challenging and that I would learn how to create energy flow that linked my breath and movement. To be honest, I should have picked a more beginner level class but I am happy that I challenged my body in a way that I never have. My classes were every Monday night for an hour.

Although the session was only 5 weeks long, I feel like paying for a program really motivated me to stay with it and be involved until the end. Signing up for this class actually got me out of my house during the winter when all I wanted to do was the opposite. When it comes to physical exercise, I have been more inclined to practice yoga instead of hitting up the elliptical or treadmill. I think it has recently come to me that I should go about being fit in a way that both improves my mind and body so that I’m not purely focused on my own body image.

Why is yoga beneficial?
  1. It is said that the purpose of yoga is to create strength and harmony for the body and mind.
  2. The relaxation techniques incorporate din yoga can lessen chronic pain
  3. Increased flexibility
  4. Helps maintain a balanced metabolism
  5. Can be effective in developing coping skills and having a more positive outlook on life.
What I love most is that about yoga is that it isn’t about comparing yourself to others, but to explore your own limits and modify the poses in a way that is pleasant for your own unique body. 


Neo-Futurists Show

Although I am strapped for cash, I can’t help but spend a few extra bucks to go see one of Chicago’s longest running shows. The show was put on by The Neo-Futurists whom are a collective of extremely talented directors/performers/writers/funny people. To give you the gist of what they are, here is their mission:

  • A Theater that is a fusion of sport, poetry, and living-newspaper.
  • Non-illusory, interactive performance that conveys our experiences and idea ad honestly as possible.
  • Un-reproducible events at an affordable price
  • Work that embraces those unreached or unmoved by conventional theater- inspiring them to thought, feeling, and action.
The specific show I saw at this theater was titled Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. In short, the exuberant actors attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. With that in mind, the show is ever changing and they always add and subtract certain plays they wish to perform. Before the show beings, the audience is usually given a type of “menu” which includes the play for that day. When the play starts, the audience shouts their requests and the actors scramble to create the set without trying to waste a single second.

From my perspective, none of the actors were stepping into character, but rather retelling personal and insightful stories. I’m not going to spoil any of the plays I saw, but some are extremely shocking and emotionally heavy. That being said, it created the perfect segue into interesting discussion regarding a critical analysis about society and the patriarchy. 

While writing this I find it hard to explain what I experienced as an audience member. All I know it that the theater feels like a safe haven for people that don’t get much out of traditional plays, and that it perfectly mentions the horrors of modern day society and topics that no one wants to talk about.

It is very unique and is totally a must see. My advice is to buy tickets beforehand because they sell out quick and waiting at the door for extra seats never guarantees entry. Sometimes there is no set price for the tickets. Instead, all you have to do is roll dice and pay that. I was truly impressed with the mix of humor and provocative topics. Please check it out here​!!!


Health In College

Whether you dropped out of high school or have a doctorate; whether you are a minority or not; whether you are making 4 or 6 figures a year, chances are that you have left the doctor’s office with less than full understanding of how to improve or maintain your health. Health literacy is SO important, especially since we live in country that does not have free health care (yet). I recently learned that health literacy is super low in this country, so I brought it upon myself to take a health communication​ course. It goes towards my degree anyway and I need to learn how to NOT be human garbage, so why not.

Also, since I have been independent for 3 years now, I have realized how important it is to know your full family health history. Many college kids don’t live with their parents anymore so if you end up sick or in the hospital no one is going to answer these important health questions except you. If you have the means or the opportunity to get to know your family health history, please try and do it before you’re out of your childhood home! Independent doctor’s visits will go so much smoothly if you yourself have the answers. Take the time to take the reins of your own health. Your family’s health can say a lot about your own in terms of lifestyle factors, environments, and genetics. By taking the initiative and tracking the health of your blood relatives, doctors can better identify risk factors that could affect your future self. GET ON IT!

That being said, you won’t necessarily go on to developing the conditions your family members have. Try to strive for the healthiest life you can and, if you have the privilege, attend all the preventative screenings that your doctor recommends.

The Health Communication class I enrolled in got me thinking a lot about the topics I just mentioned. We have also been learning about the impact that differences such as gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation have on health care.

It is no question that health and wellness brings about a drastic improvement in the overall quality of your life, so try and make healthy habits a part of your life during college so TRUE adulthood won’t be so brutal. 


Dimo's: More than Pizza

8 am. Wake up. Go to class. What’s that smell? Oh baby, it’s Dimo’s Pizza​.

I am fortunate enough to live near the best thin crust pizza in Chicago. Granted, I usually eat there after a long night since it is open until 3 am! If you are intrigued by the idea of mac n cheese ON TOP OF PIZZA….this is the place for you.

Dimo’s views pizza as a crispy platform for culinary ambitions. Yes, you could just order a cheese pizza here if you are one of those people. But why not try their thanksgiving style pizza? It has the works. Stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes make for a killer flavor explosion that blows away plain cheese pizza. If that seem too adventurous for you there is always s’mores pizza. This is for people with a sweet tooth only. It is a chocolate pizza with graham cracker bears on tops with gooey marshmallows. Instant cavity.

Their pizza toppings are second best to their business mission. Although they are a for-profit entity, they partner with non-profits to focus on societal improvement. They work on a hyper-local level which connects them more to customers. They were serving food at every concert event I was at this summer, and also have a very cool motivation inspired employees. Their missions states that they never micromanage their employees, but instead lets them work passionately and learn from their past mistakes to find new solution to problems. I know it is just a pizza place, but as a part time worker myself it is obvious how much your work environment affects your daily moods. What better way to feel appreciated at your work than to have obvious trust with your manager. They also sell local art every now and then which adds to the unique décor of the place.

Back to pizza time. Dimo’s is open every single day until very very late. If you want to step outside the world of deep dish head to Wicker Park, Wrigleyville​, or just stay in bed and get it delivered.  

Happy eating.


Halloween in Chicago

Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I think I am finally over the allure of Halloween. Dark colored lipstick and spooky clothes is my all year around thing so you’d think Halloween would be my most coveted of holidays, but you would be wrong. Things in everyday life are WAYYY scarier than those giant spider webs people decorate their yards with. Student loans, anyone? Ebola? That’s scary AND real.

Franken Plaza
Honestly, Halloween welcomes (the best season ever) fall, I am just not one for cramped and sweaty house shows anymore. Wow I sound like an old person and I’m not even 21 yet.

As you can tell, I’m kind of a sour about Halloween, but this year Chicago reminded me of how fun of a holiday it could be outside of a college campus. I had an old professor from California tell me that no city does Halloween quite like Chicago does. In Chicago, the fun is for adults and children alike.

This is evident in the Franken Plaza​ downtown! I usually go to Daley Plaza for Christmas activities but this year the fountains ran orange in celebration of “Chicagoween”. There were events like hayrides, trick-or-treating, and give away items. What I love most about the Franken Plaza is that once every year The Midnight Circus comes to perform. Sadly, I missed it this time around but last year there were acrobats and jugglers.  

An event that really put me in the Halloween spirit was The Halloween Gathering on the Chicago Cultural Mile​. This event brought together a really diverse and creative community for a really powerful parade. These people went ALL. OUT. Half of the day was dedicated to art featuring things like mask-making booths and performance artists. The rest of the day was the parade.  It started at dusk which is by far the spookiest of hours. This year the Thriller Dance Mob performed in the parade and I’ve had Michael Jackson stuck in my head for a week now.  

Ok, so I might still be a bit of a bum about Halloween but it’s safe to say that Chicago does a great job getting everyone involved. 


RefugeeOne at DePaul

​The Vincentian mission is stressed from day one at DePaul. Giving back and continuing a mission of service are both very big characteristics that define the DePaul community. Unfortunately, I am such a busy bee that I find it difficult to go on mission trips or volunteering excursions during the school year. Thankfully, the DePaul students and faculty make it easy to be a part of charitable efforts by organizing on-campus events. 

The one event that I really loved so far this school year was conveniently held in the Student Center. 

In collaboration with RefugeeOne​, the Arabic Language and Culture Club, and Students Organize for Syria at DePaul University, DePaul was hosting a winter clothing drive to collect warm clothes for new refugee families! They collected clothing items for weeks! 

Collection Box locations:

- Lincoln Park Student Center - Under the stairs on the west side of the building

- Loop campus on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center 

What we are asking for:

- Winter coats

- Gloves, hats, scarves, mittens

- Boots! 

​Through this event I became curious about what RefugeeOne is and how the work their organization does effect the city I live in. Every year, RefugeeOne assists approximately 2,500 refugees and immigrants of all ages, ethnic groups, faiths and backgrounds to find housing, learn the English language, acclimate to American culture, develop computer and job readiness skills, secure employment, obtain medical care, apply for citizenship, and develop overall family strengthening skills.

I feel honored to be a part of a student body that takes time to give back. With RefugeeOne guiding the way we create opportunity for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity, and self-reliance.
If you are interested in getting involved with volunteer or mission trips, check out the site for the Vincentian Community Service Office.


Chicago Museum Week

Although I am a Chicago native, I sometimes make the mistake of forgetting that one of the most distinguishing features of Chicago are the museums. Sometimes the cost of having a good time is too high for my budget, but with museums I like to splurge a little on admission cost just because I love a nicely curated exhibit.

BEHOLD

MUSEUM WEEK​ IS UPON US!!

Museum Week consists of 12 museums all throughout Chicago that offer free or discounted admission, discounts on yearly membership cards, and behind the scene events. From modern art to Mexican culture, this is a chance to experience museums in a very unique way. This is right up my ally because I feel like I have gone to the same museums so many times, but now I can still go to my favorites and expect something new during Museum Week.

These events will take place from October 1-7. If you ask me, I am most excited about the deals that the Lincoln Park Zoo​ has got goin' on. Picture this: A giant 60-foot burlap sack slide, a ferris wheel, a hay mountain, a corn maze, inflatable rides and a pumpkin patch!! FINALLY somewhere I can get a pumpkin in the city that isn't in a sketchy Wrigleyville garage. Some of these festival activities seem kid oriented but why not?! We aren't getting any younger, people.

Please, please check the link below to see if your favorite museum is having any sweet deals. The site also has an interactive map so you can see exactly where the museums are located.

www.chicagomuseumweek.com

Happy exploring!


Expo Chicago

The Art Expo is BACK!

What better way to kick off the fall season than to spend it surrounded by art with a cinnamon spiced mocha in hand. Expo Chicago is an international exposition in which the leading contemporary and modern artists showcase their work. I made sure to wear tennis shoes since the thought of strolling through 140 galleries already hurt my feet. I think that art challenges people. 

$50,000 right here!
In this case I really believe that contemporary and modern art really challenges me. I find myself rushing through the galleries because sometimes modern art doesn’t strike me as interesting. The more I expose myself to difficult art the more I find myself taking time to absorb it and appreciate it, even if it is slightly confusing. As an art lover myself, this experience was well worth the mere $15 I spent on a ticket, although it was nothing short of overwhelming.

Spanning the globe across 16 countries and 47 cities, the art that was showcased came in all shapes, sizes, and mediums. Although I am not known to be the most glitzy gal, one of my favorite pieces was a giant mirror that was commissioned by Tiffany & Co. The mirror was constructed using 856 individually hand-cut pieces and were placed in a mosaic fashion. The piece was mostly used as a hot spot for selfies since it is a giant mirror, but after the millennials moved along it gave me an opportunity to get up close to the mirror and try to absorb the talent that was put into it.

This exhibit was a visual feast!

Mirror in a mosaic fashion

I got the opportunity to see an insanely expensive piece be sold on the spot. It cost $50,000 before tax which is the equivalent to 50,000 McChickens. Keep that in mind. 


DePaul's Annual Drag Show

In all honesty, I believe that I had a great start to my long Memorial Day weekend. With fake nails and mountains of glitter in hand, drag queens took the stage in the DePaul Student Center to entertain and engage us with their back bending dance moves. I heard about DePaul’s 6th Annual Professional Drag Show through Act Out DePaul​.​

Act Out DePaul is an LGBTQA ​activist organization. For those of you that don’t know the alphabet soup that is LGBTQA, it means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, and Allied. Act Out meets weekly and serves as a safe zone for people to discuss issues facing the community. The members have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of queer theory and activism. This community of people make it a point to spread awareness about the broad world of sexuality and gender identification. I was ecstatic to hear that I would be able to attend the Drag Show that Act Out puts on for the second year in a row.

Basically what goes down is a few hundred people crowd into a room waiting for the lights to dim and the show to start. Each drag queen comes out 1 or 2 times to perform a song (lip sync) and dance their hearts out. This is a fun way to educate the community about drag queens and the confidence that they hold as well as the far reaching spectrum of sexuality and identity.

Every time I attend one of these events I feel extremely proud to be a member of DePaul’s community. The liberal and open minded attitude about diverse ways of living and thinking make this environment an eye opening place to study. Act Out as well as other LGBTQA organizations reflect the needs and interests of the diverse student body through a range of services, educational programs, and events such as the Drag Show.  ​​​


Sister Helen Prejean

One of the best things about DePaul is the mass amount of speakers and established socialites that come and discuss their ambitions and lives with the students. Most of the time you do not have to RSVP to events but if the flyer asks for than it is a must! Most of the events I’ve attended were in the Student Center conference room or Cortelyou Commons​. Both of these facilities can hold many many people, and the events I’ve seen stem from a gender quality activist to a student run amateur drag show.

One of my goals for this quarter as well as upcoming school year is to attend more DePaul events. The most recent one I have seen was on a whim, but I’m more than glad that I attended. I had the honor of being in the presence of Sister Helen Prejean​. Although at first I did not recognize this name, once I looked deeper into who she was it hit me that she is a very influential person in the subject of the death penalty. She wrote Dead Man Walking which was turned into the award winning film featuring Sean Penn. Although this topic was pretty heavy for a sunny weekday afternoon, I knew that this was a prime opportunity to learn more about a subject that I am not well-versed in.

Before Sister went on stage there was an exhibition. The room was filled with hand written letters from the Stateville Correctional Center​. This series of letters was called “Why My Life Matters”. Most of the letters were background information about the convicted person, and appeals to bring back the parole board. Many of the letters were very well written and extremely thorough. This in particular gave me a huge reality check because the letters were written a month ago behind bars while I stand and read them sipping on a latte with the freedom to walk right out of there if I wanted too. On the floor of the room was scotch tape outlining the actual length and width of a prison cell. Just another tid-bit of information that further makes me realize the conditions prisoners live in.​

Sister Helen Prejean spoke for less than an hour, but she was extremely adamant about cultivating conversation about the topic with us, instead of just talking AT us. She had a panel discussion and invited people from the audience to come up to the microphone and answer questions. After a question had been asked she didn’t straight out answer it, but rather asked other members of the audience what they thought. I thought this tactic was warm and inviting and made everyone comfortable with talking about such a dark topic.

After the session as over, I felt like I knew more about the morality of punishment and the United States’ justice system. Sister Prejean has not only inspired the film industry, but also inspired conversation and change in the way people view the death sentence.

More events can be listed at the site here​.

Afterwards I bought a copy of her book and had it signed! Talk about an evening well spent. ​


Learning History Through Art

Something I took upon myself this quarter is to take a full course load of 18 credit hours. For me, this means 4 three hour credits and a small two credit hour course that meets every Sunday at the Art Institute of Chicago.​

What prompted me to take this course is the fact that Joe Cunniff, a sponge of knowledge, is leading it. I had Joe as a professor for my first course here at DePaul (Discover ​Jazz). He is such a unique being jam packed with information. Truthfully, I don’t even know how one person can have that much trivia in their brain. Joe is notorious for disappearing during class on hot days to grab ice cream and reciting Shakespeare out of the blue. I really can’t put into words how entertaining and well-versed he is. He is a real gem that keeps humanities alive.

​Once I figured out he was teaching the course I didn’t hesitate to enroll with my roommate Kat (whom I also met during that first class of Discover Jazz). I knew he was going to be the perfect professor to enlighten me on a subject I wish I knew more about- Art History​. The Art Institute holds a collection of pieces that offer wide opportunities for people like me who are interested in learning about historical happenings through the context of art. So far the course has only covered Roman, Greek, and Renaissance related art, but we will also dive deep into the late Middle Ages and modern/contemporary styles.

Although we have only met 4 times so far, I have already been able to deepen my understanding on how to study a painting through the use of trends that mark a certain period of time. Joe also stresses the importance of the artists that create the work and how their documented experiences give further insight into the time period.

I knew I wanted to take this class because I’ve been to the Art Institute a few dozen times and always seem to walk quickly by the rooms that don’t intrigue me. Instead of continuing to ignore and disregard art I don’t “get”, I might as well enroll in a class that can educate me without adding more to my tuition cost.

Joe also encourages out of class members to sit with us and listen to the lecture, so if you are free on Sunday 1-4pm you can see us all armed with notebooks at Michigan and Adams in front of the info desk.


Springtime in Wrigley

Springtime in Chicago means BASEBALL​! Whether you root for the Cubs​, Sox​, or neither, the energy is high all around the city for sports lovers. Although I myself am not a huge sports person, I am a part of the Wrigleyville ​community so the Cubs are something that is unavoidable. Picture me crawling through a flock of loud fans outside of the field with 5 grocery bags and a backpack thinking about the best route to get to my apartment while hoping my bags don’t break all over the feet of party seeking sports lovers. Although living a block away from Wrigley Field has its down falls sometimes, I think the vitality of this neighborhood is just what I need to get out of my winter funk.

Yesterday I made the spontaneous decision to go to the Cubs vs. Padres game at Wrigley. All of the tickets online were not being sold anymore, so I decided to hit the streets and find someone selling tickets outside of the field. I got pretty good seats for $15 after haggling down the price. Like I said earlier, I am not a die-hard fan, but the environment is fun to be around. If I’m being EXTRA adventurous I would sell my left kidney for a hotdog and cubs shirt. This time I decided to save the money and the organ and opted to eat at Al’s Beef directly after the game.

Springtime in Chicago further reminds me why I moved here in the first place. There is now a constant buzz around every city street. People are ready to bust out the sandals and beach towels to try and forget about the harsh winter that froze over the city.

Here’s to another sunny season in my favorite city! 

Why I Chose DePaul

DePaul kind of fell into my lap. As a kid growing up in the outskirts of Chicago, the bustling city was always intriguing to me. I spent many middle school nights taking the Metra ​inbound to Union Station​ to catch some terrible pop punk shows. After 4 years of typical high school angst, my plan for college was to get out of the Midwest and travel far away just to experience something other than flat land and indecisive weather. After looking around at different college fairs, I applied to several Arizona Universities.

Soon after the fair I visited DePaul on a tour that I felt like my mom was more excited for than I was. It was a cold day and I had the attitude that I had already seen all Chicago has to offer. BOY, I WAS WRONG. DePaul blew me away with the campus grounds that even looked decent on a muggy, cloudy day. I applied with high hopes and felt that even if I didn’t know what major I wanted to declare, I knew that I wanted to figure it out here. Having 2 academic years at DePaul under my belt has given me enough to process why, in fact, I choose this school when I was so dead set on getting out of the Midwest.

I honestly believe that it all comes back to DePaul’s reputation for being a part of a service driven community and using Chicago as a second classroom. The potential idea of being stuck at a campus ONLY surrounded by my peers made me feel so trapped…. but a campus surrounded by a large city?! That I can handle. The location was definitely a huge plus. And with a large city comes many opportunities for internships and volunteer work!

Besides the fact that I was awarded scholarship ​money from DePaul, I mainly based my decision on the fact that I believe that Chicago will provide me with all the tools I need to succeed in whatever I choose to do. It is a plus that I am so close to home but I rarely visit unless it is a holiday. I am happy to say that, although DePaul isn't the cheapest option, it is the best investment that I am making towards my future.​

Spring Break 2015: Doing Nothing

​​​When I say I did nothing during spring break, I mean NOTHING. Sure I spent some time with friends lounging at a lake house for a few days, and I DID get a lot of movies off of my Netflix queue…. but compared to everyone else’s vacation spent in a new state or going abroad I didn’t do much at all. At first, I was disappointed that I wasn’t very productive and that I took a week off of work, but some quality lounge time turned out to be the stress reducer that I really needed.

I actually got 8 hours of sleep every night for a consecutive seven days which is something I haven’t had in who knows how long. College, so far, has meant a sleeping schedule far from ideal. A spring break jam packed with nothingness gave me time to recharge my brain juice and balance my mind back to a normal state. Catching up on my sleep drastically improved my mood which made it very obvious that I should try harder during the school year to at least take a nap or two during the week if I can’t get a full 8 hours.

Sitting around my apartment also gave me ample time to figure out exactly what I wanted for the following quarter. I took it upon myself to get a full 18 credit hour course load and added a class that meets once a week at the Art Institute​. Although a degree in art history ​isn’t on my to do list, over break I realized that if I am paying to be a part of the DePaul community I might as well take all the credits offered and make the most of my time here.

While I was eating Girl Scout cookies I my bed all I was receiving were Snapchats and Facebook updates filled with pictures and videos of people on their break. To me it seemed that people were spending all of their time documenting their trip instead of living in it. Not doing much over break while everyone was away gave me the opportunity to unplug from the internet, as well as my cell phone. I think we all get wrapped up in our Snapchats and Instagram accounts that we forget we have the choice to step away from that. Stepping away from my phone is what I did which gave me more time to snuggle with the king of cats, Big White.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the chance to leave the city during spring break. Some time alone is healthy and hard to come by during the school year. EMBRACE IT!​​​​

The Den

​​​​​A buddy of mine had an extra ticket to a play that was being performed in Wicker Park​, and due to my love for theater and inability to deny a cash free evening I could NOT say no. We ended up finding a hidden gem on Milwaukee Ave which further convinced me that I have not even seen a quarter of what Chicago has to offer.

Even if you don’t enjoy plays, just go to The Den Theater​ to hang in the lobby. Walking into The Den feels like you’re walking into a hip Victorian lady’s living room. Mismatched leather couches are scattered throughout the lobby accompanied by what seems to be floating vintage frames and art pieces along one wall. The room is lined with old-style drapes with the recent add on of a small bar and café. It really is a beautiful and homey environment. 

The stage we saw our show on was decorated like a circus with party decorations hanging down from the ceiling. The candles in the mason jars were synchronized with the tone of the play. When it got real quiet and serious the candles began to get dimmer and dimmer. This added to the entire ambiance. They also have a broad selection of board games in the café ranging from Taboo ​to the Game of Thrones strategy game.

While searching for this place we completely missed it so keep your eyes peeled. 


What I Wish I Knew as a Freshman at DePaul

​​​​​No matter how many “How to Survive College” forums you read online in preparation for the big leap into higher education, I feel like you never quite know how to navigate college life until you’re in the thick of it yourself. Trying to make new friends, figuring out career goals, and picking classes are all stressful elements that never seem to settle down towards the beginning of your college career. Although everybody adjusts to college life in a different way, here are a few tips from lil ol’ me that will hopefully make your transformation into a stellar first year student a smooth one.

​As a DePaul freshman I wish I fully wrapped my head around how expensive Chicago really is. I never regret moving here, but entirely understanding that the cost of living AND the tax is way higher here would have made me save a little bit more in high school instead of spending weird amounts of money on Starbursts. It really hit me that I’m going to need to pinch pennies where I can and spend time searching for free events around the city.  

Speaking of free events, that’s the second thing I wish I knew more about as a DePaul freshman. With another year under my belt living in this city, I have been able to scope out some places that are little to no cost. Like the free movies in the park​ events that take place in dozens of parks around the city. Although these events only happen towards the beginning and end of the school year, being surrounded by intricate architecture under the pavilion in Millennium Park​ to watch Ghostbusters for the 300th time gets me through the school weeks.

As a freshman I also wish I knew how to take advantage of the buses. I feel like in the first year many students rely on the El ​and don’t want to get out of their transit comfort zone once they figure out how to navigate just one. Buses are a reliable transit option during the day. And although they aren’t really good to lug big backpacks or grocery bags around, is the EL any better? The bus is also a nice change of pace too because instead of seeing what Chicago has to offer on an elevated train, you’re able to be on street level and potentially discover a shop or café that you never would have seen from a train cart. ​

Apartment Living

​Apartment hunting can be a major drag, especially when you are on a time crunch. Unlike most of my buds that I made freshman year at DePaul, I decided that I would move straight into an apartment during the summer instead of going home. Why would I move out of Chicago when I had yet to experience the glory of lake side jogs, farmers markets, street shows, free baseball games, and movies in the park?! The idea of going back home to suburbia was out of the question.

I’ll gladly skip ahead to the “Happily Ever After” of apartment shopping and spare you the drama. I found an apartment without having to sell a vital organ!!!! WOOPIE! By “apartment” I mean a dusty, but spacious, area with walls above a bar in Wrigleyville. This place was a no brainer because it is only a 15 minute commute to Lincoln Park campus and a prime area for people watching and pizza munching. We did have a mouse problem once, but that is taken care of (RIP Brian).

Rent is fairly cheap and living off campus is refreshing in the sense that it gives me some physical and mental distance from school. By not having to follow the rules that come with dorm life, I feel a stronger sense of independence and freedom. Also, the freedom of having an apartment allowed me and my roommates to buy a kitten!!

Our kitten Alfred
Although quiet hours are relatively nonexistent, I must say that I miss a lot of things about living in the dorms. The convenience of dorming made it easier to hang out with friends because they live a few halls down, instead of having to take the el like I do now. I also miss being able to do my laundry in the same building. Now, because it is winter, I have to trek down the ice covered stairs to get to the basement of the building next door to throw my clothes in a washer that works half the time. I’M NOT BITTER. Now that I am not on campus anymore, I am not nearly as motivated to go to the gym. I tried doing an at home workout once though (I’m lying).

All in all, both dorm life and apartment living are all things to adjust to. Elements like grocery shopping, remembering to pay rent and utilities, cleaning the entire apartment are all new variables that I have to fit into my life. Am I an adult yet? I’ll keep you updated on my progress.


Quimby's Bookstore

​The sun finally made an appearance this weekend after what feels like months of cloudiness, so some gal pals and I decided it was time to get out of the house and cruise around Wicker Park. Naturally, we were hunting for tacos. The wait for a table was pretty long, but we were all really avid about consuming tacos so we took that opportunity to stroll around Wicker. 

During our impromptu adventure we came across the gems of all gems. Quimby’s bookstore lives right off of the Damen blue line​. Quimby’s is by no means a normal book store… it’s not even your usual indie bookstore. They offer tons and tons of independently produced zines in addition to saucy graphic novels and well-curated fiction. This place takes indie to a whole new level with their vintage photo booth and sculptures made out of rusty nails and recycled metal. 

If you are unaware of the actual definition of a “zine,” it is a small circulation of self-published work often reproduced via a photocopier. Although it may seem low in budget, the artistic quality is usually off the charts.  Below are some pictures of the zines and short stories my roommate and I picked up--

Although the space is the size of a kidney bean because it’s filled wall to wall with imaginative weird things, Quimby’s frequently holds special events. For the past 4 years, Quimby’s has hosted a Zlumber party in their store (get it?). The point is to pack the store with artists and
creative writers for an overnight slumber party. Participants are encouraged to bring good vibes and jammies in case they want to catch some zzz’s after working on their zine. Of course, you can leave whenever you want (YOU ARE NOT HELD CAPTIVE). Free food is provided which is more than enough reason to go because….well it’s food. 


The Harrowing Tale of a Retail Worker

In hindsight, rolling pretzels in high school at the age of 16, all to save up for college, was actually the first step in preparing me for my future career and I didn't even know it. No, I don’t want to make pretzels a full-time career (unless it is consuming them), but the skills I have learned from working in customer service has molded me into the employee and teammate I am now.​

Four years after experiencing the greasy lifestyle of being a pretzel wench, I am now a sales associate at a women’s clothing store called Anthropologie. Valuable lesson numero uno: working in retail isn't a job for everyone. A job in customer service (or really any job where you have to interact with humans) takes patience, a friendly personality, and the oh so useful ability to smile when someone is yelling at you because a specific candle isn’t in stock.

Retail work is sometimes mind numbing and dull, but at least it continues to teach me that mastering the ability of managing time makes a world of difference. When it comes to reaching a goal, I now understand the importance of doing tasks in the most efficient way possible. I spend hours upon hours doing shipments, putting on sensors, restocking the merchandise, and every single day I find a quicker way to do it. Now, whenever I wrestle tasks at my internship that have seemed to be done inefficiently in the past, I find a way to make a more economical and better use of time.

Working with customers is also great practice at making first impressions. Coming in contact with hundreds of people a day has trained me how to read body language as well as become a master at dealing with other people’s needs and emotions.  These interactions will make working/meeting future clients or co-workers a breeze. In my experience, I now know that when someone starts to get defensive with their tone or body language it usually means that they feel attacked or overlooked. This is when you take a moment to listen, show that you value their opinion, and try to have a calm discussion about the issue. I learned all this just by helping a customer return a pillowcase.

My current retail job has also made it clear that networking yourself is the key to making big things happen. For instance, a co-worker of mine made it known that her boyfriend was a producer at The Second City Network. TSCN is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge deal to me because Saturday Night Live was made possible by the comedians that performed there and I am just in love with the plays and improve shows they create. I got the producers email and asked if he needed an intern to do some grunt work around the office. 3 weeks later, I started my first internship at one of the most well-known comedy clubs in the USA. NETWORKING, PEOPLE, NETWORKING!

 Sometimes when you’re looking at things close up you can’t tell how big of an effect they have on your life. In retrospect, the time I’ve spent working in retail has helped me foster skills that I know I will use in my future career and interactions with people. 

DePaul Art Museum

LOOK, you can be cultured for free!!!

This five star university museum is located directly next to the Fullerton train station and is by far one of my favorite buildings on campus. What this museum lacks in space, it makes up for with its welcoming ambiance and gorgeous view of Lincoln Park.

​This unpretentious museum has exhibits large enough to be interesting, but small enough to avoid the dreaded “museum fatigue.” I am always impressed with the wide variety of art that is showcased in this treasure trove that I feel many students overlook. The museum displays local artists, outsider art, and even touches on contemporary issues including feminism and war. The gallery serves as an experimental laboratory that showcases an innovative approach to art and culture.​

Many of the projects seen at the gallery are historical or thematic in nature, but The DePaul Art Museum has made a commitment to display contemporary art as a means of exploring aspects of our very own culture.  

Although the museum is closed for instillation until the end of January, they are re-opening with a brand new exhibition titled “Rooted in Soil.” The new exhibition is said to bring together works by contemporary artists that explore the life-sustaining but overlooked medium of soil. Rooted in Soil will be showcased until mid-April.

Not a fan of dirt? Click the link below for more info about upcoming events, collections, and exhibitions.

http://museums.depaul.edu/


 


ICE ICE BABY

Maggie Daley Park has been under construction since what feels like the beginning of time. The city’s first ice skating ribbon opened during winter intersession, so naturally I gathered up a group of buds that stayed in the city over break to test out the new rink.

After waiting for the Zamboni to do whatever the heck it does, we geared up with our $12 rental skates and hit the ice (Pro Tip: bring your own skates). Literally, I hit the ice with my body. I am not the most coordinated person even on solid, non-slippery terrain. The ribbon shaped course seemed pretty basic until you glide a few yards and the path begins to elevate. This was a surprise to both me and my gluteus maximus. Despite my best efforts, I never truly got the hang of it the way Chazz Michael Michaels did in Blades of Glory. The one perplexing question is why would anyone design a skating rink with inclines? Regardless, the new park is beautifully designed and harbors a perfect vantage point for unique views of the skyline.  

Construction on this site is still underway, but it seems to me that this place may be my new favorite summer hangout spot. Installation of a rock climbing wall has begun, along with modern playground equipment in the shape of a ship and lighthouse. My gut is telling me that most of the park attractions are supposed to appeal to children, but my gut is also telling me that I am young at heart and no one can stop from becoming one with a jungle gym. This $60 million park will bring a whole new experience when visiting Chicago. Due to the fact that is adjacent to Millennium Park, folks can visit the Bean and then visit Maggie Daley Park to play in Chicago’s front yard. Stay tuned for live-action photos of me climbing the rock wall with a bunch of little kids.​ 


GOT NO MONEY?

Welcome to oh-so-typical college finances. Freshman year was a little different for me because I lived on campus and didn’t have to worry so much about rent and utilities, but this year money has been TIGHT. To save some cash while clothes shopping, I have been expanding my wardrobe with cheap things from thrift stores around Chicago.

Close to Lincoln Park campus, there is a Rag Stock with 2 floors full of goodies. WARNING: A common misconception is that Rag Stock is a thrift store. IF A SWEATER IS $20 IT IS NOT A SOLID THRIFT STORE. NO. This place has super hip stuff, but I assure you there are better places to snag an old man sweater at a lower price.

I usually hit up Unique Thrift off the Wilson red line. They have 50% off Mondays which is super dangerous because how many knit sweaters do I REALLY need? Either way I usually go at least once a month to see what they have. I actually found some really cool paintings and home décor here a few times and nothing was over $5.
Insider Tip: don’t buy comforters or pillows. Just don’t mess with that.


Closer to Lincoln Park campus is the Belmont Army. I lived by this place for over a year and I just recently found it. The gem of gems. Most of Chicago’s “vintage” shops that I have been to are insanely overpriced, but this place has some good finds. They have 4 floors and each place has a unique vibe. The second floor is a shoe store, then an army surplus store, and the 4th floor (best) is a neat vintage shop. Everything is tidy and clearly labeled which is something that most thrift stores lack. They carry trendy garments as well as casual basics. There’s a whole section for “hippie dresses”, shoes, funky t-shirts, antique kitchenware, and the employees are helpful and charming.

Although Chicago has the famous Michigan Ave, you should check out some of these hole-in-the-wall treasure troves, for sure.


A Guide to Rocky Horror Live

Rocky Horror is the first true audience participation film. Viewers are known to yell back lines during extended pauses in the scenes. People dress up in outrageous costumes and enjoy the 100 minute long rock- musical horror film. (By the way there is not gore in this “horror” film).

This month I did something I’ve been waiting all year to do. The Rocky Horror Picture Show live performance plays all year round at The Music Box Theater, but I thought it would be WAY more fun to go during Halloween. This cult classic is a horror parody filled with sci-fi, rock & roll, and the lair of a transvestite (a character named Dr. Frank-N-Furter).

During the live perforce, the movie plays in the background while (very dedicated) performers act out the scene playing behind them. Basically it’s just a sandwich of entertainment. In order to be prepared for this type of unique experience it is important that you remember to bring a good sense of humor. Dressing up like one of the characters will always get you some points, but the main thing here is that you should show up feeling as comfortable as possible. I did not dress up as a specific character, but I did dress in attire inspired by this film (sparkly hat, fish nets, high waisted pants, and a bow tie).

Show goers are also encouraged to bring props!!! This show relies heavily on audience participation, so get ready to be a fool. Props include (but are not limited to) rice, water pistols, newspaper, confetti, and toast. Just find a piece of toast and you’ll fit it, basically.

Even if you don’t know the film too well, the vibe of the theater is like no other. Make the most of your first experience and don’t hold back. Check out the Music Box home page for details about viewing times.

http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/the-rocky-horror-picture-show

You can see the trailer below.




Comedy in Chicago

​There’s no question that Chicago is one of the most hoppin’ open mic, improv, and stand up cities around. I didn’t know how active the comedy scene was until I actually moved here. If you don’t know someone who participates in the comedy scene there are dozens of places​ you can check out, sometimes even for free.

The Second City is always a hot spot for me and my friends on Saturday nights. The Second City produced prime comedic talent such as Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Tina Fey and many more people that will make your side split. If I’m feeling spendy I’ll pay to see a show. Most shows last 2 hours including an intermission, but I usually save the cash and hit up the free improvisation set after the shows. A free improv set follows every last performance of the night. The theatre’s seating area is Cabaret style so be prepared to share a table with your neighbors and make some new friends. The improv team is insanely talented. The show usually involves some audience participation. For example, the performer asked the audience for suggestions involving kitchen supplies. Naturally, I yelled out “TOASTER” and the team busted out a 10 minute sketch involving a toaster. Who knew kitchen supplies could be so entertaining? Check out the video below if your want to see the team in action.

Other smaller theaters hold frequent events for comics to work on their standup routine. I usually attend events at The Playground Theater held by my buddies at Chicago College Class Clowns. C4 is Chicago’s only stand up show run by students for students. Students from UIC and DePaul showcase their silly talents every Thursday night for $5.  

If you’re really interested in comedy and making it a part of your career, DePaul offers screenwriting classes for all genres. But, if you’re like me and just want to sit back and enjoy the show, check out UP Comedy Club, The Laugh Factory, The Second City, or The Playground Theater. Most places provide a student discount because everybody knows we ain’t got the cash.




Art Expo

​This school year I made it a point to enroll in classes that challenge my views on particular subjects. Art has always been a part of my life due to my father’s profession, but it is safe to say that some art domains really just go over my tiny head. Oh, a giant canvas completely covered in blue paint? I DON’T GET IT. A shovel and a pile of dirt in the middle of an exhibit? STOP, WHAT IS GOING ON?!  I decided to give a contemporary art class a chance in hopes of sorting out some of the mind boggling confusion that has been laid out for me in the past. 

In the middle of September, Navy pier presented 120 of the most influential international artists of contemporary culture. A 30 minute train ride and $15 later (student discount AYOOOO) my friends and I finally arrived to explore some of the deepest pockets of the modern art world. 

 
The first exhibit was literally unavoidable. A 50 foot high architectural piece by Jessica Stockholder made of plastic containers dominated the front room. It was a tornado of color and organizational containers- which made me realize I need better Tupperware, but I digress. Guests were invited to climb the stairs as if to simulate climbing the mountain of plastic that was erected before them. 
One of the pieces of art was my favorite mostly because it was interactive and I got to step inside a giant fuzzy nest. The first step was to pick out a bird. Naturally, I chose a prairie chicken. After that you are asked to step into the nest alone and tell a deep secret. The microphone distorts your voice and replaces the sound waves with the chirps of the bird of choice. So basically I heard my secret being relayed to me by a prairie chicken. Satisfying you ask? Yeup. Obscure? For sure. 

120 exhibits later and my brain was going into over-stimulated mode. There was a piece that cost well over $40,000. I’m surprised my body didn’t go into epileptic shock seeing my tuition money in the form of oil pastels. All in all I was honored to support such a revolutionary group of artists with my money and bewildered demeanor. I moved to Chicago to learn about things that the suburbs couldn’t provide for me, as well as challenge my barely solidified opinions about art and artist. Chicago has gone above and beyond to produce an environment for the culturally proactive, and I’m more than happy that I challenged myself with a contemporary art class this quarter. 
Check out the Expo Chicago website if you’re thirsty for more.



Oz and Resident Events

Living in the dorms definitely has its perks. The residence halls put together events for the students and they usually include free food so you cant go wrong with that. Some friends and I decided to join in and go see The Wizard of Oz on Broadway.  BUT FIRST, my amazing residence director, Tracy, got us all Chipotle. After becoming uncomfortably full, the University Hall gang went over to the Cadillac Palace to visit Dorothy and Toto. We had prime seats in the balcony.

What I'm trying to tell you guys is that living in the dorms provides students with opportunities others will not receive. There will constantly be posters and signs throughout the buildings alerting students of upcoming (and mostly free) events. The RAs do an amazing job of trying to make everybody feel a part of the DePaul community. I think living in a dorm is just a part of the typical college experience. Although DePaul is considered a commuter school, it is safe to say that I am very happy that I chose living in the dorms my freshman year. I have met the best group of people and even my future roommates. Although some of the safety procedures (like checking in guests) might seem tedious after a while, it is all done to protect you and make you feel safe in your temporary home.

If you decide to live in the dorms as a freshman try to soak up all the events and opportunities while they last. College is supposed to be the best 4+ years of our lives, so take every opportunity DePaul provides and go beyond your comfort zone.

Wicker Park

​Wicker Park is basically the mecca of the Chicago art scene. There is an intense night life, a bohemian vibe, and many annual music festivals when summer hits. Wicker Park is filled with struggling artists and musicians so don’t be surprised if you see people on the streets with guitars and harmonics looking for some extra change. 
There is meditation in the park, burlesque shows, cheeseburger Fridays, an antique sale, and so much more.  All you have to do is just on the blue line and get off at Damen and these experiences can be yours! http://www.wickerparkbucktown.info/events/full-list​

Last summer I went to Wicker Park Fest and it was a blast!!!! It is free but they suggest a $5 donation which is a small price to pay for all of the entertainment. This year at Wicker Park Green Fest there will be thousands of eco-friendly people enjoying the festivities and food….the stage is bicycle powered…nuff said. So far the lineup includes: Guided By Voices, The Features, The Soil & The Sun, Viet Cong, Cheap Girls, Meat Wave, Geronimo!, Chicago Farmer and Charlie Parr. If you are ready to bask in the sun, make sure to book your calendar for June 21-22.

 

Street Art in the Chi

​Although I have only lived in the city for 8 months, I have noticed that Chicago has tons of beautiful secrets painted on the sides of brick buildings. The independent art scene is so alive in Chicago, but I think sometimes people don’t take the time to appreciate it. The first time I was introduced to random street art (some people deem it graffiti) is during Discover week at the beginning of the school year. Joe, the professor of my jazz class, took us all to Pilsen to experience Latino culture and, naturally, eat churros. The art on the side of the building is so much more than graffiti. I feel like Chicago has these little pockets of art that people forget to take the time and appreciate. 

 
Right off the green line is Brach's Candy Factory. It is the text book definition of abandoned. It sounds scary because it is. I can’t promise that you will come back alive or with all of your organs, but the art that has been spray painted on the inside of the factory is mind blowing. Go check it out for yourself if you dare, or live vicariously through this photo. 

 
The thing about Chicago, or any city for that matter, is that you never know what you’re going to run into during your seemingly normal routine. THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT EXCITING. Daily routines become mundane and blah and there is no escaping it, but seeing beautiful art on the street makes me realize why I chose Chicago as my home. It is an artistic, ever changing, inspiring, surprising place with new things around every corner- if you are willing to take the time and look.




Go explore.

Fun in the Sun

​After a long winter it is always refreshing to see new faces in the quad the second it gets over 50 degrees. When spring quarter hits, people are ready to go outside, and I can’t help but to think about all the summer activities Chicago has to offer. Chicago comes alive in the summer and I can’t wait for all the concerts! Whatever type of music you jive with, there will certainly be an outside festival dedicated to it this summer. Check out the link below for your 2014 Chicago summer festival guide. http://www.chicagomag.com/arts-culture/February-2014/2014-Summer-Festival-Guide/

 
Do you want to ruin your summer bod in style?! After a show make sure to pick up a hot dog. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Chicago dog in the summertime. You can continue to ruin your diet at Sweet Mandy B’s, Molly’s Cupcakes, or Black Dog Gelato. Oh and check out Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. THIS ISN'T YOUR TYPICAL ICE CREAM JOINT. They have flavors like Wildberry Lavender, Whiskey & Pecans, Banana French Toast and the crazy list goes on and on. Just do it. Unless you’re lactose intolerant.  

Have fun in the sun, guys. No need for 7 layers of clothing- SUMMER IS HERE!​

JOB HUNTING!

​THE STRUGGLE! All 4 years of high school, I had a job. I was gettin’ that cash money and saving MOST of it for school. Once I enrolled at DePaul I decided to take a quarter off of work and get assimilated with new friends and a new city. I don’t regret it at all- taking the time off, that is. But the time has come to get my bum back in gear and get a cash flow once again. 
 
My suggestion to you job hunters is to take a gander and what DePaul Jobs has to offer. Positions may be scarce, but if you get in there early in the year you will have a better chance and grabbing something. Campus jobs are convenient and flexible and the students are limited to only 20 hours per week so that they can keep up on their homework as well. With a DePaul job you will be able to get your foot in the door right at the beginning of your college career. Who knows, you might meet managers, coworkers, and supervisors that could help you climb up the employment ladder if you show the initiative. Check out the link below for more deets.


If you strike out, there are outside jobs all over the city! Hit up Craigslist for possible positions. Many employers are looking for young, energetic students that need the money. Also, if you can tolerate small children/dogs/cats…check out www.care.com  You could be a dog walker… a little poop cleanup never hurt anybody. Plus, dog walking pays pretty good. These people are desperate to find someone to take care of their dear old poodle while they’re at work.

Good luck, fellow job hunters, good luck

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Food Trucks or Bust

One of the greatest things about nice weather in Chicago is the insane amount of food trucks that could be found around almost every corner.  Whether you are wandering the city at 1:00am or on your way to class, food trucks are a great way to experience different cultures on the go. My personal favorite is the Wow Bao truck. They serve these medium size dough balls of Asian food yummygoodness. The truck doesn't always have the full menu, but I love it anyway. I stalk this truck on a weekly basis because they give their location on twitter if you hashtag #bunsontherun.

Although Wow Bao buns are magically delicious, the Tamale Spaceship is top notch quality when it comes to food and entertainment. TAMALE SPACESHIP! The name alone is a winner. A man in a traditional Mexican wrestling mask distributes the heavenly tamales and says things like “Blast off,” and other spaceship related sayings. The Spaceship lands at the same spot four days out of the week so no need for roaming!

Check out this link for other awesome food truck experiences