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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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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. 


Leisure at DePaul

I have been getting in the habit of taking at least one online class at DePaul. This habit started late sophomore year. At first I was extremely apprehensive because I learn better with an in person instructor and am also motivated by their teaching to get my work done. With online classes, there needs to be some control within yourself to keep on track, since there is no human you see weekly reminding you about homework or projects. As I get deeper into finishing all my requirements before graduating, I am finding it hard to find domain requirements that are online (and interesting to me).

With that in mind, this quarter I took a shot in the dark and enrolled in an online class that didn’t seem super stimulating, but was the only one open when it was my time to enroll. The course is called Leisure, Recreation, and Health. I thought to myself “what is so scholarly about leisure....? Like riding a bike and reading on days off? How can this simple thing be an area of study?”

I was soon hit with the harsh reality that I have underestimated the world of academia, and also that of the human experience. Leisure is described as an elemental experience, essential to the total well-being of every person; it is a reflection and expression of the cultural values of a society, and it is an important vehicle for medical treatment. Also, leisure can be essential for a healthy community I terms of social climate and stability.

DePaul has many outlets for leisure and I am honored to have the privilege to choose to participate in them. DePaul has the Ray Meyer Fitness Center which provides everything from swimming to ping pong. DePaul also offers their students an amazing opportunity to participate in DemonTHON which is a 24-hour dance party to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. These activities make for a really connected community that have people who hold the same values. The sense of togetherness is something that leisure provides for people.

Although we are at DePaul to get a degree and a career, we also learn the importance of the binary of work and leisure and how the balance of each makes for a happy life  J


Spring Break 2016

Who needs Miami or Cancun?

Usually I spend my spring break catching up on my reading list and sleep. For many college kids, spring break is a time to lean into freedom and lack of academic responsibility. Many people travel to far away beaches, but for me that has never been finically feasible. I would much rather spend my time doing very little, or traveling to a place most people do not go to for spring break. This year, instead of lying in bed I decided to take a trip to Boston to see what the East Coast had to offer. Sadly, it was rainy and gloomy most of the time, but luckily they have a lot of free things to do and clam chowder to eat (not free, but a girl can dream).

I spent the first day in Boston walking the freedom trail and learning about all of the historical site. It is also the home of the first public park in the US so I spent some time people watching and eating a REAL Boston Crème Pie. Definitely better than the Boston Crème donuts at Dunkin, but I know they are trying their best. I visited some museums and pastry shops, but what I enjoyed most is the realization that I do not need to go anywhere warm to have a pleasant time during my spring break. Yes, a little sun would have been nice, but downtime to me has nothing to do with the weather. I find that spring break is a time to recharge and doing it in an environment that is not packed with party people is the best for me. 


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!


Writing At DePaul

One thing that I have always been told about the skills I need to be successful in any career field is the skill of proper written communication. Writing is definitely one of the most primary skills that you will be judged upon in college and work. Think of writing as making all of your thoughts visible for other people to see. Some people are obviously better at putting thoughts in words, and if that weren’t the case than we would all be famous authors. Writing out ideas helps you formulate questions/answers and can demonstrate your emotional maturity. Writing also can serve the purpose of solidifying ideas down in ink so that you can come back and refine them. 

In terms of memory, writing class notes with a pen and paper instead of typing with a laptop has proven to link the motor skill with processing the information. I have found that typing can lead to mindless processing because I’m too focused on typing the lecture verbatim instead of soaking in the concepts. When it comes to cognitive learning, I always chose a pen and paper before a laptop (even though having a computer makes some lecture way more bearable). But if creative writing is more your thing, DePaul has a lot of outlets for you.

You could be employed by DePaul at the Writing Center where your job will revolve around helping your peers formulate ideas or help grammar check their papers for fluidity. I have always found that by teaching others I also enhance my own skill set. You can apply to the Writing Center via email and must provide a few writing samples. Through personal experience, they rarely hire first year students, but once your writing becomes stronger and conceptual they take another look at your application. DePaul also has a creative and journalistic outlet with the DePaulia. The DePaulis is mainly student run, which gives people the opportunity to be independent with their work while also enhancing their organization and communication skills. Writing for The DePaulia is a great little test run of how newspapers work and what skill are needed to be a part of a printed paper.

DePaul has also recently started an award winning art & literary magazine called Crook and Folly. This published magazine gives students the opportunity to express their creativity in both written form and visual art. This is a great alternative to journalistic writing that the DePaulia provides. Along the same lines, The English Department has also created an outlet for students via a blog called The Underground. This blog is a newsletter type dealio that covers news, events, student writing, and alumni participation. Check the link below if you are interested!

Writing is seen to be a helpful source of therapy, expression, and skill for everyone I know! With DePaul I have learned to enhance a healthy skepticism in my own and other’s writings that has enhanced my imagination and creativity​.


Meals on the Go

I have officially joined the trend of smoothie making​. First it was juicing, then eating kale and then quinoa​. BUT making smoothies has been my new favorite thing to do in the morning, even if my neighbors get mad at me about the noise. The benefits of making smoothies reside in the fact that they are easy to make and are jam packed with victims that you probably wouldn’t get anywhere else in your daily meals. They are protein filled and immune boosting, which is exactly what I need during the winter months. Honestly, blending your way to better health couldn’t be easier.

Here are some of my favorite filling recipes:

Mango & Yogurt Smoothie:
1/6 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups frozen mango
1 tablespoon honey

Everything in My Freezer Smoothie:
Frozen banana
Frozen mango
Frozen strawberry
Frozen chocolate chips because why not
2 cups yogurt
1 cup almond milk

There is seriously no wrong way to make a smoothie, unless of course you blend some nasty combos like spinach and ginger. No thanks. The reason I am advocating so hard for smoothie making is because I have been so rushed for time in the morning because of MIDTERMS. This tactic has made both my schedule and my tummy happy. Try it out!


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.


Women's Health at DePaul

Since I’m in the school of Communication, I am required to take one science lab for my general education requirements. I have waited 3 years to get it out of the way because I assumed doing anything science related was going to destroy my GPA…boy, was I wrong.

I enrolled in Women’s Health this year for my science lab and it takes the cake for my favorite class I’ve ever taken. Sadly, it takes up my ENTIRE Monday with class from 1-3 AND 6-9, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for how much I’ve learned about my biological self.

During this course I have been able to look at the health care industry through a feminist lens and recognize that women’s health is much more than having different reproductive organs. In fact, it was only in the last 15 years that the medical world starting researching about the vast differences in health outcomes between men and women.

Interesting facts:

Woman listen to both sides of their brain! Most men show brain activity exclusively on the left side (typically associated with listening and speech), while most women show activity on the right side as well (associated with creativity and expressiveness). 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the US. Women are usually under-diagnosed to the point where it is too late to help them when the condition worsens. 

There are customary stages of experiencing heart pain— uncertainty, denial, seeking help from a friend or family member, recognition of the severity of symptoms, seeking medical attention, and finally, acceptance—but the difference for women was they spent more time in the denial period and were more likely to wait for friends or family to notice they were unwell, instead of approaching them with the problem.

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during her life-time

This course has made it obvious that I need to practice effective health-seeking/prevention behavior. I have started taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements to avoid osteoporosis because I do NOT need to be any frailer than I already am. Seriously, the wind pushes me to the ground. I have also taken up yoga as a form of exercise.

Not all general education requirements are a drag and this class proved it me because now I have a positive attitude towards science, technology, and math. Who would’ve known?​


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. 


The Health Promotions and Wellness Center

I’ve come to learn that my 20’s are about self-discovery. Whether that discovery is finding out the perfect burrito bowl combination for my taste buds or the right work out plan my body can handle, I know that self-discovery is leading me to certain habits. I believe that the habits I will establish during my 20’s and 30’s will be the ones that stick the most and might become the foundation of my potential big girl adult life.

Although we all have our vices (neglecting important obligations to binge Friends reruns), it is important to establish positive behaviors and step away from the negative ones during the habit forming years that are your 20’s. We are not all superheroes and, sadly, are subject to the very human act of laziness and lack of self-actualization. Thankfully, the DePaul community has the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness to provide educational and holistic support to produce long-term, healthy behaviors.  

Instead of searching for yoga tutorials on YouTube once a month after the guilt of eating 2 bags of Doritos sets in, why don’t you just pop over to their office and learn about the wide range of health topics they offer support with? From proper nutrition to relationship violence, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness covers many important topics. The faculty is there to improve help-seeking behaviors and enhance your ability for sustainable, positive habits.​

Personally, I have an issue with stress control. I was lucky enough to have a member of the office come into one of my class to discuss stress management and healthy coping strategies. She guided the class through a mediation session where we shut our eyes and centered ourselves by focusing on our body. Heavy breathing exercises were also a part of this session which helped me better learn how to steady my breathing and slow down my thoughts. I have never been the best with coping with stress, but I know good vibes equals good mood.​

A new campaign called Take Care DePaul has been launched recently. This campaign encourages students, families, and faculty to model choices that positively impact the well-being of themselves and the ones around them.

If you are in the market for better vibes or just need someone to talk to about obtaining a healthy life style, please dance your way over to the Office of Health Promotions and Wellness for some resources and community support.

Location: Lincoln Park Student Center, Suite 302. 2250 N Sheffield Ave.
Phone: 773-325-7129 

Be Well!


Positive Learning Environment for the New School Year

Before I began my first day of junior year I tried to remind myself that academia goes more smoothly when paired with a positive learning environment.

Having a solid relationship with professors and peers is a good place to start! I have never been one to instantly introduce myself personally to my professor on the first day of school, but I do try to make it a point to raise my hand at least once during the first week. Honestly, I’ve noticed this makes me a lot more likely to contribute to class discussion later on in the quarter. By making an active attempt to interact with your professors and peers, this creates an environment that feels safe to ask questions in. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel apprehensive to ask certain questions in class because I think they might be silly or unnecessary, but more often than not someone else in the class has the same question. I believe that if you try to create relationships with your professors and peers it will make for a comfortable and fun learning environment that could last until graduation day. You never know when you will need those teacher recommendations.

Finding a comfortable place to study is also crucial for creating a positive learning environment. The most obvious choice on campus is the library with its beautiful stained glass on the third floor and easy access to printers, but I have friends that can’t concentrate in complete silence. If that sounds like you definitely check out Brownstones in the Student Center or the Pit area in the SAC. They both provide comfortable seating, printers, and glorious glorious coffee. Ain’t nothing like some good ambience to get you in the mood to crank out some essays.  

Also, keep in mind that a positive learning environment is not necessarily the physical place you are in, but could also include the mindset you have in your noggin. Creating attainable and realistic expectations while studying is crucial for avoiding the feeling of being overwhelmed. Laying down the ground rules for yourself and how far you can push your brain is quintessential to your victory as a student. For example, give yourself a time limit on how long you will look over a particular subject or take a break from revising an essay when you feel the words starting to blend together. Sadly, we are not machines that can work days on end, but it is amazing how far we can push ourselves with a positive mindset and a little bit of scheduling.

Good luck this quarter, y’all!


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. ​


DERBY 2015

​​​As a kid who grew up in the outskirts of Chicago the idea of the Kentucky Derby​ has had really no significance to
me, but for my buddies Grant and Lena the Derby ​is at the height of excitement when it comes to spring activities. Although I have no betting money to shell out, I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be surrounded by giant hats that 
shouldn't be considered hats, and horses that have better hair than I do.

My skin/body/soul is not meant for the Kentucky sun so about 9 layers of sunscreen was applied within the duration of the outing….so pale. Honestly, in the crowd of over 294,000 people you could probably spot me out pretty easily from an aerial view.

The whole day passed insanely fast, especially with all of the prime people watching. To be clear, we didn’t sit in the fancy seats that surround the race track. We sat in the epicenter of Churchill Downs​ in a giant cluster of people in the middle of the field. See picture for reference.

The infield is a delicate mixture of fraternity brothers, the elderly with modest income, and Kentucky locals. Where did I fit into that? Probably more with the elderly on account of the fact that I napped for an hour the second we got there and really stressed to everyone around me the importance of hydration.

Churchill Downs on Derby Day is essentially a sea of giant hats, photo finishes, and several explanations on how to bet correctly. I’m insanely grateful for the wide range of people that attend DePaul. My buds are from all over of the country which gives ample opportunity to see where they come from and share some new experiences together. If you ever have the opportunity to check out Louisville, Kentucky​ for a long weekend, give it a go and please for the love of all things holy do not forget the sunscreen. 


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! 

GOALS

As my last quarter of my sophomore year comes to a start, I realize that it’s time to start revamping the way I do things during the school year. Quarters go by so quickly and it is always toward the end of the school year that I decide to reflect and spice up the rhythm of my weekly outside of school schedule. With this in mind, I conjured up a list of things I should REALLY be doing during the school year and habits I want to slowly but surely slide into my life.

GO TO MORE DEPAUL SPONSORED EVENTS: I always kick myself after missing a free event held at DePaul. Only in college will I have the opportunity to sit in on forums and listen to established and well known people talk before me. Not to mention sometimes there is free food. The events that are held are not always in my zone of interest, but that shouldn't hinder me from at least stopping in and checking it out. A specific future event that I am attending is called Cultivating Compassion. During this event DePaul students have the opportunity to interact and engage with a Buddhist nun that studied under the Dalai Lama.

GO TO THE GYM MORE: The Ray Meyer Fitness Center does not only have the best Blue Demon smoothies, but they happen to have really intense yoga session that is free. Okay, so the intro class is free but I usually just keep taking the intro class over and over again because that’s how I roll…. But, I digress. During freshman year I made it a habit to hit the gym at least 3 times a week, but now that I live off campus it seems a little harder to get my lazy bones over there. Although I have yet to try out the weight lifting zone, I am getting better at NOT being winded when I walk up the stairs.

STOP DRINKING COFFEE: Ohhh jeez, this one is a toughie. Truthfully I feel that a cup of coffee in the morning keeps me awake for about 27 minutes, but I can’t help but kick the habit of drinking it every day right when I wake up…..and then continuously throughout the day. I noticed that if I go a day without coffee I feel borderline ill. Sleepy, groggy, and irritable just begins to explain the withdrawal my body is feeling without sweet, sweet caffeine.

Now that I’ve written these down it feels way more concrete. I’ll keep cyberspace up to date on my progress.​


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!​​​​

DePaul After Dark

In order to establish closer ties within the DePaul community, Campus Recreation holds many special events throughout the year. The most recent event was for all the students that want to relive their recess glory days. The theme was retro sports and students were encouraged to dust off their playground game skills in events like four square, knockout, hopscotch, tether ball, and more! I don’t know about you, but when I was a 5th grader I DOMINATED at four square. Although I am not nearly as limber and quick as my 5th grade self, it was nice to see that I still have SOME physical ability when it comes to sports.

This event was also put together in order to celebrate Blue Demon Week. The amount of school spirit that was condensed into the gym was overwhelming! Before entering the gym there was a giant Jenga competition outside in the lobby. We are talking GIANT Jenga pieces, guys. As if that game needed to be MORE suspenseful. Students in the DePaul Dodgeball Society were even decked out in matching uniforms!

Many of these team work oriented games really bring about a sense of comradery and silliness to the DePaul community, which is perfect for this time of year since finals are about to roll around. The idea for a retro game night is a stellar one, especially for winter time! This event gave students the opportunity to escape the snow and burn off a layer (or two) of that winter fluff we all know we have. Events like double dutch, swing dancing, and skip it made that possible. 

If you do not dabble in the world of hand eye coordination or intense physical movement, they also had a bingo and canvas bag decorating station!  Campus Recreation frequently updates their Facebook and Instagram (depaulcampusrec) with event info as well as an insider look at the students who make events like retro sports night possible. 

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.


How To Survive Group Projects

If you’re like me, you cringe at the words “group presentation.”

I want it to go on the record that this quarter I have had a grand total of 7 group projects, and it’s not even finals week. As much as we hate them, presentations are pretty prevalent for many of the people that have seminar courses. Many of the classes I have taken so far are discussion based, which means there is a hefty portion of your grade that depends on how much you actively participate with class discussions. And by “actively participate” I mean actually sharing some formulated thoughts and not just answering the question with a lazy “yes” or “no”.

IT IS COLLEGE. WE. CAN. DO. THIS.

During most seminar courses there comes a point where the professor wants you to interact with your peers and create a group presentation. These topics are either assigned to you OR you get to choose your own from a list. Exciting stuff, people. Now, I have had about a dozen group projects since I started DePaul in the fall of 2013, and it is safe to say that not all of them went smoothly. Here are my two cents as to what you can do to make sure your group presentation doesn’t suck.
 
1-      Instantly exchange email or phone numbers with your group members.
Just do it. Even if the professor doesn’t give you time to meet with people after s/he assigns groups, stay after class and meet ‘em just so that you can get started sooner with everybody’s contact info. This way it will be way easier to decide when to meet. If you have an embarrassing email that you made when you were 8 like I did, maybe it is time to step up the email game.

2-      Create a fricken Google Doc.
OR PREZI OR SOME OTHER SHARED DOCUMENT SITE. Learning how to use a Google Doc was much needed this quarter. Not so much “learning” but figuring out that it is an actual thing that makes school work more convenient. Sometimes it is impossible for everyone to meet at one time (especially as you get older and more students you know have more obligations than they did when they were a freshman). Google Doc has been my best friend this quarter (sad but true) because I can still participate in the group project by editing with them online even with my busy schedule

3-      TRY to go over the final presentation with your group before the due date.
Having one final collective practice with everyone physically there makes presenting so much less awkward. The person who has the honor of flipping through the slides with the right arrow on the keyboard during the entire presentation will know his/her cues and things won’t get awkward. This will give you time to figure out if your links ACTUALLY work. It is awkward as heck when the 3 minute video that was supposed to be the main point of the presentation doesn’t end up working (trust me).
 
Perfecting group presentations isn’t easy. It takes time for people to adjust to sharing work and figuring out the best way to get the project done. Just remember this: look over the dang presentation. Just look it over. You’ll have an easier time verbalizing the information if you actually know what’s happening on the slides. Also don’t forget the eye contact. Heavy eye contact is good in this situation (not on the el or at any time past 11pm).

I BID YOU FAREWELL AND GOOD  LUCK​


 


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.




Gravity Test

​“Risk taker” would not be a word my friends would describe me as. Loud? Yes. Frizzy? Depending on the humidity level…yes. I am so content with letting gravity hold me to the ground as I watch Netflix and eat Doritos in my bed, but I couldn’t shake the urge to do something remotely risky. Some say skydivers have a death wish, but I am a full believer that they wish to live and when I say live I mean LIVE. On October 5th 2014, I decided it was time that I experienced LIVING at a much much higher altitude.

 
As a precaution, Skydive Midwest makes each jumper sign a liability form in case a disaster were to occur. Statistically speaking I had a bigger chance of getting into a deadly car crash on the drive to Skydive Midwest than getting hurt during the actual jump. I think my safety depended mostly on me not panicking on the plane ride up. Just for future reference, do not sit next to me on any plane ride. I despise those aluminum torture machines….that being said, I am totally okay with being pushed out of one. 
 
At 14,000 I was harnessed to a professional sky wizard (and stone cold babe), Tim, and was reminded that a backup parachute will automatically deploy at 1,500 feet if (for some reason) the initial parachute fails to launch. THEN CAME THE MOMENT OF TRUTH. We waddled towards the door and 3..2…1.. I was flying.

 I wish I could formulate the words to describe the feeling. It all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think about the parachute. It was beyond liberating.

Check out the video of me falling towards mother earth. Prepare yourself for “rock on” hand signs that I don’t even remember doing. Adrenaline is a crazy thing, my friends. I recommend a high dose every now and then.  


​​

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.



The Kentucky Derby

Moving to the city was a big step in my life. Although I only had to move about an hour away from my home, I was nervous (and excited) to see what the big city had in store for me. Due to the fact that I do not have a very good sense of direction, I thought that navigating public transportation would be a nightmare. Before deciding to explore the city and TRY to learn how the El works, I metamorphosed into a social butterfly and made some new friends.
 
If you ever go to any DePaul event as an incoming student, or even as an undergrad, you will realize that the word “diversity” is said a handful of times. A few handfuls. The word was stressed so much and I forgot its meaning until I actually started to make friends who were from so many different walks of life. Suburban Amanda would never have thought that she could find common interest with a Nigerian girl who moved to North Carolina before attending DePaul, or an English boy whose accent is too charming to handle.

The opportunities and the experiences I have had so far as a freshman at DePaul were all heightened by the fact that all of my friends are (at first glance) so different than I am. Here I realized that cliques are a thing of the past and you don’t have to enjoy the same style of music to learn and grow with a friendly person. For example, I made a new friend during winter quarter who is from Kentucky. A few weeks ago he packed his car with friends and snacks and drove us 5 hours to his hometown of Louisville to experience the Kentucky Derby.

DePaul set up the foundation for this experience to happen because if they didn’t enroll such a diverse spectrum of people, I never would have been able to wear a giant hat at Derby. I learned how to properly bet on horses and how to apply several layers of sunscreen because the southern sun is very unforgiving. DePaul has pulled me out of my suburban bubble and has revealed to me a world of diversity and endless new experiences with people from all of the world. I can’t wait to see what next quarter has in store for me, and who I’m going to meet next.

DePaul Drag

​On May 1st I got to witness the DePaul Drag Show. Act Out, a DePaul club affiliated with LGBTQ, set up the show at Cortelyou Commons. The place was jam packed with drag lovers and queens (and kings) of all shapes and sizes. There were fur coats, wigs of all kinds, pristine makeup, and 6 inch heels. During the program, the queens got to perform a dance to the song of their choice. Every performance was sassy and saucy and I never knew I would experience something like this at DePaul. I don’t even have words to describe how amazing it was to be surrounded by the most supportive and accepting peers. At the end of all of the performances there was a lip sync/dance off between the three finalists. To me, they are all winners.  The amount of courage they have to show off their true colors is admirable. DePaul is truly a place of diversity.

DePaul will also be putting on another drag show on May 12th. During this show there will be a professional drag queen from the hit TV show Rupaul’s Drag Race performing.

Check out Act Out’s Twitter as well as LGBTQ.​



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.