It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Halloween is finally over and stores all across the city are preparing for the
holidays. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been listening to Christmas music
since July and you are ready to start celebrating. However, chances are you
fall among the majority who are just starting to embrace the start of the
festivities. Regardless, Chicago is getting everyone excited with all of its
yearly holiday traditions. If you’ve decided to spend November and December in
the city, here are some of my favorite things to do to get you in the Christmas
CTA Holiday Train
Anyone who lives in Chicago, is familiar with
the beloved CTA trains. Starting around the end of November, a few of the trains
will be fully decked out with holiday decorations. When I first moved to the
city, I was so happy to hear that this was something that they did. It’s so
exciting when you’re waiting for the train and the one that comes is decorated
with lights and streamers. If you want to make sure that you get the chance to
ride one, they always post the schedule on the CTA website near the end of
November- so be on the lookout for that!
You can’t talk about Christmas in Chicago
without mentioning the Christkindlmarket. This little market transforms the
Daley Plaza into a European village with booths full of different food and
drinks for you to try. With new vendors every year, there’s always more to
explore. The booths range from food to handmade ornaments and little trinkets
you can give as gifts. Depending on the day you go, there might be live music
and more entertainment so be sure to check the online calendar. I always
recommend getting the hot chocolate in the souvenir mug, it’s a staple for
every holiday season.
Ice Skating at Millennium Park
This is by far my favorite thing about Christmas
in the city. Every year around November, they put up an ice rink in front of
our beloved Cloud Gate sculpture (more commonly known as “The Bean”) and open
it up to the public. Admission is free, but if you need to rent skates that’s
an option as well. There’s a big Christmas tree in the plaza and everyone is in
a wonderful mood. If you get the opportunity to go, I would absolutely
recommend you do so.
Song of the Week: All I Want For Christmas Is You- Mariah Carey :)
When I decided to move to Chicago for college, the weather was the last thing on my mind. I grew up in Wisconsin so temperatures below zero were something I was very familiar with. However, once I experienced my first winter in Chicago I quickly realized that I was not prepared at all. Last year, winter started in October and it lasted well into late April. I went home for winter break and came back equipped with my warmest sweaters as a way to beat the cold. I had to learn how to endure windy city winters the hard way, but in case you’d rather be prepared, here are some essential items to keep you warm all winter long.
A Wind Resistant Coat
Do your research on this one! Last October, I had a normal parka as my winter coat but after discovering the Chicago wind, I wished I had a coat that could protect me from it. Investing in a good winter coat something I can’t stress enough. If you’re tight on money, this is a good thing to put on your Christmas wish list.
I like to joke that Steve Jobs is my style icon because I’m always in a turtleneck. I have a handful of black turtlenecks in my closet that I like to layer underneath everything and it makes a world of a difference.
The Blanket Scarf
Imagine this: it’s 8 am and you have class in 30 minutes, but the sky outside your window is gray and you’re so comfortable underneath your mountain of blankets. Now imagine how happy you’d be if you could take a blanket to class with you. This, my friends, is the beauty of the blanket scarf. I am guilty of wrapping it around me like a blanket during class and let me just say that my quality of life has drastically improved since this discovery.
Just like the wind resistant coat, investing in a quality pair of boots is also key. Here in Chicago, walking is a big way to get around so you want to make sure that your feet are warm. I bought a pair of long Hunter Boots and use them as both rain and winter boots all year.
Song of the Week: Emmylou- Vance Joy :)
A lot of young people in this country don’t realize the privilege is sitting right in front of them. Unfortunately, there is a lot of apathy surrounding elections and voting, especially among the younger generations. With every passing election, voter turnout is lowering when now is the time that people need their voices to be heard. Most of the time, we think to ourselves that our vote isn’t going to change anything. However, your voice and your vote does matter! More often than not, candidates end up winning by a handful of votes- one of which could be yours. I turned eighteen right after the election in 2016 and I’ve spent the past couple of years learning about how important it is to vote. If voting is something you’re still unsure of, here are some reasons why you might want to reconsider.
It’s Our Generation
I’ll admit that in high school I was really uninterested in politics because they seemed to be happening in a world far away from mine. However, I could not have been more wrong. Young adults are just starting to live their lives and are probably more impacted by policies surrounding education, taxes, and healthcare. It’s important to know where you stand on these issues so that you can elect someone who will let you have a say in these laws.
Fight For What You Believe In
I know I am extremely passionate about the environment and am always looking for new ways to be more eco-friendly. Unfortunately, the biggest changes have to come from laws and policies for us to see any drastic improvement. When the time comes to elect a new representative, I always do research and find someone who cares just as much about going green. After finding an issue that I was really passionate about, I found myself wanting to get more involved with politics, and I encourage you to do the same.
Vote Because You Can
There are so many people right now in countries across the world fighting for a right that people in America often take for granted. It is such a gift to be able to participate in law-making and electing representatives. Don’t let your voice be silenced and exercise your rights. Becoming an adult also means becoming more informed and involved with the world around you.
Song of the Week: Simplify- Young the Giant :)
When it comes to living in college, students have the option of residence halls or off-campus housing. While I loved my dorm experience and met a lot of my friends there, the freedom that comes with having your own apartment is something I truly enjoy. It’s such an important part of becoming independent and growing as an adult. That being said, a first apartment comes with a lot of responsibility and stress. Just in case you’re debating what kind of housing you want for the upcoming year, here are the pros and cons of living in an apartment.
When it comes down to it, you have more privacy in an apartment than you would in a dorm room. You have the ability to choose the size of your room, how big you want it and how much money you can afford to spend on housing. If done correctly, living in an apartment could save you a good amount of money because you can decide how you want to budget instead of committing to a big payment up front. There’s also the bonus of groceries living without a meal plan. I learned how to cook and how to make meals that I loved with my roommates. We have dinner together every weeknight and I feel like it’s been a good bonding experience as well as a learning opportunity.
Being an adult can be a wonderful experience, but as I mentioned before, it comes with more responsibilities than you may expect. My relationship with money has been pretty rocky for as long as I can remember. After moving into a place that I could call my own, I had to quickly learn how to budget and how to manage my spending. Paying rent and bills can be a bit stressful at times, but in the long run, I feel like I’m learning and growing as an individual and that in itself is worth it to me.
Song of the Week: South London Forever- Florence + The Machine
One of the biggest surprises that came to me after my first year as a college student was how much money I managed to spend. When I started the year I had already paid for a meal plan and housing so I wasn’t expecting to have any other expenses. One of the best things about living in a city is the abundance of things to do. Unfortunately, that also brings bad news for your bank account. At the start of my second year, I promised myself that I would be a more conscious spender. I wanted to start saving and become more financially stable. After two months of embracing this mindset, I’ve started to see results. I know money is something that causes a lot of stress for college students, so here are three of my most effective strategies on saving money.
This lifestyle is something radically different than the one I am currently living, but I’m getting there slowly. I used to be the kind of person who owned 50 dresses and had the right outfit for one specific event. When I was looking for new apartments, I realized that the closets in the rooms were way smaller than ones I was used to. As a result, I started a new experiment with my wardrobe during the summer. If I didn’t wear the item within 30 days, it got donated (or lovingly gifted to my sisters). This allowed me to shrink my closet, but it also made me realize that I didn’t wear or need as many clothes as I thought I did. I also started avoiding the urge to buy clothing impulsively. To me, minimalism means thinking about the things that add value to my life instead of the quantity of things that I own. When I’m out shopping and I see something that I like, I’ll ask myself I need it or if it would add value to my life. If the answer is no- which it usually is, then I don’t buy it. Over the course of a few months, this has saved me quite a lot of money.
Apply for Scholarships!
The biggest misconception a lot of students have is that the scholarship search stops when you get accepted into college. However, this could not be farther from the truth! Scholarships aren’t just for high school students, there are several targeted towards students in college. In fact, a lot of people have more luck winning scholarships when they’re in college because they have more projects and skills to show off. Focus on local scholarships targeted towards your university, and spend a solid 30 minutes a week applying. I promise this will not be a waste of your time.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts!
This one probably sounds like the most obvious, but I don’t think that students realize how many major companies offer discounts for students. One of my favorite resources is Unidays, it’s a website where they list all of the discounts for students and it’s updated weekly. If you’re a big online shopper, I also recommend adding Ebates and Honey to your Chrome extension. Ebates offers you cash back on a lot of your online purchases for companies like American Eagle, Target and Amazon. Honey is a service that finds hidden coupons while you are browsing online and then applies them at checkout. Both of these are completely free and guaranteed to save you money.
Song of the Week: Patricia- Florence and the Machine :)
Upon arriving at college, incoming students are usually worried about making new friends, their schedules and adjusting to a new way of living. College can be a lot to balance, especially when you’ve never experienced something quite like it. I work as a CQM for a class of first-year students and when I asked them if they actively practice self-care, the responses I received were a combination of laughter and confused looks. I learned that they didn’t think self-care was important enough to dedicate time to or they just didn’t know how to practice this kind of behavior. There has been a variety of studies and surveys with findings concluding that an overwhelming amount of young people are struggling or have struggled with anxiety. One study in particular found that 41.6% of college students said that anxiety was affecting their lives.
This year I moved into a new apartment and my roommates and I started a new tradition called “Self-Care Sunday”. We realized that we couldn’t neglect our mental health this year and decided to dedicate a few hours on Sundays to take care of those needs. The following are some of my favorite self-care activities.
Sing loudly in the shower.
I don’t have scientific evidence that this is effective. However, I can personally say that there is nothing more therapeutic than belting out the words to your favorite song after a long day. Not to mention, the bathroom acoustics will have you convinced that you should be a signed artist.
Call your mom.
If you are a college student, chances are you have a pretty tight and busy schedule. It’s also safe to say that you probably haven’t called your mom in a while. My mom is one of the funnies women in my life and after a short 5 minute conversation with her, I feel so much better.
Clean up your living space.
For me, nothing is more stressful than a messy living area. During the week, I’m guilty of throwing my clothes all over the floor and forgetting to pick them up. After cleaning my room, I feel so relieved. It’s as if all the clutter in my life has magically disappeared.
Self-care is incredibly important and I encourage you to find an hour in your week to dedicate to yourself. Contrary to popular belief, self-care doesn’t have to be a grandiose event where you go to the spa and all of your problems magically disappear. Self-care is an ongoing process, all it takes is finding the strategy that works best with you and sticking with it. You are worth all of the stars in the universe and deserve every ounce of love that comes your way. Take care of yourself and hold on to the little things that bring you joy.
Song of the Week: Walls- The Lumineers
Happy fall everyone! There’s just nothing like the delicate transitions to crimson and gold and new Starbucks drinks. Not to mention counting down the days until we can wear silly costumes and justify eating lots of unhealthy food, all in the good spirit of Halloween, of course. Unfortunately, October doesn’t only bring cozy sweaters and spiced lattes. Yes, the FAFSA season is upon us.
Fortunately for us admitted students, the chilly autumn months don’t bring as much stress as they used to when we were in high school. But if you find yourself feeling anxious about the college admissions process, here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Keep an eye on the deadlines
Most universities offer two deadlines: early action and regular decision. Sometimes they want you to apply early decision. It’s important to know what these plans mean and when all the information is due.
Early action is the route I chose to go and the one students should choose for their top universities. What this plan means is that you apply to the university earlier than other applicants normally would. Students receive an earlier response to their application but do not have to commit to the school until National Decision Day (May 1st). These applications are generally due early November.
Early decision plans are binding, meaning that if you get accepted into the school you must attend that college. These contracts are offered more in prestigious schools. Applications for early decision are also due in the beginning of November.
Regular decision is the normal process by which students apply to college. These applications are frequently due in the middle of January and applicants receive a response late March/early April.
2. What is important to you?
Location. Student/Faculty ratio. Tuition. Majors offered. Size. Acceptance rate. Private or public? All of these are factors to consider when applying to college. I know I prefer smaller universities to large ones because I learn better in a close-knit environment. Know what you like and what you don’t and then use that information when selecting a university.
3. Financial Aid
Everyone should fill out the FAFSA. Let me say it louder for the people in the back. EVERYONE SHOULD FILL OUT THE FAFSA. Regardless of income and background, the FAFSA is a great tool- and it’s free! It offers you grants (which you don’t have to pay back) as well as give you information about loans that you qualify for if that’s an option your family was considering. (Did I mention it was FREE???).
4. Apply, Apply, APPLY!
Applying to colleges has been made way easier thanks to the Common App. You can fill out one application and submit it to as many universities as you want. Keep in mind that the more colleges you apply to, the more options you’ll have in the spring. So apply to as many as you can, there’s nothing to lose.
Good luck everyone and happy college application season!
Song of the Week: Dandelion Wine- Gregory Alan Isakov
Coming into college as a first-year student, I thought I had my studying strategies down to a tee. After being in school for a few weeks, I quickly realized that was not the case. DePaul is on the quarter system, which means that professors have to teach their class in a shorter amount of time. This also means that as students, we have less time to learn and retain said information. Being the psychology student who is very interested in the mind and how it works, I deemed it only necessary to conduct some research on how to study more efficiently. I wrote down a list and began experimenting until I found some techniques that worked well for my classes and my learning habits. Here are some of my favorite studying tips!
I know this doesn’t sound like a studying tip, but I promise it is one of the most important first steps. Before you can retain information, you have to figure out how you process it best. I realized in high school that my brain responds well to visual stimuli and I can learn new concepts much easier when they’re written in fun colors and accompanied by pictures. There are several tests online that can help you determine what kind of learner you are. Once you have this figured out, use that information to your advantage and cater your note-taking and studying around it.
Consider the Pomodoro Technique
For a lot of people, myself included, time is not a luxury we can often enjoy. We’re constantly racing to learn as much information as quickly as we can to meet deadlines and finish assignments. The reason why I like to use this technique is because it puts time back in your control. In a nutshell, the Pomodoro Technique is when you set a timer for 25 minutes and concentrate on only one task for that entire time. After the timer goes off, you can take a 5-minute break and then reset it. It sounds very simple, but time after time it’s been proven very effective. I would recommend that you play around with the time intervals until you find one that suits your needs. Personally, I like to set a 45-minute timer and then take a 15-minute break!
The whole point of this strategy is to work smarter not harder. When we learn something, it isn’t stored in a single location but is instantly scattered across various regions in your brain. Spaced repetition is simple, but highly effective because it deliberately hacks the way your brain works. It forces learning to be effortful, and like muscles, the brain responds to that stimulus by strengthening the connections between nerve cells. By spacing the intervals out, you’re further exercising these connections each time. There are lots of good websites that allow you to make flashcards online and they separate the information you know best from the ones you need more practice with.
Song of the Week: Pulaski at Night- Andrew Bird :)
Even though this is my second year living in Chicago, I still haven’t visited a lot of the major attractions that drive tourists to our city. My love for history and learning has led me to visit all the museums, but for some reason, I never got around to going to the Shedd Aquarium. One of my roommates talks very highly of the aquarium and mentioned that this month, Illinois residents get free admission. With no plans on Sunday, we decided to make the trip to the Museum Campus so I could finally say I’ve been to the Shedd.
As we got off the train and got closer to the aquarium, we found ourselves trapped behind groups of Segways and strollers. It was a beautiful day, so naturally, several families had also planned trips to see the pretty sea life. Once we beat the crowds and were welcomed inside with lovely air conditioning, no time was wasted and we began to walk around the different exhibits. There’s something really special about being able to see such a variety of species interact with one another in their habitats. When we were in the shark exhibit, I couldn’t help but marvel at how graceful and calm they looked. In the past, I’ve always feared them, but now I just appreciate how incredible of an animal they are.
Another thing I really appreciated about the Shedd, was its determination to educate the public. Throughout the building, there were sculptures of different sea animals made entirely out of plastic. This encourages people to think twice about how their daily choices are affecting animals on the other side of the planet. Humans are tactile creatures with an amazing propensity for compassion. However, that compassion is often not founded from textbooks or television shows. Most people find it difficult to care about a species halfway around the world or to worry about the destruction of land they have never stepped foot on. Aquariums facilitate a connection between those who may never leave their country, or even their home state and the animals. I left the aquarium with a higher appreciation for ocean life, and made a promise to be mindful of every creature that lives on Earth.
If you get the chance to visit, the Shedd is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon. And I know for a fact that the beluga whales will be very happy to see you!
Song of the Week: Swallowed In The Sea- Coldplay :)
It’s not unknown that college can be very expensive. Tuition alone can cause people immense stress - and that doesn’t include housing, textbooks or other hidden fees. As an incoming freshman, I heard rumors about the cost of textbooks, but it wasn’t until I stepped foot in the bookstore that they were confirmed. Our school is on the quarter system which means that every 3-4 months, our professors require different books. After a year here at DePaul, I quickly learned how to avoid insane textbook costs, and I’m here to share a few of my favorite tips.
Compare Prices on Websites!
Slugbooks.com is the first place I go when I have to order a textbook. All you do is type in the title of your book or the ISBN number, and it shows you the prices on different websites. My favorite part of Slugbooks is that they show you both the option to buy and to rent, so you know that you’re getting the cheapest option.
Consider an E-book or Online Alternative!
While printed textbooks are really nice (and my personal preference), a PDF version or an e-book have proven to be way less expensive. The pros to this option are that you don’t have to wait for shipping and you’ll always have your copy on your laptop, so it’s impossible to lose.
Wait Until the First Day of Class!
*Disclaimer: This doesn’t work for everyone or every class*
There have been so many times when I’ve bought a textbook for a class and then only ended up referencing it twice. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of money on a book that you don’t really need. My advice is to wait until the first day of classes and see if the professor truly requires it before you purchase it.
Song of the Week: Winter Song- The Head and the Heart :)
With only a week left of freshman year, I’ve found myself journaling more often and filling the pages with reflective thoughts. This year has been nothing short of exciting and I find myself reminiscing about all of the experiences that I’ve had. When I came to DePaul in the fall, I had no idea what the year had in store for me. Feelings of anxiety and doubt circled my mind, but they were quickly replaced with excitement and love for all that this city has to offer. This first year has been full of a lot of changes and positive academic and personal growth. For my last blog of my first year, I wanted to share a few things that I learned along the way.
How to Develop a New Independence.
I’ve lived in a relatively small town my entire life and moving to a city as big as Chicago was definitely a big shock for me. I expected to be overwhelmed for a long time, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would benefit from the size of the city. I used to be the kind of person that would cling to friends and avoid going anywhere alone out of fear of being judged by other people. However, with the help of public transit, I began to develop an independence and new confidence that I didn’t know I could have. Running errands, walking around the city and eating alone became activities that I found myself enjoying.
The Importance of Maintaining Relationships.
While I was living at home, I would do everything I could to spend as much time as I could with friends and family. Having a strong community is something that I’ve always valued and leaving for college has only strengthened those relationships. Because I’m living out of state, I’ve put more effort into communicating with the people that have added value to my life. My favorite method is writing letters to friends and family because it feels more personal than a phone call.
Asking for Help is Okay.
Being fairly introverted, I’ve always been terrified to ask other people questions or help when I needed it. Attending college and being given a bigger workload, I learned that asking for help is inevitable. After getting over the initial fear of approaching professors, I ended up really benefiting from their help. All of the professors I’ve had are extremely friendly and want to see you succeed. Not to mention they’re crucial for networking and also some pretty interesting people to get to know.
I couldn’t be happier with my first-year experience. I was introduced to some of the best people I’ve ever met and have done things I didn’t know I was capable of. Thank you, DePaul for a great start to my college career, I’ll happily see you in the fall! :)
Song of the Week: Hunger- Florence and the Machine
As someone who is incredibly keen on learning new things, going to museums is something I adore. With different exhibits surrounding a time period, idea, or area of study, it is evident that the primary goal of museums is to educate and engage its community. The environment that they cultivate provides an effortless yet effective way of learning. During the time I’ve lived here, something I have found myself feeling extremely grateful for is the wide array of museums to visit. And not only that but the fact that many of the museums are FREE to visit. Whether you’re interested in art, different cultures or science, I can guarantee that Chicago has a museum for you. In case you have no idea where to look, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best museums that I’ve encountered.
Song of the Week: This Beautiful Life- Colony House
- The Art Institute of Chicago. Notorious for the lion statues that guard the entrance and the beautiful garden on the side of the building, this museum is a must-see for any Chicago resident. Being home to my favorite painting, “Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, it’s only fair to say that this museum has a special place in my heart. A lot of their exhibits display well-known paintings including work by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. As a DePaul student, you get free admission year-round; which to me is the best gift anyone could ever give me.
- The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. I’ve noticed the letters “MCA” near the Water Tower on Michigan Avenue, but it wasn’t until my roommate told me about this museum that we actually went and visited. I’m a big fan of art (especially modern art) and I loved the variety of pieces that they showcased. This museum is free to Illinois residents every Tuesday (which includes students!!)
- The DePaul Art Museum. I’m embarrassed to say that it took me until this past Sunday to finally explore the museum on campus. This beautiful building is located right next to the Fullerton stop and right in front of the Wish Field. With 4-6 different exhibits being rotated annually, there is always something new to admire. :)
Whenever I ask adults what their favorite part of college was, a large percentage of their responses relate to how involved they were. One of the best parts about going away to college is the opportunity to discover different parts of yourself. By investing your time in different organizations on campus, you have more freedom to explore those passions. There are multiple ways to involve yourself while pursuing your degree. DePaul has a convenient website, OrgSync, where every club and organization is listed to make it easy to see what is available.
I joined a lot of clubs when I started in the fall and was quick to realize that not all of them were for me. I did, however, find something that I really liked. In the winter, I found a research team that needed volunteers for their Epi-CFS team. After submitting my resume, and going in for an interview, they offered me a volunteer position and I’ve been working with them ever since. Through this opportunity, I’ve gotten the chance to network and meet with lots of different people in the psychology community. I volunteer at the center four hours a week, calling and screening-eligible participants. The research assistants on the team are some of the kindest people I’ve met and they’ve created a wonderful community within the center. Even though I’m only a first-year student, they’ve already offered to write me letters of recommendation for graduate school and are there to answer any questions I have. These are resources I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t looked into being involved on campus.
Finding activities that you're passionate about is just as important in college as it was in high school. It’s important to keep an open mind, one of the best things about being in a new place is trying things you would have never imagined you could do. Be patient, you’ll find the club that’s right for you in no time. :)
Song of the Week: Like Vineyards- Little India
It’s here! It’s here! The trees are beginning to grow leaves, the grass is finally green again, and the sunshine reminds your skin of a warmth you haven’t felt in a long time. Springtime in the city is well underway, and you couldn’t be happier about it. The only downside? All of your friends that go to schools on the semester system are already enjoying their summer vacation while you have one more month until finals. But worry not, for I’ve thought up a few ways to make the most of the few weeks while staying on top of your work.
As it warms up, consider a change of scenery and do your homework outside. DePaul’s quad is absolutely gorgeous and one of my favorite places to be. The trees are just far enough apart to set up a hammock and do some reading for class. If that’s not really your thing, there are some tables with solar-powered charging stations for your laptop. There truly is no excuse not to be outside, and hopefully, it will help you feel like you’re not missing out on spring weather.
Plan Out Your Week!
Being the queen of procrastination, I admit that this is something I’m still trying to get better at. However, mapping out your week and dedicating time to completing assignments will greatly help reduce your stress levels. Prioritize what you can get done and what you can hold off on to give you more control over your time.
Make Time For You!
Even though school should be your main concern, don’t neglect your needs and the things that bring you joy. It’s easy to feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to dedicate to yourself, but these things are very important for your well-being. Laugh with some friends, have a picnic on the beach, or enjoy some ice cream from Jeni’s (10/10 would recommend). Just remember to devote some time to yourself, everything else can wait.
Summer vacation is right around the corner so stay persistent, make time to relax, and get ready to CRUSH the rest of spring quarter! :)
Song of the Week: Next Year- Two Door Cinema Club
College is going to be a completely new experience. You’ll get to meet different people, move into a room with someone you may not know and make decisions independent of your parents. This is one of the most exciting yet trying times of your life. It’s very easy to get comfortable in our own worlds; which is why it’s important to remember that there is something to learn from every person you interact with. In dedicating time to hear about different experiences from others, there is the opportunity for individual growth.
I would say that my college experience here at DePaul has been unique to that of any other schools. With a campus in Lincoln Park and the Loop, I’ve had the chance to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. Chicago is home to 2.7 million beautiful people and living here has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of them. Building relationships and networking is a crucial skill to have as a young professional, and what better place to practice that than a big city school?
Not only have I had the chance to befriend people here at DePaul, but also at other universities in the Chicago area. This past year alone, I’ve met some incredible people from Loyola, Northwestern, and UIC. In doing so, my college experience has incorporated the different cultures from various universities. I love how accessible everything is via transit and how easy it is to go visit the different campuses.
There is something incredible about merging school cultures and getting to show other students around the best parts of campus. Some of my favorite people come from halfway across the country and I wouldn’t have met them had it not been for college. I carry a little piece of every person I’ve encountered with me, and I can’t wait to keep learning from new people. :)
Song of the Week: Real Peach- Henry Jamison
Deciding where to go to college is no easy choice to make. Around this time last year, I remember making lots of lists, desperately trying to figure out where I wanted to go to school in the fall. I come from a city in Wisconsin where it’s very common for high school seniors to consider the big state school, UW-Madison, as their college option. While there were a lot of people telling me that Madison would be a good fit for me, I felt in my heart that I wanted to do something different. Going out of state was definitely something I wanted to do, but being close to my family was really important to me. After weighing out my options, DePaul seemed like the perfect decision for me. I’ve been living here for almost a year now, and I continue to fall in love with different parts of the community and the school each day. There are lots of reasons as to why this university has been the best option for me and since lists are what I’m best at, here’s why I chose DePaul:
- Location! With two campuses in very different locations, you truly get the best of both worlds here. Lincoln Park has the stereotypical college campus with a beautiful quad and all the buildings close by, while the Loop campus is centrally located downtown, with Millennium Park just a five-minute walk away. Not only is there so much to do here, but it was also only 2 hours away from home so I could easily visit if I ever got homesick.
- Academics! Coming into college I knew I wanted to study Psychology. I love the program and all of the opportunities that come with living in such an exciting city. I joined a research team and volunteer for them by screening participants. It was important for me to get opportunities like this because I was unsure of the concentration I wanted to pursue and needed to see the options available. I also added Spanish as a double major, and have had very positive experiences with the department.
- Size! I knew that I worked best in smaller class sizes, so this was a big factor when it came down to choosing schools. I like DePaul because even though it feels small during class, you have a whole world to explore when you step out into the city. Another perk of having smaller classes is the relationship you get to build with your classmates and professors. They all know my name by the second week of class and always say hi if I see them around campus.
- Campus Life! DePaul places a lot of emphasis on its core Vincentian values. The school is named after St. Vincent and dedicates a good amount of work to make sure that the spirit of service that he embodied is represented throughout campus. I felt welcomed the minute I stepped foot on the quad and the feeling has stayed with me through the year.
Sitting on my bed, reflecting on my college decision, I could not be happier with how things turned out. Even though it’s only my first year, I’ve grown so much as a person and a student. I’ve created my own home away from home here in Chicago and I couldn’t imagine having the college experience anywhere else. Good luck to all of the lovely seniors on your college decisions, I hope to see some of you next year!! :)
Song of the Week: Cold- Novo Amor
The thought of starting college can be exciting and simultaneously stressful. One of the biggest worries incoming students face is the housing process and roommate situation. When I made the decision to move to Chicago and attend DePaul, I decided against finding someone to live with off of Facebook and opted for the random roommate option. A month or so after completing my housing agreement, I got a letter in the mail saying that I was going to live in Munroe Hall along with my roommate’s contact information.
And just in case you’re still packing, here’s a list of things you may not think to bring to college:
- A REALLY long charging cord. DePaul doesn’t allow extension cords in the dorms and there aren’t a lot of outlets in the dorms, so a long cord is incredibly helpful.
- A Stapler. I can’t even tell you how many papers I had to write this first year and organization is key! The cute little stapler on my desk and I quickly became really good friends.
- A Photo Album - As a graduation gift, my best friend gave me a photo album of all of the pictures she had of us. Looking through it is an easy solution for the inevitable homesickness.
- Rain Gear! A quality pair of rain boots can double as rain and snow gear. Chicago is located in the Midwest, need I say more?
Song of the Week: West- Sleeping at Last
Chicago is known for a lot of things: Navy Pier, the bean in Millennium Park, deep dish pizza and unfortunately, extremely long winters (I say as I write this in April). One day while waiting for the train, a friend of mine noticed that the heat lamps had a sign that read “operate November 1 through March 1”. He asked if the winters were truly that long, to which I nodded unhappily. Once the cold months hit, it’s hard to imagine a time where the sun was a consistent part of each day. Fortunately, after living in the Midwest for nineteen years, I’ve gotten some insight on a few things that can help you battle the long winters.
Remind Yourself of the Color Green!
When the sky is constantly gray it’s easy to forget that the world was once painted with other colors. My favorite way to reincorporate green into my life is by buying flowers and succulents to brighten up the room. Additionally, Chicago has two beautiful conservatories that are both warm and free! If you don’t feel like making the trip to the Garfield Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is a short walk from campus. They always showcase a diverse collection of greenery that serves as a wonderful reminder of what the warmth will bring
Taking care of yourself is so important, especially during the colder months. Drinking enough water keeps your skin hydrated and healthy, despite the cold air. Exercising releases endorphins into your system that both boosts your mood and helps fight stress. Also eating food that’s rich in vitamins can help compensate for the lack of Vitamin D the sun isn’t providing.
Surround Yourself with Positive People!
Several studies show that the people with whom we surround ourselves with make a big difference in our emotions, both positively and negatively. During the winter, it’s easy to isolate yourself and most of your time doing activities alone. Spend more time with friends and people that you can share laughs with, it’s more than likely that their excitement and smiles will be contagious. :)
Song of the Week: Camera- Young the Giant
Due to a busier class schedule and work, this is the first year I’m spending Easter away from my family. I’m not fond of change and celebrating the holiday in a different city was something I was dreading. Fortunately, one of my lovely friends was also spending the weekend in town and asked me to go to church with him. His love for architecture and need to explore led us to the Holy Name Cathedral, right off of the Chicago stop on the red line. The church was beautifully decorated with stained glass and lots of flowers for the holiday. Our plan was to get there early so that we could find seats but we underestimated how busy the service would be. Every row was packed with families and friendly faces, we walked around the whole building before finding a spot to sit.
The mass went by quickly and even though it was a new experience, I ended up really enjoying it. Growing up, my parents raised me to be Catholic. I’ve noticed that ever since moving to Chicago, my appreciation for the religion and the beliefs they teach has increased. Although DePaul is affiliated with the Catholic church, you have to actively seek out the religious side of campus (just look for the cardboard cutout of the pope in the Student Center). This separation has allowed me to further develop my faith because it’s something I’m looking for voluntarily.
College is all about discovering new things about yourself and staying true to the values you cherish. I love using my faith as an excuse to go out into the city and find new churches with new faces. Despite spending Easter away from home, today was one of my favorite days. Tommy and I started a tradition of eating breakfast at 2:30 pm, and that’s something I hope will never change. :)
Song of the Week: A Dog’s Adventure- Atta Boy
As soon as the car was parked, we wasted no time to get inside the cabin. Some people stayed and started cooking dinner while others took the golf cart out for a spin. There was so much to do, but we still found time to relax. With temperatures so low, the lake was still frozen enough to walk on. It was a little nerve-wracking to have so many people on the ice at once, but we got some really cool pictures out of it. I had forgotten how beautiful sunsets could be, and you could see every color painted on to the sky when you stood on the lake. As the day darkened, spontaneity took us on a walk through the forest. If you looked up, the stars decorated every corner of the sky. Never in my life had I seen that many stars at once; we all took turns pointing out different constellations that were familiar to us.
Even though we didn’t get to escape the cold, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my spring break any other way. I got some quality time with some of my favorite people and we got away from the city stress for a while. A massive thank you to Evan for taking us to his cabin, I can’t wait to go back. :)
Song of the Week: Like Gold- Vance Joy
This weekend, a good friend of mine came to visit from Washington D.C. She had been to Chicago before but not for an extended amount of time. Aside from the main tourist attractions like Millennium Park and Maggie Daley, I got to show her around the pockets of the city that she hadn’t explored yet. It’s interesting to think that you could go from being a complete stranger to a city and then turn it into your home in a short amount of time. Only having lived here for six months, I’ve accumulated a long list of places to show people when they visit.
After spending the day downtown, we made our way to Old Town for a comedy show at The Second City
. The venue is massive, containing stages ranging in size to cater to any show they put on. We were seated in an intimate room where the comedians were only a few feet in front of the audience. Well known for its diverse set of shows and history, this comedy club is definitely one I would go back to. It incorporated stand up and musical comedy as well as ending the show with a live band performance. I had only been to one comedy show before but this one is easily high on my list of favorite experiences I’ve had while living in Chicago.
If you’re ever in town with no idea what to do, I would highly recommend checking out Second City. I left laughing harder than I had in a while and looking for another opportunity to go back and watch another show.
Song of the Week: Stay Alive-José González
There is something absolutely magical about going to a concert. You’re in a room full of strangers, bonded only by mutual love for the artist and their work, but within seconds you are connected. Being amidst excellence and pure talent makes you incredibly grateful to get to be a part of that experience. I love watching people pour every fiber of their being into their work and have that passion radiate through the speakers. It’s inspiring, encouraging and such a vital feeling of empowerment to indulge in. You get to experience the fullness of the art because the artist is right in front of you, carefully cultivating every moment that you will treasure in your memory every time you hear that song.
Chicago’s music scene is steeped in culture. Whether you enjoy classical, jazz or the latest hit on the radio, there are venues and artists here for everyone. The music scene was definitely a bonus when I moved here. I adore going to concerts; they’re one of the best experiences you can have. This past weekend a few friends and I had the opportunity to go see Florist and WHY? live at Lincoln Hall. Just a few blocks away from campus, Lincoln Hall is one of my favorite venues with live performances almost every day.
Both bands put on such a wonderful show, and due to the intimate nature of the venue, we were right by the stage. Afterward, I went to the bathroom and ran into the lead singer for Florist, Emily, and chatted with her for a few minutes. She told me about her journey as an artist and how being on tour has been unlike anything she’s ever experienced. Her energy was so calming and she was genuinely grateful for our support. It’s moments like these that make me so grateful to live in the city. If you’re ever curious to see what concerts are happening around you, check out chicago.ohmyrockness.com, they also let you know about free shows too!
Song of the Week: Cool and Refreshing-Florist
Transitioning to a new place is always nerve wrecking. There are many uncertainties and everything around you is changing faster than you anticipated. College is completely different from high school and often, we don’t know what to expect. At DePaul, there are a variety of programs and activities implemented to help students adjust to the new city lifestyle. Our orientation is called “Premiere DePaul;” it is a mandatory overnight stay designed to introduce incoming students to all of the resources that DePaul has to offer.
Once you’re signed up for one of the sessions, you are divided into groups based on the major you declared on your application. An Orientation Leader (OL) is assigned to your group and they are meant to help guide you and answer any questions you may have. My group consisted of students from the College of Science and Health, and they weren’t all necessarily psychology majors. This is the first time you are introduced to your future classmates and it’s interesting to see how Chicago draws the attention of people from across the country.
Orientation consists of a lot of introductions and icebreakers for your small group as well as a plethora of information being thrown at you. While this may seem overwhelming, you can ask questions that you may have at any time and there are people there to answer them. During this time, you pick your classes for the fall quarter as well as get more familiar with the campus. There are optional tours of the university and information sessions going on at varied times. Students sleep in the dorms for the overnight portion of orientation to get familiar with dorm life.
It’s important to remember that everyone is nervous going into college and this is a wonderful time to acquaint yourself with some friendly faces. Orientation is only the beginning, so have fun, put yourself out there and welcome to your future here at DePaul! :)
Song of the Week: All Comes Down-Kodaline
It’s about that time of the term where we have to stop everything that we’re doing and pick out courses for the next quarter. I can’t believe that there’s only one quarter left until I’m done with my first year of college. This time last year, I was still debating between schools. I remember that DePaul required incoming students to choose between Discover Chicago and Explore Chicago before even selecting classes for the fall term. Both courses are aimed to help first-year students get acclimated to a new environment and immersed into the Chicago lifestyle.
The First Year Program offers a wide variety of options when it comes to these courses. This year, the options I had ranged anywhere from “Death in the City” to “Chicago’s Public Art & Murals”. There is a course for everyone, the only thing is that they fill up fast so it’s wise to sign up as soon as you can. I remember feeling confused about what Discover and Explore Chicago were and their main differences. To ease some of those worries, I’m here to give you an in-depth rundown of these classes.
Discover Chicago starts with an Immersion Week, that takes place a week before the beginning of fall quarter. During this week, you and your class will learn about different places around the city as well as take trips that pertain to the course. This is also the time when you get familiar with using the CTA and public transit. Students who take this class get to move in a week earlier because of the Immersion Week. After the first week, the class will meet once a week for 3 hours for 7 weeks during fall quarter.
Explore Chicago starts right at the beginning of fall term and it works like every other one of your classes. Students who take Explore are in that course for the full 10-week quarter and meet twice a week for 4 hours. Because this class starts at the beginning of the quarter, Explore students move in at the same time that all of the other students do which is the weekend before the start of the term.
Discover Chicago was the route I ended up choosing because I got to move in a week before everyone else and wanted a bit more time to get used to the city. The class I took was “Psychology of Chicago’s Parks” and it was one of my favorites. I met some of my best friends there and we explored a lot of hidden gems that I would never know about had I not taken this class. Regardless of which option you choose, I guarantee that you will come out knowing a lot more about the city than you did before.
Song of the Week: Build It Better- Aron Wright
Contrary to popular opinion, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Despite all of the consumerism and overall panic that surrounds the holiday, to me, it’s always been one of the best times of the year. Valentine’s Day is a whole day that we dedicate to celebrating all kinds of love: love for your family, your friends, your partner and most importantly, yourself. It’s a day to look around and realize how many people appreciate and support you. Even though it’s one of the most dreaded holidays, I for one, am a huge fan of having another excuse to thank the people I care about. This year, I made my roommate pancakes to show her how much I appreciate her. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite random acts of kindness that
you can use to spread some love next time February 14th rolls around.
- Text someone good morning and send them warm thoughts
- Write positive sticky notes and leave them around your room or apartment as friendly reminders
- Pay for someone’s CTA commute (someone did this for me and it was the sweetest gesture)
- Send some flowers to friends that you haven’t seen in a while
- Smile at a stranger on public transit, just because
- Pay for the person behind you at Starbucks
- Leave a generous tip and a thank you note at for the server at your next meal
- Write and mail a letter to a family member or close friend
- Practice gratitude by allowing yourself a few moments in your day to reflect on all of the wonderful things you have in your life
I hope that everyone had a lovely Valentine’s Day, and I challenge you to spread love any way you can next February! :)
Song of the Week: Loving Is Easy- Rex Orange County
The only downside to living in the Midwest is that the winter seems to drag on way longer than they should. Visits from the sun are less frequent and the sky seems to have forgotten that there are colors besides white and gray. I’m the type of person that needs to be surrounded by natural color in order to be productive. That’s why this weekend I decided to make the trip down to the Garfield Park Conservatory and take a morning yoga class.
Popular for its stunning displays of diverse greenery, the Garfield Park Conservatory is the perfect place to escape the winter for an afternoon. Always free and open daily, this beautiful Chicagoan gem is about 45 minutes from campus right off the green line.
The conservatory has different activities that vary every month, and this past weekend a few friends and I decided to grab our mats and check out the yoga class that they offered. Accompanied by a hundred excited strangers of all ages, the room was packed and full of positive energy. I’ve done yoga in several different places, but this class was undeniably the best experience out of all of them. Decorated with a beautiful fountain in the middle, and surrounded by a diverse population of trees the ambiance of the room was perfect for a relaxing yoga practice. We enjoyed ourselves, to say the least.
There’s always something going
on at the conservatory. This yoga class runs every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9-10 am. If you need a little pick me up, I would absolutely recommend you try it out. If yoga isn’t really your thing, I’m looking for someone to try the beekeeping class with me! :)
Song of the Week: Cool It Child- Hazlett
I’m stopping by to share some college student realness: you will spend many hours and many dollars at coffee shops. If you’re thinking “but I don’t really like coffee”, well, you will soon learn to like it out of necessity or succumb to peer pressure. As soon as midterms roll around, I always find myself consuming copious amounts of coffee in order to function properly. Chicago is pretty incredible and has a lot of places that you can try until you find a favorite. I’m fortunate enough to have a roommate that loves coffee and tea as much as I do and is very willing to try new places. Going out to coffee shops is a good way to surround yourself with a new environment and explore the city a bit more. To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites around campus.
Bourgeois Pig- Located a just a block past the School of Music, this is the most convenient place to visit. My favorite thing about this coffee shop is the cozy environment and the fact that most of the items on their menu have literary names. Not to mention, DePaul students get a 10% discount when you show your ID!
Colectivo Coffee- This coffee shop has a special place in my heart because the company started near my hometown in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Known for their funky vibes and iconic skull cups, this is where I go when I’m feeling homesick and want a really good cup of coffee. It’s a bit further of a walk but absolutely worth it. Their outdoor patio is gorgeous, so I’d recommend visiting when it’s warmer out.
Hero Coffee- This is a coffee shop to visit when it’s warm outside because their seating is located in the alley in front of the cafe. It’s a very popularly photographed place but it took me half an hour to find the first time I went. It’s hidden across the street from the Barnes & Nobles on campus and is definitely worth a visit.
Song of the Week: Shake It Out- Florence and the Machine
Athletic is a word I’ve always used to describe myself. In high school, I was involved in a variety of sports and I enjoyed being active. In moving to a new city and adjusting to a more demanding schedule, finding time to exercise daily became a challenge. Lucky for me, I got a membership to the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center when I decided to enroll at DePaul. Often referred to as “the Ray,” our gym has a multitude of options that meets everyone’s athletic needs. As someone who has zero knowledge about how to use any exercise machine besides the treadmill and gets easily intimidated by fit strangers, I usually opt for the fitness classes. From pilates to cardio kickboxing, there’s a variety of new workouts to try. These are some of the best classes that I’ve taken are
Yoga: I used to play soccer in high school and yoga helped me stretch out my body. Not only is it a really healthy way to relax and meditate, but it’s also secretly a workout. With some ab exercises subtly woven into the practice, this class will have you do hard work without you realizing it. There’s usually at least one yoga class that runs every day so it’s easy to find a time to go, even during the busiest of weeks.
Boxing Bootcamp: A friend of mine convinced me to try this (thanks, Tommy!), and even though I felt totally out of my element at first, I ended up really enjoying myself. There is something very empowering about learning different kinds of punches and realizing that I’m absolutely capable of defending myself, should the occasion ever arise. This class does wonders for your arms. Fair warning though, you will be EXTREMELY sore after day one.
Zumba: Dancing is one of those activities that I am absolutely horrible at but continue to do because it’s so much fun. The combination of upbeat music and a room full of energetic people is such a powerful motivator and will get you through 45 minutes of intense Zumba.
I’ve grown to love the Ray and incorporate a visit into my daily routine. Going to these classes with friends is a fun activity that will encourage healthy habits (and it’s free!). Even if occasionally it means braving the cold, I know I’ll feel really good after working out. And as a bonus, they have really delicious smoothies in the cafe on the first level :)
Song of the Week: Don’t Take the Money- Bleachers
With the start of a new year comes a long list of resolutions that usually takes a while for me to start addressing. That’s why this past November, I decided that I was going to start my journey towards self-betterment a little earlier. Over the course of the past two months, I chose to transition into a vegetarian lifestyle. Meat wasn’t a huge part of my diet before, so I thought it wouldn’t that big of an adjustment. I made this change while we were on our long winter break, and I grew nervous about maintaining this diet in college, where the food available to me was more limited.
Fortunately, I returned to the student center pleasantly surprised. Over the break, the university had built a new vegan restaurant next to the sandwich deli. “Rooted ” offers the option of a wrap, a salad or a bowl with lots of different kinds of yummy foods to mix together for endless combinations. This was my first experience with vegan food and I fell in love with it! This is my new go-to place because everything goes well together and it’s so delicious, you can’t even tell it’s healthy.
One of the things I appreciate about DePaul is how accommodating they are to students’ needs. There is a variety of foods to enjoy even with a limited diet. In case you need some more inspiration, a few of my favorites meals are:
Salads with a lot of garbanzo beans. Right when you walk into the main portion of the cafeteria, there’s a salad bar that’s always stocked with enough fresh greens to satisfy any salad craving.
Buffalo Mozzarella Sandwich. The Bean is the main cafe on campus. They’re always stocked with lots of different sandwich and wrap options when you want a quick bite to eat before class. I love the buffalo mozzarella sandwich because it’s super filling and easy to take with me.
Veggie Sushi. We are fortunate enough to have a kitchen staff that makes fresh sushi every day. That’s right, FRESH sushi. The veggie sushi holds a very special place in my heart. They sell it at ETC, which can be found on the second floor of the student center. I will say that sushi is super popular and it goes quick. For the most variety, I’d suggest going early in the afternoon.
There are lots of signs and labels on foods listing the ingredients. It’s always safe to check before you eat anything. If you have any other dietary concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the staff. They’re super kind and very willing to help you find something that suits your needs. Happy New Year and happy eating! :)
Hello, dears! My name is Haedy Gorostieta, and I have an ongoing love affair with iced chai lattes. I am a first-year Psychology and Spanish double major here at DePaul. Coming from Waukesha, Wisconsin, a not so small suburb just 30 minutes west of Milwaukee, moving to such a huge city was definitely a challenge. In Waukesha, the night sky is frequently decorated with stars and there are more trees than people. Nonetheless, I’ve come to fall in love with Chicago and all that it has to offer.
Some of my pastimes include discovering new bands and adding them to my Spotify playlists, exploring the city’s green spaces, and throwing up peace signs in every photo that’s taken of me. I live for stolen hours in cute coffee shops with my trusted journal and laptop, feeding off of everyone’s productive energy, and trying to check off items on my to-do list. My favorite day is Sunday as it stands for relaxed mornings and a fresh start to a new week. You can often find me admiring sunsets or exploring unique pockets within the city.
Just having finished my first quarter of college, I’ve come to the realization that I’m at the beginning of a life-changing journey. And what better place to bloom than in the city that never sleeps at night? I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to document my experiences through these blog posts. If they’re the slightest bit helpful, then I’ve done my job. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to stop by; it truly means the world. And if you see me strutting down the streets of campus, don’t be afraid to say hi! :)