It was a beautiful early summer night following a late night excursion to Oberweis. Rather than take the brown line back, I decided to walk - given the warmth and stillness that is otherwise rare during the day. Making my way south down Sheffield, I walked through an empty street lined with a set-up of tents. Turns out I was amidst the aftermath of the first day of Lincoln Park’s Greek Fest.
The next day, in between apartment showings, I thought it’d be a good time to check out the fest and maybe even taste some food from a different culture. Free admission…nice. Live music and dancing…nice. However, it is the food I am most focused on. Looking at the menu I notice the familiar gyros, but many others that are exotic. I kept true to my word of venturing from the familiar and asked someone what certain items are, such as moussaka, pastitsio, and spanakopita. I decided to go with the pastitsio, which can be described as Greek lasagna made with macaroni, ground beef and béchamel sauce. I thought the twelve-dollar price was typical for a festival, but the portion was not. Served with a side of rice, this was a fulfilling portion that should have been considered my dinner.
I was glad to have popped into Greek Fest, even if it was just for a quick meal. I made sure to visit at least one cultural fest this academic year since I missed Pilsen’s Mole De Mayo for the second year in a row. Word of advice, give up the burger and fries for a day, look for a festival in your area, find something on the menu you cannot pronounce, and order it.
Since I saw it on television years ago, I always wanted to visit Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen
in the Ravenswood
Community, so I finally made the effort up there since I now live not too far from there.
If you’re familiar with the Denver-based Casa Bonita, the one from South Park, this is pretty much its deli-sister. This place has it all; pierogis, cheeses, and you know there is an ample supply of sausage. However, the main attraction is the rooftop restaurant. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, it was closed.
But, what I did not expect was running into another as seen on TV restaurant right across the street. Jerry’s is a restaurant that specializes in sandwiches, and I love me a good sandwich. From a college student budget, it can get a tad bit pricey, but you won’t be disappointed with whatever you decide on because these aren’t your brown sack lunch sandwiches your mom packed you for school.
Besides the food, the area is unlike anything I’ve seen in Chicago yet. The restaurants are nestled on a cozy, narrow street with a small-town atmosphere that brought me back to my hometown, except there is no fountain back home. If you want pure and good food, Gene’s and Jerry’s will satisfy a sandwich craving.
Rather than go to the conventional spring break scene where there is beaches and swimsuits, I decided to use my week off after a stressful winter quarter to take the time to unwind with beautiful scenery in Colorado
. With my sister living just outside Denver, this would be the first time visiting her since she moved out there last summer. It was also my first time going to a travel destination such as Colorado. The traditional vacation spots I’d travel to would be Wisconsin to visit family or Florida to escape the winter. I can become awestruck when viewing the Chicago skyline at moments, but my apologies to the city because there is no beauty quite like that of nature.Boulder
The day after I arrived my sister took my friend Miguel and I to our first hiking destination at the Flatirons rock
formations in Boulder, Colorado
. This was my first time hiking and since I like to think I am in decent shape I figured that it wouldn’t be too difficult. All I have to say now is be sure to bring a hydration pack because hiking is essentially the same as a stair climber at your gym. Depending on the trail the difficulty can vary, but nevertheless is it vital to pack water and snacks. After the sweat, the inevitable scrapes on your legs, and twisted ankles, the views are truly mesmerizing and indescribable. I don’t think I am afraid of heights but there were times when I was climbing rock formations off the path that I would realize that if I was to lose my grip and fall I would probably die, and that would make me a little light-headed and shaky.Colorado Springs
Despite a seven-hour hike, we figured it was best to do even more hiking the next day while the soreness in our legs that was bound to happen hadn’t kicked in yet. So, we went to the Garden of the Gods Park
, which was a strikingly different landscape from the Flatirons. Rather than green with pines and higher altitudes, there were rolling hills of red dust and rock. The hiking here wasn’t too challenging, but rather a scenic hike. There are plenty of sights to take in and smaller rock formations to climb on. The prime tourist attraction is the few towering rock formations that erect out of the overall flat landscape.
However, our time at Garden of the Gods was just a warm-up for the daunting task that was ahead. With a tentative group consensus, we decided to hike the Manitou Incline
, a .88 of a mile stair climb that elevates from approximately 2,000 feet to its highest peak of 8,590 feet. Hiking this in an hour and five minutes was honestly one of the greatest challenges in my life. Not only is it a massive stair climb, the sudden increase in elevation will get to you. While climbing, we would have to take a short minute breaks every fifty steps or so just when we were a quarter done with it. Once again, the effort pays off when you see the view at the top, and feel the sense of accomplishment.
And these were only the hikes, I did plenty of other less strenuous activities than I could never do in Chicago. I definitely plan on visiting Colorado again to try new trails, and yes, attempt the Incline again to see if I can beat my time.
As a part-time job I serve as a brand ambassador for different companies when given the opportunity. The most memorable event I worked was the Mountain Dew and NBA three-on-three basketball tournament that took place last summer. This was a nationwide tour, but it had a stop in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom. For three days I worked on the courts facilitating events such as skills challenges, three-point contests for the fans, and distributing prizes. Every now and then I would promote involvement and work alongside with NBA stars such as Gary Payton
and Frank Kaminsky
Given that the contests would only occur intermittently between basketball games, I was pretty much being paid to stand around and watch good basketball games while receiving some free Mountain Dew
along the way. I had a great time working with the NBA and Mountain Dew brand and look forward to working, or even just attending, any more Chicago promotions that are to come.
When it comes to getting around the city, the CTA system is my go-to means of transportation around ninety percent of the time. In fact, even if I want to go home in the suburbs I still rely on my Ventra Pass in order to get to Union Station. With that being said, although your Ventra plays an essential role to your education at DePaul, it does come with risk and responsibility as I have learned through personal experience.
The first caution to consider is one that concerns nearly every college student and this money. Of course, your Ventra provides unlimited accessibility to the CTA train and bus routes, but once you lose that pass it will cost you to replace it. There was a night when I went to a concert and decided not to take my wallet and just put my id’s and pass in my pocket. On the way back I used my pass to get onto the blue line, but ironically managed to lose it in the time I got on the blue line and transferred to the red line. A replacement Ventra costs fifty dollars and it takes a week to receive a new one, so I had to spend an additional thirty in temporary passes until I received my new Ventra card. Therefore, I recommend always using your wallet, and if you have it on you, securing your wallet in a backpack or bag.
Another risk of riding the train or bus is the rare occurrences like assault and robbery. Yet, there are simple and obvious precautions to take to lower the chances of such misfortunes. Most effective is to not venture out late at night alone. Even on campus where there is Public Safety there have been reports of students being victim to crimes. When it comes to traveling somewhere unfamiliar or at a risky time of day, there is strength in numbers. Of course, if you are feeling uncomfortable in a certain situation and don’t feel safe taking a train or bus, just pay for a taxi. Yes it’ll be costly, but there is no cost too high for your safety.
With the transition into college comes the responsibility of making your own decisions, especially when it comes to your health. Through the power of a meal plan at your hands, it is easy to get carried away and find yourself buying a carton of Ben and Jerry’s and frozen Chinese food at eleven at night. Nevertheless, there are plenty of commodities available to combat the freshman fifteen.
Just as students are given the unlimited access to the CTA system, the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center offers all it can to DePaul students. Although I have a tendency to lack in my routine as the quarter progresses, this is where I primarily go to work out. The first floor hosts the racquetball courts that can be utilized for other activities such as golf or wallyball.
What tends to be forgotten is the pool that I have yet to swim in, the only recollection I have of seeing it was my orientation. Up the stairs to the second floor is where you’ll get most of your workouts in. There is plenty of cardio equipment, studios hosting multiple group fitness classes, machines, and free weights that are all-inclusive to the DePaul student. The third floor is where the basketball courts as well as another studio are. I use this part of the Ray as much as the second floor - this is where you can have fun while working out by getting involved in an intramural sport or simple pick-up games. So far, I have participated in intramural soccer and volleyball, and often shoot around or play pickup games of basketball. Above the courts there is a track and more exercise equipment that include more cardio machines, bars, ropes, and mats. If you don’t feel like running the track or core work, then at least visit the fourth floor for it view of the skyline.
The Ray is great and all, but there is plenty to do off campus as well. Perhaps the most popular destination is none other than the coast of Lake Michigan. When the weather permits it, this is an excellent area to stay active while soaking up the sun. If I was more of an athlete I too would probably be running along the lakeshore shirtless like so many do, but I prefer subtle beach activities. It can be beach volleyball, sand soccer, throwing a football or Frisbee; it beats staying in your dorm doing nothing. To those that are courageous and think they can handle it, Chicago offers plenty of marathons and events to push yourself physically and for a good cause. I cannot run long distances but I have participated in the Aon Step Up for Kids
a few times where the challenge is climbing eighty floors to the top of the Aon Center, one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, while raising money to help the children and families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital
Once you’re able to get into a routine and push yourself, getting yourself to stay active can be pretty simple. With all the events and opportunities there are available in the city, you can propel your health to newfound heights while perhaps also having fun.
Last week I detailed which ways one can stay active and physically fit amongst the freedom of doing (or not doing) what you want and eating what you please. This week I want to focus precisely on the eating component. Like I said before, I could eat Chinese food just about everyday, however, considering sweet and sour chicken is not the healthiest choice I took it upon myself to seek foods that are tasty yet nourishing. For simplicity, I am going to divide these foods between on and off campus.
Being a freshman or even an upper classmen living on-campus such as myself, the Student Center offers an abundant variety of food at almost anytime of the day. There are times when I was guilty of eating mozzarella sticks and burgers at midnight or ice cream for sup
per, but there are healthier options available to those stuck within the limitations of a meal plan. Both the Student Center in Lincoln Park and the DePaul Center cafeteria in the Loop offer a “garden bar” with options such as vegetables, tuna, or low-carb pastas. If you’re like me then you’ll get tired of the usual offerings provided by DePaul, but not to worry, there are limited time platters that change on a weekly basis.
Additionally, since I have the luxury of an apartment with a full kitchen, I like to take some vegetables and other ingredients from the garden bar and use them to cook a little something of my own at my place. I often use the chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach for omelets, burgers, or pasta.
Of course, DePaul’s on-campus dining does provide a limited amount of offerings. Being in Chicago, you can just walk a block and surely find a refreshing alternative. Living in Centennial, there is literally a Whole Foods beneath my feet. I’ve only eaten there twice now, however there is a wide assortment of healthy foods available there. What makes Whole Foods unique is that it serves as a grocery store with an on-campus-style of eating as well. There are buffet counters in the center of the store where one can simply fill up a plate or to-go box just as you would at the Student Center. But besides Whole Foods, the city is bountiful of restaurants for the occasions when you want to treat yourself or not put up with having to cook or do the dishes afterwards. Going to a Walmart, Costco, or Target is also always a safe way to go for a greater assortment of ingredients and other packaged snacks.
Last weekend was my birthday, and my family decided to treat me to a meal I’ll never forget. Of course, going back home away from the bustle of the city to just relax by a bonfire and being able to appreciate the fall weather was great in itself, but it was where I ate that is the real highlight of my weekend. Here are two restaurants that are located in Chicago that I highly recommend trying out. Flat Top Grill
– 30 South Wabash Avenue
Flat Top Grill is a create-your-own stir fry, meaning that you ultimately have control what ingredients are going into your bowl. Now, considering you are given a relatively small bowl to fill with vegetables, rice, noodles, sauces, and many other options, you can strategically stack your ingredients in order to get the most of your money. Additionally, you are given the opportunity to choose two meats, as well as other add-ons such as eggs, cheese, tofu, and roti bread. Once all thrown together and cooked by the chef, you are presented with your unique dish (such as the one shown above) in a surprisingly big portion. What I like about Flat Top Grill is that it can be worth the money. For lunch, one bowl is $10 and $13 for dinner. For an additional $4, you can go up to put together as many bowls as you wish, but I have never been able to create more than two. Fogo de Chão
– 661 North Lasalle Street
This restaurant is a Brazilian steakhouse, or churrasco. Granted that I went to the one in Naperville, there is also one in Chicago. One of the best meals of my life, Fogo de Chão is an endless buffet of meats. You are given these coasters that have a green side and a red side. The green side is a cue for the waiters who are walking around with meats such as filet mignon, top sirloin, rib eye, sausage, chicken, and lamb and offer if you would like to try whichever they have at the time. You can refuse any particular item, but when you are full or want to take a break, turn the coaster to its red side so that you’ll no longer be approached. There is no possible way you will leave hungry, for you’ll still be eating even when you are full. Yeah, the food is that good. WARNING. This place will break your bank, for just between two people the cost was around $120. If it weren’t for a gift card, I most likely would have never tried this place. However, the food was so delicious I think I have devoted myself to come back at least once a year for a special occasion. Therefore, I recommend only going here if you are comfortable paying big money or simply wanting to treat yourself.
After looking at weather forecasts that call for temperatures ranging from high 50’s to low 70’s, the trees losing their green colors, and noticing that I have to wear a sweatshirt everywhere I go now, it dawned on me that summer is officially over. Sadly, that means no more beach days until another eight months or so for me. Despite the days getting shorter and snow just around the corner, there are many things to look forward to until the next summer comes around.
As much as I do enjoy the summer, the fall is ultimately my favorite season. In October, there is so much to look forward to. I may be biased in saying that October is the best month because my birthday is in it, but there is much more to it than that. Yeah, all the leaves changing color is pretty and that, but it is the haunted houses and decorations for Halloween I find most comforting.
After signing up through OrgSync
, I am going to Statesville Haunted Prison
with a few friends. The event is being put together by the University Apartment Communities and we’ll be bused to and from the haunted house all for free. Another thing I want to check off my list before the month is over is going to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America. Mix rollercoasters, haunted houses, and cool autumn weather, it ought to be a good time.
Perhaps even more exciting for a lot of people is the start of the basketball and hockey season. Whether it’s college or professional, both are right at your doorstep in Chicago.
Personally, I like to watch most Bulls and Blackhawks games in the comfort of my room with my big HD television, but if I do ever want to go to a game I always have the luxury of getting discount tickets through DePaul at the Student Center and just hopping on the train. If I stick around long enough into December, I can experience the CTA Holiday Train
this year or even the Christkindlmarket
, both of which I’ve never done even though I’ve lived in the Chicago suburbs my whole life.
Although I am sure I missed plenty of seasonal activities available during the winter season ahead, it is always helpful to look on OrgSync for event postings. I mean, if there is something free, why not try it!?
Who I Am
: Hello students of DePaul, my name is Logan and I am the newest member of the DeBlogs team. I am a sophomore within the Driehaus College of Business
ring in Accounting and Management Information Systems
. I am from the southwest suburb of Yorkville, IL which is about an hour outside of Chicago. I went from driving 70 down country roads with a view of cornfields to riding the train everyday with a scenic skyline I can take in from my apartment. I was a member of the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program with the Career Center freshman year, but I am always seeking new means to get more involved on campus.
What I Do: There are a few things you should know about me and what I am interested in outside of the classroom. First and foremost, I have a slight obsession with Chinese food. Whether it’d be takeout or a buffet, you know I’m always down for it. After an entire academic year I’ve spent here at DePaul, I have yet to find someone else who enjoys country music as much as I do. That being said, I often go to country concerts, an average of ten a year to be exact. However, I am a fan of nearly all music. My favorite concert so far was Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd, but then after that the best concerts were Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, etc. I enjoy exploring the city, always seeking new restaurants to try out. I often go to the Ray to play pickup basketball, workout, or play intramural volleyball. You can also catch me at the beach trying to relax and escape my academic responsibilities by playing sand volleyball or just sleeping.
Why I Do This: As much as I would love to explore the city, visit every Asian restaurant, and blog about how awesome the food is, I want to share all my experiences on and off campus, the good and the bad, so that hopefully others can learn from them to get the most out of their experience at DePaul. Between keeping up with two honors programs, maintaining physical shape, looking for jobs and internships, and trying to make friends along the way, I realize it all can seem overwhelming. Although these fours year are meant to pursue an education for your desired career, it can be much more than that. Studying at DePaul in a great city like Chicago is a unique experience!