Surplus With A Purpose

Megan Thall  /  07/15/2016  /  Posted in: Housing, Student Life, Life in Chicago  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

Every year at DePaul my belongings seem to multiply. Freshman year everything was able to fit in my Dad’s Jeep. Moving out Senior year – let’s just say it took some strategic thinking and a few car loads. If you choose to live on campus all four years you’ll likely go from a compact residence hall room to an apartment with your own living room and kitchen. Many of the items I've accumulated such as pots and artwork I'll use into adulthood - but I had a lot of clothes that I wasn't in need of anymore. Here's a few spots near the Lincoln Park campus to donate your used items and give back to the community:

Salvation Army: 2270 N Clybourn Ave
This location is easy to get in and out of if you have a car. There’s a separate end of the parking lot to direct drop offs, making the donation process super easy.  According to CNN, 82% of Salvation Army’s total donations go to aid. In addition to helping low income families gain access to clothing and home goods at a discounted price, the money these families will spend on buying your used clothes will help provide many people with jobs.

Mt. Sinai Hospital Resale Shop: 814 W Diversey Pkwy
If you’re looking to donate to a cause that’s locally based, consider the Mt. Sinai Hospital Resale Shop. Located off the Diversey Brown Line stop this drop off is located about a block and a half from the train. According to the resale shop’s website, “100 percent of the proceeds from the Resale Shop support Sinai. In past years, the proceeds have funded laser instruments for several hospital departments; six incubators for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; video towers for the hospital's state-of-the-art surgery department; and a Nurses' Call Unit for Sinai Children's Hospital's inpatient unit”. When dropping off your used items at this location, you’ll know that your donation is part of something greater!

Demon SWAP: On Campus!
The SWAP in Demon SWAP stands for, “surplus with a purpose”. This donation collection in each residence hall during finals week turns the Student Center into an upcycling store on June 15th. All of the proceeds go to the Vincentian Assistance Fund that assists DePaul students facing emergency situations. In summer 2015 Demon SWAP broke a new record by donating $3,155 to the fund. If you’re looking to help fellow students and see 100% of proceeds donated, Demon SWAP is your donation spot! ​

My Not So Typical College Job

Megan Thall  /  07/14/2016  /  Posted in: Jobs and Internships, Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
Every high schooler has that classic, embarrassing first job. Mine was fall of my senior year as a hay ride attendant at an apple orchard just outside of my hometown. The hayride didn’t even have hay and by the third weekend I was fairly certain I had sun poisoning. So naturally when my friend Emily told me the magazine her Mom worked for was doing a story on a Family Entertainment Center that was opening I couldn’t have been more excited, primarily just because the job was indoors (in addition to the 32,000 square feet of GoKarts, Laser Tag, Ball Blaster Arena, Arcade, and a quick service restaurant!). Under the Big Top finally opened its doors to the public on Friday, April 20th, 2012. There’s no shame in saying that the first open didn’t go as planned and without enough customers, two weeks later all of us entry level minimum wage employees were laid off.

First Job
In the next six months I graduated high school and moved to DePaul to start my freshman year of college. On October 3rd, 2012 when one of our owners called me to ask if I’d like to come back to work for Under the Big Top, I almost didn’t answer the phone. On the last ring I did, and in the next two minutes I far too willingly agreed to a job that at the time I had no idea would change my life forever. The next day I started the pattern that I’ve followed virtually every weekend since. School at DePaul Monday-Thursday living on campus, and Friday-Sunday in St. Charles working at Under the Big Top.

Some people would call me crazy. And that’s okay. Through my Party Host to General Manager adventure I’ve given up parts of the traditional college experience, weekends in the big city of Chicago, and a sufficient sleep pattern. Yet in return my journey with Under the Big Top provided me with experiences and memories I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Saying yes on that short phone call allowed me to create memories and gain experiences that I never had imagined would be a part of my life. Working for Under the Big Top challenged me to take on responsibilities that I didn’t think I was capable of as my young college self. Under the Big Top introduced me to the attractions industry that I previously didn’t even know existed. For this I am forever grateful. My advice to anyone who’s considering working through college is to do it. Go ahead, jump. Say yes. For me having a job at a Family Entertainment Center became more than just about how I was going to pay my way through school. It taught me how to manage my time, think critically, and learn to swim while everything around me was drowning. 

You’re not going to DePaul to have a cookie cutter college experience where you’re shipped off to the corn fields for four years to earn a degree. You’re attending DePaul to have an experience that is unique to you and to become world ready.  

The Big Reveal

Megan Thall  /  05/16/2016  /  Posted in: Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
On 99% of campus tours your tour guide will tell you about an event called FEST as you walk through the quad. FEST is the one day a year that the quad turns into an outdoor concert venue. Each year there are two supporting acts and a headliner out on the quad, followed by the winner of DePaul’s Battle of the Bands and another music artist at a second event in DePaul’s McGrath Phillips Arena called After Hours.  

Although FEST doesn’t happen until May, throughout the entire year there’s a lot of buzz about it on social media. From attending FEST forums, to voting in the FEST survey, to gossiping about who the performer *might* be, students get pretty into it.

Clearly there’s more than just google surveys and rumor mills that make FEST come together? So how does it all happen? My freshman year I had the opportunity to serve on the FEST committee. With a chair and 13 assistants, the FEST Committee is a subsection of DePaul Activities Board (commonly known as DAB). Serving on this committee was a great way to get to know other students who enjoyed event planning like I did, as well as the interworkings of putting on a massive event!

The FEST committee plans everything from marketing, to what the performers will eat before they hit the stage, to coordination of staff to volunteer at the event. The committee members are very transparent with expectations, new ideas, execution of duties, and problem solving. However, there’s one thing that’s still kept as huge secret: the line up. There are very few people who know the line up before it’s shared with the entire campus (this year the Big Reveal occurred at Battle of the Bands on May 3rd). As someone who doesn’t like secrets I was actually really glad that this one was kept from me. It’s a unique experience to work toward a common goal with a group of people, but not exactly know what the final product will look like.

In 2016, FEST will be bringing Karmin, T-Pain, and The Neighborhood to campus! Check out the ‘DePaul FEST’ Facebook page​ to watch the Big Reveal video for yourself! 

Day Trips from Chicago

Megan Thall  /  05/11/2016  /  Posted in: Life in Chicago, Miscellaneous, Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE DePaul, but sometimes it’s nice to have a day away from campus to regroup. Below you’ll find four places within a three-hour drive of campus. Don’t have a car? Check out the student car share program through Zipcar​!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You’ll be impressed by how awesome this town really is. With skyscrapers, an art museum, and a zoo, Milwaukee has the big city amenities with the small town feel. You’ll be astonished how reasonable the prices are in Milwaukee are compared to Chicago, so go all out! In the few short hours I spent in Milwaukee I was able to try the legendary Kopp's Custard, go on the Sprecher Brewery tour (and pick out four bottles of their soda), and experience the Milwaukee Public market with awesome tilapia tacos and fresh made cheese curds for all under $20!  

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. I’m sure this was a favorite spot among many of us as kids. If you’ve already done the classics – Mt. Olympus Waterpark, the Ducks boat ride, and the upside down museum – I’d encourage you to dig a little deeper. Have you ever tried kayaking, photography, or Geocaching? The Dells are a great area for outdoor exploration. If you’re looking for a less touristy area, check out Mirror Lake, just make sure to bring your gym shoes and sunscreen!

Chesterton, Indiana. At the Indiana Dunes there are 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 70 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore. A short drive away you’ll find the Seven Peaks Waterpark with a quarter mile lazy river, as well as one of the last 350 drive-in movie theatres in the United States. You’ll want to pack a lunch to eat along the beach or explore dining options in one of the neighboring towns such as Porter or Valparaiso.    

Monticello, Indiana. Home of the Indiana Beach Amusement Park for the last 90 years! For $36.99 (cheaper than Six Flags!) you get all day access to 9 roller coasters, 22 classic amusement rides, and the water park. There’s even an arcade, beach swimming area, and a boat tour for those looking for extra attractions. Thinking about making your day trip into a full weekend? Indiana Beach has plenty of cottages, cabins, and camping options. 

5 Tips for Surviving "DePlague"

Megan Thall  /  03/17/2016  /  Posted in: Miscellaneous, Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
You might ask, “What is DePlague? That sounds awful!”
Well, it is, but don’t go running away just yet.

“DePlague” has become the joking term for DePaul students who get sick. Let’s face it – it’s flu season. When you’re living with hundreds of other students, and walking around in Chicago’s less that comfortable temperatures – it’s bound to happen.

Tip #1: Be Prepared with Your Tool Kit

Try to purchase the basics - cough drops, pain reliever, cold medicine, tissues, and a replacement tooth brush before or soon after moving to campus. If you wake up sick on a cold snowy day, the last thing you’re going to want to do is get out of bed and go to the Student Center or CVS. I’d also recommend picking your own thermometer. It’s important to be able to track your own temperature and call your doctor if you see it reach above 103 F (Mayo Clinic).  

Tip #2: Make a Doctors Appointment

Living in Chicago there are a variety of top notch networks of doctors such as Northwestern, Rush, University of Chicago, and Illinois Masonic to choose from. When making an appointment, first ask if the doctor will accept your form of health insurance. To be seen sooner, ask if you can come for a walk in appointment the following morning. Many offices are willing to see last minute patients first thing in the morning, because they won’t already be bogged down with patients. If you have preexisting conditions or want to be a doctor’s office pro, ask what Integrated Healthcare System the office uses. You’ll find that many doctors and hospitals use what’s called “Epic”. There’s a good chance that your doctor back home and your doctor at school will use the same software – if they do, they should be able to access your medical records electronically! For me, this is extremely helpful because I have a mild heart condition. It saves both myself and the doctor time when it comes to understanding my medical history and increases accuracy.

Tip #3: Know how to seek emergency medical attention

If your symptoms become intolerable or you get that feeling that something isn’t right, you’ll likely need to consider a trip to the emergency room. Illinois Masonic Hospital is the closest hospital to the Lincoln Park campus. In non-life threatening emergencies, DePaul’s Public Safety team will drive you to and from the hospital no matter the time of day. Unfortunately, this was a DePaul service I had to use for the first time last Monday night. The warm cheery vibe the officer gave off was something I was incredibly thankful for at 3:30am.  

Tip #4: Notify your professors

If you go to the doctor or the emergency room, be sure to ask for a note for school. You can use this documentation of your illness to complete an Absence Notification through the Dean of Students Office. Although this process doesn’t excuse you from class or assignments, it notifies your professor of a personal or medical emergency, and is a good way to initiate the conversation about what work you might be able to make up.

Tip #5: Clean your space!

As soon as you’re feeling us to it, deep clean your space. Vacuum the rugs, wash your bedding (in DePaul’s FREE laundry machines and dryers), scrub your reusable water bottle, clean all surfaces, and don’t forget to sanitize all of the door handles and light switches in your room or apartment. The key to any contagious illness is to limit its ability to spread. Take Care DePaul! 

Show Your DPU Pride

Megan Thall  /  03/11/2016  /  Posted in: Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
You may hear some students claim that DePaul, “doesn’t have school spirit.” My counter argument to these opinions is that students are what make up school spirit. Bringing a group of friends any sporting events, not just basketball games, is what allows you to have fans to cheer with. These small groups of friends are what make up a roaring student section, it can be as simple as that. Being a part of the Big East means that we’re up against some great teams so the competition ​is fierce and games are worth watching. ​

A few weeks ago, I attended the Marquette vs. DePaul Men’s Basketball​ Game where I have the opportunity to sit feet away from an NCAA court (something that a lot of universities don’t offer!) Reflecting back, I really wish sporting events had been a bigger part of my DePaul experience. DePaul is building a new arena on the South Side of Chicago near McCormick Place​, but until then the Men’s Basketball Team plays at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Since you can’t quite make it to Allstate via public transportation, DePaul Athletics is awesome enough to provide free busses to students that go directly from the Lincoln Park Campus to Allstate and back. All you have to do is reserve your spot on Campus Connect. There is also an option to purchase a $5 parking pass you’re traveling from home and would prefer driving to Allstate.

Once you make it to the basketball game the excitement and perks continue. For the Marquette vs. DePaul game all student attendees were given a free t-shirt, drawstring bag, and spirit sign! Then at halftime, Athletics provided free lunch in one of the lounges at the top of the stadium. Chicken tenders and fries hit the spot as Blue Demons took on the Golden Eagles in the 2nd half. Although the game ended with an (unfortunate) Marquette win, 73-60, the experience and memory of a DePaul basketball game was well worth the trip!

D-Factor Finale

Megan Thall  /  03/10/2016  /  Posted in: Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

Tuesday night Residence Hall Council (RHC) hosted its annual D-Factor Finale. D-Factor is DePaul’s premiere talent show where students compete for their chance to win a $250 Amazon gift card. Before making it to the finale there are open auditions in which all DePaul students can submit a video of their talent – any talent! Over the past for years we’ve seen everything from singers and dancers to hula hoopers, beat boxers, and whistlers. I’m always amazed by the secret talents DePaul students have been keeping under wraps, which is what makes choosing the finalists so difficult.          

For 2016’s D-Factor Finale we were able to feature nine finalists: Kelsey Miles, Ryan Salmon, Aurora Lawrie, Katriel Hampton-King, Patrick Sarmiento, Andrew Stembaugh, Thalis Karatsolis, Donyae Lewis, and Dylan Fisher. The competition started out fierce as Andrew opened the show with a break dancing routine. Receiving honorable mention for the judges for keeping his glasses on his face the entire performance, the audience knew they were in for both talent performances by our contestants and comedic remarks from our judges. As per tradition, professional staff members from Housing Services and Residential Education serve as judges for the event. This year we were graced by the funny remarks of Residence Directors Dan and Megan, Assistant Residence Director Chastity, and Facility Area Coordinator Taylore. RHC is always thankful for the support we receive from both Residential Education and Housing Services!

After nine incredible performances the audience voted Katriel Hampton-King the winner of D-Factor 2016 – congratulations Katriel! Also a special shot out to the awesome RHC members who made this event possible!

Free Museum Days!

Megan Thall  /  02/05/2016  /  Posted in: Life in Chicago, Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
Through the college search process you’ve likely already realized that there are tons of perks that come along with living in Chicago. From the lake shore path, to the beach, to the Lincoln Park Zoo that’s located just a 15 minute walk from campus; you won’t have a problem finding ways to fill your spare time in the warmer months. I find the winter months to be a bit more challenging. January and February can be quite brutal, but as long as you grab your gloves and ear muffs you’re still bound to find great adventures in the city.​

Chicago has tons of museums that offer free heated indoor fun during the winter months. Three of these museums: The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and Shedd Aquarium are located on the same peninsula south of the loop called the “museum campus”. Traveling to the museum campus is easy (and free with your student UPASS) by taking the Red Line from Lincoln Park to the Loop campus, and then transferring to the 146 bus. 

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, DePaul canceled classes and five of Chicago’s museums hosted free days for Illinois residents. Michal and I decided to tackle two of the museums – the Field and the Shedd! When we arrived at The Field Museum​ we were greeted by SUE ​the tyrannosaurus rex. Scientists have found over 90% of SUE’s skeleton, making her the most complete T. rex fossil ever found. From here we traveled through the Ancient Americas. From the Aztec’s to the Hopewell’s we saw pottery excavated from the 1400’s and authentic pieces of clothing from different cultures. Other highlights from the museum included life like animal exhibits and learned about lichen​ (LIKE-en) known as, “The coolest thing you’ve never heard of."

After leaving The Field Museum, we walked over to the Shedd Aquarium​. By this point in the afternoon people had caught onto the Free Days. We stood in line for quite a while, but the backdrop of the city’s skyline made the wait worth it! Once inside we decided to grab some much needed lunch. If you’re looking for a place to grab a quick lunch on the Museum Campus, I’d recommend Shedd’s “Bubble Net” cafeteria – be sure to grab a table by the floor to ceiling windows looking out to Lake Michigan! After wondering through the Waters of the World and the Great Lakes, we were lucky enough to catch the scuba diver Q & A at the Caribbean Reef’s 90,000 gallon habitat.

For more information about free tickets to Chicago museums, click here​DePaul also offers exclusive discounts and perks to students called Demon Discounts; information about what discounts your student ID will provide you access to can be found here​. 

Halloween Happenings

Megan Thall  /  11/12/2015  /  Posted in: Student Life, Life in Chicago  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
Hopefully all of our candy bowls are still at least halfway full after Halloween festivities! At DePaul October is a busy time for student leaders filled with lots of event planning. Holidays like Halloween are a great way to promote community between students, as well as serve as another way to continue Health Promotion and Wellness’s “Take Care DePaul” mission.  This mission is meant to help students learn how to make better informed decisions that promote the wellness of themselves, as well as those around them.

As Residence Hall Council (RHC) President I was incredibly proud of the many groups of Hall Senators who hosted events the week of Halloween. Highlights included caramel apple making, scary movies, pumpkin decorating, and costume contests. Seeing new DePaul students take the reins on planning events for their peers really speaks to the community you’re a part of when you live on campus. 

To the right you’ll see our fantastic Corcoran Senators, Jesse and Anna, at the start of their Halloween event. Residents participating in the costume contest won college essentials, and all were welcome to enjoy pizza, play Mario Kart, and watch Hocus Pocus. Jesse and Anna show a great amount of commitment to making their residents feel like their hall is their home. I'm incredibly thankful that they are on RHC! Look out for them next year around campus!  

If you’re planning on commuting to campus or living in your own apartment next year, don’t worry! Other organizations like DePaul Activities Board, Transfer Student Union, and Catholic Campus Ministries hold events that are open to the entire student body as well. Some exciting activities the last few weeks have included a Halloween themed grocery bingo night, tick-or-treating food drive, and a trip to a corn maze! 

Loop Campus: Sweet Tooth Detours

Megan Thall  /  11/02/2015  /  Posted in: Life in Chicago, Student Life  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

DePaul’s Loop Campus is located in the heart of Chicago at State Street and Jackson Boulevard. To move between campuses students can take either the Brown or Red Line. Although the Brown Line may have more scenic views, the Red Line stops between Fullerton and Jackson make their way through some tasty Chicago favorites that are sure to please any college student!

Chicago Stop: Sprinkle’s Cupcakes​

Sprinkles Cupcakes originally started in Beverly Hills before the Food Network famous Candace Nelson opened a location in Chicago. Known for their 25 rotating flavors and Cupcake ATM, Sprinkles is also dedicated to serving the communities of their locations.  Since 2005, Sprinkles has donated $7 million in cash and cupcakes to organizations. My recommendation is the Red Velvet, which even comes in sugar free, gluten free, and vegan varieties. 

Grand Stop: Pinkberry​

Chicago has many frozen yogurt chains, but I’ve yet to find one that tops Pinkberry. My favorite is the original, a more refreshing version of traditional vanilla, with strawberries and Nutella. Before you head over be sure to download the Pinkberry app that serves as a punch card and your ticket to free froyo on your birthday!​

Lake Stop: Magnolia Bakery​

One of my best friends is from New York, so I originally stopped into Magnolia to pick up some dessert to further our great Chicago vs. NYC debate. This time folks, NYC wins hands down! Magnolia’s vanilla buttercream can only be described by the word 'perfect', so be sure to pick up a slice of cake the next time you’re in the loop! ​

Munroe Stop: Pret A Manger​

First, Pret A Manger is located inside of Target, so you already know it’s going to be a great place. Second, their croissants are great and baked fresh throughout the day.  This quick serve spot is a definite step up from the snack bar in most suburban Targets, so you can even grab a healthy lunch before class at a reasonable price if you want to take a break from your meal plan.   

Jackson Stop: Garrett Popcorn​​

There’s no better way to get to know Chicago than the Garrett Mix! Cheese and caramel popcorn are mixed together in the same bag to create a sweet and savory snack. Just be sure to grab a few napkins before you head out to avoid cheesy fingers! ​

Jet Setting to DePaul

Megan Thall  /  10/09/2015  /  Posted in: Student Life, Life in Chicago  /  Twitter  /  Facebook
​​​I’m a huge fan of Google, but search engines can only be so much help when traveling somewhere new. This time last year I had never been on a plane before, but in a matter of the next seven months I found myself embarking on ten different planes to four conferences, and one trip to visit a friend. Chicago’s various modes of transportation and I have gotten to know each other very well, so hopefully these tips can be of help to anyone traveling from their home state to DePaul for the first time! ​​​

Two Airports, One City
Midway and O’Hare are your key words here. Midway is located southwest of the center of the city, and O’Hare northwest of the city. With 188 gates and 122 food and beverage locations, O’Hare is a huge airport. Flying in and out of O’Hare is nice, because more gates means more destinations and more flight times. The benefits of flying in and out of Midway is that the airport is much smaller than O’Hare, making it easier to navigate. At Midway there’s only three terminals and each gate has a fair amount of charging space for laptops and cell phones. Whether you choose Midway or O’Hare both airports are pretty solid with plenty of food options strategically placed past security (a major plus), and easy access to both public transportation and cabs.  

When it comes to booking the flight, some travel gurus say the cheapest time to book is domestic flight is six weeks in advance on a Tuesday afternoon. For me, I’ve had the most luck avoiding Sunday flights and using websites like the one linked here​ to compare prices. Always be sure to take into account the airline’s baggage policy. Southwest might be a few dollars more than a smaller airline, but there’s no extra nickel diming and up to two checked bags always fly free! 

Airport to Campus
Both airports have direct access to public transportation. Buses are great, but the ‘L’ is the truest form of Chicago transportation and much faster! Here’s an outline of your route if you’re headed to the Lincoln Park Campus.

From O’Hare: Blue Line (O’Hare to Clark/Lake), then transfer to the Brown Line (Clark/Lake to Fullerton). This route takes about an hour. 

From Midway: Orange Line (Midway to Roosevelt), then transfer to the Red Line (Roosevelt to Fullerton). This route takes about 50 minutes. 
Boarding the ‘L’ train is easy using a contactless debit or credit card or by purchasing a Ventra pass at any CTA station. Information about CTA fairs can be found here​. If you’re staying in the city for a few days and plan on using the ‘L’ for a lot of site seeing, I’d recommend purchasing an unlimited ride pass. $10 24-hour passes can be purchased at each station, and 3 day and 10 day passes can be purchased at retailers throughout the city​

If you’d rather take a cab from the airport to campus, I’ve found it easiest just to wait in the cab line at the airport instead of trying to book transportation ahead of time. Be sure to specify to your driver if you’re headed to the Lincoln Park (Fullerton and Sheffield) or Loop campus (Jackson and State). Depending on what airport you’re coming from and the time of day you arrive, the ride can be anywhere between 25 minutes and an hour.