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Summer Music

What I look forward to at the end of the school year are all the summer concerts Chicago has to offer. Here are some exciting concerts and music festivals I’m especially excited for.

Millenium Park Summer Music Series

Free music outdoors is one of the best ways to enjoy summer. Millenium Park always hosts many things in the summer along with movies, festivals and concerts. I’m looking forward to enjoying the series this summer especially for a performance by the Bahamas in August. 

Lollapalooza​

This is a popular music festival during the first week of August in Chicago as everyone knows, and although I’ve never been there are a lot of great artists coming this summer such as Bruno Mars, Khalid, Post Malone, Tyler the Creator and many more. I usually avoid Lolla because of the long days and large crowds. I will probably go eventually, but if you want more intimate concerts with the festival artists, I suggest buying aftershow tickets which are cheaper and in my opinion, more worth it.

Summerfest​

Summerfest is an 11-day music festival in Milwaukee during the end of June and beginning of July. It’s an easy drive up to Milwaukee from Chicago and the festival is very affordable and has some great headliners this summer, such as the Weeknd, Florida Georgia Line, James Taylor, Halsey and many more artists.

North Coast​

Northcoast is another music festival that takes place in Union Park at the end of August and beginning of September over Labor Day weekend. I’ve never really considered going to North Coast but with the lineup this Summer I’m most likely going to go because Miguel is headlining one of the days.


Summer in the City

Although we still have a week left of school and another week of finals, summertime Chicago is already here! From beautiful weather to fun neighborhood events, the city is in full summer mode (which makes it difficult to study for these final exams!). This weekend was filled with people heading to the beach, enjoying live music outdoors, and participating in a wide range of outdoor activities that are popular in Chicago such as biking, rollerblading, and jogging down the Lakefront Trail. It was a little taste of summer to rejuvenate us just in time to study hard for our finals so that we can finally start enjoying our relaxing three-month break.

By staying in the city, I am opening up my summer experience to all kinds of possibilities for adventures and events. While some students prefer to spend their summer breaks relaxing at home where they’re from, summertime in Chicago is one of my favorite things to experience! From music festivals like Mamby on the Beach and Lollapalooza to farmers markets like Green City Market and the Lincoln Park Farmers Market, there is no shortage of events to fill your free time in the summer months. It’s the best time to try new restaurants, volunteer your time, explore new neighborhoods, and do all of the things you’ve been meaning to do during the school year but haven’t had time for.  


Sweet Treats

There is definitely a good amount of food to eat around the city, but what’s even better are the dessert places. I always think ice cream is the best sweet and a fun food to get with friends. I enjoy trying new places because there are so many to try in Chicago and with the weather getting warmer, ice cream is always the best option. 
Here are some of my favorite places to get a cold sweet treat in Chicago:

Original Rainbow Cone

This ice cream originated in the southwest side but a smaller shop has opened up at Navy Pier. The cool thing about this ice cream is that there aren’t scoops of ice cream but slabs of ice cream on a cone!

Margies Candies

I will have to say this is my favorite ice cream place as of right now. They have super large scoops and the inside of this place is very old school and very cozy. They also serve the world largest sundae which is on my bucket list to conquer.

Mario’s Italian Ice

This local Italian Ice shop is only open seasonally in the summer so I would make sure to take advantage of it. They are a mom and pop shop in Italian Village and serve my favorite Italian Ice in the city. They have hints of lemon peel in their cups which really makes them different. Make sure to bring cash when you go because they don’t accept cards and also be prepared for long lines.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Jeni’s is really popular and although it isn’t my all-time favorite it’s close to campus right off the Armitage stop and always has unique flavors with their Wildberry Lavender flavor being my favorite.

Bobtail Ice Cream

Bobtail is on the lists for being one of Chicago’s best ice cream shops. They have a large variety of flavors along with unique floats, coffee, and shakes.

Windy City Sweets

This shop is a wonderland for those with a sweet tooth. Half the shop is full of every type of candy you can imagine, while the other half is an ice cream shop of everyone's favorite ice cream flavors- including mine Superman ice cream.  


Places to Go, Museums to See!

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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!!)
  3. 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. :)
Song of the Week: This Beautiful Life- Colony House​


New Restaurants

Living in Chicago means being surrounded by countless new restaurants to try all over the city. Although this can be exciting, it’s also important to not go overboard spending money. When I first arrived in Chicago as a freshman I wanted to try anything and everything, but my spending habits quickly caught up with me. Almost two years later, I’ve found a balance between going out and trying new restaurants but not breaking the bank. One of the biggest changes I’ve made since moving into an apartment is cooking meals for myself and planning ahead for busy days by cooking meals in advance. This is a good strategy to utilize when trying to save money, but it’s also important to go out now and then and give in to your inner foodie!

One of my new favorite restaurants is Earth’s Kitchen, a Japanese American fusion restaurant located in Uptown. My friend and I accidentally happened upon it after visiting a used bike shop in Uptown, and it turned out to be everything we didn’t know we were looking for. This is one of my favorite ways to find restaurants; simply looking around wherever you are instead of solely relying on Yelp reviews and the internet. Our bike shopping adventure turned into apartment hunting, and we’re now thinking of moving to Uptown! Anything can happen when you explore a new neighborhood.  


Here to Stay is the Bluebird

chickenIn the never-ending pursuit of a great chicken sandwich, I found myself another contender. I have mentioned before the Budlong chicken sandwich with its Nashville influences, and of course, the classic chicken sandwiches of Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s are worth mentioning.  However, when scouring Postmates the fried chicken sandwich of Bluebird caught my attention, but I scrolled on and that was that. Then, when getting my haircut at Gabby’s I noticed across the street was Bluebird, as if fate was presenting itself in clear sight.

Like Budlong, Bluebird offers a fried chicken sandwich in Nashville-hot style or simply not sauced. I chose the latter just to be safe. The toppings were similar as well: brioche bun, pickles, and coleslaw, with the only noticeable difference of Bluebird including a Roma tomato.  Considering the price is two dollars cheaper than Budlong, this sandwich is one I highly recommend. Yet, it does not stop there for there are other items on the menu that are noteworthy. The fried chicken sandwich is what lured me in, and since it made a good first impression on me I am looking forward to going back to try other things such as the duck fat fries, the Nashville chicken sandwich, smoked gouda burger, or the truffle burger. While chicken may be a trend of my blogs, I appreciate a good burger just as much. Henceforth, I vow to return to Bluebird ​to give my time and money to other areas of its menu.


Formal Season

Happy May! And last full month of school...which means formal season! If you’re in a club or in greek life or have a friend in either of those, it is likely that you are going to a formal. Formal’s are a fun way to meet new people or just hang with your friends. It’s also a great excuse to dress up and have a formal outing.

Formal’s from DePaul organizations are a lot of fun especially since we have access to the city and all its venues. I had a lot of fun last year since it was my first year at DePaul and going to formal. If you enjoyed homecoming and dances in high school, you would really enjoy formals. They are a lot more relaxed than the high school dance atmospheres, and smaller which is what I prefer.

Also, formal’s allow you to see great venues in Chicago. For example some common places, organizations hold formal is the 95th floor in the John Hancock, the 99th floor of the Sears Tower, Rivers Restaurant,  7 Lions Chicago and many more great venues along the river or rooftops.

If you are stressed about bringing a date, I wouldn’t worry. It’s great to go with one of your best friends to make the most out of your night. Even asking friends from outside of school, to allow them to experience some time with you at DePaul.

Also, if you are looking for a fun dress on a last-minute budget, I always try the Akira Outlet off Diversey, but if I really need more options, there’s always a lot to choose from off State Street near the loop campus like Forever 21, H&M and Nordstrom.  


Gordo's Goodies

It does not have to be hot out for me to enjoy ice cream, but the weather this week certainly did put me in the mood.  To celebrate Friday and the sun, my Jones colleague took me out for ice cream.  But this experience was unlike any other ice cream experience I had ever had.  And coming from me, that really is saying something!  She brought me around the corner from the school to Gordo’s, which FYI is walking distance from our Loop campus for your convenience!

I walked in and was immediately in love.  There was an artful process to this place and I was in awe:

First, you get to pick your homemade ice cream bar flavor out of a wide assortment.  I had only ever had prewrapped Hagaan Daaz or Dove bars, so to see homemade ice cream bars out of the wrapper was shocking.  But this was just the beginning.  After considering all my options and realizing that I probably could not go wrong, I settled on strawberry.

Step number two was picking my dip—was it going to be dark, white, or milk chocolate?  Easy!  Milk of course.  Mmmm chocolate covered strawberries here I come! 

But wait, step three.  While the chocolate is still hot, pick your topping.  I looked at all the colorful options but decided to opt for taste over aesthetics.  I went with Oreos.  I watched as she rolled my chocolate covered strawberry creation into the bucket of Oreos and my stomach grumbled. 

Finally, she handed me my customized bar in a little food boat, which I later realized is for when you get to the end of the bar and your creation begins to crumble.   By then you need a spoon and a second stomach!  You really need to check out Gordo’s to see for yourself and I just may tag along with you for round two. 


Apps Every Chicagoan Needs

Chicago is a great place to live, but sometimes you need a little help from the App Store. While apps like Uber, banking, and the weather are must-haves (duh) there are quite a few apps I use on a regular basis to make city living that much sweeter. From saving time on your commute to finding the best places to eat in the city, here are some must-have apps I recommend to every Chicagoan.

Yelp: I don’t know about you but I am constantly on Yelp checking out new restaurants across the city. If you consider yourself a foodie or are curious about how a certain restaurant is perceived by the public, this app is a must. Some restaurants even have special or free food offerings for yelp users!

Transit Stop: This app is absolutely necessary if you take any public transit in the city. It gives you live updates on when the train or bus is coming to each stop, right down to the very minute. An essential app the assures you won't be left standing on the el platform for 10 minutes.

Postmates: For days when leaving the apartment just isn’t happening, Postmates is there to the rescue. Whether you’re craving Chinese food for dinner, or need coffee and a bagel in the morning, Postmates makes it easy to get what you want without having to leave the couch.

Timeout: For all of your food, drink, and entertainment needs, you need Timeout. This app lets you discover nearby restaurants and bars, and popular things happening around the city on any given weekend.

OverDrive: This is an app I just recently got into, and it is seriously amazing. OverDrive lets you borrow books and audio books from the Chicago Public Library through a library card. It’s great for reading books on your morning commute and even finding textbooks for class!  


A City Full of Friends

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 ​ 


A Day at the Art Institute of Chicago

As a DePaul student, we get many perks and one of them is free admission to the Art Institute of Chicago! And not on just certain days, but at all times! I did not know this as I was applying to DePaul but I am so glad I found out shortly after because this museum is my favorite in the entire city.

Even if you are not a big fan of art, the Art Institute is a great pass-time place to go to especially when the weather isn’t great. I usually choose to go on rainy days or when there are new exhibits. It also has a great variation of art from different time periods, contemporary, modern, photography and even more. If you want to explore all the wings of the museums I recommend you put off a minimum of 2 hours of your day.

The museum always puts in new temporary exhibits every few months which makes it fun to go back as every time a new one is in. But there are also permanent exhibits and pieces that I can look at over and over again. Making a good relaxing playlist and looking at some of my favorite pieces is one of my favorite things to do.

There’s currently a temporary exhibit (closing in a few days) named “My Room is Another Fish Bowl” Philippe Parreno. This exhibit is just a room filled with helium fish balloons that visitors can interact with.  You can see from the picture, that the kids really enjoyed this exhibit.

One of my favorite permanent installations are the Chagall windows. I love these windows because first of all, they remind me of Ferris Bueller’s Day off and also because there are benches right in front of the piece where you can sit and really see the detail that went into the stained glass. I always notice new details every time I see this piece.​​​ ​


2018: A Space Odyssey Revisited

film still

Beginning May 18th, Stanley Kubrick​’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will be returning to theatres to commemorate its 50th Anniversary. Stanley Kubrick is known for his ability to capture beautiful scenes in a way that was well ahead of its time. Most people would recognize his work in The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, or even the conspiracy theory that he helped fake the moon landings. After watching trailers for 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is easy to see how some would come to think such a thing. I was shocked to learn that the movie was released in 1968.

With that being said, the movie that is being deemed the Interstellar of the 20th Century will be shown in theatres ​once again starting May 18th through the 29th. Then again, perhaps Interstellar is the 2001: A Space Odyssey of the 21st Century since Christopher Nolan expresses its heavy influence and lasting impression it made on him. After all the recommendations and hype, I am more than excited to see Stanley Kubrick’s revolutionary film in 70mm print in a theatre just as audiences did fifty years ago.


Chicago Eats: Beatrix Market

The wait is finally over! Yes, I am talking about the new Beatrix Market that has opened in the Loop Campus downtown. With a prime location right next to the DePaul Center, the addition of this grab & go market hall is bringing some new and delicious food options to the lives of DePaul students.

Beatrix’s website describes the new location as a “quick grab & go experience featuring a large self-serve salad, soup, and hot food bar, rotating chef-prepared salads, sandwiches, and snacks, as well as premium nut and chocolate offerings showcasing local artisans.” The food options here are literally endless. With more than seven hot and cold food bars, a pizza counter, two grab and go pre-packaged coolers, and a coffee and pastry bar, you can satisfy any food craving you have here.

As a part of Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group, Beatrix has several restaurants and markets across the city. They are known for their modern take on American food, and their market locations are specifically targeted towards those looking for a quick bite. Not only does Beatrix Market offer a variety of food options, but they include fresh ingredients in their meals depending on what’s in season. From greens, grains, sprouts, and fruits and vegetables, you can always find a fresh and healthy option.


Freshman Year in the Loop

I did not have a normal freshman year experience in Lincoln Park as many other students did. I was one of the few handfuls of people who chose to dorm in the loop at the University Center (UC). Not many people know that there is housing in the loop for DePaul students but I saw it as an option and finding out it was so close to the business school made me want to live there my freshman year. The University Center also houses Robert Morris University, Columbia College University and Roosevelt University students, so it’s an interesting way to dorm your first year of college.

The UC is very different from any Lincoln Park residence hall. It is a skyscraper, has laundry, a small gym, and good food all within the building. Also living in the heart of the city made it so much easier for me to explore Chicago. There are so many cool places around the UC and there is such easy access to all the train lines.

Also with the UC being a skyscraper, you can possibly have a great view depending on your floor. My roommate and I had a great view of the lake if you peaked your head out of the window enough. Living so close to the lake was also one of my favorite things about living there. The lakefront trail was less than a mile away and I could go for a short run to the museum campus with a beautiful view.

Although it sometimes feels like I missed out on the “normal” freshman year of a DePaul student I’m glad I got a different experience because I was able to see a lot of different things being in the loop that others didn’t. I’m more familiar with downtown than I thought I would be.


Beans n’ Cornbread

BBQ I have found my go-to joints for many different types of cravings: Chinese food, tacos, fried chicken, burgers, etc. However, I did not find a BBQ place that I could depend on. Granted, I did not try a whole lot of BBQ places in Chicago, I have definitely found a contender. Not too far from me is Wrigley BBQ, located off of Addison and Broadway. There are many components to a good barbeque such as the sides, the sauce, the beverages, but none more important than the meat. No amount of sauce could cover up dry or wrongfully cooked meat.

At Wrigley BBQ I tried the brisket and pulled pork sandwich, topped with coleslaw with a side of their Carolina Vinegar BBQ sauce, fried pickles, and a sweet tea. The sandwich itself was pretty good, the brisket and pork were cooked perfectly. The slaw was not the best I’ve had, but it complimented the sandwich well. The standout of my meal were the deep fried pickles. Most places will fry up pickle slices, thus resulting almost in a pickle chip. Wrigley BBQ fries up pickles spears (pickles cut from top to bottom rather than slicing the sides). What you get is a pickle french fry rather than a chip and the result is surprisingly different, yet more delicious. Wrigley BBQ is a promising barbeque joint I will follow up with again, but the search for THE barbeque place is still underway.  


Thank You Ramblers!

March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year! I always make a bracket, even though I never get anywhere close to a perfect bracket. I had Michigan State going all the way (yes go ahead and laugh at me, but Obama had them winning too so there’s that). Once they were knocked out I was able to just enjoy the games and root for teams as the tournament went on.

I only had Loyola winning the first round, but once they won beyond that, I was rooting for them. I was so excited to have a Chicago team finally get into the final four. I really thought Loyola was going to the final game until a few minutes into the second half on Saturday. Although I’m really upset about the large number of turnovers and sad shooting percentage, I’m glad they got so far in the tournament.

They definitely united Chicago and made this city proud, especially being an 11th seed team. I loved being out in public during some of the games and seeing people of all ages representing Loyola with their colors or watching the game on their phones in a park or at a restaurant.

I know this tournament just ended, but I can’t wait until next year’s tournament, Loyola has a fairly young team so next season will be interesting. I also really hope our men’s team can make it into the tournament soon so I can really root for a Chicago team.

Thank you again, Loyola, for keeping Chicago excited and on their feet!


Housing Resources

Finding a place to live or people to live with can be extremely stressful, but DePaul provides a number of resources to help students through the housing process. Here are three of my favorites!
  1. Your class Facebook page. When you are first accepted to DePaul, you are invited to join a Facebook page of everyone in your class attending DePaul. For example, I am part of the DePaul Class of 2020​ Facebook page, and this is where I found a lot of helpful information before coming to school and even now. This is where I found my freshman year roommate who I am still living with today, and it’s a great place to get to know your classmates, scope out potential roommates (and friends!), and get a feel for DePaul.
  2. Offcampushousing.depaul.edu. This website is another resource students can use in order to find available apartments and roommates. It is more formal than the Facebook page; students can create listings for available rooms as well as roommate profiles for themselves. The website asks important preference questions about your habits and ideal roommate in order to match people up with others they will get along with.
  3. DePaul Students Living Off-Campus​ Facebook page. This is another Facebook page, but its sole purpose is to help students connect with each other regarding housing, roommates, and even furniture for sale. It’s closely monitored, and you are only granted access to join if you are a DePaul student. One of my roommates for next year found a summer sublet using this page, and I know plenty of people who have used it to find their current roommates as well.
Although the housing process can seem overwhelming, DePaul does everything they can to make the experience go as smoothly and stress-free as possible. I’ve used all of these resources at one time or another, and I would have had a much harder time without them.

Thrift Shopping

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Whether you're trying to save money, trying to save the environment, or looking to find a new vintage piece to add to your closet; thrift shopping is the way to go. Some of my favorite pieces in my closet have come from thrift stores around the city. Plus, many of these stores offer cash and store credit in exchange for gently used clothing. It’s a great way to get rid of the clothes you never wear and fill your closet with great new pieces. Here are some of my favorite secondhand shops across the city.Clothes on rack

Crossroads Trading Co.: With multiple locations across the city, this is definitely my go-to store to buy and sell clothes. All the clothes are always in great shape, and it’s hands down my favorite place to find jackets and shoes. They also offer great store credit when you turn in your gently used items.

Buffalo Exchange: This chain has tons of locations across the country, and is my go-to place if I want to shop the latest trends. With a mix of modern clothes and awesome vintage pieces, you never know what you’re going to find here. While the store is pretty busy most of the time, new inventory is always coming in which makes each time I visit a different experience filled with new clothes.

Belmont Army: This store is secondhand paradise. With four floors of different clothes, shoes, and accessories, I could seriously spend all day looking around. Each level of the store features something different. It’s a great place to find staple pieces for your closet, as well as funky costumes and vintage accessories.

ThredUp: Now this isn’t technically in Chicago, but it is my favorite place for buying used clothes online. As the largest online thrift store, this website makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. They even pull pieces they think you would like based on your browsing history. It’s also a great place to sell clothes without having to make a trip to the store.  


Just for Laughs

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


Buses or Trains

While the bus is my savior when it comes to traveling to and from the Sheridan station, I ride the buses for more than just commuting to class. Since the train station is about five blocks west, bus #36 travels north and south on Broadway, a street lined heavily with restaurants and grocery stores. Timing the buses is sort of an art, however, one that requires experience with the CTA system. To this day I still am not quite sure how many minutes it takes from one train stop to the other, so I often will miss the bus that’ll pick you up at the train stations. The best way to track both trains and buses is the Transit Stop app. Although the Maps app that comes with IOS does provide bus arrival times, since I started using this platform about three weeks ago I had multiple instances where the Maps app provided wrong information. Such an instance was telling me a bus was arriving in three minutes but it turned out to be twenty-five minutes instead. So ultimately, what I am trying to hint at is that there is no need to waste money on Uber or Lyft, but instead, take advantage of the CTA system in which DePaul provides .  


Spring in Chicago

Good Food EXPO​ (March 23-24): Join popular chefs and culinary experts and learn all about local and sustainable food. Held in Little Italy, this conference features celebrity chefs, food demonstrations, and over 150 vendors. 

Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show​ (March 25): Nothing quite says spring like beautiful blooming flowers. Kick winter to the curb and celebrate the (hopefully) warmer weather with a stroll through Chicago’s Botanic Garden as they celebrate orchids.

Chicago Humanities Festival: Springfest​ (April 27-29): Now in its third year, the Humanities Festival brings artists and activists to the city for a weekend. This year make sure you check out guest appearances from Patrisse Khan-Cullors (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and Gillian Flynn (author of Gone Girl), just to name a few!

Bike the Drive​ (May 27): It’s time to welcome back the warm weather and pull the bike out from storage. Join fellow riders as the city shuts down Lake Shore Drive to all cars for five hours and lets bikers cycle through the streets. 

Mayfest​ (May 31-June 1): Celebrating their 23rd year, the Lakeview Mayfest is a tradition that kicks off the festival season. The celebration includes some of Chicago’s best food, dancing, and music all under a giant heated tent.  


Music to My Ears

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 ​ 


Advanced Movie Going

If these factors still do not impress you, then there is a more luxurious modification to movie going at AMC . At the River East location, there is an AMC Theatre that is not typical in the traditional sense since there is a bowling alley, arcade, bar, and so on. As for the theatres themselves, there are equipped with leather recliners, dine-in service, Dolby Cinema technology that offers “Moving Audio” and more vibrant colors, any movie would surely become more likable. Get Out is an amazing movie, to begin with, but watching it for the first time in a theatre was an experience, one that has made me a theatre attendee ever since.

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Chicago Eats: Bombobar

One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is all the amazing food and restaurants to choose from. Everything from a Nutella café , to restaurants run by some of the countries best chefs, there is something for every foodie in Chicago. This weekend I finally got to visit BomboBar , something that has been on my to-do list for a while.

Bombobar

BomboBar is the Instagram famous walk-up coffee and donut shop in West Loop. Pictures of their famous hotter chocolate can be found on every Chicago foodies Instagram page. The walk up window is connected to Bar Siena, and their donuts and drinks can be ordered in the restaurant as well. The quaint walk-up eatery offers gelato, coffee, donuts, hot chocolate and Italian pastries. Featured in Time Out’s 100 best dishes in Chicago and Zagat’s 9 extravagant hot chocolates to sip in Chicago, this small café is well known among Chicagoans.

After hearing all the buzz I finally decided to check it out. A few friends and I made our way down to West Loop and gawked over the delicious looking menu. The cafés most popular dessert option is Executive Chef Fabio Viviani ’s famous Bomboloni. These small hole-less donut bites are infused with flavors like salted caramel, maple cream, peanut butter fudge, and more. My friends and I opted to try the s’mores hotter chocolate, which is a dressed up version of a regular hot chocolate. The drink came with homemade marshmallow fluff, chocolate brownie sticks, and a mini Bomboloni. It’s definitely not a drink you would get every day but was totally worth the splurge.

During the colder months, the walk up window has a heated enclosed awning, which is perfect for sipping on hot chocolate or munching on some pastries. And the summer is the perfect time to try some of their famous gelatos. BomboBar is definitely worth a visit and is a great place to take friends or family when they visit. 


Museum of Contempory Art Chicago

This past weekend I spent an afternoon wandering through art exhibits and displays at the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Chicago. Although this is my favorite Chicago museum, I have not been since last December. Due to the combination of heavy class and work schedules, it has been difficult to make time to go, however, my brother and his friend’s visit to Chicago was a perfect excuse for me to return and immerse myself in the museum. I was in a rush to get to work, but we still ended up spending a couple hours exploring and taking a lot of pictures along the way.

Being a short train ride away from some of the best museums in the country is one of the best parts about being a DePaul student. Along with our proximity, DePaul students are also offered steep discounts for museum admission. For example, the Art Institute is completely free with a DePaul ID, and the student discount at the Museum of Contemporary Art lowers the admission price to only $8. Students learning about art movements or historical time periods in their classes can then go and see exhibits and installations about these topics in person. Even if you’re not in any of these classes, spending a day museum-hopping can be a great way to destress while also being surrounded by inspiring exhibits that make you think and get your creativity flowing!


Just Something About Snow

When everyone always complains about Chicago winters, I don’t join in.  Winter is, after all, my favorite season.  Yes, it is freezing cold and when you board the el all bundled up you become insanely hot.  But there is one magical thing that happens every winter—Snow

Snow is a blanket that covers the city and makes all things new with its purity.  Yes, it soon grows dingy, but for a time it stays perfect.  And have you ever noticed the sense of quiet that a new snowfall brings? With snow comes peace, even just momentarily. Then there is the satisfaction of making the first path of footprints in a fresh bank of snow.  You sink in and you step out, leaving your mark as you go. 

Snow brings me back to the days of being a kid—snowballs, snowmen, snow angels, sledding, forts, and the list of fun goes on and on.  When it snows at DePaul, adults are frolicking in the Quad and there is a sense of joy all around that is quite contagious. 

My absolute favorite place to go when it snows is the beach.  The lake turns into an endless tundra and once again it is quiet. It is just crazy to think that this is the very same place that will be swarming with people in swimsuits in just a few months. 

Now I know that I can feel nothing but positivity for the snow because I don’t have to drive or shovel--  #apartmentlife.  But still, just try and take in these beautiful moments with me before the slush of March and showers of April are soon upon us.


Black Panther

As a massive comic book nerd and film major, I am incredibly excited to know that Marvel’s Black Panther is finally going to be released this upcoming weekend. Not only is the movie important for the superhero genre but it is crucial for the movie industry as a whole. There isn’t another example of a multi-million dollar property at the forefront of pop culture and entertainment with an almost entirely black cast and crew. It’s almost unheard of in terms of superhero movies let alone big budget Hollywood. As someone of color who feels they are greatly underrepresented in media, I think this a great time to rejoice and have confidence that things will get better and people will realize that people do want to see themselves represented and want to see something different. I think that’s also the biggest take away from this movie -people want something different, Black Panther isn’t just more of the same of the usual superhero stuff.

From the looks of the film, it deals with complex topics of political unrest, classism, and monarchy. I believe these themes are extremely relevant in a time in which we aren’t so sure on how we feel about these topics. And to have them put in an action-packed film proves that it isn’t just going to be another popcorn flick with a rinse and repeat formula. Black Panther makes me extremely excited to not only see the future of Hollywood but just for the future of our society in general because while some might not be such a fan of the movie, the amount of support the film has shows me anything is possible, sometimes you just have to be patient.  


All You Need Is Love

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


Aldi Spree

aldiI recommend a lot of restaurants to try in Chicago, but you do not always need to visit a restaurant or the Student Center to get a good meal. That is why grocery stores are a money-saving alternative that can provide a wider variety of foods you cannot find on-campus.
I may be biased because my parents do a majority of their grocery shopping at Aldi, but I sincerely think Aldi has some of the cheapest prices around. I was a frequent buyer at Target but I soon changed my habits when I was more reliant on groceries in the transition to apartment living. What I find myself buying the most from Aldi are their New York Strip steaks. One steak ranges from eight to eleven dollars, which I find cheap relative to the steaks you’d pay for at a restaurant. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I can cook a steak better than a restaurant, so, even more, the reason to buy in-store, but I may be biased with my cooking skills. I believe each dorm at DePaul has either a stove in-room or a lounge area with a kitchen with essential cooking appliances, so there is no reason one cannot cook a meal of their own.

Lincoln Park Conservatory


Stretch Out the Stress

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


Bean There, Drank That

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.

Lincoln Park

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.

The Loop

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​


Concerts on concerts!

So it’s 2018 and there are so many artists announcing tour dates and I feel extremely overwhelmed with the number of potential concerts I can go to. It’s the end of January and I’ve already gone to two concerts and already have some planned for the next few months.
Lana

January 11th was Lana Del Rey’s concert at the United Center as a part of her LA to the Moon North American tour. I don’t usually go to the United Center for concerts but my best friend is a huge fan and Lana is an amazing artist so it was worth it. We had pretty bad seats, but it was nice not having to worry about being crushed against hundreds of people. We got to enjoy her beautiful voice from the comfort of our seats as we ate our overpriced fries and nachos. Pro tip: maybe have a nice dinner before you go to the United Center. Lana was a great person to see live along with Jhene Aiko, both amazing women artists. If you have never listened to them before I highly recommend if you love chill female artists.

More recently, I went to another concert but a smaller one on January 27th with my friend at Uncommon Ground. We went to see Beach Bunny, a really good local indie/power-pop band. This venue was all the way over by Loyola but worth the distance because we got off the Loyola redline stop and enjoyed a great dinner at Blaze Pizza before the show. 

Uncommon Ground was also super cool, it’s a restaurant too with the music section in the back where people can enjoy the bands that are playing with a good dinner in a small intimate room. This was definitely a lot different than the Lana concert and a good relaxing setting, but both were great concerts. I can’t wait to go to more upcoming concerts in Chicago. The music scene is amazing here and I can’t wait for more artists to announce tour dates and hopefully add more shows. Make sure you follow your favorite artists so you don’t miss a chance to see them live!


I Stole a Balloon on Free Balloon Day

During the January 15—19 stretch I took advantage of the free days to go to the Shedd Aquarium right on Museum Campus. The next round of free days won’t be until February 5th through the 9th. I recommend acquiring the tickets online so that there is no hassle, confusion, or wait upon entering any of the museums. When I went to the Shedd they can simply scan the barcode of the ticket on my phone. It has been years since I visited the Adler Planetarium or Field Museum so I will make it a priority to swing by when February comes.  


Got to Get That Dough

donutsMy autumn quarter was a busy one, so much so that I forgot to put some time aside for my true love, doughnuts. When you get the craving for doughnuts, there is a dilemma that arises: which doughnut shop do I go to? I could play it safe and revisit a familiar place like Do-Rite Donuts. On the other hand, I could step out of my comfort zone and try a different doughnut shop. 

As it turns out, there is a Stan’s Donuts less than a mile from my apartment. Upon entering I was disappointed with the low variety and quantity of doughnuts, but I was to blame because I did go in the evening. Nevertheless, there were some extraordinary flavors to choose from. I went with a Captain Crunch doughnut with a cream filling and when that fried pastry touched my palette, I realized the premium doughnut price tag was well worth it. There are Stan’s Donuts scattered across the city. I just ran into another one off of the Roosevelt Red Line. I recommend you go in, try one, try two, or maybe a dozen, and you will agree doughnuts are the best desserts out there.  


Day and Night

Since there were no classes this Monday due to Martin Luther King Day, I decided to convince a couple of my friends to be my subjects for a photography project for class (see my last post ). Throughout the morning I trudged through the snow trying to create some quality pictures by posing my roommate in various settings and positions, but I actually ended up taking my favorites when we stopped for a quick coffee to warm up at Le Pain Quotidien, a coffee shop near campus.

The theme of the project was ‘Day and Night’ which meant I needed to take some photos in semi-darkness to create the image of ‘night.’ For this part of the project, I asked another friend to pose for some pictures in the front hallway of my apartment which is illuminated by a single string of lights. I was skeptical about taking pictures in semi-darkness without flash, but they turned out pretty well.

Although I ended up taking over 300 photos, only five made the final cut. I’ve only just started my photography class, but I’m already learning a lot about technique and the general rules of creating photos. I’m excited to work on upcoming projects and share them here on my blog! 


DePaul Neighborhood Spotlight: Monograms on Webster

As we all know, Chicago is not a “college town.”  Choosing DePaul gives you a different experience than those who attend a state school.  But that does not mean that we don’t have our own neighborhood treasures.  The Lincoln Park campus is just a few blocks away from Armitage, a street known for its cute boutiques, restaurants, and shops.  But even closer is Webster Ave, another street packed with hidden gems.  One of the gems, where I happen to be sitting right now as I type this blog, is Monograms on Webster.

Monograms on Webster custom embroider almost anything you can imagine!  We sell everything from blankets, to cutting boards, to piggy banks, to PJs.  And if we don’t have just what you are looking for, you can bring something in and we can customize that too.  Before working here, I wasn’t aware that this place existed and I hear the same thing from many of our first-time customers who just happen to walk by.  But it is simply the best place to pick out a personalized gift for anyone on your list. 

If the creativity and cuteness of Pinterest came to life, it would look a lot like Monograms on Webster.  And that is why it’s such a great place to work.  Unlike most retail places, Monograms on Webster is a personal shopping experience.  You not only get to pick out your gift, but you also can embroider the receiver’s name or monogram on it in almost any font or color imaginable.  And I get to help with all of this!  Deciding which options to go with is imaginative and fun and seeing the faces of the customers picking up their finished, embroidered gifts is my absolute favorite. 

I can go on and on describing what it’s like here, but why not come see for yourself!?  Monograms on Webster is located at 1210 W. Webster, right next to Sweet Mandy B’s​—a delicious bakery I am SURE you’ve heard about.  See you soon!    


The Catcade

Cat lovers galore! Any DePaul students who don’t own cats but want to play with them at your own leisure I have the perfect weekend activity for you. This past Saturday I spent my time at “The Catcade ”. Chicago’s Arcade Cat Rescue and Lounge is a place where you can not only play with various cats but also play some classic arcade games as well (Metal Slug, Pac Man, Galaga, etc. for those wondering). 

I had never been there before but I found the experience to be incredibly enjoyable. As someone who would classify themselves as more of a dog person, I’ve always been apprehensive about cats, especially since I’ve never really interacted with them for a long period of time. That all changed however once I went to the Catcade and began just observing and playing with kittens. I think the biggest thing to realize is that cats really do have a mind of their own. Not necessarily better or worse than dogs they are simply just different. They can lose and gain interest in something in a matter of seconds. 

There are plenty of toys to try to attract their attention but one of the many things the establishment will tell you before you engage with the cats is that you can’t control whether they want to play with you, you’re not allowed to pick them up at will because cats aren’t those kinds of animals. But in the end, it makes it that much more gratifying when you do get them to play with you and I think it’s worth the 15 dollars for an hour. All the cats are from rescue shelters and are adorable. The Catcade is located off the Belmont redline stop at 1235 W Belmont Avenue. Try it out sometime and have fun!


Women's March 2018

One thing I've learned from living in Chicago over the past three years is that there is always something exciting going on, and this weekend was no different. Both here in Chicago and all across the country, women (and men) took to the streets to advocate for equality, protest various policies, and to rally for the upcoming midterm elections this November.

After a successful 2017 Women’s March one year ago, Chicago and cities across the globe prepared for even a bigger turn out this year, and they definitely got one. An estimated 300,000 people flooded the streets of Chicago to march this past Saturday. Clad with signs and flags, the event was truly a special thing to be a part of. As a first time marcher, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the day was filled with optimism, empowerment, and more specifically people advocating others to let their voice be heard through their vote.

As amazing as it was to see so many people out on the streets and advocating for change, the march in Chicago was just one of the hundreds of events that happened worldwide this past weekend. From New York to London, the march was much more than just encouraging women to vote this November. 

It was a gathering ground for people to speak their mind, and march for anything and everything that they believe is important.  As I marched alongside 300,000, I saw advocates showing support for women’s equality, racial minorities, LGBTQ, climate change, healthcare, and so much more.  Overall the march was a day to remember, and all of those who came out this weekend will look forward to the real march to the polls that will happen this November.  


Skate at Your Own Risk

ice skatingTo keep the spirit of new adventures alive, I decided to try skating. I had roller-skated years ago and was not that bad, so I figured it’d be pretty similar. Well, I was pretty wrong and my confidence had deceived me. After multiple hard falls onto the ice and sore ankles, I vowed never to skate again.

The first thing you should know about the “ribbon” is that it is not like your typical skating rink. This set of ice snakes along Millennium Park and features slight alterations in elevation. Located not too far from the Millennium Park rink by the Cloud Gate, I chose the Maggie Daley Ribbon because it was less busy and actually bestows a larger square footage of ice. The cost to rent skates ranges from twelve dollars to fourteen dollars depending on the day (weekdays are cheaper). If you’re an avid skater, I’d recommend buying your own skates since they’ll probably fit better and an ill-fitting pair of skates will make your time on the ice miserable. Admission is free to everyone every day, so there really is no excuse to not give skating a chance. The Ribbon opened in mid-November and will remain open to the public until the beginning of March.


Next Door Cafe

“A lofty cafe with an event wall draws freelancers with work areas & free bookable meeting space,” is exactly what you’ll find if you search “Next Door Café ” on Google.
Located on Diversey just a short walk from DePaul, this coffee shop meets community center is a one of a kind addition to the neighborhood. When I first stumbled across Next Door I was somewhat confused. The sign outside reads “Next Door State Farm” which in no way helped me understand what this place was all about.

After venturing in one Sunday morning, I can definitely say this place is unlike any other coffee shop I've been to around Chicago. Not only do they offer amazing coffee and pastries with plenty of room to lounge, but they also offer financial coaching, educational classes, and bookable meeting rooms. The best part about all of it is that it’s FREE. Well, everything except for the coffee that is. That means free classes, free financial coaching, and free meeting rooms.

At first, I was only interested in the coffee shop aspect of Next Door. Because honestly, financial coaching and budgeting classes don’t register very high on my list of things to do (even if its free). But after some research, I found some really cool classes they offer. From tips on creating a successful website to social media trends, how-to workshops, and even a class titled “I Suck at Budgeting.” The “coaches” aka the teachers of these classes are experts, and they bring real-life experiences to light in order to help you get the most out of the class.

Even if financial coaching or classes aren’t your thing, Next Door is still a solid coffee shop. With plenty of space to lounge, great coffee, and free Wi-Fi, it’s the perfect place to get work done, or just catch up with friends.  

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Winning Winter

winterI can easily say that of the three years I have studied in Chicago, this year proves to hold the most brutal winter. In addition to the subzero temperatures, I no longer have the luxury of walking only a couple of minutes to the Fullerton train station. Now, I walk fifteen minutes in the frigid cold and I had no choice but to upgrade my winter wardrobe. Here are my go-to winter essentials I utilize on a daily basis. 

Tommy Hilfiger Long Snorkel Coat

If you saw me in the prior two years during temperatures below fifty degrees you would have seen me wearing a Loras college jacket. I learned the hard way that a bomber jacket stands no chance against the Chicago winter and I looked to a parka for warmth. This Tommy Hilfiger parka is literally my lifesaver for the commute to classes.

Uniqlo Heattech Extra Warm Tights

With my torso and arms not feeling a slightest of breeze, my legs on the other hand still suffered. Jeans just would not cut it and I found myself with numb legs after every excursion outside. The answer was quite simple: just put on another layer underneath. That is why these skin-tight and cozy long johns are a game changer and like the parka, are the first of its kind I have ever owned.

Timberland Nelson Chukka Boots

I learned quickly freshman year that if you don’t own waterproof boots, you’d come back to your dorm with wet and cold feet. I chose these particular boots because they’re waterproof, but also a lower cut and feature black nubuck, thus making them adaptable to casual and formal outfits. I used to wear my gym shoes to the gym, but I nearly ruined the pair with all the salt on the sidewalk and stepping in dirty snow.

Timberland Solid Watch Cap

This is simply a black beanie to match the black boots. As much as I hate what a hat does to my hair, my ears will always thank me for wearing one. 

Polo Ralph Lauren Quilted Field Gloves

Wearing gloves was something I’d only do when playing in the snow or shoveling the driveway. I have never been a person to wear gloves casually, but once again, these Chicago winters will change a man. These gloves are like a jacket for your hands. Fleece interior lining, leather palms, and nylon for the back, I am not afraid to wear these for an interview or just to class.

There are obviously plenty of other things to consider for dressing in the winter like thick socks for your boots, a warm inner layer like a crewneck sweatshirt, or a thick pair of jeans, but these are the everyday staples of my wardrobe. Despite the fact I am, for the first time in my life, properly equipped for winter temperatures, I still cannot help but look forward to summer and laying on the beach once again.  


Winter Break at DePaul

This winter, I spent the majority of DePaul’s six-week break here in Chicago. Last year I divided my time between working an internship and taking an extra class, while this year I only worked my regular job as a waitress at Athenian Room which gave me the chance to rest and rejuvenate for winter quarter. 
From going downtown to take pictures of Chicago’s beautiful Christmas decorations to enjoying brunch with friends (& my sister who came to visit), this winter break was definitely restful and a welcome relief from the stress of fall finals. Having an entire six weeks off of school allowed me to take a much-needed break while also spending time with those I love and continuing to work and make money.

Although DePaul’s quarter system can seem daunting or strange, it offers students some major perks. Along with our extended break, the school year also does not start until September while most other universities are beginning their academic year in mid-August. It has taken some getting used to, but I would not trade the quarter system for anything else.

I hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating winter break!  


Gourmet Hot Dogs

hot dogIf you were lucky enough, then you had the privilege of visiting Hot Doug’s when its doors were still open. Sure, I had to wait three hours, but I would have done it time and time again. Hot Doug’s did not just serve your typical Polish; this place had exotic meats like duck, rattlesnake, elk, and pheasant. Unfortunately, Hot Doug’s has since closed its doors, but now has a tiny operation going on at Wrigley Field by the bleachers.

When searching Google for the best value food in Chicago, I came across Hot “G” Dogs as a recommendation. Let me first tell you that you will not find any bargains here (with sausage at the eight dollar mark) but you will walk into a restaurant that mimics the style of Hot Doug’s. The gourmet toppings for their specialty sausages are indescribable, but they surely compliment the sausage in an unimaginable way. The menu features some of the same items, even right down to the duck fat fries. I always ask people if they had the luxury of visiting Hot Doug’s in the past, but now I will have to ask if they will go to Hot “G” Dogs sometime soon.


The Benefits of Finals Week

It is round one of DePaul’s triple set of finals and it is my senior year.  Safe to say I am feeling fairly drained, but this blog post is dedicated to focusing on the positives of finals week.  As contradictory as you might find that last statement, finals week, in my opinion, is not as bad as it seems at first glance.

Yes, you have many things to do, but you also have a lot more time to do them.  The best part of finals week is NO CLASS and in my case no work either.  As a writing tutor, the benefit to not missing any of your shifts during the regular quarter is having the luxury of time off during finals.  All of a sudden I have found myself with this free time that I did not have all quarter and it provides a total breath of fresh air.  Once I have taken that much needed deep breath, however, I must use this time wisely to spread out my workload.

You can also use this time to explore NEW STUDY SPOTSBecause you don’t have to balance class and studying like you do during midterms, you can really travel away from campus to get your work done.  Try checking out local coffee shops, public libraries, or even a friend’s apartment.  It’s always nice to get a change of scenery when it seems your project is never ending! 

Another benefit of finals week is EMPATHY.  Everyone understands when you roll up to the library at 1:00 am in a mismatched sweat suit, messy bun, and a towering stack of incomplete work.  Everyone at DePaul is going through finals week together, which means everyone can complain, wear pjs, stress, and celebrate collectively when it is all over.

Speaking of celebrating, once finals week is over we get to enjoy a SIX-WEEK WINTER BREAK.  Not only is our break nice and long, it also allows us to celebrate all of the holidays worry-free.  Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or the New Year, you won’t have to stress about projects or tests hanging over your head while you are enjoying this special time with your friends and family.   

So hang in there, DePaul.  You can do it, especially if you try your best to stay positive!


Christmas in Chicago

This year will be the first year I will not be able to celebrate actual Christmas in Chicago and I am extremely upset about it. But Chicago starts celebrating Christmas very early; the holiday festivities start the beginning of November so I’m glad I won’t be missing too much. So for those people who play Christmas music as early as they possibly can, here are some of Chicago’s early holiday festivities you can go to and begin spreading your holiday spirit.

Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree Lighting

When: November 17 @ 6pm​

Where: Millennium Park

This year’s tree is about 62 feet tall and the ceremony is always accompanied by music and fireworks. It’s usually a really short ceremony so if you are not a fan of standing in the cold for hours, this is a good event to go to.  

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival​

When: November 18 @ 5:30 pm

Where: Michigan Avenue- from Oak Street to Wacker Drive

During this festival along Michigan Avenue, the holiday lights are turned on for the beginning of the holiday season. The Magnificent Mile always looks like a winter wonderland in the winter with all the lights and street decorations. There is also a parade for this festival with tons of music and sometimes famous people-for example Ben Zobrist and his wife were on a float last year after the Cubs had won the world series.  

Christkindlmarket: Chicago​

When: November 17-24

Where: Daley Plaza

The famous Christkindlmarket is a must “go to” during the holiday seasons. There are vendors selling cute holiday items, along with food and the most infamous hot chocolate in their specialty mugs. If you have never been, you must go to this market!

Christkindlmarket: Park at Wrigley​

When: November 24-December 31

Where: Park at Wrigley

The Christkindlmarkt is also opening up another location for their market in Wrigleyville. This market will include mostly the same things but with more activities and even an ice-skating rink. If you have already been to the Chicago Christkindlmarket I suggest you check this one out.  


Fall Quarter Finals

There’s no feeling more bittersweet than being halfway done with finals. Although I still have a lot more work to do and all-nighters in the library to suffer through, I already know how good it’s going to feel when I’m officially done with schoolwork for six whole blissful weeks! At DePaul, we do things a little differently than most schools. Rather than coming back to school after Thanksgiving, we take our fall quarter finals beforehand and then have a six-week long break for the whole holiday season. The break can seem a little unusual, but it’s the perfect opportunity to work a seasonal job, take extra classes to get ahead, get a “winternship,” go on an incredible study abroad adventure or simply spend some time at home with family and friends enjoying some much-needed relaxation time.

This year, I’ll be staying in Chicago and picking up extra hours at my regular job. Last winter I stayed in Chicago as well to work and take extra classes; so I’m a little relieved to actually get a little bit of a break from schoolwork this year. I’ll be going home for a few days for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’m excited to experience the holiday season here in Chicago for the remainder of break because the city celebrates​ in so many beautiful ways. Just thinking about ice skating in Millennium Park, attending the annual tree lighting, and shopping for gifts while walking down the Magnificent Mile is what’s getting me through this week. Good luck to everyone who is still finishing up finals! The holidays will be here before we know it (along with a much-needed break from classes).​


Week 9 Focus

Week 9 for me is also known as my “get your life together” week. The fall quarter is almost over and our first break is so close. I can barely focus because I’m too excited to be done with school for the year, go home, see my friends and family, and celebrate the holidays.

Sadly, it’s time to prepare for finals even though it feels like I was taking midterms last week. Although it’s super easy to get distracted I’m going to take my distractions and use them as motivation. It’s so easy to get distracted when you’re near the end of the quarter and want to avoid your papers, group projects and studying but there are ways to stay focused. I’m just going to share some ways on how to stay focused when you have a lot of things on your plate.

My favorite way to keep organized and get things done is to make lists. Daily lists are the best. Where you can list all the things you need to get done for the day, and checking those things off as you go through your day is such a relieving feeling. Setting reminders is also very helpful, whether it be a reminder to do your laundry at 2 pm or finish your paper at 11:59 pm. This is a great thing to do if you’re very forgetful like me. Also, putting things on a calendar can help you see how available you are and how you can manage your time best. These are just a few ways I get my life together when I’m stressed, but stress is normal - especially when finals are approaching. It’s important to keep yourself motivated and not be too hard on yourself. Make sure to take breaks and make time for yourself.

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Young Thug at the Metro

This is the second concert I have attended that was sponsored by Red Bull. The first was a Soulja Boy concert freshman year. These Red Bull concerts are typically really cheap if you sign up for the mailing list. The Soulja Boy concert was five dollars, whereas the Young Thug concert was fifteen if you bought the tickets before they sold out in the primary market. Not only are the concerts really cheap, but also Red Bull will provide a lot of free commodities for those attending. Of course, there will be an ample supply of energy drinks, but you are given a token that can be redeemed for a concert tee or other merchandise branded for that night’s concert. I cashed my token in for a Young Thug concert shirt of pretty decent quality. Red Bull ambassadors also gave out slices of pizza to those of us waiting for hours in line before the show. 

While it may be too late to buy tickets at fifteen dollars for artists like Migos (which I regret not buying) you can still purchase tickets in the secondary market- like StubHub. I still have one more concert in part of the 30 Days of Chicago and that is Khalid performing at the Aragon Ballroom on November 21. Check below for the full lineup of artists that will be performing throughout the month.

 


Life as an Out of State Student

Being from another state has pushed me to be more independent and reliant on myself. Rather than being able to call my parents to come check out an apartment I am interested in, I have to be attentive and responsible and decide for myself whether it seems like a safe place to live and a good fit. Instead of going home when I get sick or have had a hard week like some of my friends are able to do, I do not have that option. Being completely on my own has pushed me to succeed on my own without falling back on anyone else, and I am proud of the accomplishments I have achieved while living here in Chicago.

Another thing that going to school in another state has taught me is to treasure the time I have with my family and friends at home. When I fly home for Thanksgiving in a couple weeks, I will not have been home for eight whole months! Since this is the case, when I do have a few days at home I make sure that I take full advantage of them. Rather than spending any time watching Netflix in my room, I’m usually hanging out with my grandma, going on lunch dates with friends I rarely see, or catching up with my five siblings. I don’t waste a single moment because I understand how precious this time truly is.

Although it is difficult when one of my roommates meets her family downtown for dinner and I’m missing my family, or my other roommate calls her parents to bring her something she forgot at home and I crave that convenience, I do not regret my decision to go to school in another state. I would not be the person I have become if I had not pushed myself to do this, and there is truly no place I would rather be than living and learning in Chicago. My experience at DePaul ​is simply not something I would have been able to have at any school in Ohio where I am from.


Common Freshmen Questions

Q: What’s the quarter system like?

A: The quarter system is fast, but I love it!  It gives you a chance to take way more classes and if you don’t like a class very much, it is over in just ten weeks.  But it can be difficult because midterms and finals definitely sneak up on you. As long as you are organized and proactive in completing your reading and assignments, you will do great!

Q: How do you stay on top of your academics?

A: Break up large assignments into smaller tasks, so you don’t feel totally overwhelmed.  Force yourself to write drafts of essays before they are actually due.  Ex. Midterm Paper is due in two weeks, but MY first draft is due in one week.  Reward yourself!  Ex. If I finish this chapter, I will watch a 20-minute show on Netflix (but don’t forget to return to your work!!)

Q: What are professors like?  How are they different from teachers in high school?

A: Professors, in my experience, are always eager to help!  But they won’t necessarily check in with you as often as high school teachers might. I recommend looking at the syllabus to see if they have listed specific office hours, so you can meet with them individually.  Be proactive and seek help and professors will respect that you are trying to succeed.

Q: What happens if you are absent?

A: If you are sick and cannot make it to class, email your teacher.  It is best to stay in good communication to show that you care and want to be on top of your schoolwork.  Additionally, try and get a doctor’s note.  You should bring your doctor’s note to Dean of Students so that you can get an excused absence.

Q: How do you meet people?

A: You can meet people in so many different ways: get involved with a club, go to DePaul sponsored events (DePaul Activities Board​ has tons of many events), try out group fitness classes at the Ray Meyer Center​, attend DePaul sporting events, talk to people in your classes, hangout in the common areas of your dorm, eat at the Student Center, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!

Q: What’s the best part about DePaul?

A: The best part about DePaul is being in the middle of the best city in the United States! There is always something fun to do and with your Ventra pass included in the price of tuition, there’s no excuse not to explore the city.


(Fuh)n on Lincoln Avenue

I was never a big fan of any food that is soup-like but pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that has changed my hatred for soup. The first time I tried this soup was with my roommate on a typical freezing cold day. This place is essentially a Chipotle for your soup. You pick the type of base you want, the type of protein, vegetables, and broth. The best part about this place is that they have student discounts, so your large bowl of noodle soup comes out to less than $7.

The employees are incredibly nice and every time I go here I have had a good conversation with the server which always makes me feel more welcome. The atmosphere is very relaxed and the red stools are my favorite because they imitate the stools they have in Vietnam which you can see in the pictures they have hanging up. This place is a great sit down restaurant and I love taking my friends from out of town here so they can enjoy it too.



Finger Lickin' Chicken

The other fried chicken unique to the Chi is Special Kudo. What makes this fried chicken different from the others I’ve had is that it uses halal methods: the Islamic form of slaughtering where the animals are killed swiftly. However, the butchering alone does make the chicken taste so good. You have the liberty of choosing between spicy and original for the batter used to fry. As a newcomer, I took the conservative route and did two spicy and one original. I personally prefer a little spice, but not to the point where I have to say out loud “oh wow”. In this case, the spicy was not too noticeable, but there are some seasonings that I cannot explain that make up the batter. You’ll notice green and red specks within the golden crispiness, and whatever they are, they are delicious. There is only one Special Kudo in the world and that is a block from where I live on Broadway Street in Lakeview. Their mission statement proposes they want to expand to every state in the Union, and with their great food and low prices, I anticipate Special Kudo will achieve that goal.


Halloweekend 2017

Although the temperature was dipping below 30 on the night of the concert, my friends and I bundled up in our winter coats with our vampire costumes underneath and trekked out into “Chiberia,” the nickname for Chicago when it gets nearly as cold as Siberia. We were feeling a little skeptical because of the weather, but we ended up having the best time! Once we made it inside the Aragon Ballroom and out of the freezing weather, we all let loose and danced all night. For anyone who likes EDM music or just wants to have a lively, exciting concert experience I highly recommend attending Freaky Deaky next year for Halloween!


The Van Gogh Universe

As for the movie itself, it is literally something I had never experienced before. Loving Vincent is the first fully painted feature film. Painted in Vincent van Gogh’s postimpressionist style, the film is a biographical drama that takes place in the weeks following Vincent’s death, with frequent flashbacks to his life. Not only is the movie composed of over 65,000 paintings that are contributed by 125 professional artists, it also features plenty of scenes from a multitude of van Gogh’s original paintings. Some are discreetly incorporated into the film while others are quite obvious such as the implementation of Starry Night as the opening scene. Honestly, the plot may be predictable and cliché, but this is a film you will assuredly appreciate. Loving Vincent is not shown in commercial theatres, but you can see the movie yourself at venues such as the Music Box, ArcLight Chicago, Landmark Renaissance Place Cinema, and Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 & IMAX.  


Alpha Omicron Pi Semi-Formal

 
As some of you may know I recently joined Alpha Omicron Pi which is a sorority here at DePaul. This past Saturday was our semi-formal, and it was one of my favorite experiences of this year! 

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. AOII Semi was on a yacht! Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Rather than having our semi-formal at some fancy hotel downtown, it was on a yacht that took us up and down the Chicago River. The backdrop of all of the beautiful skyscrapers lit up at night was truly indescribable, and it was an unforgettable experience I would likely not have gotten through any other organization.
  2. Chicago weather this October has been surprisingly perfect. On Saturday night it was warm enough for my friends and me to spend most of the night dancing up top on the open-air part of the yacht rather than down below deck. The weather could not have been more ideal!
  3. The food. Chipotle was catered this year, which meant endless amounts of guacamole for free! I did not even have to try to hide it under extra lettuce which was a huge perk. Eating good food while surrounded by beautiful buildings and dancing with my friends between bites made for such a fun time.
This year’s semi-formal was such a blast, and I can not wait to see what the rest of the year brings within Alpha Omicron Pi. I have only been a part of this amazing group of girls for less than a month, but it already is starting to feel like home!
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Escaping the Concrete Jungle

One of my favorite things about attending DePaul and living in Lincoln Park is the access it grants me to nature.  This may seem surprising to you because it is not the first thing most people think about when they think about living in the city of Chicago.  However, Lincoln Park is home to the zoo, lily pond, conservatory, and of course the lakefront! 

When I was very young, I used to tell people that I wanted to be a zookeeper when I grew up, so the Lincoln Park Zoo - of course - has a special place in my heart.  It is within walking distance of campus and the best part about it?  It’s free!  Not only are there always gorillas, giraffes, and lions to enjoy, but the zoo also hosts a variety of events that really help you get into the holiday spirit, such as Fall Fest and the Zoo Lights.  Fall Fest is a staple for me every year because there is an awesome pumpkin patch that transports you right out of the city!

The lily pond is right near the zoo as well and it provides you with the perfect place to escape the chaos of the city and reflect on whatever is going on in your life.  It is just the slice of quiet you need to remember the beauty of nature and self-care, which is why I always feel so relaxed when I spend time here.

If you especially enjoy exotic plants or you just need a place that will make you feel like it is the middle of summer, I suggest you make your way to the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  Here you will find beautiful flowers, greenery, and fountains in a warm and cozy greenhouse.  No matter how cold it is outside, you will always feel like you are on a tropical vacation in the botanical garden!

If you know Chicago, then I am sure you know about the lakefront path.  Still, it never gets old to come spend some time at the lake.  If you like to run or bike then it is definitely the place to be, or if you are more like me, then it is the place to see other people do those sorts of things while just relaxing and taking in the remarkable Chicago skyline!


Chicago Holiday Bucket List

I know its only October, but the holidays are soon approaching and that means it is quite literally the most wonderful time of year in Chicago. November and December are filled with holiday lights, festivals, parades, and even a festive CTA commute. Here are some of the events I think are must-sees this holiday season. 

Lincoln Park ZooLights​

Even the zoo knows how to celebrate the holidays in style. Starting on November 24 and lasting until early January, the zoo transforms into a spectacular winter wonderland featuring millions of string lights. You can also find huge life-size snow globes, ice carving demonstrations, a carousel, and plenty of holiday crafts. (This is just down the street from campus and free!)

Skating at Millennium Park​

The ultimate bucket list item in Chicago is to go skating under the bean at Millenium Park. The ice rink is usually ready by November 17 (weather permitting) and is open to the public completely free of charge. If you don’t have your own skates feel free to rent a pair for a small fee. More than 100,000 people glide their way across the rink during the holiday season; make sure you’re one of them.

CTA Holiday Train

For 25 years the CTA has been embracing the holiday spirit by decorating an entire el train with lights, bells, tinsel, and more. The train runs on different lines each day, and if you’re lucky enough you just might catch it.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival​

Every year the BMO Harris Bank puts on a lights festival parade on Michigan Ave to officially start the holiday season.  More than a million people make their way downtown to watch the parade that features enormous floats, balloons, a marching band, and music performers.  

Christkindlmarket

Germany comes to Chicago for the holiday with the historic Christkindlmarket.  This holiday celebration brings European tradition to life here in the city. With unique holiday shopping, traditional German food and drink, and live entertainment, this is something you definitely don’t want to miss.​


Treat Yourself

Midterms are brutal, but being done with them is relieving. My biggest motivation during midterms is thinking about all the ways I’m going to treat myself after. The minute I left my last exam I was out running errands and finding ways to recover from the excessive studying I did. I believe everyone should do a little something (or nothing) after a few tough exams. Spoiling yourself is one of the easiest things to do but if you can’t think of anything here are some ways to treat yourself .

Shopping: Retail therapy is real. Who cares if you failed your finance midterm if you look cute in your brand new shoes? It’s hard not to splurge when shopping , but it still is relaxing buying some new clothes or just window shopping after staring at textbooks for 2 weeks straight. I try to avoid shopping for clothes and usually buy myself flowers and some books because I finally have the chance to read something for fun.

Food: Order your favorite food! The best way to spend money is on food. I usually buy a bunch of my favorite snack foods which includes Jewel cookies, Reese’s, and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The best way to treat yourself is to literally treat yourself- too bad it never involves anything healthy.

Shut Off Your Brain: Do nothing. After exams is the best time to start a new show to binge watch or stay in the night and watch one of your favorite movies (as you eat your favorite pint of ice cream). Being curled up in bed and not having to use your brain for something intellectual is so relaxing and rewarding.

Friends: After putting off hanging out with your friends to study you need to go out and socialize. Hang out with your friends and try to avoid talking about school. Get away from campus and enjoy some of the cool places Chicago has to offer.


Nashville Hot Chicken in Lincoln Park

First, let me tell you the good things about this place. Upon entering the atmosphere is something of the South, or just not Chicago at least. White picnic tables, mason jars, and red paisley bandanas as napkins all contribute to the homey feel of this place. Second, the menu is not extensive at all, which I kind of like because who wants to look through a Cheesecake Factory menu? Simply put, this place does chicken and just about only chicken. 
There are other southern comforts like slaw, cornbread, beans, biscuits with jam, and alike. The bad thing about this place, I must admit, is the price. Eleven dollars for a chicken sandwich is crazy to me, but I can justify the price by its taste and supporting a local small business. That chicken sandwich can be made with no sauce, classic sauce, hot or x-hot sauce. Served on a brioche bun with pickles and slaw, this is one of the best chicken sandwiches I could have asked for. I got the hot finish for the chicken, to which the heat does creep on you after a bit - to the point where you’ll be asking for water refills. I vow that I will return to Budlong to try their chicken pieces with some sweet tea… after my next paycheck. 


Chicago's Music Scene

On Tuesday, I was able to see Aquilo and Yoke Lore perform at a venue right down the street, Lincoln Hall . They both put on phenomenal performances, and I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in Chicago where the music scene is so vibrant. For example, there are multiple concerts each week at Lincoln Hall, and most of them are under $20. Since the venue is fairly small, the concerts feel more intimate and personal which makes the experience even better. During Aquilo, I was close enough to the lead singer that I could have reached out and touched him! I’ve already seen a handful of artists at Lincoln Hall, and I have plans to see even more in the coming months.  

The opportunities for experiencing live music are endless in Chicago, and I try to take advantage of them as much as I can. In the next couple weeks, I’m seeing LEON, Snakehips, Klingande, and Oliver Heldens which are all artists that I am incredibly excited about! Besides Lincoln Hall, there are plenty of other fantastic venues such as Concord Music Hall , The Riviera Theatre , etc. Having access to such a wide variety of music performances, events, and venues is truly one of my favorite things about this city. I cannot imagine getting this same experience at a state school because it just is not offered. Chicago’s music scene is simply unparalleled!


An Afternoon in Chinatown

One of my favorite things about going to school at DePaul is that we get to live in one of the best cities in the world. No matter what time of year, there’s always something do somewhere in the city. One of my favorite things to do is get out and explore all the different neighborhoods of Chicago. And after living in the city for three years, I finally made it to Chinatown .

Chinatown is located right off the Cermak–Chinatown red line stop and is an easy 10-minute ride from DePaul’s downtown campus. The neighborhood is perfect for grabbing a quick bite to eat, or even spending an afternoon exploring all the shops and restaurants it has to offer.  This weekend my friends and I ventured across the city to spend an afternoon in the historic neighborhood.

When we first arrived I was surprised to see all the authentic buildings with beautiful architecture. Though the neighborhood was fairly small, it was filled with tons of shopping and restaurants. From dim sum and ramen to small bakeries with fresh goods, there were plenty of amazing food options to choose from. Chinatown also had lots of shopping where you could find everything from fun souvenirs to authentic medicine shops that stocked hundreds of herbal teas and traditional Chinese remedies. Not only can you find tons of things to do in Chinatown, but the neighborhood does an amazing job at immersing visitors in Chinese culture. 

While I was in Chinatown I ended up grabbing dinner and doing a little shopping throughout the neighborhood. Needless to say, I had an amazing first visit. It was a great way to explore another one of Chicago’s many neighborhoods and get a little taste of Chinese culture right here in the Midwest.  

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Why I Chose to Become a Blue Demon Vol. II

On the other hand, choosing to attend DePaul, or stay for that matter, solely based on the premise it is located in Chicago does not by any means constitute a valid reason to study here. Truth be told, I think it is the field experience - in terms of jobs and internships - that separates DePaul from most universities. I see firsthand the dedication of studying in honors programs, declaring multiple majors, working a job as a full-time student (whether it be on or off campus) and attaining internships before graduation; all to which typical DePaul students will have the luxury of accomplishing as opposed to those of a state school. I see old high school classmates in their state universities partying and tailgating, to which I must admit seems so fun, you know that stereotypical college experience. But, it is no wonder as to why parties are the dominant theme; they don’t have some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions, corporate employers, and recreational parks in their backyard. There is a reason why Chicago is the first destination they flock to when summer break comes around.  


#WhyApply

It's crazy to think it's college application season already, isn't it? I cannot believe that I applied to DePaul four years ago! So much has changed, but my love for DePaul has not.

Both my mom and my oldest sister graduated from DePaul, but that does not mean that it was the school that I always thought I would be attending. To be honest, I originally imagined myself at a school much further from my hometown of La Grange, IL. However, health complications that came up during my high school career made that choice a bit unrealistic, so I applied to a few universities much closer to home: Loyola, Marquette, Michigan State, Indiana, and of course DePaul. 

After that visit, I started thinking more and more about DePaul.  I knew that I wanted to major in Secondary English Education and DePaul would be the perfect link to Chicago Public Schools, giving me a much more diverse experience than my own high school gave me.  That is the beauty of attending a city school—you are surrounded by amazing, worldly opportunities rather than being isolated in a small college town.  There is absolutely never a dull moment!  Whether you are interested in art, music, sports, comedy, or food, there is something for you to do each and every day with the U-Pass at your fingertips.

After my first quarter at DePaul, I knew I made the right decision.  Not only was I living in one of the best cities in the world, but I was also surrounded by people who wanted to make a difference.  If you don’t already know, DePaul is a Vincentian community that prides itself on its commitment to service and social justice by asking the question: “What Must Be Done? ”  This was not something that swayed me in my decision to apply because I was not fully aware of its meaning, but it certainly made me feel a lot more fulfilled when I arrived and embraced the mission of the University. 

So, what must be done?  Your application to DePaul University of course! You’ll never know if you don’t apply!    


#WhyApply

The entire college application process is definitely a stressful experience that brings with it a mix of different emotions. Despite the highs and lows that accompany this time in your academic career, the best piece of advice I can give to any high school senior is to forget all the doubts you have and simply apply to any and all schools that interest you.

When I was searching for colleges and universities I was easily overwhelmed with things like acceptance rates and test scores, so much so it led me to not apply to schools that I was interested in. I’ve realized that the college admission process is so much more than what your grade point average is or how well you did on one test. Instead of calculating the chances you have of getting into your dream school, skip the doubt and apply to as many schools as you can.

A major reason why I applied to DePaul was because I knew they had an incredible Public Relations/Advertising program. However, I also had to think about the possibility that I would change my major or career path sometime throughout college. DePaul offers so many different areas of study that I knew I could find something I loved even if I did end up going in a completely different direction.

Often times at DePaul you hear people saying “the city is our classroom” and the phrase could not be more true. It’s one thing to learn out of a textbook, but it’s an entirely different experience getting to test your knowledge out in the real world. The fact that DePaul is situated in one of the best cities in the world is another reason that led me to apply. Chicago offers thousands of jobs and internships across the city, and DePaul is the best resource to help students land their dream position.

I also loved the fact that DePaul is a university founded on Vincentian values, so much so that the school was named after St. Vincent de Paul himself. I was thrilled that DePaul could offer me an amazing college education, but it’s the things DePaul offers outside education that truly led me to apply here. From community service organizations to student government, Greek life, professional development and recreational sports, there is literally something for everyone here at DePaul.

DePaul has been a dream school for myself and thousands of other students across the globe. Good luck to all high school seniors with the college application process, and I encourage each of you to apply to be a blue demon!

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Best Places for Book-lovers!

I know a lot of people say they don’t have time to read, but reading is a great stress reliever. There are so many places to fuel your need to read and here are a few of my favorite places.

 Myopic Books

There is so much to do off the Damen Blue Line stop, but this bookstore is one of the many attractions you have to check out in Wicker Park. The books can be a little pricey, but this store has multiple floors of books and a creepy (but cool) basement filled with even more books. In addition to the books, Myopic holds Live-Music Mondays and a Poetry Series on Saturdays.

This bookstore is located in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue. The Fine Arts Building is beautiful on the inside and in order to get to the bookstore on the second floor you have to take the vintage caged elevators. These books can be a little much but there is always a pile of discount books for $1 outside the actual store you can explore. This store is the only bookstore I know to have a pet cat- watch out for him as you walk around.

Pop-up shops have become a very popular thing within the last year and Carpe Librum is a pop-up bookstore in the heart of the loop just a few blocks from campus. This shop is only going to be at this location for the fall so I highly recommend going to this one out of all the ones on this list. The prices only range from $1-$4 and they restock with new books daily!

Thrift shops- Goodwill, Salvation Army, Village Discount etc.

If you’re looking for cheap books and a quick trip, thrift shops are always a great place to go. They usually carry the classics if you are looking for one of those and there even certain days where everything is half off at some thrift shops.

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore​

This bookstore is simple, they carry the newest books and it’s a great place to check out if you’re in the south loop.

This bookstore is way off campus. It’s right off the Loyola Red Line stop and is a must -see bookstore. This store is very unique and quirky and is a must see for yourself bookstore.​​


How To Spend a Dark Day

As someone in theatre, my days don’t end after 5 pm. I’m usually in rehearsal, working on creative projects, or in meetings. This past Monday, though, was a dark day (for all of the non-theatre folks reading this: a dark day is a night off from rehearsal or performances).

On this night off, I had the privilege of attending a Public Program at Victory Gardens Theatre. Victory Gardens is one of Chicago’s Tony-Award winning theatres, and it just so happens to be a 5 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus.

Many of our professors and students are connected with Victory Gardens -- whether they’ve worked there, acted there, or interned there -- which added to the fun of the night. I was attending a conversation between Jeanine Tesori (who has worked on shows such as Shrek, Fun Home, and Violet)and Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune Theatre Critic and DePaul University professor.

While the conversation and subsequent performances were amazing, one specific part really inspired me: At one point in the discussion, Jeanine said, “I’m happy Fun Home happened when it did in my career. It was at a point where my ambition matched my skill.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking about that statement. What does it mean to be a young artist, to live in a city full of art, to have tons of ambition, and not to know where your skill level lies?

I’m a director -- this means that regardless of my skill level compared to others in the rehearsal room, I’m expected to be an ambitious facilitator of storytelling. My fabulous professors have prepared me with a toolkit of ways to go about this; I’ve also had the opportunity to direct and assist throughout my 2 years in Chicago. Like others I go to school with, I’m constantly “on the grind” -- finding new gigs, stories to tell, programs to attend, and communities to interact with.

To me, those experiences are just as valuable at developing my talent as the experiences inside the classroom.

I’m thankful to have access to programs like this one at Victory Gardens. I know it’s absolutely a privilege to hear established theatre professionals speak every day. What I find myself wondering, though, is how I can use this privilege to enrich my education and take with me to the rehearsal room.

Part of being a 20-something means forging this path on my own, and part of being a theatre artist means combining my work within DePaul with my opportunities outside of DePaul. With the help of my formal and Chicago-based education, maybe, eventually, I can reach a point where my talent and ambition race side by side.

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A Day Outside the City

The hustle and bustle of life in Chicago is certainly fun and entertaining, but getting away from all of it for a day is a nice change of pace. And now that fall is officially here, one of my favorite things to do is spend a day apple picking! Though you might not have much luck finding a farm to apple pick here in Chicago, there’s a handful of places outside of the city that offer the perfect weekend escape for all your favorite fall activities.   

This year my friends and I decided to road trip to County Line Orchard in Hobart, Indiana. It was an easy drive just over an hour outside of the city, and the farm itself had tons to do aside from apple picking. The best part is admission for u-pick is only $1 as a starting fee, which also includes a free tractor ride to and from the apple orchard. On top of an orchard, the farm also has a sunflower field, a pumpkin patch, and a corn maze.

If picking apples isn’t quite the vibe you are looking for, no need to fret. The farm itself offers much more than the picking experience.​ Located in the middle of the orchard is a huge barnyard with all the essential fall goodies. Here you can find everything from pumpkin pies to cider donuts, kettle corn, fudge, caramel apples, and hot chocolate; all homemade of course. 

During the weekend there is also live music and food trucks with tons of yummy food to snack on. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for anyone who loves the fall season!


Good Luck Finishing This Sandwich

A sandwich is that one food that no one can hate on. There has got to be that one certain sandwich in everybody’s life that just hits home. I believe Lucky’s sandwiches is my one certain sandwich. It should come as no surprise that I first saw this place on TV on Man vs Food. So, what makes Lucky’s so noteworthy? You could mention the size of the sandwich, you could mention the portion of meat you’ll receive, or that the coleslaw is thrown onto the sandwich, or that the fries are shoved between the buns as well. You could mention all those components, but at the end of the day, the sandwich just tastes so good.
Located in the heart of Wrigley, be sure to visit the small restaurant on a day when there is no Cubs game. I have been here about three times and for each visit, I ordered the same sandwich, the Two Bagger. This is corned beef and pastrami with the standard toppings of tomatoes, fries, and coleslaw. There is actually a DePaul-inspired sandwich called the Blue Demon that tops buffalo chicken with blue cheese and bacon. 
In all honesty, finishing just one sandwich in itself is a chore, but for those with a serious appetite - or desperate need for notoriety - there is the challenge that landed Lucky’s a spot on Man vs Food . If you can eat three sandwiches in less than an hour, you will receive that meal for free and earn a picture on the wall. Personally, the temptation of free food is so enticing I just might put myself through the delicious pain of such a challenge.

The Responsibilities of an Apartment

​​Getting your own apartment is one of the most grown-up things that happen during your college years. I know everyone wants to grow up, get away from their parents and do things themselves, but having your own place is a lot more responsibility than I ever thought I could handle.

If you thought you missed your mom’s home cooked meals when you were in the dorms, you were very wrong. Coming home after a long day of classes and having to figure out what you want to eat is one of the most stressful things. Of course, the possibilities are endless compared to the stu food, but who has the time to make food? You’ll most likely end up popping some frozen food in the oven or make some pasta. Also, don’t forget you have to go grocery shopping about every week. Where’s the best place to buy groceries ? What groceries do you need? What won’t go bad fast? Which brand is the best? Is $2.49 too much for strawberries?

I usually don’t mind cleaning, but there is so much more to clean and so many other housekeeping things that need to be done than I thought. Dust accumulates dramatically in my apartment and sweeping and mopping have become an everyday ritual. There are always dishes to be washed and put away, bathrooms that need cleaning, and tons of laundry to be done. I finally understand how much my mom does to keep our house put together.

The good thing is that I have finally become super aware of the value of a dollar (my parents have waited 20 years for this day). Having the amount of rent in mind along with having to pay bills for utilities has made well aware of the amount of money I have to put away for necessities.

Although an apartment is an absurd amount of work, it becomes a place that you can make your (and your roommates’) own. You can add the little things that make it cozy enough for a place you and your friends can kick it. My first apartment is making me realize how fast I’m growing up and is definitely preparing me for more adult responsibilities I will have in the future.

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Southside Coolin', Shorty, Yeah That's Where I Stay

Last week I was given a soccer-style jersey for Hispanic Heritage Orgullo Night. And since the Sox are neither as popular nor talented as the Cubs are as of now, tickets are really cheap. All I can do now is just look forward to next year, as I have been doing for too long now. On the bright side, the Cubs are looking to go far in the playoffs again. I’ll be turning twenty-one in less than a month, so hopefully, I can enjoy this playoff season more so than last year. 
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Family Weekend

With family weekend coming up next month, many students are arranging to have their family members come visit them at DePaul. When hosting visitors, it is often hard to figure out which activities to do and which attractions to see since Chicago is such a vast city overflowing with opportunities. Here’s a list of some of my personal favorite things I’ve done with family and friends that have visited me in the past to help you out!

The Chicago Cultural Center​Located right across from Maggie Daley Park and The Bean, the cultural center is a hidden gem often overlooked in favor of nearby attractions such as the Art Institute. It’s completely free (my favorite part), and offers a wide array of culturally diverse exhibits and rooms. This is one of my favorite places in all of Chicago!
Lurie Gardens:​ If you walk further past The Bean, you’ll come across a serene set of gardens nestled right in the city. It’s such a good spot to rest your legs and spend some time relaxing before your next venture. For me, I love bringing my camera along and snapping some pictures within this beautiful hidden treasure.
North Avenue Beach:​ In the warmer months, the beach is a must! It’s a fairly short walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus, and offers many things to do. From biking along the lakefront to simply lounging on a towel, North Avenue Beach has something for everyone.
Pick Me Up Cafe:​ This spot is perfect for when you and your friends are plagued with the late night munchies since it is open until 2am (& serves breakfast until 2 as well!). Quirky art pieces cover the walls and the menu is filled with creations unique to the restaurant such as pizzadillas and magic caps.
Little Goat Diner: Located in West Loop, Little Goat is where you would go for a more upscale dinner experience. The menu was created by Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef, and features a wide array of delicious options. If you go during the warmer months, request a seat outdoors to enjoy a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline.
Festivals: ​There is a festival going on in Chicago nearly every weekend, so check out what’s happening while your visitors are in town. By simply logging into Facebook, you’ll have access to every festival/celebration going on in Chicago on any given weekend.

While there are many more things that your visitors would enjoy, this is just a list of a few favorites of mine that have been a big hit with my family and friends. Enjoy your time with your loved ones and do whatever will make you happiest!


Best Study Spots in the Loop

Now that fall quarter is in full swing, homework and assignments are starting to pile up. As a Public Relations and Advertising major, I spend most of my time downtown at the Loop campus. And while DePaul has an awesome library down in the Loop, sometimes you just need to switch it up a little. Whether I need to knock-out a paper or settle in for some serious study time: Here are some of my favorite study spots in the loop campus.

Goddess and the Baker​

A staple for many DePaulians, Goddess and the Baker is a chic and hip coffee spot with some seriously awesome eats. Whether you’re just looking for a caffeine fix or need to fuel up with lunch between classes, this place is sure to have something you’ll love. While it’s one of my favorite places downtown, it’s on the smaller side and definitely fills up quick during the weekdays.

HWL

Harold Washington Library ​

Although many of us know this as an EL stop, Harold Washington Library is home to one of the best study spots downtown. The Winter Garden is located on the 9th floor of the library and has some incredible study vibes going for it. Fit with a glass roof, the room offers tons of natural light and even has free (and fast) Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for a study spot with a view, this place is definitely for you.

Two Zero Three​

Although this cafe isn’t quite as close to the Loop campus as the others, the short journey is definitely worth it. Located on the ground level of the Virgin Hotel on Wabash, this chic spot offers comfy chairs in a cozy study atmosphere.  With plenty of outlets and natural light, Two Zero Three is a great place to grab a coffee and a bite to eat and knock-out some work.

Peach and Green​

This place is seriously a hidden gem. Peach and Green covers the trifecta of necessities for a great study spot: great food and coffee, plenty of seating, and fast Wi-Fi. With a hot food bar in addition to made-to-order food, this place has something for everyone. Make sure and grab a comfy seat in one of their couches by the window!​ 


What I Learned From My Freshman Year at College

From only one year at college, I have learned more than I ever did in my four years of high school. There are an endless amount of things I have learned but I’m going to highlight some of the most important things I learned my freshman year.

1. Don't stress about keeping up with friends.

You will go days or weeks without texting/snapchatting/ calling or just plain talking to your friends from home sometimes. THAT IS TOTALLY FINE. Actually, it is a good thing. When you and your friends get together the next time you all will have so much to say your conversations will never end.

2. Capture it. Write it.

You’re going to experience some cool things, document them somehow.

Journal

3. Do more of what you love.

You’re beginning a new life in a way; more of a life you’ve always wanted. You can be 100% in college. There are no cliques and everyone is who they want to be, so do the things that make you happy because there are no restrictions.

4. Keep an open mind.

This one is simple.

explore

5. Adventure/ Explore!

There is so much to do! Especially being in the city. So go out, get lost and find some cool places. If you don’t know what to do, ask friends about their favorite places to go and check them out yourself.

6. You are more than a grade.

I know that school can be stressful and you will most likely spot me vigorously doing my homework in the library on a Thursday night but don’t stress too much about grades. If you make an effort in class, talk to professors and find study groups you can work with, you will feel a lot more relaxed. It is not healthy to overstress about school- there is more to you than your grades.

I believe that we are always learning which is why my favorite phrase is an Italian saying: “Ancora imparo” which translates to “I am still learning.”  Michelangelo proclaimed this when he was 87 years old which is usually a time where a lot of people think they have seen it all and know everything with all the wisdom they have attained. These two words remind me how I can take any experience as an opportunity to learn. College is one great experience and I am still learning things about college and myself and continuously adding to this list.


Getting Involved

As a first-year student, you will hear over and over again about the importance of getting involved on campus.  For me, this was a lot of pressure. I was just getting adjusted to living on my own (with a randomly assigned roommate) and excelling in college courses.  How could I possibly add anything else into my busy schedule?  Looking back, I laugh at the thought of me thinking my life was busy at this point…just you wait freshman year self!  But in all seriousness, the first year of college is crazy and it can feel stressful to think about how you want to get involved. 

With that being said, what I wish someone would have told me then is that getting involved does not necessarily mean joining a billion clubs.  Yes, when you go to the Involvement Fair on the Quad you will probably feel pressured into putting your email on at least 20 different pieces of paper, especially if you want free things.  But that isn’t necessarily the key to getting involved. 

Being a part of the campus comes in a variety of different forms and can take part at different stages of your college career.  This how “getting involved” went down for me:

Freshman Year: I chose not to join any clubs or organizations.  But despite what some of you may think after reading that sentence, I was still involved on campus.  I attended events sponsored by DePaul Activities Board​, I participated in group fitness classes at the Ray, and I embraced the activities within the residence hall.

Sophomore Year: I worked in the New Student and Family Engagement program as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM), leading a class of first-year students in discussion about campus resources at DePaul.  I also joined Alpha Phi Omega​ (APO), a co-ed service fraternity that volunteers with organizations throughout Chicago.

Junior Year: I continued working as a CQM, became an Executive Board member of APO, and began tutoring at the University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL).    

Senior Year: I am enjoying my third year as a CQM and member of APO and my second year as a tutor at the UCWbL​.  I also started writing for DeBlogs!  Originally, I was hesitant to apply for DeBlogs because of my status as a senior.  I felt like I may be joining too late. 

But I soon realized that it is never too late to find something you are interested in and getting involved isn’t something only freshmen do.  I speak from experience when I say you can always find new ways to get involved at DePaul.  Being a member of the campus community is an ongoing process and it is important to keep your eyes open for fresh opportunities!   


Cherish Your Amazon Prime


This is by no means a plug for Amazon, rather just a college student fascinated by the conveniences modern technology is able to revolutionize constantly. Amazon Prime was something I thought I would never give into, simply because I thought it was a hyped service. Then, I signed up for the free six-month trial available for students, which in itself is a pretty good amount of time for a trial. My six months are about to expire and I am contemplating on whether I should renew the membership for the student discount of fifty dollars for the year, which is half-off the normal rate.

The first thing to know with Prime is that their deals are not always a deal. It would be wise to search other sites or stores before buying a discounted item through Amazon. However, there are some pretty good bargains from time to time. Prime was able to persuade me to buy something I did not necessarily need, such as the Versace Eros Eau De Toilette Spray that was too tempting at 65% off, or roughly a hundred dollars off from its retail value. Another purchase I made was for my new apartment room. Once again, kind of unnecessary, but I was able to snag a leather bed frame that included sideboards, headboard, footboard, and wooden slats for a hundred and forty. The next day, the price jumped to its retail value of two hundred and ten dollars. A key feature to Prime is the free two-day delivery with Prime items. I’ve had things shipped to me that took two months, so the two-day benefit becomes quite handy in situations such as when you desperately need school supplies or textbooks.

PrimeNow

With your Prime subscription comes the feature of Prime Now , which is free two-hour delivery from local restaurants and grocery stores. I’ve used this app a few times, ordering things such as Greek yogurt, vegetables, and even TGI Fridays once. But beware; this will ultimately culminate into a more solitary lifestyle where one will never have to leave the comfort of their home again. Okay, that may have been an extreme exaggeration, but it does hold some truth in it. I mean there were times I said to myself, “why make the trek to an Aldi or Target and haul the gallon of milk or cartons of eggs when I could have it brought to my doorstep.” That is why I limit myself to only purchasing items I prefer, that I cannot find at the Aldi by me, such as a certain nonfat Greek yogurt. I hope you try the trial yourself, for Prime is a college student’s life saver . 

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Welcome Back!

​​​With Fall Quarter beginning last Wednesday, DePaul students are finally getting back into the academic routine. For me, this means transitioning from focusing solely on working to balancing work with my class schedule and school activities. Although it will be a challenging ten weeks since I am taking five classes and maxing out my credit hours, I am eager to delve deeper into some of the subjects I’ll be studying such as Global Climate Change and American Sign Language .
Planner

Most students at DePaul typically take 16 credit hours per quarter which is a total of four classes. However, the tuition that you are paying includes 18 credit hours, so you get more for your money if you enroll in the full 18. This quarter, I am using this to my advantage by picking up an extra two credit class that fulfills a requirement for my Peace, Justice, and Conflict studies minor. Although I do not have to do this by any means, it is helping me to get ahead and potentially graduate early.

Taking this class along with my regular schedule is difficult, but it is manageable since a two credit hour class is not nearly as much work as my other classes. I highly recommend maxing out your credit hours, but it is also not necessary for many students. If it is going to be too much, don’t stress yourself out about it and simply take the normal amount. I’ve always been one to take on more than I can handle, so maxing out my credit hours was not a decision I took lightly.

For example, I signed up for 18 credit hours in the spring, but dropped my two credit hour class when I realized it was going to be too difficult to balance with my internship, job, and other activities. Finding what works for you is all about balance, and sometimes it takes making some mistakes to realize what will work best.

Succulents and Pens

Although I’ve only had one full day of classes, I can already tell this quarter is going to be full of interesting lectures/debates and engaging assignments. Taking 18 credit hours will be a challenge, but it is one that I am prepared for and excited about. Sophomore year is going to be a good one, I can already feel it!


Meet Richa!

Hi, readers!

My name is Richa (pronounced Reach-ah). I’m currently a sophomore at DePaul University double majoring in Accounting and Finance. I was born, but not raised, in Chicago. I’m from a close suburb called Des Plaines- known for being the home of the first-ever McDonald's and an absurd amount of trains. I am more than grateful to be going to DePaul and being able to take advantage of all it has to offer.

Books

I enjoy a vast amount of things but my favorites would include playing basketball, taking pictures, reading (especially poetry ), going to the beach, visiting art museums and galleries, and exploring Chicago. Chicago has been my classroom and in my free time, I always explore the city for its never-ending adventures. The two distinct campuses allow me to grow, mature, and prepare more for the future. I’ll be sharing a lot of these adventures with you through my blog.

Richa

I also think music is very important. I have a wide range of preferences and can’t wait to share my love for music with you on this blog.  

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Lakeview Living

LakeviewAfter months of searching and enduring competitive room showings with other potential renters, my roommates and I got lucky enough to snag an apartment in Lakeview, Chicago. The apartment is a ten to fifteen-minute walk east of the Sheridan Red Line, the place I’ll be calling home is only a block from Lakeshore Drive… that is pretty close to Lake Michigan if you are not familiar with your streets yet (hence the name Lakeview). The setup is three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a balcony, living room, two storage closets, and a renovated kitchen with dishwasher for $2,300 rent a month.  

Upon moving in, I quickly realized the benefits, and drawbacks, from renting an apartment off-campus. What I like thus far is definitely having the luxury of your own bedroom. The room itself is about the size of the four-person dorm I roomed in freshman year, so to say the privacy and space is appreciated would be an understatement. The living room is the size of the entire room of the two-person apartment of Centennial I was in last year. These comparisons are not meant to downsize DePaul’s living accommodations, but more so to brag about how lucky we were to find this huge apartment.  Living off-campus, you also get the sense of having more independence and less supervision - whether that supervision came in the form of checking into your building or having cameras on you wherever you go. However, where there are pros there are cons.

The first thing to note is the location. Yes, Lakeview is a very nice neighborhood and not far north, but it still does not compare to living on campus where I would leave five minutes prior to when my class starts in Lincoln Park or having the Ray and CTA trains conveniently located minutes away. Another downside is the monthly expenses you have to set up and pay for. Cable, Internet, heating, AC, electricity, water, laundry, and printers are all provided on the room and board expenses. As of now, we only have Wi-Fi in our apartment. No TV channels, pay $1.25 a load for laundry, and the electricity bill. For our place, water and heat are covered but the heat it is not controlled inside the units and is in the form of steam that comes from radiators. We also have no AC.

I realized I did not want to live at DePaul forever, and getting an apartment off-campus was ultimately the only option for me unless I commuted from home. I’m not advising as to which form of housing you should go for, but to look into the expenses for both.



Meet Sarah!

Hey y’all!

I’m Sarah, a junior pursuing a BFA in Theatre Arts, concentrating in Directing, in The Theatre School (TTS). I’ll be DeBlogging all year, so keep reading to find out a little bit about me:

pride

Hey Sarah, where ya from? I’m originally from Northville, Michigan - a small suburban town about 5 hours away from Chicago. My family loved traveling when I was a kid, and after visiting many urban areas, I decided Chicago was best for both my theatre career and my life. I now live in Boystown, a neighborhood about a mile north of DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. It’s full of history, great food, and fun! It’s also a historic site of Chicago Pride (glance at the photo to the right of me and my pals celebrating pride this year!).  Having so much culture at my doorstep is unbeatable.

What do you do? Within The Theatre School’s conservatory, I focus on new work and assistant directing. You’ll hear a ton about the shows I’m working on in the coming year! I work within The Theatre School’s admissions office, and I am a coordinator for the Goodman Orientation Detail Squad -- a mentorship program that pairs new TTS students with current students in their major to help the college transition. I was also a 2016 Orientation Leader. As you can tell, I absolutely love working with new students!

How about outside TTS? My work in theatre focuses a lot on nonprofit development, so many of my experiences in Chicago relate to that. I’m the Finance Director for DemonTHON, a 24-hour dance marathon benefiting Lurie Children’s Hospital. It’s DePaul’s largest philanthropic organization, which has introduced me to some fabulous people. I also work with Oxfam -- an international non-profit working to end poverty -- as one of 38 CHANGE leaders in the country.

But like… What do you do in your free time? When I’m not working on one of my projects, you can catch me eating all around the city. In each blog, I’ll share my restaurant of the week.

Restaurant of the Week: Pick Me Up Cafe! It’s a diner 2 blocks from Wrigley Field that is open until 3 am. Their vegetarian food is unbeatable, and they have a 90s vibe with endless coffee and free wifi. Check it out!

I’m super excited to share more with y’all throughout my year. Keep reading weekly to watch as I fall more and more in love with Chicago and DePaul!


Meet Olivia!

Hi! My name is Olivia and I am a senior majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in English.  I love to read, write, and spend all my free time working with kids, so it’s a pretty fitting major for me.

I grew up in La Grange, a western suburb and have been a lifelong fan of all things Chicago.  I am a huge Bulls fan, despite the fact that their management has made quite a few poor choices recently (cough cough the Jimmy Butler trade cough).  But I continue to watch and Bull-ieve that we can soon return to the glory of the 90s.  

I am one of the few bloggers on DeBlogs that won’t mention their love for food in their introductory blog because I am an incredibly picky eater with food allergies.  So if you are looking to hear about Chicago style pizza hot spots, look to someone else.  But if you’re sick of hearing the debate between Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s, read on!   

Though I can’t speak much about Chicago restaurants, I can certainly make up for it by sharing my Intel on Chicago’s music venues.  A few of my favorites are Northerly Island and Aragon Ballroom, but I’ll save those details for a future blog.  I absolutely love going to concerts and that is where I spend most of my money.  

Luckily, I have money to spend thanks to my many on-campus jobs as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, writing tutor at the UCWbL, and of course blogger with DeBlogs.  I also work at the local shop, Monograms on Webster and as a Lincoln Park nanny (I told you I like to spend a lot of time with kids!).  

Well, that’s me!  I hope you continue to follow my posts to learn more about me, Chicago, and of course DePaul!   


The Grand Finale

Well, here it is. What was just a constant theme in my blogs throughout this year has now arrived. 

I remember walking onto DePaul’s campus for the first time filled with excitement at what the future had in store for me. Four years, 12 quarters, and countless final exams later and here I am excited once again for what the next chapter has in store. 

DePaul University, you’ve been good to me. 

Graduation
Thank you to everyone that has helped and supported me throughout these past four years. Thank you to all the clubs and organizations that brought me in, taught me valuable lessons, and enriched my college experience. Thank you to the readers that visit this site weekly and check out our works. 

Lastly, thank you to DeBlogs and everyone behind the scenes making it possible to have our content shared and read by students, faculty, and more. I’ve been with DeBlogs since my freshman year and have somehow managed to find something to write about every single week for 120 weeks (if my math is correct). When creativity lacked, when studies were difficult, and time was limited the DeBlogs crew worked with me and helped me stay on track. Having a weekly blog due made me go out of my way to explore DePaul and my city more than I may have without it. 

I developed personally and professionally from freshman year to senior, working on communicating with the DeBlogs team and maintaining what was expected of me. DeBlogs is also the only program I took part in, aside from my scholarship, for all four years at DePaul. So for those looking for a fun, rewarding experience and a chance to build your creative writing portfolio I highly recommend joining the DeBlogs team. 

Along with this Grand Finale blog is a farewell video​ I made talking about my experiences at DePaul. Give it a watch! That brings me to the end of this blog. Thank you everyone, once again, and for the last time…

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome friends!

Josue Ortiz
Class of 2017   

Greeked Up!

Greek Fest
 
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. 

Summer in Chicago

It’s summer! Is it just me, or did this school year fly by? Three quarters, forty-eight credits, thirty weeks of classes, six weeks of winter break, and three weeks of finals, finished off with three months of summer break! 

As I have already mentioned, I am moving to Washington, D.C. at the end of July for graduate school, so I only have five or six weeks left in Chicago! That part makes me really sad, but I am getting really excited to move, explore a new city, and have a new adventure. 

Ice Cream
Before I move, I want to do as much in Chicago as I can! Some of the items on my bucket list are kayaking on the Chicago River, ordering the 25 scoop sundae at Margie’s Candies, and having one more beach day with my friends. I also want to work as much as possible. I can’t get a full-time job because I’ll only be here for a few weeks, but I hope to get as many random babysitting jobs as I can. You think Chicago is expensive? Somehow, D.C. is even pricier! 

The highlight of my summer, however, will be the 10-day trip to Israel I am going on. It is through a program called Passages and is aimed at college students. We will get to tour a lot of historic Biblical sites and learn a lot about the past and present political state of Israel. Two of my best friends are going, too, and I am so excited to spend that time with them, explore Israel, and grow in my relationship with the Lord. 

What are you guys up to this summer? I hope you have a relaxing, exciting summer! 

Farewell Freshmen Year

Yesterday, I hopped on a plane to head to Santorini, Greece ​for a wedding, and from there I'll be spending the summer in Cyprus, the country I'm from. Having to complete all of my finals early was stressful, to say the least (I wrote 21 pages of essays in one night...), but I'm finally done and it feels amazing! While most of my friends were still in Chicago studying and taking finals, I was able to leave early and get my summer started a little sooner. 

Greece
Being officially done with my freshman year feels bittersweet. I spent the day before I left crying with my friends, reminiscing on our year, and thinking about how we'll never again live right down the hall from each other. Although I'm really looking forward to living in an apartment next year, I also have come to realize just how convenient and easy it has been living in such close proximity to all of my closest friends. I'm really going to miss it! No matter how many times we complained about having to share rooms or constantly being surrounded by people, we all loved the experience and would not trade it for the world.

Looking back, this year has truly been one of the best and most challenging of my life. Living and studying in Chicago has been even more exciting than I expected, and the opportunities I have had make me feel extremely grateful. From having an internship as a freshman to simply studying downtown in the beautiful Harold Washington Library, being at DePaul has allowed me access to numerous things I would not have had at any other school. There's simply nowhere else I'd rather be for the next three years. While I'm still really sad about the end of this one, I can't wait to see what the next three hold. 

Taste of Ravenswood

Food
 
Since I saw it on television years ago, I always wanted to visit Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen ​in the Ravenswood​/Lincoln Square​ 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. 

Broadway in Chicago

Have I talked about how much I love Broadway in Chicago? You guys, it seriously is one of my favorite parts about living in the city, and probably one of the things I will miss the most when I move away. 

My best friend Lauren also loves Broadway, so we always get tickets together to see whatever show is playing downtown. Most shows do some sort lottery/raffle or cheap ticket deal, and that’s what Lauren and I have taken advantage of. You show up to the box office the day of the show, and either put your name in the lottery to win $25 tickets to see the show or just buy $25 tickets from the clerk. It depends upon the show and how popular it is. You also have a better chance of winning or scoring tickets if you go on a typically uncrowded day, like Sunday nights. We won $25 tickets to see The Book of Mormon​ – so cool!! 

Rent
Most recently, we had the opportunity to see Rent as it made its 20-year anniversary tour through Chicago. I got Lauren and myself tickets to celebrate her birthday, and it hands down was one of the best shows I have ever seen. The cast was extremely talented, and the show itself it just incredible. We were really lucky to see it, too, as it is a show that tours very rarely! 

One of the big items on my bucket list before I move to Washington, D.C. is to win tickets to see Aladdin – do you think I can do it? Wish me luck!

Rickmobile to Chicago!

Calling all Rick and Morty fans! This blog is for you, well us, but you know what I mean. The Rickmobile will be in Chicago on June 1st for the Don’t Even Trip Road Trip tour. 
Rickmobile

Essentially it’s a giant truck that looks like Rick and is also a store traveling across the U.S. and bringing fans from all over together. The grand journey began May 11th in Atlanta, Georgia and has since made its way to the east coast stopping in Brooklyn, Boston, and more. Wrapping up those locations, the Rickmobile is now making it’s way to the Midwest stopping in Detroit, Cleveland, and a couple other destinations before reaching the Windy City. 

Feeling schwitfy yet? Challengers Comics , a local comic shop on Western Avenue just under the Blue Line stop, will host the event – it will start at 6pm and end at 9pm, according to the Facebook ​page. #Rickmobile has been designated for all Intsagram and Twitter posts from fans as they share their Wubba Lubba Dub Dub experiences! 

I know where I’ll be Thursday, June 1st at 6pm. I look forward to meeting other fans of Rick and Morty as well as attending the event with my 3+3=6 (another Rick and Morty insider) group! 

Thanks for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome! 

Warm Weather

​Warm weather has finally returned to Chicago! This week has been filled with study sessions on the quad, spontaneous adventures to the beach, and simply hanging out with friends in the sunshine. Since the weather seems to be here to stay for now, here’s a list of fun things to do at DePaul when it’s warm outside:

Beach
1. Hang out on the Quad. As cheesy as it sounds, laying a blanket out on the grass and spending time with your friends just listening to music and doing homework is such a fun and relaxing way to spend time during the week. If you have a hammock, this is also a great place to set it up and get comfortable.
2. Walk to the beach. North Avenue Beach is about a 30 minute walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus and is one of the most popular beach hangouts for DePaul students as well as a lot of Lincoln Park residents. If you want to go a little further, Ohio Street Beach is another great beach that is only a train ride away. Whether you’re just hanging out on the sand or going for a dip in the water, being at the beach makes it feel like you’re not in the middle of one of the largest cities in the U.S.
3. Rent bikes! This is something I’ve been wanting to do since fall quarter, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity again. Divvy bikes are available to rent and are located all around the city, making them super convenient for DePaul students.
Friends
4. Treat yourself to some ice cream. With Annette’s Italian Ice and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream both located in Lincoln Park, the options for a sweet, frozen treat are endless. In fact, my friends and I were just at Jeni’s last night enjoying some sorbet and ice cream. My personal favorite is the brambleberry sorbet, but all of the flavors are delicious!
5. Spend some time with nature. Although this seems like an odd recommendation for Chicago, the city is actually filled with numerous green spaces. From the Lincoln Park Conservatory to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond, Lincoln Park alone has many places to go and enjoy nature on a beautiful day.
In the end, the most important thing is just to get outside and enjoy this warm weather with friends! After all, this is Chicago; it could be freezing again in a week.

Tips for Finding an Apartment in the City

Apartment hunting season is officially among us. Which means all those times you binge watched HGTV are finally going to pay off. But be warned, finding an apartment in the city isn’t as glamorous as House Hunters makes it out to be. In fact, finding the perfect college apartment can be downright stressful. Here are some tips that will make apartment hunting as painless as possible.

Don’t do it alone: With thousands of different units available, picking which apartments to go after can get pretty confusing. Luckily, Chicago has tons of great options that can help you find the perfect home. Try Chicago Apartment Finders or Apartment People, both free services that can help hook you up with your perfect apartment. For do it yourselfers check out listings on Zillow, Trulia, and even Craigslist.   

My first apartment
Be realistic: Finding an apartment with everything you want at a good price probably isn’t going to happen (sad, I know). Make a list of what you want out of an apartment and what you’re willing to sacrifice. Would you rather have cheaper rent or live closer to a CTA stop? Having in unit laundry and granite countertops would be great, but are you willing to break the bank for it? Once you establish what’s important to you, finding a good fit will be less of a stress. 

Act fast: The apartment-hunting scene in Chicago moves fast, so be prepared to keep up. When you’re going to tour a potential winner, be prepared to apply for the apartment right then and there. Don’t wait for something better to come along, because chances are someone will swoop up your potential crib sooner than later. 

Consider location: With tons of different neighborhoods in the city, there are infinite possibilities of where you new home could be. Remember to consider things like: proximity to campus, how far the nearest CTA stop is, and most important of all, where the nearest grocery store is located. Seriously, lugging a weeks worth of grocery’s 15 blocks is something no one should have to experience. Apartments in neighborhoods with lots of shops, restaurants, and grocery stores will definitely up the rent price, but if you look close enough, finding something in your budget is definitely doable. 

My New Grocery Obsession

My academic career at DePaul began four and a half years ago. Since then, as I’ve lived in Lincoln Park, I have sort of fallen into a rhythm of how I live my life. I know where I like to go, I know the exact route I like to walk, I know where I like to eat, I know where I like to shop. But at the end of the day, knowing all of that means that I just go to the same places over and over again, and I don’t try many new things anymore. 
  
Treasure Island Foods
Why is there a car in the middle of Treasure Island Foods? I don’t know. 
You know those places that you always walk by, and every time, you say to yourself, “I should really go there,” but you never actually end up going there? Recently, I finally stopped at one of the places that I had always passed but had never entered: Treasure Island Foods.

When I started at DePaul, the grocery store on campus was a Dominick’s rather than a Whole Foods. After Dominick’s closed, my dad suggested that I try out a place called Treasure Island Foods, located about six blocks away from the student center, but instead I started shopping at Trader Joe’s, a twenty-minute walk from campus. And when Whole Foods opened, I just started shopping at Whole Foods because… it’s convenient.

For whatever reason, I never went to Treasure Island… until about two weeks ago. But let me tell you: I will never go anywhere other than Treasure Island from now on. 

For starters, it’s so nice to go to a normal grocery store, rather than a specialty store, because I can buy name brand food again. Sometimes you just want Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing and not some off-tasting store brand, you know what I mean? 

More importantly, I’m saving so much money by shopping at Treasure Island. Not only are prices lower in general, but Treasure Island has some really good sales. But the biggest money saver is the 10% student discount. Yes. You read that right. Just for being a student, you get 10% off your groceries (just show your student ID!). You know I can’t resist a discount.

In all seriousness, I definitely suggest checking out Treasure Island Foods, if for no reason other than trying some samples. It’s so easy to get to, and the savings can really add up!

Unwind Outside

Outside
 
Although it has taken a while, warmer weather has finally set in, and just in time for finals. If you’re like me, then you have totally checked out and are finding it difficult to focus on school. I just want to go outside. After some time now, I realize that there are ways to do both. 

First, take advantage of Chicago’s beaches. Most notable is North Avenue Beach. This is my go-to choice because it is just a walk down Fullerton, and the walk itself can take off some of that stress. There is also Oak Street Beach and even lesser known ones such as 12th Street Beach in the shadow of the Adler Planetarium. I remember my freshman year going to the beach was a weekly thing. Nothing helped me forget about my responsibilities like taking much-needed naps in the sand. These are also great opportunities to catch up on your reading as well.

Another spring habit was visiting the parks. Oz Park is not too far the Lincoln Park campus and is my ideal spot for throwing around a Frisbee, and there is plenty of trees available to set up a hammock and study outside. Side note, the outdoor patio space on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center is open and I highly recommend checking it out. Pretty neat to eat or study amongst the high-rises.  

But these are only suggestions to get started. If you want to find your own secluded spot where you can feel a moment of isolation in a bustling city, go on a walk. Whenever I choose to walk rather than take the CTA, I am astounded by how very little I know about Chicago.

Metropolitan Music

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Concert
The most memorable moments from my freshman year was not the overall freedom of living away from home, but the concerts. I am not going to say I will look down upon anyone who hasn’t gone to a concert in Chicago, but I will say you are missing out.  A few concerts I can remember:


Soulja Boy at Double Door


If you have the means of getting there by car, I attend most concerts at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. Besides that venue, there are plenty of venues here in Chicago. As I mentioned before, I worked a basketball event at the Aragon Ballroom but definitely want to see a show there. I like to think I attend a good amount of concerts, but I am just scratching the surface. I have yet to see the Chicago Symphony Orchestra , or some country band perform at Wrigley, Lollapalooza, Country LakeShake and so on. 

Speaking of concerts, don’t forget to buy your tickets for DePaul’s FEST ​2017.

Mother's Day in Chicago

A few years ago, maybe when I was a sophomore, I didn’t go home for Mother’s Day. I had just been home the week before, and I think I was pretty busy working on stuff assignments for school, so my parents said I should just stay at school and get some work done. Probably around 2 P.M. on Mother’s Day, I got a call from my parents. On the other end of the phone was my mom, bawling her eyes out. Apparently, she discovered, Mother’s Day did mean a lot to her, and it was tough on her for us not to be together. Ever since then, my family has made it a priority to be together on Mother’s Day.
Sweet Mandy B's

This year for Mother’s Day, we had planned to go to one of the many farmer's markets around Chicago. On a side note, one of my favorite things to do when it’s nice out is to just walk around Chicago, and nothing makes me happier than stumbling across a farmers market that I had no clue about! I typically end up at the one at Division and Dearborn , since it’s about halfway between DePaul and Downtown. But alas, my parents got into Chicago later than expected, so we weren’t able to go to the farmers market.

We were, however, able to run over to my favorite breakfast spot, Ann Sather . I don’t know if you’ll ever find a better cinnamon roll (you can get up to four cinnamon rolls as part of included side dishes!). We spent some time at my mom’s favorite store in the world, Five Below , and then did a little bit of shopping at some thrift stores in Lincoln Park. Unsurprisingly, we ended our day at Sweet Mandy B’s to get some baked goods. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nowhere better for anything sweet than Sweet Mandy B’s . In the end, not a single tear was shed on Mother’s Day.

Meet the Cookie Dough Brownie in the photo above. It’s a brownie (obviously) covered in a thick layer of cookie dough, then splashed with some chocolate ganache, and topped with some chocolate chip cookie crumbles. My mom and I both loved it (my dad got his favorite—the lemon bar).

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Lewis Watson at Lincoln Hall

Lewis Watson
On Thursday night, I had the opportunity to see an amazing artist in concert: Lewis Watson. Two days before the show, some friends and I impulsively bought tickets and decided that we needed to go see him. I’ve liked his music for a long time, so it was really cool to finally see him perform live. Although I thought there would be more people, it ended up being a fairly small crowd which made for a really intimate and personal experience. At one point, he even walked off stage and into the audience and started singing with us.

The concert was at Lincoln Hall, a venue that is a 5-minute walk from my dorm. I did not realize how close it was, and I will definitely be going to more shows there in the future. My roommate and I even bought tickets for another concert in a couple months! After the show, everyone had the opportunity to meet Lewis and it was unreal. He signed some autographs and gave me a hug, what a sweet guy! 

Lewis Watson
Having so many opportunities for concerts is a huge perk of going to school in such a lively, exciting city. A couple months ago, my friends and I went to see Jon Bellion at The Riviera and it was another amazing experience. When I lived in Ohio, I was lucky if I made it to one concert per year, but here in the city, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of cheap tickets and nearby venues. 

Sprinting to the Finish Line

Things are looking up for Willy. Even though it took me a little bit, I think my sleep schedule is finally back to normal. It was messed up way before I went to Madrid, but I think the jet lag may have helped to fix it in the long run. So, I’ve been enjoying sleeping decently again. Even though I was only in Madrid for 10 days, it felt so weird coming back to school. I seriously felt like I was gone for a month! My mind was already in summer break mode. It was tough to get back into the swing of things, but now I’m back on top of my game, and I’m excited to do some serious work on my thesis! 

FEST
Because I knew I was going to be gathering primary sources while I was in Madrid, I sort of pushed back the timeline for writing my thesis. I didn’t want to write chapters before I left because I knew I would end up rewriting the same chapters because I found new information in Madrid. I wanted to write my chapters around the material I would collect rather than try to jam the material into preexisting chapters. However, I ended up collecting about 325 pages of interview transcripts, so I’ve been trying to sort through all that information as quickly as possible so I can get back to actually writing my thesis. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start writing again by the end of this week!

Honestly though, I can’t believe that the end of the quarter is only about a month away! This school year went by so quickly for me. While the end of spring quarter signifies the beginning of summer break, at DePaul, the end of spring quarter also means that FEST, DePaul’s annual music festival, is quickly approaching! Just a few days ago, DePaul Activities Board (DAB) announced the lineup for FEST: Logic and Jesse McCartney​. Yes, Jesse McCartney. Your childhood dream of seeing Jesse McCartney will be coming true on May 26th. Tickets are only $10 and go on sale on May 15th, so make sure that you don’t miss out! 

Food in Chicago

Holy Taco
One of my favorite things about going to school in Chicago is the vast array of food options. When it’s 1am and the only thing my friends and I want is tacos, we can walk two blocks down the street and our cravings are satisfied (shout out to Holy Taco for being there for us). One thing I was nervous about before coming to college was how my new home would accommodate my dietary restrictions because I’m vegan. However, there are literally options around every corner and I’m never left feeling like there’s nothing available for me.

For example, Chicago is home to arguably the best vegan restaurant in the country, the Chicago Diner. Their milkshakes have won countless awards and their entire menu is fantastic (I would know... I’ve tried almost everything). From hearty veggie burgers with a side of mac and ‘tease’ to chocolate chip pancakes topped with whipped cream, the concoctions that are created here are out of this world. Coming from a small town, I was used to having extremely limited options when it comes to food, but the food scene in Chicago is vibrant and expanding all the time! Having so many options is actually overwhelming, and I sometimes feel like I’m not taking advantage of everything that’s out there.

Food
When my parents visited me from Ohio, they wanted to try something unique and interesting so I took them to Demera​, a nearby Ethiopian restaurant that was recommended by a friend. It was unlike anything that any of us had ever tried at home, and ever since then I’ve been trying to find an excuse to go back. From authentic Ethiopian cuisine to nationally renowned vegan comfort food, the Chicago food scene fits a variety of needs.

No matter what you like, it’s almost guaranteed that you will find something within the city that can satisfy your preferences. Although DePaul also has a diverse selection of food available at its two dining hall locations, it can get a little old when you eat there three times every day. Being able to go out into the city and try new things is one of the best parts of living here and going to school in Chicago. 
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Creating

SXMW
 
Anyone familiar to my blog is well aware of how much I like to create. Whether it
SXMW
is a short film that took months of planning or a short vlog sharing some sort of experience – I love to film, edit, and publish on a regular basis. This week however, I was fortunate enough to check out South By Midwest (SXMW) a gallery showcasing the various works of Allie Klawitter and Alexandria Dravillas​ two local photographers studying at DePaul University and always in the creative process. 

The event was held at The Frame Shop in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. There was socializing, there were refreshments, and of course there was art! Several photographs were on display as well as a portfolio with various pieces printed all of which are available for purchase. With the emerging digital era we live in becoming more prevalent, it is always nice to attend a gallery and see tangible, physical works of art in front of you. 
SXMW

I very much enjoyed my time there and am happy to see fellow Blue Demons put in work and continue to be passionate about creating. I cannot wait to see what is next!  


Going Platinum With My Job

The Bulls
 
As I mentioned before, I have an intermittent job as a brand ambassador that I do on the side. Recently, I was offered to do a quick, one-day job for American Express x Uber at the United Center​ during a Bulls game. With a high wage (not disclosing) for a short duration of six hours, I saw this as an easy way of earning extra money.

The gist of the duties were simple; greet the Platinum rewards members who won the contest at the gates of the arena, walk them through the entrance along with the free amenities being provided to them, and gather them all up after the game for an exclusive meet and greet with a legendary Bulls player. My assignment was to man the gate, and guide the members through to their next step of receiving a complimentary snack box to enjoy during the game. I could not have been assigned an easier task. The interesting part of the job was the behind-the-scene access I was granted towards the United Center’s new atrium that now houses the Jordan statue. I was briefed on my responsibilities in the atrium’s office in a room called the Scottie Pippen office (hint for later on). After three hours of manning the gate, we brand ambassadors were given a short break where we were actually given some of the extra snack boxes, so a free lunch on top of my pay is always a plus. 

Then, we were directed to the United Center’s Stadium Club where we would set up for the post-game event. Since I was not chosen to gather up the members, I was able to just relax even more in the Stadium Club and watch the Bulls overcome the Atlanta Hawks in the last remaining minutes of the game. All I had to now was to greet members into the meet-and-greet and check IDs. During that time, the Bulls legend Scottie Pippen walked by. I admit a little excitement came over me but I had to keep composure while on the job. After everyone was inside, my responsibilities pretty much ceased. I was given the option to leave, but I stayed around longer hoping I could get a picture with Scottie or snag an extra complimentary jersey of his that were being handed. Unfortunately, I was not able to do either of the two, but nevertheless I enjoyed this one-day job, as I usually do with the other brand ambassador events.

Ice Cream in the City

The minute the sun comes out in Chicago it’s like everyone in the city comes out from hibernation. Like seriously, where did all these people come from? From brunching under the sun to lying in the park, everything is better when the weather is nice. And as soon as it gets nice out you better bet I'm scoping out the city for the best ice cream spots. From classic flavor combination, to over the top and seriously Instagram worthy creations, here are some of my favorite ice cream joints around town. 

Annette’s Italian Ice: Getting your first scoop of Annette’s ice cream is seriously a rite of passage as a DePaul student. Only a couple blocks away from campus, this quaint neighborhood ice cream stand offers some of the best flavors (like a drool worthy peanut butter cookie dough) and not to mention THE best Italian ice in the city. But be warned, it’s cash only! 

Jeni's
Aha Crepe: Okay, we’ve all seen those Facebook videos of the rolled ice cream. And if you’re like me, every time you scroll by one you have to watch the whole thing. Rolled ice cream is the newest trend in sweet treats, and Aha Crepe has just added it to their menu. Not only are these ice creams strangely addicting to watch being made, but this location tops there’s with treats like Fruit Loops, toasted marshmallows, cookies, and fresh fruit. 
 
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: For those looking to get one of the prettiest ice creams in town, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a must visit. Not only do they craft up some of the most Instagram worthy combinations, but no matter what flavor you like, Jeni’s has an answer for you. From vanilla bean to dark chocolate for those who like a classic combination, to goat cheese and red cherries, and chocolate with cayenne, there’s nothing this scoop shop doesn’t have. 

Margie’s Candies: Okay, this place is seriously the definition of ice cream nostalgia. The atmosphere is one straight out of a 1970s diner, complete with an epic list of monster sized ice cream sundaes. This place is so great it even has a long list of Hollywood A-Listers who have stopped in for a sweet treat, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Meryl Streep.  If you’re up for the challenge order “the worlds largest sundae” which includes a whopping 25 scoops of ice cream. Ready, set, eat! 

Cone Gourmet Ice Cream​: Located in West Loop, this place has got to be one of the trendiest ice cream shops in the city. With flavors like “Netflix ‘n Chill” and “Granny Smith Apple Sorbet” this shop is a must visit during a warm spring day. Be sure to go along with the Irish theme of the shop and ask to get your cone dipped in a layer of Lucky Charms cereal for an extra bit of sweetness.  


My Last Quarter

​Well, it has arrived. My last quarter of undergrad. That went by so fast! I feel like it was just yesterday that I moved into Munroe Hall my freshman year and started by first classes as a college student. Now that I have been here for almost four years, I have learned a lot on how to live in Chicago and perform well as a student. Here are some tips!
Lion King
Schedule your classes wisely: There are going to be required classes you don’t want to take, but don’t put them off until the end! I did that, and it was one of the worst things I could have done to myself. I am in three classes right now that I hate, and that is not a fun way to close out my undergrad career! Get the classes you dread out of the way so that you can take fun electives your senior year. You will not regret it, I promise.
Take advantage of your professors’ office hours: Your professors are there because they want to help and teach you. If you don’t understand something or need clarity on a topic, go in and ask! They purposefully block off scheduled time just for their students, so take advantage of it. Not only is it helpful to talk with your professors one-on-one sometimes, but they have the opportunity to get to know you better and see that you are putting effort into their classes. That can really pay off in the end, especially if you are on the cusp of a higher letter grade. Plus, a lot of the professors are super cool, so talking with them is really enjoyable.
Take advantage of Chicago. Guys, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. There is so much to do!!! Museums, restaurants, parks, sports, shopping, culture, shows...the list is endless. Take time to go exploring! Some of my favorite things? Rush tickets for Broadway shows, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Harold Washington Library, and all of the ice cream places in the city.
Most of all, enjoy your time living in one of the greatest cities in the world!

Community Partners Internship

Although many people are under the impression that internships are purely for upperclassmen, this is a widespread misconception. If you're interested in getting an internship as a freshman, DePaul has a few programs through the Steans Center for Community-Based Service Learning & Community Service Studies that allow you to do so, including the Community Partners Internship (CPI) program which I have been a part of since October.

Being a CPI Intern means working 15-20 hours/week at a local non-profit organization. This time could be spent doing a vast array of things, from teaching English to new immigrants to revamping an organization’s online presence. There is such a multitude of opportunities that anyone can find something they are interested in.

Steans Center
To become a CPI Intern I filled out an online application, was interviewed by someone at the Steans Center, and then was interviewed by the Executive Director who worked at the site I was placed at to see if it would be a good fit. It was a relatively quick process and I started working a couple weeks after my initial application. The Steans Center ensures that you are being placed somewhere that will be most beneficial to you as well as the organization, and you are encouraged to be a part of this process and share which organizations you could see yourself working with.

Although it has been challenging spending 15 hours a week at the organization I am interning with, I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything in the world. I am gaining firsthand experience in a field that I could see myself working with after I graduate, and it is helping me immensely with figuring out what I want to do in the future. It even pays better than most on-campus jobs!

Last week, I had a conversation with one of the employees who had graduated from my school and been in the intern program that I'm currently in, and it was inspiring to hear that she had started as an intern and is now a full-time employee at the same organization. An important lesson that I have learned is that internships are not only for seniors, and it's never too early to start gaining experience in a field you're interested in.

Spring Quarter Must-Do’s

There is no doubt that spring quarter at DePaul is definitely the hardest quarter to get through. Fresh off a week of spring break, the thought of going back to school for another 10 weeks is pretty daunting. But not so fast, despite spring quarter being the most grueling quarter academically, it’s hands down the best quarter to take advantage of the many perks throughout city. As the weather heats up and school winds down, make sure to go out and explore everything Chicago has to offer. Here are some of my favorite things to do during springtime:

Festivals: Warmer weather means the start of the festival season. Chicago is home to some of the most unique and well-known festivals in the country (like a festival just for donuts). No matter what you’re interested in, there is a festival out there for you. Some of the best events happening this spring include: Randolph Street Market Festival, Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, Lincoln Park Greek Fest, and my personal favorite, Donut Fest.

Navy Pier: Though Navy Pier isn’t often a hot spot to visit during the colder months, it is a great place to hang out once spring comes along. The newly renovated Navy Pier isn’t just a tourist attraction, but is a Chicago landmark that should definitely be taken advantage of.  Located right on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier has some of the best views of the city. There’s also plenty of restaurants, shopping, entertainment, and not to mention a giant 200-foot Ferris wheel.

Chicago Cubs
Cub’s Game: After coming out on top last season, many DePaul students were able to literally witness history as it happened right down the road. As the new season approaches, skip the TV and make your way down to Wrigley Field to watch the defending champions up close and personal. Tickets can be as cheap as $10, which makes seeing a game both fun for you, and for your bank account.

Bike around the city: One of the best things about warmer weather is the opportunity to explore the city via bike. Biking around Chicago is a great way to navigate different neighborhoods, and lets you to take in the sights and sounds of the city on your journey. Don’t fret if you don’t own your own bike, Divvy offers unlimited 30-minute rides in a 24 hour period for less than $10 a day.

Bring on Spring!

If you would look at a calendar, you would see that it is now technically springtime. If you would look outside however, you might not get the same idea. As soon as spring hit, Chicagoland took a dip in temperature, forcing us to break out our winter coats once again. The stereotypical sunny and bright springtime is nowhere to be found at the moment. Yearning for the flowery springtime I love, I looked for a way to find spring in the city. Lucky for me, the Chicago Flower and Garden Show came to Navy Pier the other weekend.  

Chicago Flower and Garden Show
Finding a deal on my favorite site, Groupon, I was able to get a cheap deal for tickets to the event. Using my handy dandy UPass​, I took the red line and the bus out to Navy Pier, making the whole trip easy on my wallet. As a flower and garden lover, arriving at this event had me like a kid in a candy store! I got my stamp, walked in, and was greeted with the fresh aroma of flowers, and a wide array of exhibits. There were a dozen different gardens set up in the exhibit hall, each showcasing different kinds of plants, flowers, furniture arrangements and more. After spending so much time in apartment buildings in the city, it was quite refreshing to see the layouts of these bright and fresh displays. 

Further into the hall there was a flower market showcasing deals on tons of potted and fresh cut beauties. Beyond that, there was a large marketplace with dozens of vendors, selling garden supplies, small fresh plants, food and treats, home goods and more. I ended up spending nearly four hours on the Pier, walking around, eating and enjoying the gardens and perusing the market. I walked away with some delightful springtime goodies fit for my college budget. I picked up a bouquet of roses for $4, two tulip plants for $4, as well as two small succulents and ceramic pots for my apartment, also for a great deal. My goal was to find small and practical pieces to liven up the gray and gloomy days, and bring some freshness to my city apartment. I would say it was a rather successful day! 
Flowers

Living in the city affords residents a wide array of activities and things to enjoy, but sometimes I miss small things about the more suburban life or different climate I had at home growing up in Portland, OR. The plant life is one small piece of that.  As always I love finding new and different ways to spend my free time exploring Chicago while sticking to my student budget. The Chicago Flower and Garden Show was the perfect way to get my springtime fix, without leaving the city or breaking the bank, allowing me to bring a little life back to my apartment to hold me over until the weather warms up. It is the simple things that really make a difference. For me it’s flowers, but whatever your interests may be, I think it is always important to bring little bits of joy and fun to balance out a busy and stressful life in college. 

Death of a Salesman at the Redtwist Theatre

Death of a Salesman
 
For my HON 101 World Literature class I was given the opportunity to see a live-action rendition of Death of a Salesman​, the play we were analyzing in class. Aside from the extra credit affiliated with attending, or that Professor Williams hooked his students up free of charge, I was eager to see the play live since I was exposed to the play through text and film only. Regardless of the thirty dollar ticket, the Redtwist’s version of Death of a Salesman was riveting and unique.

Upon entry, I was notified that the theatre only seats about forty people. I liked the sound of that since it would imply that I would be pretty close to the actors, the stage, and that I could get a good view rather than having to observe from rows away. However, when actually stepping into the theatre I was shocked to see its setup. The room was long and narrow, with the seating around the perimeter of the set and props, meaning that the play would unfold at the center of everyone attending. Sure enough, when the play began the actors were only a couple of feet away from me, with every detail in their facial expression, every word in their speech clear. The setup of the theatre gave it a communal environment since other spectators were in your view and you were all sharing this unique moment. 

Besides the setup, the actors were no less impressive. Our class was able to witness one of DePaul’s very own Zach De Nardi play the role of Happy Lowman with phenomenal execution. Located off the Bryn Mawr stop, Redtwist is a storefront theatre that will surely not disappointment. 

Wrapping Up Winter Quarter

It’s to the point in the quarter where I’ve lost all track of time. I’ve stopped trying to keep track of the month or what day of the week it is. I was in shock last week when I found out I had to start working on finals already. I feel like I just finished midterms! But it turns out that I just haven’t been paying attention to how much time has passed. I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and race to the finish line this quarter.

On Saturday, I started my day by throwing a tantrum that the Pizza Hut on campus suddenly closed. For the record, I’m still only in the bargaining phase of the five stages of grief. After temporarily regaining my composure, I went out to go grab a wrap for lunch. It took me twenty minutes to figure out why everyone except me was inebriated and wearing green. I thought St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t for two more weeks! To be fair, I’m not that far off since St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until the 17th. But still, I probably still would have been just as blindsided.

Food
The most important thing is that the wrap that I bought was delicious.
Anyways, I got my sub, went home, ate it, and got back to work on finals. It was starting to get late, so I glanced over at my clock and saw that it was 1:45am. “Okay,” I told myself, “I’ll just work until 2 and then go to bed.” I look up just a few minutes later and I see that it’s now 3:04am. You guys, I panicked hard. I thought maybe I fell asleep, but I didn’t remember sleeping or waking up. Then, I thought that maybe my laptop was breaking and the clock on it wasn’t working anymore. But my phone read the same time. I felt like I was living in The Twilight Zone. A half hour later, I discovered that Daylight Savings Time had just started.

Needless to say, I haven’t really been on top of things lately. Between my thesis, finals, preparing to present at the conference, and getting everything ready for Madrid, I’m desperately trying just to keep my head above water. But I’ll admit that it’s somewhat a relief to know that finals will be done in just a few days.

1871

​One would think that after four years of attending DePaul University and having a desire to learn about everything the institution has to offer, one might have at least came close to seeing almost all of it. This past Wednesday, I came to realize just how impossible it is to reach such a goal. Taking a detour from our usually scheduled class time, my PRAD 373 professor decided to use this week as an opportunity to showcase 1871 to us, the startup and entrepreneurial hub of Chicago.

1871 is located inside the Merchandise Mart of Chicago. Conveniently staged around several CTA train lines, or “L” tracks if you’re native to the Windy City, it is easy and fairly hassle-free to get to and from there. With an array of shops, restaurants, offices, and more Merchandise Mart serves as a perfect location for 1871.

1871
Thriving in this melting pot of an atmosphere, 1871 provides various programs, workshops, events, guest speakers, etc. for all members. Here is the best part; all DePaul students have access to membership benefits through The Coleman Entrepreneurship Center in the Driehaus College of Business. Students can make a request to use the University’s dedicated space or to attend any of the many events 1871 has to offer. All students have to do is contact the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center.

My friends and I have tried to explore everything DePaul has to offer and yet the more I learn, the more I realize I have even more to learn. It’s a good problem to have, in my opinion. So many resources offered that even in my second to last quarter of being an undergrad I’m still learning about new opportunities for students. Make sure to check out the Coleman Entrepreneurship Center if you’re interested in learning more about 1871.

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!

Dew NBA 3x

Dew NBAAs 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.

Dew NBA
Can see me working hard off court in the upper left
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.

Going to the Movies

I think the movie theater is overpriced, kind of grody, and always too crowded. I am patient enough to wait until the movies come out on DVD or Netflix. I rarely go to the movie theater…except for this quarter.

My friends and I have seen four separate movies this quarter in theaters! That’s almost one every other week. For some people, that may be normal, but for me and my friends, it is not. Through this, I actually am learning to love the movie theaters.

At the Movies
First, movies are overpriced. However, the theater near DePaul (Regal Webster Place 11) offers $6.50 Tuesdays, where, as you can probably guess, tickets are only $6.50. That’s almost half price! My friends and I have also become experts in sneaking in snacks in our coats...I know that’s not really allowed, but $9 for popcorn? Really?

Second of all, you can buy tickets ahead at most movie theaters, which is especially handy when the movie you want to go see is a new release or a popular one. The theater on Webster also allows you to reserve your seat ahead of time. So, while the theater may be crowded, you don’t have to worry about not getting a seat next to the people you came with.

Finally, there is something pretty cool about seeing a movie on such a large screen.  Plus, reacting along with the crowd adds a whole other level of experience. I still am totally happy renting or streaming a movie in my apartment, but going to the movie theater is growing on me (even with all its grodiness).

Oh, and what movies have I seen? Passengers, Split, Get Out, and Hidden Figures. I recommend all four, especially Hidden Figures and Get Out.

Victory Gardens Black Beauty Festival

Being an acting major in a wonderful theatre city like Chicago gives me endless opportunities to explore the art scene. I love to visit the local theatres, watch plays, and attend events. This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend an event that combined many of my interests of theatre, identity, empowerment of minorities, and beauty. Victory Gardens Theater, conveniently located within a short walking distance from the DePaul Lincoln Park campus, held an event this weekend that they called the Black Beauty Festival, which accompanied their production that took place in a black beauty shop in Chicago. When I received an email inviting me to purchase tickets to the event, I was intrigued. When I read further I found out that the event included vendors from local black owned beauty businesses, a champagne cocktail to sip while you peruse the event (hey, I’m 21, it’s okay), a Victory Gardens swag bag (with offers from local businesses and a couple of sample products), as well as a ticket to the performance of A Wonder In My Soul, the latest show on the mainstage. I was SOLD. An evening of supporting black beauty, local black owned businesses, and theatre all at once – now that’s my jam! 

Victory Gardens Theater
When I showed up to the event, I was excited. In my own experience it isn’t very common that there is a celebration of this type in Lincoln Park, let alone on my radar at all. Additionally, it can sometimes be tough to support local black owned businesses, as there aren’t as many apparent ones in this area. When I walked in, I picked up my ticket to the show, and was given a bag with flyers and a sample hair product inside. I went upstairs into a separate space where most of the vendors were located. Several booths were set up, manned by black business owners, selling their products to visitors. There were items such as handbags, jewelry, clothing items, makeup, and skin care items for sale. It was kind of small, which I suppose is to be expected, but enjoyable nevertheless. I cashed in my ticket for a mimosa to sip while I walked around and chatted with the business owners, enjoyed the fruit and sweet treats that were out, and tried the different products. After a short spin around the room, I walked away with some pretty handmade earrings, and a jar of delicious all natural and handmade rose scented body butter. It was nice to walk away with some nice products, but even better to support a small, local, black-owned business in the process. 

Following my walk around the festival I saw the evening performance of A Wonder in my Soul​, starring an all-black cast of awesome local actors. The play took place in a beauty shop, owned by two of the main characters, and revolved around the themes of community, following your dreams, the cultural significance of a place like this beauty shop, and the empowerment of black women to love their own unique beauty. At times I was moved, not fully realizing that I needed to hear some of these messages myself. 

I consider myself lucky to be in a place where I can take advantage of opportunities like this, both to be in a city where that can happen, but also to have the means to engage in them myself. I was also inspired to create environments like this in the future, combine my interests and the power of art to bring people together, celebrate culture, and inspire others. 

Blue Demon Dance 2017

Blue Demon Dance
“Put your hands in the air like you just don’t care!” Not necessarily a line that was said during the Blue Demon Dance this past weekend but a classic phrase in the music and dance world. 

This year’s venue for the Blue Demon Dance was the Chicago Sports Museum located at the Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago. Packed with a variety of activities, sports memorabilia, and interactive games, there was no shortage of things to do. Not to mention the amazing performance from the DJ and his partners keeping the crowd hyped throughout the night. 

Blue Demon Dance
This was my third and final dance as I prepare to graduate later this year. So I made sure to soak it all in one last time. The energy was high and students were everywhere enjoying everything the night had to offer from food to games and, of course, dancing. With the venue located at the top of the Water Tower Place, the view was incredible and the night-lights from the city added a very intimate aesthetic. 

Overall, it was one of the most memorable moments of my college experience and a fantastic way to finish out my final Blue Demon Week​

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!

Return on Investment at the Chicago Auto Show

Chicago Auto Show
 
What’s become pretty much a tradition in my family is going the annual auto show in Chicago. Although my interest in cars is subtle because neither do I not drive with the commodity of free public transportation nor do I have the money to look for a vehicle of my own. However, the auto show is still something I look forward to and attend every year to burn a few hours out of a day. 

Now I may sound like a cheapskate or some extreme couponer, but I take advantage of the auto show for the free stuff. The ticket price for an adult is thirteen dollars, however, you can expect a reasonable return on investment if you play your cards right. After one visit, I managed to get two ten-dollar gift cards and a fifty-dollar Visa gift card. There are plenty of small booths that offer a free game such as spin the wheel or shooting a puck at the Blackhawks booth. Last year I recall my friend winning free White Sox ticket at one of these games. This year however I took the time to sign up for the test drives that are offered to attendees. Granted that I did not actually drive the car (because I haven’t driven in years and don’t trust myself) but rather ride as a passenger, I still received a free gift card from Mazda and Kia test drives. In addition the to the twenty dollars worth of gift cards, I received a fifty dollar Visa gift card from Ford. 

So, if the presentation of innate automobiles doesn’t excite, then the opportunity of receiving free gift cards, money, and prizes surely should. If it does, make sure to visit the Chicago Auto Show​ when it rolls around every year.  

Weekend with My Family

I’m heading to my family reunion as I’m writing this blog, and I’m so pumped. I look forward to my family reunion every year. Well, technically, my family has two family reunions every year: one in February, where we spend the weekend at a hotel, and one in August, where we throw a big summer party. In case you’re wondering, I’m going to the February one.

Fun fact: one of the main reasons I chose to go to college in Chicago is because I wanted to be closer to my extended family. My dad’s side of the family is incredibly tight-knit. My dad was the youngest of ten children, eight of whom ended up living in the suburbs. I ended up with fifteen cousins and, of course, I’m the youngest. Growing up as an only child, my cousins were the closest thing I ever had to siblings, so it felt natural for me to move closer to them when I went to college. 

Family
Just for kicks, here’s a real old school throwback picture of me and my cousins from one of the summer parties. Probably 2004 or 2005. I’m pretty easy to spot.
Six months into my freshman year, living close to family came in very handy for me. Heed my warning: when you get a really bad sore throat, go get it checked out. I did not, I thought it went away, a month later I woke up, thought I saw a balloon in the back of my throat because it was so swollen, and knew I had to go to the ER. At that moment in my life, the last thing I felt like doing was taking public transit to the hospital. But just ten minutes after calling my dad, I got a call from my cousin, asking me where I lived. Of course, my response was, “I don’t know,” because I really didn’t know my address. She somehow found me and we eventually ended up at the ER. It turned out that my airway was partially obstructed, so I’m pretty lucky that she figured out where I live.

In summary, I’m looking forward to my family reunion. Not just because my airway is no longer partially obstructed, but also because I get to relax after writing my first thesis chapter!

The Chicago Auto Show

Going to the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place has unintentionally turned into a tradition for me and my family. The first year I went was with my dad and siblings as a little kid. I remember being really bored and not interested in any of the car displays. It was not the best first impression.

Years later though, I would end up going once with a friend of mine and three times (including this year) with my family, totaling five Auto Show experiences. It’s quite interesting because I do not feel as though my family and I go out of our way to reserve time off and attend it. Instead, going to the Auto Show has just become something that has sort of happened over and over again, getting to this point that is now kind of a tradition.

Chicago Auto Show
I do love the Auto Show, by the way, don’t get me wrong I can sit in Ford Mustangs all day long as I fantasize owning several, hopefully, in my near future. I just find the growth of this tradition to be more unique than some of our other ones.

As with the previous years, the cars on display were incredible! I saw fast cars, slow cars, and cars that I am not sure can legally be driven on the road, but are still interesting to look at anyway. What was the winning brand? Personally, I think the Ford Mustangs takes the gold this year. I’ll admit I am slightly biased, okay very biased, but there is something spectacular about the Mustang series. It’s a classic and the style for the price, in my opinion, cannot be matched. Though the picture that corresponds with this article is of me posing with a Toyota dressed in Cubs gear (good move Toyota), you will also notice my very proudly worn Ford hat. There’s just something about their brand that I love and that is why I say they take gold this year, and possibly every other year, we’ll see.

Either way, if you’re looking for another Chicago event be sure to check out the Auto Show. It happens every year at McCormick Place and tickets are pretty cheap. Hint, hint the super awesome and amazing Office of Student Involvement (OSI) has even cheaper tickets than the already cheap tickets for all students! Just a heads up if you are interested. That’s all I have for today, friends!

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome! 

Parking in Chicago

​As a commuter student, I’ve found this quarter to be especially difficult since my schedule isn’t the most helpful for when I’m in Lincoln Park vs. The Loop.

A lot of times I find myself driving in more often than not, so here are the two greatest apps

1. SpotHero App. Download it. Now. It’ll change your life I promise!!! You put in your location and time you’ll be parking and it shows you all the parking garages near there. AND, best of all, IT’S INSANELY CHEAP. A lot of the time I park for $13 on Adams and Wabash. Now that’s a deal. In fact, my car is there right now :)

They also regularly will extend your time for free as well! There’s a garage on Rush and Ohio that I park in multiple times a week for $10 for the day!

Parking
2. ParkChicago App. This one’s for street parking in the city, and once again, it’s so much easier than going to the little boxes and pushing the $ signs for how long you’ll need to park. Instead, you can do it right from your car, and extend it whenever you need! The other day I was in class in Lincoln Park and as I was leaving class decided to go straight to the gym, so just whipped out my phone and extended my parking for a bit instead having to go back and move my car

So, next time you’re driving into the city or to the Lincoln Park campus, check out these two great apps, they literally have saved my life (and my paycheck)!

Summer Bucket List

Oh, I am so looking forward to warmer weather. We have been super blessed this winter (this weekend is supposed to be 60 degrees!!!), but I miss being outside in the sun and wearing shorts and Birkenstocks and sleeping with my window open. My best friend Steph is just as antsy for warm spring weather, and we have a bucket list going of all of the things we want to do this summer to take advantage of the weather! 

Hammocking is at the top of the list. We both have hammocks (think ENO brand) and we cannot wait to hang them up at Oz Park​, by the lake, at the beach, on the quad, or really anywhere we can take advantage of. 
 
Annette's
Annette's is best 
We also want to go camping somewhere for a weekend! Starved Rock is about an hour and a half southwest of the city, and it would be so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a little bit. I really want to see the stars!

Ice cream of course is on the list. Annette's​, Jeni’s, Oberweis, Bobtail, Margie’s...so many delicious places. Of course, we still get ice cream in the winter, but it is so much better in the summer. Steph’s favorite flavor is Superman and I am a fan of anything with chocolate and peanut butter. Yum! 

We also want to explore the beaches more. The Fullerton one is the closest to campus, and Oak Street Beach is fun because it’s right downtown, but I’m sure there are less crowded and more peaceful ones more north and south of us. On Labor Day some friends and I went to the Foster Avenue beach, and it was so nice. It wasn’t touristy and was so much more relaxing. We want to find more like those!

This is just the beginning of our list! I know we still have a few more months of winter, but I am counting down the days until summer. I’m sure you guys are, too!
 

Brunch in the City

Breakfast is hands down the best meal of the day. No contest. There are so many options to choose from and if you choose the right thing, breakfast can sometimes fill you up for lunch (bonus!). 

As every true Lincoln Park-er, breakfast is best consumed at brunch time. Just a warning though, expect to wait at least 30-45 minutes if you head to grab breakfast at 10:00am on a Saturday morning. It’s worth the wait though, because brunch is amazing. Below are some of my favorite breakfast places I have found in the city these past four years with some recommendations on what to order! 

Brunch
Brunch with friends!
Toast...The OG breakfast place in my heart. I LOVE Toast. It is close to campus and they get your food out to you super fast. It’s pretty small, though, so expect to wait a while for a table during peak hours. They make great omelettes and eggs, which is what I normally order, but friends have said that the stuffed french toast is awesome, too. 

Nookies Too...Right down the street from Toast, this place rocks. It gets really busy, but the restaurant is pretty large and the service is great. I have gotten the best omelette I have ever had in my life at Nookies Too, which is really saying something (The Smokehouse, hold the mushrooms). 

Batter and Berries...About a 10 minute walk north from campus, this is a fairly new restaurant that will fill you up for hours. The waiters are all super friendly and engaging and the menu is delicious. They have huge breakfast sandwiches and, from what I’ve heard, delicious french toast (the french toast flight is a fan favorite). 

Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe​...This place is downtown and is the favorite breakfast place of tons of Chicagoans. Plan to wait a long time for a table. You will not regret waiting, though! Their menu is huge, and you can’t go wrong with anything. They are known for their pancakes, though, so keep that in mind! 

I could probably list ten more places, but for now check these four out! Your waistline will be a little bigger, but it will be so worth it.

Can’t Go Wrong with Do-Rite Donuts

Donuts
When it comes to desserts, donuts (or doughnuts?) are the pinnacle of sugary indulgences. Although I believe there is no such thing as a bad donut, there are surely some that stand above others. Do-Rite Donuts’ claim to fame is their technique of making donuts in small batches, never more than thirty-six at a time. Additionally, you have the option of selecting from gluten free and vegan donuts. Where can you find these little tastes of heaven? You can actually find these at the Student Center where they are available for sale (and you can use your meal plan to buy them).

Donuts
Nevertheless, if you want the full Do-Rite experience, you can choose between their two locations at 233 E. Erie St. (Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken) and 50 W. Randolph Street (Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee). I’ve only been to one of the two, Do-Rite Donuts and Chicken. Although I got a small taste of the entire menu, I recommend anyone who stops by to try the Cheese Danish Donut and The Sweet Heat. The latter is something I’ve been dreaming of for years. There is a fried chicken patty between a glazed donut bun. I mean seriously, I could not think of a better duo other than donuts and fried chicken.

Don’t agree? Check out one of the two locations and become a believer yourself.

The Little Things

I’m quite the nostalgic person. There are times when I’ll sit around with friends or family for hours talking about memories and reminiscing on life. There isn’t really a “good old days” when I think back on my life – I mean that in a positive way. When I reminisce, I think of positive times and find them in all moments of my life. This doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the hard times and challenges that have occurred, but those thoughts usually come second. The reason I’m writing about nostalgia this week is because there are some moments in life that while experiencing it I know that it will become a memory I look back on fondly. This week had one of those moments. 

9am Monday morning my iPhone alarm wakes me up for the day. As usual I get ready, get dressed, grab a coffee from Starbucks, and make my way to campus. The weather was gloomy and my spirits were on a slightly less optimistic. This week, I felt, was going to be a long one. Then Tuesday came with Wednesday following and Thursday right after, you know how the week goes. I would go to class, get lunch, go to another class, maybe stop by an event on campus, etc. Thursday I had to register for spring quarter classes, which led me to multiple email exchanges with my advisor as I sort everything out for graduation. Oh boy, graduation. Friends and family are asking what I am going to do and what my plans are. I have many plans and by no means feel unprepared in that regard, but the constant questions make me anxious and overwhelmed at times. Finally Friday came and after three long meetings beginning at 11am and ending at 5pm, I found myself at my girlfriend’s house. 

Clue
Her T.V. broke and no one could figure out what was wrong with it. We tried the typical unplugging and plugging it back in, the good old fashion Nintendo blow dust out of the ports, and pressing random buttons for several seconds trying to troubleshoot it. Nothing. So her sister suggested we play board games (millennials not using technology and enjoying face to face interaction OMG). A few moments later, Clue ​was brought out and we set it up. I was Professor Plum, 37, a former professor of Ancient Mid-Eastern Culture that had been funded by Sir Hugh Black, the unfortunate deceased. We played the game, my girlfriend’s family and I, reading the rules as we went along. After I won the first game we all decided to play again. There were laughs, accusations, misleading information, and more. It was a nice relaxing way to end what had been a very fast and exhausting week. 

This was the moment I referenced at the beginning of this blog. All of us playing Clue as we sat around the coffee table and marked items off our lists in an attempt to bring the murderer to justice. I know it’s not the most enlightening situation ever, but it is a little thing that I know one day in the future I’ll look back on and smile. 
​​​

Valentine’s Week Ideas

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. For people not currently dating anyone, it has the potential to be super depressing, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to show appreciation for friends (don’t forget, February 13th is Galentine’s Day). For people in a relationship, it can be a time of great financial expenditures. Luckily for me, I live far away from my significant other and have no friends, so my only concern is which flavor ice cream to buy. But for people who are trying to figure out plans, I’ve come up with a few flexible ideas that can fit into any schedule, but will still make this year’s celebration extra special:

Chicago Theatre Week is a total misnomer because it actually runs for ten days: February 9-19. Over those ten days, you have the chance to go see tons of discounted plays, improv shows, and musicals. This is your opportunity to act super cultured. Tickets for shows participating in Chicago Theatre Week are typically $15-$30, but some are even cheaper than that. 
 
Eataly
There’s no better way to spend Valentine’s Day than watching someone make fresh mozzarella at Eataly. 
If you want to do something really romcom-like, head over to Eataly for some fun classes and cooking demonstrations. Seriously, there’s something for every budget level. For those of us with the least resources, for $10, you can celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 11th by watching someone make mozzarella by hand and then sampling the fresh cheese. If you’re looking for something a little more fancy (and filling), you can learn how to make lasagna from a real chef for just $25 on February 15th. And, of course, you get to eat the lasagna afterwards! Take note: these classes fill up quick, so sign up soon!

If you’re looking for something a little more active, try Ice Skating at Lincoln Park Zoo. The rink is only open until February 26, so this could be your last chance to live your Olympic fantasy! As far as Valentine’s Day dates go, this one is pretty affordable: just a $5 admission, $5 to rent a pair of skates, and probably a few more dollars for ice packs after you fall. 

Adventures on the South Side

As a journalism major, I often have to write articles or report on topics that don’t necessarily grab my attention, but are a class requirement so have to get done. In a journalism class I’m in right now, my professor is very focused on informing us about things going on all around the city, not just in the few neighborhoods we frequently visit or ones that gather breaking news. 

The current assignment we’re doing to cultivate this is a 77 challenge, where we were each assigned one of the 77 community areas in Chicago and have to go explore that neighborhood and then write an article about it. Mine was the South Shore.

Coming from the northern suburbs, I spend most of my time up there, and rarely venture past the Jackson red line stop. Thus, I had little clue about where the South Shore was, what went on there, or the demographic of the people residing there.

From my research, I quickly learned this is where Michelle Obama is from, it’s located along the lake (hence the name) just south of the University of Chicago, and is where Tiger Woods is building a brand new golf course in hopes of hosting future PGA Tour ​events. This is something that is super timely and current, as town meetings and discussions have been happening all month about it.

As I’m not an avid golf player or follower, I had absolutely no idea any of this was going on, when in reality it’s a pretty big construction. And, I found all this out by simply googling “South Shore Chicago” and clicking the “news” tab. 

Now I’m not saying you should google all 77 neighborhoods and find out random facts about each, but what I am saying is that a lot goes on in such a big city, and it doesn’t hurt to venture outside of your normal comfort zone every once in a while, or even just look up news about some new places in the city, because there’s always something to follow up on!

Don’t Take an L on the L-Train

CTA
 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.
​​

Yoga in the Air

One of the many great things about living in the city is that there’s literally always somewhere new to go – whether it’s a new restaurant to eat at, clothing store to shop at, or coffee shop to study at. This weekend, I checked another new spot off my list after taking a class at Air Fitness in Lincoln Park.

My friend and I found it because we had wanted to try an aerial yoga class, and this studio offered them. Instead of signing up for the yoga class though we decided to do the “Air Foundation” class first as an introduction to it all. We both went into the class Saturday morning expecting to have a laid back time flipping upside down and doing yoga in the air, but little did we know that “Air Foundation” is not a yoga class, but rather still a full-on workout class. We did upside crunches while hanging in the air, floating planks, burpees, and a whole lot of other cardio for an hour. We also learned flipping upside down in the air isn't as graceful and fun as it looks, but the swing you’re in actually really hurts your back and it’s uncomfortable. 
 
Yoga
Here’s a picture of me and my friend Marley post-yoga :)
But, despite it being quite the unexpected experience, we left laughing and sweating and took pictures at the end (because of course we needed proof). We may never attend this foundation class again, but we definitely want to give the real Air Yoga class a shot now that we know what we’re in for.

Another huge perk is that it’s located at 2217 N Clybourn, a walk away from the Lincoln Park campus and right next to Potbelly ​where we grabbed lunch after and across the street from Barnes and Noble where we got our study on right after. Not a bad Saturday in my opinion!

I Saw Hamilton

Yes, you read that title right. I finally saw Hamilton. I’m just as shocked as you are. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Hamilton is the musical phenomenon of the decade. An R&B/rap musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers and the first U.S. Secretary of State, Hamilton is easily the hottest ticket on Broadway. Ever since it premiered in February of 2015, virtually every performance has sold out. It has won 11 Tony awards, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer Prize. Last October, Hamilton officially opened in Chicago.

Hamilton
For the past six months, I was lucky enough to intern at a fantastic non-profit organization where I was able to work with some unbelievably smart and kind people. I always felt valued and appreciated, which isn’t something everyone can say. Still, my mind was blown when, as a (very big) token of appreciation, my supervisor gave me and my boyfriend tickets to go see Hamilton. We’ve been waiting for months, and last Wednesday, it was finally time for the show.

It was so worth the wait. It’s so much better than I ever could have imagined. And best of all, Wayne Brady had just joined the cast the day before. The cast was phenomenal, and the music is so catchy. However, I’m not going to lie: I feel like I barely watched the actual actors. Since some of the raps go so fast, there’s a little prompter on the side of the stage that displays the lyrics for the audience. I swear, my eyes were glued to the prompter. But when I did glance over, it was a beautiful thing to witness. I can’t tell you how badly I want to see it again. Ever since I came home from the show, I’ve just been watching the PBS documentary on Hamilton on a constant loop. I’m addicted. Trust me, you need to see it. However, it’s pretty much sold out, so your best bet is the lottery (and if you win, tickets are only $10!). Luckily for you, I’ve already written a blog all about the Hamilton​ lottery, so you have no excuse not to try!

The Farewell Address

“You really love Chicago, like a lot.” Said a friend of mine as I drove us down Belmont Avenue, a street on the city’s north side. There was more to the conversation but that specific quote made me think. Why do I love Chicago so much? There are many cities with skyscrapers, train systems, deep dish-well pizza, and more so what is it about the Windy City that I find so special?

I came to one conclusion and that is the amount of things occurring in the city. I say “things” purposely to be vague because there is such an array of events, occasions, etc. that happen in this city. President Obama’s Farewell Address hosted by The McCormick Place here in Chicago is a prime example of one of those “things.” A couple weeks ago a friend of mine sent a link to a group chat I am in. The link directed readers to a page of the White House website that displayed information on President Obama’s Farewell Address. The very limited amount of information said a ticket distribution would be held on January 7th, three days prior to his speech. No time was given nor an exact location (McCormick Place is a huge event center). Immediately I knew I wanted to attend the event and began asking friends and family to join me on my adventure to get tickets at McCormick Place at a time I was not sure of.

Farewell Ticket
While many said they were interested, most ended up backing out due to the amount of time required. So I, along with my girlfriend and her sister, decided to wake up Saturday morning at 4 in the morning to be at McCormick place by 5 and wait in line for tickets. What an experience that was! On very little sleep but high morale we ventured off into the three-degree morning that viciously challenged our spirits to get a spot at the President’s speech. With several layers on, a scarf around my neck, and a ski-cap I was prepared to wait outside for the doors to open. Luckily, there was only a short 15-minute period of time before McCormick Place officials let us indoors. The rest of the process, though long, went fairly smooth as we waited in line, obtained our tickets, and left back home for the day.

I was happy I decided to wait in line, as President Obama’s Farewell Address was one of, if not the most, historic event I have ever attended. Regardless of politics, he has changed the narrative of American politics and has brought hope and inspiration to so many. There were the chants of “four more years,” standing ovations, and the tears streaming down so many faces President Obama gave his farewell to the American people.

Thank you for reading my blog and until next time, stay awesome friends!

How Choosing DePaul Has Helped Me as a Blogger

​If I’m being honest, DePaul was not my first choice school. I thought that I might’ve wanted to attend a big state school at first, like Ohio State, where lots of kids from my high school went. Then, I thought that I wanted to attend a school in Manhattan. But after visiting DePaul in the last semester of my senior year, I knew I had found the perfect place for me.    

Emma
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emma Lenhart, and I am a 19-year old sophomore at DePaul. Apart from being a full-time student, I also run my own online business and Chicago lifestyle blog at EmmaLenhart.com. My work is a lot different than some of my peers at DePaul, because I work primarily from my laptop and never have to physically “go-to-work” or sit in an office/cubicle. However, having my own business online and blog has allowed me to create my ideal lifestyle and connect with some amazing people and brands.

This past fall, I was invited to attend HerCampus’ College Fashion Week. At the event, I was able to see runway styles from Chicago-land entrepreneurs and designers. I also got to network with other bloggers in my niche and make connections to brands. There were actually a few other DePaul students that also attended, which made me so proud of the university I call home! 

I know that DePaul is the perfect place for me and my personality, and it only becomes more apparent to me the further along I get at my DePaul education. As a student at DePaul, I feel free to express myself and pursue my dreams. Whenever I met someone new and tell them about my blog, they seem to genuinely be interested in my work and ideas. DePaul fosters an environment of creativity and individuality that you can feel in the classroom and even around campus. I’ve had the privilege of meeting other DePaul bloggers, and even big-time Chicago bloggers. Having access to one of the nation’s largest blogging communities has given me so many opportunities and experiences that I never dreamed I would have at only age 19.

Emma
Aside from being free to work on my blog whenever I find free time outside of classes, I also get to learn things that help me grow my presence and audience in the classroom. I am currently studying Public Relations and Advertising, and I’ve found that my professors are usually hugely experienced and wise in the subject areas I care so much about. DePaul has allowed me to connect with professors and professionals in my dream industry. Last year in one of my Public Relations classes, the social media manager for the Chicago Cubs came in to give a presentation to our class. It was amazing!

I can’t imagine attending any other university than DePaul and thriving as much as I currently do. I never feel embarrassed of my passions at school, and feel like I have people surrounding me that care and support my dreams. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for DePaul for helping me every step of the way.​

New Year Same Me

Hello friends and welcome back to a new quarter, new season, and New Year! 

I hope everyone had an amazing winter break, I know mine was fairly productive, and for this blog I’d like to focus on family, friends, and relationships in general. This break was a particularly difficult one as I returned from Los Angeles and began to readjust to life back here in sweet home Chicago. It was kind of challenging at first, everyone went about their day working, studying, etc. My courses had a couple final papers that could be submitted via email so I completed them on the road trip back home. That left me pretty free and available schedule wise when I returned. My friends still had classes and assignments to finish for their courses. At times I felt kind of alone, but I found ways to stay busy. I made movies on my YouTube channel, hung out with my dog, played video games, and worked on my resume. 

New Year
Coming into the New Year I have begun reconnecting with friends as they finish their last days of winter break, and as others return to the city in preparation for the upcoming quarter. It’s changed my mood quite a bit and I feel less lonely than before. Just yesterday I got dinner with two old friends from elementary school and we played pool at one of their houses. It reminded me that sometimes people get busy in life but it doesn’t mean they don’t care. With this being my first blog of the New Year, I have to add some sort of transformative twist on it. At least, that’s when I thought as I began to write this. Yet, as I continued with this blog I came to the realization that I don’t necessarily have any resolutions for 2017. There are pros and cons to 2016 but for me, I kind of want to continue to build on what I established last year. I met a lot of cool people and made a lot of cool connections and I want to keep working on them. Maybe something new for 2017 will pop in my head later but for now it’s New Year, same me. 

Thanks for reading this first blog of 2017. I hope this year brings everyone good things. 

Stay awesome friends!

Winter Quarter

Hi, readers! It is hard to believe that the Christmas season has passed, that it is 2017, and that we are already almost a week into winter quarter. I had a really nice break, and even though it was six weeks long, it still flew by. I went home to Ohio for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the rest of the time was spent in Chicago. I had the dream job of being a full-time nanny for a three-month old baby girl named Cecilia and did a lot of other babysitting on the side. I applied to graduate school, took the GRE, celebrated my 22nd birthday, went to one of my oldest/best friend’s wedding, and caught up on all of the TV shows that I follow (Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order SVU, anybody?). It was a busy, but fruitful, break! 
 
Zoo Lights
For my birthday, some friends and I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights 
Now that we are on the other side of winter break, the end of my senior year seems so much closer! I graduate in six months! It is exciting and a huge accomplishment, but scary nonetheless. I do not have a lot of control over where I will be post-graduation - it really is dependent upon what graduate school(s) accept me and how much money they give me. Currently, I would love to stay at DePaul or move to Washington, D.C. to attend George Washington University. Stay tuned for more updates on my post-grad life!

I hope everyone is off to a great quarter! Per usual, I have a crazy schedule, but at this point that is what I am used to. I would not be productive if I had an overabundance of free time! I am excited to keep you all updated on my life here in Chicago, through school and nannying and the bitter winter weather!

Burgers for the Soul

Burgers
Being the lover of food that I am, I sometimes like to watch the Travel Channel and one of its shows, Food Paradise. This show basically showcases some of the most popular and unique restaurants in America that are infamous for their one of a kind creations and tastes. It comes to no surprise that Chicago is mentioned pretty often throughout the seasons of Food Paradise, and I have been fortunate to visit a few of the restaurants I’ve seen on TV. However, there is one restaurant that I’ve been yearning to go to for a while and finally went. Deemed as the unofficial most manly burger joint in America, Butcher & the Burger is one of the few restaurants that I went into with high expectations and still managed to exceed them.

If you’re like me and the idea of getting on the train or bus to go to a restaurant more than thirty minutes away turns you off don’t worry because Butcher & the Burger is located in Lincoln Park on Armitage right off the Brown Line stop. Sure, you could get on the train for one stop or walk ten minutes, either way it’s altogether a pretty short distance. Upon walking in you’ll find yourself staring at a large chalkboard detailing all that can go onto your burger. The process is broken down into simple steps: choose your meat, your seasoning, your bun, your toppings, and then other additional things such as fries, drinks, etc. I chose a bison burger with backwoods game seasoning on a split-bun with bbq sauce, Swiss cheese, tomato, lettuce, and pickles.

I can admit the burgers can get a tad bit pricey, especially if you order premium toppings like brisket or grilled mushrooms, but once I took that first bite into what would be the best burger I’ve ever had, all concerns for currency disappeared as quickly as my burger did.

This Butcher & the Burger is only one of many destinations I’ve seen on TV that I look forward to visiting to. If I go to major cities in the country that are home to a “food paradise” restaurant I always try to stop by. Some other popular local hotspots I went to are White Knight Diner in St. Louis, Missouri or The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia. Nevertheless, there are plenty of infamous Chicago destinations available to us DePaul students. Check out this link for a list of these local favorites.

Eat Your Salad, No Dessert

Salad
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 supper, 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.

Treat Yourself

Flat Top
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

Fogo de Chão
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.

Go Tribe - or Not

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past month, you know that the Chicago Cubs are the new World Series champs. It is incredible that the city is still standing! 

As you may know, I am from Cleveland​, so I did not get the outcome that I wanted. It was such an exciting and close series, though, that I cannot be too upset about Chicago winning. I mean, it had been SO LONG since they had won and Cleveland just won the NBA title so we’ve had enough winning for the year. We can share the love a little bit - ha!

Chicago Cibs
I watched Game 7 with my roommate, who is a bandwagon Cubs fan. I did not dare go out to watch the game- I think I would have been attacked if all of the Cubs fan heard me cheering for the Tribe! We stayed in and ordered Chinese food and watched the stressful, nail-biting game. I am pretty sure we were both hyperventilating at some points in time. 

I have never seen the city so excited after the Cubs won. People were speeding down the streets, honking their horns and waving flags and signs out the windows. Fireworks were going off and the Cubs song was playing everywhere. I have had that gosh darn song stuck in my head for WEEKS and I was not even rooting for the Cubs! 

The city is finally starting to calm down after the big win. It has been an exciting few weeks and now it is time for my favorite season: basketball season. Maybe the Cavs will pull through for us again! 


Fly the W

​What a time to be a Cubs fan! The World Series kept Chicago on its toes as they played all seven games against the Cleveland Indians.

Although Game 7 was away from home, that didn’t stop Chicago from celebrating. With thousands of people roaming streets around Wrigley at the conclusion of the game, it is surprising that the neighborhood is still standing.

I really thought that Cubs were going to lose in the last inning, but I should have known that the magic always happens in overtime. As “Go Cubs Go” rang through every neighborhood across the city, cars began to honk their horns and sirens and fireworks went off to celebrate the historic moment.

Fly the W
It’s a been a long journey to the World Series, and I couldn’t help but be thankful that I no longer live on the corner of Roscoe and Sheffield, a.k.a. a street corner flooded with way too many people last night. Although not traditionally a Cubs fan, I was so proud to Fly the W last night as a lover of all things Chicago.

I don’t consider myself simply a bandwagon fan though. Saturday’s Game 4 proved my dedication to the Cubs as I camped out in Prost in Lincoln Park for 8 hours in order to get a seat in the restaurant and watch the game. Arriving at 2 p.m., I then left around 10 p.m. It was a marathon event as my party and I ordered food and drinks on the hour, every hour.

After 108 years, this win has been long overdue. Congratulations to the Cubs and the city of Chicago!

A Little More Summertime

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.

Fall
 
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!?

​​​

The Most Underrated Buses in Chicago

​As if the L wasn’t intimidating, the 130 CTA bus routes are confusing enough to get you severely lost anywhere in Chicago you can imagine. Sound enticing?

Well, it should. Once you begin to master the CTA buses, your navigational prayers will be answered. I implore you to outsmart your friends this winter, and learn the bus system. Don’t trudge those extra 5 blocks through snow, sleet, and sadness to your destination; find a bus that will take you directly there.

According to the CTA’s website, the CTA has about 1,888 buses that operate 130 routes and 1,301 route miles. If that’s not dizzying enough, the buses make 18,843 trips a day and serve 10,813 bus stops. What does this mean for you? With the right planning, you can find the bus of your destination dreams.

Perhaps, my appreciation for the buses stems from the fact that I now live off three great bus routes. The #77 Belmont, #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, and #151 Sheridan are my go-to routes.

However, my bus-queen status does not mean that the buses and I don’t have our differences. While I’m lucky that the buses I need come pretty regularly during the morning and day-time hours (night is a completely different story), some buses, such as #65 Grand, pretty much come every 20-25 minutes, which can make being on time difficult.

147 Bus
The buses are not a possibility for you unless you’ve downloaded a bus-tracking app. Transit Stop works particularly well and also is useful for L arrival times. You’ll need it to plan your journeys and figure out when to go outside to the bus stop at the last possible minute.

Unless you have a day to explore the bus lines and learn by trial and error, I recommend you look up bus routes online before you hop on willy-nilly. Once, when I was commuting home after work this past summer, the bus I needed (#146) was a ways away, so I decided to hop on #147. What difference could a number make?

Nope. I was very wrong. As I sat on #147 Outer Drive Express, I pressed my face and hands to the glass window as I watched my apartment, a.k.a. my destination, whiz by, eventually fading out of sight. Learn from my mistake.

Good luck with your bus adventures! And, may the bus odds be ever in your favor this winter.

Do or Die

​It was October 18th and the Dodgers had just taken a lead in the NLCS. Cubs were now down 2 games to 1 and Chicago knew that it was go time.

Being in Los Angeles for the fall quarter, my friends and I decided to make a video rooting for our Chicago Cubs! It was a passion project to show good vibes and spirits for our fellow Chicagoans that were in LA for the game, and to support our team in the hopes of winning and going onward to the World Series.

Being down in the series 2-1, there was an unspoken thought in the room as we planned out our shots and locations. What if the Cubs didn’t win? No one actually brought the topic up but it was present in all our minds and since the idea for the video was mine I figured I would have to answer. Luckily I didn’t have to but I played around with different responses in my head, trying to predict my friends’ thoughts and feelings. If the question were to have emerged the only possible answer I would feel comfortable giving is “have hope, have faith, stay positive, and wish for the best.” We would later go on to release #LetsGoCubbies!!! and the Cubs would win 3 straight games to become the National League Champions!

This brings me to our newest video titled #LetsGoCubbies II (World Series). My roommate, Kyle, and I found a cheap round trip ticket to Chicago. The idea was to do another video for the Cubs but this time at home in Wrigleyville right next to Wrigley Field.

With the Cubs dropping 2 games in a row, Cleveland would take the lead in the World Series 3-1. The night we landed in Chicago, the question was finally brought up. “Are you still doing the video tomorrow?” “What happens if the Cubs lose?” Without a doubt I replied, “Yes. We’re still doing the video. Keep up the faith and the positivity we’re still in this.” My friends and I would start our Sunday morning off at 9am and would end our filming at 3pm later that day. I would go onto edit the video and get a final cut completed just before the first pitch. The only thing I awaited was the end result. I came to the decision that I was going to post the video on YouTube regardless of the outcome. Later that night, Cubs would go on to beat Cleveland in game 5, forcing a game 6. The series is now 3-2 and the Cubs are still down but there is still a chance. Go Cubs Go! I am rooting for you, Chicago is rooting for you, and let’s fly that W!

#LetsGoCubbies

#LetsGoCubbies II (World Series)

Thank you and as always stay awesome!

Go Cubs Go!

Who is Logan Paluch?

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 double majoring 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.

Logan
One of many great photos from the Nicki Minaj concert
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!


#LetsGoCubbies

Last October I wrote a blog titled #FlyTheW! The Cubs were playing in the NLCS against the New York Mets and all of Chicago was waiting for our chance at a possible World Series title. 

That was last year but today, this week and this series is the now. The Cubbies played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and had the lead the series 3-2. Conveniently being in L.A. for DePaul’s LA Quarter, I found it necessary that I take out my Cubs gear and show my support. With the Dodgers having a 2-1 lead and coming back home for the next two games, a few friends of mine and I took action to bring support to the Cubs and fans all around. Thus #LetsGoCubbies was created! 

Go Cubs Go
LA has been good to me and I have enjoyed my time here, and will continue to. However, Chicago is Chicago and the Cubs are the Cubs. The Windy City is my home and will forever have a special place in my heart no matter where I reside. So to everyone in Los Angeles or around the world rooting for the Dodgers I said, best of luck and also, let’s go Cubbies! I hope you enjoyed this blog and make sure to check out this video​. Go Cubs!

Stay awesome! 

Give Chance a Chance

He's taken the music world by storm, he’s a Chicago native, he isn’t signed to a label, and fans everywhere love him! His name is Chancellor Bennett better known by his stage name Chance the Rapper. 

Releasing his third mixtape in May 2016 titled Coloring Book, Chance continues to impress music critics and listeners everywhere. With over 57.3 million streams in the first week it has become the most successful mixtape to date for the artist. This resulted in the Recording Academy, the academy responsible for the Grammy’s, allowing stream-only releases to be eligible for a nomination. Which is a huge game changer for Chance and stream-only artists everywhere.
 
Chance the Rapper
This brings us to Chance’s most recent, unique moment. “Hey, Why Not Me?” Have you heard or seen the question yet? In Billboard’s latest issue the independent rapper is seen posing on his full-page ad. What’s the reason for it? Chance has had tremendous success in the music realm and even more so, he’s done it in unique and completely new fashion. The game has changed because of how he decides to market himself and create. Chance is asking for one simple thing, nominate him. I’m sure the musical star would not shy away from actually winning a Grammy ​but that’s not the goal at the moment. See Chance has always been about taking things step by step and right now the short term simple goal is to get nominated. After that, we’ll just have to wait and see. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Chance the Rapper, check him out! It’s worth it and highly recommended! Even Metacritic scored his last mixtape at an average of 90 (which is incredibly, above average). 

Thanks for reading my blog and as always stay awesome friends!

Harry Potter Is Back on the Big Screen

​Who doesn’t love the Harry Potter movies (and books)!? Some of the best memories from my childhood are the times when my mom would take me out of school early so that we could go see a new Harry Potter movie that had come out that day. The Harry Potter movies are amazing no matter what, but there’s something special about watching them in a movie theater. If you never got that chance, NOW IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Starting on Wednesday, October 13, the entire Harry Potter series is coming back to IMAX screens for just ONE WEEK. Luckily for us, there’s a participating IMAX movie theater just a twenty-minute bus ride away from DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus. Regal Cinemas City North will be showing each movie multiple times over the week (you can see the schedule of Harry Potter screenings here). And I haven’t even told you the best part: it’s actually pretty affordable. Going to a single movie (on IMAX, nonetheless) only costs $6, but the real deal is the $30 event pass that lets you go to as many showings as you want over the week. That means that you could potentially go to 42 screenings for just $30. THAT IS A STEAL.

This week-long event is a big promotion for the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spin-off of Harry Potter set to be released on November 18. If this week-long Harry Potter overload has you amped up for Fantastic Beasts, be sure to keep up with DePaul Activities Board (DAB). Every year, DAB does some kind of big ticket giveaway for the premiere screening of huge movie. A few years ago, my friends and I got tickets to go see Maleficent and we had the best time (especially because the movie theater that hosts the premieres has super comfy reclining seats). This fall, DAB will be at the Lincoln Park Student Center on November 17th to hand out tickets to the premiere of Fantastic Beasts. SO PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A MAGICAL AUTUMN.

Chicago Versus Los Angeles

Chicago has the Cubbies, Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Fire, and more. Los Angeles has the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Rams, Galaxy, and more. This blog will be focused on the similarities and differences of life in Chicago and life in Los Angeles. 

Chicago vs LA Basketball
Quick disclaimer: I am not saying one city is better or worse than the other, I am simply sharing my experiences in both. 

L.A. has grown on me this past month. I’ve come to love the awesome grocery store that is Ralph’s. The Chicago equivalent of it would probably be Jewel Osco. However, Ralph’s has this amazing rewards program that, in my opinion, is one of the best. Each time I shop there I save about $10 on groceries with my rewards card. The prices are similar, if not the same, to other stores I’ve been to (such as Target and Food 4 Less). Thinking of places in Chicago like Jewel Osco, Strack and Van Til, etc. I can’t think of anything that can match Ralph’s. But! Every grocery store in Chicago does have my favorite brand of Pepper Jack cheese (Sargento) and I have only found it at a Target that’s 30 minutes away from my apartment here. 

Aside from grocery stores, L.A. is much more of a driving city than Chicago. The public transportation is present but not preferred. Many times I’ll GPS a location and it is a 15 to 20 minute drive, and by train or bus it is over an hour. The key difference here is that a lot of times it is preferred to take the public transportation in Chicago because it is actually faster than driving. DePaul is a great example of this with the Loop campus and Lincoln Park campus being one quick train ride away. 

Chicago Skyline
The food scene is amazing in both cities, different, but still amazing. I’ve seen a lot more smaller, independent shops and restaurants here than in Chicago. When it comes to pizza, Chicago takes the gold​, but L.A. has such a huge array of places to eat. Many times you actually feel like you travel to that place as well! Many of the restaurants are in neighborhoods that reflect the part of the world they’re from such Chinatown or Koreatown. While Chicago also has a huge variety, the restaurants are not specific to a neighborhood as much as in L.A. Many times you’ll have the option of pizza and burgers on one side of the street and tacos and chicken fried rice on the other. It is more of this collage of restaurants on a block. 

That wraps up what I have for today. This blog is longer than usual but there is just so much to write about! 

Thank you for reading my blog and as always stay awesome friends!

Hamilton in Chicago

So. You may have heard about a little musical named Hamilton. In the super unlikely event that you haven’t heard about it, let me just say that Hamilton is the musical phenomenon of the decade. An R&B/rap musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton is easily the hottest ticket on Broadway. Ever since it premiered in February of 2015, virtually every performance has sold out. It has won 11 Tony awards, a Grammy, and a Pulitzer Prize. The music is so popular that the Original Cast Recording hit #1 on the Billboard Rap Albums chart. On top of all of that, Hamilton has made such a huge impact that the U.S. Department of the Treasury reversed its previously-announced plan to replace Alexander Hamilton with a historically significant woman on the $10 bill (instead, Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill). And now, as of last week, Chicago has its own sit-down production of Hamilton.*

Hamilton
Now, it’s no secret that I like musicals. Nor is it a secret that I’m super cheap. I’ve written at length (here and here) about how much I love doing student rush or trying the lottery in order to see shows in Chicago for cheap. For the uninitiated, most musicals have some sort of promotion that allows a few people to get cheap (but good) tickets on the day of the show. Hamilton has one of the best lottery systems. Just for comparison, when I was trying to win the lottery to see Wicked, I had to run downtown every day to put my name in the drawing, and then I would have to wait around for hours just to find out that I lost. For Hamilton, it’s way easier. On the day of the show, you go to this website​ to enter your name in the lottery for up to two tickets. Four hours before the show, you’ll get an email letting you know if you won. If you did win, I’ll be jealous, and you’ll have an hour to buy your tickets online. They give out at least 44 tickets for each show, and each ticket is just TEN DOLLARS. And then you just pick up your tickets at the theatre right before show time. IT’S THAT EASY. 

Let me know if you have plans to see Hamilton. And definitely let me know if you win the lottery!

*Most productions that come to Chicago are tours, meaning that the production will perform in Chicago for a limited, pre-determined period of time before moving on to another city. A sit-down production is open-ended, meaning that it will stay in the city as long as tickets continue to sell. Hamilton is already selling tickets through September 2017.


Chicago’s Lakefront Trail

boats
This weekend I went on a run. TBH, it was quite awful. I’m not a big fan of running. I’ve been a swimmer my whole life, and that’s the only cardio I’ll do (when forced). So why did I feel motivated to torture myself? Because my new views are pretty sick.

chicago flag
During the summer, I moved approximately a mile away from my old apartment to East Lakeview. At first, my plan was to move to Buena Park to find a deal on some cheaper square footage, but I soon realized I couldn’t leave Lakeview. After two years here, I was ready to contractually agree to a third.

So here I am, right across from Belmont Harbor, pounding on the pavement and watching the sailboats go by. In the end, the scenery made every mile worth it (and by every mile, I mean 1.5 of them).

If running isn’t your thing like me, the Lakefront Trail functions as a great bike path as well. Across the street from Belmont Harbor is a convenient Divvy Bike Station if you don’t own a bike of your own.

As the weather starts to get cooler out, running by the lake is the perfect morning workout. And now that I live less than a block away from the lakefront, the excuses are pretty much over for sleeping in.

boats
See you on the trail!

The PIZZA POT PIE

This summer, I had to take a graduate thesis research course. One day, while I was diligently researching the Spanish Transition to Democracy, I stumbled across this video. In case you’re like me and you actively avoid clicking video links, let me summarize the video for you (but I highly recommend that you watch it because I guarantee you will fall out of your chair).

bread
I’m assuming (re: hoping) that they regularly clean these tables because my Mediterranean Bread was not very well contained on the plate.
There’s a show on Food Network called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” which features Food Network chefs talking about the best [insert name of food here] that they had ever eaten. During the episode entitled “Road Trip,” Marc Murphy profiled the Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company, a small restaurant in Lincoln Park. Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. is famous for a little thing called the Pizza Pot Pie.

The Pizza Pot Pie is made by brushing a ceramic bowl with butter and then filling it full of cheese. Like, real full. Like, comically full. And then once that bowl is full of cheese, then they pour the sauce on and add some mushrooms (if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am most definitely not). They throw a slab of dough on the top and bake it. When it’s all done, they bring the bowl to your table and flip it upside down onto your plate so that you can see all the cheese.

As I watched this video, I went through so many emotions. At first, I was upset. How had no one told me about this before? How had I lived here for four years and never heard about it? I figured that no one else must know about it either, so I went around and starting telling everyone about it. To my surprise, everyone else apparently already knew about it. Despite my obsession with all things cheesy, somehow I dropped the ball on this one.

pizza
LOOK AT THESE. Tell me these aren’t the best looking pizza pot pies that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.
So you know I had to go as soon as I possibly could. I cleared my schedule and made plans to go the next weekend. So I show up at 12:30pm, and there’s already a line out the door. I literally must have been the only person in the tri-county area that was unaware of this restaurant. I ended up having to wait an hour and a half for a table. Why? They don’t take reservations. And when you get to the restaurant, they don’t even take down your name. The host just stares at your face for a few seconds and then somehow apparently just remembers what order people came in. The whole set-up was simultaneously impressive and questionable.

At the end of the day, it was actually the best pizza item I’ve eaten in my entire life. I could not recommend it more. Get there ASAP.

More Transitions

The beginning of the school year has been a crazy one for me! I wrote in my last post about everything I have on plate for this quarter, and it has not disappointed in the busyness it threatened. That’s ok though because it’s my senior year and I have learned to embrace the madness that school brings.

Another cool life change that has happened this year is that I moved! For the past two years, I lived in a studio apartment half a block from campus. It was an incredible location, but it was so expensive and a typical crappy first apartment (slanted floors, a refrigerator that I was taller than, windows that leaked cold air in the winter...I could keep on going). This year, I moved a couple blocks down the street into an apartment with three other girls.

roommates
My three roommates and me!
You guys, this apartment is the DREAM. It has a dishwasher, stained glass windows, a fireplace, more than one bathroom, an in-unit washer/dryer, AND is significantly cheaper than my other apartment. Plus, I get to live with three beautiful, awesome, Godly women. How could I say no to that? It’s literally the dream.

I loved living in the dorms my freshman year and highly recommend it to any incoming freshman, but I also have loved living in an apartment these past few years and getting a space that I can truly make my own. DePaul and Chicago have so much to offer in terms of housing so definitely do your research and look around because you can absolutely find a home that’s right for you!

Food for Thought

Eating is more than just sustenance for me. It’s definitely a favorite pastime. 

Last week in my PR campaigns class, I was asked to fill out a get-to-know-you survey, which included a question about hobbies and interests outside of class. I shamelessly wrote “eating” down for number 1 because at this point in my college career, there is #noshame.

So where am I eating this quarter? I thought I’d point out my top three spots to chow down as a student this month. 

Nandos
Who knew Portuguese food was THIS good? Nando’s is famous for their flame-grilled chicken, which is basted and cooked in the sauce of your choosing. Don’t like chicken on the bone? Not a problem. Try one of Nando’s sandwiches, wraps or salads. My favorite dish at Nando’s is actually a side. The Red Skin Mashed Potatoes are too good to be true. When I’m feeling extra indulgent I order two sides (the mashers + Peri Chips a.k.a. fries). Yes, I realize that combo = potatoes X2, but sometimes life is just too short. DePaul Tip: Bring your student ID to the Clybourne or Lakeview locations to get 20% off your entire meal (minus alcohol)!

Stella Barra
Pizza is life, and Stella Barra helps drive home this core principle of mine. Its handcrafted dough and delicious toppings make this pizza taste so fresh and flavorful.  If you’re loving the sunny-side up egg trend right now, I highly recommend you order the Prosciutto and Egg Pizza. An egg is baked into the center of the ‘za, meaning that each slice will be lightly coated in yolk. The Crispy Calamari and Fresh Burrata are equally scrumptious, but if you want to splurge on your pizza, try opting for the House Bread as a starter instead, which is a great bargain for only $1.95. 

Dryhop
Located right down the street from me, this brewpub is quite delicious (and now open for brunch). The perfect spot for catching up with friends or even dining with the parents, the simple menu does not disappoint. My former favorite item on the menu is the Skillet Mac ‘N Cheese, topped with smoked cheddar, a sunny-side up egg (yet again), toasted breadcrumbs, peas, and applewood smoked bacon. I say “former” because I’ve mustered up a great copycat recipe for this one, which I’m quite proud of. My new favorite is a tie between The Burger and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. Both are served with a heaping pile of fries. Plus, their craft brews are pretty mean, too (for the 21+ crowd, of course).

So what are you eating this quarter? I obviously could talk about food for a lifetime, but I promise to not talk your ear off if you want to inform me of a new recommendation. 

Happy eating!

TOP and Music in Chicago

Chicago is known for many things like pizza, sports, and diversity. The music scene is no stranger to that list.

With smaller venues like the Metro and the Aragon hosting smaller artist and larger arenas such as the United Center and Allstate hosting more popular musicians, there is never a dull weekend in the city.

This past Sunday I took advantage of what my hometown has to offer and checked out Twenty One Pilots (TOP) for their Emotional Roadshow tour at Allstate. It was incredible! To anyone that knows me personally, my love for TOP is no surprise. I first heard them in the summer of 2014 on Q101, a radio station dedicated to smaller more underground bands. The song I heard was Car Radio and ironically it played on the car radio of the vehicle I was driving for work. Now very present in the mainstream, the growth of Twenty One Pilots can interestingly be seen throughout their performances in Chicago.

TOP
In 2013 the band performed on the small, side stage at Lollapalooza to a crowd consisting of a few early followers. Fast forward to 2015, the duo was invited to perform at Lollapalooza again. This time, however, they were at the Samsung stage providing them more room and attention than 2013. Given a performance time of 5:30 PM on Sunday, the band was expected to draw in a decent crowd but nothing larger than what a headliner could attract. What actually occurred took the music festival by surprise. Tens of thousands of fans came to see their beloved duo take the stage. Some spent their whole Sunday waiting at Samsung stage in order to get a good spot. Others ran over from various stages where other artists were performing. After TOP’s set ended the tens of thousands of music listeners headed elsewhere leaving the opportunity for fans of Florence and The Machine to advance to a better viewing spot. TOP’s after Lollapalooza show was held at the House of Blues and would mark the second to last show in a smaller venue that the duo would perform.

Capping their 2015 in Chicago with one last performance at the Aragon, Twenty One Pilots would wave farewell to the underground scene as they broke into the mainstream revisiting Chicago this past Sunday at the Allstate arena. On a personal note, it sucks to have so much competition now when I am trying to purchase tickets for my favorite band, on the other hand, I am happy to see so many people enjoying their wonderful talent as I have done so since 2014.


Surplus With A Purpose

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.

SWAP DePaul
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! ​

Happy Summer!

Can you believe that it is summer? I certainly can’t! This year has absolutely flown by and summer is here, much to the joy of every DePaul student on campus. Finals are over and now I’ll be a *gulp* senior. If you think that this year passed by quickly, it is nothing compared to my first three years of college. It seems like just yesterday I was a freshman moving into the dorms. Now I’m a year away from graduating! 

One of the great things about week 10 this year is that it coincided with Memorial Day, which means we had a four-day week. Memorial Day this year was SO nice. Memorial Day, of course, is so much more than a day off of school and work because it is so important and necessary to honor all those who are serving and have served to protect this country. 

Beach Day
It was great to take advantage of the awesome Memorial Day weather.
My friends and I took advantage of the beautiful weather this Memorial Day and spent the day at Oak Street Beach​

It was great to take advantage of the awesome Memorial Day weather. That is the beach on the big curve of Lake Shore Drive near the Hancock building. I had never been to that beach, but have always wanted to, and I am so glad we went! The view of the city was so cool and being in the sand and sun next to the lake was relaxing and definitely renewed my energy to tackle the last two weeks of school. We played volleyball, packed a picnic, and enjoyed the sun. It was a wonderful day. 

Now that summer is upon us, I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful break! It has been a pleasure this year getting to share my life and experiences with you. Come back next year and check in to see how my senior year is going! 

My Summer in Chicago

I am now officially a graduate student! This week, I started my summer graduate class. This is my first summer staying in Chicago. Let me tell you, things at DePaul work a little differently during the summer. I’m taking one night class during the summer. While night classes usually meet once a week for ten weeks during a normal school term, the summer term is actually divided into two five-week sessions, so my night class meets twice a week for five weeks. It’s short, but intense.

cake
I spent a few days at home between my last final and the start of my summer class. Look at the cake my mom made me to celebrate my graduation!

Actually, my whole schedule is intense (at least for these five weeks). Following my own advice, I found a great full-time summer internship. So I work at my internship from 10am-5pm Monday-Friday. After work, on Mondays and Wednesdays, I then run to work at my other job at the Lincoln Park campus library from 6pm-10pm (because my internship is unpaid and I need money). On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I head over to my summer graduate class from 6pm-915pm. And then in all my free time, I will try to finish all the coursework for that class. It’s looking to be a super relaxing summer. Despite my overwhelming schedule, I’m still hoping to find time to enjoy my first summer in Chicago, especially after my class ends in early July. There’s so much to experience during the summer.

To be completely honest, I just really want to go to The SpongeBob Musical. If you haven’t heard, there’s a new Spongebob musical that is premiering in Chicago before it moves to Broadway. The super unique thing about this musical is that rather than a single composer writing all of the songs, a bunch of famous musicians each composed a single song. So imagine a musical about Spongebob Squarepants featuring songs composed by Lady Antebellum, John Legend, Panic! At The Disco, T.I., and David Bowie, among others. I cannot imagine what a T.I. song about Spongebob sounds like and I need to find out.

banner
When I got home after my last final, I discovered that my parents had repurposed my high school graduation banner.

If you’re not into Spongebob though, there are plenty of other things to do in Chicago during the summer. If you like music but aren’t as interested as I am about hearing a Panic! At The Disco song about Spongebob, you can try to find tickets to Lollapalooza. You can find the lineup for Lollapalooza here. Or if you’re more like me and you’d rather spend your money on food, you can always try to brave the crowds at Taste of Chicago. I’ve always wanted to go to Taste of Chicago, but I’ve never gotten a chance, so my goal this summer to is find time to make it to Taste of Chicago.

I’m so excited to finally be able to spend the summer in Chicago. Let me know if you have any exciting plans for your summer!


Who Live In A Pineapple Under the Sea?

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

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

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

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

​​


And That's a Wrap!

I always love when my friends from the suburbs come to visit me in Chicago at the end of spring quarter. It gives me an excuse to walk to The Bean and take silly pictures, and to ignore the fact that I’m still in school.

The only time I curse the quarter system with all my might is inevitably when all my friends get out of school a month earlier than I do. Their freedom rubs off on me, and I get dazed and confused about the fact that I still have to go to a week of classes and finals.

But, it’s hard to be sad when the weather is this beautiful in the city. My friends visited me last weekend, and we spent the sunny afternoon sitting along the lakeshore, attending Chicago street festivals, and eating way too much.

After coming to the sad realization that it’s beach season, and my nonexistent exercise routine that I worked so hard at during the winter has not prepared me for swimsuit shopping, I’ve decided it’s time to make a lifestyle change. No more nightly Kit Kat to reward myself for making it through the day. No more eating out everyday. And, for the first time all year, I even stepped foot into the Ray.

Yikes...it took me 2.8 quarters (a.k.a. 28 weeks) to walk into the gym. But, I’m slowly getting back into the habit. With no school work this summer and a part-time internship, it’s time to spend my energy elsewhere. I’ve also found out that a summer membership to the Ray​ only costs $42, which is a steal considering you get to attend fitness classes as well.​

Like always, I can’t believe that this school year has come to a close. Thinking that I’ll only be at DePaul for 10 more weeks next year is something that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. It won’t be reality until I walk out of my last class next quarter, and realize that I’ll never have to do that again (until graduate school, that is). 

With entirely no plans for post-graduation this November, who knows where I’ll be at this time next year. I could uproot and move to a different city after landing a dream job. Or, I could stay in the city that I now call home Chicago. Hopefully, this summer I’ll start figuring it all out. But, until then, good luck on finals!
​​​

Utilizing Your Summer

Summer is a wondrous season of warmth, joy, music, and most importantly my birthday. 

This blog, however, is about utilizing your summer to the best of your ability. The end of the school year can seem like the end of productivity to some as students prepare for long days on the beach and seeing old friends. For others, the summer serves as an extra academic quarter where they can take courses in order to get ahead or catch up. 

Regardless of what your summer plans may be, it is important to use this time the best way for you. The summer after my freshman year I worked at St. John Berchmans part time and took two classes that accounted for my general requirements. It was a more relaxed schedule that allowed me to enjoy time with my friends and travel a bit. 

This summer my plans are a little more productive. I have an internship with the Chicago Sky Basketball team; I am looking for a part time job, and will also be taking courses online. Different times call for different arrangements and this break will be dedicated to preparing myself financially and academically for my LA quarter in the fall. I encourage you, my fellow readers, to take a moment and think about what you need from this summer. It can be as simple as relaxing from June to September or it can be busy as I am predicting mine will be. 

Nonetheless, sitting down and reflecting will take you a long way, maybe even write down in a notebook what you would like to accomplish during this 2016 summer break. 


My Five Favorite Memories

Over the past four years, I have had countless experiences at DePaul that I will remember for the rest of my life. Aside from making great friends and getting a high quality education, the city of Chicago has given me some of the best memories. Here are five of the most memorable things I’ve done while at DePaul over the past four years:

1.  Chicago Jazz Festival​

At the beginning of September, Chicago hosts a jazz festival downtown in Millennium Park. I loved bringing a blanket and a picnic with a couple of friends, sharing a view stories and laughs and listening to world-class jazz performances (all for free!) Usually the discover Chicago class for music students ends with attending a jazz concert – I will miss laying on the grass, watching sunsets over lake Michigan and being a train ride away from one of the best and biggest outdoor venues in our country.

Throwback to 2012: Downtown!
2. Student Leadership InstituteWinter Leadership Conference

During the winter of my freshman year, I had the opportunity to attend the winter leadership conference in Zion, Illinois. At no expense to me, I got to stay in a hotel on Lake Michigan, eat delicious meals and participate in group discussions and activities about how to be a good leader and be a positive role model on campus and beyond. I learned so much about myself and met some great people along the way.

 3. Bakery-crawling

If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you know I am obsessed with bakeries. I have loved trying new places – cupcakes, pies, cookies, doughnuts – I love it all! I will miss having adventures to new sweet spots, but I know where I will be stopping first when I come for a visit… check out my favorites: Dinkel’s, West Town Bakery, Stan’s Donuts, Sweet Mandy B’s, Molly’s Cupcakes, Bake, Swirlz, Twisted Baker

4. Bowling nights and attending ILMEA

I had the privilege of being the president of the DePaul chapter of NAfME, or the National Association for Music Educators. I had a great time road tripping down to Peoria for the Illinois Music Education Conference – not only did I grow as an educator, but it was a full weekend of spending time with my peers, networking with professionals and purchasing new music and equipment. We also started a new tradition of going bowling at the end of the school year at Diversey River bowl – a great celebration of all the hard work we do each year!

Dancing in Sierra Leone, Africa

5. All of these things:

Eating Chicago-style pizza, going to Cubs games, seeing the Chicago Symphony, sitting on the beach, running races downtown, performing in different venues, teaching in local schools, singing in the church choir at St.Paul’s, traveling to Africa and collaborating with my awesome peers!

Memories at DePaul go way beyond the classroom – Chicago is our campus!


Copa America Centenario

“I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!” Sound familiar? 

Team USA gears up this summer to take on international teams from South America, Central America, North America, and the Caribbean in the Copa America Centenario! This year marks 100 years of the Copa America​ and the U.S. is hosting the tournament. Chicago will be hosting our United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and Costa Rica as well as Argentina versus Panama and the Semifinal round. 

All the games will be played at Soldier field home of the Chicago Bears football team. I am super excited because I love soccer! Here at DePaul I play on the intramural teams throughout the school year and in the summer I join leagues around the city. The USMNT had a good run in the 2014 World Cup making it out of the Group stage. They competed with international teams Ghana, Germany, and Portugal. The team would fall to Belgium later on but showed that the U.S. is a force to be reckoning with in the soccer world. 

Josue Copa
Since then, the team has seen rises and falls in their success losing in the CONCACAF tournament that would later be won by rival international team El Tri of Mexico. The Copa America is important for two reasons one head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has introduced a new, younger and inexperience team to the world, literally the world. With veteran players such as Dempsey, Bradley, and Howard the USMNT will both succeed in this tournament and set the tone for the Confederations Cup and later the 2018 World Cup or they will lose and it will be back to reconstruction for our team. 

Only time will tell but for now I chant in support of my USMNT, “I believe that we will win!”  


Summer Plans

Summer is finally here! I don’t know about you, but I am so excited. The weather in Chicago is typically awful for the majority of the year so it is so nice to spend three months enjoying the outdoors with no schoolwork to be concerned about. Chicago is awesome in the summer!

It is always interesting to hear about people’s summer plans. I have done something different every summer since I’ve started college. After my freshman year, I went back to Ohio and worked part-time. Last year, I stayed in Chicago for the summer and nannyed full-time, which was a super busy job. I really enjoyed staying in the city – I got to take advantage of all the cool things Chicago has to offer in the summer. 

OCSM CRU
It's the OCSM 50th anniversary – I can't wait!
This summer, however, I am heading to Ocean City, NJ. As I have written about before, I am really involved with Cru on campus, which is a Christian organization passionate about connecting students to Jesus.

This summer, I am going on a Missions Trip to Ocean City this summer with Cru. I’ll live in Ocean City for 10 weeks, get a job somewhere in Ocean City during the day, and participate in Cru-related activities in the evening. There will be around 100 college students from schools all over the country on Missions, too, and I am so excited to get to meet and know all of these students. I am really looking forward to this summer and to all the adventures it holds.

I hope your summer plans are adventurous and prosperous, too! 

Creating Campaigns

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

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

Issue:

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

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

Audience:

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

Sponsor:

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

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


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

It's Graduation Time

Unsurprisingly, I think I'm holding a candy bar wrapper in my hand at my high school graduation.
Four years ago, during the rehearsal for my high school graduation, a reporter from the local newspaper interviewed me about my post-high school plans. Apparently, I told him that I wanted to major in Spanish at DePaul and then continue on to get my law degree and specialize in tort reform or immigration law. Four years later, I’m getting ready to graduate and I can definitively say there’s no way I’m heading to law school. And while I’m a little atypical in that I start (graduate) class again two days after the graduation ceremony, the fact is that I’m finally graduating and it’s a pretty good opportunity to reflect on how I’ve changed during my time at DePaul.

I had a really rough start at DePaul and almost dropped out. I don’t think I had emotionally prepared myself for such a big change in my life. I was so homesick and overwhelmed that for the first month of school, my dad would drive to Chicago all the way from Madison every Thursday, pick me up right after my last class, drive me home, and then drive me all the way back to Chicago on Sunday night. I remember my parents begging me to just try to finish out the quarter. I had a similar experience with International Studies as well—after I finished the first course, I contemplated dropping International Studies as a major because I thought I wasn’t smart enough and I just wasn’t good at it. I just felt so inadequate.

Here I am getting ready to sumo wrestle at my high school's party for seniors. I look super excited for college.

When I first came to college, my goal was just to graduate. I did not have high expectations for myself at all. And when I think about that, I realize that I’ve accomplished so much more than I ever thought I was capable of doing. All throughout high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad at some point during college, but I sort of doubted that I would ever actually go through with it. Not only did I study abroad in Madrid, but I discovered that Spanish political history is pretty interesting. I got back from studying abroad and applied for my master’s (which never even crossed my mind in high school) so that I could study Spanish political history. The kid who almost dropped out of DePaul and International Studies because he thought he couldn’t handle it is staying at DePaul for a fifth year so that he can get his master’s in International Studies.

This summer will be the first summer that I’m staying in Chicago rather than going back home. It’s sort of bittersweet because I feel like it means that I’m finally officially an adult, but I’m also excited because I have a great internship lined up, I get to work on my thesis, and I'm just ready to start a new phase of my life. 


Chicago Rock Spot

In the words of the profoundly philosophical and reflective Nicki Minaj, “Let’s go to the beach, each, let’s go get a wave.”

Nicki couldn’t have summed up the goal of my summer any better. If you can’t find me and it’s blazing outside, I’ll be laying out by Belmont Harbor. A quick, Bus 77 ride away from my apartment, the walkway along Belmont Harbor doesn’t get as crowded as Fullerton Beach​ or North Avenue Beach.

While this part of the lakefront doesn’t have any sand, if you don’t mind laying on a towel on concrete, it’s the perfect spot. There are even a lot of rocks along the lake, making some nice, natural, sit-in-the-water seats. My friends and I have titled this place, the Rock Spot.

The Rock Spot is an ideal location to soak up the summer sun and skip all the hot sand. I’ve never been a fan of coming home from the lake and having to dump out the sand in my bag. My inner neat freak is not okay with the residual graininess and stickiness that undoubtedly comes from a day at the beach.

Dipping my pinky toe into the water this Monday morning, I thought I had mentally prepared myself for how cold the lake would be, but I definitely didn’t prepare enough. According to the National Weather Service in Chicago, the temperature of Lake Michigan at the Chicago shore is currently 58 degrees. It was a glacial temperature to say the least.

I’m still waiting for the water to warm up, but until then, I’ll be lounging by the Rock Spot. Hope to see you there!


Candy Expo

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

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

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


Lakeview Food Obsessions

I like people, I like school, I like shoes, but I LOVE food.

I was once asked three words to describe myself at a networking event, and faltered because the only word to come to mind was foodie. While not exactly the results-driven adjective employers were looking for, it is a word that is important to me anyways.

In my effort to save money — emphasis on the effort — eating at restaurants has become a special treat that I count down the days of the week for. I pick my restaurants carefully, and my company even more so.

Since spring quarter began, I’ve been sticking to Lakeview restaurants. While mostly to avoid the crazy weather we’ve had, I’m also never disappointed by my Lakeview restaurant choices.

So as of May 2016, here are my top three recommendations for you and your cravings:

DMK Burger BarArtisan burgers with truffle fries and thick milkshakes? What’s not to love. I dream of DMK at least twice a day. I went there so many times fall quarter that my server knew when I was ready for my shake. I’ve ordered various burgers from DMK, and have never been disappointed. My favorite is #8. The #8 consists of iceberg lettuce, marinated tomato, pickled red onion, bread and butter pickles, mayo and your choice of cheese. A classic option. But don’t stop there! Order hand-cut russet potato fries with parmesan and truffle cream. Get it for the table, but be ambitious once the plate comes because they’ll go fast. I also always get a peanut butter shake, but ask about DMK’s rotating shake of the month because there might be a better option. Vegetarian? Surprisingly, no problem at DMK. Order #13, a crispy portobello with fontina cheese, arugula, marinated tomato and horseradish sauce.


Dive BarSelf-described as nautical delights, the items on Dive Bar’s menu allow you to feast like a captain. Fried fish, boilers, raw oysters, and Cajun mac n’ cheese will transport you to a coast far, far away. I would recommend the BOTTOMLESS fish and chips, available on Friday. As the description promises, beer battered and fried to perfection, the fried fish is served with house-made tartar sauce and curly sea salt fries. I’ve only been able to get through three rounds of the fish and chips, which I think is pretty impressive. My goal is four so we’ll see what I can accomplish this quarter. Dive Bar has a special every night, so be sure to check the website to see what delicious discounts you can score.


HutchThis American bistro is a Chicago favorite that I happen to live a half block away from. It tempts me all day, every day, and has taught me restraint. But when I do save enough money to venture on over to Hutch, every dime is worth it. On the off chance that I have a weekday off of work, I’ll go to Hutch during its Happy Hour. A great deal, Hutch offers 1/2 priced appetizers and flatbreads Monday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. The lobster nachos, warm skillet nachos, charred onion dip, and meatballs + pork belly are enough to fill you up. If shared appetizers isn’t your thing, try Hutch on Tuesday nights for the $12 steak and fries special.  

Next time you’re in Lakeview, hit up my favorite places! All are easy to get to by public transportation and are somewhat affordable for resourceful college students. Plus, these restaurants are great places to bring visiting friends and family, especially when they offer to foot the bill.


Back to the Lyric and to Symphony Center

Though I’m looking forward to moving out of the city and starting my new job, there are a few things that I will really miss about being a college student in Chicago. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to see The King and I at the Lyric Opera – I hadn’t been since I saw Cinderella in the fall! I grabbed a couple $20 student tickets for Will and I attended a 7pm show. 

Look at all the great costumes from "The King and I"!
The Lyric Opera House started a new annual tradition of bringing a musical to their stage every spring – seeing Oklahoma! In 2013 was one of the best moments of my life! Seeing professional operas is always a great experience, but I find musicals to be really fun and easy to understand (generally pretty uplifting and light – perfect for a date night!) The King and I is the story of a teacher who travels to Siam to teach the children in the king’s palace, but in the end her influence goes beyond English and arithmetic. It was a beautiful story about learning to respect others and how to experience love. The costumes, sets and songs were breath-taking and I would recommend the show to everyone.

Just a few days later I attended the annual DePaul symphony concert at Symphony Center. Every spring DePaul’s symphony (the top orchestra) has the opportunity to perform downtown on the same stage as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – too cool if you ask me! All DePaul students are able to get free tickets to the event, which was an added bonus. It was bittersweet – I loved seeing my best friend, Kelsey, performing in such an amazing venue, but it was also sad in that it could be a while until I see Kelsey perform again or see a symphony concert at all. I’m glad that I will be living close enough to the city that I can get to a CSO concert when I need to be re-inspired to practice…

DePaul Violinists at Symphony Center post-concert!

With only three weeks of college remaining, I’ve started a bucket list of things I want to do before I move away – going to the Lyric and the DePaul symphony concert were two of them! I’m still hoping to find the best Chicago hot dog, attend a couple of shows and go back to all of my favorite places one last time. Trying to stay motivated to get my school work done as best I can!


Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

79 degrees and not a thing to do on a sunny, Saturday afternoon my brother calls me and asks if I can pick him up from school as he just finished his race. In a lethargic manner I arise from my slumber, get dressed, and drive to my alma mater to get my brother. 

I arrive at Gordon Tech (now DePaul College Prep) and see him playing games on his phone while sitting in the sun. He gets in my car, tells me about his race, and drive to the store to pick up some items. With such a beautiful day at my disposal, my previous craving to stay in all day and watch Daredevil on Netflix had left and all I wanted to do was explore the world. “Do you want to go on a hike?” I asked my brother. “Uhmm, sure why not.” he replies. I call my girlfriend and ask her if she’d like to join us on our spontaneous adventure, she says yes. 

My brother and I pick her up, go to our house, pack some water and snacks, and make our way to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve​ in DuPage County. As we park, I take notice of others in attendance. This was my first time on a hike and I wanted to see what others were wearing, drinking, eating, etc. I saw these two gentlemen wearing backpacks that seemed to have anything one might need when venturing into the wilderness. There were also some bikers with mountain bikes, water, helmets, and more prepared for the journey ahead of them. My group? Well we had sneakers, water, sunglasses, a small backpack, squished granola bars, and a thirst for adventure! 

We took our first steps into the unfamiliar realm of nature and made our way to a post containing simple directions. “Waterfall 2.9 miles à” it stated. Our crew then began our hike down the path to the waterfall. The experience was one definitely worth the trip. We saw robins, squirrels, otters, and dragonflies. There weren’t any deer sightings but we did find some tracks showing their presence. A passerby pointed us in the direction of a playground just through the forest so we went, for what we thought would be a quick stop by. Playing on the monkey bars, swings, and eating some of our squished granola bars quite some time had passed and we decided to save the waterfall sighting for another day. 

Some might call this a failed mission but considering it was my first time ever hiking, I think it was a huge success! If you’re ever looking to get in touch with nature make sure to check out Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County, you won’t regret it! 


Logan Square

Lincoln Park is nice and so is the loop but nothing can compare to my neighborhood, Logan Square. 

I’ve lived in Logan Square for whole life – since I was a little baby until now. It’s a welcoming community with a lot of activities throughout the year. No matter what the weather may be, there is probably something happening in Logan Square. 

In the summer we have the Milwaukee Arts Festival, Farmer’s Market, and movies in the park. The frigid cold of the winter doesn’t stop us as we host Holiday on The Square, a day where participating shops and restaurants offer deals, treats, tastings, and more! Logan Square is known as one of the more diverse neighborhoods in Chicago with 38.2% of homeowners working blue-collar jobs and 61.8% working white-collar jobs. The median household income is around $76,000. 

It is my personal and expert advice that if anyone is ever looking to explore Chicago a little more they should go check out Logan Square. The art scene is incredible, the food variety is like no other, and the local shops give a more intimate and less city type feel. While there are things to check out in the winter, as previously noted, the summer time is ideal to fully experience the neighborhood. 



Spring Events in The Windy City

Having been born and raised in Chicago, I’m pretty used to there always being something happening each day. Whether it is something small like a street artist performing as I walk to the store or wait for the train, or something big like Lollapalooza, there is always some event going on in this city. 
It is almost impossible to not know of something fun happening. As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer there will only be an increase of these awesome city events. This brings me to the purpose of today’s blog, go out and do stuff! 

A painting in tribute of Prince
Yes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon TV, etc. have unlimited content that you could spend hours and hours of your day watching and enjoying; and as a filmmaker I frequently let my day get consumed by those but there is a whole world out there waiting to be explored as well! 

Just a few weeks ago I went to this gallery at a place called the GRAFFITI LOUNGE located at 116 W. Hubbard St. I knew someone that was showing some of their work at the gallery and went to support them. Aside from the incredible artwork, the atmosphere of the place was an experience in itself. The view was incredible, the food was delicious, and the people were really nice. It was one of those moments were I could have decided to have stayed home and catch up on House of Cards or go out and see a part of the city I have never been to before. I think it is safe to say, I chose wisely. 

This was just one event too, there are tons happening every day at different times in the city both indoors and outdoors! So with that being said, please take the time to check out Chicago events happening by clicking on this link. I hope you have an awesome experience and learn something new about the city you live in.

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!


Date Ideas That Aren't Netflix and Chill

No, Lake Michigan didn't suddenly grow. This is a map of all Divvy bike stations in Chicago. You really shouldn't have a problem finding a station, no matter where you  are.
Whether you’re going on your first date or your hundredth date, it can be hard to brainstorm ideas. Nine times out of ten, you end up just watching Netflix and eating pizza. Here are a few ideas for that other 10% of the time!

The Vic​ is a popular concert venue located close enough to campus that I routinely pass it while I walk to get ice cream. When The Vic isn’t hosting a concert, The Vic becomes The Brew and View, one of the most underrated and underappreciated institutions in the area. In a pinch, The Brew and View can be the quintessential cheap date; most nights, you can go watch a double- or triple-feature for only $5. Where it can become pricey (for me, at least) is food and beverages (shocker). For whatever reason, The Brew and View sells White Castle hamburger sliders and I can never say no.

If you and your special someone have eaten too many White Castle sliders yourselves (or you just want to enjoy a nice day), it might be time to finally try out those blue bikes you always see everyone riding. Divvy Bikes offers a 24-hour pass for just $10, allowing you to take an unlimited amount of trips for a whole day. The caveat to this deal is that you can only take a bike out for up to 30 minutes at a time before you have to return it to any Divvy station (but once you return your bike, you're free to immediately take out another bike!). Divvy bike stations can literally be found all over the city (as evidenced by the map of Divvy bike stations), so finding a station is never too much of a hassle.

This is a representative sample of texts from Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! I highly suggest you subscribe to their texts.
I’ve already written plenty about Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!, so I won’t repeat myself. But let me just say that Spanish tapas are the absolute best first date food. They’re small plates and you naturally order several rounds (or at least I always do). What this means is that if you’re totally not feeling it, you could finish the first round in ten minutes and be like, “Wow, I’m so full. I had a great time and it was nice meeting you,” and just run out the door. On the other hand, if it’s going fantastic, you can be like, “Oh my, I’m just so hungry today. I think I could go for a seventh round of croquetas,” and just have the date that never ends. If you’re to the point in the relationship where you feel confident enough to use a coupon, sign up for Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!’s text messages while you're there and enjoy the frequent free food.

If you and your not-so-secret admirer are both DePaul students, why not spend a few hours becoming cultured at the Art Institute of Chicago? While tickets for the Art Institute can usually be a little expensive (especially on a student’s budget), you can get free tickets just by showing your DePaul ID at the ticket desk! The Art Institute is home to some of the most famous paintings, sculptures, and installations in the world. Suggesting the Art Institute is a surefire way to impress your significant other.


Preparing for Adult Life

In light of the big and exciting new changes approaching quickly in my life, I can’t help but reflect on the decisions I’ve made to get to where I am. Not only has DePaul prepared me academically for my next steps, but has also encouraged me to take ownership over my life – by renting an apartment, engaging in my community and working in the city I feel more prepared for post-grad life than I ever though I would! Here are a few things I’m SO glad I did during my time at DePaul, which I may not have done otherwise at another university.

       1.     Opened up a credit card

It seems terrifying, but opening up a credit card was one of the best decisions I made during college. Building credit is really important when you’re looking for an apartment, a car and sometimes even a job! I was able to nail down my first post-college apartment without help from my parents because of my good credit and references. Discover is great for a student card!

 2.     Lived off campus

Living in my own apartment during college taught me the importance of knowing how to cook, clean and get along with people in small places. I learned how to grocery shop on a budget, compare internet providers and slowly acquired furniture to take to my next home.

 3.     Found a church

I have never been a very religious person, but one of my first missions when I moved to Chicago was to find a church community. By becoming a member at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, I made some of my closest friends, networked with professionals in the area and built relationships with people I can rely on. I had a supportive environment to escape to when school was getting me down – I will miss St. Paul’s when I move this June!

 4.     Worked A LOT of different jobs
During the last four years I worked at Chicago’s Skydeck, a small frozen yogurt shop, a cupcake bakery, in the DePaul music admissions office, as a Chicago Quarter Mentor, as a blogger and as a babysitter – yikes! Having all these jobs taught me a lot about working with the public, and it’s nice to know that if teaching doesn’t work out (unlikely), I’ve got a resume full of other things I’m good at!

Not only has DePaul given me the resources to be a phenomenal teacher, but has also provided me with the skills necessary to transition smoothly into adult life. (I’m realizing this now more than ever before!) I’ve been very fortunate to learn and grow in this amazing city – I know I’ll be back sooner or later! 


Shakespeare Celebration at Navy Pier

The first week of May commemorates the anniversary of the death of an amazing literary figure: William Shakespeare. I recently attended an event to celebrate this anniversary out on Navy Pier. Navy Pier, a common tourist location in Chicago, is home to the renowned Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Year round, CST honors the legacy of the most famous writer in the English language, by producing his classic plays. This year, however, is something special. 2016 marks 400 years since the death of this amazing poet and playwright. When you think about it, it has been 400 years since Shakespeare has last written anything, and yet, four centuries later, the English speaking world still studies, performs, and cherishes his work as some of the best ever created! Now that’s a legacy.

On the anniversary of his death, and in celebration of his April birthday as well, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre set up a large fireworks display in his honor. Of course, when my friends and I heard this, we knew we had to be there. Shakespeare? Fireworks? FREE? I’m there. We took advantage of our handy dandy UPasses, and took the CTA ​directly to Navy Pier. When we arrived we saw hundreds of people, families, groups and individuals of all ages, congregated outside on the steps of the pier overlooking the water. Employees of CST handed out masks with Shakespeare’s face on it, we each took one, and entertained ourselves as we practiced reciting out Shakespeare monologues and sonnets disguised as the Bard himself. 

At 10:15 sharp, the pyrotechnic display commenced, to the awe of everyone there. The fireworks were exciting and beautiful, and over the loud speakers they played music from movies inspired by Shakespeare stories. It truly was dramatic. I was surprised so many people were in attendance, and wasn’t sure if everyone there even really knew Shakespeare’s work. However, it was a fun way to spend a windy, late-April night in the city, celebrating beautiful art, watching beautiful fireworks, and taking enjoying the cultural events Chicago has to offer. 

Go Cubs Go!

After living five blocks from Wrigley Field​ for the past two years, I finally got a chance to experience this iconic ballpark.

Last week, I was blessed with a cancelled class on Thursday night. As if that wasn’t lucky enough, my friend had an extra ticket to the Cubs game. Fate wanted me to go to that game and enjoy a Cubs win over the Washington Nationals!

Around 7:00  p.m. we walked the four blocks from my apartment to Wrigley. I embarrassingly did not have any Cubs apparel to wear to the game. I once owned a W shirt, but lost it in the wild, wild west, also known as my closet. I wore a dark blue coat instead, trying to blend in with the Cubs crowd. It worked!

I was ultimately surprised at the size of the ballpark. The only ballpark I had been to previously was U.S. Cellular, which seems so much bigger than Wrigley. But perhaps, my memories of U.S. Cellular deceive me as the last game I went to was in middle school I believe.

The Cubs and Sox rivalry is one I am very familiar with. My parents are die-hard Sox fans and have raised me to follow in their footsteps. Unfortunately, my move to Wrigleyville has changed my loyalty, as I found myself sitting in Wrigley Field shouting “Go Cubs go,” on Thursday.

I’ve told my family that my switch from rooting for the Sox to the Cubs is a matter of safety; imagine if I was walking down Addison after a Cubs game let out and I had on Sox shirt. I’m sure that an excited Cubs fan might punch me in the face. It’s easier if I assimilate into my neighborhood and cheer for the Cubbies.

But, ask me to cheer for the Green Bay Packers? Never would I ever.


Exploring Chicago

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is explore the different neighborhoods around the city. Did you know there are 77 total neighborhoods? That is a whole lot of places to visit!


Thething I like most about the different neighborhoods is that each neighborhood has its own unique identity and culture. You would get an entirely different experience visiting River North (right near downtown) than you would visiting Lincoln Square (way northwest of the city). Each neighborhood has its own collection of stores, restaurants, and cool places to visit. 


Recently, my good friend Jasmine and I drove to Gold Coast, a very affluent and historic neighborhood right near downtown. We wanted to celebrate the end of the quarter and her graduation (she graduated a quarter early!) and she wanted to go the cafe located inside the Restoration Hardware store​.  I know what you are thinking. A cafe in a Restoration Hardware? That sounds crazy. 


Inside Restoration Hardware in the restaurant -  it was so cool!

You guys, this was one of the most amazing places I have ever been in Chicago. It is four floors of beautifully designed rooms and spaces with an exquisite cafe in the center that has glass ceiling. It was STUNNING. While Jasmine and I waited for our table, we explored the different floors. I had a strong desire to marry someone rich and buy a house and start having babies just so I could afford/buy all of the beautiful furniture in this store. Once we got our table, the food was delicious (unsurprisingly). If you ever get the chance to walk through this store, I highly recommend it. You will never feel so simultaneously amazed and poor in your life, but it is an unforgettable experience. Continue to take advantage of all the cool places this city has to offer!

Garage Sales in Chicago

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

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

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


Day Trips from Chicago

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. 


Performing with the Chicago Symphonic Winds

I think I’ve most definitely said this before, but the opportunities for performing in the city of Chicago are endless. Even when you aren’t looking, they get dropped in your lap!

I’ve been pretty busy over the last few weeks, but when I got an email inviting me to perform with the Chicago Symphonic Winds I could not say no. I was recommended by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Erica Neidlinger, because she is the guest conductor for our upcoming concert. Aside from getting to play great music with equally great musicians, Dr. Neidlinger is my idol and I love watching her rehearse and conduct. We’ve been doing an independent study together this quarter where I have been analyzing wind band repertoire, working on conducting and helping out with the wind symphony rehearsals. It’s really cool to be recommended for this kind of opportunity as a music education major – it feels great to be respected as a musician even though my main focus is teaching.

 The Chicago Symphonic Winds is a non-profit organization of instrumentalists who want to keep wind literature (aka band music) alive. Not only do they perform several concerts a year, but also participate in educational outreach to bring music to local schools. You can read more about their mission here.

We had our first rehearsal last week and I was blown away by the musicianship of the other players. Mostly DePaul and Northwestern alumni, the musicians volunteer their time and talents to the ensemble. It was also really neat to be playing with people who I once played with at DePaul – it’s comforting to know that they are sticking with their passion and continuing to grow as professionals.

DePaul music students perform all over the city and country. Several of my classmates play with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the training orchestra for the Chicago Symphony! Others have started their own ensembles and performed in master classes with people like Chris Martin (trumpet), Frank Forst (bassoon) and other successful musicians. My best friend Kelsey is attending both the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland and the Northwestern Summer Violin Institute over the summer, and many of our peers are headed off to other summer festivals, too!

The program for this concert is “Suite Francaise” by Darius Milhaud, “Variants on a Medieval Tune" by Dello Joio and “Sinfonietta for Concert Band​” by Ingolf Dahl. If you don’t know any of these pieces, just trust me when I tell you this is a great concert!


Springtime in Lincoln Park

I love spring when Chicago seems to blossom again. People are less tentative to wear winter coats and wince when going outside, and are more likely to spend time outdoors and enjoy the wonderful spring weather. Not only are the people blossoming in Chicago, but the flowers and trees are, too. Lincoln Park is beautiful during this time of year. I was lucky enough to have my parents come and visit this past weekend and we certainly enjoyed the great weather.

One of my favorite things to do is head east to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory​. Both are free and make for a very fun afternoon. My parents and I first went to the zoo and headed straight to our favorite exhibit: the gorillas. They were super active this past weekend and were really entertaining to watch. There was a baby gorilla, too! 

Our other favorite animal to see is the giraffe, which we got a really good view of, as you can see in the picture on the side. It was the perfect day to visit the zoo and now that the weather is steadily improving, you can visit, too!

After the zoo, my mom and I headed over to the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It does not take that long to walk through, but is absolutely beautiful. It is filled with any type of plant, fern, or flower you could imagine. I have friends who will bring homework to the conservatory and sit in the midst of the flowers and study. It is so peaceful.

The conservatory is a great backdrop for photos!
These are only a minuscule amount of the crazy cool and beautiful things we can do in Chicago now that the weather is warming. Make this the time to pack away your winter coat and start exploring the city again!



Walking for Multiple Sclerosis

A local organization that is near and dear to my heart is the Greater Illinois Multiple Sclerosis SocietyMy boyfriend of three years was diagnosed with MS the year before he started attending DePaul, and over the course of our relationship I have learned a lot about the disease and how it affects those who have it. For the 3rd time, both Will’s family and my family participated in the annual 3-mile walk to support the MS society over the weekend regardless of the cold, overcast weather!
 
Me and Will at the 2015 Walk MS

Multiple Sclerosis involves the central nervous system of the body. Basically, the immune system attacks the myelin that surrounds nerve fibers – myelin is a fatty, protective coating around nerves in the central nervous system. When the myelin is damaged, signals going to the brain are interrupted, causing symptoms​ like dizziness, difficulty walking and memory loss. People with MS often have grey legions on their brains and spines, which are scars from the damaged myelin. There is currently no cure for MS, which is why the organization holds fundraisers to help with research, clinic trials and support programs to help those affected. If you’d like to know more about Will’s story, you can check out his fundraising page!

Walking 3-miles is not an easy feat for many who have Multiple Sclerosis, so I’m always unbelievable proud of Will after this event. He fundraised almost $900 for the organization and was ready to walk more once we were finished – though not the best conditions, I think the cooler weather was helpful in keeping us moving. We scored a ton of free bags, tee shirts, umbrellas and towels… plus I won $10 on a scratch ticket! It was truly a great day for all.

I’m really glad that I’ll be moving within driving distance of the city so I can make it to the Walk MS for the 4th time next year!

Me and Will at the 2016 Walk MS


Chicago's Famous Foods

​​
This isn't an uncommon sight at Garrett's Popcorn.
I’m always on the search for great food. In a city as big as Chicago, it’s not hard to find great food. Whenever friends from home come to visit me, I know they’re only coming to visit because they know that I’ll lead them to the best food. Still, everyone always wants to get those iconic Chicago foods: popcorn, pizza, and hot dogs. The truth is that, sometimes, eating like a tourist is the best way to experience Chicago and to enjoy those famous foods. If have you haven’t been before, or if you have an out-of-state friend coming to visit, you have to visit these restaurants.

You can never get enough of Garrett Popcorn (but really everyone calls it Garrett’s and I just learned it’s actually Garrett). There's a reason that there's often a line out the door for it. Garrett Popcorn is best known for their Garrett Mix (formerly, and more popularly, known as the Chicago Mix until a trademark kerfuffle forced them to change the name), a mix of cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn. No one does cheese popcorn like Garrett’s. Note: ask for extra napkins. If you thought Cheeto dust was hard to get off your fingers, just wait until you try Garrett’s cheese popcorn.

I tried to make a homemade version of Portillo's Chocolate Cake Shake. It wasn't nearly as good.

Embarrassing story: throughout my first year in Chicago, because I’m stupid, I always heard Illuminati whenever people said Lou Malnati’s and I would wonder why they’re talking about the Illuminati and pizza. Luckily, Lou Malnati’s has no known affiliation with the Illuminati. But, they are known for having some of the best Chicago-style deep dish pizza in all of Chicago. And since Chicago is obviously going to have the best Chicago-style pizza, that means that Lou Malnati’s probably has some of the best Chicago-style pizza in the world. Even better, there’s a Lou Malnati’s a couple blocks off of DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus, so it’s convenient as well!

While people will always argue over the authenticity of different Chicago-style hot dogs, Portillo’s is definitely one of the more popular and more common places to get a hot dog. Or if you're brave, try out The Wiener’s Circle, which is right in Lincoln Park. The Wiener’s Circle is legendary not just for its food, but also for its “feisty” late night interactions between staff and customers on the weekends.

I'm not totally sure if Chicago has any claim to a famous dessert, but if it does, it might be the chocolate cake shake at Portillo's. Hypothetically, that means you can kill two birds with one stone if you get a hot dog and a chocolate cake shake at Portillo’s. The chocolate cake shake is exactly what you’d think it would be. It’s literally ice cream and chocolate cake blended together. What could be better than that? Now Portillo's is a chain with restaurants all around Illinois, so it may not be a big deal to people from Illinois, but to this Wisconsinite, it's the biggest deal.


Discover vs. Explore Chicago

Awesome. So you’ve made it to the portion of your Orientation sign up where it asks you to select a Discover or Explore class. Follow these steps to ensure an informed and successful decision about your first class at DePaul.

Step One: Breathe. You’re going to take roughly 48 classes during your time here at DePaul, today you’re choosing just one of them. Any class you choose from the options listed will fulfill the same Chicago Quarter Liberal Studies requirement. ​

Step Two: Know the difference between these three terms: Discover Chicago, Explore Chicago, and Chicago Quarter. Discover Chicago includes immersion week. Since immersion week starts the week before classes, you’ll step five days focusing on just one class – which leaves plenty of time for class led excursions and discovery of Chicago. Once regular fall classes begin, your Discover class will meet once a week for 2.5 hours during the first eight weeks. Explore Chicago begins with regular fall quarter classes. Your class will meet a total of 4 hours a week for all ten weeks. You’ll still have plenty of time to explore Chicago, but your excursions will be spread throughout the quarter. Chicago Quarter is simply the overarching name of the program that includes both Discover and Explore Chicago classes.

Step Three: Decide which type of course is best for you. I recommend Discover if you’re looking for the opportunity to meet new people and are new to living in a big city. If you’re living on campus, you’ll have an early move-in to your residence hall – for no extra charge! You’ll have access to your meal plan early as well. If you’re commuting to campus, keep in mind that Immersion week days can start early and go late. You’ll be need to make arrangements to and from campus. On the other hand, I’d recommend Explore for anyone who’d rather start classes in September, has a less flexible schedule, or wants to get in extra hours at a summer job before starting school full time.

Step Four: Look through the course options here and choose your top five. 

Step Five: Sign up as soon as possible through Campus Connect as some classes fill up faster than others. Make sure you’ve completed your placement exams at least 24 hours prior! If you have difficulty signing up contact New Student and Family Engagement at (773)325-7360. 


The Misanthrope

This quarter I’ve been spending a lot more time on campus. With my Mondays now free, I typically spend my whole day in Lincoln Park. Besides spending too much money at the DePaul Whole Foods, I have been regularly reading our campus message boards and have found out about some pretty cool activities on campus.

While I admittedly jot down most of these activities in my planner, never to be revisited again, last week I actually followed through on something. Buying a ticket with my roommate to see The Misanthrope by Moliere​, I decided to take a trip to the DePaul Theater School on the corner of Racine and Fullerton.

Arriving to the theater just before the show started, I was a bit flustered as I sat down and took in my surroundings. The Fullerton stage is small and intimate; the glow of the lighting reaches all audience members, leaving no one completely in the dark.

The stage set a beautiful scene, highlighting a fancy foyer with large bay windows. Two double doors on each side of the stage acted as the entrance and exit points for the characters during the play.

The play itself was smart and quick. The characters were outspoken and comical, and all of the play’s lines rhymed, which is automatically very impressive. While I won’t spoil anything from the play, DePaul’s interpretation was marvelous, not that I’ve ever read the original or seen a different version.

I always appreciate DePaul Theater School plays. For only $5, not enough students take advantage of this opportunity. Plus, who knows which future famous actor or actress you might see on stage at DePaul.



Let's Go Hawks!

Through a twist of fate and luck, my dad and I scored tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks game against the St. Louis Blues. We had great seats on the first row of the third floor, right behind the goal.

Getting lost on our way to the United Center, it was overwhelming when we first arrived into the stadium. The sheer number of people in red jerseys (myself and my dad included) confused us and comforted us at the same time.

I had never been to Hawks game before, but now that I’ve experienced the madness I can think of no other professional sport that is as exciting to watch live. The crowd is rowdy as can be, and the swiftness with which the puck moves leaves no moment of the game unhurried.

The finals score of Game 6 was 6 to 3, with the Hawks advancing to Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. I scored a win myself as I got a free rally rag imprinted with the iconic words “One Goal” when I arrived at the stadium. (Everyone did, but still…)

Let’s go Hawks!


Lakefront Trail

Like I’ve said dozens and dozens of times, I love walking around Chicago. Walking relaxes me. I’m a very high-strung person, so I need all the relaxation I can get. Even though every full-time student gets a U-Pass​, I try to avoid taking the L​ and try to walk everywhere instead. My favorite place to walk though is easily Lakefront Trail​ and I have one particular route that I take all the time.

​How could you not want to walk forever and ever?

Lakefront Trail is an 18-mile-long biking/running/walking path that runs right alongside, you guessed it, Lake Michigan. Lakefront Trail (and Lake Michigan) is only a 15-20 minute walk directly east from DePaul, so it really couldn’t be easier to get to. When I go walking though, I usually walk north first and enter Lakefront Trail at Belmont Harbor​. I do this for three logical reasons: 1. I can stop at Wow Bao​ on the way and get a chocolate filled bao to eat, 2. After I finish my bao, I can stop at Ann Sather​ and get some cinnamon rolls, and 3. There’s a dog beach near Belmont Harbor and it makes me happy to watch the dogs swim around. I highly recommend all of these pit stops, especially the dog beach.

Tell me this isn't the best view of the skyline.
When it’s nice out, I’ve been known to walk from Lincoln Park to Michigan Avenue or Navy Pier (but I usually take the L back because, let’s face it, I’m not a professional athlete). It’s pretty motivating to get on Lakefront Trail and see the skyline in front of you, so I usually just keep walking and walking and walking. When I’m lazy though (which is more common than I’d like to admit) I usually will just cross over Lake Shore Drive​ on the bridge that connects Lakefront Trail to Lincoln Park​ (the actual park, not the neighborhood).

When I’m lucky, Forever Yogurt​, a frozen yogurt shop, will have a pop-up trailer at the other end of the bridge inside of Lincoln Park. It’s super convenient because by the time I cross the bridge, I’m usually just starting to feel healthy and that frozen yogurt stand ensures that I never have to feel healthy. I usually walk north in Lincoln Park towards the Lincoln Park Zoo​. It is important to note that the path in Lincoln Park that borders Lincoln Park Zoo has maybe the best view of the Chicago skyline that you can imagine. I’ve probably walked this path 100 times, yet I still take a picture of the skyline almost every time. And from here, it’s only a twenty-minute walk back to DePaul.

This is totally my favorite path to walk in Chicago. Let me know if you have anywhere you love to walk!​


Summer Foods and Farmers Markets

Have you ever noticed that the food you tend to eat in the winter is a whole lot different than the food you tend to eat in the spring and summer? I definitely have. The frigidness of the winter seems to permeate my entire body and that makes me crave heavy, rich foods. I made many pots of chicken soup and pans or casseroles this winter because they were filling and warmed me up from the inside. My friends and I always seem notice a little extra padding on our bodies once the winter is over because warm, comforting foods usually tend to mean unhealthy foods.  

Once spring and summer hit, I no longer crave these comfort foods, but am excited to go to the store and buy lighter, healthier, more sustaining food. One of my favorite things to make is called a Buddha Bowl, which is described as a “grain-, protein- and vegetable-rich dish.” They are super customizable, meaning you can put almost anything into it and it will most likely turn out delicious! My favorite combo is quinoa​, broccoli, avocado, sweet potato, and spinach. Yum! 

A picture of Green City Market, one of the Farmers Markets in Lincoln Park located just south of the zoo. This picture was taken from their website.
Now that we are (hopefully) nearing summer in Chicago, fresh fruits and vegetables will be available in abundance. There are many Farmers Markets around Chicago, and quite a few in Lincoln Park. The produce and goods at these markets is a bit more expensive than at your typical grocery store, but the freshness and quality is so much better and plus, you are supporting a small business. Let’s hope for a fast-approaching summer! 


Living in Wrigley

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bogdan the Carwasher

Another quarter, another nerd fest. Earlier this month, I packed up my poster, thumb tacks and blazer, and headed over to the Museum of Science and Industry to attend this year’s Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Bringing together hundreds of college students in the Chicagoland area, participants present their posters and speeches to a group of judges from the Chicago universities. I created a poster based on my honors thesis paper from last quarter because who wouldn’t want to translate 60 pages into a four-foot by three-foot space?

After various rounds of edits, my poster was finally ready to print. I admittedly almost forgot to print the poster, and I blame this on the fact that creating it was just so much effort.

Being the truly resourceful college student that I am, I also scored myself some free thumb tacks from the SAC Pit by volunteering to clean up our campus message boards. Ingenious.

When I got to the conference, I checked in, received a name tag and headed over to the West Pavilion to hear the welcome remarks from the event’s keynote speaker. Much to my surprise, the keynote speaker was renowned scientist Dr. Marius Stan.  While I honestly had no idea who Dr. Stan was, I did recognize him from his role in "Breaking Bad" as Bogdan the carwash owner.

The U-505 Submarine!

While Dr. Stan researches intelligence software to understand and predict the physics and chemistry of materials, he also has made a name for himself in acting. 

While being an extra one day on the set of “Breaking Bad,” the director asked him to say a line for him, and Bogdan the carwasher was born! Back for consecutive seasons, Dr. Stan became an integral part of “Breaking Bad.”

Dr. Stan’s speech was amazing. His double life was fascinating to hear about, and I hope that I am as fortunate to find two careers that I am passionate about, rather than just one.

Compared to the opening remarks, the rest of conference was definitely anti-climactic. Research on research on research, I escaped to explore the rest of the museum and was not disappointed. The coolest part was seeing the U-505 submarine ​from World War II. It was huge and very well preserved.

And with that, the research conference came to a close for me. I dipped out early, but not before getting my free t-shirt. Now that’s how you attend a research conference.​

Chinatown

One of my best friends, Clay, recently celebrated his 22nd birthday. I was in charge of helping plan his party and when I asked him what he wanted to do, he replied with one word: Chinatown​

Even though I am nearing the final quarter of my third year at DePaul and in Chicago, I had yet to visit Chinatown. It was always a fact that perplexed me because I love visiting those kinds of neighborhoods and my favorite food is Chinese food. Somehow, though, I had never been given the opportunity to make the trip down. I was so happy that Clay decided he wanted to go to Chinatown for his birthday. Celebrating Clay was the perfect excuse to venture to Chinatown!

A cool sign we saw on the main street of Chiantown
If you have never been to Chinatown, I really recommend you go experience it! It was super authentic and beautiful. One of my good friends recently went to China and she said that walking along the main street of Chinatown really made her feel like she was back in China. The food was great, too, which was another perk. We ate at Seven Treasures, which was delicious. I ordered pork chow mein and ate the whole thing - it was so delicious. We ended up having a huge group with us - there was about 25 of us total! Luckily, we could make a reservation and all eat at one place. It was a great night. 

My first visit to Chinatown was definitely a success and I look forward to heading back there soon to try a different restaurant. It was certainly a memorable evening and a great way to celebrate Clay. 


DePaul Internship Credit

​​​As someone who has juggled a full-time class load with a full-time internship, it can be overwhelming. Last quarter I learned my lesson, and this quarter I tweaked my game plan.

Enrolling in an advanced internship course through DePaul’s College of Communication, I am now receiving college credit for my marketing internship. Classified as a communication elective and a fulfillment for my junior year experiential learning requirement​I go to my internship as normal and also complete career development assignments for class on the side.

I decided to enroll in an online course with DePaul career specialist and instructor Michael Elias​. At first, I was skeptical of the course's assignments. Would setting goals and having my supervisor sign them actually change my work habits? Did I really need to upload a recording of my elevator pitch and receive critiques from classmates? 

The answers? Yes, yes and yes.

Michael’s class has helped me not only in my internship, but also in my personal career development. I feel confident about going into my next networking event and introducing myself and my career goals to complete strangers. 

Our final assignment consists of making our own online portfolio, in which we showcase our accomplishments and essentially, our personal brand.  While the final project is somewhat intensive, the course load itself is very light, not causing students to be overworked with the balance of class and their internship.

Be sure to check out internship courses at DePaul for a great way to earn class credit and gain real-world experience, while also making a buck or two.​​​

Congrats, Accepted Students!

​​​Congratulations accepted students! Decisions for the DePaul School of Music​ have finally been sent out and we all are anxiously waiting to see who decides to join our community in the fall. Choosing a college and enrolling is extremely exciting – but it can also be overwhelming! As an employee of the music admissions office, I thought I’d give you few tips to ease your transition into DePaul (plus some reasons why you should choose us!)

1. Do your research before making a decision.

What is the mission of the college? What academic resources will you have access to? What kinds of clubs are available? Will there be internship opportunities? What are the perks of being a student at DePaul? Where is the campus? What are the facilities like? What are the college’s strengths and weaknesses? Can you study abroad?

Check out these amazing DePaul resources: The Writing Center​, Career Center​, Ray Meyer Fitness Center​, University Counseling​, DePaul Central​, Financial Fitness Program​, Study Abroad Program​

2. Music students only: Relax, You’re guaranteed on-campus housing!

All incoming undergraduate music students are guaranteed on-campus housing​. What does this mean? As long as you get your housing paperwork in on time, you will not be turned away or put on a wait list. Keep in mind that you are not required to live on campus – though we do suggest it for your first year at DePaul! Field trips, free food and new friends? who wouldn't want to live on campus.

3. Sit in on classes, take a tour and pick a current student’s brain.

The Music School is currently offering 1:30pm info sessions and tours​ Monday-Friday, but we are more than happy to arrange custom visits to show you why DePaul is the place to be! Want to see a music theory class, intro to music education or orchestra rehearsal? How about a tour of our new and improved practice rooms? Call or email the music admissions​ office to set up a visit.

4. Join the Official DePaul University Class of 2020 Facebook page.

You’ll be able to ask questions and get to know other admitted students! DePaul organizations often post useful information about housing, orientation​ and exciting events designed just for you. Also “like” the DePaul School of Music page for updates about current students, construction and fun facts!

Choosing a university can be really challenging with high attendance costs and (potentially) leaving home for the first time. I hope that you will consider DePaul for your next educational journey! As always, you can contact the music admissions office with any questions or concerns – you might even get me on the phone! DePaul is a great place to be, and I think you will agree.


America the Beautiful

​​​​​Is it really spring if you didn’t visit the annual Macy’s Flower Show?​ I don’t think so.

Or at least that’s what I told my roommate as I strung him along to look at flowers with me on the ninth floor of Macy’s on State Street.

Of course, the annual show did not disappoint. With the theme, “America the Beautiful,” this year’s flower show took on the task of trying to represent the flowers of America in a space the size of a large apartment.

Did it do our nation’s flowers justice? I have no idea. The flowers I recognized at the show were few and far between. However, Macy’s did identify all the flowers for patrons through signage placed in flower beds and attached to decorated walls. They even labeled grass in case you got confused by the green stringy things growing out of the soil. How nice.

The show celebrated not only flowers, but also recreated various iconic destinations out of flowers. The Washington Monument was replicated from a structure of white flowers, with cherry blossoms lining the pathway. The Statue of Liberty’s fire torch is that what you call it, I really have no idea was also replicated using a multitude of colorful flowers.

In case you are wondering, you are not allowed to purchase any flowers at the flower show. Macy’s lists that fact as the answer to a frequently asked flower show question ​online. Quite ironic considering you can buy anything else under the sun at Macy's.

Perusing the pathways of the flower show gave me the spring break I didn’t have this year. Plus, armed with my Zyrtec, Kleenex, and memories of the flower show, I am now officially ready for spring. Bring on the allergies.




Final Countdown Spring Time

​​​​​“It’s the final countdown!” (Mimics guitar noises with mouth).  

That is exactly what I thought as I pondered what to write about for this blog. The Final Countdown is a song created by the artist known as Europe. It’s a pretty famous song and one you should check out if you have not heard it yet. 

Now to bring it back to the blog, I am writing about this song because it is our Spring Quarter here at DePaul. That means fall and winter have passed and there are only a few more courses between me and summer. With the weather getting warmer, the day getting longer, and shorts making their way back into my everyday outfit it can be difficult to focus on classes when all I want to do is go to the beach. However, this blog is to remind you, and myself, that we have to finish strong! 

Chilling in the sun and driving for endless hours with the windows down as your hair flies in the wind is almost here but business is business and work must be completed first. DePaul will be transitioning into the glorious, festive ways of the summer with various events on campus like Battle of The Bands and FEST ​but these are to be enjoyed only after you, and I, have finished the work that must be done. So in conclusion, help me help you help me and let us work together to finish this year strong and earn our fun, relaxing summer!
 
Let’s do this!


Shufflin' for the Last Time

​​​​​Another race in the books! Over the weekend my gal pal, Kelsey, and I ran the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k​ for the 3rd time. I’ve been able to do several races during my time in Chicago – and this one is by far my favorite! 8 kilometers translates roughly to 4.97 miles, making it a quick, accessible run for people of all ability levels!

What I love most about the Shamrock Shuffle is the course​ – with several major streets shut down, over 23,000 runners took over the city. There is nothing cooler than running in the middle of the Michigan Avenue and seeing the Chicago skyline. Even better, regardless of 23,000 people, I had no issue keeping my own pace and having my own space! There were quite a few “hills” on the course, which are never easy, but the adrenaline pumping through my veins made it all seem like a piece of cake.

It wasn’t my best time ever, but I kept my goal of finishing in less than an hour. I finished the 4.97 miles in 59 minutes and 40 seconds – putting me roughly at 12:00 minutes per mile. Out of 23,435 runners, I placed 18,215th… but who’s counting!


Me and Kelsey at the end of our last Shuffle!
Following the race, we treated ourselves to a well-deserved breakfast at Sam & George’s​, a restaurant near our apartments. There is nothing better than a big skillet and coffee to replace those burned calories! I was so grateful for a day full of my favorite things: running, eating and spending time with my friends.

One of the things I will definitely miss the most about Chicago, assuming I’m not living here post-graduation, is running by the lake and through the city. In the last four years I’ve run several races: The Hot Chocolate 15​k​, Grant Park Turkey Trot 5k​, Crosstown Classic 10k​, Shamrock Shuffle 8k​, the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon​ and a few other small races that I just can’t remember! I’ll also be doing the Walk MS 5k​​ for the 3rd time in a few weeks – I just can’t get enough of all Chicago has to offer for helping me stay active.

I will miss our tradition of running the Shamrock Shuffle, but I’ll always keep with me the memories that Kelsey and I shared in all of our running adventures over the past few years.


Spring Quarter Update

Happy Spring Quarter! Wow, that break and the first 2 weeks of classes went by so fast. I have a feeling that this is going to be another fast-paced, don’t-blink-or-else-you’ll-fall-behind quarter. 

I had a really wonderful spring break. If you read one of my earlier blog posts, I talked about my trip to Panama City Beach​ (PCB), FL that I took with Cru​. PCB was such a nice change of pace from Chicago and I felt really refreshed coming back. Nothing beats laying on the beach at night, listening to the ocean waves beating against the shore and looking at the hundreds of stars above you. I absolutely love Chicago, but I really needed a break from city life for a bit. 

We certainly enjoyed our time in the sun and the sand!
I have an interesting class schedule this quarter. I am graduating a quarter early next year (!!!), so at this point, I don’t have many more classes to take and am left with the required classes that I have left or have put off. The mix of classes I have is a little unusual, so I am hoping and praying that I don’t get burned out and that I really enjoy all of my classes. 

Even though I have a crazy schedule, I am really excited for this quarter and I cannot wait for the weather to warm up. My quarter is really reading-intensive, so I am looking forward to being able to do some of that reading outside. My best friend got a hammock for Christmas and I have a feeling we are going to be using it quite often. Thank you for following me thus far this year and I cannot wait to further give you a glimpse of my life here in the city this quarter!

Stepping Out

5:00 AM: Alarm goes off. Snooze? No time, I grab my phone and call my friend. “Are you up?” I ask. “I’ve been up, I just got out of the shower,” she replies. “Oh, okay I’m getting my stuff ready then I’ll be on my way.”

5:45 AM: Pack my equipment in my car camera, drone, GoPro, 360-degree camera, and three tripods. I start my car, look at my mirror, check my blind spots, and I’m off. First stop is Starbucks, a necessity when waking up so early in the morning.  “What’s up Jerome?” Jerome is my favorite Starbucks barista; he’s really cool and funny too. “What are you doing up so early?” He asks. “I’m trying to shoot the sunrise.” I explain. My usual drink, when the weather is on the colder side, is a venti peppermint mocha. About two seconds go by from me ordering my drink and me getting my drink, Jerome is fast like that.  “Thanks man, have a good one!” I say my farewells to Jerome and head back to Falcon (side note: Falcon is the name if my car).

6:00 AM: I arrive at my friend’s house and text her, “I’m here.” “Coming,” she replies. Two seconds pass, maybe three, she isn’t as fast as Jerome and she comes to my car. “Let’s go!” I exclaim. I drive off NASCAR style down the street. The sun rises in 30 minutes and we have to drive across town to the beach, park, walk to the spot, and set up my shots.

6:30 AM: Traffic caught me off guard. I didn’t think there would be so much this early in the morning. Getting closer to the lake and I just realized I am not too sure on where to park. I’ve only ever walked and biked to the beach. Also, the sun is starting to peak. “Where do I go?” I ask my friend. “I’m not sure” she replies. Still driving in pursuit of a parking spot and I see an entry that I am not entirely sure I could go into but I do anyway. We find the parking lot, good risk to take; we park, unload, and walk to the spot. Time is not on our side and the sun is ready to rise for the day. The wind whips against my face as I try to set up the shots I need.

6:45 AM: The sun has already begun rising but with a little movie magic I can fix it. All cameras are rolling and my friend and I hide our faces from the wind as it continues to hit us.

7:15 AM: We wrap up, go to Falcon, and head to Jam and Honey for some breakfast.

March 31st, 1:00 PM: I sit in Starbucks with Taylor, my partner in crime and write about the crazy, fun, and hectic experience of going out that day to shoot the sunrise. She’s reading a history book and I am excited to be reliving this story as I write about it for my blog.

March 31st, 1:30 PM add the video to the blog and share it for viewers to enjoy.

Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed the video (the video is posted below), and as always stay awesome!

​​​​

The Art Institute and Chicago History Museum

Anyone who knows me knows that I love new experiences and learning new things. But anyone who knows me even better knows what I love more than that: Free Things. One of the great things about being a DePaul student is being able to take advantage of the connections throughout the city. One great opportunity for students right now is free admission to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago History Museum. These two great places offer free admission to DePaul students with your student ID. You better believe I have taken advantage of the opportunity! I have already gotten in to The Art Institute a couple of times, and have yet to scope out the Chicago History Museum - that is next on my list.

The Chicago History Museum
The Art Institute of Chicago​ is an art museum and school located downtown on Michigan Avenue. It is the second largest art museum in the United States, in fact. Walking through the museum, there are a countless exhibits and galleries displaying art from all over the world, ancient to contemporary. A friend and I went, taking advantage of our DePaul hook-up, and couldn't even make it through most of the exhibits in the hours we spent there. Our plan is to keep going back and tackling one section at a time, so we can really take it all in. There is so much about art, and the history of the world to learn by walking through the halls. Art, of course, is an expression of life, and it is always so interesting to me to see what is shaping or influencing the creation of these works. With free admission until this Fall (to my knowledge) any DePaul student should stop by and take a look at some of their favorite works, and learn something new as well. 
The Chicago History Museum​ is located in Lincoln Park - also home to DePaul! This museum, as you may have guessed, was erected to study and interpret the history of the city of Chicago itself. The museum houses many exhibits that hold an extensive collection of objects and documents detailing the history of Chicago over the last couple hundred years. Permanent displays such as one dedicated Abraham Lincoln's leadership and American conflict during the civil war, are balanced out with temporary exhibits that detail Chicago's LBGTQIA population or Chicago Fashion. This is a great way for students to learn more about this city's rich and complicated history. 

DePaul University always uses the City as our Classroom. And this is a great way to do just that. Whether you are from Chicago originally, and want to learn more about its history, or whether you are new to the city and just now putting the pieces together, the Chicago History museum is a great place to visit. Of course, I recently learned that DePaul students can get free admission with their student ID​ so this is definitely an opportunity to take advantage of. 

These two locations are great ways to learn more about the city we are in and the world around us, past and present. I am a believer in spending your time and money on new, enriching experiences. Being a busy and broke college student can sometimes make it hard to get out and do new things. However these two locations within easy reach of campus are great places to start. And lucky for us, and our DePaul connections, students can visit for free. What is better than that? 

Turning 21 in the Windy City

Before spring break I experienced a milestone of my college years - my 21st Birthday. Shout out to any other Pisces ​out there! 

This was the first time I got to celebrate a birthday with my friends and classmates in the city. Birthdays are always a great time to celebrate another year, and the possibilities that lie ahead, while spending time with special people. 

This year, turning 21, was a milestone that brings with it a sense of freedom and possibility. For me, the most exciting thing about turning 21 in Chicago was the new place I could now go and experience. This city has endless cool things to do, and see, and experience. But some happen to be limited to a 21 and over crowd. Some things I have been looking forward to is visiting venues for music and comedy. 

Personally, music and comedy are two things I really love to hear, and in a way related to my interest in theatre and storytelling. However, many comedy clubs, locations with open-mics, jazz clubs, and other music venues, happen to be limited to the 21 and over population because of the beverages they sell at such venues. Now that I am 21, I have the ability to check out such places, and be exposed to a whole new scene of music and comedy that I had not seen before. There are often different small store-fronts that advertise comedy shows, open-mics, music shows, or poetry slams that I am interested in attending but did not have access to. 

This past Wednesday, I was able to go catch a comedy club open-mic night, at a club called Jokes and Notes. My friend-who is trying to break into the comedy scene in Chicago, and I paid our $5 admission, grabbed a Hershey bar and some Sprite and sat in the front row. Some of Chicago's great comedians, or people who have found career success all over the US have started in this club. Because anyone could sign up to perform we saw quite a mix of different men and women performing. Some were quite good, very funny and seemed to have experience, and some were just learning the game, were a bit awkward or had jokes that didn't quite land with the crowd. Both ways we had a great time. As theatre majors, we know that there is just as much to learn by watching as performing. By observing what works, and what doesn't work, we were able to learn more about the delicate art and timing of effective stand-up comedy. I am looking forward to attending more locations to hear new and interesting comedians, musicians, poets and more as I get to explore Chicago in a whole new way. 

*DISCLAIMER- I, and those at DePaul University, do not condone or encourage the consumption of adult beverages or content that may be present at the kind of venues mentioned. However, I personally do encourage knowing what interests you, what your city has to offer, and how you can go out and take advantage of them, while learning along the way! For me, turning 21 just opened up a new way to do just that. 


DePaul Opera Theatre Presents "Die Fledermaus"

​​​​For all you vocalists out there – or maybe even if you just enjoy opera – DePaul students blew me away a few weekends ago in their performance of Die Fledermaus​ at the Merle Reskin Theatre​ downtown. Accompanied by a full orchestra under the direction of Steven Mosteller​, DePaul Opera Theatre​ put on an amazing performance, I'd say the best one I've seen by DePaul students! DePaul Opera Theatre does three operas a year; the fall and spring operas are performed at DePaul’s concert hall, but every winter DePaul students take the stage at the Merle Reskin Theatre to present a full-blown performance - costumes, sets, props, galore!

The first thing (but certainly not best thing, of course!) about going to the opera was that it was FREE. DePaul knows we are hard-working students, which is why they make sure we have as many opportunities to see performance as possible without emptying our bank accounts. Not only did my student ID get me in without paying a penny, I sat in the fourth row! Some say it’s better to sit in the balcony for better views of the whole stage…I thought I had the best view in the house. The Merle Reskin​ is a really cool theatre with three floors – I was really impressed to see how many people came out to support my peers.

DePaul presents "Die Fledermaus"
The two best things about this Opera were that it was in English and it was hilarious! Die Fledermaus​ is basically about a man who must report to an 8-day jail sentence – but on his last night before turning himself in, he goes to a party to meet pretty ladies and drink champagne. His wife finds out and attends the party as a masked guest and her husband tries to flirt with her. In the end, the husband finds out it was the wife at the party and is in shock – however, we find out the whole ordeal was a prank played on the husband by a friend. My favorite part of the show was when they revealed that it was a prank - there was dancing, giant champagne bottles and bubbles everywhere! It was really fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music was great and I was floored by how talented my colleagues are. My best friend, Kelsey, was assistant concertmaster in the orchestra (second chair violin) – I couldn’t have been more proud!!

There is never a shortage of amazing performances around here.  The opera was so well done - a woman at intermission turned to me and said, "wait...are they all students?!?" Yes Ma'am, they are and they ROCK! I’m really looking forward to the spring because all of my talented friends will be giving recitals at DePaul​! It was really fun to have a night out and experience a great performance.

Losing Wisdom, Gaining Strength

​​​My spring break left much to be desired.

As fun as getting all four of my impacted wisdom teeth surgically removed was, I just felt like my time could have been spent more usefully. Laughing gas, pain pills, and Netflix helped to numb the effects of the extraction, but nothing could have prepared me for recovery road.

I’m a worry wort. I worry over things I can and cannot control. So naturally, I worried about my healing mouth for a majority of my recovery. As the words “dry sockets” haunted my nightmares and daydreams, I sought WebMD and the always reliable Yahoo Answers to help me sort through my potential problems. In reality, they just created more things for me to worry about.

However, after days of applesauce, milkshakes, and swollen cheeks, I finally started to feel better. Currently, I am continuing my saltwater rinses, but the pain has subsided. I think I’m going to make it through.

All that time spent resting actually made me feel reenergized for spring quarter. My first class of the quarter went extremely well. With only 11 people in my writing class, the class will give us a chance to really hone in on our writing skills. I hope my next three classes go just as swimmingly.

This quarter is sure to be a busy one. Between school, my internship, nannying, friends, and nursing the newfound holes in my mouth, I’m wondering how many hours of sleep I’ll average this spring. Plus, as the weather starts to get warmer, it will undoubtedly become harder and harder to focus on school. But, like every other quarter, I’m always up for a challenge.

​​

ABC - Always Be Creating

Creating things is awesome. From nothing but a thought in your mind to now a physical object that can be handed out and shared. I love to create. 

Here at DePaul I am double majoring in Digital Cinema​ and Public Relations and Advertising​. The Digital Cinema portion of my degree is what I am going to focus on in this blog. It all started when I was in 8th grade. My father had bought me my first camcorder, it was supposed to be for our family but I used it the most, and my sister had just bought the first laptop for our family. It was with these two items that I began making movies. 

I would use the free editing software known as Windows Movie Maker​ and I would film my brother, my family, and anything else I could. I began putting the clips into the editor and messing around with the different functions, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Which, in a way, was kind of nice. I was not told how to edit, how to add clips, or different ways to cut. I simply did it through trial and error. 

That was one of the coolest feelings ever for me to just mess around with something that I had to figure it out. It was a discovery and I was addicted to learning more and exploring more. I started doing little camera tricks like making stuff disappear, making inanimate objects move, and adding music to my footage. The biggest take away I had was just to create. There are no rules - no right or wrong way to go about it, there is just creating. Making something that didn’t exist before is a feeling that I love. 

So to my fellow artists, explorers, and creators I say to you ABC, Always Be Creating.

Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome friend!


Spring Break and Easter

​​​​​It is officially my final quarter at DePaul! Only 10 weeks stand between me and obtaining my undergraduate degree​ in music education. I’m feeling a lot of things – but mostly excitement! If all goes according to plan, I'll be a full-time teacher in the next 6 months.

Unfortunately, I’m starting spring quarter less rested than I would have liked. I decided to spend my week-long break in Maine with my family with the intention to take a much needed rest and start applying for jobs (yikes!). As soon as I arrived home, I went to the doctor for a cough that had been persisting for a couple of weeks and left with a handful of medications for acute bronchitis. As if having bronchitis wasn’t enough, it got extremely worse over the weekend! I ended up at the doctor’s office 3 times in 5 days and spent my whole break in bed. It was a huge bummer and I didn't get a single application done – at least I was able to spend a little bit of time with my family!

Bronchitis didn’t completely ruin my spring break though – I still had a fabulous Easter! I love everything about Easter…the church service at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ​, spending time with friends and eating delicious food. I was lucky enough to celebrate on both days of the weekend with both Will’s family and friends I’ve met through my involvement at St. Paul’s.

One of the first things I did when I moved to Chicago was find a church to call “home." My family never went to church when I was growing up – it was through attending with friends that I started to enjoy going. It was just my luck that the church that was of most interest to me is located only one block away from DePaul’s campus! St. Paul’s United Church of Christ invited me in with open arms, and over the last few years I’ve had the great pleasure of singing in the choir and performing on my bassoon in the summer. It’s a great feeling to have a place other than DePaul where people know my name and care about my well-being.

Will and Me after Easter services at St. Paul's!
It was through singing in choir that I met Lois and Greg, an older married couple who invited me to join them for my first Easter in Chicago four years ago. Since then, I’ve become best friends with their daughter, Hope, attended several family dinners and receive a formal invitation to Easter brunch every year! It has been so wonderful to have a support system here in Chicago since all of my family is on the East Coast – I’m so grateful to St. Paul’s for helping me create these relationships that will hopefully last my whole life. 

Due to some scheduling conflicts, Greg and Lois held their brunch on the Saturday before Easter, which allowed me to join Will’s family for the first time on the holiday. Though I was a little tired due to my week-long battle with Bronchitis, I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time with two families that I care about so much! I might be 1,000 miles away from my own relatives, but having both families in my life has made Chicago feel  more like “home” than I ever thought it would.

Organization

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

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

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

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

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


360 Degree DePaul Quad

There are many cool things about DePaul and our campus. 

There are coffee shops, events with free food, friendly people, and of course our Quad! This blog isn't much of a blog, but more of an introduction to the video embedded here. See, I just recently purchased the Ricoh Theta S 360 degree camera and it is super awesome! So I decided, why not take awesome thing number one (DePaul's Quad) and awesome thing number two (new, crazy 360 camera) and put them together! 

Thus I present to you my fellow friends, readers, and family (hi mom!) the first 360 degree video of DePaul University's Quad! Feel free to look up, down, left, right, at the sky, at me, at the ground, and whatever else you like! Sorry, for all the exclamation points, I'm very excited if you cannot tell. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this short video! 

Thank you for reading/watching my blog and as always, stay awesome!

Body Positivity on Campus

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

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

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

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

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

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


Event Planning at DePaul

In high school, often students are forced into taking the same core classes over and over and over again. In college, life could not be more different. 

This quarter, I’m taking an event planning class, a film class, a social media strategy class, and am completing my senior thesis. Needless to say, my class schedule is far from boring or repetitive.

My event planning class has been one of my favorite classes at DePaul. My professor, Anne Davis, works for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and many of her lessons and homework assignments come straight from her actual job.

The insights you get from having a professor who actually works in the field that they teach about is something that is invaluable and very common at DePaul. Last quarter, I took a political communication class taught by someone who was working for U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth. I’ve also taken an honors art history course where my professor was a guest curator for an exhibit at the Art Institute.

Getting a firsthand perspective on real world, real time projects and events makes class so much more interesting. Anne has brought in some really impressive guest speakers, letting our class ask questions and learn the behind the scenes details of events like Taste of Chicago​, Chicago’s Draft Town​, and Chi-Town Rising​.

We’ve also learned how to negotiate sponsorship for events, plan event layouts, and create production schedules. Every homework assignment was created in the hopes that the assignments could be used as work samples on job interviews. I feel confident about the work and feedback I’ve received on my assignments from Anne, and would definitely consider bringing them with me to a relevant job interview.

One of the coolest classes Anne planned was a backstage tour of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra​. My class and I got to see the symphony’s dressing rooms, practice rooms, instruments, and we even got to sit in the seats behind the musicians  that face the audience.

Anne’s class has introduced me to the true nature of the event planning industry. I’m finding that I have a newfound interest in the industry and I hope that my future career will involve planning large scale events. Her class is definitely not easy, but the work that I am producing and the knowledge that I’m gaining makes every project and quiz worth it. ​​​

A Cappella at Auditorium Theater

Lately, I’ve found myself feeling a little skeptical about Facebook. Have you noticed that they show “sponsored ads” based on website that are visited from your computer? How could Facebook possibly know about the dress I was Googling, or the Shamrock Shuffle​ that I’ll be running in April? The Internet is a scary place – and quite honestly I’m not sure how I feel about Facebook snooping into my Internet history browser.

That being said, for the first time (and possibly only time) I was intrigued by one of the sponsored ads that popped up – “International A Cappella Semifinals! Get your tickets now!” I will be the first to admit that Pitch Perfect​ is one of my favorite movies – so I clicked the link to see what it was all about.

Less than 24 hours later, my boyfriend and I were at Auditorium Theater​ buying tickets to the Varsity Vocals International Collegiate A Cappella Semifinals​. Let me give you a little more background info before I tell you how ACA-AMAZING it was. (I’m sorry. I had to!)

Our view of the
stage!
Varsity Vocals​ is an organization that puts together a cappella​ competitions for both high school and collegiate groups. According to their website, they bring together over 500 high school and college level a cappella groups to stages across the world – who knew a cappella was popular! The Organization brings in professional educators and performers to judge ​the competitions and provide feedback to every group – fostering continuous growth is part of the mission of Varsity Vocals.​

For this specific competition, there were 10 collegiate a cappella groups from the great lakes region. Some of the colleges represented were University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign​, University of Michigan​, University of Wisconsin​ and Oakland University​. Each group performed a “set” of about 3 songs – no instruments, just pure vocals. The amount of talent we witnessed was astounding. I was even more amazed when I learned that each group arranged the music and choreography themselves! I loved the stories each group told through song, and it was clear that every group was excited to share their music with the crowd as much as the crowd was excited to list. (I even caught Will singing along…)

In the end, Oakland University’s a cappella group, Gold Vibrations​, received 1st place for their performance, meaning they will advance to the next round of the competition. It was really cool to see how supportive all the other groups were – though I’m sure slightly disappointed after all of their hard work, there seemed to be only scared excitement for Gold Vibrations’ big win.

So, although I do not approve much of Facebook creeping into my Internet usage, I’d say Facebook got it right this time. Had I not seen the sponsored ad, I would have completely missed my opportunity to geek-out at a live a cappella competition. Music is so important in the lives of so many people – and every day I am reminded that becoming a music teacher was the right decision!


To the Art Institute!

When I am feeling overwhelmed with college, the best medicine is to get out into the city and do something fun. It’s easy to forget about all the amazing opportunities that surround us when we are worried about due dates, deadlines and GPAs! Last weekend, Will’s mom requested that we join her at the Art Institute of Chicago​ to celebrate her birthday – just the stress-relieving adventure I needed! I was super excited for two reasons: I hadn’t been there in two years AND DePaul ​and the Art Institute have an agreement that admission is FREE for all undergraduate DePaulians this year. What’s better than spending a day appreciating beautiful artwork for free? 

In the short amount of time we spent at the institute, I saw a lot of amazing things. I’m currently taking a class about the history of Medieval India​ to fill my history requirement, so it was really neat to see Islamic Art from the 13th and 14th century empires that existed in India. Seeing art that directly relates to what I’m learning in the classroom really enhanced my understanding of the readings and lectures – Chicago truly is integrated into our curriculum!

Bronze Bowl with Lace, Ursula Von Rydingsvard
There was one more piece of artwork that I found truly fascinating – which ended up being the exhibit that Will’s mom had been dying to see. It was a sculpture called Bronze Bowl with Lace​ by Ursula Von Rydingsvard​. The sculpture was outside due to its towering height and stood alone with the skyline as its background. It was truly beautiful, and you can see in my picture just how huge it was! The work is made from cedar and has a very unique lacing pattern at the very top. I’m really glad we had the opportunity to see it while it’s here, as it will be leaving the Art Institute in mid-April.

The perks that come along with being a college student in the city of Chicago are awesome. We are super lucky this year to have free admission to the Art Institute – but even if we didn’t, all the museums in Chicago have “resident days​” where admission is free or discounted with proof of Illinois residency (giving your zip code usually works!) The only one I have yet to experience is the Adler Planetarium​, but it is high on my lists of to-dos before graduation. I’m definitely re-inspired by my trip to the Art Institute, and I’m looking forward to getting out into the city more the next few months.​

Metra Commuters Rejoice

Thinking about living at home next year and using the Metra to commute to and from campus? You’re in luck! Metra has been in the news quite a bit lately regarding two new advancements: mobile tickets and new seats.

Metra runs eleven different train lines that turn driving commutes into study time and nap time. Although taking the Metra can be a bit pricey, it’s generally cheaper (and less hassle) compared to driving and parking in the city. To add to these perks, Metra recently rolled out mobile ticketing. Housed in the ‘Ventra’ app, which is available for both iPhone and Androids, you can purchase single, 10 ride, and monthly passes. When it’s time to board the train you’ll use the app again to redeem your ticket. It’s as simple as that! The AWESOME part about this app is that if you’re running late to catch a train you won’t run the risk of the additional $3 fee for purchasing a ticket on-board the train. Just simply purchase through your app on the way to the station and skip the line at the ticket counter!

Metra’s second advancement will take place in a more gradual release. A few weeks ago the Milwaukee North Line (running northwest from Union Station to Fox Lake) ran the first refurbished car. The new cars feature the following improvements:

  • Better lumbar support

  • Cup holders
  • Armrests
  • Headrests
  • Electrical wall outlets in every other row of seating           

In 2016, Metra will be rolling out 30 of these cars and based on customer reaction make a plan for future renovations. Dividing seats with armrests will give riders the option to define their own personal space on a crowded train, but the major buzz seems to be around the wall outlets. Finding an outlet in current Metra’s rail cars feel similar striking gold. Access to electricity in the new cars mean you can stream videos and scroll through social media during your entire commute without worrying about wrecking your battery. Look out for these new features the next time you hop on the Metra!​


Easy Photo Guidelines

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

TIPS:

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

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

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

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

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


Yoga at DePaul

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

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

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

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


Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company

If you really know me, you’ll know that I once had pizza seven days in a row during high school. You’ll also know that my Twitter bio once said, “All I care about is pizza and like 5 people” for an extended period of time, until I realized that while hilarious, it wasn’t exactly professional.

Pizza is a passion of mine that is as infinite and infallible as cold winters are in Chicago. While I don’t discriminate against trying different pizza styles, my favorite is of course deep dish. How can you beat a classic, thick-crusted pizza pie?

To that question, there surprisingly is a valid answer. While I could never definitively pick my favorite pizza place, as a parent can’t pick their favorite child, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company​ undeniably makes my top three.

Located in the basement of an unassuming brownstone, this restaurant changed my life in three words: Pizza Pot Pie​.

Weighing in at half a pound, the Pizza Pot Pie is not for the faint of heart. I can proudly say that every time I’ve been here I’ve been able to eat the whole thing. I actually harbor secret disdain for those who take home leftovers. You gotta be in it to win it when you go to Oven Grinder Company.

Made from scratch with homemade sauce, a special blend of cheeses, doorknob-size, whole, fresh mushrooms, and delicious sausage, these pies can make any dream come true. For vegetarians there even is a version without meat, and for those who are hungry beyond belief, there is a daring one-pound version of the pie.

However, you can’t go to this restaurant without ordering the Mediterranean Bread as an appetizer. If you do, you didn’t truly visit Oven Grinder Company. The bread comes on a plate that is all too small, so it literally spills over onto the table. But you’ll find that that is half the fun of eating it. Simply delicious, the bread will be gone in the blink of an eye if you’re splitting it with friends, so casually make sure to eat it fast so you get the most.

A quick four blocks away from the Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservatory, Oven Grinder Company makes for the perfect afternoon lunch date. Check it out when you’ve got an empty stomach and a “can do” attitude. You’ll definitely need both components to finish your meal. 


College Night at Goodman Theatre

As an acting major, I always want to see the theatre that is happening throughout the city. Simply watching is a great way to learn about acting, theatre, and what I want to do professionally. Lucky for me, The Theatre School has all kind of hook ups with discounted or free tickets to various shows throughout the city. Unfortunately, when rehearsing for my own shows, I never have enough time to see them all! One awesome deal that I love to take advantage of is College Night at the Goodman Theatre. 

The Goodman Theatre, located in the Loop, has been hosting College Nights for local students over the past couple of years.  For the small price of $10 you can expect to be served pizza in the lobby of the theatre, with a social hour to meet and chat with the other college students there. Then, a cast member from the show will come out to speak with the students and answer questions from them as well. This is always an interesting event because many of the students there are also studying theatre, and it is a great way to ask the cast members about the starts of their careers, the professional world, and for advice on how we can make it there ourselves. Then, of course, you get to see the play. So, dinner, and a show (with some interesting conversation between) for just $10. That is absolutely my kind of deal for a great night at the theatre. I have attended about 4 college nights at the Goodman over the past few years, seeing a few of their shows, and I always have an enjoyable time.

This past Wednesday a classmate and I went to go see their current show, Another Word for Beauty by Jose Rivera. We took the train straight from campus to the loop, and were able to seek refuge from the cold in the warm and inviting theatre. By showing our DePaul ID’s we were able to pick up our tickets and head upstairs to feast on the various kinds of pizza laid out on the long table of the lobby. I always know to get there early so you can get enough pizza and a place to sit! We munched and mingled until it was time to hear from the guest speaker. Not to our surprise, it was Stephanie Andrea Barron, an actress who graduated from DePaul about 2 years ago. It is awesome to see a TTS Alum out there and working in one of the major theatres in the city, only 2 years after graduation. We listened to her speak briefly, then she left to get ready for the show and we were ushered into the theatre. 

On college night, the students are given tickets up in the mezzanine and not on the floor, but we were pretty close and still had a great view. This was a brand new show about a beauty pageant held in a Colombian women’s prison. The show was full of music and dancing, strong anti-war political statements and some silly things thrown in for good measure. I am always extremely interested in stories about people of color, written by people of color, so this show intrigued me for sure, and the cast was full of beautiful powerful women.

I am looking forward to the next college night held at the Goodman, as a college student I am always looking for a good deal and a good time!  Check out their website ​to see Another Word for Beauty, and their upcoming shows.

DePaul certainly has got the connections, you just have to look for them. 


The Fashion Outlets of Chicago

In the wise words of Robin Sparkles from How I Met Your Mother, “Let’s go to...the mall!”​

My obsession with dedication to shopping is no secret by now. Neither is my rule to never buy anything at full price.

The struggle is so real on Michigan Avenue as I look longingly at window displays full of glamorous items that cost the same as my tuition. Water Tower isn’t much help either. However, before you get too depressed, realize that the mall of your dreams is a quick hop, skip, and city away.

The Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont​ gives you access to designer brands for reasonable prices. As someone who is in constant need of internship clothing, the Fashion Outlets present a one-stop-shop for everything professional. By no means is everything affordable, but a surprising portion is for a poor college student.

My spirit animal Robin Sparkles.

Not to mention the Fashion Outlets has a Wetzel’s Pretzel​ in the food court. May I suggest you order the Dog Bites?

I admire the simplicity of the mall’s navigation. The layout makes it easy to visit every store systematically. The more expensive designer stores are on the top level, leaving the bottom level for more affordable stores.

Additionally, the mall offers a free shuttle directly from the Rosemont Blue Line to the Fashion Outlets. The shuttle comes about every 10-15 minutes, but if you’re in a rush, or find that it is too cold to wait 15 minutes at the shuttle stop, an Uber is about $6. If you’re really desperate to save your money for the mall, the mall is also possible to get to by foot from the blue line. If you’re fortunate to have your own set of wheels, the mall offers free parking in the parking garage as well.

Next time you’re in the mood to revamp your wardrobe, try shopping in Rosemont. The longer trip will be worth the wait! Happy shopping!


Searching for Summer Jobs

All throughout my undergraduate career, I went home to Wisconsin and worked at my hometown library​ during each summer. This year, I won’t be going back to Wisconsin. As part of my BA/MA program​, I have to take a grad class during the summer, so for the first time, I will be staying in Chicago! While it’s super exciting to be staying, I’m starting to realize that I actually have to find a decent job for the summer. The process of searching for a job or internship can be sort of intimidating and overwhelming, so I thought I’d offer a few tips to make the search easier for you!

Start Early

In case you didn’t know, the application period for most summer internships is right now. You can only imagine my reaction when I found out that I had already missed the deadline to apply for some summer internships (one of them literally closed on January 1st). The sooner you start looking, the more options you will have. Also, if you need to get any letters of recommendation or if the application has any unique requirements (like a written response to some prompt), you're going to need time to prepare and complete your application. 

Know What You’re Looking For

Before you even start searching, sit down and figure out what you’re looking for. Are you able to work full-time or can you only manage part-time? What is your availability during the summer? Can you afford an unpaid internship or do you need to be paid? If you need to be paid, what’s the minimum you need to be paid? Figure all of these questions out before you even start looking so you don’t waste your time looking at jobs that won’t work for you.    

 

Find Something Good

Actually finding interesting jobs can be the hardest part sometimes! Luckily, there are so many resources available to you. For just a standard job search engine, I like to use Indeed​. But if you didn’t know, DePaul also has its own job search engine called Handshake​. In addition to listing on-campus interviews, after you make a profile, Handshake points out all the jobs listed that you’re qualified for. It’s a great tool, especially if you’re new to looking for jobs. Also, after you’ve declared your major(s), make sure you’re receiving (and opening) all of the emails sent from your department! Most departments regularly include job listings in mass emails. And finally, talk to your professors and friends. Your professors have most likely seen hundreds of students search for and secure summer jobs in Chicago. They can tell you with which companies or organizations past students have been successful. Your friends can do the same. Ask them if they have heard of any openings or if they have seen anything that might fit you (and obviously, if you see a job listing that sounds perfect for someone you know, be a good friend and tell them about it).

Diversify

This should go without saying. Just like when you applied for college, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply to as many jobs as you find interesting. The more options you give yourself, the better chance you have at actually getting hired. Even after you've applied to several jobs, make it a habit to regularly search for any new job listings. I usually check every three to four days to see what's new. It can only help you.

After you’ve found some potential new jobs, it’s time to get some letters of recommendation and polish your resume! Check back next week for more tips on how to write the perfect resume and how to ask professors for recommendations!​


Crock Pot Diaries

In my attempt to become a culinary artist this year, I did what any first time chef would do: I invested in a crock pot.

I use the term “investment” here quite loosely, as I bought my crock pot off of Amazon for $22.24. As everyone knows, the college student life is not one of luxury.

That being said, my 8-Quart Hamilton Beach 33182 A Slow Cooker​ is a straight-up champ. First of all, it’s huge, allowing me to make leftovers to take to work since I’m always on the run. Secondly, it heats up pretty fast and has some nice handles for carrying.​

Mixing some of the ingredients

For my first meal, I scoured Pinterest and found a recipe for slow-cooker chicken pot pie​ that looked pretty delicious. It took me about a week to hoard all of the ingredients — thank you Target and Tony’s Fresh Market —needed for the recipe. That’s not to suggest that the recipe called for anything extreme. I simply had nothing in my arsenal of spices.

So off I went to gather things like garlic powder, thyme, and three and a half celery stalks to begin the cooking process. I will admit I googled “how to dice an onion” before I began. As an ametuar, I’m not cutting any corners by assuming I know how to do things I don’t.

The finished product (minus the biscuits)

So after 25 minute of prep and about 4 and a half hours of slow-cooking (on high), my meal was complete.

How did it taste? Deliciously victorious. Or, to put it in the words of my roommate, “You definitely bought this at the store.”


"Free Run"

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Run, sprint, just go, and don’t look back. Sure, people will look at you like you’re crazy but it’s a feeling that cannot be matched. 

It was the summer of 2014 and I had just completed my first year at DePaul. I was looking forward to hanging out with old friends, playing soccer for endless hours, and going on long late night bike rides. Yet, it wasn’t exactly like that. I got a summer job, enrolled in two courses, and the tires on my bike had to be replaced. It was overwhelming. 

A friend had told me about “free running​.” Sound weird? It kind of is. The idea is to, at any moment and any place, take off sprinting as fast and as hard as you can. Just go and don’t look back, until you’re out of breath and need to stop to catch it. There really isn’t any purpose to it besides the feeling of freedom and the burdens being lifted off your shoulders for that short moment where you feel on top of the world. 

Running, it’s so simple but so impactful. I remember when she first told me about the idea and I thought it was a bit weird and figured I would never try it myself. To sprint for no reason, what if someone thought I stole something? Or thought I was running away from a crime scene? These were the logical, and limiting, thoughts I had at the time. Then one day, after work, I felt it. I was tired, stinky, exhausted, and just felt crummy. I remember walking out of the building and there was an open sidewalk, not a person in sight or a car driving by. I looked to my left and my right, behind me and in front. I just felt it and began, walking my pace quickened and then, I sprinted. Down the side street, jumping over cracks in the sidewalk, dodging fences that people left open, feeling the wind in my face, my short hair pushing against the breeze, sweat gathering on my forehead, my heart pounding, and my legs churning. I ran as fast as I could in my cargo shorts and tennis shoes. At the end of the block I stopped and put my hands on my head as I gasped for air. I laughed and smiled. Not one person was around me, not one car driving by. I had just completed my first ever “free run” and I now understood why it was called that.  


Thanks for reading my blog, and as always, stay awesome! 


DePaul: Urban Educated. World Ready.

A few weeks ago it was Blue Demon Week ​at DePaul! As a part of the many celebrations that took place Enrollment, Marketing and Management put out a new series of videos. Below you'll see a link to the headlining video. "DePaul: Urban Educated. World Ready​" is one of my favorite videos DePaul has ever put out (my #1 will forever be the Premiere DePaul Video​ the Orientation Leaders that I supervised stared in). In two minutes and twenty-three seconds the video hits home about what DePaul stands for and what it means to be a DePaul student.

 “DePaul isn't trying to be like every other university in America, we want to be DePaul.” 

Bold, but true. When you accept admission to DePaul you should be excited to know that your college experience won’t be like your friends’ who are attending other universities. As a student at DePaul you get to live in America’s third largest city. This means that you don’t have to wait until your senior year to have an internship. There are enough companies in the city for you to start interning as a first year student! When you’re sitting in class it won’t be with 500 strangers. At DePaul all but one of my classes has had between 20 and 40 students.  We only have two large lecture halls in Lincoln Park that hold at maximum 100 students each. At DePaul our educational experience is personal and extends far beyond the classroom.

“The fact that St. Vincent de Paul’s name is over our door gives us a sense of mission that we need to make a difference.”

After taking an entire course on St. Vincent DePaul I could share quite the list of fast facts. From at best an average priest to canonized saint, Vincent de Paul had quite the journey in his lifetime. More than 350 years after his death, Vincent de Paul’s Congregation of the Mission thrives on though the hearts and souls of Vincentians around the world. As a DePaul student you’re able to see hands on how the missions of justice and human dignity is fulfilled by asking and answering the question, “What must be done?”​

Open my blog to watch the video below:

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Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Blue Demon Week 2016 recently came to a close, I’m in the winter quarter of my third year here at DePaul University, and I cannot stop thinking about how grateful and blessed I am to be here at this institution. My friends are painting their faces, the band is playing music in the student center, and everyone is eating this Rice Krispy treat that turns their mouth blue. Words cannot express how I feel. With all the fun festivities around and the school spirit enriching our days, every thought of mine comes back to you two. My mom and my dad. You are my role models, my inspiration, and my heroes. Your unconditional love and your never-ending support are something I have come to learn is rare, and for that I am forever grateful. Here at DePaul I am thriving and loving every day I am on campus. I have roles in several organizations, I am taking vigorous courses that challenge me every day, and the future feels limitless. This I owe to you. 

The courage I have to yell “selfie” while student leaders pose with our president, Father H., comes from the confidence you instilled in me. The ability to listen to others and hear their story comes from the love you have given me. And the passion I have for everything I do comes from the passion you have for me. Anything and everything I do in the future will be because of you. 
So as I conclude this open letter, I want to say, thank you mom and dad for your love, your kindness, your compassion, and most importantly thank you for believing in me.

 Sincerely,
 Your grateful son


Best Food in the Neighborhood

The other day, I found out that I’m known as “the food guy” at work. I’m proud, but not surprised. I like to think that I’m deserving of such a title. I know my food and everyone knows that I know my food. Now that I know that that's my official title, I'm taking it very seriously. As such, you can only imagine how shocked I was when I realized that I have yet to write about my favorite restaurants around DePaul. I’m so sorry to everyone that I took so long to write this. I’ve wronged each and every one of you.​

Barn and Company​ is seriously four or five blocks away from campus (not to mention pretty hard to miss), yet it seems like no one knows it exists. That’s a shame. Barn and Company has some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had. It’s worth mentioning that I once talked to the owner who casually mentioned that Dave often stops by when he’s in town. Who is Dave, you ask? The Famous Dave’s Dave. That Dave. If it’s good enough for Famous Dave, it’s good enough for you. I highly recommend going for their Friday special: the $12.99 Chicken, Pork, and Ribs Platter.​

I went to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! the other week for brunch because I had a coupon (because I'm subscribed to their texts, shocker). No regrets.

Branko’s Sandwich Shop​ is absolutely one of the most underappreciated restaurants I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s located directly across the street from the Quad on Fullerton. The family who runs it is comprised of the nicest, sweetest people you could imagine. I genuinely don’t have enough good things to say about them. Branko’s is the greasy diner you’re always looking for. Whenever I have a craving for cheese fries or a Pizza Puff​ (one of my favorite foods in the world), this is where I go. The unexpected winner on the menu: the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. If you know anything about me, you know I wouldn’t recommend a chicken sandwich if it weren’t absolutely spectacular.​

Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!​ is getting a mention because I have such a sentimental connection with it. I’ve written about my experiences studying abroad in Madrid​. I’ve been back for over a year and I still miss it. One of the things I miss most is the food. Luckily for me, DePaul is near one of the best Spanish tapas​ restaurants in Chicago. Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! just celebrated its 30th anniversary and trust me, there’s a reason that it’s been around for so long. If you go, get the croquetas. They are the food I miss most from Madrid and they’re amazing at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!

Last, but not least, State Restaurant​ is literally my life. You can ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that my life revolves around State. It’s located a block off of campus and I have their weekly specials​ memorized. Why would I memorize the weekly specials? Because the weekly specials are amazing. Every Wednesday, almost everything on the menu is $5.99. On Thursdays and Fridays, almost everything on the menu is $6.99. Where else can you get a truffle burger for $5.99!? I’m not ashamed at all to admit that I’m obsessed with State. State also apparently hosts some intense trivia contests (with cash prizes) every Tuesday night and I want to go so bad. Let me know if you’re a walking encyclopedia so I can have you on my team.​


Neo-Futurists Show

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

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

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

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

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


Free Museum Days!

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​. 

The Art of a Good Deal

I have literally shopped until I have dropped. The phrase is not merely a cute exaggeration or charming rhyme — it is a call for those who know that shopping is not a hobby or pastime, but an art. 

It has taken me years to master the art of a good deal, and I still know that I have a lot to learn. Luckily, Chicago is a great classroom. Unluckily, with malls and boutiques around every corner, my attempt to save money is almost always abandoned.

Sometimes, I like to take a “quick” trip to Anthropologie​While I am not unique in that I love to go smell the candles there just like the rest of the world, I do enjoy sitting on the couches and pretending that I live there. One day, mark my words, my home will look just like Anthropologie. My game of pretend is merely me preparing for the inevitable. 

Beyond going to my home away from home, being a Maxxinista​, and perusing the aisles of DSW​, there is one unconventional shop were I always feel the need to open my wallet. There’s something about the gift shop at the Art Institute​ that convinces me to buy things like greeting cards with famous impressionist paintings on them, t-shirts with iconic lions, and art history coffee table books.

While I do get a 10% off discount for having a membership, the clearance section is reasonably priced and is usually where I do the bulk all of my shopping. I enjoy buying artsy gifts from the Art Institute for people, and by people, I mean mostly myself.

During my last trip to the gift shop, I bought four large holographic postcards that were 25 cents each. Talk about a deal! That’s a cheaper price than the actual stamps it take to mail them to their destinations.

Next time you’re taking a cultural trip to the Art Institute, make sure to stop by the gift shop for some art you can actually take home with you. But I won't lie ... I've been there many times just to visit the gift shop. Those steals and deals won't buy themselves! 


Know Where to Go: Statisfy Your Sweet Tooth!

As much as I loved growing up on the East Coast, I was always disappointed with the amount of bakeries that existed in the state of Maine. Finding an ice cream shop or a candy store was never an issue – but when it came to a half-way decent piece of cake or a cookie, no such luck. In terms of satisfying my sweet tooth, Chicago has gone above and beyond my expectations...which is why I’ve decided to fill you in on some of my favorite bakeries, all of which will make your time at DePaul sweet! (pun intended)​

1. Molly's Cupcakes ​- 2536 N. Clark St.

Shameless plug – one of the best bakeries in the city happens to be my place of employment. Besides the fact that I LOVE my job frosting cupcakes and making lattes, we serve up about 13 different specialty cupcakes every day of the week. Not really into cupcakes? Grab a delicious cookie or cheesecake for the sugar rush you’re craving. It’s a great place for a study break, date night or a hang with your new college friends!

A few cupcakes from Molly's - decorated by me!
2. Swirlz ​- 705 W. Belden Ave.

Literally a 5-minute walk from the DePaul School of Music, Swirlz is a small bakery with a rotating list of amazing cupcakes. My absolute favorite cupcake is the chocolate caramel pretzel – always available on Tuesdays and Fridays! They also have a selection of vegan and gluten-free vegan cupcakes. This is a great place for an afternoon pick-me-up between classes and rehearsals.

3. Dinkel's Bakery ​-3339 N. Lincoln Ave.

Though not particularly close to campus, (about 10 minutes away by train), Dinkel’s is worth the commute. Not only do they serve gigantic cupcakes, they have a huge selection of cookies, pies, doughnuts and breads available every day. They make beautiful cakes, too!

4. The Twisted Baker​ -2475 N. Lincoln Ave.

This one is also really close to the DePaul campus! The Twisted Baker is new to the DePaul neighborhood, and it’s a great spot to grab breakfast and get some work done. My boyfriend and I love their egg sandwiches and coffee – they also make decadent tarts, all kinds of scones and unique mini cookies. I love the quiet atmosphere, free Wi-Fi, and friendly staff.

5. Cafe Vienna​ - 2523 N. Clark St.

Looking for something a little different? Café Vienna specializes in Austrian baked goods. They are currently only open on the weekends – but it’s definitely worth the wait. They have a great tea selection, and the desserts are so big I usually can’t finish them! I absolutely love the opera cake (vanilla cake with chocolate and espresso buttercream), and I always leave with a few specialty cookies, too. You can check out their unique desserts and tea selection here​.

As you can tell, I’m a bit of a dessert fanatic. If I had chosen to attend college elsewhere, it’s quite possible I wouldn’t have discovered my love of bakeries – and especially my love for working in one! Thank you, DePaul, for keeping my love of cupcakes alive and fueling me with all the sugar I could possibly want.


Café Hopping across Chicago

There is nothing worse than trying to do homework in space where you cannot focus. It is so frustrating! Conducive study spaces are essential when trying to work on homework or projects, and you quickly learn what type of study space works best for you. Some people like the intense quietness of the library, while others need the hustle and bustle of people and chatter around them. Either works fine, as long as it truly does work! I find myself craving different types of study environments depending upon the mood I am in and what assignments I have to get done. Regardless, some of my favorite places to go and study are located around the city. I’ve made a list of them below and I encourage you to check them out! I promise, some serious studying will get done.  ​

Harold Washington Library​ (The Loop): There are tons and tons of spaces to study within the nine floors of the library, but my personal favorite is the Winter Garden on the ninth floor. It’s an atrium with tons of natural light and a beautiful glass ceiling. It is so peaceful in the midst of the busy South Loop. Plus, they have free Wifi! ​

The Winter Garden on the ninth floor of the Harold Washington Library
City Grounds​ (Lincoln Park)This café is a few blocks east of Oz Park and is a great space to study. They have both an upstairs and downstairs space, lots of tea and coffee options, and a good amount of seating. The café itself is located in a very quiet and residential part of Lincoln Park, which makes for a calming study environment. ​

Bourgeois Pig​ (Lincoln Park): This place is hands down one of my favorite places to eat in all of Chicago. They have the best made-to-order sandwiches (they are named after famous novels- my favorite is The Great Gatsby), a plethora of drink options, and tons of seating. Their playlist is really good, too, which is super important, especially if you are like me and forget your headphones half of the time. It is a really homey café, and one of my favorites.  ​ 

Two Hearted Queen​ (Lakeview): This is a newer discovery made by a couple of friends and me. There is tons of seating (always a perk) and the drinks are so good. I have had some of the best hot chocolate at this café and my coffee-drinking friends enthusiastically approve of the coffee. They also do a cool card game when you are purchasing your drink. If you pick the Queen of Hearts from a deck of cards, you get a huge discount on your drink. It is a relaxing, warm café and I really recommend it!

A Maine Lobster Bake in Chicago

Though there are a lot of things I miss about Maine, eating lobster is definitely in the top five. For those of you who are new readers or maybe just don't remember, I lived 18 years of my life in the great state of Maine before moving to Chicago for college. About two weeks ago, my boyfriend, Will, and I were trying to brainstorm a gift for his father’s birthday…and that’s when it hit me. We decided to host a “lobster bake” at his parent's house with real Maine lobster, or “lobstahs’” as we New Englander​'s would say, shipped directly from my hometown.