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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.

Winter Break in Chicago

The end of Fall Quarter is upon us. More importantly, Winter Break is just around the corner! This winter is the first winter that I will be mostly staying in Chicago instead of heading home back to Madison! And I’m so excited to spend break in Chicago. But let’s be honest. The real question is: What am I going to do in Chicago over Winter Break? If you’re like me and you’re staying in Chicago, here are a few fun things to do to celebrate the season:

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade (November 24th): If you have the opportunity, head down to State Street at 8am on Thanksgiving morning (or turn on WGN if you can’t make it downtown). The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is fun Chicago tradition that features a ton of local organizations and talent, including the Windy City Ghostbusters. That’s reason enough to go.
 
Thanksgiving Parade
I’d go to the parade just to see this Arthur balloon, to be honest.
Christkindlmarket (Now-December 24th): I’ve never bought anything at Christkindlmarket, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to go to Christkindlmarket. Set up in Daley Plaza, Christkindlmarket is the crowded German Christmas shopping village that you never knew you needed. Perfect for shopping for gifts or eating vaguely European foods.

Winter WonderFest (December 2nd to January 8th): Every year, Navy Pier holds a huge indoor winter festival that I always miss. While a ticket to enter Winter WonderFest costs a bit of money ($25), there’s so much to do. You can ride one of the many rides, play mini golf, sled, or go ice skating, all in a single room. How crazy is that!?

Chi-Town Rising (December 31st): Last year, Chicago launched a New Year’s Eve celebration. This year, it’s coming back, bigger and better. This is your chance to party along the Chicago River as you ring in the New Year. Tickets are free (I’d register now if I were you) and, as of now, Chicago (the band) and American Authors are scheduled to perform.

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! 

Halloween in Chicago 2016

I can’t say it enough: I love fall. I’ve written about how much I love fall many times. I do not get bored of talking about how much I love fall. But as much as I love fall in general, I especially love Halloween and everything Halloween related. And everyone around me is an enabler: my parents and multiple members of my extended family contact me every time that Hocus Pocus is airing on TV. So you can just imagine how much I love being in Chicago for Halloween.

One of the best things about living in Chicago is that there’s always something to do. It’s hard to be bored. This is especially true for the Halloween season. Here are a couple of things to do in Chicago to get into the Halloween spirit:

The Horror of the Humanities: Pontypool (October 26th): I’ve written before​ about how amazing I think the DePaul Humanities Center is. On Wednesday, they will be hosting a super eclectic and creepy event that will totally gear you up for Halloween. The event begins with some sort of interactive Halloween/haunted house exhibit. But the meat of the event is a screening of the zombie film Pontypool and a discussion with the director and star of the film. 

The DePaul Humanities Center
Halloween at Navy Pier (October 29th): Okay, so this event really runs the 28th-31st, but I highly recommend going on the 29th if you can. Not only will you be able to see that day’s costume contest (there’s one each of the days), but Navy Pier will be hosting an outdoor screening of The Addams Family, and Miller Lite is sponsoring a big Halloween Fireworks show at 9:30pm. 

Northalstead Halloween Parade (October 31st): If you’re looking for something to do on the day of Halloween, look no further. I don’t know you, but I do know that the Northalstead Halloween Parade is exactly what you’re looking for. Northalstead Halloween Parade hosts Chicago’s largest costume contest. This year, there are over 2,000 (!!) registered entries for the contest. And the parade is held in Boystown, so you know these people aren’t playing around. The theme this year is “Scream, Queen!,” so I don’t think I need to say anymore.

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. 

Will and I holding the "lobstahs" before their fate.

My dad was crucial in this whole process, and I’m so thankful for his help in making this dinner work out last week! He had eight LIVE lobsters sent in a giant box that arrived just in time. I wasn’t at Will’s house when they arrived, but he told me that the FedEx woman was beyond curious about the scratching creatures within the box! As a native of Maine, I knew exactly what to do with them – boil water in a giant pot and start throwing the lobsters in - letting them sit until they turn a bright-red color. It didn’t occur to me that Will’s family had never experienced the full sacrifice of a lobster – not that surprising since seafood doesn’t come as easily, (or cheaply!), around here. Once they broke their emotional attachments with the crustaceans, we put them in the pot, head first, and awaited that bright-red glow.

Will’s mom was extremely helpful in setting up an “authentic” lobster bake dinner. We had melted butter, shell crackers, potato salad, veggies…and plenty of napkins! The lobsters turned out to be “hard-shell”, meaning extremely difficult to crack into – but it made for some good laughs.

Having lobsters packaged, shipped, cooked and served was not an easy task, but it was worth giving Will’s dad a birthday to remember. It also reminded me of home, it’s easy to feel home sick when you’re living so far away! It was really nice to take a break from the craziness of college to celebrate and indulge in one of my childhood favorite foods and pastimes.


Health In College

Whether you dropped out of high school or have a doctorate; whether you are a minority or not; whether you are making 4 or 6 figures a year, chances are that you have left the doctor’s office with less than full understanding of how to improve or maintain your health. Health literacy is SO important, especially since we live in country that does not have free health care (yet). I recently learned that health literacy is super low in this country, so I brought it upon myself to take a health communication​ course. It goes towards my degree anyway and I need to learn how to NOT be human garbage, so why not.

Also, since I have been independent for 3 years now, I have realized how important it is to know your full family health history. Many college kids don’t live with their parents anymore so if you end up sick or in the hospital no one is going to answer these important health questions except you. If you have the means or the opportunity to get to know your family health history, please try and do it before you’re out of your childhood home! Independent doctor’s visits will go so much smoothly if you yourself have the answers. Take the time to take the reins of your own health. Your family’s health can say a lot about your own in terms of lifestyle factors, environments, and genetics. By taking the initiative and tracking the health of your blood relatives, doctors can better identify risk factors that could affect your future self. GET ON IT!

That being said, you won’t necessarily go on to developing the conditions your family members have. Try to strive for the healthiest life you can and, if you have the privilege, attend all the preventative screenings that your doctor recommends.

The Health Communication class I enrolled in got me thinking a lot about the topics I just mentioned. We have also been learning about the impact that differences such as gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation have on health care.

It is no question that health and wellness brings about a drastic improvement in the overall quality of your life, so try and make healthy habits a part of your life during college so TRUE adulthood won’t be so brutal. 


December Intercession

While my friends’ winter breaks were filled with ski lodge visits and European travels, mine was filled with class, my internship, and the challenge of trying to Christmas shop for others, rather than myself. Needless to say, relaxation and adventure do not exactly come to mind when describing my 6 weeks off – or I guess I should say on. 

Although my winter break wasn’t spent hiking through the Swiss Alps or visiting historic castles in London, it was fulfilling in its own way. I turned the big 2-1, finished four more class credits, and picked up some extra work hours.

Putting in some extra class time over the December intercession was a great decision this break. Normally, I spend the six weeks off bored out of my mind without a car stuck in the suburbs, so being able to work towards graduation kept me busy. I took a special topics journalism class with Dr. Jason Martin. Throughout the duration of the course, my class and I reported on the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, also referred to as COP21​. We produced original content, graphics, maps, and social media accounts to help our reporting efforts.

This being my first December intersession class, I was a little apprehensive of how much work I would be asked to complete. The idea of intercession is to complete a regular 4 credit, ten week class over a shorter amount of time. In my case, I had three weeks to immerse myself in learning new skills and producing original content.

Our COP21 Tumblr blog.
Despite the quick three weeks, this course taught me a wealth of information.  Our class set out to provide real-timecoverage of an unfolding global event and to contextualize and localize environmental issues. We successfully completed our objectives and gained a voice in the flurry of live COP21 news coverage.

My role in our class reporting project was to aid in developing a social media strategy for the three week period. I learned how to read Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, and was trained on a social media analytic program called Crimson Hexagon. Additionally, I learned how to utilize a conversation storytelling tool called Storify. At the end of the class, I contributed to a final social media engagement report, in which we tracked and explained our reporting growth.

The fast-paced nature of the class could be stressful at times, but covering such an interesting topic and producing content that our audience was engaged with was definitely rewarding. With a newfound interest in global climate change, it will be interesting to see how the promises made at COP21 hold up in the years to come.

If you’ve never taken a December intersession class before, I would highly recommend looking into it. I wish I had taken advantage of this option my first two years at DePaul. Additionally, I’d recommend taking any of Dr. Martin’s classes. He is an excellent professor and I’ve had him twice at DePaul thus far.

I guess while my winter break wasn’t spent traveling, it was well-spent at home in the company of classmates and co-workers. Maybe spring break will bring me some much needed relaxation time (unlikely, but a girl can dream.)


The Midwest Clinic - The College Prospective

​​​​​I mentioned in a previous blog that I had attended the Midwest International Band and Orchest​​ra Clinic​ right before I went home for Christmas. I’d like to give you a little more information on just how AMAZING this event is - Especially for anyone who might be interested in pursuing a degree in instrumental music education!​

The Midwest Clinic​ is a four-day clinic that takes place at the McCormick Place​ in Chicago. McCormick Place is a giant convention center with rooms that seat hundreds of people – the perfect size for the thousands of teachers, and future teachers like me, to congregate and nerd-out over instrumental music. I would normally attend all of the days of the clinic, but because of student teaching I was only able to attend one day. There are several concerts​, tons of clinics​ and a room full of almost every music-related business you can think of - there is even a collegiate-track for pre-service teachers called, "Generation Next", which provides clinics that are more applicable for college students!The cost of the entire clinic for a college student is only $50 dollars – and I’m telling you, it is worth every penny. 

On the day that I attended the clinic, I was able to make it to three different clinics. There were upwards of 20 clinics and concerts occurring, but I made sure I had time to walk around exhibits and meet and network with other people. The best clinic I went to was about a program called United Sound​, which is an organization that provides resources for schools to include students with disabilities into their band and orchestra programs. In my high school student teaching placement I had the privilege of working with some diverse learners, and it really impacted my teaching philosophy in terms of having an inclusive band program. I’m so glad I attended the United Sound clinic because now I have a resource that I can use in my own classroom in the future! I also attended a clinic called, “The ten things you must do now before your first job​”, which was also very informational and worth attending.

 I’ve learned that as an educator, networking is one of the most important things you can do. I was really lucky to have a cooperating teacher, ( the person I did my student teaching with), who introduced me to some band directors from around the state. Just after a short conversation, it was really neat to have them say they’d keep their ears open for open teaching positions…score! It’s inspiring to talk to educators who have built strong band or orchestra programs – their dedication to and passion for the profession reminded me why I decided to be a teacher in the first place.

Had I not moved to Chicago and attended DePaul, it’s possible I wouldn’t have attended the Midwest Clinic at this point in my life. Not many people I know can say that they experienced a North Texas Wind Symphony concert before graduating from college! Though I haven’t taught in the field yet, I still think it’s important to learn as much as possible before getting on the podium for real. I always take advantage of the exhibitions​ and usually walk out with several books for my continually growing resource library. Attending the Midwest clinic, no matter where I end up after this year, will always be at the top of my priority list as a teacher and musician.​


Hakuna Matata

​​​Growing up, The Lion King was my favorite Disney movie. I loved all the songs, Timon and Pumba cracked me up, and I had a major childhood crush on Simba. Imagine my joyful surprise when I learned that The Lion King was also a Broadway musical! The Lion King came to Cleveland the summer before I entered my freshman year at DePaul and you can guess how excited I was. As a special treat, my grandma and I bought tickets to the show. It was my first Broadway show that I had ever seen and it was absolutely amazing.
​​Watch the video below to see a song from ​The Lion King.
Early every fall, I check the Broadway shows are coming to Chicago. So far, I have been lucky enough to win lottery tickets to The Book of Mormon and Motown. Two hours before each show starts, you can enter your name into a lottery to win dirt cheap tickets. It is a great opportunity to see shows that you otherwise would not get to see because of expensive ticket prices. The only downside is that getting a ticket is not guaranteed! When I looked at what shows were coming this season to Broadway, The Lion King was one of them. I was pumped! My goal was to see it again on Broadway.​

When I went and saw it the first time, my grandma and I had seats on the main floor on the aisle, which I think were the best seats to have for this specific show. During the opening number, “The Circle of Life,” a lot of the animals and characters walk down the aisle to the stage. It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I knew that if I got tickets to see The Lion King this season, I wanted similar seats. I went out on a limb and asked for The Lion King tickets for Christmas and to my immense surprise, I was blessed enough to get them! The show was this past Thursday, January 14, and it was everything that I imagined it to be. If you ever get the opportunity to see the show, I highly recommend it! You certainly will “feel the love tonight.” ​

Day in the Life: Shadowing Alderman Smith

Tim Arnold is a current DePaul student in the Political Science program. He was able to spend a day with Alderman Smith and get a view of what life is like for Chicago politicians. Read his essay below: 

​​​I’ve always thought of politics as the most direct avenue between public want and societal change. The legislature, in particular, empowers the people, providing a sophisticated platform for policy debate. Senators, representatives and city council members alike have the difficult task of advocating for their constituents. They look out for their own, making sure that no one’s opinions, or subsequent rights are left in the dust; that’s an admirable service. 

Through DePaul’s Professional Exploration Program (PEP), I spent a day shadowing Chicago Alderman Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward. Upon arriving at City Hall, Alderman Smith greeted me with a warm smile and handshake. We bonded over talk of her work in Lincoln Park and within minutes she had me accompany her to the traditional mayoral gift presentation ceremony. I felt incredibly lucky because this holiday ceremony is normally exclusive to city council members. I mingled with some of Chicago’s most influential politicians, including Mayor Emanuel himself! It was amazing how quickly I felt like one of them. Aldermanic powerhouses were treating me with the utmost respect, sharing their insights on current Chicago issues.

Little did I know, the excitement had just begun. From the ceremony, I was directed to find my seat in the viewing balcony of the main City Hall chamber. I got out my notepad and pen, sat back, and was blown away by the commotion that ensued. The chamber was jam packed with camera crews, politicians, security teams and countless protesters. I coincidentally came the same day as Mayor Emanuel’s last-minute mayoral address. He was to discuss the investigation of the Chicago Police Department in response to the Laquan McDonald video. Tensions were high and it was clear that it would be an historic day. The mayor gave a tearful speech, pointing out the injustice of racial discrimination by law enforcement. Many protesters scoffed at his “apology,” screaming for his immediate resignation. I’ll admit, part of me was terrified to be in the midst of such a volatile situation, but the learning opportunity was far too great to miss out on. I was moved by many of the speakers, especially by one alderman who said, “It's not the person, it's the position. And it's not the personality, it's the policy." I left City Hall reminded of the true responsibility of all politicians; to promote the wellbeing of ALL. Changes must be made, and I was lucky enough to see policymaking in progress. 

The rest of my day was focused in Lincoln Park, where Alderman Smith’s ward office is located. I had a chance to meet with her staff, sit in on meetings and get a better idea of how an alderman actually oversees a district. She gave me fantastic tips for getting started in politics as well as how I can become regularly involved in 43rd Ward activities. All in all, the experience was wonderful and I highly recommend that other students take advantage of the PEP Shadow Program. No matter what major you are pursuing, this program has strong connections that can set you up for future internships. I, myself, will return to the ward office in March as a part-time intern. Just remember to be open to anything. Who knows? A shadow day could uncover a passion you never knew you had. 

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new quarter, DePaulians! It seems crazy that our six-week winter break has already passed and it is now 2016. Where did the time go? I hope that everyone’s break and holiday was fun and relaxing and that everyone is enjoying their winter quarter.  

That is always the goal of a new quarter, to be ready and motivated, but I feel like that is always wishful thinking. The beginning of this quarter was a rough one for me! I felt like I had very little time between the New Year and the first day of school and felt very rushed. Also, my computer completely broke right before the first day of school, which was a big ‘ole bummer. I signed up for an online class this quarter, so completing those assignments with no working computer was a struggle. I am thankful that I live so close to campus, so making treks to the library was not that big of a deal, but still a major inconvenience. 

A big joy in my life is my dog, Oreo. Too bad he did not come back to Chicago with me!
Even though the beginning of the quarter was stressful, I am happy to be back in Chicago with my friends and to be establishing a routine. I really enjoy my classes this quarter thus far and while I do not particularly relish the subzero temperatures, I savor the cup loads of hot chocolate and excuse to wear cozy sweaters. The winter can definitely be tough in Chicago with the seemingly never-ending wind and snow, but I have learned that finding little joys each day and week make this season go by quicker and less painfully. And to me, sweaters and hot chocolate definitely qualify as little joys. ​

The Return: Back at It Again

The thought of beginning my eighth quarter at DePaul University fills me with nostalgia, a dash of anxiety, and a whole lot of excitement. With three quarters until I graduate, senioritis looms large on the horizon, but just far enough away to be ignored. So while I wait for the inevitable, I might as well suit up and give another quarter everything I’ve got.

This quarter, my class load is a tad bit unusual. It’s like having eggs benedict for dinner, or eating ice cream in the winter -- while it is refreshingly different, it is different nonetheless. Excuse my food references, as one of my new year’s resolutions is to become a master chef by the end of 2016. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, which I’m assuming will be noticed through a surplus of extravagant and delicious food metaphors sprinkled across my blogs.

I’ve decided to take two night classes, a half-credit Friday morning class at 9:00 a.m., and to complete my senior thesis. This, combined with interning three full days a week, nannying on weekends, and dedicating myself to the culinary arts, is sure to keep me busy and on the verge of insanity, which is perhaps my favorite state of being.

In the next ten weeks, I hope to accomplish a few tasks that will help me to set up the future (fingers crossed) success of the rest of my 2016. I’ll share them with you for accountability and potential inspiration:

  • Complete my senior thesis. While a 50 page research paper seems daunting, I’ve got two professors by my side, an amazing library, two years of research experience, and 70 days...how hard can it be?

  • Apartment hunting 2.0. As my lease expires this August, it’s never too early to start the apartment hunt. While I love the Lakeview area, I’m open to moving somewhere else for more space and a better price. Is this possible? I’ll let you know.

  • Obtain a summer internship. Coveted summer internships go on the market now. Look in Spring and you might just be too late. I suggest you visit our career center for guidance, resume help, and free pens. I know I will!

  • Reconnect with friends. Sometimes it can be hard to balance it all, and this quarter, I won’t let my busy schedule get the best of me. Resigning from the DePaulia has given me my Fridays back, and it is about time that I use Fridays to re-energize and reconnect with the people who matter most.

  • Write and read more. I used to be an avid reader and writer, but now I have reserved my two former obsessions for school and work. But no longer! It’s time to take reading and writing back!

So here are my hopes and dreams for the next ten weeks. I hope the new year brings you good fortune!


Happy New Year!

​​​​​Happy New Year, Readers!
Though I had every intention to write some new blogs over the last seven weeks, I’ve been busier than ever with the end of student teaching, clinics and getting home for the holidays.  As we are quickly diving into a new year, I figured now would be a great time to give you a few updates about what I’ve been up to since Thanksgiving.

DePaul’s fall quarter concluded right before Thanksgiving, however I continued student teaching for another three weeks once I returned from spending the holiday in Maine. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I was required to student teach for 16 weeks – 4 full months – to obtain a k-12 teaching license, for which I had to give up about half of my winter break. While most of my friends were catching up on sleep, work and their social lives, I continued to get up at 5am and drag myself to school every day.  It was definitely a struggle to stay motivated, but I did it! In the final week I conducted my first concert ever and was sad to say goodbye to the students I’d make connections with during my time in both teaching placements.

Before heading home again for the remainder of my winter break, I had the opportunity to experience two really neat things in the city. The first was a concert held by DePaul called Christmas at DePaul​ - It is so awesome! It’s a collaborative concert between the DePaul Music School​, Theatre School​ and the St. Vincent de Paul church​ on campus. The university hires current students and alumni from the music school to perform in a giant orchestra with a chorus of over 200 members. Christmas at DePaul really gets me in the spirit of the holidays with several Christmas carols and a reminder of the real importance of the holiday, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to attend the last couple years. Due to the concert’s growing popularity, tickets are free and distributed through a lottery. I’ve been very fortunate to have a friend in the orchestra who has been able to give me complimentary tickets, but you can bet I’d have put my name in the lottery if I had to!

"Christmas at DePaul", St. Vincent de Paul Parish

I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwest International Band Clinic​ before leaving the city. This clinic brings in hundreds of world-famous clinicians and performers to hold master classes for anyone interested in teaching band. They also have a huge exhibit hall where you can try instruments, talk with various band-supporting companies and purchase all kinds of books and equipment. The Midwest Clinic​ is one of the highlights of my year and I’ll share more about it with you later.

My winter break has come to an end, but I’m grateful for the time I had with my family and friends back in my hometown. I’m feeling refreshed and renewed – and aside from feeling glad to be done student teaching, I’m feeling ready for more knowledge and more experiences. Even though I’m nearly done with my time at DePaul, the gift of becoming hungry for knowledge and my desire to be the best teacher I can possibly​​ be are things that will stick with me forever – and for that I will always be grateful to DePaul and my professors.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season – I’m looking forward to sharing more of my DePaul experiences with you in 2016!​


Dimo's: More than Pizza

8 am. Wake up. Go to class. What’s that smell? Oh baby, it’s Dimo’s Pizza​.

I am fortunate enough to live near the best thin crust pizza in Chicago. Granted, I usually eat there after a long night since it is open until 3 am! If you are intrigued by the idea of mac n cheese ON TOP OF PIZZA….this is the place for you.

Dimo’s views pizza as a crispy platform for culinary ambitions. Yes, you could just order a cheese pizza here if you are one of those people. But why not try their thanksgiving style pizza? It has the works. Stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes make for a killer flavor explosion that blows away plain cheese pizza. If that seem too adventurous for you there is always s’mores pizza. This is for people with a sweet tooth only. It is a chocolate pizza with graham cracker bears on tops with gooey marshmallows. Instant cavity.

Their pizza toppings are second best to their business mission. Although they are a for-profit entity, they partner with non-profits to focus on societal improvement. They work on a hyper-local level which connects them more to customers. They were serving food at every concert event I was at this summer, and also have a very cool motivation inspired employees. Their missions states that they never micromanage their employees, but instead lets them work passionately and learn from their past mistakes to find new solution to problems. I know it is just a pizza place, but as a part time worker myself it is obvious how much your work environment affects your daily moods. What better way to feel appreciated at your work than to have obvious trust with your manager. They also sell local art every now and then which adds to the unique décor of the place.

Back to pizza time. Dimo’s is open every single day until very very late. If you want to step outside the world of deep dish head to Wicker Park, Wrigleyville​, or just stay in bed and get it delivered.  

Happy eating.


Musings of an Out-Of-State Student

The show I was in at The Theatre School closed on November 15th. Since this is my first mainstage production of my college career, my most generous mom came to see it! We are from the West Coast, and being so far away my parents, family, and friends don’t visit often. While I have been working away at my acting training here at DePaul, my mother has not been able to see me perform since I was in high school. Needless to say, this was a really special event, and one I know will not happen often. Since I was preparing for her visit, my out-of-state status was on the brain.

Most DePaul students I know are not from Chicago. This is probably in part due to the fact that this is a private school. Most of my friends are from various states across the country, with most being from the Midwest followed by East coast residents, with a smaller smattering of southerners and West coast kids like me. Mind you this is just based upon my own observations in the group of students I interact with the most. Moving to Chicago from my little Oregon hometown was one of the scariest and most eye opening things I have ever done. I would argue it was the best decision I have made for myself as a young adult person of the world. While I have not traveled the world, or lived in many places, leaving my hometown to experience a new area of the country, to live and breathe a major city, a more diverse city, a region and area with very different culture and values and issues and advantages is really eye opening, and changed the way I view life in this country. While I cannot speak directly on any epiphanies I have had, I cannot stress how important I feel it is to experience a new place, especially in your college years. I would not be the open minded, educated, socially aware person that I am becoming if I had not left my origin of the suburbs of the Pacific Northwest.

When I was applying to college, I knew I wanted to go to school out of state, and many of the members of my family I looked up to also wanted this for me. When debating whether to move away or stay close to home for school, my aunt (who was raised in Portland like me, but went to the east coast for college), she said to me, “Samantha, you are lucky enough to have family here, and people here who will welcome you home. But you need to go away for college, and experience a new place with new people.

You never know until you go and try it out, and don’t worry because you can always come home”. Two and a half years later, I know she was so right. Moving away from the place I spent the first 18 years of my life really gave me a new perspective on the world, just by experiencing a new culture, and new people, a new climate, and seeing new things happen around me, both good and worrisome. It helped me to learn what things from home were important for me to keep, and what new things were important for me to find, including a community of people that were headed in the same forward direction as I am. 

For anyone who is looking to go to college, or simply visit a new place for a short while, I would absolutely say DO IT. Even if you decide to return, even if you don’t leave for long, or even if you decide never to go back, leaving the environment you grew up in does a world of difference to the way you see and think about the world around you. While moving 2,000 miles away may not be feasible, spending your college years in a new city, state or region can really help you learn about yourself as an adult. For me, Chicago and DePaul was the place to do just that.

To anyone thinking about coming to this great city from afar, or even in this city looking to go away for a while, just remember you never know until you try it. If your experience is amazing, or less than ideal, you will learn so much about other places and yourself, just remember to do it for yourself. While my aunt was right, and I can always come home, I am discovering that my new home may not be the place I am from, and I would have never known that if I hadn’t taken the chance, and left the comfort and familiarity of my hometown.


Running for Chocolate in Chicago

Regardless of how busy I’ve been as a music major these past few years, I’ve managed to pick up a new hobby in college: running! I did a little bit of running in high school, but it was mostly just a 5k (3.1 miles) here and there. I came to college with a mission to be healthy and active, and though I definitely eat more pizza and burgers now than I did my first two years of college, I’ve done a pretty good job sticking to my goal.​

Though I’ve never been a fast runner - clocking in at about 11:30 per mile - I’ve accomplished some pretty neat things during college thus far. I started off slow with a few 5k races around DePaul…for any runners out there; you should know that the city of Chicago has a TON of races. In January of my freshman year, I decided to take the plunge and sign up to complete a triathlon during the following summer. I had never really been a swimmer or biker, but I was up for the challenge. I did all my training at the Ray Meyer Fitness center​, which is DePaul’s gym. (You get a membership as part of your student fees – it’s worth it!) I completed the triathlon that summer, and then my first ½ marathon​ the next summer…my mom even came out to run it with me!

Kelsey and I at the finish line - finished in under two hours!

Over the past three years, my best friend Kelsey and I have run some of Chicago’s best races (in our opinion, of course.) We did the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k​ (about 5 miles) two years in a row, the Crosstown Classic 10k​ (6.2 miles) and just last weekend we ran the Hot Chocolate 15k​ (9.3 miles – Kelsey’s longest race yet!). All of these races took place down town in the heart of the city – and I don’t know many people who get the opportunity to run on the streets of Chicago. Though a challenging race for two people who hadn’t been doing much training, the Hot Chocolate race was sweet – literally! At the end of the race we were given hot chocolate, chocolate fondue and a variety of small snacks to dip in the chocolate. I also ate m&ms and marshmallows along the route of the race…bad decision? Nope! It was worth the running cramp.

Though my education has been the most important aspect of my life for the last few years, I’ve found it’s equally important to have hobbies outside of music to keep me sane! Running became my hobby because it’s on my own schedule, it’s keeping me active AND I get to unleash my competitive side (though I’ve never run fast enough to win any prizes…It’s still competition-like!). My ultimate goal is to run a marathon sometime in the next ten years – and I have no doubt I’ll be checking this off my list.

You can check out a list of races in Chicago here​


Winter Break in Chicago

Finals were crushing me and, as you can imagine, I was stress eating like it’s an Olympic event and I’m going for gold. Whenever I’m stressed, I invariably seek out baked goods and Chinese food. I am currently typing this up while eating a double doozy (it’s like a chocolate chip ice cream sandwich, but instead of ice cream in the middle, it’s buttercream frosting) from Sweet Mandy B’s​. And in case you were wondering, I’ve become a regular customer of the Chinese food station in the Student Center this week (it’s actually pretty bomb and watching the flaming wok soothes me).

But besides the copious amounts of food, there’s only one thing getting me through finals right now: winter break. While I’m going back home to Wisconsin for break, if you’re staying in Chicago, consider yourself lucky. There are tons of amazing things to do in Chicago during break.

Christkindlmarket is apparently famous for their boot-shaped mugs. Some people collect them. I don't know what else to say about that.

For a lot of families, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade​ is a tradition on Thanksgiving Morning. But if you’re not from Chicago, you may not know that Chicago also has its own Thanksgiving Day Parade. The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade​ is held on State Street and runs from Congress to Randolph at 8am on Thanksgiving morning. It’s huge. The route is a mile long and the projected attendance is 400,000 people. And to top it all off, David Arquette​ is the Grand Marshal of the parade. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. 

And as long as you’re on State Street, I don’t know why you wouldn’t go see the famous window displays at Macy’s ​(R.I.P. Marshall Field’s​). This year, the story is “Santa’s Journey to the Stars,” everyone’s favorite Christmas tale of the child who uses a magic telescope to celebrate Christmas on different planets before ending up back at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While I was skeptical of the story at first (I’m still unsure if it will enter into the holiday canon), the windows are actually beautiful and absolutely worth going to see. The windows will be up until January 10th, so you have plenty of time to check it out.

All I want in life is to have as much fun as these people look like they are having.

The Christkindlmarket​ is a Chicago (but really German) tradition that has to be experienced. In the middle of Daley Plaza, a little German Christmas market pops up from November 20th-December 24th. It’s a very big deal. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, everything is a little overpriced, but just the experience of walking around is worth it. Actually, in reflecting on that point, I don’t think I’ve ever purchased something from the market. It just makes me feel good.

Every year I say I'm going to go ice skating at the rink at Millennium Park​. Literally, every single year. I have yet to go. But I swear this year is the one. Or next year. But I'm feeling good about this year. I get bitter every time I see pictures of people ice skating in front of the Bean​ while I’m sitting at home watching Elf​ for the 74th time. For the record, I’m not complaining about watching Elf, that’s just what I’m usually doing when I see the pictures and become bitter. This year (or next year) will be mine, though, and I will have that picture for myself. I have plenty of time to try to squeeze it in this year: it runs all the way until March 6th. 

If you have any favorite things to do in Chicago during the holiday season, let me know!​


Skydeck Views

Sometimes, it is okay to indulge in tourist activities. Or, at least that’s what I told myself when I walked up the steps to visit the Sears Willis Tower​.

I visited new heights on a Monday night at 5:30 p.m. I chose to go after work because I thought the lines would have died down after the morning rush and before the night rush. To my surprise, the relaxed lull in patrons that I expected turned out to be a hot and sweaty line of chaos, confusion, and strollers upon strollers.


​The Willis Tower was absolutely hopping for a mere Monday night, leading me to conclude that the Willis Tower experiences no “lull” in lines. 
Hence, my tourism experience began on a sour note. As an impatient, Type A person, long lines are the bane of my existence.  

Luckily, as I was standing in the line, I saw a classmate who happened to be working at the Skydeck...and for the first time in life, I was given the VIP treatment. 

Okay, well maybe not the first time, but still. I felt like a celebrity as my classmate pulled my roommate and me out of the line and sent us straight to the front. We made it up to the Skydeck in less than 30 minutes, when the actual wait would have taken us over an hour.


Seeing Chicago from up high puts things into perspective. People walking in the streets are no longer visible and cars are faint blimps on a strip of pavement the size of my toe. Boats in the river chug along but, compared to the towering skyscrapers, are unnoticed like the fine print text at the bottom of a pharmaceutical commercial. 

I’ve never been one to shy away from heights, and this experience was no different. Standing on the ledge of the Skydeck didn’t faze me one bit. I even took a picture of my feet and my view.

 

As for my roommate, he stood clear of the ledge and looked out the windows, rather than down. In fact, his acrophobia caused him to remain five feet away from all windows for the duration of the visit.


While the view was simply indescribable, the Skydeck experience itself felt so commercialized. The constant waiting and lines combined with the over-accessible gift shop lessened the experience of taking in the view. The Skydeck was crowded and hard to move around in and the trip felt like a process rather than an authentic experience. We were funneled up the elevator to the crowded, top floor, only to have to stand in line again at the end to go back down. 


​While I do believe that the view is par excellence and that standing on the ledge gives you a small but sweet adrenaline rush, keep in mind that the Willis Tower experience is geared towards the tourist. 

Chicago Sunrises

I hate getting up early. I am not a morning person. I am not one to sleep until 1:00 in the 
afternoon either, but I cringe anytime I have to set my alarm for earlier than 8:00am. Now that 
winter is quickly approaching, getting up early means getting up before the sun. How depressing and miserable is it to wake up when it is still dark out? People who enjoy waking up at the crack of 
dawn genuinely confuse me. It is not for me - I am definitely one with the sun. It takes a lot for 
me to wake up super early, which means that I have never really seen the sun rise.

In high school when school would start at 7:30am, I often did see the sun rise. But, I did not 
appreciate it. I did not wake up early solely for the purpose of watching the sun rise, and I 
resented it because I hated waking up so early for school. Here at DePaul, I have a couple of
friends whose favorite activity is getting up early to walk to the lake to watch the sunrise. They 
definitely do not do it all the time, but once or twice a quarter I hear of their plans to go watch 
the sunrise and subsequently grimace at the thought of waking up at 6:00am. This past weekend, though, my friend got a big group of our friends to drive to the Adler Planetarium to watch the sunrise over the city. 

It was a low-key struggle to get up that morning, but it was so worth it. If you have never been to 
Adler, I highly recommend going at any time of day. The view of the city skyline and the lake is 
so beautiful! Watching the sun rise over the city reinforced my love for Chicago and my 
appreciation for living here. How blessed am I to be able to go to college in a city as amazing as 
Chicago? It is one of the best cities in the world.

Winter is Upon Us!

​​Winter is upon us. 

Do not let any random warm days fool you, my friend. Soon there will be snow up to our knees, cars will need a few extra minutes to warm up, and even Santa will need help flying through the stormy weather. 

Yes, Chicago winters are infamous for testing the patience and character of all its inhabitants. From neighborhood teamwork to shovel up the streets and sidewalks, to the cars that still drive 60 mph as if snow is a myth, the winter tests us all. 

With the cold heading our way soon, it is important to know what is going on. Unlike summer, destinations need to be planned because no one wants to walk around without a safe, warm place to go to. My recommendation is to make sure to layer up, take a nice hot beverage with you on the go, and plan your adventures wisely! 

Of course the snow and blistering cold isn’t all that bad. Make sure you enjoy the white fluffy beauty of Mother Nature before it is gone for the year. Throw snowballs, build snowmen or snowwomen, and make some snow angels. Whatever your winter goals are and wherever you may be, I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season!

Thanks for reading my blog, stay awesome friend!


Halloween Happenings

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

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

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

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


Halloween on Parade

One of the biggest challenges of moving to a new place is being away from your family. Though I love living in Chicago and being a DePaul student, I definitely get home sick from time to time. That’s why I get so excited when my mom comes to visit, which she did a few weekends ago! Not only do I get a full fridge of groceries and a weekend of free meals, it’s a great opportunity to venture out into the city and find something fun to do.

Puppet of Sue

My mom has visited so many times over the last three years that we’ve pretty much exhausted all the big tourist attractions. I was excited to discover a Halloween event happening downtown during her visit, so we could break-free of the traditional trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo​Don’t get me wrong – I love the zoo! But sometimes it’s fun to mix it up. After a delicious lunch at one of my new favorite restaurants, Nando’s​my mom, my boyfriend and me hopped on a train, wearing our Halloween headbands of course, to check out the festivities.​

Me and my boyfriend, Will, at the Halloween parade! (Taken by my mom)

 The Halloween Gathering​ was a new event this year, sponsored by the Chicago Cultural Mile Association​You can read more about their mission here, but basically the goal is to make the Chicago Cultural Mile, which is located between the Chicago River and the Museum Campus on Michigan Avenue, a popular destination for visitors and tourists. During the day there were several performances, crafting opportunities and attractions for both children and adults. To conclude the festivities, there was a Halloween parade – which is the part of the event we were able to attend. Groups and organizations from all over the city participated in the parade, including: The Field Museum​, The Art Institute​, Poems While you Wait​, The Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians​, several Brazilian dance organizations and universities within the city (including DePaul – represented by Theatre School​ and School of Music​ students!!). There were also several more – all of who were wearing costumes and representing their organizations in various ways (The Field Museum had a giant puppet of “Sue​”, who is the T-Rex that lives in the main lobby of the museum!). It was a really cool event, and I was really glad I could share it with my mom while she was in town.

I’m so lucky to be living a city where the arts are celebrated, and I think my mom enjoyed it too. There is never a dull moment in this city – now is the time to embrace it!​


Open House Chicago

The Old Chicago Inn
Last weekend reaffirmed my love of the city of Chicago. I happened to be walking down the street when I saw a sign outside the Old Chicago Inn on Sheffield Avenue stating that the Inn was an Open House Chicago​ location. ​

Chicago is many things, but it is never boring. I must sound like a broken record saying that there is always something to do in the city, but it’s true. 


Open House Chicago is a free public festival put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation that offers behind the scenes access to 200 buildings across Chicago. This year the festival took place on October 17 and 18. 


My roommate and I walked down the block to take a short tour of the infamous Old Chicago Inn we must have passed right by 1,000 times since moving to our apartment. It was amazing to see the inside and experience the 1920s themed speakeasy we had heard about. Located in the basement, patrons could even order drinks at the bar while walking around the Inn. 

We next ventured off to the loop where we made three stops: the Continental Illinois Bank Building, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Money Museum, and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Each of these buildings was extravagant for its decor and amenities. 


The Continental Illinois Bank building ​featured an old basement vault that attendees could walk through and the Architecture office housed models of buildings from around the world. It was great to be able to see these places that are normally off limits. 

If you can plan a visit to Chicago during Open House Chicago, I assure you that you will not be disappointed. Enjoy my pictures!

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Money Museum
​​
Me at the Continental Illinois Bank Building
​​
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture


Why I Chose DePaul

The most common question I hear when I tell people that I’m from Maine is, “Why come to Chicago?” 

When I was in high school, I was one of those go-getter types. I wanted to be a part of everything and experience as much as I could; honors societies, science club, team sports, music in and out of school, and mission trips were only some of the things I was involved in during those four years. When it came time to apply to college, I saw it as an opportunity to try something new and get out of the New England bubble that I'd known my whole life. I wanted a college that was going to challenge me in my music and academic studies, provide networking opportunities and help me become the best musician and person I could be – and not to mention, give me a big, new place to explore!

I initially favored DePaul for two reasons: it’s in a big city and it offered me the most financial aid. My first visit DePaul was also my first time in Chicago, and I was in love with the big city vibe! Though not directly downtown, I thought it was so cool that I could hop on a train and be right in the middle of the 3rd biggest city in the country in less than 15 minutes. DePaul also offered me a great amount of financial aid…as a music student I was considered for both academic and talent scholarship awards. Though the scholarships now come as one combine package, (meaning, students receive one lump sum of scholarship instead of two different scholarships), audition performance and high school academics both still affect financial aid for music students.

After doing a little more research on DePaul’s offerings, reputation, and mission I was completely sold. In the school of music specifically, several of the faculty members play in the various symphony orchestras and other high-achieving ensembles (Chicago Symphony, for example!). Check out the DePaul Facu​lty pages​ if you want to know more. DePaul also offers several different performing ensembles​: two orchestras, two choirs, one wind ensemble, jazz bands and combos and many other smaller ensembles. There is never shortage of performance opportunities around here. When I made the switch from performance to music education​, I was sold all over again with a future of studying with inspirational educators, working in local schools and being able to student teach in some of the best schools in Illinois. (Not to mention – my advisor specializes in social justice in education, which is something I’m really passionate about)

DePaul is a Vincentian school and I’m passionate about the commitment to social justice and community support. You can read more about DePaul’s Vincentian identity here​. In short, St. Vincent de Paul asked the question, “What must be done?” to help those in need, and DePaul does as much as possible to continue this mission through service to the surrounding community. DePaul has several organizations that help students find volunteer opportunities, such as DePaul Community Service Association​.

Though I often miss my family, easy access to the beach and eating cheap lobster, I will never regret choosing DePaul for my college education. DePaul has prepared me to be a great teacher and person; and for that I will always be grateful!


Halloween in Chicago

Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I think I am finally over the allure of Halloween. Dark colored lipstick and spooky clothes is my all year around thing so you’d think Halloween would be my most coveted of holidays, but you would be wrong. Things in everyday life are WAYYY scarier than those giant spider webs people decorate their yards with. Student loans, anyone? Ebola? That’s scary AND real.

Franken Plaza
Honestly, Halloween welcomes (the best season ever) fall, I am just not one for cramped and sweaty house shows anymore. Wow I sound like an old person and I’m not even 21 yet.

As you can tell, I’m kind of a sour about Halloween, but this year Chicago reminded me of how fun of a holiday it could be outside of a college campus. I had an old professor from California tell me that no city does Halloween quite like Chicago does. In Chicago, the fun is for adults and children alike.

This is evident in the Franken Plaza​ downtown! I usually go to Daley Plaza for Christmas activities but this year the fountains ran orange in celebration of “Chicagoween”. There were events like hayrides, trick-or-treating, and give away items. What I love most about the Franken Plaza is that once every year The Midnight Circus comes to perform. Sadly, I missed it this time around but last year there were acrobats and jugglers.  

An event that really put me in the Halloween spirit was The Halloween Gathering on the Chicago Cultural Mile​. This event brought together a really diverse and creative community for a really powerful parade. These people went ALL. OUT. Half of the day was dedicated to art featuring things like mask-making booths and performance artists. The rest of the day was the parade.  It started at dusk which is by far the spookiest of hours. This year the Thriller Dance Mob performed in the parade and I’ve had Michael Jackson stuck in my head for a week now.  

Ok, so I might still be a bit of a bum about Halloween but it’s safe to say that Chicago does a great job getting everyone involved. 


FEST 2016 Survey is Here!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas? No. 

The FEST ​survey is up and being shared all over DePaul social media platforms! From Twitter to Facebook, if you are not following the DePaul Activities Board yet change that now. 

FEST is DePaul’s spring music festival held on the Quad during the last quarter of the year. Every year there are various events held to promote the event from forums to surveys. Just today the DePaul Activities Board released the official FEST survey for FEST 2016. 

With an amazing line up from The Neighbourhood ​to Chance the Rapper​, this year is already creating buzz around campus. So who do YOU want to see at FEST? Check out the survey on the link below. 

Also, if you’d like to read more about FEST and the DePaul Activities Board, click on their website and see what the organization is all about. 

Survey: http://depaul.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bPoQiRwOgkkBeLP

 

D.A.B.: http://orgsanddepartments.orgsync.com/org/dab/

 

Thank you for reading my blog! Stay awesome my friends!


Basketball Season Has Begun

The other night was the first Cavs ​game of the season. For those who don’t know, I am from Cleveland, Ohio and am a HUGE basketball fan. Sadly, the NBA championship last year did not end in our favor, but I am so excited to watch the Cavs dominate this year. They better do well - I’ve talked enough trash talk to my friends who root for the Bulls. I am too competitive for my own good!

I am not just a fan of basketball, but have played it since I was in first grade. It was something my father was passionate about and those genes seem to have passed on to me. Basketball is such a fun, exhilarating sport to watch and to play. It is fast-paced, physical, never boring, and something amazing always happens. 

I’ll never forget the games in high school that went into double overtime or games that were won by a lucky half-court shot. I’ve made life-long friends through playing basketball and I am so glad it was such a big part of my life. I don’t play for DePaul, but sometimes will still shoot around or scrimmage with some of my friends, which I think is sometimes more fun than playing super competitively. 

The DePaul Women's 2015-2016 basketball team. Go Blue Demons!
Speaking of competitive basketball, DePaul basketball will be starting soon! The men’s​ first game is on November 7 and is at home, and the women’s ​first game was on November 2 at home, as well. I actually have never seen the men play because the Allstate Arena, where they play, is a hike for a car-less girl like me. The women are super fun to watch and are really talented. If you are on campus during one of their games, I encourage you to get tickets! It is a fun way to spend an afternoon. 

Go DePaul, go Cavs, and go Chardon High School! 


Loop Campus: Sweet Tooth Detours

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

Chicago Stop: Sprinkle’s Cupcakes​

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

Grand Stop: Pinkberry​

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

Lake Stop: Magnolia Bakery​

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

Munroe Stop: Pret A Manger​

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

Jackson Stop: Garrett Popcorn​​

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


RefugeeOne at DePaul

​The Vincentian mission is stressed from day one at DePaul. Giving back and continuing a mission of service are both very big characteristics that define the DePaul community. Unfortunately, I am such a busy bee that I find it difficult to go on mission trips or volunteering excursions during the school year. Thankfully, the DePaul students and faculty make it easy to be a part of charitable efforts by organizing on-campus events. 

The one event that I really loved so far this school year was conveniently held in the Student Center. 

In collaboration with RefugeeOne​, the Arabic Language and Culture Club, and Students Organize for Syria at DePaul University, DePaul was hosting a winter clothing drive to collect warm clothes for new refugee families! They collected clothing items for weeks! 

Collection Box locations:

- Lincoln Park Student Center - Under the stairs on the west side of the building

- Loop campus on the 11th floor of the DePaul Center 

What we are asking for:

- Winter coats

- Gloves, hats, scarves, mittens

- Boots! 

​Through this event I became curious about what RefugeeOne is and how the work their organization does effect the city I live in. Every year, RefugeeOne assists approximately 2,500 refugees and immigrants of all ages, ethnic groups, faiths and backgrounds to find housing, learn the English language, acclimate to American culture, develop computer and job readiness skills, secure employment, obtain medical care, apply for citizenship, and develop overall family strengthening skills.

I feel honored to be a part of a student body that takes time to give back. With RefugeeOne guiding the way we create opportunity for refugees fleeing war, terror, and persecution to build new lives of safety, dignity, and self-reliance.
If you are interested in getting involved with volunteer or mission trips, check out the site for the Vincentian Community Service Office.


Another Day in Chicago

​​​​​A few Fridays ago, I was laying in bed (shocker). Surprisingly, I was actually doing homework. Actually, if I remember right, I was eating avocados and Mickey’s House of Villains​ was playing in the background (for the record, if you haven’t seen Mickey’s House of Villains, I highly recommend it for no other reason than the vintage Halloween cartoons). In that case, I probably wasn’t doing homework, but rather homework was probably somewhere on my bed, laying untouched. I can’t resist Mickey. Either way, my friend Olivia texted me, reminding me that she also lives in Chicago and that I hadn’t seen her for a year.

Olivia and I go way back. We first met while doing community theatre together when I was in fourth grade. That’s eleven years ago (that realization was brutal for me)! I had no plans for the weekend and neither did she, so we had a quick brainstorm of things we could do. Twelve hours later, Olivia and I were standing in line at the Bank of America Theatre, waiting to buy tickets for the musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder​.

Now, if you’ve never done student rush for a musical, you’re missing out. Almost every popular musical does some sort of student rush (or lottery) nowadays. Each show does student rush a little bit differently, but for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the tickets went on sale when the box office opened at 10am (but Olivia and I got there around 9am so we could be close to the front of the line because I stress about these kinds of things). The show sells whatever seats were still open for $25 to any student/senior/veteran. Other shows (like Wicked​) use a lottery system where you can put your name into a drawing, and then two hours before the show, box office agents will pull 10-12 names. Each chosen person can buy up to two tickets for $20-$30 (it depends on the show – for Wicked, the seats are usually $25 and in the front row).​

Me in Maggie Daley Park with Olivia. I don't know how my head and the only dent in the mirror aligned so  perfectly.
With four hours between buying the tickets and the show, Olivia and I went on a walking tour of downtown. We stopped at my new favorite chain restaurant, Wow Bao​, where I shared with Olivia the glory of bao​. The consumption of bao gave us the energy to walk to Eataly​, Ghirardelli​ (you know I needed my free piece of chocolate), and through the beautiful Maggie Daley Park​. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you run to Maggie Daley Park as fast as you can and walk through the Enchanted Forest. If only you could have seen me running on those logs and spinning the boulder... you would have been embarrassed.

The show itself was great and we had amazing tickets. I can’t lie though: the highlight of the evening was the woman sitting behind us that was just absolutely confused by everything that was happening in the show. She spent the entire 15-minute intermission trying to talk through who had died (one man plays eight parts and she could not tell them apart at all) while I tried to discretely wipe my tears away from laughing so hard.

All in all, it is days like these that I’m grateful that I live in Chicago. Ten-year-old me would be very proud that I chose to live somewhere where going to see a Broadway tour is something I casually decide to do with a friend on my free time.


Top Five Lincoln Park Lunch Spots

With admission processes in high gear and the beautiful fall weather Chicago has been having recently now is definitely the time to visit​ DePaul’s campus! When I first visited DePaul I chose to do the Admission Information Session and Lincoln Park Tour back to back. These programs generally run 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm on the weekdays, as well as Saturday mornings. Before or after your tour be sure to check out one of Lincoln Park’s award winning restaurants.  Below you’ll find my top five lunch spots within walking distance of campus.

​5th Place: Uncle Sammy’s​

Named ‘One of the Six Serious Sandwich Shops of Chicago’ by Time Out magazine, Uncle Sammy’s is a great soup and sandwich shop located below the 1237 West student apartments. I recommend roast beef, ham, and provolone cheese on freshly baked bread, also known as the ‘Windy City’. Another must is Uncle Sammy’s Ghirardelli brownies. They’re the perfect dessert to save for your trip home!

4th Place: Jam 'n Honey​

Calling all Nutella fans! You’re college decision will easily be made once you see Jam & Honey’s Nutella jars on every table! Serving breakfast all day, you can’t go wrong with the Banana Nut French Toast or Eggs Benedict. You’ll just want to remember to stop at the ATM before heading to this cash only restaurant.

Third Place: State​

State (at the corner of Webster and Bissell) takes sports and food to the next level! 80% of ingredients are locally produced before they are prepared in State’s full scratch kitchen and served to your table surrounded by 124 flat screen TV’s.  On Wednesday through Fridays State has different specials that bring many menu items down to just $5.99 or $6.99 each, including their signature Buffalo Skillet Dip and Signature Rock Shrimp.

Second Place: Homeslice​

Just across the street from State is Homeslice. Their 31 types of pizza (Yes 31, that is not a typo!) are perfect for groups of two, four, or even more! Can’t decide which pie to try? Calzones are also an option! I recommend the Smoked Ham & Avocado - it’s a new twist on a time old classic. Homeslice also offers whole grain crusts and gluten free options to please all pizza lovers. 

First Place: Pasta Palazzo​

Locateat Halsted and Armitage, Pasta Palazzo offers classic Italian cuisine with reasonable prices.  The grilled calamari appetizer in lemon-herb vinaigrette offers a refreshing twist to traditional fried calamari. Next I’d suggest the handmade gnocchi with your choice of sauce. After these two dishes your room for dessert may be limited, but if you’re up for the challenge you won’t regret the tiramisu!​ 


A Kid in a Candy Store

Chocolate is very important to me. 

Is it a priority? Yes. Do I need it on a daily basis? Yes. Could I live without it? No. 

Luckily for me and other chocoholics out there, Chicago’s chocolate scene is on point. It’s easy to find delicious, decadent desserts that will leave you wanting more all throughout the city. Even if you don’t like chocolate, the following dessert and candy places will help any sweet tooth stay satisfied. 

Dylan’s Candy Bar:

445 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611


Dylan's Candy Bar

This candy shop is located at the heart of Michigan Avenue and was created by designer Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan Lauren. Her fusion of pop culture, candy, art, and fashion has created a brand that is fun and delicious. The Chicago store features a life size lollipop display and carries novelty and nostalgia candies such as Candy Buttons, Big League Chew, Razzles, Slo Poke Bars, and so much more. Dylan’s chocolate selection includes items such as chocolate covered popcorn, various flavors of fudge, chocolate bars, and chocolate bark. Her store also features a plethora of lifestyle and apparel gifts like jewelry and plush pillows -- because who doesn’t need a furry, huggable doughnut? While the Chicago store isn’t as big as its original New York location, Dylan’s does have a party room that can be reserved and a cafe where you can order frozen delicacies. 




Lolli and Pops:

Fashion Outlets of Chicago, 5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont, IL 60018


Lolli and Pops

While this candy shop is a tad bit out of the way, the Rosemont location is easy to get to via the blue line and then free shuttle to the Chicago Fashion Outlets location. Lolli and Pops is a tiny collection of candy stores that opened in 2012. I like this shop because it is organized by type of candy in each room: the gumball room, the chocolate room, the gummy room, and the jelly bean room. Additionally, Lolli and Pops has an assortment of old fashioned sodas to quench your thirst. When you’re done exploring and eating, there are so many stores to visit in the mall as well. If you’re going to venture to the outlet mall, make sure you give yourself ample time to make the journey and to get lost in the gazillions of stores there. 


The Grand Luxe Cafe:

Ontario, 600 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611


​While The Grand Luxe Cafe is the ultimate tourist destination that native Chicagoans tend to scoff at, the food is hard to beat. With the expansive menu that includes everything from duck to flatbread pizzas to morning cocktails, and the prime view that overlooks Michigan Avenue, this restaurant’s immense popularity is no surprise. While everything always tastes scrumptious, there is one dessert here that stands out amongst the rest. I will even admit that I have visited this exquisite restaurant with friends just to order this singular item. I’m sure the waiters love when patrons do that. The Grand Luxe Cafe’s New Orleans Beignets are seriously to die for. They are baked to order and take about 30 minutes to prepare so order them when you order your entree. These fluffy, round, fried pieces of dough are covered in powdered sugar and are accompanied by three dipping sauces. They are perfect to share with a friend, however splitting this dessert amongst three or four people may cause a friendship fight over beignet rations. ​


Molly’s Cupcakes:

2536 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614


Molly's Cupcake
I’ve blogged about Molly’s Cupcakes before, but I just couldn’t leave them out of this dessert list. Located in Lincoln Park, Molly’s Cupcakes is a sweet treat that every DePaul student has indulged in at one point in their collegiate lives. Molly’s center filled cupcakes are perfect for chocolate lovers. I’ve eaten countless cupcakes here and my favorite would have to be the Cookie Monster, which includes vanilla chocolate chip cake, a raw cookie dough center, buttercream, and mini chocolate chip cookies. The Flourless Molten Chocolate cupcake comes at a close second and a close third is the Crème Brulee cupcake. The shop itself is complete with swinging seats and a sprinkle station to add the finishing touches to your cupcakes. The seating area is very tiny however and the shop can get crowded quickly. Sometimes it’s best to take your cupcakes elsewhere to enjoy your mini treat. ​



West Town Bakery and Diner:

15 East Ohio, Chicago, IL 60611   

This unique bakery and diner is attached to the ACME Hotel and Berkshire Room Bar. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but in accordance with my dessert theme, it’s necessary to direct your attention to this bakery’s cakeballs. Cake is ultimately delicious in any form, but in my opinion, cakeballs pack more of a flavorful punch. 

Before eating West Town’s cakeballs, I had only tried Starbucks’s cake pops. I thought that balls of cake were just dainty little treats that you could eat in one bite on a stick. I thought they were perfectly shaped and decorated with some sprinkles sparsely spread on the thin sheet of icing covering the light vanilla cake. West Town Bakery changed my standards for cakeballs. They should be coated in sprinkles, unable to be digested in one bite, and messy. West Town’s cakeballs are massive and unapologetic. With flavors such as French Toast, Blueberry Lemon, Triple Chocolate, Mexican Spice, Red Velvet and Mint Chocolate, these cakeballs appeal to any one’s palette. While one is still not enough, these cakeballs change the game. 


A Night at the Opera

Since I have been waking up at 4:45am to be at school on time over the last eight weeks, having a social life on weeknights has faded into a memory of the past. Don’t get me wrong, student teaching thus far has been a great experience and I’m learning so much...but if sleep wasn’t a top priority before, it certainly is now (and generally before 9pm these days!) However, because I had to submit a massive teaching portfolio on Friday, I was released from school on Thursday to work on it. In honor of being able to sleep in until 8am that day, I decided to head to the Lyric Opera of Chicago ​to see Rossini’s Cinderella on Wednesday night while I had the chance.

The Lyric Opera of Chicago has an awesome program for college students called NEXT​. Through this program, you can register to receive emails about $20 dollar tickets to most of the operas that are performed throughout the year. There are even dedicated “college nights”, where students can arrive early to a show for Q&A and pre-show talk sessions with different Lyric employees and performers. Watch out though: there are specific show dates for student tickets – you’ll want to make sure to check when they’re available so you don’t miss your chance! 

Cinderella with the dancing mice...classic!
Luckily for me, there were student tickets available for the Wednesday night performance of Cinderella. Better yet, I got to choose my seats online! I was able to score two seats – one for me and one for my best friend, Kelsey – on the main floor near an aisle with a perfect view! The opera was in Italian with subtitles and ran for about three hours and twenty minutes with an intermission. Though it was slightly different than the cartoon we all know, no fairy God Mother or glass slippers, I absolutely loved it! There were dancers dressed as mice, colorful costumes and a fairy-tale wedding…what more could a girl ask for in an opera?

I’ll be milking the benefits of my DePaul student ID this year – I’m planning to visit the Lyric Opera at least three more times this season. On my to-see list: Wozzeck, Romeo and Juliet and The King and I… so much opera, so little time!

Losing my Wallet

Last week I lost my wallet. 

All of my school IDs, work IDs, driver’s license, Ventra card, punch cards, Walgreens card, dignity, etc were gone. 

“The incident” happened on a Saturday. With an influx of nice weather in Chicago, my roommate and I decided to go for a cool lakefront walk. Enjoying the last few days of nice weather is a necessity. 

Our lakefront stroll included picturesque skies, sailboats, and sun. Taking in the beauty of the day, I became inspired and naturally, decided to finally create an Instagram account. 

Up until last week, my Instagram game was nonexistent. I didn’t find the platform to be that much different from Facebook and I didn’t understand what all the hype was. Plus, I’ve never thought of myself as much of photographer. Maybe the endless photos I’ve taken with my thumb in the corner of the shot gave me the hint that the photography industry wasn’t for me, but whatever it is, taking photos is not my strong point.

So on Saturday at the lakefront I decided it was time to move into the 21st century and get an Insta account. My roommate and I snapped silly photos to get the perfect first shot to upload. 

​If I was going to make an Instagram, I was going to do it right.

On the 151 Sheridan bus on our way back from our impromptu lakefront photoshoot, I lost my wallet. Maybe I was caught up in the world of Instagram and my head was in the perfectly filtered clouds. Whatever was going on in my mind, I left my wallet on the bus.

When I got home and realized what I had done, I was in pure denial. I would never be so irresponsible as to lose my wallet on a bus. After reality suck in, I had a panic attack. Not one of my proudest moments, but it happened. I spent my weekend miserable and worried sick. 

After harassing the CTA via nervous-panic phone calls (I’m sorry Rhonda from CTA’s North Park Garage), littering Twitter with my despair, and worrying my parents and roommates about my sanity all weekend long, I received what I am calling “the miracle call” on Monday afternoon. 

DePaul Public Safety informed me that some amazing, anonymous angel turned in my wallet to them with everything in it. I was truly speechless when I got the call. Whoever turned in my wallet, I owe you my life and a homemade batch of cookies or something.

I still am at a loss for words for the whole experience. I felt a sense of guilt when I found out my wallet had been found. I had made such a fuss over the loss of my IDs, and it was all for nothing. My wallet was found by some sort of miracle act of kindness.

Looking back on the experience, I have a few take aways. Even if my wallet hadn’t been found, I was going to be okay. I didn’t need the drama that came along with losing some plastic cards and my Wetzel’s Pretzels punch card that were in the end easily replaceable. More importantly, I didn’t need to throw my whole weekend away once losing my wallet. 

Long story short, my Instagram account is up and running (follow me @simplykreykrey) and my wallet and I are never leaving each other’s sides again. Sometimes, instead of panicking, it’s important to put things in perspective and take a step back. 

Even if your Red Mango frozen yogurt frequent member card is gone for good, just remember that it will all be okay with the right attitude, patience, and a sprinkling of luck and kindness. 

Bernadette the Movie

Coming soon to a theater, school, and city near you! Bernadette the movie finished production this past summer and has a target release date of spring 2016. 

Professors John Psathas and Patrick Wimp ventured to create a feature length film utilizing the skill of DePaul students and the opportunity provided by CDM’s (College of Digital Media) Project Bluelight. 

With a dedicated student crew, John Psathas, director and producer, and Patrick Wimp, director of photography traveled all around Illinois to create the perfect suburb for their coming of age comedy. Taking full advantage of local Chicago actors as well as students from the DePaul Theatre School, the teaser for Bernadette has been played over 8,000 times with the Facebook page being just shy of 2,000 likes. Several articles mentioning the film have been released through various news outlets such as The DePaulia​, Reel Chicago​, and the Chicago Tribune​. The film is now in the post-production phase but behind the scenes photos, witty statuses, and other content is being released on their social media sites frequently, keeping fans of the film engaged until the premiere. To keep track of the film follow and check out the links below.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/131947745

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BernadetteMovie

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bernadettethemovie/

 As always, thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did working on it. It is a great display of the talent here at DePaul University and an even better display of what good collaborations can create.​


Halloween in Chicago

As you probably already know, I love fall​. Which means that I also love Halloween. What may surprise you is that I occasionally turn off my TV, which is usually playing Hocus Pocus​ on a constant loop during this time of year, and do something outside. Of course, despite the implication, I’m not talking about doing any sort of athletic activity (my current excuse is that I’m gaining protective fat in order to survive through winter). I bravely venture outside, wearing the jack-o-lantern t-shirt that I bought at Walmart, to go do Halloween-related things or, as you read​, to buy pumpkin-flavored goods.

Now, some of you may be wondering what Chicago offers for Halloween. Others of you may be questioning how you can pick from the seemingly endless number of Halloween parties and events. Or if you’re like me, you’re sitting in bed and wondering why Disney Channel stopped showing Don’t Look Under The Bed​. 

If you’re in the third group with me, the answer is that Don’t Look Under The Bed was supposedly too scary for the intended audience (although I don’t remember trying to burrow into my couch to hide from the monster in Don’t Look Under The Bed like I did during Halloweentown​).

If you’re in either of the other two groups, you’re in luck. I’ve gone through and selected the best of the best so that your Halloween is all treat and no trick.

The Halloween Gathering​ (October 24th)

I can’t believe a bunch of artists are throwing this and the best name they could come up with is “The Halloween Gathering.” That being said, the actual event has a lot of promise. Hosted by Chicago Cultural Mile in conjunction with a ton of fine arts organizations (including the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), this first-year event has tons of music and drama performances planned, tons of crafts, and some really interesting art installations. The culminating activity (besides the super expensive after-party) is a costume parade through downtown, complete with a Thriller​ flash mob.

19th Annual Northalsted Halloween Parade (October 31st)

What happens when you cross a pride parade​ with Party City​? You get the 19th Annual Northalsted Halloween Parade. Running straight through Boystown​, one of the costume contest categories is drag​. If that doesn’t make you want to go, I don’t know what will. I want to go just to count how many queens are dressed up as one of the Golden Girls​. If drag queens aren’t your thing, you really shouldn’t be in Boystown there’s a pet parade earlier in the day as well.

Day of the Dead​ (November 1st)

This year, The National Museum of Mexican Art​ is hosting its biggest and most interactive Day of the Dead celebration ever (which is saying something if you’ve been to any of them in the past). Anyone can upload a photo of a loved one who has passed on their website​ and it will be projected onto the side of the museum during the festivities. Apart from that art installation, you can expect tons of live music, hot chocolate, art, and skulls.​ 

​​

#FlyTheW!

​​“Fly the W!” “Go Cubs go!” “Cubs Nation!” If you’re in Chicago, you’ve probably heard the awesome news. Cubs are heading to the Pennant for the first time since 2003. 

Dominating the St. Louis Cardinals, the beloved Cubbies took the series 3-1 (best out of 5) and they did it with one win on the road and two in their hometown. Fans all over say this is the year the Cubs go all the way knock on wood

For many fans, this highly successful season comes as a surprise as it was noted early on that this would be a year of progress. The “five year plan” was something Cubs President Theo Epstein came up with. The reason, to give fans a deadline by which he would transform the Cubs from lovable losers to playoff contenders. Criticized, at first, for three consecutive losing seasons, Epstein is now in his fourth year as Cubs president and has shown what he is made of. Building from within, Epstein brought up 3 key players from the minor leagues. These included Kris Bryant​, Albert Almora​, and Javier Baez​. Additionally, the Cubs signed Cuban powerhouse Jorge Soler ​to a 9 year, 30 million dollar contract. Epstein saw the talent and brought them to Chicago - a gamble that is paying off. 

All stats aside, the story of this team is one to remember. With 8 of their players being born in the 90’s, the Cubs are a young team and show potential for years to come. A season that was supposed to be nothing more than another building year, has now turned into the latest chance for Cubs fans to see their team win a World Series. Players built and developed from within the organization have taken charge in the Big Leagues making names for themselves against top teams in the MLB. The Chicago Cubs have been exciting this year for many more reasons than just their record. It’s their story, their players, their fans, etc. This - knock on wood - is our year!

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

Go Cubs! Fly The W!

Breakdancing and Bach

​​​One of my all-time favorite hobbies is browsing through Weekly Groupon ​and LivingSocial​ deals. If you've never heard of these two websites (also an app for various smartphones), it's important that you know how life changing they have been during my college career. Both services provide discounts to area restaurants, events and activities - usually saving you upwards of 50%! I always check these sites before going out to save as much $$ as I can.

This past week on Groupon, I saw a deal for something called "Red Bull Flying Bach" and decided to check it out. (I mean, it said Bach - what music major wouldn't be curious?) The cover picture for the Ad was dancers flying through the air over a life-size piano. Red Bull Flying Bach turned out to be a performance by the Flying Steps (breakdancing World champs) literally breakdancing to Bach music. Unfortunately, the $35 dollars for an $84 dollar ticket Groupon was sold out! Unable to find cheaper tickets anywhere else on the Internet, I decided to take a gamble and beg for a student ticket at the box office the night of the show.

$30 dollars and four flights of stairs later, I'd scored a seat in the balcony at the historic Chicago Theater to see the show. (Note: student tickets are generally $25 dollars to Broadway Chicago shows. This was a special event so it was slightly more expensive!) As I read the program and observed the stage set up, it became evident that yes, there would be breakdancing and yes, two different pianists would be providing the Bach. Within 3 minutes of the C Major Fugue from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, several dancers were performing head spins, moving hand stands and other intricate breakdancing moves. It was hands down (get it?) one of the coolest art forms I've ever seen in my life.

One of the best things about being a college student in Chicago is the access to art. Pretty much every venue in the city offers student tickets between 15-35 dollars. Here are some other things I've done with my student ID:

Field Museum​, all access pass: $25
Lyric Opera​ (Oklahoma!, Elektra, Die Meistersinger): $20
Broadway Chicago​ (Stomp!): $25
CSO concerts​ (too many to list!): $15

Need some inspiration to keep practicing your instrument? Go see the Chicago Symphony or an Opera at the Lyric. Need a good laugh? Score some cheap tickets to the Second City. Want to try a new restaurant or try a paint night or cooking class? Get yourself on Groupon or LivingSocial pronto! 

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to take advantage of your status as a student to save some serious dough! Happy experiencing!

Jet Setting to DePaul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Be a Tourist!

There’s a huge difference between visiting somewhere and living somewhere. I had this exact conversation with my friend the other day: when you visit somewhere, you might spend hours and hours researching places to go and sights to see. When you live somewhere, you just don’t have the same urge to explore.

I mean, look at me- when I was originally looking at colleges and figuring out where I wanted to go, I was insistent on being in a big city. I wanted to live the city life; I wanted to experience different kinds of people, sights, foods, and events. Being in Chicago was one of the main reasons that I chose to go to DePaul. When I first came to DePaul, I lived in residence halls and had all my classes in Lincoln Park, so I never really left campus. I'd go to class, go eat at the student center, and then go home. For whatever reason, I just never really ventured out.

I won the Wicked lottery. And yes, you see that I marked only one ticket. Because I have no friends and went all by myself.

Why did I insist on living in the city if I wasn’t going to take advantage of it? I’m that person who always dismisses everything as being “too tourist-y”, while always secretly wanting to go up to the Skydeck​. So I decided to bust out the (figurative) fanny pack and try to approach Chicago like a tourist would! Since this spring, I’ve decided to abandon my pretensions and make it a point to actively seek out tourist-y types of activities (although I have retained my dignity and continue to refuse to take a picture of my reflection on the Bean​).

At the same time, I’m (obviously) a student, so I have no time for tourist prices. Honestly, I only finally went up to the Skydeck because I realized I could use my airline points from my flight to Madrid to buy passes. Because you can’t use points on everything, I have a few discounted suggestions for fall and winter.​

I’m not going to lie: I used to be a theatre nerd. And I still love theatre. Tickets can run super expensive though, so I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to score cheap tickets. Like I’ve mentioned 1001 times, the​ Office of Student Involvement​ sells discounted tickets for at least one show per quarter, so they’re always my go-to. Another great resource is​ HotTix​, literally a website dedicated to discount theatre tickets. I also regularly check Broadway in Chicago​’s website for special offers. This is where they will announce if a show will be doing lottery or student rush​. This is how I got to sit in the front row of Wicked for only $25!

The famous Bean, also known as Cloud Gate. People love taking pictures of their reflections in it. I don't get it.
After three years at DePaul, I finally went to the Shedd Aquarium​ this spring. I had been meaning to go for years, but just never got around to it. It was so worth the wait. Even better: I went on an Illinois Resident day (you can find when the next one is on their website), used my DePaul ID, and got in for free. If you’re in the mood for a more traditional museum experience, The Art Institute of Chicago​ is ranked one of the best museums in the world. Located right next to Millennium Park​ (and the amazing new Maggie Daley Park​, as well), the Art Institute has tons of iconic art that you’ll instantly recognize. If you want to check it out, the Art Institute offers free admission for Illinois residents every Thursday from 5-8pm.
​Whether you just moved here or have lived in Chicago your whole life, seeing Chicago through the eyes of a tourist can open you up to a variety of new experiences!


Chicago Museum Week

Although I am a Chicago native, I sometimes make the mistake of forgetting that one of the most distinguishing features of Chicago are the museums. Sometimes the cost of having a good time is too high for my budget, but with museums I like to splurge a little on admission cost just because I love a nicely curated exhibit.

BEHOLD

MUSEUM WEEK​ IS UPON US!!

Museum Week consists of 12 museums all throughout Chicago that offer free or discounted admission, discounts on yearly membership cards, and behind the scene events. From modern art to Mexican culture, this is a chance to experience museums in a very unique way. This is right up my ally because I feel like I have gone to the same museums so many times, but now I can still go to my favorites and expect something new during Museum Week.

These events will take place from October 1-7. If you ask me, I am most excited about the deals that the Lincoln Park Zoo​ has got goin' on. Picture this: A giant 60-foot burlap sack slide, a ferris wheel, a hay mountain, a corn maze, inflatable rides and a pumpkin patch!! FINALLY somewhere I can get a pumpkin in the city that isn't in a sketchy Wrigleyville garage. Some of these festival activities seem kid oriented but why not?! We aren't getting any younger, people.

Please, please check the link below to see if your favorite museum is having any sweet deals. The site also has an interactive map so you can see exactly where the museums are located.

www.chicagomuseumweek.com

Happy exploring!


Chicago Nanny Diaries

Living in the big city comes with a price … quite literally. While DePaul offers great grants and scholarships to alleviate high tuition costs, in today’s higher education market, it’s hard to come out on top financially. 


As I’ve mentioned before, I truly believe that being a poor college student is a rite of passage on the road to adulthood. But after about the fourth cup of Ramen in four days, I seriously am thinking about retracting that statement. 


Luckily for me, I’ve been blessed with many money earning opportunities throughout my years at DePaul. From being an EDGE Program participant to working paid internships, I’ve had the ability to grow professionally, while earning some nice cheddar. 


One job that I am extremely proud of is being a child care provider to various families throughout Chicago. I currently work for a Child Care Agency called K. Grace Childcare, Inc. and couldn’t be happier with the experience that I’ve had here.

Working with my busy schedule, I babysit only when I can find the time to. Sometimes this means I work once a week and other times it means I’ll work three times a week. K. Grace matches you with families on an availability basis, and also if you fit any special needs that the family may require.


I can say with 100 percent confidence that being a child care provider has helped my professional development. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great families throughout the city and am able to adjust to new surroundings and adapt to any situation quite quickly. Whether I am babysitting for a group of young 5-year-olds having a sleepover, dealing with a crying toddler in a public place or cooking for kids with severe food allergies, I am forced to think quickly and act accordingly. 


I have had some great memories with lots of the kids that I babysit, including going to countless parks throughout the city, getting schooled in soccer and also learning how out of shape I am, seeing critically acclaimed films such as Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, and knowing far too much about the lyrics to Frozen and the origin of the Minions. 


And of course, the pay is great too. I’m always paid directly after my shift, mainly in cold, hard cash. No wait, no taxes, no problems. 


If you’re looking for a job this quarter and you like kids, exploring parks and different neighborhoods, Disney channel, Minecraft and/or all of the above, consider child care providing and making some serious dough. 


It's Finally Fall

I’m a big believer that no matter how long you’ve lived somewhere, you should do all the touristy stuff at least once. When I sat down to write this blog, I had planned to write about discounted and free touristy things to do in Chicago (look for it next week). But then, right as I went to sit down, I made the mistake of spraying my fall scented air freshener.

I love fall. Fall makes me happy. Fall has always been my favorite since I was a little kid. For whatever reason, when I woke up this morning, it just felt like fall to me. In honor of that feeling, this post has become a celebration about fall and all the fall-themed adventures I had today.

I'm not kidding when I tell you that this is a picture of my freshman dorm. And yes, that's also a fan. It got stuffy in that room.

After Dominick’s​ closed (R.I.P.) and before the Whole Foods opened up on campus, I would walk to Trader Joe’s​ to get all my groceries. The weather was beautiful today, so I decided to walk there and pick up a few things. One of my favorite things about Trader Joe’s is its huge assortment of seasonal goods and decorations. Now as I’ve said, I’m an easily excitable person, so you can imagine my reaction when I walked into Trader Joe’s today and saw pumpkin flavored everything, including Pumpkin Spice Cookie Butter. If you’ve had Cookie Butter, you know why this is so exciting. If you’ve never had Cookie Butter, you better have a good reason why not. If you’ve never heard of Cookie Butter, go read this famous blog entry​ about it. After 25 minutes on the phone with my mother, narrating every pumpkin flavored item I found to her, I was finally prepared to check out.

Now this is where my story just gets straight up shameful and embarrassing. I’ve truly hit a new low in my life. I’ve hit rock bottom. To paint the picture: my dad had just called to tell me about this showing of ​Hocus Pocus​ at a cemetery in Chicago in a few nights. As a child of the immediate gratification generation, I immediately want to watch Hocus Pocus, but I’m obviously not home yet and I’ve lent my DVD player to someone who hasn’t returned it (you know who you are). So here I am, walking home with both my groceries and a burning desire to watch Hocus Pocus.​

Yes, I own all four Halloweentown movies. Why wouldn't I?
I’m ashamed to admit that I grabbed my phone, went on YouTube, and started playing the theme song to Hocus Pocus. Now, you may think that isn’t so terrible, but let’s all recognize that I did not have headphones on me and that the theme music of Hocus Pocus​ was playing out of my speaker on my phone while I walked down the streets of Chicago with pumpkin-flavored groceries.

After I get home and recover from my shame spiral, I grab some apple cider and my pumpkin pie flavored yogurt and I surf the web, as the kids like to call it. I’m pulling up sources to write my blog when I inevitably end up on DePaul Activities Board​’s website. I notice an event I had not noticed before: a Halloweentown​ Party. Even though they aren’t showing my favorite, Halloweentown High, you better believe I have literally cleared my schedule in order to go. I expect to see you all there with me, eating as many pumpkin flavored baked goods as you can handle.​


Expo Chicago

The Art Expo is BACK!

What better way to kick off the fall season than to spend it surrounded by art with a cinnamon spiced mocha in hand. Expo Chicago is an international exposition in which the leading contemporary and modern artists showcase their work. I made sure to wear tennis shoes since the thought of strolling through 140 galleries already hurt my feet. I think that art challenges people. 

$50,000 right here!
In this case I really believe that contemporary and modern art really challenges me. I find myself rushing through the galleries because sometimes modern art doesn’t strike me as interesting. The more I expose myself to difficult art the more I find myself taking time to absorb it and appreciate it, even if it is slightly confusing. As an art lover myself, this experience was well worth the mere $15 I spent on a ticket, although it was nothing short of overwhelming.

Spanning the globe across 16 countries and 47 cities, the art that was showcased came in all shapes, sizes, and mediums. Although I am not known to be the most glitzy gal, one of my favorite pieces was a giant mirror that was commissioned by Tiffany & Co. The mirror was constructed using 856 individually hand-cut pieces and were placed in a mosaic fashion. The piece was mostly used as a hot spot for selfies since it is a giant mirror, but after the millennials moved along it gave me an opportunity to get up close to the mirror and try to absorb the talent that was put into it.

This exhibit was a visual feast!

Mirror in a mosaic fashion

I got the opportunity to see an insanely expensive piece be sold on the spot. It cost $50,000 before tax which is the equivalent to 50,000 McChickens. Keep that in mind. 


I'm on a Boat: Boat Cruise 2015

What is the best way to end the weekend? I have found the answer: go on a boat cruise! This past Sunday night, along with about a hundred other college students, I had a two-hour long dance party up and down Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. How did I get to do this, you ask? I am part of an organization call Cru​, a Christian group and community.​

One of my best friends and dancing partners, Lauren, and me taking advantage of the skyline.
It is not just found at DePaul, Cru is an international organization. Students from DePaul University, Columbia College, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Harper College attended this event. All of these schools have students involved with Cru, and collectively we are referred to as Cru Chicago. Since none of us individually have huge numbers, like a state school would, we are lumped together. It is great because there is more community. We experienced a lot of the CRUmmunity on the boat CRUise (get it?)! There is nothing like a good pun to truly brighten your day! 

Back to Sunday night: the boat we went on was two stories and we docked right by Navy Pier. We then headed out to Lake Michigan and traveled north and south on the lake, which meant absolutely amazing views of the city. The lake was a little choppy, but that did not get in the way of picture taking or dancing. Thankfully, no one fell in! We then headed back to the river where we boated around downtown Chicago. We had left Navy Pier at dusk, so we experienced the sunset from way out in the lake.  I sometimes forget how beautiful and grandiose Chicago is, especially when school is so busy, but it is evenings like these that remind me. 

I'll never tire of this view!
I feel so blessed to live in this magnificent city! As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” I agree with you, Frank. Nothing one-ups you, Chicago.


Rita Ora Comes to Chicago

Every Thursday night I hunker down in the basement of University Hall to crank out my two-page section for the DePaulia, our student-run award winning newspaper. The windowless dungeon gives you no sense of time, making two hours feel like ten, and sometimes vice versa.​

However, this Thursday night I was in for a treat. The Arts & Life Editor called me around 8 p.m. to let me know that she had an extra ticket to cover Rita Ora. I stopped everything I was doing and on my way I went to Lincoln Hall.

Working on the DePaulia has its perks, especially if you have the coveted position of Arts & Life.  Our Arts & Life section covers popular culture and artsy topics ranging from new art exhibits to neighborhood events in Chicago.

What makes people especially envy of the position is that the job entails covering concerts and music festivals. This year, our Arts & Life Editor attended Pitchfork, Lollapalooza and Riot Fest…for free! Gaining press access allows select members of our staff to go to the events and cover them for the paper. We live tweet the events, photograph them and review them all on our website depauliaonline.com. I highly suggest you check it out.

So this Thursday when I was informed there was an extra press ticket for the DePaulia, I ran out of the basement and into freedom.

Not prepared for the concert what so ever, I was dressed in jeans and a cropped gray t-shirt. My makeup had melted off my face throughout the day and with no time for fix-ups I looked like a hot mess. My hair was in a messy bun that I tried to unknot but couldn’t and my necklace was missing four beads, which I had found out during my first class of the day but decided to keep the necklace on because I am classy like that.

​Looking around Lincoln Hall at everyone who had bought tickets months ago and had subsequently marked this date down on their calendar with a countdown, I wasn’t surprised to be very “underdressed.” Not that people were dressed to the nines, but people there were definitely dressed to impress.
Before the concert, I actually did not know one thing about Rita, but now I would consider myself a huge fan. She is immensely talented and is from London, so even when she was talking I was impressed. Her backup crew was small but also had some serious vocals.

​Despite arriving an hour late due to her flight being delayed, she was extremely apologetic and even tweeted updates to her followers where she was once she landed at O’Hare. Her set list was small given that she doesn’t have a ton of produced songs available, but she did perform three new songs that will be coming out this year.
Extremely interactive, Rita even pulled a fan up on stage to dance with her. While I know that this trick can be corny at concerts and oftentimes seems really staged, this instance was extremely genuine. Rita is truly someone who is appreciative of her fans and had various side conversations with them during her concert. I tried, but my back row spot couldn’t quite project my voice far enough.

​Rita’s raw talent isn’t apparent through her featured position on many artists’ tracks in pop music, but after seeing her headline her own show live, that really is a shame. I have no doubt that in a few years Rita will be selling out much larger venues than Lincoln Hall.

Was I star struck when she came on stage? If you know me, you’ll know that the answer was an astounding yes. My fellow editor and I stood in the back row of Lincoln Hall. She had to take notes throughout the concert for the DePaulia so we didn’t want to be body slammed in the middle or front rows.

Our presence at the concert is another story in itself. As the audience double fisted beers and shots, we double fisted a pen and paper. We got many curious stares as we took in the atmosphere and wrote down what she said. We clearly weren’t concert dressed and were 110% sober, unlike the rest of the crowd. We stood out like a chipped nail on a perfectly manicured hand. 

I’ve always been an extremely star struck person. When I am around anyone remotely famous I completely lose it. So when Rita came on stage after her delay, I immediately became her number one fan as I shouted, “I love you Rita!” on a continuous loop. Bringing even more attention to our sad presence at the concert, I eventually stopped.

The concert was a great way to end to a hard first week back at school. Make sure to check out DePaulia online for an official review of the concert. Also, listen to the DePaulia’s Podcast “Culture Shock” on iTunes for our hilarious commentary on the concert and more. ​

A 20-Year-Old Senior Citizen

This year, I’m in limbo.

While it might appear that I’ve got all my ducks in a row – perhaps due to the new back to school watch on my left wrist, signaling that I always know the time – this honestly couldn’t be further from the truth.

To break it down for you, my watch is a “fashion watch.” Don’t fret if you don’t know the terminology because I just made it up to justify the fact that my watch, an object generally used for a utilitarian purpose, doesn’t tell time correctly. I learned this the hard way as I ran to class realizing that being early in fashion watch time meant being late in the time zone known as reality. Discount shopping is always hit or miss. 

Beyond my inability to tell time despite my new (fashion) watch, I have found myself already stumped by two questions presented to me in my classes. No, I wasn’t being asked the quadratic formula or in what year Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Nor was I asked who wrote “The Great Transformation” or what the scientific method is. The two daunting questions were as follows:

 1.)   What year in school are you?
 2.)   What do you want to do once you graduate? 

Clearly off to a great start in my classes, I “errr”ed and “umm”ed my way through my responses with the grace only a 20 year old millennial with a fashion watch that falsifies time can exhibit.

I acquiesce when professors make you introduce yourself to the class. It’s awkward as everyone digs around in the back of their minds for something remotely interesting about themselves. When put on the spot like that, I usually lie. Not on purpose, of course. But before I know it, my nonexistent skydiving experience leaves my mouth like hot lava spewing out of a volcano; unstoppable, unforgivable and dangerous.

As college credit from high school has saved me money, which I am very thankful for, I question if I am appreciative of the time it’s saving me. I’m a third year student at DePaul, but am set to graduate after next fall quarter (or possibly sooner). An odd time to enter the workforce and an odd situation to explain to a classroom full of people whom I’ve just met; hence, my confusion at the question, “What year in school are you?” As I debated being a junior or senior out loud to all of my peers and professor, I realized that I so don’t have it all together.

And then comes the second question, aka THE question that parents, coworkers, aunts, uncles and everyone else under the sun loves to ask young college students. I envy the people who explain detail for detail what they will do with the rest of their lives with a sense of precision and confidence that is reserved for talk show hosts like Oprah and Katie Couric.

Unfortunately, for me, my class was full of Oprahs and included a sprinkling of Courics. As my classmates described their aspirations to become lawyers and campaign organizers, policy makers and non-profit leaders, my fashion watch and I didn’t stand a chance. So we searched around for something exciting that might have been a stretch of the truth.

Instead, under the immense pressure of the question and the embarrassment of the preceding one, we said, “I’m just taking it day by day really. Trying to survive.” As I described my future as if I had a terminal illness, my professor gave me a half smile, pitying me and saying, “It’s okay. You’ll figure it out.” It was clear that school was back in session.

So here I am, buckling up for the long journey ahead and knowing that each step forward, or backward, at least means I’m moving.

Excited for the year ahead yet? I know I am. Just don’t ask me my year in school or what my future career is. Especially, don’t ask me the time.


Welcome Back!

​​​​​Hello all and welcome back! I am so excited to be joining DeBlogs for another year and getting the opportunity again to share my thoughts and experiences on this page. I truly am looking forward to this upcoming quarter - I think it will be a great one! Summer break, however, was definitely needed. It was a busy, crazy, but exciting and fun summer! 

This summer, I worked as a nanny for a family with three beautiful, young children. The mom mostly stayed at home with the baby, so the two older boys and I were free to go on many adventures. We visited lots of parks (some with water!) and museums, made homemade ice cream, performed some science experiments, dabbled at potty training (I am now an expert at the potty dance), read many stories, cried many tears, and giggled many laughs. It was a jam-packed, but unforgettable job, and I discovered a new appreciation for motherhood. It is hard work!

My family also took a vacation this summer. We have been going up to Traverse City, MI​ for the past few years and it is becoming our new tradition. We rent a cottage on one of the many lakes and sometimes hitch our boat to the car and bring it, too. The week is spent exploring the many towns surrounding Traverse City, trying new restaurants, and reading and relaxing on the water.
The view from the dock at our cottage. So relaxing!

This year we experienced an unexpected occurrence: we lost power for almost four days! A mega hail and thunder/lightning storm hit where we were staying and knocked a power line down. Because we were located in such a remote area, we were one of the last groups of people to have our power turned back on. It was not the most fun way to spend vacation, but we made do and it certainly was memorable. Bathing and shaving my legs in the lake is a memory I will keep for a long time!

Even though this summer was really busy, it was refreshing and I am excited for the challenges and opportunities this quarter will bring me. Junior year is a big year where I will have to make many big decisions and start figuring out what life after DePaul will look like - yikes! However, I believe that I am ready for whatever this year will throw at me. I hope you all are look forward to this new school year, too.

Summer Recap: Chicago Blackhawks

Editor's note: ​​​​​​​There were various exciting events that took place in Chicago this summer, and many of our DePaul students were there to experience them! Cami DeMarco recaps Chicago's many summer activities revolving around the Chicago Blackhawks and the Stanley Cup below:

​​​​
​If you live in Chicago chances are you’re well aware of the how passionate we are about our food and our sports.  Good or bad, Chicago fans are diehards. Our Blackhawks have given us special reason to celebrate this summer as their three Stanley Cup wins in six years have cemented a hockey a dynasty.​

When the Hawks won in 2010, I was an incoming freshman to DePaul. I took the Metra downtown with my mom and joined in the chaos (I was mildly intimidated by the city I had chosen to move to - were people always this crazy?). In 2013, I was an undergrad student and one of the crazy two million fans waiting outside Grant Park to hear Craw’s memorable speech. In 2015 I am now a DePaul alumna, and could be found in the mass of people outside of Wrigley Field until the early hours of the morning the night the Hawks won. In 2015, I also realized that Chicagoans/DePaulians are spoiled.  We get to claim the Hawks as our own, and have gotten to do so during a time of their mega-success.​

One of the most exciting things about the Cup coming back to The Windy City is that the organization plans to celebrate with it all summer long.  Each player has the ability to keep the Cup for a day and do with it what they wish.  The Hockey Hall of Fame keeps journals of everywhere the cup goes with the players and can be found here: the 2010 ​journal, the 2013 ​journal, and a 2015 entry will be compiled later in the year.  

The Hawks do a great job getting the Cup out into the community for fans to see, touch, and take pictures with when not visiting player’s hometowns.  This summer, the cup visited Wrigley Field, the Cell, a variety of bars, and a Mumford and Sons Concert (the Cup has good taste).  In 2013, I spotted the Cup at The Pony Inn, and finding it almost seemed too easy with the help of social media. 

In general, it is difficult to predict where the Cup might end up, sometimes it’s all about being at the right place at the right time, as some of their stops are given little notice of their soon to be arrival.  

Happy Summer of Stanley current/future/graduated DePaul students and Blackhawks fans!  If you weren't able to catch a glimpse this year try, heading to the Blackhawks store​ at 333 N. Michigan Avenue to take an interactive, computer generated picture with your favorite player!  Here is to hoping for four in seven next year!

Summer Recap: Pride Parade

Editor's note: ​​​​​​​There were various exciting events that took place in Chicago this summer, and many of our DePaul students were there to experience them! Current student Lily Yonker recaps her experience at the Chicago Pride Parade below: 

June is national LGBTQ* Pride month, and here in Chicago, there were many events to attend to celebrate. The biggest and most popular event was the Pride Parade, which draws in an average of 750,000 people. The Pride Parade happens annually on the last Sunday of every June. Although the parade route is subject to change every year, it often goes right through the heart of Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood along Halsted Street and you will see floats from about 200 different businesses and organizations such as schools, the Chicago Police/Fire Department, Government officials, Chicago bars, and even local television stations. For a more comprehensive list of those who are a part of the parade, feel free to take a look here​!

The weekend prior to the parade is when Chicago’s famed Pride Fest is held. Pride Fest takes place on North Halsted (the same street the parade route runs later in the month) and is a festival with music, food vendors, free prizes, and tons of activities. Another thing that makes Pride events so popular is the fact that they are free to enter. The Pride Parade is completely free and open to all ages while the Pride Fest does request a voluntary donation when you enter. That donation however, is not required, but anything that is given goes back to support community programs.

When looking for free and fun events to attend during the summer in Chicago, both Pride Fest and the Parade are always a good bet! However, if that is not your scene, there are countless other festivals all over Chicago in the summer.

My Favorite Desserts

​​​​​I was trying to brainstorm a possible topic for my last blog post until fall when I realized I’ve never talked about the one thing I know best: desserts. I've made it no secret that I love food. I mean, nothing tastes better than food. And as far as food goes, dessert tastes best. In a city as big as Chicago, you can find a lot of desserts. As you can guess, I’m no stranger to many of those desserts. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Eataly​—Chocolate Chip Cookie
First off, if you've never been to Eataly, you need to go. A grocery store-food c
The absolute best chocolate chip cookie money can buy. Go to Eataly and get it.
ourt hybrid created by chef Mario Batali, Eataly is two floors of food heaven with 23 different food stations. While most people go to the Nutella Bar (a station that literally only serves baked goods with Nutella on them) in Eataly for dessert, I head up to the bread bakery and grab one of the chocolate chip cookies. Not only are they big and cheap (at least compared to the rest of the store), they’re super chocolatey, which is the most important aspect of a chocolate chip cookie.


Ann Sather​—Cinnamon Roll 
No one ever really says, “Wow, that was a great cinnamon roll.” Prior to my trip to Ann Sather, I was pretty convinced that a cinnamon roll is a cinnamon roll. They’re all pretty similar. I look back on my pre-Ann Sather life and see a naïve young adult, struggling to find the truth in life. After my first bite of the cinnamon roll at Ann Sather, I saw the light. It’s everything that you always wish a cinnamon roll would be without the disappointment that usually comes when you bite into a cinnamon roll. (Pro tip: never buy the cinnamon rolls as an a la carte item—they’re a little expensive. Always get an egg-based entrée; each entrée comes with two sides and two cinnamon rolls count as ONE (1) side.)

Sweet Mandy B's​—My Birthday Cake
I’ve name-dropped Sweet Mandy B’s so many times in my blog posts that you probably think they’re sponsoring me. I wish. The reality is that the bakery is ridiculously close to campus and is easily the best bakery I’ve ever been to. I could easily do an entire post just on my favorite things at SMB (which I’m now
My delicious birthday cake from Sweet Mandy B’s. My parents did me a solid.
thinking I should totally do), but I thought I’d pick my birthday cake since I have the best picture of it. This year, my parents finally listened to me and got me the birthday cake of my dreams: chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream filling and covered in Oreo buttercream. They have the best buttercream frosting I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s so good that they now even sell cups of it by itself.

Glazed and Infused​—Maple Bacon Donut
I’m not generally someone who seeks out desserts that feature meat. I’m certainly not averse to meat (especially bacon), but I just don’t typically have a craving for pork roast brownies or anything. So when I first encountered the maple bacon donut at Glazed and Infused, I was apprehensive. Eating a donut with meat seemed like a Fear Factor​ challenge to me. After my friend convinced me to try it, I was hooked. I wondered what other delicious meaty desserts I had missed out on (spoiler alert: there are no other delicious meaty desserts). Now that Glazed and Infused sells their donuts at the DePaul Student Center, I can get my fix without even having to walk the two extra blocks to their storefront. It’s a win-win.


Reflecting on My First Year

​​​​​In honor of incoming freshman getting ready to go to orientation and start their first year at college, I thought I’d reflect on my experience at DePaul orientation and my first quarter at DePaul.

I took this picture on my way to DePaul’s orientation all the way back in 2012. I remember being so hungry and almost crying tears of joy when my orientation group went on a field trip to the bakery.
Three years ago, I was getting ready to step on DePaul’s campus for the first time. I (somewhat stupidly) never toured DePaul​ before officially enrolling, so orientation was the first time I ever actually got to see what the campus was like. I remember driving into Chicago that weekend, seeing the skyline, and not being able to believe that I would be going to school there for the next four years. Over the two-day orientation​, I enrolled for my first quarter of classes (I made the worst schedule ever and regretted it for the entire quarter), declared my first major, went to Sweet Mandy B's​ for the first time, attempted to figure out the layout of the campus, and made my first friend. Overall, I had a super successful orientation.

When I came back to DePaul to start school a month and a half later, I realized how much of a disaster I am on my own. DePaul's Lincoln Park campus is relatively small and ridiculously easy to navigate for 99% of people. The other 1% contains people like me, who have no intrinsic sense of direction. I got on campus and was instantly lost. Now, this had nothing to do with the layout of the campus or anything. I was 15 minutes late for every class on my first day of high school because I couldn’t find the classrooms (and my high school was a single one-level building). The campus is literally no bigger than eight square blocks, and my furthest class was only three blocks away, but I had to use Google Maps to get to my classes for the first two weeks. Bear Grylls gets dropped in the middle of a forest with no compass and finds his way out; I get placed in an urban area with clearly marked streets and can’t find my way to the student center three blocks away.

And like I said, I gave myself the worst schedule I can imagine. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I had class from 9:40 A.M. to 5:50 P.M.. Actually, let me rephrase that: I didn’t have class the whole time, I only had class from 9:40-11:10, 1:00-2:30, and 4:20-5:50. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to give myself an hour and a half break in between each class. I envisioned myself doing all this homework and eating all of these great meals and working out. What did I do in between the classes? I played a bingo game on my phone. That’s how productive I was during those times.

I met these two during my first quarter at DePaul (ignore the ugly jacket I’m wearing). Three years later and Vicky, Kate, and I are all still best friends. We had to go to a cultural activity for this Spanish class, so we went to a Día de los Muertos party at a bar in Wrigleyville. Despite arriving at bar at the moment the party started and being the only people there, we were told they were out of tamales (which they were selling especially for the party).
On top of all that, I remember being super intimidated by the entire CTA system. While enrolled at DePaul, you get a U-Pass, which allows unlimited use of the CTA​ system. Throughout my first quarter, I think I used the ‘L’ by myself one time (in order to attend a required play for a class). I don’t remember why I was intimidated at all, but I’m pretty sure I was. It probably had something to do with me thinking that I would never find my way back if I left campus. Of course, I take the ‘L’ all the time now, comforted by the fact that Google Maps has transit directions and schedules.

Now, three years later, I have a second major, I’m starting my combined BA/MA program this fall, I’ve made a lot more friends, I’ve perfected scheduling classes, and I’ve recently mastered the layout of DePaul’s campus (but I’m still completely lost outside of it).  

It's Summer, Baby!

It is the end of another school year. I cannot believe that I am done with finals, that this is my last blog post for the year, and we get three months of summer break! It has been an absolutely crazy year that has gone by so fast. I got an apartment, learned how to live on my own and as an (gulp) adult, became more involved around campus, got a hernia, changed my career path, and learned a lot about myself. Somehow, I came out alive! My sophomore year is over and I am now a junior, an upperclassman. Gosh, so crazy!​

I am excited for this summer and I already know it will be a busy one. Hopefully, it will not fly by as quickly as this school year did. I have a full-time nannying job for three sweet children, which will keep me on my toes and surround me with lots of love. I have to go back to Ohio a couple of times for a few family graduation parties and I am looking forward to seeing lots of extended family and friends. My aunt, uncle, and two of my cousins are coming out to the city over the Fourth of July weekend, so it will be very nice to spend time with them as I do not get to see them very often. My family is also taking a vacation up to Traverse City, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. We have gone there for the past few years and it is such a beautiful area. Northern Michigan is the best. We always rent a house on one of the many lakes and this year, we are planning on hitching our boat to the back of the car and pulling it up to Michigan. I am really excited for a week of relaxation, beach, and sun. ​

One of our first trips up to Traverse City feat. Momma Fisher. Isn't the water beautiful?
I also want to get some peace out of this summer. This past school year was great, but really stressful, and I already am anticipating a busy, jam-packed summer. I want to take the time to find sweet, quiet moments where I can read a book or go on a walk, spend time with my friends, cook dinner for myself, and just soak up the beauty of Chicago before school begins again in September. I want to take care of myself this summer so I can begin the next school year healthy, happy, relaxed, and with the motivation and drive to do amazing things. I already finished a book the day after my last final, so it looks like I am already off to a good start. 

It has been such a pleasure sharing pieces of my life with you all this past year, and I look forward to doing it again next year, as well. Happy summer! 

Spots You Don't Get to See on Your DePaul Tour

I understand how college tours can be because I was also once looking for somewhere to go to college.  Colle​​ge tours​ are.... well, an interesting time.  They are busy days of possibly seeing a couple of schools, doing a lot of walking, and hearing a lot of people talk about college.  If you don't catch my drift, I didn't especially love touring colleges.  I felt like I couldn't always get a real feel of what it might be like going there.  Here's my biggest piece of advice - walk around campus by yourself to see how it feels!  That's what ultimately led me to making a decision about college. 

On the flip side, I was also a tour guide at DePaul.  With my experience as a prospective student on hand when I gave tours, I did my best to show students what it might feel like going to DePaul, as opposed to telling people how old a certain building is - because really, that doesn't necessarily inform how your experience will be.

To aid in the process of getting a better feel for DePaul, I went out and took photos of a few spots that you don't get to see on your one hour tour.  It's not that you don't get to see these spots because they are private, it's simply because there isn't enough time.  However, these are some important and neat places.  Scroll down for a short photo tour of some places that you probably didn't see on your DePaul tour.

Also, I'm no photography major and the photos aren't edited, so you really get a raw look at these places.  

Arts and Letters Hall Student Computer Lab

This is one of my favorite study spots on campus.  There's a ton of sunlight and NICE computers to work on.  Again, the best thing about this space is that the sunlight and windows are incredible. 

Arts and Letters computer 
lab
Arts
 and Letters computer lab










John T. Richardson Library​ Third Floor (just one hallway of the floor)

John T. Richardson Library 

The library is a stop on most tours, but you only get to see the first floor, if there is even time to step into the library.  But, given that we go to college to learn, this is probably an important space because you could find yourself spending a lot of time here.  The good news is that they just renovated the first and second floors, and I'm pretty sure there are plans to renovate other spaces in the library.  Again, this spot offers pretty large windows!



Here's a spot you definitely don't get to see until your freshman orientation over the summer.  The track is great for the cold winters.  Also, the basketball courts are where many of the intramural games are held (soccer, volleyball, dodgeball, basketball, etc).  Although the picture isn't fantastic and it was a bit cloudy out, you can see the city from the track (8 minute trip on the train)!

Ray Meyer Fitness 
Center
Ray
 Meyer Fitness Center











Arts and Letters Room 415 - Awesome Classroom on Campus

Not every classroom in the world offers you a view like this one.  It's a corner room with windows looking toward the city.  I've never had a class in here, but I still try to sneak up there once in a while.

Arts and Letters Room 415









Nice Outdoor Space in Front of McCabe Hall
McCabe is a hall typically reserved for sophomores, juniors, and seniors; however, the space in front of it is really nice and a perfect escape from the indoors. 

McCabe 
Hall
McCabe
 Hall
That's it for now.  But again, if you've got a little bit of extra time I highly recommend taking a stroll around campus and seeing how it feels for yourself. 
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I'm a Lifelong Learner, Baby

I’m a cheesy guy. I’m a sappy, nostalgic, hopelessly romantic dude and what I’m about to say is cheesy but true: I love learning. So, as my formal education comes to a close (at least for the foreseeable future because I don’t currently see myself going back to get a grad degree), I’ve started to think about what I’m going to do next to continue my education in theatre and just as a person in the world. The options are endless.

From an acting/theatre perspective, I’m fairly certain the next training on my agenda is take improv classes. I’ve been doing improve since I was the president of my high school’s improv ​comedy troupe (What what, Improvability!). This past quarter we had an improv class with Noah Gregoropolous​ from iO​. This was definitely one of my favorite classes at DePaul. It was less focused in comedy than it was in using the training we have for written text and applying it to improvisation. The only real rule was that we wanted to always be truthful. The excise this provided was great because it encourages you to always mean what you say on stage no matter what which can be harder than you think if you’re not relaxed and focused in the moment. This practice was super inspiring to me, especially at this stage of my training. As such, I’m definitely planning on taking classes at iO ASAP. I feel like it will be just the kind of practice I need to keep my enthusiasm for acting alive.

My to-do list of post grad hobbies outside of theatre is crazy long. I want brew my own beer, work wood, play music, write poetry and short stories, cook delicious food, work on an organic farm in Norway, backpack everywhere, learn a million languages, build houses, and plant a killer garden. The way I see it, to be a quality actor you have to be a real human being. You have to appreciate things outside of the theatre that inform you in your theatre work. And at this point I just want to hit the ground running. I’m young and I want to squeeze every bit of opportunity out of my day. I want to learn something new constantly. And I will do it. The work never stops.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
You just have to sing along! YOU HAVE TO.


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Do You Live 20 Minutes From the Beach?


If you’re a DePaul freshman and you live on campus, you get to answer "yes" to this question.

Before coming to college I certainly didn't live close to the beach​.  In fact, my backyard and entire surroundings were a corn field.  Then I came to DePaul.  My first week of college I probably went to the beach at least 3 times.  It's an easy 20 minute walk East on Fullerton Ave​ (see below).  If you like to run, bike, or just be outside, you'll be in heaven.
It's not that I only love the beach because I can get a sun tan and throw a Frisbee​ all day.  More importantly, I love the beach because it's a sanctuary to escape the fast paced life of college.  It's somewhere you can go and feel almost completely removed from the city.  Coming from a small town, there were times when I was overwhelmed in Chicago and needed some extra space.  I spent a good amount of time just staring at the lake and thinking.  There's also a nice path next to the lake perfect for running or biking.​


I took these pictures on a pretty stormy day, but they still capture the beauty of being so close to Lake Michigan.  ​

Another Year for the Books

Another year for the books! It flew by once again. As many of my senior friends prepare for graduation, it’s surreal to think that this time of their life is over. Off they go to seek real world jobs with real world people…yikes. That sounds equally exciting and daunting.​

But for those of us who have only made a small dent in our collegiate careers, this upcoming summer will be filled with internships and free time. While I definitely will be on Netflix and getting my tan on — not at the same time however — I plan to spend my summer with some good books by my side.

Chicago has a plethora of bookstores to peruse and spend all your money at. From Myopic ​in Wicker Park to Bookworks ​in Lakeview, there are endless choices.

If you’ve never been to independent bookstores such as these, they are quite unconventional compared to your average Barnes and Noble​. Highly randomized, somewhat unorganized, and most likely used, the selection of books isn’t meant to appeal to those who are only looking for new releases. You’ll find more hidden treasure titles and authors than any mainstream content.

I think it’s important to support independent bookstores. In an age where Amazon rules all, it’s nice to be able to talk with a bookseller and get a personal recommendation, or simply just browse shelves of physical books. 

Hopefully, this summer, your reading list will be comprised of random finds from adventures at independent bookstores. See the graphic, courtesy of the DePaulia​, to find out where my favorite independent bookstores are.

Until next year! 


DePaul's Annual Drag Show

In all honesty, I believe that I had a great start to my long Memorial Day weekend. With fake nails and mountains of glitter in hand, drag queens took the stage in the DePaul Student Center to entertain and engage us with their back bending dance moves. I heard about DePaul’s 6th Annual Professional Drag Show through Act Out DePaul​.​

Act Out DePaul is an LGBTQA ​activist organization. For those of you that don’t know the alphabet soup that is LGBTQA, it means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning, and Allied. Act Out meets weekly and serves as a safe zone for people to discuss issues facing the community. The members have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of queer theory and activism. This community of people make it a point to spread awareness about the broad world of sexuality and gender identification. I was ecstatic to hear that I would be able to attend the Drag Show that Act Out puts on for the second year in a row.

Basically what goes down is a few hundred people crowd into a room waiting for the lights to dim and the show to start. Each drag queen comes out 1 or 2 times to perform a song (lip sync) and dance their hearts out. This is a fun way to educate the community about drag queens and the confidence that they hold as well as the far reaching spectrum of sexuality and identity.

Every time I attend one of these events I feel extremely proud to be a member of DePaul’s community. The liberal and open minded attitude about diverse ways of living and thinking make this environment an eye opening place to study. Act Out as well as other LGBTQA organizations reflect the needs and interests of the diverse student body through a range of services, educational programs, and events such as the Drag Show.  ​​​


Ethiopian Food for the Win

After eating, sleeping, and breathing tacos for a few months, I thought it was time to venture out into the world and find a new food group to indulge in. Since moving to Chicago, I’ve heard the buzz about Ethiopian food, but have always stuck to what I’ve known when it comes to food (hence the tacos on tacos diet that I have). But last weekend I was feeling extra adventurous— perhaps due to the warm weather or maybe due to the fact that I’m in denial that I’m still in school.

So off I went with my roommate to Loyola ​territory to seek out an Ethiopian restaurant called Ras Dashen​. The restaurant is named after the tallest mountain in Ethiopia​, which Zenash Beyene, the chef and owner, used to live by back in her Ethiopian days. Ras Dashen has won many titles and awards by Zagat and Check Please, and is recommended by the Michelin guide.

If you don’t know much about Ethiopian food, one thing to note is that it’s spicy. Like burn-your-mouth-should-I-go-to-the-ER spicy. But then again that’s coming from me who once cried while eating the mild wings at Buffalo Wild Wings​ and then begged my waiter for milk, water and ice cubes because I thought my tongue was going to fall off. For a better point of reference, my roommate who can eat the mild wings without a problem and frequently has spicy salsa verde as a midnight snack, said that the food was spicy but in a flavorful, delicious way and was certainly not enough to deter him from eating it.

If you’re a wimp like me though, don’t worry! Ras Dashen​ had spicy options and regular items so everyone can be accommodated. Another thing to note about Ethiopian foods is that there are no utensils. You eat with your hands. Not exactly an ideal first date type of situation I would say. By the time I finished dinner I had basically put my hands all over the food…sorry roomie.

As the Ras Dashen menu explains, “A traditional Ethiopian meal is served on a round of injera ​and shared by everyone at the table. Each entree comes with a roll of injera to be used as your eating utensil. Injera is a sour, spongy bread made with teff, the indigenous Ethiopian grain.” Eating became an activity in itself. Trying to scoop up the food in the bread was not easy. We spied on other tables with seasoned professionals to help us get the technique down.

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience at Ras Dashen and will definitely be going back. Ethiopian food isn’t just delicious, but it’s fun. If you like spice order anything on the menu, but if you’re like me, ask the waiter for some more mild options.

My Team Blog

“Dance like no one’s watching.” “Live like there’s no tomorrow.” “Live, love, and laugh.” These quotes are fairly familiar as I see them frequently on Tumblr​, Facebook, Instagram​, etc. Though they are used a lot, the meaning and value of these phrases should not be lost. It’s easier said than done to smile when you’re sad, to keep moving when you’re tired, and to think positively when you’re feeling down. However, I’m a firm believer in the fact that we have to do these things in order to continue progressing. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in resting and taking some days off to just relax and recuperate, but eventually we have to get back to the hustle. The world is always moving and it never stops for anything, with 7.2 billion people on this planet (and more coming every day) it is important to take the time you need, but to eventually get back into action. This, as I already said, is easier said than done. I have found myself feeling blah many times in my life. I didn’t want to do anything but sleep or be lazy with my dog, Gizmo.

When in these funks of mine I usually snap out of it with the help of my friends, family, and inspirational videos or quotes like the ones above. A common teaching in film school is to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I know how to write a script, film a video, and edit it but someone else might be a better writer or editor, and it is okay to ask for help because in the end the movie will better. So aside from film, in those moments of blah I look for my team of helpers to bring me up, and they usually do. A team is important in life because they support you and keep you up when the struggles of life try to knock you down. Even Batman eventually joined the Justice League​. To all those that have helped me through ups and downs, thank you, this blog is for you. For the individuals that are looking for a team of their own, keep going, you’ll find one eventually and remember to ask for help when you need it. Together everyone accomplishes more!   

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

For K.S.

Josue Ortiz​​​


5 Things I Wish I Did Before Coming To DePaul

​​This time of year is pretty exciting because of all the looming change.  Whether you're getting ready to graduate high school or to start your senior year, it's time to start transitioning.  Change is fun!

Here are five things that I wish I did before starting college at DePaul:

(1) Identify a mentor for the next four years, someone that you will be able to look up to for guidance.  This may be someone in your potential career field or someone from back home that you're particularly fond of.  Whoever it is, it may be best that they are a bit older and ready to give honest advice.  This could also be a DePaul professor.  In fact, that would be excellent because they can help you navigate your four years while also being someone that will see you change through your time here.  I've had a faculty mentor (Dr. Caitlin Karver) and I can't stress enough how thankful for her I am.  So, take a leap and reach out to someone (a professor, someone in Chicago, someone back home).  Think about your support system, who you go to when you need help or support.

Four years go by fast! Make the best of every one of them.
(2) Do some introspection.  Think about the core of who you are.  You're going to be challenged by a lot of new things in college, but what are some things that you're not willing to give up?  What are some things you're ready to move past?  College is a fantastic time to let these changes happen :) 

(3) Make a list of goals.  Like real, solid goals.  They could be long term (4 years and above) or short term (1 year) goals.  Even goals that may seem impossible.  Challenge yourself to set expectations.  It may help you start taking advantage of the incredible things that DePaul and Chicago offer!  For example, "Tom's goal #1 as an entering freshman at DePaul: Ride on every single CTA ​bus line start to finish"- Such a great way to see new neighborhoods.  Goal status: incomplete (because I didn't articulate this goal before starting college!) :( 

(4)  Summer, Summer, Summer.  This summer you should do something life-giving.  Something that will give you energy that you can take with when you go to college.  For example, maybe get a job working at a summer camp.  You'll have countless stories when you get to college.  Or, get a fun job where you learn something new.  Make memories with your parents, family, loved ones.  Then, document your memories!  I can't tell you how many times freshman year I went through the pictures from my summer before.  It was comforting and helped me remember some of the people I loved when I wasn't seeing them all the time.      

(5) Get ready for a hell of an incredible experience!  I'm not sure how to prepare for this, but just get excited.  You're soon to embark on a fantastic journey.  Celebrate your success so far and prepare so that you can thrive in college.        

The Ray Meyer Fitness Center

Something that I will greatly miss about DePaul once I graduate is the Ray Meyer Fitness Center​. I headed over there this past Saturday morning to burn some calories and get my heart pumping and kept thinking to myself, “Why don’t I go here more often?!”. Especially when the weather isn’t desirable or you are looking to use a machine, this is the place to go.


Just a minute walk from the Student Center (where the DePaul cafeteria is), the Ray is one of the highlights of DePaul’s facilities and should be taken great advantage of by all students. A membership to the Ray is included in DePaul’s tuition, so students can go as often as they would like and go for a swim, play racquetball or basketball, run on the indoor track, or use any number of the machines and weights​.

Not only does the Ray have a beautiful track on its top floor that overlooks Lincoln Park, a large swimming pool with multiple lanes, AND an entire floor of machines, but it also offers a great variety of group fitness classes that are free to students. From boxing to Zumba, you can be led by motivational and inspiring fitness instructors and embarrass yourself in a group of other people who are feeling just as lost as you are! I tried a couple classes with friends, but my favorite group instruction class has been cycling. I’ve enjoyed how the instructors use different music, lighting effects, and images to motivate us to push ourselves. I especially enjoy when the instructor turns on the black lights so everyone is glowing in the dark!​


In regards to machinery, my favorite one to use is the elliptical, but I have also used the treadmill and stair steppers. A lot of the machines also have individual televisions connected to them, so you can watch TV as you work out, to distract you from the agonizing pain you’re in (or maybe that’s just me?!)! I enjoy listening to music as I work out or watching Netflix on my phone, especially because there is no background noise. Something that I appreciate is the gym doesn’t play music in overhead speakers, so it is a quiet, clean environment.​

Once you finish your workout, you can head downstairs to the Ray cafe that offers delicious smoothies with fresh fruit, grilled paninis, or quesadillas. There are also great snack items there. While I love everything about this place, eating its food is my favorite part about visiting the Ray!

Maggie Daley Park

Despite being 20 years old, I am still a huge fan of parks. Maybe I’ve been babysitting too much, but I highly enjoy the springtime atmosphere of places with slides, swings, and seesaws.

In Chicago, there is one park to end all parks — the 20-acre beauty known as Maggie Daley Park​. Located right next to Millennium Park​, the Art Institute​, and Lake Michigan​, this park cost an estimated $60 million to build and is complete with rock climbing walls, intense playground equipment, open lawn space, and benches. Additionally, around 1000 new trees were planted in the park to make up for the 900 trees that were displaced.

While some of the park is still under construction, what currently stands is quite impressive. The sprawling park even had suggested ages for parents to find out which layout and equipment would be best for their child. For example, there were multiple swing sets, but the more hands on swing sets had a suggested age of 3-5 while another swing set had a suggested age of 5-12. The same type of signs served as recommendations for slides and other equipment, which is something I’ve never seen before at a park.

Maggie Daley Park is extremely family friendly and I think I even saw a few parents having more fun than their own children. Not going to lie, I went down the slide and it was probably the highlight of my week. But don’t worry, I didn’t push any 5 year olds out of the way. I patiently waited my turn.

When I visited Maggie Daley Park, I was leaving the Art Institute, exiting through the Modern Wing entrance, and could see the park in the distance. I dragged my roommate along to come check it out with me. With the weather a cool but humid 70 degrees, it was a beautiful day to be introduced to the new park.

 Even if you no longer classify yourself as a child, you should definitely check out Maggie Daley Park and reminisce on the days when parks were the reason for your existence. And if you’re like me, you might even go down a slide…or two. 



FEST 2015!

“Ladies and gentlemen give it up one more time for [insert band/DJ name here]!” That’s more or less how my night was spent last Thursday at Battle of The Bands & Fest ​Big Reveal as the MC. It was a great time, as always, over at Lincoln Hall ​with the DJ’s keeping people jumping up and down and the bands giving the people a sound to sway to. 

Of course the big thing everyone was waiting for, the reveal! Sound unfamiliar? Well there was a reveal that happened at the event, a BIG reveal, and if you were there then I hope you know what I am talking about. FEST 2015 is on its way! May 22nd is the official day and it is something everyone should go to! When talking about amazing, awesome, fun, incredible, and (I’m out of adjectives) really cool events at DePaul it is essential to bring up Fest. It is the biggest event of the year with thousands of DePaul students attending and amazing artist performing. It is held in the beautiful Quad and students can enjoy it anywhere from front row to the UHall ​patio viewing area. 

Now, for the final part of this blog. Who is going to perform at Fest? Well, hopefully you have already heard as everyone has been Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and more about it. However, just in case:

FEST 2015 presents:

Opening – Milo Greene​

The poster makes it look a lot cooler!

Middle Act – American Authors​

Headliner – Big Sean​

But wait there’s more!​

After Hours:

Milo & Otis

So if you have yet to get your Fest tickets, what are you waiting for? I will be there, other awesome people will be there, and it is going to be a great time!

Thanks for reading my blog and always stay awesome!

P.S. I want to see YOU at Fest and if you see me come say hi I love making new friends! 


Sister Helen Prejean

One of the best things about DePaul is the mass amount of speakers and established socialites that come and discuss their ambitions and lives with the students. Most of the time you do not have to RSVP to events but if the flyer asks for than it is a must! Most of the events I’ve attended were in the Student Center conference room or Cortelyou Commons​. Both of these facilities can hold many many people, and the events I’ve seen stem from a gender quality activist to a student run amateur drag show.

One of my goals for this quarter as well as upcoming school year is to attend more DePaul events. The most recent one I have seen was on a whim, but I’m more than glad that I attended. I had the honor of being in the presence of Sister Helen Prejean​. Although at first I did not recognize this name, once I looked deeper into who she was it hit me that she is a very influential person in the subject of the death penalty. She wrote Dead Man Walking which was turned into the award winning film featuring Sean Penn. Although this topic was pretty heavy for a sunny weekday afternoon, I knew that this was a prime opportunity to learn more about a subject that I am not well-versed in.

Before Sister went on stage there was an exhibition. The room was filled with hand written letters from the Stateville Correctional Center​. This series of letters was called “Why My Life Matters”. Most of the letters were background information about the convicted person, and appeals to bring back the parole board. Many of the letters were very well written and extremely thorough. This in particular gave me a huge reality check because the letters were written a month ago behind bars while I stand and read them sipping on a latte with the freedom to walk right out of there if I wanted too. On the floor of the room was scotch tape outlining the actual length and width of a prison cell. Just another tid-bit of information that further makes me realize the conditions prisoners live in.​

Sister Helen Prejean spoke for less than an hour, but she was extremely adamant about cultivating conversation about the topic with us, instead of just talking AT us. She had a panel discussion and invited people from the audience to come up to the microphone and answer questions. After a question had been asked she didn’t straight out answer it, but rather asked other members of the audience what they thought. I thought this tactic was warm and inviting and made everyone comfortable with talking about such a dark topic.

After the session as over, I felt like I knew more about the morality of punishment and the United States’ justice system. Sister Prejean has not only inspired the film industry, but also inspired conversation and change in the way people view the death sentence.

More events can be listed at the site here​.

Afterwards I bought a copy of her book and had it signed! Talk about an evening well spent. ​


Structure vs. Chaos

I’m a guy that thrives on structure. It’s my default when I don’t know what to do in a situation. As such, I have been trying to embrace more chaos in my life simply because it puts me out of my comfort zone and helps me go to places in my acting work and in my personal life that I rarely expect. That being said, as I graduate and lose the structure of going to class every day and knowing where I will be at the beginning and end of each season, I have to build at least a little more structure for my daily, post-grad life so that I can stay sane.

As an actor starting my professional career here in Chicago, I’ll have to supplement my income with a day job or two. I have managed to secure one at the Chicago Athletic Club already. This job is great for many reasons including the fact that I can work early mornings so I can go on auditions during the day, I get a free gym membership, and it’s easy to trade shifts with coworkers. My hope is that I can also secure another job in the evenings serving at a restaurant. This way I would at least have the experience serving that I could use at any restaurant and get to interact with people. At some point, my hope is to get a job working at a brewery here in town. Beer is another of my major passions outside of theatre and being able to help brew beer for my day job would be absolutely ideal. The key that I have gathered about how to make it for the long haul as an actor is that you cultivate a life outside of the craft. If I can brew beer, write my own material, exercise, spend time with my friends, and make time to get out into nature regularly, I think I will be in the perfect headspace to do my best acting work.

The structure that I’m trying to create for myself will ideally be flexible enough that I can follow my impulses when new opportunities present themselves for me. Is there a chance to work in Milwaukee or another city that attracts me? Well then I hope to be able to go for that with no qualms. I’m getting more and more excited for the life I can live after graduation with each day that passes.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:

I’ve never been terribly into Toro Y Moi but this track may have shifted that. This is great springtime music. 





Festival Season Has Arrived

​​​​Technically, it has been spring for months, but the weather is only now starting to catch up with that fact. The sun and warm breeze have seduced me enough to get me to turn Netflix off, brush the Girl Scout Cookie crumbs off of my pajamas, get out of bed, and go outside. I’m always looking for things to do and the warm weather means one thing to me: it’s festival season.

While everyone knows about Spring Awakening and Lollapalooza and Taste of Chicago, there are a ton of smaller festivals happening all around the city all of the time!

Here are some that I’m thinking about going to this month:

Mayfest ​(May 15-17): For 20 years, Mayfest has prided itself on being the unofficial start to festival season in the city.  Mayfest is three days of music, food, beverages, and a children’s health and wellness expo (in case any of you were looking for that). Mayfest is held (relatively) near the Paulina Brown Line stop in a massive (I’m not
exaggerating) heated tent. I’m slightly confused why it needs to be heated with so many people in a confined space, but I’m excited to find out why when I go. 

FEST ​(May 22): The most important one of all! DePaul’s annual end-of-year music festival turns 30 this year and it’s celebrating in a big way. Held on the Quad on the Lincoln Park Campus, FEST is only open to DePaul Students and only costs $10! It’s an amazing way to blow off some stress before finals. This year’s line-up was just announced: Big Sean, American Authors, and Milo Greene. 

Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival ​(May 23-24): While I usually go to the Belmont Red Line stop to stress eat ice cream from Oberweiss, on May 23, I will be there for the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival. For 31 years, BSMF has been bringing tribute bands to the Lakeview neighborhood. If you’re wondering, I’m most likely going to go see “Don’t Speak” in hopes that it’s a No Doubt tribute band. Besides Gwen Stefani covers blessing your ears (I’m hoping), BSMF also offers food, beverages, and a variety of local artisans displaying and selling their goods.

Randolph Street Market​
(May 23-24): I recently found out that the proper name is “Randolph Street Market Festival” (who knew?), so I am ecstatic to be able to include it in my recommendations. If you haven’t gone to it yet, you have to go. I went to Randolph Street Market two years ago and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. Part flea market, part antique show, part bake sale. It’s basically the offspring of HGTV and Food Network. It’s ginormous and so much fun. Students can get in ridiculously cheap ($3 if you buy tickets in advance) and there are now free trolleys that pick up from Union Station or Water Tower Place (on Michigan Avenue). The best part is that it’s a monthly event, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t go.
​​​​

A Students Guide to Visiting the DePaul Area

It's difficult to deny that we're incredibly lucky to go to college in Chicago, one of the neatest cities in our country.  We're in a neighborhood in Chicago surrounded by an unlimited number of things to do.

But, if you're not from the area, it's difficult to know what to do, especially when visiting campus just an afternoon or a day.  I found it incredibly difficult to know what kinds of things were close that I would be able to take advantage of for the next four years.  Well, I'm offering a bit of a solution to that problem.  

I've created a google map of some of my favorite things in the city.  They are good ideas for places to visit when you visit DePaul.  Again, there's an endless amount of things to do in Chicago, but it will hopefully give you ideas for places to go on your visit.  

Click here to access the google map​.  You'll need a google account (email ending in @gmail.com).  If you don't have on yet, you might as well create one because it will be useful in college, and you'll want to have a professional email address so professors don't have to email you @crazy4catsgirl.com.  

Here's a key to the map​.  
I separated it by places you can walk, take the train or bus, and places you'll need to drive.  It's color coded by restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops/study spots, and outdoor activities.  Check it out, and comment below if you have any questions.  I hope this helps spice up your visit to DePaul.  Don't forget to get off campus and see our backyard (and front yard)!  ​ 

Chi-Town is Draft Town

​​​This past weekend I was lucky enough to live in the right city at the right time, as per usual. The 2015 NFL Draft​ left New York this year for the Windy City, and the streets of Chicago were revamped into what was dubbed Draft Town.

​​While I can’t exactly call myself a football fan, I went partly so my dad could live vicariously through me and experience the draft.

Raised as a Chicago Bears​ fan, I donned my Chicago Coach Ditka​ shirt and went to go check it out.

Having no expectations for Draft Town, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I went on Saturday, which was the last day of the draft. While people wearing various teams’ jerseys beside me hooted and hollered, I observed from afar, not having a clue as to what was going on. Despite not understanding anything around me, the atmosphere was upbeat and the weather outside was flawless. I found myself enjoying the how happy the crowd was.

​Sports fans galore were in their element as they walked from apparel tent to beer tent to Hall of Fame tribute. ESPN had its own station and were live broadcasting straight from the event. Select players were signing autographs and a music concert was scheduled to end the event later that night.

Grant Park was the perfect location for Draft Town. It was amazing to see what the NFL Draft did with the space they had. The sprawling arrangement included all sorts of different tents and even participatory games for visitors to play. Draft Town was extremely family friendly, and it was entertaining to see all the kids walk around in amazement, many of them die hard football fans.

 

At times I felt like I was taking up space that the true football fans of the world could have used. Not that it was overly crowded or packed, but I felt guilty that many people who had the ability to look at the Hall of Fame display and identify all the players weren’t there and I was. But then I would remind myself that I was there for my dad and that seemed to justify my presence at the NFL Draft.

While I’m not completely sport inept, when it comes to football, I’m pretty clueless. It’s ironic because my parents are huge football fans and we used to spend every Sunday with half the neighborhood at my house watching the game. You would think I would’ve at least retained something…

I did observe something quite spectacular at Draft Town however. The casual, subtle nod given to anyone that was representing the same team as you was exchanged over and over again between strangers. In order to blend in with my fellow football fans, I decided to give “the nod” the ol’ college try. As I saw a man passing by with a Bears jersey on approaching my general area, I cocked my head back and pulled it forward ever so subtly. At this point, my sunglasses on my head fell off and I shot to the ground trying to save them because they’re my favorite pair. Well I didn’t get a chance to see if he exchanged my nod, I did save my sunglasses. If that doesn’t sum up my feelings towards football, I don’t know what does. 


Learning History Through Art

Something I took upon myself this quarter is to take a full course load of 18 credit hours. For me, this means 4 three hour credits and a small two credit hour course that meets every Sunday at the Art Institute of Chicago.​

What prompted me to take this course is the fact that Joe Cunniff, a sponge of knowledge, is leading it. I had Joe as a professor for my first course here at DePaul (Discover ​Jazz). He is such a unique being jam packed with information. Truthfully, I don’t even know how one person can have that much trivia in their brain. Joe is notorious for disappearing during class on hot days to grab ice cream and reciting Shakespeare out of the blue. I really can’t put into words how entertaining and well-versed he is. He is a real gem that keeps humanities alive.

​Once I figured out he was teaching the course I didn’t hesitate to enroll with my roommate Kat (whom I also met during that first class of Discover Jazz). I knew he was going to be the perfect professor to enlighten me on a subject I wish I knew more about- Art History​. The Art Institute holds a collection of pieces that offer wide opportunities for people like me who are interested in learning about historical happenings through the context of art. So far the course has only covered Roman, Greek, and Renaissance related art, but we will also dive deep into the late Middle Ages and modern/contemporary styles.

Although we have only met 4 times so far, I have already been able to deepen my understanding on how to study a painting through the use of trends that mark a certain period of time. Joe also stresses the importance of the artists that create the work and how their documented experiences give further insight into the time period.

I knew I wanted to take this class because I’ve been to the Art Institute a few dozen times and always seem to walk quickly by the rooms that don’t intrigue me. Instead of continuing to ignore and disregard art I don’t “get”, I might as well enroll in a class that can educate me without adding more to my tuition cost.

Joe also encourages out of class members to sit with us and listen to the lecture, so if you are free on Sunday 1-4pm you can see us all armed with notebooks at Michigan and Adams in front of the info desk.


Late Nights in the SOM

There is something special about being in the School of Music ​late at night. The incessant repetition of excerpts finally ceases, the rush of people going in and out of rehearsals and lessons slows, and all staff leave their offices for the night. Who is left? The small minority of late-night practicers, the janitor, and me and my boyfriend, Tobin.

Tobin and I are both cellists and are in the same studio, so we are able to see one another throughout the day in classes. However, when our school obligations are done for the day and we want to spend time together, we usually flee from the School of Music (SOM) as soon as we possibly can, just because we are there so often! As I mentioned in my post about DePaul SOM jobs, students can apply to work at the front desk, and those shifts can go as long as 10pm. Tobin picked up the 3-10pm shift one day this week, so we decided to do something new and have a date night in the SOM.

We have both been really looking forward to seeing the new Avengers movie; he's excited about seeing the actual movie, and I'm more excited about sitting in the incredible recliners in the Regal Webster Theater​ and
making popcorn my dinner. In preparation for that, we have begun to watch all the Marvel movies, and first up was Iron Man I. So I joined Tobin around 7:30 as he sat at the front desk and gave keys to people so they could practice in their teacher's studios. We saw many music friends as they stopped by to say hi, and I tried to remain composed and sit up straight because, after all, Tobin was still on the job.
But by the time 9pm rolled around and virtually no one was there, my shoes were off, and I was squirming around in my chair to find the most comfortable, lazy position I could. Once Tobin's shift was over, we decided to continue our movie marathon in the SOM Student Lounge, a spacious area decked with extremely comfortable couches, tables, and chairs. We situated the couches the way we wanted them, used the lounge microwave to pop popcorn, bought gummy bears from the vending machines, and we were set!

The School of Music is open until midnight during the school week, which gave us just enough time to finish Iron Man. It was really nice to spend time relaxing in the SOM and seeing people as they went about their nights and headed home (one of our orchestra conductors definitely passed the front desk as we were in full-out lazy mode, so that gave him a laugh!). It also made me realize that if I ever needed to live in the SOM and its three buildings, I could totally survive! So overall, it was an entertaining and enjoyable night spent in DePaul's School of Music!

What To Do This Summer

As midterms wind down, I can’t wait for the summer to finally be here. As this will be my first summer in Chicago, the possibilities seem quite endless for me during the next upcoming months.


This summer will also be my first summer working an “adult job.” Not to put the lifeguard profession down or anything — I have mad respect for anyone who is willing to save lives — but my new internship makes me feel as if I am going places in life. 


Starting in June, I will be a copywriter creative intern at Potbelly Sandwich Works.​ I am very excited to apply the skills I’ve learned at DePaul to an internship in which I will be dealing with real world issues. 


But on top of working a full time job, I’m in the process of compiling a bit of a “Summer To Do List” full of things I plan on learning this summer. Every summer I convince myself that I will dedicate the threeish months I have off to learning how to do new things or becoming an expert at something. And every summer I commit to about three or four… about one about half of a goal. 


However, this summer will be different! I can already feel it! 

Here’s my list and goals for summer 2015:

• WordPress. I’ve always wanted to start my own blog, and with websites like WordPress​, this is more than a possibility. Luckily, DePaul students have free, unlimited access to Lynda.com, a website that has an online library of instructional videos covering the latest software, creative, and business skills. I plan to fully utilize Lynda.com over the summer in my WordPress learning journey.

• Knitting. This is on my list every summer. Knitting ​just doesn’t sound as fun in the summer months as it does in the winter, but I need three months to practice, practice, practice so I won’t be knitting scarves with holes in them come January.

• LinkedIn etiquette. I recently have been on LinkedIn ​a lot more lately. Perhaps, my frantic search for a summer internship fueled my fire to update my profile. However, I plan to keep updating it and expanding my network. The verdict is mixed for me as to whether LinkedIn is necessary or not, however I plan to play around with this social networking site more this summer.

• Calligraphy. Maybe it’s my constant perusing on Pinterest, but I am totally convinced that calligraphy ​is one of the most beautiful forms of art. I would love to learn how to do this kind of lettering this summer.

• Cooking. I feel like learning how to cook more than pasta is necessary at this point ... this “learning” goal is more of a quality of life thing more than anything else. 

• Tan. This isn't really a learning goal. I just really need to work on my tan. Pale is so not my color. Don't forget to use sunscreen though : )

• Astronomy​. Mostly for when I get lost. But also because the movie Interstellar inspired me to become more knowledgeable about space, the stars, and the galaxy in preparation for when we must find a new planet.

What are you up to this summer? While I certainly am all about some high quality goal setting, sometimes just relaxing and enjoying life is the best thing to accomplish during break. 


The Best Thing About Spring Quarter

Spring in Chicago is like an awakening.  It’s a few long weeks of remembering just how many people live here, and wondering where they have all been during winter.  

The best thing about spring is the energy that comes alive.  The weather, the people, the events, and the outdoor meals.  Everything wakes up, and the weeks of spring almost make the entire winter worth the wait.  Admittedly, it gets difficult to stay focused on school during spring quarter​.  However, the incredible weather and events of the spring do make it perfectly fine that we’re in school a bit later into the summer than other colleges.   

Spring quarter is also a time of preparation for transition.  Whether you’re just about to start college, finishing up an intermediate year of college, or getting ready to move on from college, there’s a lot to figure out in the spring.  It’s like saying goodbye to the life you had in the winter and hello to the new spring/summer life.  

The weather makes it possible to explore the areas of the city that you
The Art Institute of Chicago​
didn't get to in the winter.  It makes eating outside​ at the local places possible.  You have everything that a city offers (like good food, interesting people, fun things to do for every type of person) and you also have the lake ​that almost makes you feel like you’re out of the city.  

I especially enjoy spring on campus because it's the best time to sit outside before or after class and get some sun.   It gives me an energy that sustains me through the class and helps me be more focused once I am ready to sit down for class.  

Still, my absolute favorite thing about the spring in Chicago is being able to walk around and see people that you haven't for a while.  The winter can be hard, but spring makes the winter months worth the wait.  Seeing people get back outside and all the happiness and activities make spring one of the best times of the year in Chicago.



Springtime in Wrigley

Springtime in Chicago means BASEBALL​! Whether you root for the Cubs​, Sox​, or neither, the energy is high all around the city for sports lovers. Although I myself am not a huge sports person, I am a part of the Wrigleyville ​community so the Cubs are something that is unavoidable. Picture me crawling through a flock of loud fans outside of the field with 5 grocery bags and a backpack thinking about the best route to get to my apartment while hoping my bags don’t break all over the feet of party seeking sports lovers. Although living a block away from Wrigley Field has its down falls sometimes, I think the vitality of this neighborhood is just what I need to get out of my winter funk.

Yesterday I made the spontaneous decision to go to the Cubs vs. Padres game at Wrigley. All of the tickets online were not being sold anymore, so I decided to hit the streets and find someone selling tickets outside of the field. I got pretty good seats for $15 after haggling down the price. Like I said earlier, I am not a die-hard fan, but the environment is fun to be around. If I’m being EXTRA adventurous I would sell my left kidney for a hotdog and cubs shirt. This time I decided to save the money and the organ and opted to eat at Al’s Beef directly after the game.

Springtime in Chicago further reminds me why I moved here in the first place. There is now a constant buzz around every city street. People are ready to bust out the sandals and beach towels to try and forget about the harsh winter that froze over the city.

Here’s to another sunny season in my favorite city! 

Come One, Come All: The Honors Ball 2015

Springtime at DePaul alludes itself to many picturesque images of flowers, chirping birds, and kids running around at the surprising multitude of public parks tucked in between neighborhoods scattered throughout
the city. And, of course there is the not-so-picturesque sense of spring fever that makes it more challenging than usual to hit the books.

But for me, springtime also means the Honors Ball.

The Honors Ball is a formal event that Honors Student Government hosts every year during spring quarter. While our social committee heads up the planning of the events, all board members help with its execution.

Every year the dance is held in the charming location of Cortelyou Commons​. This special space was originally built in 1929 and remodeled in 2006. Some people on campus equate it to a medieval castle, and I would have to agree. With two upper side balconies, chandeliers, and our former university presidents on the walls (which can get creepy at times because they all are just kind of staring at you), this “party” space is definitely unique and memorable.

Events are constantly happening in Cortelyou Commons. However, I feel like the springtime contains the most notable events to occur in the space: the College Democrats of Illinois Convention, the amateur drag show, various weddings and receptions — is it just me, or is springtime party time at DePaul?​

I’m looking forward to revisiting Cortelyou Commons in the future, and of course, I’m planning on going to some neighborhood parks this quarter because who doesn’t love a good ride down the slide?​


Chicago: Feeding Your Shopping Addiction

Now that my recital is over, I have been able to explore the city and all the amazing things it offers a bit this past week. And this weekend, I did one of my favorite activities: shopping! 

Whether you're not that into it or are a shopaholic, it's helpful to know where some major shopping areas are, so I'll share about the stores I usually go to when I need a pair of shoes, a table, or a jacket.

North State Street​ (Off the Monroe red line​ stop):

Nordstrom Rack: If you are looking for classier, slightly more expensive clothing, go to The Rack. They have a great selection of accessories, and casual and fancy dress for men and women.

H&M: This is my favorite store! I view it as sort of an older version of Forever 21 with slightly better quality. There are a variety of styles of clothing sold in the store for both men and women. My favorite thing about the store? Their super cool chandelier!

Payless Shoesource: I am obsessed with this place! I have gotten multiple pairs of flats, heels, and sandals here. If you are looking for affordable shoes, go here. 

There is a Ross, TJ Maxx, and a Target store right around State Street as well with great prices and products!

Water Tower Place​ (Off the Chicago red line​ stop):

Macy's: This Macy's store, as well as the one off of State Street (check that out when you're hitting up the other State Street stores!), is beautiful! I highly recommend going to both Macy's stores during the winter because they put up beautiful Christmas decorations and have a giant Christmas tree inside, in a dining area called The Walnut Room. ​

​​Forever 21: While I have recently become enamored with H&M, Forever 21 is a great store for younger women- especially college students! They offer a great variety of styles of clothing, and the store inside this mall is two floors of fashion heaven. 

Marbles: The Brain Store: If you are tired of looking at so much clothing, check out this super cool store! They have a great variety of interesting games and toys that work your mind as well as your hands. The employees are super friendly and love to show you things. I just bought a complicated puzzle of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" that I cannot wait to start! 

The LEGO Store: Another fun place to go is this big LEGO store in the mall. It is full of different kits and huge figurines made up of thousands of Legos, making it a neat place in which you can explore and embrace your inner kid!​

Thrift Stores:

Plato's Closet: If you are looking for cheaper options and are perfectly fine with wearing second-hand clothing, I highly recommend all three of these stores. There is a Plato's Closet off Broadway Street that has so much clothing, you could spend hours going through each section (trust me- I have!). I actually got my dress for my sophomore recital there. ​

Crossroads Trading Co.: Crossroads is a slightly more expensive used clothing store with very fashionable, cute clothing for both men and women. My boyfriend and I stumbled upon this store one day and found so many great things for both of us! ​

Salvation Army: There is a large Salvation Army just a short walk away from campus, and it is full of excellent deals! I am not even exaggerating when I say that I got a designer blazer for $.50 because of a huge sale they were having once! They also have great used furniture, dish ware, decorations, and appliances that are perfect for college students who are furnishing their first apartments. ​


So if you want to explore all the retail options the city has to offer, start with these! But prepare yourself to be intensely sore, tired, and hungry after! Once you are at that point, you should check out my posts about junk food ​in Chicago! 


Spring is in the Air

​​​​​Spring is here! Saying something like that in Chicago is always risky as the weather can change from 70 and sunny to 30 and snowy within minutes. However, this spring seems to be a success thus far (fingers crossed) as the weather has been fairly warm and friends of mine seem to be going to the beach to take a lot of selfies lately.

With that being said, make sure to take advantage of all the great things to do in the city when the weather is nice. Millennium park ​is always a beautiful place to walk around, The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool ​is quiet and relaxing, and much more!

With the arrival of spring comes the anticipation of summer. Some notable summer activities include the Milwaukee Arts festival (free), Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, and many more. One thing I always like having is a complete list of festivals in Chicago for the summer. So for people who are like me, or even if you’re not but are still interested in festivals in the summer, you can find a huge list on the website ChooseChicago​.

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring so far! Thank you for reading my blog and as always, stay awesome!


Why I Chose DePaul

DePaul kind of fell into my lap. As a kid growing up in the outskirts of Chicago, the bustling city was always intriguing to me. I spent many middle school nights taking the Metra ​inbound to Union Station​ to catch some terrible pop punk shows. After 4 years of typical high school angst, my plan for college was to get out of the Midwest and travel far away just to experience something other than flat land and indecisive weather. After looking around at different college fairs, I applied to several Arizona Universities.

Soon after the fair I visited DePaul on a tour that I felt like my mom was more excited for than I was. It was a cold day and I had the attitude that I had already seen all Chicago has to offer. BOY, I WAS WRONG. DePaul blew me away with the campus grounds that even looked decent on a muggy, cloudy day. I applied with high hopes and felt that even if I didn’t know what major I wanted to declare, I knew that I wanted to figure it out here. Having 2 academic years at DePaul under my belt has given me enough to process why, in fact, I choose this school when I was so dead set on getting out of the Midwest.

I honestly believe that it all comes back to DePaul’s reputation for being a part of a service driven community and using Chicago as a second classroom. The potential idea of being stuck at a campus ONLY surrounded by my peers made me feel so trapped…. but a campus surrounded by a large city?! That I can handle. The location was definitely a huge plus. And with a large city comes many opportunities for internships and volunteer work!

Besides the fact that I was awarded scholarship ​money from DePaul, I mainly based my decision on the fact that I believe that Chicago will provide me with all the tools I need to succeed in whatever I choose to do. It is a plus that I am so close to home but I rarely visit unless it is a holiday. I am happy to say that, although DePaul isn't the cheapest option, it is the best investment that I am making towards my future.​

Why I Chose DePaul

Choosing a college is arguably the hardest decision a young person ever has to make. ​How can you choose a home based on an hour visit, a subpar student tour guide, and thousands of brochures screaming at you that [insert college here] could be your new home?

It’s definitely quite close to impossible.

I decided I wanted to go to DePaul a few days before the decision date, so I’m no stranger to the big decision.

Luckily for me, DePaul was the perfect fit. I love city life and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. I’m close to home, but at the same time, far enough away to establish a name for myself from the ground up. This is exactly what I wanted.

Last weekend I spoke as a panelist at DePaul’s Honors​ Reception, an event for admitted Honors students, and I was reminded why I chose DePaul in the first place.

I chose DePaul because I wanted an adventure. The sprawling cornfields of the Midwest and the sweltering heat of the south didn’t do the trick for me. I felt stagnant — I couldn’t see myself exploring the location and in the process, finding myself. College is a time to grow, and while academics are important, environment is equally so.

The deciding factor came down to a scheduled visit with a potential advisor. Being able to ask questions about DePaul and student life in a personal, one-on-one setting helped me feel that faculty was approachable. And the truth is at DePaul they are more than approachable. I consider some of my advisors and professors my friends.

Last week I found myself sitting next to my political science professor at a Mexican restaurant eating chips and salsa and chatting about bubble baths— if that’s not friendship, I don’t know what is.

I encourage you to contact a DePaul student or advisor if you are curious as to what student life and academics look like beyond a brief tour. This helped me choose the right college, and I can say that the advisor I initially met during one of my visits to DePaul is someone that I am very close with now.

I always thought DePaul’s phrase, “The city is your campus,” was cheesy and simply a public relations ploy, but being a second-year student at DePaul, I can say that I live by that mantra. The city truly is my campus. I learn something every day from walking the streets of Chicago, and exploring the different neighborhoods and cultural environments. 

Additionally, the opportunities this city has are endless – I’ve seen Broadway shows, went to some really intimate con