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Changing Paths

This weekend nearly all of my friends graduated from college. For months I was dreading this, knowing that I’m taking a fifth year of school due to transferring, changing majors, and a brief medical leave. I’ve felt so much shame about it, telling myself I’m not smart enough, good enough, motivated enough. That I wasn’t enough. Until I came across this quote and shared it around the Instagram community, and connected with dozens of other people who commented saying they related to being on a different path than all of their friends.

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Sometimes, life comes up but that doesn’t mean it’s a setback, or that I’m not ___ enough. In fact, if I hadn’t transferred schools I’d still be in Canada, if I hadn’t stop enjoying film I wouldn't have found Journalism, if I hadn’t been living back in Chicago I wouldn’t have met my best friends. I wouldn’t be writing for the DeBlogs.

Everyone has a different path, and sometimes yours turns out the exact opposite of how you imagined. Freshman year I planned to study abroad my junior year, graduate in 4 years, and then move to Toronto to work in television…

Things aren’t perfect, but I’m grateful I found DePaul and changed paths. Even if it means graduating a year later.

Mazza End of the Year Dinner

DePaul is an amazing university and I have had a great four years here. 

Cafe Iberico
My opinion is biased, I would recommend this institution to anyone and everyone looking for a higher education. While being a Blue Demon was always on my mind senior year of high school, the reality of tuition and other costs presented a threat to that desire. I was very fortunate to receive several scholarships that didn’t just help me pay for DePaul but actually made it a possibility to attend. 

One of these scholarships came from the Office of Multicultural Student Success . The Mazza scholarship was the foundation of my college experience. It grounded me as a student of DePaul University and contributed to my personal and professional development these past four years. I have been extremely blessed to be a part of such a great mission. I bring up Mazza now because just last Friday we had our annual end of the year dinner. Our group went to Café Iberico in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. 

Cafe Iberico
The restaurant focuses on Spanish cuisine and has been around since 1992. They specialize in tapas, Spanish appetizers or snacks. The food was really good and the atmosphere was also nice. There were shields on the walls with different crests on each one. The experience was nice and I recommend Café Iberico to anyone looking for smaller eats that pack a big taste. As I finished my arroz con leche I looked around the table. I was sitting at the end so I had a good view of the group. Then it hit me; this was my last dinner with my Mazza friends. I’m graduating this year, a theme that has been pretty prevalent in my blogs, and I will soon go on to the “real” world to work and apply my major. 

The underclassmen sat on the opposite end of the table and they were all chatting, cracking jokes, and having a good time. They’ll be back next year, I won’t. As we said our goodbyes there were quite a few, “I’ll see you around” type farewells. From making it possible to attend DePaul, to contributing to my personal and professional development, to creating this family of scholars the Mazza scholarship has done so much for me. 

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

Tough Talk

The Futuro Media Group was founded in 2010 by Maria Hinojosa , an award-winning journalist and DePaul University professor. They produce shows like In The Thick and Latino USA, the only weekly show on NPR dealing with topics of Latinx news and culture. 

The Panel
This past Thursday they hosted an event at DePaul titled Latinos: Political Participation? Mobilization? Or Silenced? They had several guest speakers including Steve Cortes, Enrique Acevedo, Justina Machado, and more. The event was held in Cortelyou Commons and a variety of topics were discussed. Steve Cortes, an outspoken, Latino Trump supporter, shared his thoughts and opinions of the current administration and answered questions from the audience. Though the topics at hand were sensitive, the audience remained engaged and was open to having a dialogue. Afterward, there was a quick lunch provided for those that attended. Many students went up to the guest speakers to have a one-on-one talk during the break. 

The Panel
After lunch, Justina Machado took the stage alongside host Maria Hinojosa. Born and raised in Chicago, the Latina actress talked about her childhood experiences in the Windy City, her current life in Hollywood, and the variety of projects she’s working on now. The audience, including me, cheered several times as Justina Machado gave a shout out to certain neighborhoods and restaurants like Avondale and Sam’s Red Hots. The event was a great example of embracing difficult conversation and promoting dialogue. If anyone is interested in learning more about The Futuro Group you can click here.  

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

Finals, Stress and Art

Art
When I walk around campus during midterms and finals seasons, especially in spring quarter when we’re all antsy to join our semester-school friends on summer break, anxiety fills the empty spaces. And it’s my own anxiety too. So, this time I decided to utilize my biggest de-stressors - art, and spreading positivity and hope around to other students.

In times between classes or at work, I made little reminders to keep going, and have been leaving them around the 
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Lincoln Park ​and Loop campuses. I also left my Instagram name on the back of them, and a lot of the students that found them have reached out to me expressing how it made their day, and they just needed a reminder, even anonymously, that they’re not alone. 

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Doing a random act of kindness for someone else made me smile and lessened my anxiety, even if just for a moment. So if you’re feeling stressed, join in on spreading around the positivity, because we’re all in this together.
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Washington D.C.

Washington, D.C.: our nation’s capital; the home to monuments, the (free) Smithsonian museum, cherry blossom trees, and George Washington University, where I will be spending my next two years receiving my Master’s degree!

Washington D.C.
I went to Washington, D.C. over spring break, and I had such a fun time. I flew in early on a Friday morning and got to my hotel room with enough time to spare to take a quick nap. I then met with someone who works for the United States Agency for International Development and we talked about global health opportunities in D.C. It was great to meet with him and get advice about the career pathway I want to pursue. By that point, it was late afternoon and I had the rest of the day to myself! I took the Metro over to Capitol Hill​ and saw the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress and walked around the neighborhood for a while. I then went back to my hotel, read a good book, took a bath, and was in bed by 9pm – the perfect evening. 

The next day was Admitted Students Day for GWU, so I spent the day doing that. It was exhausting, but informative. I then took the Metra out to Maryland and spent a day with one of my best friends who recently moved to that area. It was a whirlwind weekend visit, but really fun, and I can’t wait to live there permanently in a few months!

Student Perks

Although we’re all in college for an education, some of the perks that come with being a student are hard to beat. These perks vary by school, but nonetheless should definitely be take advantage of throughout your college career. DePaul offers students some of the best benefits out there, from free food and events, to more grown up and serious perks, like career services. So don’t miss out, here are some of the perks every DePaul student should be taking advantage of. 

The Ray: This is one I continuously need to remind myself of. Though the thought of going to the gym might not seem like a “perk” per say, it’s definitely a blessing in disguise.  If you have ever had a gym membership outside of DePaul, the prices can run pretty steep. If the treadmills not your thing (and I speak from experience) try one of the group fitness classes that are included with the free student membership. P.S. The Ray also has the best food on campus, so it’s a win-win.   

UNiDAYS
Student Discounts: This is a perk almost every college student knows about, but might be the most underused. Tons of different restaurants and shops around Lincoln Park offer student discounts specifically for DePaul students. Not only that, but any college student in America can get discounts on some of the biggest retails in the country. Discounts range from Ray-Ban and Apple, to Panasonic and TOMS. Head over to UNiDAYS website and sign up with you school email to receive your personalized discount code. DePaul also offers it’s own Demon Discounts for students with amazing deals across the city. 

Electives: Elective might be the single best thing about taking college classes. Not only are they super fun and interesting to take, but they’re required to graduate. Tons of students leave electives for their last two years of college, which means these classes may be some of the last times you are actually enrolled as a student. DePaul offers some of the best classes out there with awesome teachers who are serious experts in their field. Some of the must take electives at DePaul include Issues in Sex and Gender and International Wine Education and Management. 

Career Services: This might be the most beneficial perk that students are provided throughout college. DePaul’s career center offers tons of amazing benefits to students. They host resume workshops, job and internship fairs, provide interview tips and tricks, and can even set students up with career advisors. This service should definitely be taken advantage of no matter where you are in your college career. 

Public Health

Public health is kind of my thing. I’m studying it at DePaul, I’m getting my Masters in it next year… I am super interested by all of it. Particularly, though, I am interested in global health, and what can be implemented around the world to alleviate health disparities and gaps that cause highly preventable diseases and circumstances to prevail. For example, no one should have to live without clean water, or without access to a doctor, or in fear of contracting cholera or tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. Science and medical technology are advanced enough that many of these worldwide problems could be eliminated, but unfortunately, resources and funds are not allocated and international politics gets in the way. 

Goals
Fortunately, there are a lot of organizations and international agencies working to eliminate a lot of these disparities, and one organization that is working hard is the United Nations. From 2000-2015, the United Nations implemented the Millennium Development Goals, which were eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. Some goals were to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health. While the Millennium Development Goals produced significant results, they were not successful in addressing and ending poverty and its root causes. The United Nations​ then implemented the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development program, which lays out seventeen goals that “address the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.”

I personally geek out over programs like this because they are making such a difference to the health and lives of people all over the world. I am excited to see what the year 2030 holds for the people of this world – and you should be, too!


March for Science

March for Science
On Earth Day this year, I attended an event in Grant Park called the March for Science. It was a nonpartisan gathering for the purpose of calling on the current administration to enact science-based policies, respect scientists and the facts they offer, and refrain from cutting funding for important scientific research. Also, the march served to unite people all around the world in their dedication to protecting the planet. Along with the march, the event included a rally and a science expo which took place on the steps of the Field Museum and offered discounted tickets into the museum to encourage scientific curiosity and education. 

March for Science
Since none of my friends were able to attend the March for Science with me, I went with a group of DePaul students who had organized a meet-up beforehand. This group helped me to feel even more excited about the march, and I made some lasting connections with other students. 

Being surrounded by so many like-minded individuals was inspiring and empowering. Many of those who attended the March for Science were young, which gave me hope for the future. Everyone was in good spirits and excited about the huge turnout. Around midday, Chicago PD even asked that people who were still planning to attend the march refrain from coming because of how large the gathering had become. According to local news, around 40,000 people attended the march even though only 16,000 were expected. 

March for Science
One of the reasons I love going to school in Chicago is how vibrant the activist scene is throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. Being able to be a part of such important movements is something that I value, and I’m grateful that Chicago offers so much for me to get involved with. Whether it’s the March for Science, the Women's March, or informative events throughout the year that teach me about how I can get involved in what I’m passionate about, there is no shortage of opportunities if activism is something you’re interested in. 

The Extra Mile

I’m a soccer player (fútbol) but my brother is a runner. While I run up and down a field attempting to score a goal and put my team on top, my brother runs, well, just to run. There aren’t many that have the passion and desire to go mile after mile over and over until they’re simply ready to go home. My brother is quite the Forrest Gump​ in that sense (without the beard). Running is his therapy but for me it’s my most recent self-challenge.

It started one ordinary night as I was sitting at my desk staring at my whiteboard. Written in black marker are several video projects, general reminders, and two motivational quotes. I was thinking about how far I have come in my personal and professional development. Staring at the board, I craved a new challenge. Thus running my first marathon came into mind, that’s a lot though, half marathon instead. I stood up, grabbed my black marker, and wrote it at the top of my list, Marathon*. The asterisk, as I explained to my brother, is because I’m running a half-marathon but that doesn’t sound as bold so I wrote marathon. 

Running
Here’s the thing, as mentioned before, I’m a soccer player. It is true I run, according to New York Daily News the average soccer player runs a distance of 7 to 9.5 miles a game. The big difference is that a ball distracts me as I try to score and win. This is where my brother comes into play. I told him about my new challenge idea and he said he is down to not just help me, but also race alongside me (or probably much further ahead…but alongside me in spirit). 

Ideas like this pop up all the time in my head, so it doesn’t mean anything just yet, it’s the execution that makes all the difference. I’ve gone running 5 out of 7 days for two weeks now. I started at no more than 2 miles but I’m currently at 4.08 miles, at a comfortable 8’30” pace. That might not be very impressive to some runners out there but for me it is a huge improvement. My brother has pushed me to go further every single time. I’ll never forget the first time we ran 4 miles and I didn’t think I could make it. The day after I ran for 4 miles again alone. 

I’m excited to embrace this new personal challenge and I’m happy my brother is helping me out. This would not be possible without him as he can run for 13 miles just for “fun” and has encouraged me to get to that level. Seeing him zoom through the streets regularly, but always looking back to make sure I’m keeping up, has made me realize that I can do this, I just have to keep going the extra mile. 

Easter in Madrid

Hola! I’m writing to you all the way from Madrid, Spain, where the weather has been so perfect, I ended up walking around for 8 hours yesterday. As a result, I now blend in when I stand in front of a stop sign. 

Despite the sunburn, it probably goes without saying that I’m having the time of my life right now. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I have a lot of free time to enjoy Madrid because I messed everything up. When I booked the trip, my one goal was to travel as early in the quarter as possible, so that I could keep up with my classes and still have a chance at finishing my thesis on time. Logical, right? Nevertheless, somehow, despite my intense research on air fares and hotels, I seemingly missed the fact that my trip coincided with Easter.
 
Grand Via
This is the view of Gran Vía from my balcony. Yes, you read that right. My balcony. Overlooking the busiest street in Madrid. I’m living it up. 
So while I’m here to do research for my thesis, most of the places where I’m trying to do research are closed a few days for Easter weekend. As a person who wants to get work done, it’s slightly frustrating, but as a human being, I’ll happily take any free time in Madrid. So far, in my free time, I’ve discovered that one of the traditional Spanish Easter pastries, the torrija, is actually a modified version of French toast, but somehow way creamier. I mean, the center is almost like a custard. I thought it was going to be terrible, but now I’m craving it and I think I’ll get another tomorrow.

In case you didn’t know, DePaul is funding my research here in Madrid through the Graduate Research Funding program. This trip is really all about working on my thesis. I spent a few days last week at the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) going through newspaper archives, and I’m hoping to spend as much time as possible going through transcripts of interviews at a different archive this week. Until then, I’ll be eating as much torrija as possible!

More Colorado Must Do’s

Colorado
Okay, last time writing about my spring break, but there was much more to Colorado than hiking. When giving the legs a break, another memorable moment was driving into a fenced off preservation where you can spot prairie dogs, mule deer, and bison just outside of Denver. The bison get so near to your vehicles you can reach out and touch them, although I do not recommend doing so.

Another adventurous aspect of traveling is exploring the local cuisine. I did eat at some local microbreweries and even went on the Coors brewery tour. I also ate my first Rocky Mountain oyster and it was delicious. For those of you who do not know what Rocky Mountain oyster are, I’ll just say it is not seafood.

Colorado
Photographs provided by Miguel Perez
If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Manitou Incline, there is a hidden gem nearby. Known as Rainbow Falls or Graffiti Falls, this area is kept concealed under the overpass and is ornamented with colorful graffiti art. Being spring break, I figured why not strip down and walk under the falls. What I did not expect was how cold the water was, and realized the falls were flowing with the snow and ice that had just melted days before. The sheer pain prevented me from venturing into water deeper than my waist, but nevertheless it was an unforgetable experience.

I’m sure I am still forgetting a couple things, but that concludes my spring break and favorite vacation yet. It was fun and all, but it’s nice to be back in Chicago just in time to enjoy the upcoming warm weather. I’m just wish I was able to share more of the stunning photographs that were taken during the trip.

Applying to Internships

It’s internship application season!!! The best time of year!!! I spent some of my spring break sending out applications and emails. It wasn’t until last night as I was trying to fall asleep that I fully panicked about how behind I am, how I’m not qualified enough, how it’s not even worth applying, how people will judge me for not getting an internship, literally the list of self-deprecating statements went on and on until I finally told myself “Emily, it’s 1am, you can’t do anything about it now, splash cold water on your face to calm down and go to bed!”

Applying
Luckily today I had extra time at work to go all out on internship apps, and found out some really helpful stuff along the way. This goes especially for journalism/writing students, but works for everyone! Here are my top 3 tips

1. Handshake - DePaul has given you access to a site called Handshake where employers post job and internship openings. There are literally thousands, and you can apply straight from there. I hadn’t set up my site before (because let’s be real, I was far too lazy), but it works similarly to LinkedIn where your profile has your education, skills, and work experience, so employers can view that! You can also upload your resume and cover letters to be saved on there, so all I had to do was click on my already uploaded resume, write a cover letter for the specific job, and hit apply! 

a. With that comes the reminder that sometimes your resume needs to be shifted around/changed depending on the target audience! Same obviously goes for cover letters, and that’s why you should ALWAYS write a new one for each application!

2. Have a website, blog, or link you can provide of additional writing samples. My work that’s been published is all over the place - the school newspaper, on here, random blogs that published it, but I’m creating a blog right now for one of my classes that I’m going to start using professionally, and I also have a lot of the articles I’ve written published on a medium.com account. If you’re interested in a writing position, chances are they’re going to request some writing, so have it all organized! The same goes for photography, graphic design, film, etc. Better yet, start creating your own website now where you can have all of these things in one, because if you’re like me, I produce work on all sorts of mediums, from film to art to written articles!
Quotes

Main idea: just write! The more work you have to showcase the better, and the more choices you’ll have to pick from when trying to display your best work! It’s also just great practice :)

3. Check out the Career Center! DePaul’s Career Center has employees who can do anything from looking over your resume or reel, to helping you prepare for an interview! You can go in and meet with a career advisor, or just go on their website where they give examples of resumes and cover letters.

Oh and I’m sneaking in a 4th: take breaks. When I get anxious about getting something done I get in crazy anxiety mode and don’t realize how much time has gone by. Eat lunch. Eat snacks. Check Instagram. Take a walk. Anything to put your brain on pause for a minute and refuel it :) Happy applying!

The Get Down Part II

Rejoice, rejoice the long and much anticipated wait, at least for me, of The Get Down Part II​ is now over! For those of you that may be unfamiliar, The Get Down is a Netflix original directed by the Oscar nominated Baz Luhrmann. Set in the Bronx, New York in 1977 the series follows Ezekiel Figuero a teenager with an incredible lyrical ability struggling to fit in and infatuated with Mylene Cruz, the neighborhood angel. 

The Get Down
After watching season one, or Part I as Netflix is marketing it, I found myself in love with the series, the characters, the setting, and more! Baz Luhrmann is one of my favorite directors, so I might be slightly biased. I have watched The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, and Moulin Rouge all projects that he has directed. To see Luhrmann’s style and aesthetic brought to a television series has been amazing. Needless to say I am very excited to login to Netflix today and check out Part II of The Get Down

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


Say "Cheese": The Importance of Headshots

Over here in The Theatre School, members of the graduating class are focusing on preparing themselves for the professional world. This means securing jobs and internships, preparing portfolios, and for the actors in the house, getting professional headshots.

Headshots
In many of our exit classes (those that help us prepare for the real world), we’ve had many discussions about the importance of good professional headshots. For those who need a little clarification, this is the image of your face that will be stapled to your resume and submitted at every audition, casting call, or agent meeting you have as an actor. But there is more to it than just a pretty picture, or whatever you use as your latest FB profile pic.

There are a few key qualities in a good professional actor headshot:

1. It looks like YOU. This is where we steer away from glamour shots or anything that takes us too far away from the real, everyday you. The picture should look how you look on your best day, and should look how you would appear when you walk into an audition.
2. It tells a STORY. There are plenty of great pictures one could take. You look fabulous, you’re smiling wide, the lighting is great….but what else? What are you saying in this picture? What glimmers of personality are we seeing? Where might I see you in the world I know and the world I am imagining?  It is crucial that your shot not only say “I’m cute” but also says more about you and what you bring to the table. If you are known for your fire, confidence and sass, and can play lots of characters like that – I should see a glimmer of that in your eyes and in what you chose to wear. If you play more of the shy or goofy person, then I should see a bit of that humor behind your eyes as well. It’s about telling people what you want them to know about you before they get to meet you.
3. There is versatility and variety in your shots. Different shots can be used for different things. For instance, on one hand I can play a lot of commanding roles – people who are in charge and know what’s going on, but I can also the shyer, sweeter, offset-of-ingénue type. Now, when I am auditioning for different roles, I want different photos that showcase those qualities. You only need a couple great shots when you are starting out. They should capture the couple sides of your “type”, and when you nail those down, you’ll be able to use your shots for a variety of roles, projects, and companies. Realize that styles are a bit different in each city, so knowing what you need ahead of time and planning is the best way to go.
I recently got my headshots done in preparation for showcase and I can say I am quite pleased! There are a ton of different headshot photographers in Chicago, and each one has a little bit different style, energy, and way of doing things – there is no one way! When choosing a photographer it is important to go with someone whose work you like, and who makes you feel comfortable. You will take your best shots when you feel the most yourself. Everyone prefers a different vibe, so go with your gut. It should be a helpful experience and most importantly FUN.

Washington D.C.

As the clock ticks onward and my time as a Blue Demon undergrad comes to a close, I realize I am experiencing some of the last moments with many of the organizations and clubs I have been a part of throughout my time here at DePaul.

Washington D.C.
Yes, I will stay in touch with my friends, peers, mentors, etc. but life moves on. Some of us will be attending master’s programs at other universities and others will be pursuing careers in Chicago or elsewhere.

This past spring break was my last service immersion trip with the Office of Multicultural Student Success (O.M.S.S.).  This year we went to Washington D.C. and worked with a Wider Circle. I was one of two seniors on the trip. Along with our service, we also became immersed in the communities that we were in. Visiting various museums, attractions, speaking events, and more, often times comparing and contrasting these experiences with Chicago and the broader global context.

As a senior, it was nice to see the underclassmen enjoy themselves as I did during my first service immersion trip. It was a bittersweet week as every moment was impactful and all my peers were awesome. Yet, I know this may be one of the final times I enjoy an experience such as this. With that being said, as I frequently do, I made a video of my time in Washington D.C. Check it out and enjoy! D.C. is a beautiful city.

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

Spring Break in Colorado

Colorado
Rather than go to the conventional spring break scene where there is beaches and swimsuits, I decided to use my week off after a stressful winter quarter to take the time to unwind with beautiful scenery in Colorado. With my sister living just outside Denver, this would be the first time visiting her since she moved out there last summer. It was also my first time going to a travel destination such as Colorado. The traditional vacation spots I’d travel to would be Wisconsin to visit family or Florida to escape the winter. I can become awestruck when viewing the Chicago skyline at moments, but my apologies to the city because there is no beauty quite like that of nature.

Colorado
Boulder


The day after I arrived my sister took my friend Miguel and I to our first hiking destination at the Flatirons rock formations in Boulder, Colorado. This was my first time hiking and since I like to think I am in decent shape I figured that it wouldn’t be too difficult. All I have to say now is be sure to bring a hydration pack because hiking is essentially the same as a stair climber at your gym. Depending on the trail the difficulty can vary, but nevertheless is it vital to pack water and snacks. After the sweat, the inevitable scrapes on your legs, and twisted ankles, the views are truly mesmerizing and indescribable. I don’t think I am afraid of heights but there were times when I was climbing rock formations off the path that I would realize that if I was to lose my grip and fall I would probably die, and that would make me a little light-headed and shaky.

Colorado Springs

Colorado
Despite a seven-hour hike, we figured it was best to do even more hiking the next day while the soreness in our legs that was bound to happen hadn’t kicked in yet. So, we went to the Garden of the Gods Park, which was a strikingly different landscape from the Flatirons. Rather than green with pines and higher altitudes, there were rolling hills of red dust and rock. The hiking here wasn’t too challenging, but rather a scenic hike. There are plenty of sights to take in and smaller rock formations to climb on. The prime tourist attraction is the few towering rock formations that erect out of the overall flat landscape.

Colorado
However, our time at Garden of the Gods was just a warm-up for the daunting task that was ahead. With a tentative group consensus, we decided to hike the Manitou Incline, a .88 of a mile stair climb that elevates from approximately 2,000 feet to its highest peak of 8,590 feet. Hiking this in an hour and five minutes was honestly one of the greatest challenges in my life. Not only is it a massive stair climb, the sudden increase in elevation will get to you. While climbing, we would have to take a short minute breaks every fifty steps or so just when we were a quarter done with it. Once again, the effort pays off when you see the view at the top, and feel the sense of accomplishment.

And these were only the hikes, I did plenty of other less strenuous activities than I could never do in Chicago. I definitely plan on visiting Colorado again to try new trails, and yes, attempt the Incline again to see if I can beat my time.

Spring Break

​The start of a new quarter often goes two ways: it’s either a refreshing new start, or it’s a mix of chaos, frustration, and tears. This quarter I’m hoping for the first one, and so far we’re on the right track (knock on wood).

Art
While it’s not as refreshing as coming back from summer or winter break, spring break is a much needed pause in the academic work. My whole life I grew up going somewhere on vacation, and I always returned to school refreshed (and usually severely burnt) from the island sun. This year, however, my break was a little different. Rather than jetting off to the beach, I stayed home.

For the first few days I was totally bummed at how the week felt like any other week - I still worked at my on-campus job, and was actually working a few more hours than usual, and still found myself commuting around the city all day to doctor’s appointments, and when I finally got home at the end of the day, I was just as exhausted as if I had spent the whole day in class. In fact, I even had homework to do because I wanted to finish up the work I had left in a class I took an incomplete in. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a break.

Coffee
However, as the end of the week approached, I was much more mindful of this. I was aware that school actually only took up a small portion of my time compared to dealing with health problems and working. Unfortunately, there’s no spring break from your illnesses, and that was something that hit hard last week.
   
When the weekend hit, I had my thoughts more sorted out. I had finished the work for my class and don’t work on the weekends, so spent Saturday doing art in a bookstore with a friend all afternoon, and spent Sunday with my mom getting manicures, shopping, and cooking dinner together. I was finally able to get that much needed break.

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. 

My Annual Trip to NYC: A Bittersweet End

As a college student, there are many different organizations that can become an active part of your 4-year experience. Over the past 4 years I have been lucky enough to be a part of a scholarship organization called The Jackie Robinson Foundation. This is a foundation comprised of young students of color at colleges across the country, dedicated to academic excellence and carrying on the legacy of Civil Rights Activist, Jackie Robinson
 
Debate
A scholar debate discussing living wages.
Each year of the program, the scholars make a trip to New York City for a mentoring and leadership conference. For one weekend we are immersed in workshops, panels, and networking opportunities related to career success. This is supplemented by cultural outings a fun events that make it truly memorable. This year the theme of the conference was Financial Savvy. There were career panels, off the record sessions with industry leaders, a scholar debate, guest speakers and more, and I spent the weekend overwhelmed with information and trying to soak up as much as I could. Being in my last few months of college, it is important to me to be able to best prepare myself for life after school, so I appreciated this conference even more than I did last year, knowing that everything I was learning would be applicable sooner than I think. 
 
Jitney
My playbill for JITNEY. It was awesome!
Some of the highlights of the weekend included cultural outings. Each class (freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors) goes to a cultural outing in the city, to appreciate another aspect of a well rounded education and life: art. For those who know me, as a theatre maker, this is my jam and therefore one of my favorite parts. I was able to attend a performance of Jitney on Broadway. This is a play written by one of my favorite playwrights, August Wilson. The play was directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, an acclaimed director of Wilson’s work, who I met in my time as an apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival two summers ago. Two actors in the show I also met and worked with in my time at WTF, including Andre Holland, who was recently a part of the academy award winning film Moonlight (starring previous DePaul student Ashton Sanders). It can be such a small world sometimes, and you are reminded that you are only a few degrees of separation away from your dreams. The play was fabulous and I was so glad I got to see it. 
 
Dance
Me, at the Annual Awards Dinner, with Jackie Robinson's iconic number, 42.
After soaking in the knowledge about Financial Savvy over the weekend, on Monday night came the chance to dance the night away at the Annual Awards Dinner. Andre Holland, above mentioned actor, was the emcee of the night and hosted the award ceremony. We all got dressed in our best black tie attire, and shared in recognizing industry leaders and game changers in their accomplishments both in business and in philanthropy. After a delicious dinner, and some musical entertainment, the scholars were able to dance it up at the scholar after-party.  
It truly was a fun filled and informative weekend, and I left with bittersweet feelings. As graduation approaches, I remember that this was my last conference with JRF, and my last year as a scholar. It is a strange feeling to note something that has had such a profound impact on your college experience in coming to a close. I have very fond memories, and will use the knowledge and inspiration I’ve been given here as I move forward and tackle the world post-grad. 
 

Meet Aggie!

Hey there! My name is Aggie and I am a freshman majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Community Service and Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies. I’m currently interning with an organization called La Casa Norte in Logan Square that focuses on alleviating youth homelessness. I’m also working as a community organizing assistant for Pilsen Alliance, a nonprofit working toward immigrant justice. I love being involved in the social justice scene in Chicago, and hope that my experiences will inspire others to get involved as well! 

When I’m not in class or at work, you can usually find me binge-watching Friends in my dorm room in University Hall, playing piano, refreshing Skyscanner to find cheap flights, or eating at one of the many out-of-this-world vegan restaurants in Chicago (moving to this city has really opened my eyes to the vegan food scene, and my bank account has been suffering). 

A few fun facts about me: 
1. I was born in Cyprus, which is an island in the Mediterranean. 
2. My siblings are quadruplets. 
3. I’ve been vegan for a year.
4. I’m planning on studying abroad in Budapest in the fall of 2018. 
5. I’ve been to 6 countries (& it’ll be 10 after this summer). 

Writing has always been an important part of my life, from competing in Power of the Pen​ competitions in 8th grade to writing for Fresh U, a website for college freshmen. It has been a great way for me to use my skills to benefit the people and community around me. As a senior in high school, DeBlogs was an invaluable resource for me and helped me to really get a feel for life at DePaul. I hope to be able to do the same for those who may be in the same situation as well as current students looking for more information. 

If you have any comments/questions about my articles, feel free to reach out! 

Meet Brooke!

Hey there! My name is Brooke and I’m currently a junior here at DePaul studying Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Graphic Design. I grew up on the Seacoast of New Hampshire​ (no, I did not live on a farm as many have asked in the past) but made the journey halfway across the country for school here in Chicago.

Though life here in the city is just a wee bit different than back in New Hampshire, I quickly found myself feeling right at home here in Chicago and can’t wait to share all my past and future DePaul experiences with you all.   

After moving 1,000 miles away for college, I decided that just wasn’t far enough. During fall quarter of my junior year I studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary (not Hungry) where I was totally culture shocked into the lifestyle of Eastern Europe. During my time abroad I traveled to 10 other countries, consumed approximately a pound of gelato a week, and took a class on Hungarian language. After 16 weeks in Budapest, I can say with great honor that I could successfully speak just about three phrases in the native language. 

When I’m not in class you can find me scooping (or eating) ice cream at work, exploring the city’s best coffee shops, or paying $1 extra to add avocado to every meal I eat. Stick around to hear all about my life here at DePaul, and follow me as I journey to find the best (thin crust) pizza in the city. 

Spring Break

Spring break just ended! If you were on DePaul’s campus you probably simultaneously saw stressed out students cramming for exams and writing papers and students celebrating because they just finished their last final. It is a strange dynamic.

Spring break is a lot different than winter break, solely because of how much shorter it is. Winter break is 6 weeks long, while spring break is about 10 days long. That makes spring quarter a little harder - it is easier to get burned out because you did not have as long of a break in between quarters. So, that is why it is important to make as much of spring quarter as you can! 

I mostly stayed in Chicago, working and relaxing as much as I could. It was weird to watch Netflix with no guilt attached to it! However, I wanted to limit my Netflix intake and instead, read books or explore Chicago as much as I could. Breaks are the time to do things you never have time for during the quarter! You could go to the Art Institute for an afternoon, or go explore some Chicago neighborhoods that you have never explored before.

GWU
The last weekend of break, I am went to Washington, D.C. to go to the Admitted Students Day for George Washington University. I was really excited about that trip - it was short, but Washington D.C. is really fun to explore and I was looking forward to learning more about GWU. I was also going during Cherry Blossom Festival​, so it was exciting to see all of the trees in bloom. 

What were your plans for spring break? I hope you had something fun planned!

Handshake

Living in the information age all the applications, websites, profiles, etc. that are available to help people in different ways feel overwhelming. My personal experience of trying to be healthier is a prime example of this. I started off with the MyFitnessPal app developed by Under Armor. It’s a great app and helps me log food and meals everyday so I can keep track of my calories and macros. Just as I was set on using the app for the rest of my life, my sister got me a Fitbit for Christmas and with the health-tracking wristband came their health app. I then switched to the Fitbit app for my daily logs of food and exercise but found that using MyFitnessPal was easier for food. So now, I’m kind of in this in between of using Fitbit to track my workouts and using MyFitnessPal to track my food for the day, bouncing back and forth from one app to the other. 

The point of this is that apps, and resources in general, are at an all-time high in this day and age. 

Handshake
One app I recently downloaded is Handshake​. Let me start off by saying, I’m super late to the game on this one. When new things come out I usually like to wait for the super early users to test it out and give reviews.  After that I’ll probably partake in the second wave of users depending on what I hear and read. 

Handshake is an example of how I was late to the party. I first heard of it at the beginning of last year through a mass email that was sent to most, if not all, DePaul students. I was hesitant to download the app and register an account for my own stubborn reasons, a decision I have come to roll my eyes toward.  At just 10.9 megabytes, Handshake has become an immediate must use for me.  

I downloaded the app last week before attending the Creative Career Fair in the loop. I easily logged in with my DePaul username and password, set up my profile, and began looking at events and companies listed to attend. It is very convenient! I’m the type of person to open 5 tabs on their browser to research one thing and Handshake made that process easier and quicker. Specifically with the Creative Career Fair, I was able to look at a list of companies attending, see a description, and positions available. Again, late to the game but super awesome nonetheless! 

As with many things I write about, I highly recommend checking out the Handshake app! It seriously was a game changer for me as I prepared for last week’s Career Fair. If you want to read more about Handshake click here

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

Surviving a Stress-Free Finals Week

The most dreaded time of year is upon us, and we’re getting ready to pull the all-nighters to study for finals. This finals week I’m trying to make my habits and routine look a bit different in an effort to decrease stress and sleep deprivation, so I’m going to share my tips!

1. I’ve been living at my yoga studio this week. It’s been the perfect way to clear my mind of the essays I still have to write and connect with my body and mind. If you don’t have a yoga studio you go to, The Ray also offers classes multiple times a week, so hit those up! Even if you’ve never done yoga before, I started my practice going to those classes, they’re great for beginners!

Finals Week
2. Doing something positive for others always puts me in a better mood. Last weekend I was stressed out studying at a coffee shop with my friend, and we took a break to spread some positivity in the city, which made us feel SO happy after. We literally couldn’t stop smiling. We decided to take an all-time favorite book of mine, 300 Things I Hope by Iain Thomas, and wrote the different hopeful statements on post-it notes, then we put them all up on a wall in the Jackson red line train station spelling out HOPE. It was so fun and so many people stopped by asking what we were doing and looking at them, adding to it, taking a hopeful statement, etc. Sometimes it’s the little things, and for me, seeing someone else see our message and smile makes me smile!

3. Get out of your house. I usually don’t end up getting much work done when I have “study parties” with friends, but I also find that staying in my house leaves me anxious and distracted. I’ve been spending my Saturdays and Sundays at the Starbucks near my house, and it’s been SO helpful. I bring all my stuff, order a venti Strawberry Acai refresher (light ice - gotta get my money’s worth), and power through my work. That environment of having some background noise has been really helpful for me!

4. Two words: Google Docs. Ever since I wrote an essay late one night in the fall and then my computer froze and lost it all, I’ve been writing everything (including this article!) on Google Docs. It’s come in handy especially during finals week when I can access the study guides I’ve typed up or the article I started writing from any computer. I hate lugging my computer around, and now I can still get work done in the hour break between my classes at the computers at Brownstones, or right now, while I’m at work in the CDM building!

I hope some of these are helpful tips during your finals week! Happy studying!

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.

NEDA

This week is dedicated to a cause near and dear to my heart: National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. As a psych minor and person in recovery, I’ve learned a lot about this illness in and out of the classroom, and especially their prevalence on college campuses.

So, I want to use this week to talk about DePaul’s resources and also what the school has been doing in honor of spreading awareness!

DePaul’s own counseling services (UCS) is made up of a team of psychologists, psychiatrists, externs and an urgent care specialist. In addition to one-on-one counseling, they offer a few group therapies, like an anxiety and depression group, a relationship group, and a women's group.

Additionally, the campus gym, The Ray, has classes dedicated to promoting self-care and mindfulness, like their weekly meditation every Wednesday from 12:30-1pm, and the multiple yoga classes they offer each week.

Specifically this week, DePaul showed their care by holding a Love Your Body Yoga class Tuesday, February 28th at The Ray, and right now the student center has pieces of paper taped to the walls with positive encouragements about self-love (picture below).

NEDA
NEDA week is a super important time to show love for yourselves and your peers in honor of the disorder with the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. It’s one that comes with a lot of stigma, misunderstandings, and lack of treatment, and that’s exactly why this week happens!

The store Aerie also showed a lot of support, selling shirts that said “strong beautiful me” that went to supporting NEDA.

If you or someone you know needs support, check out DePaul’s resources, or take this screening online.

Happy NEDA week! :)

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. 

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)!

History of TV

In my history of TV and Radio class the other week, we had to write an essay interviewing someone over 50 and under 25 about their TV watching habits growing up. It seemed like fitting timing also with the Oscars coming up at the end of the month (and the fact that my friend and I discovered a Spotify playlist called “Lizzie McGuire Comes On At 4pm” and it’s life changing.

SO, with those two things in mind, I thought I’d share my finding on interviewing my mom (born in the early 1960s), and my younger sister to compare their TV watching habits and show the contrast of the millennials.

For starters, my mom talked about how watching TV was a family event. She said that certain movies were on once a year around the same time so annually her and my grandparents and uncle would watch the Wizard of Oz when it came on.

That literally blew my mind when you compared it to my sister saying she remembers watching Full House and Lizzie McGuire before bed with me, and then starting talking about Shonda Rhimes “TGIT” lineup, saying “I’ve never watched it then though I always record it and watch it on the weekends because I HATE COMMERCIALS but I liked having Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal back to back.”

History of Television
Later on I asked my mom about “guilty pleasure” shows, and she said they were nothing like they were today, because shows were pretty innocent. Her “guilty pleasure” was watching M.A.S.H in high school.

My sister on the other hand went on about how when she was younger she loved watching SpongeBob every morning, and in high school she secretly was obsessed with (of course) Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Obviously TV has come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s, but the shift into it being a very isolating ‘in my room alone watching Netflix’ experience is what really caught my eye and I think shows the greatest shift from the family time it was back then. Next time you catch yourself isolating in your room watching endless hours of 30 Rock (or whatever show you never get sick of!) just be mindful of that!

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!
 

Leave Lady Gaga Alone

If you’ve read my blogs so far, you’ll know I’m a big self-acceptance advocate. I think body image is talked about way too much, and almost always it’s in a negative light. 

After the Super Bowl this weekend, my social media feeds were blown up, but not with anything about football. Not even with anything about Lady Gaga​’s performance. But rather, body shaming her. There were tweets sent out about how distracted people were by looking at her stomach, and that she needed to hit the gym. 

Lady Gaga
As a college student, so many people I know, myself included, struggle with their bodies and hey, guess what? EVERYONE has rolls on their stomach. It’s literally impossible not to. It’s really discouraging to see how Lady Gaga is treated because of her body, especially after she has been so public about struggling with eating disorders in her past. This is the exact type of treatment that fuels eating disorders, fuels negative self-talk, and thoughts of not being good enough.
 
Project Heal wrote a great blog post about this that you should definitely all read here!

It’s blogs and people like the ones at Project Heal who have been coming back at all this Lady Gaga body hate and making me feel a little bit better. A relatively unknown social media community is the BOPO, or body positive community, and they are all about embracing their bodies as they are.

Aerie is a part of this community, as they don’t brush up or photoshop any of their models, and hire models of all shapes and sizes. Iskra Lawrence is one of them and has been extremely influential on me, and I was lucky enough to hear her speak at the 2016 Chicago NEDA walk.

So, my fellow college students, don’t fall into the traps of the body shamers and haters and people who spend their days purposely seeking out people to destroy. Engage in the BOPO community, the people full of acceptance and self-love, not denial and self-hate, because truly everyBODY is beautiful. Lady Gaga, you’re beautiful.


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. 

Use Your Voice

This is a very divisive time for our country. Many people are feeling hurt, scared, angry, and disbelief at all that has happened this past week since President Drumpf’s inauguration, and to be very honest, I feel very similarly. One of the most important things that those feeling discontent can do is to take some sort of action – volunteer, donate, let your voice be heard. My goal for this post is to not get in a deep political discussion, but to provide a resource to those who are curious about how to help. 

Use Your Voice
 
● Write to your senator. If there is an issue you are super passionate about, write to your state’s senator about it! As citizens of the United States, a democracy, we have a powerful voice that can be used to make a big difference. 

● Volunteer your time. There are so many organizations that would value your donated time. For example, places like World Vision and RefugeeOne ​are great organizations that provide aid and assistance refugees entering the United States, if that is where your heart is being led. 

● Educate yourself. Stay up-to-date on what is happening in our country, whether you support or disagree with it. Read reputable news sources. Come to your own conclusions. Do not just jump on the bandwagon and believe whatever your roommate, friend, professor, boss, or parents believe. You have your own thoughts and opinions and there is power in developing them. 

● Stand up for what you believe in. Now, I am not saying argue with every single person who you disagree with (especially not on Facebook!). But, if you see something that really bothers you, I think there is power in healthy political discourse. It is okay to have a peaceful conversation with someone who believes something different than you – you two may not have your minds changed at the end of the conversation, but you can learn to respect each other and how to voice your opinions civilly and clearly. 

Above all, I urge you to love and respect others well. Many people do not currently feel that. There is power in using your voice, and whatever side you may be on, I hope you use your voice to help those in need.

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.
​​

#OptimisticChallenge

Sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic. Sometimes it’s hard to see the positives in life. Sometimes negativity seems to be prevalent in everything we encounter. 

Optimism and a positive outlook is something I strive to bring to all situations, relationships, etc. Just last week I wrote on how I waited in line for tickets to Obama’s Farewell Address in Chicago​. While the end goal was something that made the wait well worth it, there were quite a few times I wished that I were back in my nice warm bed resting. I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose and I was jumping up and down to maintain body heat. The brutal wind did not help. Everything in that moment was crummy and, in comparison to being warm and at home, seemed to be the less popular idea. Yet, I kept my thoughts positive. I tried to think about how awesome it would be to see Obama, I sang, danced, and played Pokemon GO

Optimistic Challenge
This idea of being positive is not the answer to all things, but I do truly believe there are times when it should be something to strive for. Yes you can, yes we can, and anything anyone puts their mind to can be accomplished. I’ve been told I’m quite the idealistic person and once learning what that word actually meant, I agree. It is so important to be able to look at what is and imagine what it can be. 

So in times of difficulty, hardship, or adversity I say look to the sky, be happy and know that the sun will come out tomorrow. If you look up #OptimisticChallenge you’ll find a variety of videos with people dancing and smiling. It is one of the more recent social media trends to emerge. Give it a search, have a chuckle, an
d know that the best is yet to come. 

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

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!

Winter Quarter 2017: Things to Do

I’m always grateful that I go to a school where there is so much to do. Not that I have a ton of free time, but I like to venture outside of my bedroom occasionally. When I do finally go outside, I want to make the most of my time. These are the events that I’m looking at this quarter:

January 23rd: Are Ya Smarter than Your Professor

Blue Demon Dance
DePaul Activities Board (DAB) is hosting an awesome event pitting students against professors in a trivia game-show style event that definitely has nothing to do with and is not inspired by the TV show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? I might show up just on the off chance that there are some questions about Parks and Recreation and the students might need my expertise.

February 22nd: The Scholar’s Improv 2: Academic Boogaloo

I love the DePaul Humanities Center. This quarter, they’re reprising a popular improv event starring comedians and professors. In between improv sketches performed by the comics, professors improvise a lecture as they present a PowerPoint that they’ve never seen before. Not only is it hilarious, but it gives you an appreciation for what professors actually do on the daily.

February 23rd: Polarpalooza

Every year, DAB hosts a big, free winter concert, just for DePaul students: Polarpalooza. Every winter, 600 students fill up Lincoln Hall for a private concert with an up-and-coming music act. Tickets are free, but limited, so you have to be on your game if you want to snap up some tickets. DAB has a knack for picking acts that get way bigger right after performing at Polarpalooza (see: Fun., Walk the Moon, Chance the Rapper). Be sure to check out their website at the beginning of February when they announce the performer!

February 25th: Blue Demon Dance

Every year, DAB also hosts a dance for DePaul students. It’s held somewhere fancy off-campus (last year it was held at Navy Pier!) and there’s food and music, and dancing, I assume. Keep an eye on DAB’s website ​to see where the Blue Demon Dance will be held this year!


Another Resolution Post

Emily's Art
A phrase that often gets on my nerve is “new year, new you” As I scrolled through social media and talked with people, people always want to “reinvent themselves” and “start over.” I get it, I’ve been there too, but I hate how much emphasis we put on starting over on January 1st, because more often than not, it doesn’t work like that.

Something I’ve been advocating for and focusing on instead this week and this year, is making a commitment instead of a resolution. It probably sounds hypocritical seeing that my last post was about alternative resolutions, but this piggybacks off of that and sheds a new light on the word “resolution.”

Emily's Art
By definition, resolution means problem solving. It means something is wrong and we must fix it.  The strict deadline of starting on January 1st also leaves no room for fluidity and error, because so often we get in the mindset that if we slip up or act in opposition to our resolution, it’s over, we have failed, and now we have to wait for next year. In reality, every day, every hour, every minute is a new chance for you to make decisions in line with your values and every action you take is a fresh start for you - it doesn’t have to begin at midnight of the New Year.

Research has proven that these focuses are more beneficial and long lasting than a New Year's Resolution to diet or work harder. Those are such ambiguous and unattainable goals, and without recognition of achievement within those goals, you don’t get any gratification or reward from it, which is what inspires you to keep going. 

Emily's Art
So, this year, I’m committing to working on self-acceptance, which includes challenging perfectionism and being okay with upsets or bumps in the road. It’s striving to live a life in line with my values, which can be broken down into small things like trying to meditate for 20 minutes each day, and allowing myself to take breaks from my homework and recharge. It’s feeding and nourishing my body in a healthy way, and challenging the rigid structure I often find myself bound to, especially when school starts. It’s practicing flexibility, because that helps manage my stress levels and overall productivity.

And while some of these are just as ambiguous as resolutions, it allows me to work on different things everyday instead of getting obsessive about calorie counting on My Fitness Pal, which ultimately just sucks you into your phone and mental calculations and takes you away from everything else going on in your life. It’s only been 5 days and already one night I didn’t meditate, but instead of saying “oh well, nice try at this one, Em” I said “I’m going to do it tomorrow morning instead!”

Emily's Art
This isn’t a “new me.” I’m still my same self, just making a commitment to challenge the aspects of my life that aren’t working well right now :)

Here is some art I’ve done ​of some of my favorite quotes to inspire you in the new year:

Night Runner: Making History Exciting

With the start of a new quarter, comes the start of a new round of shows here at The Theatre School. The first to open on the Main Stage in 2017 is an exciting new play, NIGHT RUNNER. This action packed show has generated a lot of buzz for being a brand new play by hot Chicago Playwright Ike Holter. Part of our Playworks series for young audiences, this show is performed for Chicago public school and families downtown at our Merle Reskin Theatre, a space with a history of its own. This play takes place in South in the mid 1800’s, and revolves around a huge part of our nation’s history at that point - slavery. Essentially a thriller about the heroism of Harriet Tubman, the underground railroad, and the path to freedom, this play takes a look at history through the unique lens of a comic book superhero. The Theatre School website describes this impactful tale:
 
Night Runner
Designed by Megan Pirtle.
 
“Join us for the story of Cora, an enslaved 12-year-old, and the Night Runner, the mythic but dark figure who shows her the way. When a cruel slave owner arrives and snatches Cora's brother Marcus in exchange for debt, Cora flees to find him. In steps the legendary Night Runner, a fierce, fast-talking female superhero, who helps Cora escape to freedom and discover her own inner strength.”

This play opens this week, and I will admit I am more than excited to see it. The Theatre School’s program with Chicago Playworks ​brings a different children’s show to the students and families of Chicago each season. Hundreds of kids from across the city come and are exposed to the magical world of theatre, and are immersed in a story that asks them to use their imaginations and learn new things. Frequently these students don’t get to go on many field trips, or are new to learning about plays and theatre, and this is what makes it so special to share with them. This is a unique and special moment in their week, and in their lives. 

Night Runner
Personally, as a young woman of color, I know how important it is to see yourself represented in the art, literature, and entertainment that surrounds you. Having been in a kids show myself, I have seen the large and diverse audiences with children of many different backgrounds. Many of these students are young people of color, and I see myself in them, 10 years ago. Wide eyed and expectant, they are taking in everything around them, which makes it extremely important to consider what kind of stories you share with these young people. As a young black woman, the reason I am so excited for this show is that it shows my history. OUR history as Americans, in a way that empowers and celebrates the strength of my community. It is important that those hundreds of kids of all colors and backgrounds learn about the horrors of American Slavery, the heroism of Harriet Tubman, and the strength that all people have inside them. By seeing people like them on stage, or seeing their history in this light, we can have a profound impact on the learning, and the empowerment of these young kids. With the incorporation of beautiful new music, and exciting rhythm and dance, a scary and uncomfortable topic transforms throughout the story that will leave audiences cheering as our young heroine makes her way to freedom. 
Due to this serious subject matter this play is recommended for audiences 9 years of age and older. To find out more about our shows at TTS, or ticketing ( only $5 for students- yay!) visit our website

Welcome back and here’s to a passionate, and meaningful new year! 

There’s a Rooster in My Basement

Welcome back to winter quarter! I don’t know if it was just me, but for whatever reason, winter break seemed to go by faster than ever this year. I’m guessing it just seems that way because I stayed in Chicago for most of the break and only went home for a few weeks at the end. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I love going home. It’s relaxing, I get to see my parents, I get to sleep in my real bed… But let me tell you about the last few weeks that I spent at home: there’s a rooster in my basement.

Yes, you read that right. Let me paint the picture for you. So, after finishing up my last day at my internship and traveling several hours back to Wisconsin, I get home pretty late at night.  I’m excited to be home, but I’m ready to relax and recover from the stress of school. I go into my room and see a tidy stack of freshly washed and folded sheets and pillowcases laying on my bed. My parents are so nice to me. Resting on top of my still-warm sheets, however, is a small box of ear plugs. I ask my parents why there’s a box of ear plugs on top of my bed. In response, I’m told that it’s “so the rooster won’t wake me.” Yes, this is how I was informed there was a rooster in my house. Apparently, it somehow slipped their mind to inform me of the new resident. 

“Don’t worry,” my dad reassures me, “he only crows from 6am to about noon.”

“He’s never done that before,” my dad also says to me when I call at 4pm the next day to ask why the rooster is still crowing.
 
Krokus
This is the culprit. His name is Krokus. 
While my sleep was indeed severely negatively impacted (I lost the entire box of ear plugs before even falling asleep on the first night), I can’t be that mad. My mom volunteers at an animal sanctuary every week. She loves it and says that volunteering there has been the best decision of her life. However, my mom has also always been a bleeding heart with animals, which can cause some problems. Apparently, the barn at the animal sanctuary isn’t heated, so every winter, the sanctuary has to find temporary homes for all of the chickens. Of course, in comes my mother, eagerly volunteering to host a loud, flying, barnyard animal in our basement for the winter. And that is why I’m happy to be back in Chicago.

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!

All the Mocha Lattes You Gotta Do Pilates

Working Out
With the transition into college comes the responsibility of making your own decisions, especially when it comes to your health. Through the power of a meal plan at your hands, it is easy to get carried away and find yourself buying a carton of Ben and Jerry’s and frozen Chinese food at eleven at night. Nevertheless, there are plenty of commodities available to combat the freshman fifteen.

Just as students are given the unlimited access to the CTA system, the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center offers all it can to DePaul students. Although I have a tendency to lack in my routine as the quarter progresses, this is where I primarily go to work out. The first floor hosts the racquetball courts that can be utilized for other activities such as golf or wallyball.

What tends to be forgotten is the pool that I have yet to swim in, the only recollection I have of seeing it was my orientation. Up the stairs to the second floor is where you’ll get most of your workouts in. There is plenty of cardio equipment, studios hosting multiple group fitness classes, machines, and free weights that are all-inclusive to the DePaul student. The third floor is where the basketball courts as well as another studio are. I use this part of the Ray as much as the second floor - this is where you can have fun while working out by getting involved in an intramural sport or simple pick-up games. So far, I have participated in intramural soccer and volleyball, and often shoot around or play pickup games of basketball. Above the courts there is a track and more exercise equipment that include more cardio machines, bars, ropes, and mats. If you don’t feel like running the track or core work, then at least visit the fourth floor for it view of the skyline.

The Ray is great and all, but there is plenty to do off campus as well. Perhaps the most popular destination is none other than the coast of Lake Michigan. When the weather permits it, this is an excellent area to stay active while soaking up the sun. If I was more of an athlete I too would probably be running along the lakeshore shirtless like so many do, but I prefer subtle beach activities. It can be beach volleyball, sand soccer, throwing a football or Frisbee; it beats staying in your dorm doing nothing. To those that are courageous and think they can handle it, Chicago offers plenty of marathons and events to push yourself physically and for a good cause. I cannot run long distances but I have participated in the Aon Step Up for Kids a few times where the challenge is climbing eighty floors to the top of the Aon Center, one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, while raising money to help the children and families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Once you’re able to get into a routine and push yourself, getting yourself to stay active can be pretty simple. With all the events and opportunities there are available in the city, you can propel your health to newfound heights while perhaps also having fun.

The Addiction of Social Media

The other day I was at the Apple Store getting my phone fixed, and they had to restore it and set it up as a new phone. This meant that everything got erased off of my phone - apps, texts, contacts, pictures, and it got completely reset. Afterwards, as I started redownloading apps, I decided I wasn’t going to redownload social media right away and have a little detox from it.

Now 2 days later, I still have not downloaded Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and it has actually felt pretty good, but not until now have noticed a few things. 

On several occasions, I have found myself going on my phone without even thinking to scroll through Instagram, only to realize I don’t have it. I’m noticing that it is such a habit, and that whenever I’m bored, it’s how I fill my time. I have also found myself on multiple occasions thinking “I need to make this my snapchat story” and turn on my phone to do so.

It’s crazy how addicted our society is to social media. And while it’s a great communication style and news outlet, it’s also a huge time-sucker. In only two days, I’ve noticed some perks, such as...

Social Media
I got to the train early this morning. Every morning after my alarm goes off I find myself scrolling through what I missed on Instagram and Twitter and checking Snapchat, and never realized how much time that takes away. No wonder I’m always in a rush in the morning…

Another perk was that I had to write an essay for my December Intercession Class that’s due today, and I got to work at 9 and finished the essay by 11am. Normally I would’ve been sitting at my desk at work my entire shifting writing this essay, getting distracted on social media, killing time, etc. 

Buuuut there were also some downsides….like I forgot I didn’t have the Starbucks app redownloaded when I was in line this morning, so no stars for me! The same thing happened on the Metra this morning because I didn’t have the Ventra ​app redownloaded, but I think the conductor felt bad for me in a frenzy trying to log back in and it failing, so he just let me ride for free. Shoutout to that guy.

Really there’s no right or wrong that came out of this, it was more just interesting to observe the different habits I’m in that I didn’t realize before. And tomorrow I’m off to Mexico for a week so will probably take more of a pause from social media as well to just enjoy the time with my family, but of course will have to post a picture or two on Instagram :) 

Floating

In a previous post I’ve shared that I’m taking a mindfulness class right now (SNC198...aka the best class ever that everyone should take), and how we went on a 4 day retreat to Starved Rock back in September.

Since that retreat, the rest of the class has been online, but we’ve had some cool assignments to do, which always keeps the class really interesting. Since it’s in the School of New Learning, those students take the course as a pass/fail, but if you’re enrolled in it to fill your junior year experiential learning domain, like myself, you receive a letter grade for it. Thus, you have some extra assignments to do. Luckily, they’re fun and engaging. 

One of them is an essay where we had to try out an alternative form of meditation and compare it to the meditations and mindfulness practice we did on the retreat. Something I had always wanted to try but never got around to doing, was floating in a sensory deprivation tank. So, I thought this was a perfect opportunity (and justified spending money on it).

Oto Float
A place called Oto Float had opened up right by my house in late August, so I went in there one afternoon. To kill two birds with one stone, I thought I’d also write an article about it for my journalism class. After talking to one of the owners for a while and checking out the place, he said I could interview him, and gave me my first float for free!

The tank contains 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, which makes you effortlessly float to the top/ You have the option to keep the tank open or closed, have the lights in there on or off, and have music or a guided meditation playing.

Floating causes a feeling of weightlessness, and the reduction of external stimuli allows for a deep state of relaxation. In this state, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which reduces anxiety. 

In an interview with Jen Stutler, an employee at Oto Float and girlfriend of the founder, she says “I find that it seriously reduces my anxiety. My first float amplified it, my heart was beating fast, but now I can’t wait to get in the tank. It’s safe in there. And I find I have a better outlook when I’m done. I feel better for days.”

I had a similar experience, where I was super anxious for the first 20-30 minutes, but after that time flew by, and it was really on my way home that I felt the effects and felt so much calmer and at peace.

I haven’t been back since, but I hope to soon and everyone should try it out, especially in the midst of finals!
​​

Writing for the DePaulia

If you’re anything like me and love to write, or even if you don’t know if you like it, hate writing essays, or just want to improve your writing skills, there are many ways to write outside of essays assigned in your classes. Because obviously those are required and often aren’t about things you’re actually interested AND you’re being graded, so of course you wouldn’t enjoy that feeling of stress put onto you!

Luckily, there are opportunities outside of that, and who knows, it could even advance your essay writing skills! As a Journalism major, I want to practice getting my work out there, writing about things I enjoy, and using writing as a form of distraction from real life, self-care, and a way to calm myself down (which I never thought was possible until I tried it!)

The DePaulia
With that, there are many ways even on campus to take this approach. Obviously, that’s what I’m doing here writing for the DeBlogs, but there are additional opportunities on campus as well! The major one is the student newspaper, The DePaulia​. My sophomore year I was intimidated by them and went to one meeting at the beginning of the school year, put my email down for weekly article opportunities from the Arts & Life section, and every single one went into the trash without a second glance. I had this false idea that you had to have lots of experience, the editors would judge you and then not publish your work, and it would just prove that I’m not a great writer.

While all those fears are technically valid, I learned they’re far from true! In fact, they are always looking for new contributors, and you don’t need to write for them weekly if your schedule is super busy. You can just pick up pieces when one of the emails interests you. 
   
Finally, I thought to myself this year, what’s the worst that could happen if I picked up a story? So, I did exactly that. The first week of school I wrote an article about the new Netflix Original shows coming out this fall. They published it, and when I picked up the DePaulia the following week on my way to class, I smiled upon seeing my piece.

If you’re interested, here is the piece! (Don’t judge the headline, they changed mine and it’s less generic and boring in the print version so I don’t get it either…)

The DePaulia is a great way to get involved on campus, and is definitely worth trying out! Worst case scenario, you discover it’s not your thing so you head in a different direction


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.

Midterms and Art

Art
I’m sure many of you can relate, but my midterms week consisted of many hours in the library, study groups, venti coffees, little sleep, and my hand
Art
cramping from writing study guides. I’m often told I’m a perfectionist and need to “chill” about studying endlessly, so for the first time ever, I tried to follow that advice. What I set up was that I would study until 10-11pm, and then had to do an hour of “self-care.” So, I got out all my art material (I’m really into watercolor and calligraphy right now), lit candles, played relaxing music, and sat on my yoga mat with my dog.

Art
Of course, it gave me anxiety. I needed to study more, I wasn’t prepared, and I couldn't focus. The more I challenged those thoughts though, the easier it got. I was given the advice to make an art piece that got out all the thoughts in my head. And guess what? It worked! This is a technique called cognitive defusion, where you defuse from being stuck in your head by expressing them through art, writing, or by saying “I notice I’m having the thought that…” Suddenly I wasn’t obsessing over the midterm I had the next morning, and just let myself relax.

Art
Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been trying to do this occasionally, and have also been posting my art on an Instagram account I have and surprising my friends by mailing them art with some of my favorite quotes. This week especially though, this outlet helped me the most! So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should totally try this! Or if you’re not into art, participate in one of your favorite hobbies mindfully! I promise it helps :)

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.

Post Election at The Theatre School

It has now been over 2 weeks since the United States elected their next president, Donald J. Trump. As with all changes in power and administration, it can be a hard adjustment. As college students we are of an age where our political opinion matters more than ever before in our lives, many of us exercising our right to vote for the first time in an election of this nature. After the crazy campaign season, the election early this November took many by surprise, and no matter where they stood on the matter, caused a great deal of emotion to stir up amongst the student body - only a microcosm of the nation itself. There seemed to be a mix of fear, anger, excitement, sense of empowerment and a sense of powerlessness in various forms spread among citizens, including the students at DePaul, and in The Theatre School. 

The days to follow the election were raw at TTS, many students having various conflicting feelings about the results. Never minding which candidate students voted for, either way it was evident the student body needed, and still needs, a way to process this event, to acknowledge their feelings positive or negative. They need a way to talk about the ways their own lives have been and will be impacted. Most importantly they need a space to do these things. At The Theatre School, specific classrooms were designated as spaces open spaces for students to come and express their feelings, to be heard, or simply to feel safe to process. Faculty opened up office hours to students who needed support, allowing them to have resources in a turbulent time.

They need a way to talk about the ways their own lives have been and will be impacted. Most importantly they need a space to do these things. They need a way to talk about the ways their own lives have been and will be impacted. Most importantly they need a space to do these things.

In many ways a time like election season can really seem to divide people. And in this divide, we as a community can be pulled farther apart, and truly give in to the fears and sadness, or other overwhelming feelings we have. For the students at TTS involved in politically charged plays, it was quite a trying time, and left many students feeling emotional about what this material means now that the election is over, and a decision has been made. Many students did not want to come to class, to complete their shows, to keep on working. But in this time of uncertainty, this is the time when we go to work. This is the time we come together, and build each other. This is the time when we as artists are needed most, to reflect on the climate, to imagine a future, create light where there is darkness. This is when we have to answer the call to action to protect all of our students, to encourage them to find their voices, and to respect others in that process as well. 

Democracy
In this call to action this past week, a few events have happened signifying this transformation of alarm, into art, into action in the face of adversity.  First and foremost, we carried on. Two casts closed shows that focused on elections and political themes, we went to class and completed our finals, allowing ourselves to be empowered and not diminished. On walls of the school questions have been posted, and students have posted notes beneath them describing how they feel, what they think and want, and what comes next. Additionally, lighting design students set up a final project exhibit called the Unity Wall in the lobby of the Theatre School using student responses to the election and thoughts of inspiration and good will and displayed them, suspended and lit for all to see on a wall labeled “democracy”. After the showing these messages will be sent to our state senators. Students have left saying they feel as if it is more important than ever for them to get involved in the causes they believe in. They feel the change that this makes to the drive behind their art, and their activism. From putting up political work that highlights our differences and histories, to taking a step back to work that focuses more on common humanity and love across culture, we are feeling the pulse of the people come alive.

In these small ways, we as a student body are able to come together in a time of divide, confusion, and change. As a community we do benefit from a variety of differences in identity and opinion, but we do not benefit from these being used to diminish others, or segregate ourselves entirely from those that are different from us. Seeing these small steps in action, and making attempts to bring us all together for collective growth lightens my spirits in an uncertain time. 

I know that this is only foreshadowing for greater things to come. 

Preparing for Winter

Finals week is finally a wrap, and we are headed into the long winter vacation, before returning for classes in January. It is time my annual rant about the importance of self-care, especially during the harsh winter months. I want to share some things I plan to do personally to prepare for winter quarter, and why I find it important.

I want to keep things honest. Last year was really hard for me. I made it through, I got good grades, I learned a lot, but there were many times during my junior year when I felt overwhelmed, and helpless. It can be hard for me to admit that I had a hard time getting through it and that I don’t always have everything figured out. I can be the type of person that doesn’t admit they need help, because of my independence and need to figure things out for myself. It can be embarrassing, but I have learned over the past year, to admit this about myself. I share this personal information because I know I am not alone in this.
 
Winter is Coming
Many college students over the course of their 4 or so years encounter hard times. Yes, sometimes college can be Frisbee on the quad, great friends, loving your classes, living care free, but in control of your destiny. I have had countless great memories and moments like those we hope for in a college experience. But sometimes college is overwhelming, hard, and lonely. Especially in the harsh Chicago winters. Everything seems a little bit harder in winter. When it is so cold outside, it can be hard to want to go walk to train to get to class, go outside to run errands and more. When it is darker, colder, harsher it can really effect on us in various ways. Winter quarter of my junior year, I was overwhelmed by the role I was playing on stage, my coursework, and personal life. It took a toll on my physical and mental well being, as well as my personal relationships. I didn’t know exactly how to express how I was feeling, or how to ask for help. I made poor health decisions by eating my feelings and skipping exercise. It took me a few months, and some distance from those situations to finally feel like my awesome self again, but I know that it was rough for a while. Thinking back on this, I know that I do not want to let myself fall into an unfortunate place like that again this year. I have too many things to do, and want to get through my last year of school loving life. So I have decided to draft a game-plan of sorts, to make sure I make it through winter not only surviving, but thriving. 

When speaking to a dear friend, I mentioned that I was creating a game plan for myself, and asked for any input or suggestions on how to craft this. While everyone should think of their plan as highly personal and specific to oneself, he gave me a couple things to think on. He suggested I focus on 3 main goals: something physical, mental and personal. I take Barre ​classes, so focusing on fitness goals there is something substantial to focus on, where I can see tangible progress. Also, learning something new, with some books of choice, practicing my Spanish or teaching myself to cook new recipes. That way I can feel that I am working toward something real, and enjoyable. And personal things are leaving room in your life for things that personally bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. For me this might be trying new food, new music, creative tasks and writing that bring me a sense of peace, but also push me forward. 

Of course, when coming up with these tasks, they are to supplement and fill out my life, so I can still balance schoolwork, plays, and more. These are things that can give me a well rounded sense of self. I would recommend to anyone thinking about the upcoming quarter and winter season, to take a few moment to think about what they can do as preventative care and planning to make it that much easier and more enjoyable. Winter is hard but I am determined to make it through, and you can too! 

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! 


DePaul by the Numbers

​It honestly feels like just yesterday I was interviewing at the DePaul Welcome Center to become a DeBlogger. I remember I had to borrow a dress from a girl a few rooms down from me. My preliminary wardrobe I brought to Seton for my first month at college didn’t include a professional interview outfit.

I grabbed my fanciest purse and a printed copy of my resume that barely had any job experience, and off I went. Now, as a fourth year DeBlogger and student, I couldn’t be happier that I got to share my journey with so many others.

As I graduate this fall, I’m excited to say that I’ve already started my job! I’ll be working as a Marketing Assistant for Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, a dream job for someone in love with food as much as I am. I’m excited to immerse myself in my passion, continue to write, and still be located in the Lincoln Park area.

Zoe's Final Blog
One 10-page research paper and a presentation stand between myself and my future diploma. It’s surreal and so bittersweet, but I wouldn’t classify this moment as the end of my scholastic journey. I have a feeling I’ll be back at it in the world of academia a few years down the road :) Who Knows what life has in store.

For my final DeBlog ever, I’ve decided to take a look back at my experience…by the numbers. Here’s a breakdown of my DePaul journey quantified!

Number of…

Classes taken: 45
Credit hours: 180
Professors taken: 36
Independent studies: 2
Advisors: 5
Online classes: 2
Skipped classes: 5
Free t-shirts received: 12
Research conferences: 5
DeBlogs written: 100
Internships: 6
Families I’ve babysat for: 33
DePaulia issues as an editor: 38
Places lived: 3
Musicals seen: 6
Years on the meal plan: 1
Student debt: $$$$$
Majors: 2
Memories: Countless
If you’re interested in following my last week at DePaul, follow @IAmDePaul on Instagram for my takeover beginning November 21! Good luck Blue Demons on the rest of your DePaul journeys, and thank you for reading about mine.

Sincerely,
Zoe Krey

The Happiest Place on Earth

Has it been three months already? I feel like I just got here! My LA quarter experience is coming to an end with the last week of classes. Tuesday is a normal class and Thursday we will be turning in our final papers and showcasing our final projects. What has been an incredible, inspiring, and phenomenal experience is coming to its conclusion. I’ve enjoyed my time here in Los Angeles and I cannot wait to get back to my sweet home Chicago.

Roller Coaster
My last full weekend here would finish in spectacular fashion as our LA group went to The Happiest Place on Earth on Sunday, Disneyland. What another amazing experience! I didn’t see Mickey Mouse but I did see Minnie posing for the paparazzi as I walked past her on my way to one of the many rides I would go on. Disneyland is a remarkable theme park with characters dedicated to transforming the real world into the fun, sing-along fantasy that Walt Disney himself visualized. Musical performances, theme rides, an array of shops, and more - I was overwhelmed with childhood characters and stories coming to life. The nostalgia was like no other and my group used up every single second of our time there. My personal favorite rides were California Screamin and Hyperspace Mountain, two different rollercoasters that had me screaming and holding on to my lap bar for dear life.

Though our day started off with lots of traffic and long lines, the moment I stepped foot into Disneyland I understood why it was called The Happiest Place on Earth. As I finish out my time here in LA I encourage everyone and anyone with the opportunity to go to California to check out Disneyland! I know I have been seeing a few posts on Facebook of friends of mine being admitted to the Spring LA quarter and I will be sure to share the message with them as well! My last Sunday in California was a huge success!

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!

It Happened

​After 108 years without a World Series Championship and 71 years without a World Series appearance the Chicago Cubs, once coined the “Lovable Loser,” are finally World Series Champions.

With an estimated 5 million people in attendance for the rally and parade in Chicago and countless marketers from Nike to the Walking Dead using this opportunity to show their support, some might be tired of hearing about the Cubbies. However, I love every second of it!

I don’t think there was ever time when I liked so many pictures, tweets, statuses, and more on social media! It truly is a historic time for the city of Chicago and I could not be any more proud. I definitely did all I could to support the Cubs from out here in LA. This is a great time for baseball, a great time for Chicago, and a great time for the Cubbies! The question has been floating around online, “Where were you when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016?” Here’s my story.

After creating a video for the Cubs V.S. Dodgers NLCS in Los Angeles, my roommate and I decided to fly back to Chicago. While there we planned, orchestrated, and executed a World Series video with friends of ours. The Cubs had just gone down 3-1 in the series. I would stay in Chicago long enough to see the boys tie it up 3-3 forcing a game 7. However, my flight back to LA wouldn’t allow me to stay home for the final game.

Chicago Cubs
That afternoon I would go to O’Hare for my plane ride back. Departing at 3:13pm, I would land in Los Angeles at 5:40pm PT giving me enough time to still catch the majority of the game. My cousin came to pick me up and we drove to the nearest restaurant that had a T.V. We ended up at Truxton’s American Bistro where we would watch, as the craziest, most entertaining game I have ever seen would unfold. Jumping up and down from my seat, cheering and clapping and shedding some tears of joy after they won, it all happened there. My cousin and I would also enjoy some of their amazing food. Afterwards, we would drive back home playing Steve Goodman’s Go Cubs Go on a loop with the windows lowered all the way.

As the city moves on with business as usual, it will never forget how the Cubs came back from 3-1 to win and triumph in the most bizarre World Series game 7. So many Chicagoans came together to celebrate after that. The city came together fans from all over the US and the world came to root on the Cubbies! The 7th largest gathering in history would take place downtown! It truly is a historic time. For the last time on this blog (possibly, probably) Go Cubs Go!

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!?

​​​

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!


Cru Fall Retreat

​Who else is enjoying this glorious fall weather? We are entering into my favorite time of the year. It is cold, but not cold enough that it is miserable out and we are getting close to Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Last weekend, I headed up to Lake Geneva, WI with about thirty other DePaul students and another couple hundred students from other Chicago schools on our annual Cru Fall Retreat. We definitely took advantage of this awesome fall season.

Cru Fall Retreat
At Fall Retreat, we stay at Conference Point Center, which is right on Lake Geneva. We stay in cabins, snuggle in sleeping bags, and explore the lake front trails. A speaker and worship band come every year to Fall Retreat and most of our time is spent in sessions with them, learning, worshiping, playing games, and growing in community. However, they always provide time for us to explore the lake, play a mega-tournament of ultimate frisbee, and relax in nature away from the city.

Oh, it was so nice to be away from the city for the weekend. I love Chicago, but it can be so exhausting and energy-draining. I felt so at peace spending the weekend at the lake and definitely felt rested when coming back to the city to start another week. We only have a couple more weeks until finals begin - yikes! I hope that you can find some rest and rejuvenation in these next weeks - remember, our reward is a big turkey dinner!

Meet Emily!

Oh hey there!

I’m Emily and I’m a senior studying Journalism with a minor in Psychology. I’m originally from the northern suburbs, Wilmette, where I frequently go to visit my dog Piper. 

Some (fun) facts about me: 
1. I went to school in Canada my freshman year
2. I’m a dual citizen with Canada and the US
3. I have an obsession with elephants (and rode one once in Thailand...best day of my life)
4. I’ve been making movies with my friends since I was 10 
5. I tap danced for 10 years
6. I can quote pretty much every line of Friends
7. I could eat a PB&J for almost every meal
8. I’m obsessed with yoga (and am getting into meditation)
9. I played badminton in high school (it’s a real sport...we went to State)
10. I just went on a 4 day meditation retreat for one of my classes (and I get credit for it!)

Emily
At DePaul I have experience transferring, taking classes part time (and taking a medical leave), commuting for a quarter, living in on campus apartments, writing for the DePaulia, changing majors and being a student worker in the CDM graduate admission office!

When I’m not in classes or working, I enjoy writing in coffee shops, taking my dog to the beach, rewatching 30 Rock (but my latest obsession is The Newsroom and Broad City), watching movies and being a film snob about them, practicing yoga (obviously), and making breakfast for dinner.


The Theatre School Drag Show

The students behind Support Tomorrow’s Rising Stars (STR*S), are back at it again with another ridiculously fun event, the Drag Show! This is a quarterly event, that STR*S has been holding the last couple of years that is fun for all involved. Hosted by the BFA 4 class, the Drag Show is an event where theatre school students of any year and discipline can sign up to perform in front of guests in the The Theatre School's main Lobby. Students create their own Drag characters, complete with costumes, makeup, wigs, a stage name, and killer confidence. 
  
ST*RS
Daniella Mazzio and Arie Thompson swap gender roles in an exciting scene together at the Drag Show 
A few Fridays ago, we kicked off our first of 3 Drag Shows of this year, but this time, it had a little twist - competition. Traditionally it has been a show for all to participate and enjoy, but this time, all participants were competing to be crowned winner of the Fall 2016 TTS Drag Show. There were 8 competitors in total, both men and women creating a complete cast of fabulous characters. First each competitor in the line up was introduced by a fierce host “Ayabria”, STR*S member and 4th year actor Ayanna Bakari. When each performer took the stage, they were illuminated by the glow of gorgeous pink lighting and bright spot lights. The music was bumping as each performer went on to Lip Sync to a self chosen track, dancing for their lives, while the audience cheered, clapped and danced along in their seats. The energy in the room was alive as the hour long show went from serious to sexy to surprising, the audience and participants as equally invested in the moment. It was a-ma-zing. 

 
ST*RS
Host Ayabria (Ayanna Bakari) struts her stuff down the runway
 
The event was truly a success, creating a decent turnout, and even better turn UP, supporting STR*S fundraising goals, but also supporting each student’s ability to express themselves in a way we often don’t get to see in our day to day lives at school. Some guests were skeptical, as some of the most noted performers from past years have graduated, and they wondered what would happen with this new generation of the Drag Show and its participants. However, guests walked out singing the songs they heard throughout the night, and talking about their ideas for ways they could be a part of it next quarter. This is exactly the goal in mind when STR*S host an event of this nature. To bring the school together to have fun and let loose, with events that get the student body excited about ways they can also be a part of the action, and look forward to what’s to come. 
​​

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.

Let Girls Learn

I have a homework assignment for you guys. Stop whatever you are currently doing and go watch the documentary “We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World.” You can find it at this link

I know, I know, you already have a ton of homework and cannot possibly take an hour out of your day to watch this. I promise, you will not regret staying up a little later or skipping the next episode of Stranger Things to watch this. 

I have to give a final presentation in one of my classes and I am presenting on the education inequality that girls around the world face. I stumbled across this CNN film that names girls’ education a global crisis. There are still 62 million girls worldwide who do not have the opportunity to receive an education. Doesn’t that break your heart? Gender stereotypes, money, safety, and basic health needs prevent girls from going to school. 
 
Raphina
Raphina, one of the beautiful girls highlighted in the documentary. She does her homework late at night by flashlight after all of the chores are done. 
This film will open your eyes to the privilege we have here in the United States. All of those barriers that I listed above are things we take for granted here. Public school does not cost money here in the States, but that is not the case in other countries. If a family has to choose between sending their son to school or their daughter to school, they will most likely send the son. Also, girls do not have as good of access to sex education in a lot of developing countries, which affects their schooling experience. Girls are not allowed to go to school when they have their periods, which means they miss one week of school every month. I cannot imagine that happening here in the States. 

I am glad that I was able to watch this film because I am more educated on the lack of education equality in the world, a very important topic that needs to be faced. I am thankful that there are initiatives to shrink the education gap, like the Let Girls Learn campaign started by President Obama and the First Lady, USAID, the Peace Corps, and other agencies and programs. I pray that someday girls everywhere are given equal opportunity to learn. 

So, go watch it! Learn how to help and empower these girls! Do not take your education for granted - we can help be the change. 
 

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!

Fall at Home in Wisconsin

Willy
Here I am as a child sitting outside of the same petting farm/corn maze that I went to this weekend. Always been about that fall life.
I’m an only child, so it’s been just me and my parents my whole life. As a result, I’m super close with my parents. From the moment that I started my college search back in high school, I knew that I wanted to go to college in a city that would allow me to visit home as frequently as I wanted. Not only is Chicago relatively close to my hometown of Oregon, Wisconsin (located just outside of Madison), but Chicago offers so many transportation options. Between two airports, Megabus, Greyhound, and Amtrak, you never have to be that far away from home. And ever since I got into a long-distance relationship with someone living back in Madison a year and a half ago, I’ve become even more grateful that I live somewhere where I can buy a Megabus ticket home for just $1. 

Corn Maze
Apparently I got so excited towards the end of the corn maze that I just started running. I don’t remember this happening. 
So  let me tell you why I went home this weekend. First off, I love Chicago. I may have grown up in a town of under 10,000 people, but I’m definitely meant to live in a city. If nothing else, I love how late restaurants are open. That’s reason enough for me to stay in Chicago after graduation. Having said that, there are no corn fields in Chicago. As both a fall enthusiast​ and a transplant from Wisconsin, corn mazes are extremely important to me (see picture for proof). Fall is incomplete without a corn maze. Over my 22 years of life, I think there’s only been one or two years where I haven’t been able to make it to a corn maze (and I don’t like to talk about those years). So this year, I blocked out some time so that I could head home and get my corn maze fix on. After picking pumpkins, feeding a goat, running through the corn maze, and drinking a life-endangering amount of apple cider, I realized that my $1 ticket home was totally worth it. 
​​

About Our New Blogger Logan

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 Drihaus 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!

On Tour Brewing Company

On Tour
Photo taken by Vanessa Buholzer
I’ve gotten to do some really cool things during my time at DePaul, but I would argue that this quarter has included one of the coolest.

This past summer, my social media professor Ben Foster reached out to some of his former students. His question? Would any of us be interested in doing some communications and public relations work with a brewery opening up in West Town. A craft-beer lover, I could think of no better way to spend my last quarter as a 21+ student. 
 
On Tour
Photo taken by Vanessa Buholzer
I met On Tour Brewing Company’s founder Mark Legenza, and was instantly inspired by the world of craft brew. Since joining the On Tour team, which currently consists of me, Mark, and our head brewer who is also named Mark, I’ve done a little bit of everything. 

From community outreach to social media to graphic design to attending the West Town Food Truck Festival on behalf of On Tour, my new job as Communications Coordinator has allowed me to explore so many avenues of communication. I enjoy the independence that comes with not having an office or set hours, and I’ve even learned a little bit about construction from being on site. 
 
On Tour
Photo taken by Vanessa Buholzer
Taking on a position like this one really makes me reflect on the all of the experiences I’ve had while living in Chicago and attending DePaul. My various classes and internships, but also personal interests in craft beer and the restaurant industry have all contributed to my ability to help open up a brewery in Chicago. 

As of now, we’re set to open the week of November 14, and will begin brewing this October. I could not be more excited for what’s in store for On Tour Brewing. If you want to stay updates on our progress, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Also, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website
 
On Tour
Photo taken by Vanessa Buholzer

Prost! 
 

Family

​I love to explore. I've never really been the type to sit still, it's a blessing and a curse.

This week my family is coming into town and I cannot wait! See, being in LA is the first time I've ever lived somewhere other than Chicago. Born and raised in the city I have been on the Northside since I was a baby. That means that I have always had my family with me no matter what. If I had a hard day, if I didn't do well in a class, if I went to a cool event I would always come home and tell my family all about it. When I leave for the day to go to class and explore Chicago I always came back to my house.

Family
Now it's different and I have to rely on text, FaceTime, Facebook, etc. to communicate with them. I leave my apartment and explore LA but there isn't any coming back home to my family to tell them about it and share my experiences. It's difficult, but not impossible, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job. However, now they're coming to visit and I am super excited to show them everything that Los Angeles has to offer! The beaches, the malls, the restaurants everything! As much as I love to explore and travel I also love to be with my family and to share my days with them. This weekend is going to be awesome!

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.

Health and Fitness in College

Today I want to talk about something sort of unrelated to life in The Theatre School, but connected to college life in general. You my have guessed it by the title of my post -- it’s Health and Fitness in college. I’d like to be open and honest about this subject, in hopes that it may help other current or prospective students. 

Personally, health and fitness have not always come easily to me growing up. Before college I never really played sports regularly, or learned great nutritional habits. Even when I arrived as a freshman, I was intimidated by the Gym - a place I’d never been before - and unsure how to navigate the dining areas in the healthiest ways. In fact, when I came to college I encountered the infamous “Freshman 15”. Before college I had always heard this phrase, a colloquialism for the time when many new college students gain weight (in this case a theoretical 15lbs), due to poor food options, choices and more.  After a few months of college, and hibernating through the harsh Chicago Winter, I found that my clothes didn’t fit anymore, and I wasn’t feeling good in various ways. While it is embarrassing to me to admit that I have dealt with this, I know that at colleges all over the country, many students deal with the challenge of staying healthy and fit in college. Here at DePaul, the Student Center - where campus dining is located is open very late, and with your meal plan only a swipe away - food, snacks, and sweet treats seemed always available. While I had access to the gym, I had never had a regular fitness regimen, and was intimidated to go in the first place. For many students starting college, added to lack of sleep, and more, it can be easy to put on a few pounds. Or, at least it was for me. Now that I am a senior, I have a more consistent health and fitness regimen that helps me stay feeling my best - although it hasn’t been easy to get here. Here I want to share some resources that DePaulians can take advantage of to make healthy choices that are right for them. 

The Ray
The first resource to take advantage of is the Ray Meyer Fitness Center​ on the DePaul Lincoln Park Campus. While I was quite intimidated to go to “the Ray” my first year, I encourage any student to go (your student fees get you all access with your student ID)! For those who are already fitness experts, and those who are new to it like I was, the Ray is the place to be, I swear. With rows and rows of fitness equipment and machines, students and members can find almost anything to add to their workout. The Ray also holds scheduled daily group fitness classes from dance to interval training to cycling, as well as opportunities to connect with personal trainers staffed right here at the Gym. The Ray had endless resources for fitness and fun, with intramural sports, camping equipment rentals, special events and classes and more all designed to help students and members stay active, healthy and happy. 

The second place to keep an eye out for is the Student Center, affectionately called “The Stu”. This is where dining services is held, with all the food options for students who live on campus. There are many different options available, from salad bar to burgers and fries. Having so much available was not so great for me my first year, but I admit as someone who knowingly struggles with nutrition and weight, I should have gone in with a plan. Getting pints of Ben and Jerry’s and late night curly fries are undoubtedly part of anyone’s college experience, but finding balance and making healthier choices on the regular can sometimes be a challenge. I advise anyone new to their dining hall, who wants to avoid the dreaded Freshman 15, to go in with a plan, do what makes you feel your best, and enjoy all things in life and college in moderation. 

It took me well into my college years to really figure out how to make choices to be my healthiest and best self, and is something that still takes a lot of work. For others it may come easier, but for any students current and future who wonder or worry- know that the struggle is real, you are not alone, and DePaul has some awesome resources to help you enjoy college in the healthiest and happiest way. 

To learn more about the Ray Meyer Fitness Center, visit their website here at Campus recreation.


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.


Ohio Visit

I ventured on the Megabus this past weekend and made a long overdue visit back to my hometown, Chardon, Ohio. 

I hadn’t been home since May, so I was really looking forward to seeing my family, my dogs, and enjoying the nice fall weather in a small town setting. My best friend Stephanie joined me for the weekend, and it was really fun getting to show her where I grew up and for her to be a part of my Ohio life. 

Pumpkin Patch
Every year, my family hosts a huge Fish Fry (no, not a pun on our last name). My dad goes on a few fishing trips every year with his friends and they collectively catch enough fish to feed over 100 people, meaning our house was the place to be on Saturday night. I hadn’t seen a lot of the people who came in a really long time, so it was nice to catch up. 

Oh, it was so nice to be out of the city for a long weekend. I absolutely love Chicago, but the craziness and energy of the city can be tiring sometimes. It was a joy to be in a slow, quiet town for a while and cuddle with my dogs. Stephanie and I went to a pumpkin patch one afternoon and it was glorious. When I sniffed the air outside, it smelled like leaves, which was awesome. I’m back in reality now, but a weekend back in Chardon was the perfect treat and made me really excited for this fall season. 


I Survived Grey's Anatomy

Is anyone as obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy as I am? I JUST finished watching the series on Netflix and goodness, I am going through some serious PBD (post-binge depression). 

I started watching Grey’s Anatomy this past May when my best friend got me hooked. I had sworn to myself that I would never watch it: I knew I would like it and get sucked in immediately and I did not have time to watch twelve emotional, dramatic seasons. However, I obviously failed and went through twelve seasons, which is 269 episodes or 188.3 hours, in three and a half months. At this point, I can’t decide if I am appreciative or mad at this friend who got me hooked.

Grey's
For those who are unfamiliar with Grey’s Anatomy, it is a show centered around a surgeon named Meredith Grey, the daughter of a world-famous general surgeon. The show follows Meredith and her friends as they go from interns to residents to attendings, with lots of drama, relationships, and mass tragedies in between. How Meredith Grey has survived a bomb explosion, near-drowning experience, a mass shooter, a plane crash, the deaths of many friends and family members, and a vicious attack from a patient is beyond me, but hey, all the more power to her. I am not an emotional person and this show had me sobbing multiple times. If you haven’t seen it yet, prepare yourself for an emotional journey. 

The season premiere for season 13 just aired on Thursday and Shonda Rhimes did not fail to bring in the drama and emotions. I was digging my fingernails into my face and my roommate was weeping - the typical responses to watching Grey’s Anatomy. I am looking forward to seeing how the show continues on and let’s hope Meredith Grey will catch a break sometime soon. 


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.

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!

The Great Hike

I am by no means an expert hiker. I am not even sure what makes one an expert at hiking. 

Hiking
Just this past summer I went on my first ever hike with my younger brother and my girlfriend. I wasn’t the first person in my family to go hiking, that honor belongs to my older sister and her boyfriend. She has always had the interest, but the idea and actually going to do it picked up steam in June. The first hike I went on was at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. I actually wrote a blog post about it. You can read it here. It was a great experience the scenery was beautiful, the walk was calming, and the pictures were awesome. 

The reason I am bringing up hikes again is because just this past weekend I went to Topanga State Park here in California. To go on, you may have guessed it, a hike! 

A handful of students from the LA Quarter program decided it would be a fun way to spend our Sunday afternoon and I, of course, was completely and totally down (not in the literal sense but the cool slang sense like “Ya dude I am so down to go to the beach”). Having gone hiking about four or five times in the summer, I knew exactly what I needed. I grabbed my designated exploration backpack (a backpack I bought at Lollapalooza last year because the gym bag I had broke, but that’s a story for a different blog), five water bottles (three for myself and two for my roommate), and a handful of snacks ranging from fruit to granola bars (truly an essential if you’re going to be walking/climbing for 2 hours or more). 

Hiking

After gearing up I picked up my cousin and her roommate, met with the rest of the group, and drove to Topanga. I was ready to conquer the climb up to Eagle Rock, one of the key destinations in the park. Immediately I noticed some key differences between California hiking and Midwest hiking, specifically Illinois, the air is a lot dryer. Hiking requires breathing, much like life in general, but more so controlled breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. At least that’s what I was taught. The difficult thing about that is the dryness of the air. I felt dry but not dehydrated. I wasn’t dizzy and I was drinking water as needed, but there is something about the air that proved a challenge for me. Even though the air was dry and the sun was ever present, everyone in our group made it to Eagle Rock​ and back to our cars. The first hike in California was a memorable one and I look forward to many more as I continue my life here for three more months. 

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

Welcome Back!

Welcome back! Wow, I cannot believe that school is starting again. I feel like I just turned in my last final from this past year!

Ocean City Group
I had an amazing summer and am feeling refreshed and excited to start another school year. As a reminder, I spent the summer in Ocean City, NJ​ with 100 other college students on a mission trip with Cru, a Christian organization on DePaul’s campus and on campuses around the country.

While in Ocean City, we all got jobs at different places around the island, learned a lot about the
Lord and about ministry, and did a lot of outreach on the boardwalk. I made lifelong friendships and grew a lot - it was an awesome summer!

However, I am now back to reality as school started on Wednesday. It’s my senior year I cannot believe I am almost done with my undergraduate degree! These past three years have gone by so quickly and have been some of the most impactful and fruitful years of my life, and I expect nothing less from my fourth and final year.

This quarter is turning out to be a really busy one18 credits, a paid research position, leadership with Cru, applications for grad school and STINT (yearlong international ministry program with Cru). It’s going to be crazy, but I’m really excited to see all that this year will bring me and what my life will end up looking like. I graduate in 9 months - eek!!

I hope you will continue to read my blog as I write about school, my experiences, and my adventures around Chicago!


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.


Closing Reflections: My Last Show of the Year

The end of the year marked the closing of a very long run of Peter Pan and Wendy, the show I was in during Spring Quarter of this year. This was the closing of my last show of junior year, and it has left me feeling very reflective of my experiences this year, all the things that I have learned, and facing Senior Year (whoa). At TTS only junior and senior actors (as well as 2nd and 3rd year MFA actors) can audition and perform in the many official productions. This time last year I was just thinking about how crazy it felt to finally be facing junior year, and finally be in the casting pool for the MainStage shows. There was so much uncertainty and nervousness and excitement around what it would be like to be an upperclassman, and be in a real show.  Now, a year later, I have just finished my third MainStage show, and looking straight in the face of my last year of undergrad, and my last 3 shows. It is an equally exciting and nervous place to be, but for different reasons. I now have an understanding of how the process works and of the work I need to do to be successful. 

Here are some things I've learned from the three shows I was in this year, and greatest memories. 

Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson-on the Fullerton Stage: 

Play 1
What I learned: This was my favorite show experience this year, and will always remain very special to me. A lot of this is due to the fact that it was my very first real production in college, and my first MainStage show. During this process and in exploring the role of Zonia Loomis, an 11 year old living in 1910, I learned to follow my instincts and really have fun in the work. They call it a play for a reason! This show taught me that I can have a truly safe, collaborative, fun, and wonderful experience creating a piece of theatre, when all involved truly love and care about the work in the same way. 

My favorite memory: The connections I made with the entire team are so special to me. Also, in the rehearsal process we explored rhythm, singing, and dancing  in a way that was improvisational and came from the heart. 

In the Blood by Susan-Lori Parks- in the Healy Theatre: 

In the Blood by Susan-Lori Parks- in the Healy Theatre:
What I learned: In this process I played a young homeless mother of five, struggling to beat the odds and create a better life for her family-but is ultimately destroyed by the forces around her. This role was very challenging to work on, given the size of the role and circumstances of the story. I will admit that I was very scared to work on this role. But after the process I learned that while it is okay to be scared, the only way to get the work done is to face it head on, and proceed step by step. I learned to be an advocate for myself and that I need to work on communicating my needs as an actor in the process. I learned that I can do things I didn't know I was capable of. 

Greatest memory: The bond I created with some of the cast members of this show. Also, on opening and closing night, sharing with each other the ways in which we were proud of each other. 

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie - in the Merle Reskin Theatre:

Peter Pan and Wendy byJ.M. Barrie- in the Merle Reskin Theatre:
What I learned: In this play I had two ensemble roles of the Neverbird and one of Captain Hook's pirates. During this process I was able to apply some of the things that I had been learning in the classroom over the last couple of years in some different ways. The Merle Reskin Theatre, located in The Loop, is the largest stage and theatre that we perform on at TTS. Such a large space and large audience demands you fill it up and send the story up and out so everyone in the audience can receive it. I got to play with my voice work to be heard in such a large space, and play with different voices for a bird, and for a pirate. I got to explore my movement work also in exploring bird-like movement, and playing a scruffy male pirate. Also, I took the acting lesson "Never let yourself get bored" into account and always switched up my point of view or actions on stage as a pirate. Because I was in the background and still serving the story, it was fun to play around with different things, just for myself. 

Greatest memory: Wearing awesome costumes made by the students at TTS! 

I have learned all of this in process, even more in the classroom and even more outside of the classroom. Being a part of these has taught me about acting, about life, and about myself. I look forward to many new learning experiences in the shows next year! 

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!”  


PAWS Chicago

Nothing makes me happier than going home and seeing my dogs. My family has three dogs: Oreo and Frisco are Boston Terriers, and Abigail is a Boston Terrier/French Bulldog mix. Dogs are just the best. They are friendly, always happy to see you, loving, and comforting. I went home a couple of weeks ago and got prime cuddling opportunities with my dogs. We have had Oreo since I was eight years old and I definitely am the closest to him. I almost smuggled him back to Chicago in my suitcase.

All my friends know I am obsessed with my dog, Oreo. Who could blame me, though?
Now that summer has come upon us so quickly, all of the dogs seem to be around Lincoln Park. I swear there is one being walked on every city block- which is great for dog lovers like me. I remember one time during my freshman year I ran into a family walking a Boston Terrier and they let me pet it. I felt so much better afterwards – something about dogs just lifts my mood so much.

If you walk a few blocks south of campus, you’ll find this awesome organization called PAWS​, which is committed to building no-kill communities for stray or unwanted dogs and cats. They help spay and neuter cats and dogs and help get them adopted into permanent homes. They even have a giant team each year that runs the Chicago Marathon to raise awareness and funds for their efforts.

Animal lovers rejoice, because PAWS welcomes volunteers! I know a few people who have volunteered at PAWS and love it. Is there a better way to spend time then playing with dogs? I don’t think so. 

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! 


Wrights of Spring 2016

Now that spring quarter is in its final few weeks, most of the productions at The Theatre School have closed, but the hard work and creativity is still full steam ahead. 

It is now the time of year for Wrights of Spring, a special event showcasing new work created by students here at TTS. Playwriting students have been working hard writing and revising new work throughout the year. Wrights of Spring is the moment these writer get to share their work with a larger audience of students, faculty, and guests. 

These pieces range from shorter one-acts, to full length plays that are presented in staged readings. The playwrights cast other students from across disciplines in the roles they have created and often team up with student directors to come together to share their stories. 

For nearly two weeks there are daily showings of these brand new works. At any of these readings you will see dozens of audience members crowding into classrooms and theatre spaces. Each playwright sets up the space differently, perhaps with suggestive set elements, some with a bare stage, with fully staged action or actors standing behind music stands delivering the playwrights words. However it may be, audiences witness the actors, scripts in hand, present these new works. Often it is the first time the playwright gets to hear their piece outside of their classes. They have been working tirelessly to craft their plays throughout the year, and finally get to see how their play is received by a wider audience. This is a chance to hear what is working, and what is not, so they can continue improve and sharpen their writing. It is also a celebration of the talent we have among us here at TTS. This is a fun, supportive and amazingly creative event, with dozens of new plays showcased during these two weeks. 

The culmination of this event is the opening of the New Playwrights Series showcase production. This is when a student playwright’s work is chosen to be fully produced on the MainStage. This season that show is "The Women Eat Chocolate" written by 4th year Caroline Macon, starring BFA III and IV actors, and directed by Heidi Stillman, who among many things is known for her work at Lookingglass Theatre ​here in Chicago. 

On the TTS website there is a description of this World Premiere play:

"At age 13 Alexandra Appleton is certain she's a poet. Her life spirals out of control when her younger sister, Dot, passes her in the race to womanhood. After a psychedelic trip, Alex struggles to distinguish fantasy from reality. Are the adults in Alex's life out to get her? Is her poetry teacher more than just a friendly mentor? And most importantly, will Alex's body catch up to her brains?"

This is a beautiful written play that I am truly excited to see it on stage. 

Spring is undoubtedly the season of growth and here we are see some budding new work! 

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. 



Dancakes Treats DePaul!

Imagine a pancake that looks so good you want to frame it instead of eat it. It is the Mona Lisa of the breakfast food, the Statue of David of cakes. Well, you must be having a Dancake then! YouTuber, Instagrammer, and professional pancake artist, Dancakes, came to DePaul the other night for the DePaul Activity Board’s weekly event, DePaul After Dark (DPUAD). 

With an estimated attendance of about 200 students, Dancakes kept the crowd interested as he made his famous artsy cakes while streaming it on a monitor for everyone to see. He did Simba from the Lion King, Michelle and Barack Obama, Danny DeVito, and more! He even took time to create my dog Gimzo as a pancake and it was pretty awesome (wipes away tears of joy). If you want to see more of Dancake’s awesome creations make sure to check out his social media down below! 

Dancake's Instagram!

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


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.


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.


Let's Talk FEST

“Good music is hard to find,” said no one ever at DePaul University. 

Here on campus we have tons of talented musicians that dedicate their lives to playing, writing, and performing. Just last week the DePaul Activities Board (DAB) hosted its annual Battle of the Bands, where student bands and DJs come to battle for the audience’s admiration in hopes of getting their vote and winning the grand prize. 

The line up this year had a variety of talent from the hardcore rock style of Rotten Mouth to the smooth, funky jams of Walcott. In between bands, DJs performed their sets to keep the crowd going. It was a packed venue over at Lincoln Hall, a venue near campus just north of Lincoln and Fullerton. The winning band was awarded studio time and connections with Music Garage in Chicago. 

The winning DJ gets the opportunity to open for After Hours, the EDM DJ performance that happens after FEST in the McGrath arena. As if all this wasn’t enough for an awesome packed event, the FEST line up is revealed exclusively to all those that come first then online for all of DePaul to see. The winners included Rotten Mouth and DJ Affinity. Make sure to check out DePaul After Hours to see DJ Affinity open for Grandtheft! Also, in case you are wondering. The line up this year is Karmin opening, T-Pain in the middle, and The Neighbourhood headlining FEST 2016! 

Make sure to get your tickets next week when they go on sale!  


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. 


Leisure at DePaul

I have been getting in the habit of taking at least one online class at DePaul. This habit started late sophomore year. At first I was extremely apprehensive because I learn better with an in person instructor and am also motivated by their teaching to get my work done. With online classes, there needs to be some control within yourself to keep on track, since there is no human you see weekly reminding you about homework or projects. As I get deeper into finishing all my requirements before graduating, I am finding it hard to find domain requirements that are online (and interesting to me).

With that in mind, this quarter I took a shot in the dark and enrolled in an online class that didn’t seem super stimulating, but was the only one open when it was my time to enroll. The course is called Leisure, Recreation, and Health. I thought to myself “what is so scholarly about leisure....? Like riding a bike and reading on days off? How can this simple thing be an area of study?”

I was soon hit with the harsh reality that I have underestimated the world of academia, and also that of the human experience. Leisure is described as an elemental experience, essential to the total well-being of every person; it is a reflection and expression of the cultural values of a society, and it is an important vehicle for medical treatment. Also, leisure can be essential for a healthy community I terms of social climate and stability.

DePaul has many outlets for leisure and I am honored to have the privilege to choose to participate in them. DePaul has the Ray Meyer Fitness Center which provides everything from swimming to ping pong. DePaul also offers their students an amazing opportunity to participate in DemonTHON which is a 24-hour dance party to raise money for the Children’s Hospital. These activities make for a really connected community that have people who hold the same values. The sense of togetherness is something that leisure provides for people.

Although we are at DePaul to get a degree and a career, we also learn the importance of the binary of work and leisure and how the balance of each makes for a happy life  J


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.


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! 


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.​​​

Spring Break 2016

Who needs Miami or Cancun?

Usually I spend my spring break catching up on my reading list and sleep. For many college kids, spring break is a time to lean into freedom and lack of academic responsibility. Many people travel to far away beaches, but for me that has never been finically feasible. I would much rather spend my time doing very little, or traveling to a place most people do not go to for spring break. This year, instead of lying in bed I decided to take a trip to Boston to see what the East Coast had to offer. Sadly, it was rainy and gloomy most of the time, but luckily they have a lot of free things to do and clam chowder to eat (not free, but a girl can dream).

I spent the first day in Boston walking the freedom trail and learning about all of the historical site. It is also the home of the first public park in the US so I spent some time people watching and eating a REAL Boston Crème Pie. Definitely better than the Boston Crème donuts at Dunkin, but I know they are trying their best. I visited some museums and pastry shops, but what I enjoyed most is the realization that I do not need to go anywhere warm to have a pleasant time during my spring break. Yes, a little sun would have been nice, but downtime to me has nothing to do with the weather. I find that spring break is a time to recharge and doing it in an environment that is not packed with party people is the best for me. 


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.


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. 


My Trip to New York: Jackie Robsinson Conference

As a college student, it is important to create networks of people to support you. While I have a wonderful community of people here at DePaul, I also believe in expanding your network. 

I currently am a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar. This is a scholarship foundation created in the legacy of the legendary black baseball player and civil rights activist, Jackie Robinson. 

I have been a part of this foundation since I applied for this award before entering college. The Foundation is made up of college students across the country studying various things. Each spring, the scholars attend a Mentoring and Leadership Conference. 

This is a four day event in New York City where all the scholars come together with professionals to learn about career readiness, professional skills, networking and more. The weekend is full of guest speakers, workshops and seminars where students get to interact with other students and industry professionals. This conference takes place the first week of March each year, and I have just gotten back from attending my third conference of my college career. 

While I was there I attended social justice panels, sessions on interviewing skills, financial planning, networking, being a career focused woman (the men attended a session of their own) and more. These were all so informative and I learned a great deal from listening and practicing these skills. 
While I was there I entered the JRF's Got Talent competition with a monologue I had prepared at school, and won 2nd place! I had a great balance of business and pleasure, also getting to attend a black tie formal gala and the ballet during my stay. 

Here is a photo of me and the other scholars from the Pacific Northwest, last weekend at the conference.
While I learned a lot and had great fun, one of my favorite things about attending is simply the people I get to be around. As an ambitious college student of color, it was great to spend time with so many other smart successful and talented students of color. The group of students involved in the Jackie Robinson Foundation are some of the best and brightest young minds in our society, and I am always so grateful for the opportunity to be in their presence and learn from them. What is especially amazing is just how supportive, encouraging, curious, and uplifting they all are. They are all individuals destined for greatness, who want everyone else to be successful in their prospective fields as well. That is the key. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. This is what JRF gives me. 

It is essential to your own well-being and your success in whatever you do to have people around who will lift you up, encourage you to strive for more, and inspire you along your journey. As I move closer to the professional world and my adult life, I am learning that there will be some people and places that do not foster the kind of growth you might want. So I am learning to create a network of people near and far that I can learn from, be supported by, and will be interested in my goals regardless of their own success. And I can do this for them. 

This past weekend in New York really has given me a breath of new inspiration to keep working toward my goals. I think everyone should create that network, and maintain relationships with people who help you to grow. 


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!


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.


Testing My Spanish

​​​​​HolaWhen I was in seventh grade, I took my first Spanish class. On my first quiz ever, I forgot the word for ‘angry’ so I made up my own Spanish-sounding word (“angrioso,” in case you were wondering). When I was a sophomore in high school, my entire Spanish class became so obsessed with Rebelde​, a Mexican telenovela​ about some teenagers at a boarding school who form a band named RBD, that we had a viewing party and each dressed up as a different character. When I was a junior in high school, we had to share our talent for Spanish class, so I performed “Genio Atrapado,” the Spanish version of “Genie in a Bottle​” by Christina Aguilera. When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad in Madrid​ for three months.

Almost nine years after my first Spanish class, I’ve officially completed my Spanish major. After I finished my last Spanish class last fall, I realized that I never have to take another Spanish class again. Pretty bittersweet. Two months later, my friend, who knows four languages and makes me feel terrible about myself, told me about the DELE test​​. Let’s talk about why I’m kicking myself for not taking a Spanish class this quarter.

Look how fluent I look here. How am I supposed to get good at Spanish again if I can't meet with Spanish-speaking Minions​?

The DELE test​ is basically a Spanish fluency exam endorsed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science. So when my friend mentioned it, I imagined it being like the ACT or SAT. I thought I’d casually go in and take a test and they would tell me how fluent I am. NOPE. It’s no joke. You register to test for one of six fluency levels and then it’s 4+ hours of writing, reading, listening, and talking. If you pass, you’re certified at that level. If you don’t pass, then you just end up wasting $150. That stresses me out. By the time I take this test, it will have been five months since I was last in a Spanish class. Of course no one told me about this test when I came back from studying abroad in Spain and was at the top of my Spanish game. I basically sounded like a telenovela at that point in my life. Now I can barely pronounce the menu at a Mexican restaurant.

Like a geek, I bought the big study book in order to prepare myself. A day later, I’m already realizing that I’m in over my head. You may be wondering why I’m doing this to myself. I’m sort of wondering that, too. In all honesty, I just think it’d be nice to have an official certificate saying that I’m fluent at a specific level, rather than just saying that I majored in Spanish. I think it’d be something nice to have on my resume. Furthermore, since I’m done with Spanish classes, my Spanish is only going to get worse (unless, of course, I somehow get a Spanish-speaking job or move out of the country or become famous for my rendition of "Genio Atrapado"). If I do move, the certificate is internationally recognized and if I pass the level that I’m attempting to test into, I will officially be fluent enough to enroll in Spanish universities. Since it’s permanent and I’d never have to take the test again, I might as well take it as soon as possible. It’s not like I have anything else going on in my life right now.​


Big Break

Spring break just ended and when faced with what my plans would be, I had a few options. I could have gone back to Ohio and visited family, stayed in Chicago and worked, or gone to Panama City Beach in Florida with Cru ​on a spring break conference called Big Break​. From that list, I think it’s fairly obvious which one I picked. I packed my bags and went to the beach!

Big Break is one of Cru’s​ major conferences throughout the year. There are speakers, a worship band, and lots of bonding with students from all over the country. There is also a big focus on outreach, meaning we get the awesome chance to go around the city and to different places on the beach and talk to people about their faith and spiritual beliefs. I am super looking forward to it and to see all the amazing ways that God will show himself to us throughout the week. I also am looking forward to some much needed sun, sand, and relaxation on a Florida beach! ​

We certainly had quite the drive ahead of us!​
We left for Big Break right after finals end and drove down to Panama City Beach. That’s about a 15-hour drive, which sounds horrible, but was actually fun because we had lots of bonding and fun times with those in the car with us, and we got to drive through so many states and I got to see parts of the country that I have never seen before. Plus, at the end of the drive, the beach awaited us! It was a fun-filled, relaxing spring break and I hope you had a great spring break, too!​
​​​

Winter Quarter Wrap-Up

​​​As finals week comes to a close, I really wonder where the time went this quarter. With the swiftness with which wet cement sets, the quarter was over seemingly before it began.

Fresh off of New Year’s resolutions that included going to the gym and creating more time for myself, the Zoe I was ten weeks ago could have never predicted what lay ahead for me during the past three months.

A career move, a 60 page thesis and a DePaul College of Communications advising snafu (that I am still trying to sort, fingers crossed) pretty accurately sum up my quarter. Did I accomplish my goals of getting in shape and reading more? Nope. Do I feel satisfied with my quarter regardless? Heck yes.

This is what doing a thesis looks like.

This quarter was the most sleep deprived quarter I have ever experienced. In the midst of morning cups of coffee and 7 a.m. commutes into the loop, I had the fortunate opportunity to do some serious soul searching. At least the soul searching that comes with loopy morning thoughts sandwiched amongst total strangers on the unpredictable journey to work also know as a typical ride on the Brown Line.

While I won’t delve into my philosophical reflections that stemmed from a lack of sleep combined with the ingenuity of someone who ate free birthday cake for lunch at work today, I will say that my quarter has been a quarter of rewards. I’ve managed to work a full five days a week, attend school at night, nanny on weekends and still maintain my sanity (or at least a majority of it). While I certainly had days where giving up sounded tempting, thanks to those around me, I never did.

Something I admire about going to school in Chicago are the opportunities that students are able to pursue. With the help of the DePaul Career Center ​and programs like ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge)​, finding an internship does not have to be a shot in the dark. I have made awesome connections through DePaul that have led me to take on full time internship positions while still in school.

Busy as ever, but thankful, I am definitely looking forward to spring break. What, may you ask, am I doing on my last-ever spring break? Getting all four of my wisdom teeth out! If that isn’t a banging way to end a crazy quarter, than I don’t know what is.  ​​​

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!


5 Tips for Surviving "DePlague"

You might ask, “What is DePlague? That sounds awful!”
Well, it is, but don’t go running away just yet.

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

Tip #1: Be Prepared with Your Tool Kit

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

Tip #2: Make a Doctors Appointment

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

Tip #3: Know how to seek emergency medical attention

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

Tip #4: Notify your professors

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

Tip #5: Clean your space!

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


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!


Strategies to De-Stress

​​​​​It’s finals time once again! Personally, I love the quarter system, but the only downside is that it feels like you’re constantly in the middle of either midterms or finals. I end up just perpetually stressed. Over the years, I’ve had to develop different ways to handle the stress because I can only lay in the fetal position for so long before my back starts hurting. Here are some of the ways I handle my stress on a daily basis:
Why wouldn't I always be walking around if this is what I get to see?

Go on a Walk

Whenever I get stressed, I constantly go on walks. I don’t know if that’s me subconsciously trying to run away from responsibility or me trying to work off all of the food that I stress eat, but I’m always walking. Fortunately for me, Lincoln Park is an amazing place to walk around. Who could blame me for always walking when I get to walk on the beach and see the skyline?

Work Out

Obviously, it goes without saying that going on a walk can constitute a workout. In fact, I’d be lying to you if I told you that I’ve never gone on a walk to an ice cream store and then called it my workout for the day (truthfully, I did this three times last weekend). But still, for some people, walking outside doesn’t have the same effect as going to gym and jogging on the treadmill or hitting the weights. Working out can be especially helpful if you’re struggling to focus or if you just can't sit still and you have to use up some energy.

This is a picture of the inside of my backpack that I found on my phone. In case you ever thought I wasn't serious about being a stress eater, a backpack full of candy is pretty damning evidence.

Treat Yo Self

I feel like I say this in every other blog post: I’m a stress eater. I always joked about being one, but I recently realized I genuinely stress eat without even noticing it. So instead of passively letting myself stress eat everything in sight (the other week I ate a burger, a sub, a bowl of soup, and three desserts from Sweet Mandy B’s​ just for lunch), I have started taking a more active approach. If I feel myself getting super stressed or if I know that I have a stressful day coming up, I try to stock up on my favorite healthy snacks and buy only one dessert from Sweet Mandy B’s instead of three.

Take a Break

Duh. If you know that you’re starting to get overwhelmed, shut it all down for a while. The other night, I was once again stressed about a different paper that I had to write. I woke up super early (which was my first mistake) and had been working on it all day. I was getting hangry​ and burnt out, it was just not a good situation. So I just shut everything down and took a break. I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut (they messed up my order, but that’s another story that I’m still bitter about) and watched The Craft​. An hour and a half later, I was back to working on my essay and in a much better mood.

Create Something

A lot of people unwind by cooking, baking, drawing, painting, writing, or knitting. Taking an hour to create something or continue working on a project can help take your mind off of schoolwork. Plus, some people find it especially therapeutic to be able to see the finished product or the progress they’ve made. When you return to schoolwork, you might find that you can focus on your work much more easily.

Let me know if you have any special ways that you cope with stress!​


Teach Abroad: Sierra Leone, West Africa

For many college students, the opportunity to study abroad​ is a must-have when applying for schools. Like most universities, DePaul​ offers a ton of options for studying abroad at several different times throughout the year! There are over 40 countries and 70 programs available, and students have the opportunity to travel with non-DePaul programs​ as well. If studying abroad is something you might be interested in, DePaul is an option worth exploring.

As a music student, studying abroad does not come as easily as many of us would like.  As part of our class requirements, everyone must be in a major ensemble​ every quarter to complete their degree within four years – and keep any performance scholarships​ you might receive. In light of this scheduling conflict with studying abroad, most students opt to travel during summer and winter break. Many vocalists at DePaul study in Italy over the summer through a program promoted through DePaul. During my sophomore year, I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to travel to Sierra Leone, West Africa for two weeks during our winter break, which helped to fill my wanderlust (aka desire to travel). 

Sierra Leone is in West Africa.

My trip to Sierra Leone was two weeks long and happened in December of my sophomore year. Instead of "studying" abroad, the purpose of traveling to Sierra Leone was to teach - which is why I like to call it "teach" abroad instead. Over the course of the trip, we visited four different schools – a music academy, an orphanage for the hearing impaired, an all-girls school and a 1st -8th grade co-ed school. We brought recorders for the children and taught them how to play short songs, danced, sang and donated paper, crayons and cases of water to each school that we visited. It was amazing how well we were able to communicate with the teachers and children even though we did not speak the same language – music is such a powerful medium for communication between cultures. We participated in drum circles, attended a soccer game, walked through major cities and engaged with local people – we also ate goat, cassava​ and lots and lots of rice and oranges!​

Dancing with some students!
Besides engaging in music during my trip, I also got a first-hand look into how lucky we are to have food, water and shelter easily accessible to us here in the U.S. Many of the children we worked with were hungry, thirsty and often extremely malnourished – at times it was very emotional for us. Even so, the children were so excited to have us there with them and seemed so happy and blessed to have loving families and a place to learn every day.

My trip to Sierra Leone was unforgettable – I’ll always remember 6-hour long drives through jungle-like conditions, hearing the prayers from mosques at 4am, bucket showers by candlelight and geckos all over the ceilings. I’ll remember the joy that came with sharing music with others, the smiles and hugs from the children and the sadness that came with leaving them. Above all, I’ll never forget how lucky I am to live in a supportive community of professors, friends and family and how powerful music can be in my life and the lives of others.

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!​


Miracles 'Til Midnight

​​Family, friends, good Samaritans, and more! This was my experience this past Thursday as DemonTHON​, our dance marathon on campus, worked all day and night to raise $48,000 for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. 

From 6am Thursday until 12am Friday our dancers went anywhere and everywhere in the city where they would have the opportunity to get someone’s change or kind donation For The Kids. The venture began with a kickoff event in Centennial where coffee, bagels, and other breakfast goods were provided to give us the energy for the long, demanding day ahead of us. 

Serving as the Assistant Technology Director, I arrived on campus and immediately pulled out my camera to film promotional content for our YouTube channel and Facebook page. Directors, assistants, and morale captains packed into the Office of Student Involvement​ (OSI) with their laptops writing heartfelt emails to family members, friends, past teachers, and anyone else that might be willing to contribute. 

Classes served as an obstacle on this ambitious day and a three-hour depart from my DemonTHON duties had to be taken. However, my adventures resumed at the end of class. Reporting to OSI, I inquired about anything I may have missed and what was next to come. A hospital tour brought me and several dancers to the loop to see what all our donations and hard work do for the hospital. 

The day did not end there, and I rushed back to OSI to drop off footage to the Director of Technology so he could edit and upload it for our social media. Switching hats from DemonTHON to DePaul Activities Board, I volunteered as a dealer for Black Jack for our Casino Night themed DePaul After Dark. The event ended at midnight but I was allowed to leave early to join my DemonTHON crew just before the big reveal of our total. 

It was back in OSI that over 50 members awaited the final number. Tired and sweaty we cheered and kept our spirits up with chants like “I believe in miracles!” Finally, it was time, we entered the conference room and the countdown began. Everyone in the room was silent and apprehensive to see if we reached our goal. The animation created by our Director of Technology and PR Director began to rise and the final number was revealed, $48,312.99! The room erupted as dancers hugged one another and cried tears of joy. We had accomplished our goal! This was my first experience ever for Miracles ‘Til Midnight and it was amazing.


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!


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. 


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!


Writing At DePaul

One thing that I have always been told about the skills I need to be successful in any career field is the skill of proper written communication. Writing is definitely one of the most primary skills that you will be judged upon in college and work. Think of writing as making all of your thoughts visible for other people to see. Some people are obviously better at putting thoughts in words, and if that weren’t the case than we would all be famous authors. Writing out ideas helps you formulate questions/answers and can demonstrate your emotional maturity. Writing also can serve the purpose of solidifying ideas down in ink so that you can come back and refine them. 

In terms of memory, writing class notes with a pen and paper instead of typing with a laptop has proven to link the motor skill with processing the information. I have found that typing can lead to mindless processing because I’m too focused on typing the lecture verbatim instead of soaking in the concepts. When it comes to cognitive learning, I always chose a pen and paper before a laptop (even though having a computer makes some lecture way more bearable). But if creative writing is more your thing, DePaul has a lot of outlets for you.

You could be employed by DePaul at the Writing Center where your job will revolve around helping your peers formulate ideas or help grammar check their papers for fluidity. I have always found that by teaching others I also enhance my own skill set. You can apply to the Writing Center via email and must provide a few writing samples. Through personal experience, they rarely hire first year students, but once your writing becomes stronger and conceptual they take another look at your application. DePaul also has a creative and journalistic outlet with the DePaulia. The DePaulis is mainly student run, which gives people the opportunity to be independent with their work while also enhancing their organization and communication skills. Writing for The DePaulia is a great little test run of how newspapers work and what skill are needed to be a part of a printed paper.

DePaul has also recently started an award winning art & literary magazine called Crook and Folly. This published magazine gives students the opportunity to express their creativity in both written form and visual art. This is a great alternative to journalistic writing that the DePaulia provides. Along the same lines, The English Department has also created an outlet for students via a blog called The Underground. This blog is a newsletter type dealio that covers news, events, student writing, and alumni participation. Check the link below if you are interested!

Writing is seen to be a helpful source of therapy, expression, and skill for everyone I know! With DePaul I have learned to enhance a healthy skepticism in my own and other’s writings that has enhanced my imagination and creativity​.


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"

​​​​​

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! 


Meals on the Go

I have officially joined the trend of smoothie making​. First it was juicing, then eating kale and then quinoa​. BUT making smoothies has been my new favorite thing to do in the morning, even if my neighbors get mad at me about the noise. The benefits of making smoothies reside in the fact that they are easy to make and are jam packed with victims that you probably wouldn’t get anywhere else in your daily meals. They are protein filled and immune boosting, which is exactly what I need during the winter months. Honestly, blending your way to better health couldn’t be easier.

Here are some of my favorite filling recipes:

Mango & Yogurt Smoothie:
1/6 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups plain yogurt
2 cups frozen mango
1 tablespoon honey

Everything in My Freezer Smoothie:
Frozen banana
Frozen mango
Frozen strawberry
Frozen chocolate chips because why not
2 cups yogurt
1 cup almond milk

There is seriously no wrong way to make a smoothie, unless of course you blend some nasty combos like spinach and ginger. No thanks. The reason I am advocating so hard for smoothie making is because I have been so rushed for time in the morning because of MIDTERMS. This tactic has made both my schedule and my tummy happy. Try it out!


Black History Month 2016

​​​February is here, ya’ll. I have always loved when February rolls around, because for me that has always meant, Valentines Day, my birthday (the big 21 this year!) and of course Black History Month. February is a month full of celebration of love and culture. 

Most Americans, by our age, have come to understand what Black History Month is, and why we have it. But for those needing a little refresher, as History.com describes it, “Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.” 

Black History Month is a time for our country to recognize the true influence of African Americans in our country’s history and evolution. While February is Black History Month, it is important to remember that African American History is AMERICAN History, and the two do not exist separately. While I am always grateful for February to roll around, it is important for all of us to remember that History doesn’t belong in just one month, Black Americans shouldn’t have to wait until February to have their heritage honored, and Black history is happening RIGHT NOW.  


Below I am sharing some simple ways busy students like us can still take the time to celebrate Black History Month, empower the black community and educate ourselves: 

Things to DO:

Know your History:
 
Support black business:

Know The DePaul Community 

Register for ABD Classes: 
Spring Registration is just around the corner! I recommend taking an ABD (African and Black Diaspora) class! See the department here. ​

Go See some Theatre written by and about black Americans:




Here are a few of my current reads you may also find interesting involving the black history, the current state of the black community and also (in honor of Valentine’s Day) Black Love:

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts ​
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates​
Salvation: Blacks and Love bell hooks​
All About Love by bell hooks

By embracing the past and educating ourselves, we can use the present to make history, enabling a brighter future. 

Happy Black History Month, friends! 

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.​


The 50th Annual NCHC Conference

I’ve conducted a surprising amount of research during my time at DePaul. While the task of writing a research paper is always intimidating, the rewarding feeling when the paper is done and handed in makes it all worth it.

Being in the DePaul Honors Program, most of my honors classes culminate in the writing of an original research paper. Since I’m currently taking my last honors requirement (my senior thesis) I estimate that I’ve written about nine substantial research papers consisting of ten or more pages through DePaul’s Honors Program this far.

My poster!

What’s great about DePaul’s Honors Program are the opportunities it offers to continue to develop research even after your class has ended. Sometimes it can be frustrating to spend 3875975 hours researching a topic only to get a grade back and never think about your paper again.

This past quarter I was fortunate enough to present my research from my Honors 201 course States, Markets, and Societies at the 2015 National Collegiate Honors Conference. The conference is an event held once a year by the National Collegiate Honors Council ​(NCHC) and invites honors students from across the nation to participate in weekend long activities. This year, the conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Chicago.

The DePaul Honors advising staff suggested that I apply to present in the conference. When my research was accepted, DePaul covered my registration fee, I turned my research paper into a research poster, and the rest is history.

My project was titled “What’s Wrong with the 99 Percent?: The Failure of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the United States.” In my paper, I examined how the messaging, protest tactics, and outcomes of the Occupy Wall Street movement were different from that of the women’s suffrage movement and the Civil Rights Movement. I made sure to include visual elements in my poster to illustrate the differences present within the movements.

For the poster presentations, students set up their posters in a large room within the Sheraton. We then stood by our posters as other students and faculty perused topics and mingled amongst themselves. I had some very engaging and thought provoking conversations regarding my topic with people from all over the United States. It was also fun to hear about other students’ experience in the city so far. Many of the students I talked to had never been to Chicago and wanted to know what was worth checking out.

The NCHC conference was a definitely a neat experience — but I won’t lie, I’m a total nerd so I dig these types of things. Regardless, the conference proved that you don’t have to be a graduate student to start conducting your own research. With the right resources and guidance, undergraduates can have the ability and confidence to examine and analyze any topic. 



Gilmore Girls

This past week was pretty bad. School was rough, life was rough. It was just one of those weeks. Something was announced this week, though, that made everything feel better. ​

Netflix is officially reviving Gilmore Girls!

The lovely blue-eyed Gilmore girls
I know that there were rumors of this back in October, but it was not officially confirmed until late this past week. I had refused to get my hopes up because Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite shows. I would have been so bummed if the rumors had proven false! I am convinced that the reason I talk so fast is because Lorelai and Rory also talk fast - Gilmore Girls is one of the quickest, wittiest, fast-paced shows out there. Oy with the poodles already, am I right? 

I grew up watching Gilmore Girls. I grew up in Stars Hollow, following Rory through her Dean vs. Jess vs. Logan stages, figuring out if Lorelai will get together with Luke, watching Emily cycle through her many maids, witnessing the burning of the Independence Inn and the opening of the Dragonfly Inn, and experiencing so many moments and memories with the citizens of Stars Hollow. It is a show that is near and dear to my heart, one that I hope my children will watch one day, and one that I will love forever. 

The release date and length of the revival of Gilmore Girls has not yet been announced, but I sincerely hope the mother/daughter duo from Stars Hollow will grace our presence again in the near future. 


Kill 'Em With Kindness

​​“Kill ‘em with kindness.” Something I hear quite often. I’m not sure how to feel about it. 

On one hand you have a positive and kind act being the response of a negative one, but on the other hand is it a genuine kindness or is it just a different method of revenge? 

This is what I like to call, an “either or” type of situation. This means that there really isn’t a right answer it simply depends on what you believe. I like to think that the killing with kindness method, regardless of intent, is a good one. If you try to fight fire with fire, well, you’re going to get a bigger fire. However, if you fight fire with water, that changes the game. 

There was an interesting activity I took part in on a retreat once in high school. On the floor laid several candles all of which were lit. The speaker began talking about the significance of everyone and their purpose in life. As she progressed in her speech, she began blowing a few candles out. She continued this until there was just one candle left. At this moment, the speaker told us that we are all lights in this world. The last candle was blown and we sat in darkness. With our hearts beating, our minds thinking, and our senses feeling (my words not hers) we make this world the place it is. The speaker continued her speech and began lighting the candles one by one until the whole room was once again bright. 

One light may not seem like a lot, especially when it is surrounded by darkness but together, we shine bright and make the world warmer. This, I believe, is the key. As St. Vincent himself believed oh so many years ago, we must learn to coexist, accept, and love one another because together we are bright and warm and the darkness stands no chance.

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



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.


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.)


In the Blood

​​​​I am excited to announce the latest show I am working on for The Theatre School. I am currently cast in a play called ​​In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks. This is the second Main Stage production I have acted in during my time in the casting pool and what an experience it has been!

In the Blood is an intense and beautiful story of family, struggle, and triumph in the face of personal and systemic adversity. On The Theatre School website there is a description:

"Hester la Negrita is a homeless single mother of five who dreams of finding beauty and love for her family despite her poverty-stricken life. As she struggles to defy the odds, she runs into a series of harsh and unexpected obstacles. 
In this modern day riff on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks asks who has the right to the American Dream. Directed by Nathan Singh, MFA Directing, Class of 2017. 
Is poverty inescapable for individuals already in the cycle? "


The characters of the play include the protagonist, Hester, which is played by one actress. We also meet her five children, Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty, and Baby. The play is written as such that the five actors who play the children also double as five other adults that Hester interacts with, her doctor, reverend, welfare caseworker, her best friend, and her first love. The play explores their relationships and the way these individuals may be in positions to help Hester, but may not help her the way we would hope. 

I have been cast as Hester, the mother and main character that this world surrounds. It has been quite a challenging role, and the ultimate test to apply my training to performance. It is a mammoth of a role, and such a deep and important play, I am really lucky to be working on it. It is a beautiful piece of writing written by a black woman, about a black woman's experience with the powers that be, wrestling with race, class, gender, and the system that controls them.  While we are getting close to the performance dates, and it is a little nerve wracking, I am excited to see how it turns out! 

The show opens January 22, and runs through January 31, 2016. I encourage anyone to come see this important work of art! Student Tickets are $5, and $15 for the general public. The cast, crew, and design and technical team are all made up of current BFA, and MFA students here at DePaul, with the assistance of TTS staff. 

Please come see In the Blood and support the art of students like you, and as always, be well. 

To find out more about the show, other current TTS Shows​, and ticketing follow this link.​

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.” ​

You Are Awesome

I remember being told that if I didn’t get A’s and B’s in school that meant I was a bad student. I remember being told that if I didn’t read, study, or act properly I would never succeed in life. I remember being told that I had to dress a certain way and talk a certain way in order to be taken seriously. These things I remember. I also remember the first novel franchise I ever became obsessed with, Captain Underpants.  

With mean old, grumpy Mr. Krupp becoming hypnotized by his students, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, Captain Underpants​ was created to save the world from various villains that threatened our existence. I took an instant liking to the novels written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. 

With the success of Captain Underpants, spinoffs were produced such as Super Diaper Baby​. It was no question that I would begin to read those as well, given Pilkey’s talent for entertaining writing. Then one day I decided to take another look at the first novel. Usually I would read a book from cover to cover then immediately jump to the next one, indulging in a sort of pre-Netflix binge of literature. However, this time I went to one of the final pages and saw a picture of a man with text just below the image. It was Dav Pilkey and the text was a message to the reader. I cannot recall the full excerpt but what I do remember is the excitement I felt when I read that Dav Pilkey was not really a “good” student and that his teachers told him he would not succeed. 

This changed my world. It is a lesson that I have kept with me ever since that day. We are all unique in our own way and no matter what any teacher, boss, friend, or ex-friend says, in the end all we can do is be ourselves. 

It was not the end of the world if I got anything lower than a B. The teachers that doubted me were wrong because here I am today at a world-class university achieving and succeeding every single day. 

Who would have known that a superhero running around in his underpants would have taught me so much?


New Quarter, New Events Part 1

​​​​​Welcome back, everyone! Like I said in one of my blogs at the beginning of last quarter​, I start every quarter by looking for any changes or anything new at DePaul. Yesterday, while I was perusing the campus, I made a terrible discovery. It is with a heavy heart that I announce that the Chinese food station at the Student Center is gone. Fortunately, they’ve now added a wings station, a Korean-Mexican fusion station, and an ice cream station. So things aren’t all bad.

Speaking of food, if you’re anything like me, you’re currently broke because you spent all your money buying new clothes to disguise the fifteen pounds you gained over winter break. If that sounds like you (or even if you’re lucky and didn’t gain fifteen pounds over break), you’re probably looking for some cheap stuff to do during this quarter. Luckily for you, I’ve found a ton of stuff to do over the next two and a half months! 

I love to write about the DePaul Activities Board​’s event calendar. DAB always hosts events you actually want to go to. You all know what I mean by that. Unfortunately, by the time you read this, you will already have missed (or maybe not, I don’t know if you went) what may have possibly been the event of the year: DePaul After Dark​: Harry Potter​. Every Thursday night, DAB hosts DePaul After Dark at the Student Center. Each week has a different theme with new activities. It’s always free and usually includes some sort of free food and giveaways. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve ever looking for stuff to do on a Thursday night.

It goes without saying that DAB does way more than just DePaul After Dark. This quarter, in addition to a ton of smaller events, including a Superbowl Party and an Oscar Viewing Party, DAB is going to host two of its biggest annual events: the Blue Demon Dance​ and Polarpalooza​. The Blue Demon Dance is the culminating event of Blue Demon Week​, a week dedicated to fostering school spirit at DePaul. This year, the Blue Demon Dance is being held on January 29th at Crystal Gardens​ on Navy Pier. Tickets are only $10 and totally worth it.

Last, but definitely not least, is Polarpalooza, DePaul’s free winter concert! I give DAB credit for somehow always picking acts that get way bigger right after performing at Polarpalooza (see: Fun.​, Walk the Moon​, Chance the Rapper​). Tickets are free, but limited, so you have to be on your game if you want to go. Every winter, 600 students fill up Lincoln Hall​ for a private concert with an up-and-coming music act. Be sure to check out their website​ on January 22nd when they reveal the artist who will be performing!

When I told you that I found a ton of stuff to do this quarter, I wasn’t exaggerating. Check back next week to find out about more free events happening on campus this quarter!​


Generation Next: #Activism

The term “millennials” is a hot buzzword in the public relations and advertising world. I hear the word thrown this way and that in my internship, in my classes, and even amongst friends.

To me, being a part of the millennial generation means more than just having the ability to take a perfect selfie or making goals for your squad. Being a millennial is an exciting generation to be a part of.

A few weeks ago I attended a Politico event presented by Deloitte called Generation Next: Future of Social Action. The event took place at Chez, which is a contemporary loft space for urban events located on Ontario Street by Michigan Avenue. 

Photo courtesy of Politico.
The event consisted of two panels that spoke about social media as a form of activism. The first panel was extremely informative and consisted of four social media activists: Erika Andiola​, the co-director of the DREAM Action Coalition; Andrew Clark​, the executive director of Generation Opportunity; Anastasia Khoo​, the chief marketing officer of Human Rights Campaign; and DeRay McKesson​, a leader in Black Lives Matter. 

The panel spoke about the concept of hashtag activism, which is the use of hashtags to draw awareness to an issue. They agreed that hashtag activism is not a cop-out and can be a powerful tool for drawing awareness and starting conversations. Their discussion on the future of social action was insightful and made me think about how I participate in hashtag activism. 

Do you think hashtag activism is an effective form of activism? Definitely some millennial food for thought. See the full panel discussion here​ if you’re interested in what some social media leaders are doing today.

Being a Blue Demon

The days are long but the years are short. I find myself balancing the daily life of a college student, oblivious to the time passing. I wake up, get ready, grab coffee, take the train to the Loop​, and head to class. It is a routine, it is my schedule. 

As I reflect on my college life thus far, I remember when I was a freshman taking my first steps on campus following the student orientation leader like it was yesterday. I was excited, apprehensive, and even a bit scared. I was entering a new world transitioning from high school to college. 

Fast forward, now I am a junior. I am in several different organizations with leadership positions in two of them. I’ve been on retreats with my fellow peers, participated in DePaul’s dance marathon (DemonTHON​), planned and coordinated events for the DePaul Activities Board​, and more. It has been, and still is, an experience I will remember for years to come. When I think and reflect on the person I am and the values I hold dear, my four years at DePaul will be a major aspect of that. As the days fly by and I continue to go about my routine, oblivious to the time passing, I am convinced more and more every day that I made the right decision by becoming a Blue Demon.

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


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.


Early Holidays

The holidays are on their way and as usual, people have begun setting up their trees and playing Christmas music. My family has always been quite the procrastinators when it comes to setting up our own. Usually, traditionally, we set up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. However, in reality, we usually wait until the week of Christmas. Maybe not enjoying it for too long before the actual holiday but leaving it up for a good amount of time after Santa makes his visit to our home. This year, my mom decided to get a head start on Christmas.

I was very surprised a few Wednesdays ago when I showed up with a film crew to my house ready to make a short for my visual design class, and the tree had been placed in our living room. Though bare, the Christmas tree stood tall and invaded the space I needed for my cinematic world. Unable to shoot around the tree, I decided to allow it in our shots. Since the film is set in winter, I figured it could work aesthetically. Friday that same week, I came home late from DePaul to be greeted by a wondrous, beautiful display of flashing lights and sparkly ornaments. It eased the tension from my demanding week and calmed me. Though I was disappointed that I did not get a chance to assist in the setup, my mom explained to me how the train, that goes around our tree and plays music, was still in the box. She was hoping that one tradition would remain the same. So, like every year, my brother and I played Straight No Chaser​’s Christmas album, constructed the track for the train, and placed the polar express​ in its rightful position. 

Yes, Christmas in my house came quite early this year but every night when I return from a long day of studying and campus activities; I see the star shining on top and the lights flashing away endlessly. Just for that moment, I forget about the demands of the world and the abundance of tasks that lie ahead of me. Who knows, maybe this early Christmas helped me do better on my final exams.

Happy early holidays. Stay awesome!​


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!​


At DePaul There's a Dialogue

Recently someone close to me was a victim of domestic violence. They are not a DePaul student, and for their confidentiality will remain anonymous. Through working in various job and leadership capacities at DePaul we’ve been taught what to do when someone discloses a violent or abusive situation to us. Specifically when working for the Dean of Students Office my fellow Office Assistants and I served as a first point of contact for students and supporters interfacing with our department. I always felt safe knowing that, although my job was important and needed to be done well, in a crisis situation I could rely on our Deans and counseling staff to take the reins. Over the past few weeks I’ve realized that the bystander intervention and mandated reporter trainings I’ve been required to participate in have provided me with some of the most significant knowledge I’ve learned since coming to DePaul. When you choose DePaul, you're not just choosing academics, you're choosing life. I'm incredibly thankful that I attend a university that doesn't keep difficult topics hush hush. Instead, DePaul opens up a dialogue about them and teaches its student to be better informed and more compassionate human beings. ​

An Open Letter to My Friend, Who Was the Victim of Domestic Violence,

The cards you were dealt certainly aren’t fair. Nothing you’ve ever done, said, or even subconsciously thought means that you, or anyone else for that matter, deserves to be hit, bit, and threatened by someone you’ve known since the day you were born. I’m thankful that you had the courage to come to me when you did. It caused me emotional and physical pain to know that I couldn’t keep you safe, so I went to the police that night to report this crime that someone had inflicted on you. In the past I had kept your secrets, when there was a new boy you liked and when you accidentally told me who you had for Secret Santa, but this was a secret that I just couldn’t keep. I’m proud of you for going to the station and talking the police after they called you.  Selfishly, I’m glad that you weren’t mad at me for not keeping your secret too.

I wish that I could erase that scar from under your eye and the bruises from your body. I wish I could make those bad memories and your pain go away. I wish I could pay for all of your bills and living expenses, so you didn’t have to work so much while you try to heal. I wish I could build you a house of your own with the most advanced security measures, so you could have your own space and feel safe. I wish I could make any judicial process you might decide to go through simple. And I wish that I could give your aggressor the help that they need too.

But right now, all I can do is tell you that I love you. I’ll always be here to listen, no matter the time of day. I’ll keep sending you Snapchats, hoping to make you laugh. I’ll keep reading up on resources for victims, so if there’s an option you want to explore you won’t have to do it alone. And most of all, I promise you that for the rest of our lives no matter how many miles are between us you will always be my friend. I feel like God has brought you into my life to help him watch over you. The cards you were dealt certainly aren’t fair, but these cards won’t stop you from accomplishing great things. Despite everything you’ve been through, I know that you’re going to change the world for the better.  

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. 

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 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


Take Care of Yourself

DePaul is one of those schools that uses the unique quarter system​. This means the year is sectioned into ten-week quarters, fall, winter, spring (and then optional summer). This makes time in class really fly by, and within a moment, midterms and then finals are approaching rapidly. Many students bear a full course load, work, involvement in student organizations or volunteering, or rehearsal and performance stacked on top of social and personal time as well. Most of us are crazy busy, and keep it that way, whether we handle it well or not. While this can be a productive and exciting thing, it can sometimes prove difficult to keep up with all of the demands of busy student life, and take care of yourself. 

There are many times I have experienced, or seen students around me let their personal well-being go by the wayside in order to accomplish all they had to do. While it is very admirable to get those things done, it is always important to practice good self-care. I couldn’t tell you the number of times my fellow classmates and I have had to skip meals, skip sleep, let laundry go untouched in the hamper for far too long, buckle down and get to “the grind” in order to turn out finished products and meet deadlines. While everything gets done (or maybe not), all we do is wear ourselves down! There is one thing that I really believe in, and that is self-care. With a crazy schedule, I too have trouble practicing good self-care.  However, I want to share one simple but important thing that we often discuss in my Acting classes. As actors, we put our minds and bodies through so much, and while the work is so important we have to remember to take care of the person doing it! This applies to any person accomplishing any feat. You cannot do your best if you cannot take care of your best self.

By my third year of college, I know that if I do not get a reasonable amount of sleep I will get sick, and if I do not eat I will not be able to make it through rehearsal, and many other things. I really do recommend listening to your body, and your mind and spirit to know what it is you need. While many people learn the hard way, there are also ways to be preventative and proactive in this pursuit. Time management and planning are key. Just asking yourself what small thing can I do to feel better about everything I have to do? Is it taking a short nap? Is it carrying more healthy snacks? It is taking time to meditate? Creating a cleaner/more peaceful environment to work? Asking for help? While I cannot tell another individual how best to go about this, I can only recommend giving yourself permission to think about these things, and realizing how important it is to take care of YOU.

DePaul has some resources to take advantage of, to help with a variety of problems that may be preventing students from finding and taking care of their best selves:

Some of these include Academic Support and Tutoring, University Counseling Services, Health and Wellness, Economic Distress and more. You can check these out on the DePaul Support Services​ site. 

The Career Center offers help with resumes, job seeking skills, and more!

I also found this really neat Time Management Planner ​on the DePaul website.

Continue to do great things DePaulians, and take care of yourself in the process!


Women's Health at DePaul

Since I’m in the school of Communication, I am required to take one science lab for my general education requirements. I have waited 3 years to get it out of the way because I assumed doing anything science related was going to destroy my GPA…boy, was I wrong.

I enrolled in Women’s Health this year for my science lab and it takes the cake for my favorite class I’ve ever taken. Sadly, it takes up my ENTIRE Monday with class from 1-3 AND 6-9, but that is a small price to pay in exchange for how much I’ve learned about my biological self.

During this course I have been able to look at the health care industry through a feminist lens and recognize that women’s health is much more than having different reproductive organs. In fact, it was only in the last 15 years that the medical world starting researching about the vast differences in health outcomes between men and women.

Interesting facts:

Woman listen to both sides of their brain! Most men show brain activity exclusively on the left side (typically associated with listening and speech), while most women show activity on the right side as well (associated with creativity and expressiveness). 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the US. Women are usually under-diagnosed to the point where it is too late to help them when the condition worsens. 

There are customary stages of experiencing heart pain— uncertainty, denial, seeking help from a friend or family member, recognition of the severity of symptoms, seeking medical attention, and finally, acceptance—but the difference for women was they spent more time in the denial period and were more likely to wait for friends or family to notice they were unwell, instead of approaching them with the problem.

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during her life-time

This course has made it obvious that I need to practice effective health-seeking/prevention behavior. I have started taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements to avoid osteoporosis because I do NOT need to be any frailer than I already am. Seriously, the wind pushes me to the ground. I have also taken up yoga as a form of exercise.

Not all general education requirements are a drag and this class proved it me because now I have a positive attitude towards science, technology, and math. Who would’ve known?​


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! 


Student Teaching - Half Way Done!

I recently hit the half-way point in my student teaching! Just to provide you with a little more information, music education students teach for 16 weeks – which is divided into two 8-week long sessions. For all other education majors, student teaching only lasts 10 weeks (which is exactly one quarter at DePaul). The reason why music students have longer teaching experiences is because our certification is grades K-12, while others are certified to teach specific age groups. I began teaching 4th-8th grade band August, and although I had a great experience, I’m excited to be heading to a high school to complete my next 8 weeks of teaching.​

Also this past week, I submitted my edTPA portfolio to the state of Illinois.  edTPA​ is a newly mandated teacher assessment tool that is now required for all teacher candidates who are applying for a teaching license in Illinois (there are quite a few other states doing this, too!). If you might be interested in becoming a teacher, edTPA will become a very familiar term to you! The portfolio is made up of three major “tasks” that prompt the teacher candidate to explain their processes of planning lessons, teaching the lessons and assessing the students. For example, my portfolio was based on an 8th grade saxophone sectional, where I planned all the lessons, taught all the lessons and then assessed the students on the material we covered. Though the process of edTPA can seem daunting, its purpose is to help us plan, teach and assess with greater attention to details so we can be the best teachers possible! The DePaul College of Education​ has done a great job providing students with the tools and resources we need to pass the edTPA. I should know what my score is in the next two weeks, and as long as I score a 35 out of 75 points, I will be applying to be a real-life teacher in no time!​

In the past 8 weeks, I have learned the following things about middle school students:

- Most of them have at least one shoe lace untied, and they like it that way.

- They talk using their "outdoor" voice 95% of the time.

- They ask questions that they already know the answer to, such as, “Do I have band today?” when they have band every day of the week every week.

- They are insanely creative, and need more opportunities to express themselves at school.

In the program I was teaching, all students used Noteflight at least three days a week. Noteflight is a web-based composing program that offers school memberships that allow students to create their own work, review the work of others and submit assignments to the teacher. Students in my classes were composing melodies and pieces that even I would struggle to write – and I’ve studied music theory! I loved seeing the students fully engaged in writing their own music, and their creativity was truly inspiring.

Though I know high school will be different in many ways, (they most likely won’t give me as many hugs on my last day), I’m looking forward to the new challenges I will face. 

If you want a true glimpse into the kinds of things middle school band students say, watch the video below. It is the most accurate I’ve ever seen and describes my experience perfectly.​

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Halloween Costumes

My family has never been big on Halloween. 

I don’t think it is for any particular reason, but my parents never celebrated Halloween that much. Sure, when my sister and I were little we wore costumes and went trick-or-treating, but that stopped as soon as we got a “little too old” for it. We never decorated, never gave out candy, and never viewed it as a big holiday. 

I did love dressing up, though. The two big costumes I remember were Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz​ (I LOVED the red ruby slippers) and Buttercup from PowerPuff Girls​. I took a hiatus through the end of elementary school and middle school, but in high school, my school had costume contests. My favorite costume that I wore in high school was a pun more than a costume. I unwrapped a bunch of Smarties packets and glued the individual candies to an old pair of jeans. I was Smarty Pants! It was the nerdiest, best costume ever. This year, I am dressing up with one of my best friends. We are doing the Mom Jeans sketch from Saturday Night Live​ - again, super punny, super dorky, super awesome.

I will be rocking the Mom jeans this Halloween.
As you can tell, I think clever costumes are much more fun than buying premade ones from a costume store. They’re so much more comfortable, too! I would much rather wear a pair of worn-in thrift store jeans than an itchy, packaged costume. Halloween in Chicago can be celebrated without the stress and pressure of going out. One of my friends is hosting a low-key costume party and I personally am excited to eat some Twix and pose in the classic Mom Jeans position. 

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.


Apple Picking

Fall is upon us! I find it really hard to pick a favorite season because there are wonderful and beautiful parts of every one, but I think that fall is the only season where I love it in its entirety. The weather is wonderful, the trees are beautiful, lazy football-watching Sundays are acceptable, apple and pumpkin-flavored items are in surplus, and sweaters are extra cozy. My friends and I took full advantage of this wonderful season a few weekends ago and drove to an apple orchard in Indiana.

It was such a fun day! The weather perfect: there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was not too cold or hot. We went to County Line Orchards, which is only an hour outside the city but it could not have felt more far away. The orchard had apple trees, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and a big barn that housed all of the food and fall items. The first thing we did when we got there was buy apple cider and apple cinnamon donuts. Yum! We then took a hay ride out to the apple trees where we were able to pick apples fresh off the branches. They were delicious! I am ready to make my apple pie. 

It was so nice to take a trip out of the city for the afternoon. I love Chicago, but I need my nature fix every so often. It was also great to spend some time with my close friends. With the busyness of the quarter, our social lives are often not the top priority, and this time spent with friends in such a beautiful place was much needed. Fall is a wonderful time of the year and I am thankful that I was able to take advantage of the season. 


My Current Show: Joe Turner's Come and Gone

As a Theatre major, life can prove to be extremely busy. While all college students have a lot on their plates, juggling classes and work and enjoying the social life of college, theatre students at DePaul seem to have a unique kind of schedule and academic experience. Lately I have been running from classes to rehearsals to study sessions, not really finding a moment to take a breath. However I have really been loving the projects I am working on at the moment. I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you all about the show I am currently working on here at The Theatre School.

As an acting major, you are required to perform in various productions during your time here, and are even evaluated for a grade. The goal is to gain experience performing, learn from these experiences, and also apply what we have been learning in acting classes to actual performance. Junior year is the first time that we have the opportunity to audition for the mainstage productions. I am so excited to be working on my first Mainstage here at TTS, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone!

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by August Wilson is an American drama set in 1911 Pittsburgh.  Written by legendary African American playwright, August Wilson, this story is one of a cycle of plays Wilson wrote to catalog the black experience in America in each decade of the 20th century. The action takes place in a boarding house in Pittsburgh, and we see the interactions of the various characters who meet there, on their journey through life in America post-slavery.  It is an intense story about finding each other, and finding ourselves as a culture and as individuals.

Joe Turner Poster
Here is the show poster! 

This show has been so fun to work on, and not to mention so rewarding and inspiring. The production is a rarity for The Theatre School, as there is a nearly all black cast, performing in a show written by an amazing black playwright, directed by the only black female performance faculty member, with stage management and design teams who also include POC. Diversity and representation in schools and in the arts is so important, and as a woman of color, it is such a gift to me to be able to be a part of a show that is exploring, celebrating and showcasing my own culture and the complexity of human life.  I am currently sharing the stage with many MFA (graduate student) actors, as well as other BFA (undergraduate) actors as well. And it has been such a learning experience just watching my peers work as well.

This show opens November 6th and runs until November 15th. Student tickets are only $5 for any show. If you’re already a student at DePaul, or are in the area I highly recommend seeing this show! For more information about this show, tickets, or our 2 other mainstages currently in performance, Esperanza Rising in the Merle Reskin Theatre downtown, and The Lady from the Sea in the Healy Theatre on campus, please visit  The Theatre School website.​

 


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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!

My Trip to Costa Rica!

I was cleaning my apartment this weekend and found my passport under a large stack of papers. I don’t know what it was doing there because I haven’t used it in almost a year, but I was glad I found it because it allowed me to look at all the stamps inside. I have already written about my trips to Honduras and Ecuador, but I have not shared about my experiences in Costa Rica​.

Kayaking in Lake Arenal
I got the opportunity to go to Costa Rica for ten days with my Spanish class the summer before my senior year of high school. I went with about eighteen people total - students, teachers, and chaperons included. It was such an amazing trip! We visited four different cities: San J​osé​, Arenal, Jacó, and Monteverde. Each city was unique in its own way and was so fun for exploring and adventuring. 
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​In San José, we took a couple of day trips to a coffee field, an observatory, and Poás Volcano​ (which last erupted in 2011!). We actually hiked up to the top of the volcano and saw it smoking, which was both awesome and a good leg workout. 

Arenal is famous for its volcano. It is also still active - the last time it erupted was 2010. We did not hike up that one, but went kayaking in the lake that surrounds the volcano. We also hiked to a hidden waterfall and got to swim in it. 

Jacó is a city by the Pacific Ocean. We could not swim in the ocean because of the dangerous riptides, but we took a day trip to a national park where there was a beach. That was my favorite day- the beach was an oasis! It was also inhabited by monkeys who liked to steal our stuff, which was both terrifying and amusing. 

Monteverde was my least favorite city, but not because it was boring. The city was beautiful - nestled in the mountains and lush green. 

The group in front of the Poas Volacano. It was smoking!
We got to explore the rain forest and go zip-lining and horseback riding. It was my least favorite because I was sick the whole time! The bus combined with unpaved, windy, pot-holey, bumpy mountain roads did not do good things on my stomach. I actually am surprised we did not die. There were a few times where the bus had to drive in reverse around a curve by a cliff without a guardrail. Yikes! 

Costa Rica was my first country abroad, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. It is a beautiful, peaceful, safe country filled with the friendliest people. I hope to return someday! Looking back, I can’t believe all we did in ten short days. It was one action-packed trip and so, so much fun.

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.​ 

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#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!

FALLing for DePaul

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” --Yogi Berra

As an indecisive person who has trouble simply getting dressed in the morning and choosing between waffles and cereal for breakfast, picking a college was the ultimate stressor. With thousands of choices in thousands of places, it’s insane that high school students are expected to choose their home and possible career path for the next four(ish) years of their lives.

Choosing DePaul for me has been one of the best life decisions I’ve made thus far, but I didn’t fall for DePaul during my first visit. Taking your typical college road trip, my family and I packed up our lives during Spring Break of my junior year and rode on down to the good ol’ South.

Yes, the South. Visiting North Carolina State, University of South Carolina, Clemson, and University of Georgia, I thought that destiny was calling my name where the weather was warm and I could always get a tan.
But I was so wrong.

I spent the summer researching schools and applying to colleges. If you’re at this point of life, best of luck to you. The process is more than daunting. With personal essays and ACT or SAT scores, the second-guessing can be overwhelming.

As the summer sun turned to shorter fall days, the admissions process progressed and I started to hear back from schools. I flipped coins and begged my advisors and teachers to tell me what school I should go to, keeping DePaul in the back of my mind and the Southern schools in the forefront.

I let my senior year progress without thinking about college until about April when the deadline to commit was fast approaching. At this point in my decision-making process, it came down to DePaul and University of South Carolina.

South Carolina was a beautiful campus. The tour I had went on a year ago was still very memorable, the traditions and school spirit at the college were very apparent, and the scholarships I had received topped DePaul by a significant amount.

DePaul was beautiful, but in a different way. The city landscape was unique to every other college I had seen and the lack of football team gave the campus an independent vibe. I liked how close to home I would be in Chicago and how accessible the city was.

I decided to give DePaul one last visit before I made up my mind. I met with one of the Honors Program​ Directors who gave me a personal, inside perspective on the university. She taught me about DePaul’s offerings, culture, and community, and suddenly, I was sold.

I knew in that instant DePaul was where I was meant to be.

The city will always be my home and I can’t imagine being on any other type of campus. I like the independence and the anonymity that Chicago provides.

If you’re stuck choosing a college, I encourage you to get in contact with a staff member at your prospective university. This eye opening experience allows you to ask questions to an expert in a private environment, rather than asking questions awkwardly to a student tour guide in front of other prospective students.

With student visit day coming up, maybe you’ll FALL for DePaul?


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!

A Fresh Start and a Fresh Face

​​​Greetings lovely people of DePaul! My name is Samantha and I am your new face of The Theatre School at DePaul! I am so excited to be sharing my experiences with you current and prospective Blue Demons this year. Over this coming year I will be sharing with all of you my own thoughts and experiences of college and campus life, my life in The Theatre School​, my ascension into adulthood and everything in between. Before we get started, I wanted to take this time to let you know a little about me, where I come from, and my whole perspective coming in as your new Theatre School blogger. 

Who I Am: They call me Samantha, sometimes Sam for short. I am currently a junior here at DePaul. I am majoring in acting in The Theatre School, where I am halfway to earning my BFA.  I value honesty, a sense of humor, hard work, and having fun. I’m a “the more you put in, the more you get out” kind of girl. I find myself to be a life-long lover of learning, and have accepted making mistakes as part of that. I love to eat, explore the city, watch some good ol’ Netflix in my downtime, and be surrounded by good people and good conversation. 

Where I’m From: I am a native of the Pacific Northwest, and was born and raised in Portland, OR, and the surrounding metro area. I am from rainy days and hot tea, recycling and “liberal” thinking. This is now my third year living in Chicago, and I love the city! I grew up an only child, and therefore the first of my parent’s children to go to college. For me, college was an expectation, although I did have support to choose a course of study that interested me and brought me joy. DePaul was the perfect place for me at this time in my life. 

My Point of View: I believe that every person’s journey to and through college is unique, because every life is different and unique in its own way. I will say a little about what makes me unique in my way, and what shapes the way I view the world around me and what colors my experiences. First, I am and identify as a Black woman of color. There is a certain perspective that gives me as I walk through campus and through life as a woman, and as black. That intersection is an interesting one, and gives me my own particular voice and point of view. Also, I am from out of state, nearly 2,000 miles away, so as I get used to my life here at DePaul I am also getting used to life in the big city of Chicago and all that comes with it, from amazing opportunities to blistering winters. Lastly, I am a theatre artist, and an actor. I love what I do, and have found the place at DePaul where I can explore this fully. I think truthful storytelling is a powerful and necessary part of human life, and a great responsibility of mine as an actor and a person of the world.

My Hopes for You: I hope over the coming year, you all can get to know me a little better, and by sharing my story and my experiences, I hope that I can encourage others to find the next setting for their story. If that’s DePaul, The Theatre, Chicago, or anywhere beyond I hope that anything I have to say can entertain and stimulate your own reflections on where you’ve been and what’s to come.  

Be Well and Shine On, Samantha 

My First Steps in a World of Blue Demons

​​​DePaul University is awesome, that’s no secret. I’ve said it many times in these blogs and in casual conversations with friends. 

While there are so many great things about this institution that I can talk about forever, nothing can compare to the first few times I visited the campus. It was a long time ago, in a very different Chicago. Daley was still mayor and the Sears Tower, well it is still the Sears Tower, but you get the point. My sister was a junior at DePaul and asked me if I wanted to come to campus. Being in high school at the time, I was super excited to be on a college campus around college people doing college things. She brought me to the student center in Lincoln Park, showed me the SAC​, the Quad​, library​, etc. It was awesome, I was in love, and I wanted to be at DePaul that moment. 

Fast forward to a few months after that visit, my friend from high school and I are walking around Lincoln Park. Realizing we were close to the student center, I suggested we explore the campus. We entered the student center and saw the fast, busy hustle of college life. No one noticed us and we had no idea where to go so we just continued exploring. Walking without a purpose, I gave my friend a fairly poor tour of the campus as everything my sister had taught me had faded from my mind. Though the information I provided may have lacked accuracy, it was a joy to show my friend the college of my future. The moment I stepped in Blue Demon territory I knew it was the right place for me. No other place had the life of DePaul, the beauty, or the convenience of being in Chicago. 

While many students may be looking for the right college for them at this time, the best suggestion I have is to explore. Be fearless and ask questions, Google everything there is to know about the college, find out what it is they’re known for, what they focus on, etc. With this big moment in the life of a high school senior, I wish you all the best of luck!

Thank you and stay awesome my friends!


About Me!

​​​​​Greetings, readers!

I am currently a senior music education major in the School of Music. I began my time at DePaul as a bassoon performance major, and though I love playing my instrument I quickly realized that teaching was a much better route for me! For this quarter, I’m student teaching grades 4-12 band and will be back on campus for winter and spring quarters to finish my degree. After graduating in June, I’m hoping to get a teaching job (preferably band!) in a school and continue playing bassoon – the two things that fuel my passions of performing and teaching.

When I’m not in class or teaching, I work in the School of Music admissions office as a student worker and spend my weekends frosting delicious cupcakes at Molly’s Cupcakes​. I absolutely love both of my jobs! I get to meet lots of people through giving tours and answering phone calls and being surrounded by baked goods every weekend is like being in Heaven (though has been damaging to my waist line). When I’m not working, I love to exercise, go to concerts and festivals, eat out at my favorite restaurants and spend time with the wonderful people I have met during my time at DePaul.

DePaul has opened so many doors for me, and I never imagined I’d have as many opportunities as I have had here. I grew up on the southern coast of Maine with my parents and younger brother (who now attends DePaul – what a coincidence!). Though it’s sometimes hard to be away from my family, (18 hours by car, 2.5 hours by plane to be exact), moving halfway across the country to a city like Chicago for my education is something I will never regret. 

Here are some of the amazing things I’ve been able to do through DePaul and being in Chicago:

Travel to Sierra Leone, West Africa to teach music during winter break

See concerts at the Lyric Opera, Ravinia, the Chicago Theater and Symphony Center

Run the Chicago Rock n’ Roll half-marathon and other smaller races

Teach music in local schools and take part in lots of other music-related opportunities!

I’ve also had the privilege of being a member of NAfME collegiate (National association for Music Education) and was a Chicago Quarter mentor in the Discover Chicago program that all 1st year students participate in. I’m extremely lucky to be studying in an amazing city at a fabulous university, surrounded by some of the most talented individuals I have ever met. I’m looking forward to sharing this year – my final year as an undergraduate student at DePaul – with all of you. Thanks for reading!

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!


T.E.A.M.

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T.E.A.M., an acronym I learned at an early age, stands for “Together Everyone Accomplishes More.” Teams are important in life because they help everyone go further than they could ever go alone. With a group working in unity to accomplish a common goal, there are no limits. I’m a firm believer in teams, I have been taught my whole life that it is essential to work together in order to get things done.

I attended a Digital Cinema Collaborative (DCC) event just last week. We had first year students (and others that were interested in getting more involved with the film community) ask mentors about anything they wanted to know. There was one question that stuck out to me: “How would someone that wants to make a movie go about starting it?” Mentors then began answering the student with various responses about the process, planning, etc. Finally, it was suggested to the student to not be afraid to ask others for help. Proud of the DCC mentors, I related to that response the most. 

I often think about how many times we need help. It could be with homework, working out, or our car. Asking for help can often be a scary thing and I know I have personally shied away from requesting others assistance in a time of need. Yet, it is something so crucial to our existence.  

Sports consist of teams, companies consist of teams, and even our world is a team. We see others in need and we help them, or we have a vision and a goal and inspire a group to fulfill it. When people work together and do their role we see giant skyscrapers built, World Series or Stanley Cup championships won, humans on the moon, and progress for a better tomorrow. Indeed as a team, united as one, no task becomes too great and no challenge can overcome us. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand." Let’s work side by side for a common goal because together everyone accomplishes more.

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

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. 


April 29th-30th: DemonTHON 2016

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There’s a date! You may ask, “A date for what?” DemonTHON! DePaul University’s 24-hour dance marathon! Sound awesome? Interested in being a part of this really cool nationwide movement? Well look no further!

DemonTHON is our annual dance marathon where we raise money for the Ann and Richard H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. We dance, inspire, and strive for a greater tomorrow. I got involved with DemonTHON last year as a member of the Catholic Campus Ministry team. You can register as a team or individually. Together my team and I raised money For the Kids! 

We danced the full duration of the event, learned the morale dance, and I even got on stage to lip sync to “Dirty Diana”. It was an event that impacted me so much that I decided to take my involvement a step further. Working on the technology committee, I have begun doing video production for this amazing organization. My tasks mostly include filming and editing content for our YouTube channel. This year I hope to bring more friends of mine to the event so we can all dance together. 

Dancing is fun, making friends is awesome, and the cause is a good one! The event sees a huge student turn out every year and gets major support from other organizations at DePaul, as well as local businesses.

If you are interested in finding out more about DemonTHON, here are some links to check out:

·      Official Website​!

·      YouTube​!

·      Help me fundraise​!

·      Facebook​!

Words do not allow me to express just how amazing of an experience this event is. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you are interested in helping with the event or registering as a dancer.

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


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. ​

The Health Promotions and Wellness Center

I’ve come to learn that my 20’s are about self-discovery. Whether that discovery is finding out the perfect burrito bowl combination for my taste buds or the right work out plan my body can handle, I know that self-discovery is leading me to certain habits. I believe that the habits I will establish during my 20’s and 30’s will be the ones that stick the most and might become the foundation of my potential big girl adult life.

Although we all have our vices (neglecting important obligations to binge Friends reruns), it is important to establish positive behaviors and step away from the negative ones during the habit forming years that are your 20’s. We are not all superheroes and, sadly, are subject to the very human act of laziness and lack of self-actualization. Thankfully, the DePaul community has the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness to provide educational and holistic support to produce long-term, healthy behaviors.  

Instead of searching for yoga tutorials on YouTube once a month after the guilt of eating 2 bags of Doritos sets in, why don’t you just pop over to their office and learn about the wide range of health topics they offer support with? From proper nutrition to relationship violence, the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness covers many important topics. The faculty is there to improve help-seeking behaviors and enhance your ability for sustainable, positive habits.​

Personally, I have an issue with stress control. I was lucky enough to have a member of the office come into one of my class to discuss stress management and healthy coping strategies. She guided the class through a mediation session where we shut our eyes and centered ourselves by focusing on our body. Heavy breathing exercises were also a part of this session which helped me better learn how to steady my breathing and slow down my thoughts. I have never been the best with coping with stress, but I know good vibes equals good mood.​

A new campaign called Take Care DePaul has been launched recently. This campaign encourages students, families, and faculty to model choices that positively impact the well-being of themselves and the ones around them.

If you are in the market for better vibes or just need someone to talk to about obtaining a healthy life style, please dance your way over to the Office of Health Promotions and Wellness for some resources and community support.

Location: Lincoln Park Student Center, Suite 302. 2250 N Sheffield Ave.
Phone: 773-325-7129 

Be Well!


Treat Yo Self to S'mores in a Mug

Nothing is worse than getting hungry at 1:00am in the midst of a major study session. From my experience, the only food that alleviates the craving is something sweet. At 1:00am, the Student Center is not open anymore and most of the time, I do not want to shell out money for Insomnia Cookies. Thankfully, I found an alternative: dessert in a mug​! Desserts in a mug have taken over Pinterest lately, and for a good reason. They are easy to make, do not require a lot of preparation or ingredients, and make a single serving. I have tried many different recipes, but the one below is one I have wanted to try for a while. The recipe is found on the blog How Sweet It Is. It looks absolutely delicious! Here is the recipe for Chocolate Fudge S’mores Mug Cake.
 
You need:
2-3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (mine was dark cocoa, hence the dark color)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 ounces milk chocolate (chopped or morsels)
Marshmallow fluff, cream or actual marshmallows
  
Directions:
Combine 3 tablespoons butter and 1 ounce of chocolate in a small bowl, then melt in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Set aside. In another bowl, combine remaining melted butter with 2-3 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs and stir until moistened. Press graham crumbs into the bottom of your mug.  

Doesn't this just make your stomach rumble? Again, this picture is taken from the blog How Sweet It Is and all credit should go to the blog's author.
In a bowl, whisk egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa, and stir until a thick batter forms. Stream in melted butter and chocolate, mixing to combine. Fold in remaining chocolate chips. Add half of the mixture on top of the graham crust, then throw on a scoop of marshmallow fluff/cream or a few marshmallows. Add remaining batter on top, then pop in the microwave for 1 minute and 20 seconds to almost 2 minutes. Remove and top with additional marshmallow if desired. You can pop it back in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to make them melty, or pop them directly under the broiler for about 10 seconds to toast if desired. You can also use a kitchen torch if you have one. Sprinkle with graham crumbs!​

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.


Positive Learning Environment for the New School Year

Before I began my first day of junior year I tried to remind myself that academia goes more smoothly when paired with a positive learning environment.

Having a solid relationship with professors and peers is a good place to start! I have never been one to instantly introduce myself personally to my professor on the first day of school, but I do try to make it a point to raise my hand at least once during the first week. Honestly, I’ve noticed this makes me a lot more likely to contribute to class discussion later on in the quarter. By making an active attempt to interact with your professors and peers, this creates an environment that feels safe to ask questions in. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel apprehensive to ask certain questions in class because I think they might be silly or unnecessary, but more often than not someone else in the class has the same question. I believe that if you try to create relationships with your professors and peers it will make for a comfortable and fun learning environment that could last until graduation day. You never know when you will need those teacher recommendations.

Finding a comfortable place to study is also crucial for creating a positive learning environment. The most obvious choice on campus is the library with its beautiful stained glass on the third floor and easy access to printers, but I have friends that can’t concentrate in complete silence. If that sounds like you definitely check out Brownstones in the Student Center or the Pit area in the SAC. They both provide comfortable seating, printers, and glorious glorious coffee. Ain’t nothing like some good ambience to get you in the mood to crank out some essays.  

Also, keep in mind that a positive learning environment is not necessarily the physical place you are in, but could also include the mindset you have in your noggin. Creating attainable and realistic expectations while studying is crucial for avoiding the feeling of being overwhelmed. Laying down the ground rules for yourself and how far you can push your brain is quintessential to your victory as a student. For example, give yourself a time limit on how long you will look over a particular subject or take a break from revising an essay when you feel the words starting to blend together. Sadly, we are not machines that can work days on end, but it is amazing how far we can push ourselves with a positive mindset and a little bit of scheduling.

Good luck this quarter, y’all!


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 Annual Summer Job

​​​Let me paint the picture for you: It was a sunny day in May 2011. I was a junior in high school. School let out at 3:30 and I had a job interview at the public library at 4:00. I lived on the same street as the high school, so I thought I would have enough time to run home, change into some nicer clothes, and walk to the library in time for my interview. Unsurprisingly, I’m pretty sure I got distracted with some food (typical) and realized I was running late. Thankfully, my biochemistry teacher saw me frantically sprinting to the library and asked if I needed a ride (Thank you, Mrs. Landsness!). A week later, the library gave me my first summer job (which was later extended throughout my entire senior year). This week, I returned to the library for my fifth summer in a row.

So, as you can probably infer from that masterfully written introduction, I’m finally back home for the summer! Words cannot describe how joyful I am to: (a) be done with school for a while, and (b) be in a house with a fully stocked kitchen again. I’m taking the time to be grateful for this situation, since it is most likely the last summer I’ll be spending at home. Next year, I have to stay in Chicago in order to take grad classes for my master’s (how impressive am I, right?).

The highly contested worm race trophies.
For this summer, I’m back at the library and I could honestly not be more excited. I love the staff, I have great hours, and there are usually some sort of treats in the break room. Today, someone brought in cookie dough brownies (I’m ashamed that I didn’t know they existed before today). Today was a significant day at the library for another reason, too: the annual worm race. 

“What?” you exclaim, convinced you misunderstood. Yes, you read that correctly. We race worms. We have judges, a wormbulance, and official team cheers. We even give out trophies for the fastest worms.

Amazing children’s programming aside, working at the library during high school helped me so much when I got to college. I mean, I knew how to navigate the library and its resources from the moment I walked in (which was so helpful). More importantly, it opened the door for me to find a job at school. I knew the basics about libraries, so during my sophomore year at DePaul, I applied to work at the library (and I still work there and make bank).  

An adorable selfie I took while waiting for worm race participants to show up. The wormbulance is visible in the background (located over my right shoulder, and I mean my right).
I guess this post is just my reflection about my final summer at home and the impact that my high school summer job has had on my life. I’ve gotten so much out of it and I’ve been so lucky to be asked back to the library every summer. It’s sad to think this is most likely my final worm race. Next year, everything is going to be different and I’m going to have to spend my own money if I want a kitchen as full as the one at my house. I’m so excited to move on with my life, but my little hometown library will always be special to me.
​​​

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.


Love All Blog!

​​​“Do onto others as you would want to be done onto you.” A lesson my parents taught me early on in my life. If I don’t want someone bullying me then I should not bully others. Little did I know back then just how important their teachings would
become. Being in college and working with many different people from different places, it is a value I have become very happy I have. There are many times when I experience cruelty from others in the way they speak and treat me. At the same time I observe friends, family, or just anyone feeling hurt by the harsh words of an individual. In this huge world with so many different cultures and ways of living, it is impossible to go through life believing there is only one absolute way to live. It’s times like these I remember the teachings of my parents and along with that, the new values I am obtaining at DePaul. Attending WLC (
Winter Leadership Conference​) this past year, I learned an abbreviation that has changed the way I approach situations, people, and life. SRL or a Socially Responsible Leader. The dimensions of SRL are something I have written about before, but just to refresh they are:

•      Self-Understanding & Personal Integrity

•      Taking Seriously the Perspective of Others

•      Contributing to a Larger Community

•      Knowledge and Intellectual Competence

•      Striving for Excellence

I am a firm believer in these dimensions. Communicating is difficult and people often miscommunicate creating issues aside from whatever problem may need to be solved. With the five dimensions above, communicating will not necessarily be 100% clear, but it will be a lot clearer and better than a conversation without these dimensions. My hope for anyone that reads this blog, is that you read and understand these dimensions and of course, if given the opportunity, participate in WLC.

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

​​

For The Grads!

​​Finals are over, the stress is gone for the moment, and summer is finally here! However, this is not a summer blog, this blog for all the seniors that I have met this year. I want to say thank you for everything you have done for me as a friend, fellow DePaul peer, and genuine person. It was not until today when I was looking at my Facebook feed that I realized just how many great people I had moving on. From friends that I met at the Winter Leadership Conference​ to friends from the DePaul Activities Board, each and every one of you has impacted my life greatly in one way or another. The world is in need of all your talents and I am sure the class of 2015 will greatly influence it. 

Thank you all for being amazing and you all have a special place in my heart. Go accomplish your goals and dreams and remember that I always got your back! Just like many of you have had mine. I hope to continue the greatness that the Class of 2015 has shown me and that I can inspire others as you have done.

Thank you for everything and congratulations!


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! 

Grad Showcase Part 1: COMPLETE

Part one of graduate showcase is in the books! My class just returned from doing our showcase in New York City​ over the past several days. It was a very exciting, exhausting trip and I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to see the city in this new light.

Until now, I’ve never seriously considered living in New York. I really like the city itself but I’ve always thought that it wasn’t really a place in which I could see myself living. The bustle and cramped spaces always seem claustrophobia inducing and that was my over-riding image of the city. However, this time around I was able to get out of Manhattan ​a bit to see Brooklyn ​and Queens​, and see that New York is not only Manhattan. There are slower paced neighborhoods where people live their lives at a pace not all that dissimilar to Chicagoans. This pleasantly surprised me.

I never had any qualms about not being able to do the kind of work I really want to do if I moved to New York, but the alumni panel that we attended as part of our activities made it clear just how empowering the city is for artists. Almost universally across our panel, the individuals wore many different hats as actors, writers, producers, and directors or some combination therein. What I take from this is that if you make it be so, you don’t have to be put into a box as one type of artist in New York, and that people are really driven to make their own work which is also my main desire artistically as I move past graduation. How awesome is that?

Beyond the official aspects of our time there, I also enjoyed seeing some old friends, visiting some really cool bars and restaurants, and taking in an Upright Citizens Brigade​ comedy show. New York treated me really well. Now we have a few days back in Chicago for the hometown version of our showcase before leaving for LA where I lived for several years when I was younger. I can’t wait to continue to share our work! Let’s go get ‘em.

Tyler’s Hot Track of the Week:
Since we’re headed west soon, here’s a warm weather throwback for y’all.


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Graduation Season

Graduation season is upon us! I feel like every time I log into Facebook, there are new pictures of high school and college graduates and their families. I remember how fun my own high school graduation was. It was a sunny, warm day outside, my friends were all graduating alongside me, and my family was there to support me. I was valedictorian​, so I got to speak at the ceremony, which was a huge honor. Afterwards, my family and I went out to dinner to celebrate (hello, Cheesecake Factory!). Overall, I had a beautiful day and am excited to see other graduates enjoying their days, as well.

This year is a special one because my sister and two cousins are graduating high school. I feel so old! My one cousin goes to school in North Carolina, but my other one and my sister both go to Chardon​ High School, the same one I graduated from. The ceremony is this weekend and I am excited to go home and see them and celebrate their successes! I have not been home this entire quarter, so this will be an extra special and fun weekend. I am staying in the city this summer to work, but I get to go home for both of their parties, which will also be a great time. Margaret, my sister, will go to Kent State University next fall while my cousin Emma will go to the Ohio State University. OH-IO! 
My sister, Margaret, and me on my graduation day. This year, she will be the one in the cap and gown!

I also have many friends this year graduating from DePaul. There are seven, which seems like so many! It is wonderful to see all of their hard work paying off and it makes me excited for my next two years of school. They are all going off in different directions, which makes me sad, but I know they have been blessed with different gifts and talents and will do amazing things. Even though graduation season is bitter sweet, it also means so many happy times, too. Congratulations to the Class of 2015! All of you will do wonderful things. 

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! 


Rachel's Wedding: Hogle To Hall!

Something that I will always hold against my sisters is that they both decided to get married over a weekend in May when I was still in school. My older sister, Rebecca, got married two years ago over Memorial Day weekend, and my other sister, Rachel just got married this past weekend- almost two exact years to the day from Rebecca's wedding. And both of them decided to get married in the Georgia heat....why?! I guess the facts that we all grew up in Georgia, and that weddings in May are beneficial for multiple reasons had something to do with it. Actually, I’m not upset with them for choosing those dates for their weddings - I haven't minded escaping from school during that last stretch of work and finals to spend time with my family and celebrate with my dear sisters! And what a special time it has been at both events.

As you all know, Rachel has had quite the debut on my blog, so you can tell how much she means to me! That’s why it’s probably an understood thing that I approached her wedding with great feelings of joy and excitement for her, and also sadness in letting her go. Ask any twin who is very close to his or her other half, and you will often find that when one twin gets married it almost feels like the twins are going through a divorce, as the married twin forms a close bond with another person. However, Rachel had dated her husband, Daniel, for six years, so I had plenty of time to process this change and accept it. I could not be happier for them! And who helped give her that happiness? I DID. ​

I like to joke about that a lot, but it is sort of true. You see, Rachel and Daniel first met and started dating because my high school boyfriend and I set the two of them up to join us for a double-date my and Rachel’s sophomore year of high school. They were both quiet and awkward due to nerves, but apparently something intrigued both of them about the other, and they continued to date. After 5 months of dating, Rachel and I transferred to Interlochen Arts Academy to study music more intensely our last two years of high school, and they continued to do long distance for the 5.5 years after those 5 months. It’s really remarkable and inspiring that they were so committed to one another all those years! And I saw them grow together so much during those times they were so far apart.

The wedding weekend was also special for me because I was able to reunite with my two best childhood friends, Saureh and Erin, for the first time in half a year. Before that last visit together, we hadn’t all been together in three years. So the four of us had a blast, giggling and swapping stories of the memories of our 13 years of friendship. It was a sweet time.

The wedding day was full of so much love and happiness. Rachel and Daniel were married at Waters Mill in Dahlonega, Georgia, under an arbor in a beautiful grassy field. I started crying the moment I saw my angelic sister step onto the stone aisle. I then turned to her soon-to-be-hubby and saw tears overflowing from his eyes, and I lost it! We were all beaming with tears running down our cheeks as she approached the altar with my dad. My dad, being the incredible man he is, was making jokes the entire time he stood there with her. We all laughed and cried and then laughed and cried some more. 

Once the ceremony finished, the bridal party stayed behind to take pictures with the newly Mr. and Mrs. Hall, and we all tried our best to continue to look good, despite the intensity of the hot Georgia sun. The best man, Evan (who is the boy I dated and was my partner in setting Rachel and Daniel up!!), and I hurried into the reception hall once the pictures were done to mentally prepare ourselves for our toasts and the surprise we had planned. What was this amazing surprise? I am so proud of myself for this, but I had actually kept a secret from Rachel for months now - I secretly recorded Rachel and Daniel sharing their takes on each of their significant relationship moments and played it at the reception! And they absolutely loved it. It meant so much to me to surprise them and to give them such a personal gift, and I was also relieved that they weren’t mad at me for keeping some of their funny stories in the recording! 
After all of my stressful duties were over, I sat with Saureh and Erin and ate the delicious cake. We eventually hit the dance floor, but before we knew it, we were in the Bridal Suite, quickly throwing everything of Rachel’s into a bag so we could dump it into her and Daniel’s car before they drove off! Just seconds after we shut the door with all of their things, Rachel and her husband drove off in their car that was perfectly decorated by the groomsmen (which was a surprise to us bridesmaids, as the boys had lied to us and told us they had forgotten the materials to do it!). My family and I lingered to help clean up and then ran some errands before we hosted a taco party for the guests at the house we had rented for the weekend. It was a great time to continue catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in six years and enjoy nature before heading back to the city.

I am now back in Chicago and - ready or not! - am approaching my final two weeks of college. I feel extreme thankfulness right now - for a weekend away, for lifelong friendships, for unending love and devotion, for celebrating the joys of life together. I am so happy for both of my sisters and love my two brothers-in-law dearly and hope to marry someone someday that will complete the trio of boys in a perfect harmony! And who knows when that will be?! I mean, I DID catch Rachel’s bouquet at the wedding! Although, I’m going to focus on one year at a time. 

Next stop: graduation.
Next, NEXT stop: ALASKA!

My Favorite Movies

Last week, I discussed my all-time favorite books and why they are so special. Reading is the best! What is also the best, though, are movies. There are so many good ones out there. Even ones in the same genre can be vastly different. Personally, I am not a picky movie goer. I will watch almost anything. I do, however, have favorite movies and I have listed them below.​

•  The Sound of Music​. Who doesn’t know this movie about edelweiss, nuns, seven children, a widowed sea captain, and favorite things? Julie Andrews is the seriously the best and her voice will give you chills. I have grown up watching and loving this movie and know that I will someday show this timeless classic to my own children.​ 

The hills are alive with the sound of music!
•  The Amazing Spider-Man​. Between Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield, I find Andrew Garfield to be the vastly superior Spider-Man. He’s funnier, a better actor, and his chemistry with Emma Stone is much better than McGuire’s with Kirsten Dunst. I am a big fan of superhero movies and Marvel, and even though Spider-Man is not part of the Avengers, I like him the best. 

•  She’s the Man​. You would think that Amanda Bynes cross-dressing as her brother to play soccer and befriending/crushing on Channing Tatum, her roommate, would make for a weird movie. And you would be right. However, it is a weird movie that is also funny, great, and whose cast includes David Cross. This is another movie that almost everyone has seen, but it’s still a great one nonetheless. 

•  Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story​. "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." This is one of the more famous quotes from this crass, silly, hysterical movie that includes Ben Stiller in a unitard. My father first showed me this movie when I was far too young to watch it, but it has remained a staple in our family ever since.

I certainly have a few other favorites, including The Prince of Egypt​, Juno​, About Time​, The Hunger Games​, Harry Potter​, and Les Miserables​. I am in no way, shape, or form a movie critic or reviewer, so excuse the poor summaries. Anyway, go put in a good movie, pop some popcorn, and enjoy!