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Self Care in College

Self-care isn’t always as easy as it sounds, especially if you’re a college student with a busy life. We all, including myself, fall into the habit of overdoing ourselves with too many things at once, but it leaves you feeling stressed, sleep-deprived, and mentally exhausted. As a college student, it's hard to prioritize your own mental health when we need to prioritize academics and work first. It's so important to prioritize self-care along with your other activities, here are some of my tips for practicing self-care in college.

Schedules are key - Start by prioritizing your classes, work, and major due dates. Then your other activities that you need to attend and add them as they come up. If you have a set schedule, you’ll know what days you’re free to take some time off, and when you’re not.

Don’t overdo all-nighters - Sleep is super important when you’re a student. It can be tempting to just stay up all night and study for that midterm or finish up that one assignment. I usually do an all-nighter if I absolutely need to get something done, but I try to avoid it as much as possible. Instead, I would recommend starting assignments or studying as soon as you know when their due and avoid procrastinating.

Take a day off - It’s okay to take a day to just be unproductive and have a breather from the stress of school.

Take care of yourself - Sometimes self-care doesn’t look like face masks and bath bombs. Sometimes it is just making sure you drank enough water or got out of bed in the morning. Whatever self-care looks like to you, make sure you’re doing what makes you feel better and being responsible.


How to Save Money in College

One of the biggest surprises that came to me after my first year as a college student was how much money I managed to spend. When I started the year I had already paid for a meal plan and housing so I wasn’t expecting to have any other expenses. One of the best things about living in a city is the abundance of things to do. Unfortunately, that also brings bad news for your bank account. At the start of my second year, I promised myself that I would be a more conscious spender. I wanted to start saving and become more financially stable. After two months of embracing this mindset, I’ve started to see results. I know money is something that causes a lot of stress for college students, so here are three of my most effective strategies on saving money.

Embrace Minimalism!

This lifestyle is something radically different than the one I am currently living, but I’m getting there slowly. I used to be the kind of person who owned 50 dresses and had the right outfit for one specific event. When I was looking for new apartments, I realized that the closets in the rooms were way smaller than ones I was used to. As a result, I started a new experiment with my wardrobe during the summer. If I didn’t wear the item within 30 days, it got donated (or lovingly gifted to my sisters). This allowed me to shrink my closet, but it also made me realize that I didn’t wear or need as many clothes as I thought I did. I also started avoiding the urge to buy clothing impulsively. To me, minimalism means thinking about the things that add value to my life instead of the quantity of things that I own. When I’m out shopping and I see something that I like, I’ll ask myself I need it or if it would add value to my life. If the answer is no- which it usually is, then I don’t buy it. Over the course of a few months, this has saved me quite a lot of money.

Apply for Scholarships!

The biggest misconception a lot of students have is that the scholarship search stops when you get accepted into college. However, this could not be farther from the truth! Scholarships aren’t just for high school students, there are several targeted towards students in college. In fact, a lot of people have more luck winning scholarships when they’re in college because they have more projects and skills to show off. Focus on local scholarships targeted towards your university, and spend a solid 30 minutes a week applying. I promise this will not be a waste of your time.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts!

This one probably sounds like the most obvious, but I don’t think that students realize how many major companies offer discounts for students. One of my favorite resources is Unidays, it’s a website where they list all of the discounts for students and it’s updated weekly. If you’re a big online shopper, I also recommend adding Ebates and Honey to your Chrome extension. Ebates offers you cash back on a lot of your online purchases for companies like American Eagle, Target and Amazon. Honey is a service that finds hidden coupons while you are browsing online and then applies them at checkout. Both of these are completely free and guaranteed to save you money.

Song of the Week: Patricia- Florence and the Machine​ :)


Sounds of Cinema

Beginning in my freshman year, one of my friends and I decided to have a radio show on Radio DePaul.  The process of getting a show was very easy.  We simply contacted Radio DePaul and presented them with an idea for our show.  We were then each trained and taught how to work everything in the studio.  We got to learn how each piece of equipment works, and what it was for.  For our show, we wanted it to be about movies.  Our show is now called Sounds of Cinema, and we have a different theme each week.  My favorite theme we have had and will have again in just a few weeks is Halloween.  This is my favorite because we get to play songs from the soundtracks of our favorite Halloween movies.

Today, we started a new trend of themes: Astrology.  Our playlist today consisted of songs from movies with famous Libras.  For example, we had Hugh Jackman for The Greatest Showman, Will Smith from Men in Black, and Josh Hutcherson with a song from Bridge to Terabithia.

Radio DePaul has received many awards for being the best college radio station.  I feel so lucky to have this unique experience, and get to combine my love of movies and music!  I love getting text messages from my friends and family, who are able to listen to the show from across the country by simply going to the Radio DePaul website.  My parents listen every week, and love being able to hear my voice even though I am hundreds of miles away from them.

If you would like to listen to the show next week, tune in at 6-7PM on Sunday!


Self-Care-Sundays

Upon arriving at college, incoming students are usually worried about making new friends, their schedules and adjusting to a new way of living. College can be a lot to balance, especially when you’ve never experienced something quite like it. I work as a CQM for a class of first-year students and when I asked them if they actively practice self-care, the responses I received were a combination of laughter and confused looks. I learned that they didn’t think self-care was important enough to dedicate time to or they just didn’t know how to practice this kind of behavior. There has been a variety of studies and surveys with findings concluding that an overwhelming amount of young people are struggling or have struggled with anxiety. One study in particular found that 41.6% of college students said that anxiety was affecting their lives.

This year I moved into a new apartment and my roommates and I started a new tradition called “Self-Care Sunday”. We realized that we couldn’t neglect our mental health this year and decided to dedicate a few hours on Sundays to take care of those needs. The following are some of my favorite self-care activities.

Sing loudly in the shower.

I don’t have scientific evidence that this is effective. However, I can personally say that there is nothing more therapeutic than belting out the words to your favorite song after a long day. Not to mention, the bathroom acoustics will have you convinced that you should be a signed artist.

Call your mom.

If you are a college student, chances are you have a pretty tight and busy schedule. It’s also safe to say that you probably haven’t called your mom in a while. My mom is one of the funnies women in my life and after a short 5 minute conversation with her, I feel so much better.

Clean up your living space.

For me, nothing is more stressful than a messy living area. During the week, I’m guilty of throwing my clothes all over the floor and forgetting to pick them up. After cleaning my room, I feel so relieved. It’s as if all the clutter in my life has magically disappeared.

Self-care is incredibly important and I encourage you to find an hour in your week to dedicate to yourself. Contrary to popular belief, self-care doesn’t have to be a grandiose event where you go to the spa and all of your problems magically disappear. Self-care is an ongoing process, all it takes is finding the strategy that works best with you and sticking with it. You are worth all of the stars in the universe and deserve every ounce of love that comes your way. Take care of yourself and hold on to the little things that bring you joy.

Song of the Week: Walls- The Lumineers​


Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon is one of my favorite days of the year. I’ve been volunteering at it since high school and the event still amazes me every time I’m there. There has always been great weather each year I’ve been there, but this year it poured rain at some points which I can’t imagine how hard it would be to run that distance drenched.

Volunteering at the event is a long day but it is nothing compared to what the runners are doing. Waking up at 5 am to get to our AID station and help set up is surprisingly a lot of fun since everyone volunteering has a lot of energy. So many groups of people and organizations (especially from DePaul) sign up together to volunteer at this event which makes it an even better reason to volunteer.

The Chicago marathon not only has a very diverse group of people running but often some celebrities run it. For example, Kevin Hart ran it this year for the first time and so did Chicago Fire Actress, Miranda Rae Mayo.

The Chicago Marathon consists of a maximum of 49,000 runners each year. People from all around the world come to Chicago to run it. I’ve always been told that if I want a cool way to see the Chicago neighborhoods, running the marathon is the way to do it. Starting from and ending in Grant Park, you make a loop north and south of the city, and it captures a lot of Chicago.

It is definitely an amazing event that Chicago hosts every year and I highly recommend to volunteer, spectate or cheer on if you’re not running it.  


From Portugal to Portland

Last weekend my roommate and I decided to take a last minute trip to Portland, Oregon. My brother who lives in New York City met us there, and the three of us spent the weekend exploring the city and checking out some of Portland’s best eats (Voodoo Doughnut, we love you). 
Portland is a great city because you are able to spend time downtown where there are tons of things to do and see, and also explore some of the most beautiful natural areas surrounding the city. We spent our mornings' scootering around the city using Lime, and our afternoons hiking through areas such as Forest Park and Portland’s famous International Rose Test Garden.

A lot of people ask me how I travel so often while living on a student budget, working five days a week, and taking a full course load. The first part of my answer is that I am lucky to have siblings and friends who are always down for a trip. Along with this, I make traveling a significant priority in my life. I might be missing a party or losing time I could have spent studying, but a weekend trip like the one we took to Portland is more important to me than those things. Whenever I go to a new place I am constantly evolving and learning based off of new experiences and meeting new people, and I find it important to constantly be broadening my worldview and cultural understanding. Whether I am traveling to Portland or Portugal, I know I will be learning a lot about myself and the world around me.


Student Organizations

Welcome back to all the DePaul students!  I am so excited for the school year to begin because I not only missed many of my friends who went home for the summer, but I also joined some different organizations this year that I am thrilled to be a part of.

The first new organization I chose to join is Student Government Association (SGA).  I ran for Senator of Mission and Ministry last spring and was so excited I got elected.  Everyone in Student Government is so driven to make change happen on campus, and I am so eager to work with each member this coming year!  One big initiative SGA is trying to achieve this year is to stop the use of plastic straws on campus.  Before the year began, every place to eat on campus agreed to not give plastic straws to students, unless a student specifically asked them to.  At the involvement fair this past Friday, SGA gave away every single reusable metal straw we ordered to students.  I am so proud to see we are already making a difference on campus less than one week in!

To all my fellow DePaulians, I hope you have a wonderful school year!  I hope to see you around campus this year or specifically at any of the MMATM events.  


Bid Day 2018

Hey DePaul!  I would like to start off this blog post by saying happy bid day to all of the women who went through recruitment this year! 

During my freshman year of college, I had no interest in going through recruitment whatsoever.  I thought all of the typical stereotypes about sorority girls applied to everyone at DePaul, and let me tell you I was 100% wrong. 

My friend went through recruitment freshman year and convinced me to go through formal recruitment during the fall of my sophomore year.  I decided I would give it a try, and if I hated it I would simply drop the process.  I told myself if I didn’t at least give it a try, I would have many “what if” moments down the road.

I was so surprised by how many genuine women I talked to during recruitment.  Each woman I interacted with was so passionate, driven, and simply the opposite of all the preconceived notions I had.  When it came down to picking what sorority felt right for me, I thought back to the sorority where I felt most welcomed.  This sorority for me was Alpha Omicron Pi (AOII).

This week, I was a recruiter for AOII and met so many amazing potential new members (PNMs) going through recruitment.  While being a recruiter was very time consuming, I appreciated getting to know many of the women going through the process and hearing things they were passionate about.

Today, 31 new members ran home to AOII.  Along with these 31 new members, many members of AOII were recruitment counselors this year, and they ran back home to us as well.  Being a recruitment counselor means one helps PNMs pick what sorority they think is best for them.  In order for the PNMs to not feel any bias from their recruitment counselors, recruitment counselors have to disaffiliate from the chapter they belong to.  Many of my best friends in the chapter, including my big, were recruitment counselors.  This meant I was not able to talk to them or be seen in public with them since the end of August.  I was so happy to see my big run home to AOII and finally be able to hug her.  I am also so excited to get to know each one of the amazing new members better throughout the year, and potentially make one of them my little.   


Welcome Week

​Once again, it's that time of year to get back on your regular sleeping schedule and kiss summer goodbye! The back to school season always brings a mix of emotions: anxiety, sadness, excitement, you name it. Luckily, DePaul.  My favorite event that DePaul does at the beginning of the year is the Loop Block Party, which is basically a party with games, food trucks, and music held across the street. Whether you’re an inexperienced college freshman or a senior, this event is a great way to meet new friends, learn about the campus clubs, or just chill between classes.

The Involvement Fair is a great way for anyone who wants to get involved on campus. Although it’s known for being solely for First-year students, it’s a good way for anyone to learn about what's going on at DePaul. You can learn about tons of different organizations that are on campus. This is a great way to meet new people and get more involved in the community. From clubs to sororities and fraternities, the involvement fair will have something in it for you.

Vinny Fest is a highly anticipated annual event, held at the Lincoln Park quad. The festival is a celebration of St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day. It includes games, raffles, trivia, photos, and of course food! This is a great way for students to get to know one another and just hang out. There's always TONS of events going on at DePaul, especially during welcome week, make sure to keep an eye out!


The Overeager Freshman

One of the most exciting parts about DePaul, at least for me, was the number of student organizations and extracurriculars you can get involved in. From sports teams to acapella groups to Greek life to the Pokémon club, there is something for everyone to do. DePaul has over 350 student organizations in just about every field imaginable. And the best part is that if there is an organization that doesn’t meet your fancy, you can go ahead and create that club!

Like your soon-to-be running theme of freshman year: with freedom comes responsibility. It is overwhelming going to the Involvement Fair (branded at DePaul the “real-life recess”) and seeing all of these clubs that you’d love to join. But I caution you to keep the clubs you actively devote your time to, to a minimum. As a freshman, you will join so many clubs and believe you can keep up with your commitments but don’t spread yourself too thin. Take the time to look over all the possibilities, but maybe select one or two that you can actively attend meetings for, become a member of, and possibly even become an executive board member. It is so much fun being actively involved in a club for years because you can bond with the people who share a similar interest with you!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do everything you love. Freshmen have the tendency to sign up for 40 clubs and only end up doing one or two because of time’s sake. I encourage you to go out and explore all the ways you could get involved but caution you not to overload your schedule. Please attend club meetings, events, on and off-campus events with the organization of your choosing! But also keep in mind that classes are important, studying is valuable, a social life is healthy, and taking care of yourself is non-negotiable. I wish I told my freshman self that I could not be a member of DePaul Dance Company, DePaul Theatre Union, Writer’s Block, Chinese Studies Association, DemonTHON, DePaul Democrats, DePaul Women’s Soccer, DePaul Film Society, and HerCDM at the same time. In the end, I consistently chose DePaul Dance Company and DePaul Theatre Union, the latter of which I am now President of.

Go out, attend all the Info Sessions and Club Meetings you can, and then choose one or two clubs that mean a lot to you. You’ll appreciate this advice by the end of Fall Quarter when you are slammed with finals. Good luck!


Get Involved!

It’s early in the fall quarter which mean it’s the perfect time to get involved at DePaul. There are so many organizations to choose from so you are bound to find something that’s right for you.

It’s very easy to find out about the clubs and organizations on campus the first week. There are posters in every building and the Lincoln Park and Loop Involvement Fair are great events to attend if you are not sure what you what to join. Here is a list of some types of organizations you can join if you are not sure what you want to put your time into:

Fraternity/Sorority: A great choice if you feel you are missing out on the social aspect of college.

Club Sports/Intramural: Fun way to play the sports you’ve always loved playing or a great way to start playing a sport you’ve always wanted to.

Career-based Clubs: There are so many clubs that focus on your major and help prepare you for your career. 

Community Service Organizations: If you want to help out the community and need something consistently to volunteer, join a community service organization.

This is just a very small list of the types of organizations you can be a part of at DePaul.

If you want to contact an organization, Orgsync is a great resource to find out about meeting times and descriptions or an organization’s Facebook page which is most likely more up to date.


Investing For All

When people think of investing the first thing that usually comes to mind is stock trading. Getting into stock trading can be intimidating, especially with the fees that are associated with trades. That is why Robinhood was created. With no commission fees and a $0 minimum opening balance, literally, anyone can invest spare money even if it may be only $10. Robinhood is best used for basic stock trading, although the online brokerage has been unveiling new developments like options, cryptocurrencies, and more foreign companies like Adidas were recently added. As with most brokerages, a bonus offer is available for first-time users. However, most of these “bonuses” are a few hundred dollars for investors with initial deposits ranging from $10,000 to well above that. Robinhood’s bonus is free stock in the typical method of referring a friend promo in order to attract audiences. If you use this link, you have a chance of earning free stock like Apple or JPMorgan Chase.

Speaking of JPMorgan Chase, they have been stirring up Wall Street lately. In order to compete with low commission traders like Charles Schwab and free brokerages like Robinhood, J.P. Morgan Chase released You Invest. Accessible through the Chase app, You Invest requires no minimum balance and offers commission-free stock and ETF trades for your first 100 trades. It is $2.95 per trade thereafter, which is still disruptive to other brokerages considering the average runner-up offers $4.95 per trade. Coming in 2019 You Invest members will have the option of investing in a portfolio designed and managed by experts at J.P. Morgan. Therefore, if you do not feel comfortable stock picking yourself nor have the interest in managing your portfolio, this option will cover all this.

In conclusion, these are just two low-cost brokerages a college student can utilize in the first stages of stock trading. If you are a student outside of a finance major, interested in learning more about the field, FIN 290 Finance for Non-Business Majors taught by a former professor of mine, Barbara Fuzesi, will certainly shed light on how be financially independent.


Summer is Not as Long as It Used to Be

With the start of another fall quarter, I can’t help but reflect on this past summer - that once again flew by way too quickly. I stayed in Chicago like I have the past two summers, but managed to take quite a few trips throughout June-August.
From spending the first three weeks of summer exploring Portugal to traveling all the way to Montreal, Canada for a music festival, this summer was the perfect mix of work and play. I worked nearly full-time at my regular waitressing job at Athenian Room , but fit in some amazing trips to make it worthwhile. 
Right before school resumed I was even able to take a trip down to Cuba ​with my sister to celebrate the end of another incredible summer and explore a country nearly untouched by tourism/outside influence. It was the perfect way to relax and immerse myself in a beautiful culture before returning to my regular schedule of work, classes, and very minimal free time. 
Traveling with my friends and family is one of my favorite ways to spend my time, and I’m thankful for a summer filled to the brim with adventures and new experiences. I’ll be spending the next ten weeks before Winter break, posting throwbacks on Instagram and reminiscing on one of the best summers yet. 
For now, it’s time to get back into the swing of things and focus on the interesting classes I’m taking this quarter and the exciting opportunities that already await! 


Happy New School Year at DePaul University!

I’m so glad to once again show you DePaul through my lens, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. First and foremost, I hope everyone had an amazing summer. Allow me to tell you about some of the activities I partook in.
There’s a great old-style arcade in Brookfield, Illinois called "Galloping Ghost " that is very affordable for all-day admission to play whatever you want. As a nostalgia nerd, I spent a lot of time there playing not only today’s most recent games but arcade machines spanning all the way back to the 80’s. Anybody in the area who is a fan of that type of stuff should definitely check it out.

One of the best movies I saw this summer was called “Sorry to Bother You ” directed by musician, Boots Riley, and starring a bunch of smaller actors I like. The experimental film is a topical comedy about the problems of workforce labor. It’s honestly one of the best films I’ve ever seen and has a great deal of diversity and inclusion. It’s an incredibly weird movie but with an important message and some fantastic performances.

And speaking of performances, the last thing I want to share is the perfect way I ended my summer - and that was seeing Childish Gambino live in concert. Coming off his award-winning show, chart-topping songs, and whatever he decides he wants to be good at Childish Gambino had a concert here in Chicago last night and it was incredible, the man can truly put on a show and continues to be in my inspiration in all things creative.

I hope you all did some cool things during summer as well, but regardless the school year here at DePaul will lead to a lot of fun and new experiences, so take some time to not only do some work but enjoy everything on campus as well!


Graduation

If you are planning to join DePaul University’s Class of 2022, first of all, congrats! Secondly, welcome.  Graduation is an exciting and also terrifying time in your life.  I should know because I myself am graduating on Saturday.  But just know that DePaul is a very inclusive and stimulating place to study.

One of the first things that you will do at orientation this summer is signing the Class of 2022 Graduation Banner.  This may seem like an odd thing for you to do at orientation, but it immediately brings you closer to your class. 

And when you pick up your cap and gown at the Student Center senior year…there it will be!  And you’ll get all the feels!  It took me a good 15 minutes to find my name this past Monday, but when I did it was really exciting.  I have come so far. 

My biggest accomplishment at DePaul was successfully completing my student teaching at Jones College Prep without missing a single day.  This was by far the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life; there were so many ups and downs.  But on the last day, I had them complete a teaching evaluation, similar to the one that DePaul students fill out for their professors at the end of the quarter.

I asked them how they would describe my teaching style, their favorite activity, an area for improvement, and an open-ended question asking them if there was anything else I should know.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive. Many described my teaching style as interactive, creative, as well as patient and in the free response question left me supportive messages.  One of my favorites reads:

“I just think that you were a really amazing teacher and I’m going to miss when you are here goofing around with us and telling us your jokes you were a really cool teacher I have only had like this type of fun bond and like that you get us as teens and not many teachers I had are like this even though I know I wasn’t the best student or I didn’t talk to you more about my work I know you totally helped me view English as a fun subject if you have the right teacher.”

Other students stayed after class to thank me and tell me how much I really helped them view English differently.  Even their areas of improvement messages were sweet, saying: 

“I feel like you should be less self-conscious of what you say in class. I feel like I learned a lot from you and you have a lot to offer students, but don't be afraid and don't doubt yourself because you're awesome :)”

Though there were many times where I doubted everything, these students made it worth it. 

So, Class of 2022, I recognize what you are going through—I have many of the same emotions as you do. But it does get better.  You will find your purpose!  And I wish you the best of luck. And Class of 2018? Let’s do this! See you Saturday!

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What I’ve Learned During My First Year

With only a week left of freshman year, I’ve found myself journaling more often and filling the pages with reflective thoughts. This year has been nothing short of exciting and I find myself reminiscing about all of the experiences that I’ve had. When I came to DePaul in the fall, I had no idea what the year had in store for me. Feelings of anxiety and doubt circled my mind, but they were quickly replaced with excitement and love for all that this city has to offer. This first year has been full of a lot of changes and positive academic and personal growth. For my last blog of my first year, I wanted to share a few things that I learned along the way.

How to Develop a New Independence.

I’ve lived in a relatively small town my entire life and moving to a city as big as Chicago was definitely a big shock for me. I expected to be overwhelmed for a long time, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would benefit from the size of the city. I used to be the kind of person that would cling to friends and avoid going anywhere alone out of fear of being judged by other people. However, with the help of public transit, I began to develop an independence and new confidence that I didn’t know I could have. Running errands, walking around the city and eating alone became activities that I found myself enjoying.

The Importance of Maintaining Relationships.

While I was living at home, I would do everything I could to spend as much time as I could with friends and family. Having a strong community is something that I’ve always valued and leaving for college has only strengthened those relationships. Because I’m living out of state, I’ve put more effort into communicating with the people that have added value to my life. My favorite method is writing letters to friends and family because it feels more personal than a phone call.

Asking for Help is Okay.

Being fairly introverted, I’ve always been terrified to ask other people questions or help when I needed it. Attending college and being given a bigger workload, I learned that asking for help is inevitable. After getting over the initial fear of approaching professors, I ended up really benefiting from their help. All of the professors I’ve had are extremely friendly and want to see you succeed. Not to mention they’re crucial for networking and also some pretty interesting people to get to know.

I couldn’t be happier with my first-year experience. I was introduced to some of the best people I’ve ever met and have done things I didn’t know I was capable of. Thank you, DePaul for a great start to my college career, I’ll happily see you in the fall! :)

Song of the Week: Hunger- Florence and the Machine​


End of Junior Year

It’s the end of the school year and to be honest I don’t really know what to say. It’s always the same amount of time each year yet somehow it feels like things are flying by. In just another year I’ll be graduating and going into the real world. It sounds scary, to not have the safety net of school and being a student. But it is something that I look forward to. In the last year, I have gotten my first apartment, multiple jobs to help pay for it, and have made significant strides in my personal career. I think in this current age of social media we see a lot of people our age with a lot of success so young and we look down on our own positions. I know for a fact I’ve done this, but I want to let everyone reading know that you should be proud of everything you’ve accomplished no matter how small. If we focus too much on the end game we can’t have fun during the journey. And whatever path you take you should have fun. Whether that be chilling with your closest friends even if you are not doing anything, or spending time on a project for a class you really care about (because school work can be incredibly fun). Whatever it is, just enjoy it because life is too short to be constantly stressing about the future or comparing your situation to others. I’ve had a great school year and hope you have as well. Have a great summer, looking forward to you reading my adventures next year.


Defining the DePaul Experience

As I prepare for graduation just a couple short weeks away, it’s hard not to look back and get nostalgic about my time here at DePaul. I chose this school on a bit of a whim and had no real idea what I was getting myself in to. Located over 1,000 miles away from my hometown, I got the “why DePaul” question more times than I could count. 
When I first toured this school four years ago, I was a nervous high school student who wanted to know anything and everything about what life at DePaul was really like. Four years and 192 credits later, I have experienced so many different things that DePaul and Chicago can offer. From dorm life, searching for my first apartment, studying abroad, getting an internship, volunteering around the city, and meeting some pretty awesome people; my personal DePaul experience has been nothing short of incredible.

I could go on and one about the things this school and city has offered me, but for all the things I did do, there’s an even longer list of things I didn’t. Four years later and I still couldn’t tell you what the “typical” DePaul experience really is, because it’s different for everyone. And most importantly, it is what you make of it.

There are so many avenues and opportunities at DePaul to take advantage of, and the fact that not one student’s story is the same is one of my favorite things about this university. Being able to live and learn in a city as diverse and extraordinary as Chicago just gives you that much more opportunity to add to your college experience. I couldn’t sum up the typical college experience even if I tried, but I can attest to the fact that DePaul was the perfect outlet for me to create my own story.  


Get Active Outside the Classroom

Beta Alpha Psi

Not only is being an active member of a club or organization a small way to bolster your resume, but it also serves as a means to meet new peers and network with professionals. At DePaul, there is a club for everyone as displayed on OrgSync, and if not, then you have the ability as a student to create your own. I have been amidst the process of joining Beta Alpha Psi’s Gamma Chapter at DePaul, which is part of an honorary organization for accounting, finance, and information systems students. When I attended Meet the Firms as a sophomore, recruiters there told me that my resume did not hold up to those with Beta Alpha Psi and I have been determined since then to raise my major GPA to the minimum requirements of applying to this club.

After attending events such as a bowling social, a volunteer opportunity with the Chicago Cubs, and workshops with Deloitte, it is very apparent to me, the benefits of joining this club. However, if you feel that there is not a club at DePaul that suits you, then you can form your own. You require a faculty sponsor for whatever club you decide on. By creating your own club, and taking on the responsibility of President, Vice President, Treasurer, and so on, it displays strong leadership skills and an entrepreneurial attitude that is highly attractive to employers. Extracurricular activities expand beyond DePaul as well. There are student memberships available for professional organizations within career paths. For example, there is the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts or Illinois CPA Society which offer free student affiliate memberships.  


Class Trips

Last week I attended an MFA show put on by the SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) downtown with my art and artists in contemporary society class. Wandering through compelling and interactive art exhibits for an hour and a half may not sound like a typical college class setting, but this happens quite often at DePaul. For example, my environmental justice class traveled to Springfield, Illinois a couple weeks ago to meet with representatives in order to propose legislation relating to environmental justice. Gaining real-world experience lobbying with representatives was truly amazing. Class trips like these are one of my favorite things about attending DePaul. Being surrounded by relevant events and exhibits related to what I’m studying in the classroom allows me to truly immerse myself rather than simply reading about it in textbooks.

Classes at DePaul truly incorporate the city of Chicago into the curriculum. Attending art shows for my photography minor, participating in activism events and getting to listen to influential speakers for my peace, justice, and conflict studies minor, and even working with environmental non-profits for my environmental studies major are all examples of this. Without being in this city, I would not have had the opportunities and experiences that have shaped my college experience as well as shaped me on an individual level. When I hear stories from my friends who go to schools in the middle of nowhere, I am grateful for DePaul and the opportunity to study right in the heart of Chicago. The city truly is our campus! 


Alpha Phi Omega

When you go to school in a big city like Chicago, there is a large need for volunteers, which means that it is not hard to fulfill DePaul’s mission.  In responding to Vinny’s question “What Must Be Done? ” the answer is, a lot!  But any little bit helps.

I answered the question by joining Alpha Phi Omega my sophomore year and volunteering with the service fraternity every quarter.  

APO has many relationships with nonprofits and charities across the city, but one of my favorite volunteer opportunities was cheering on the runners at the Hot Chocolate Run.   If you know anything about me, you know that I despise waking up early (although now that I am teaching every day I am a lot more used to it). Still, watching the sunrise above the city with my fellow fraternity brothers was a fond memory and a great way to kick off this volunteer opportunity. 

For the next four hours, we cheered, danced, and supported the exhausted runners on their journey to the finish line.  The goal was simple: make them smile and give them a reason to keep going.  I am not a runner, so I was consistently impressed with everyone who was part of the race, from kids to grandparents, and it was great to give them that extra boost of motivation.  

This is just one of many runs that APO volunteers at—they also support those in the Chicago Marathon as well as the Color Run.  I highly recommend checking these opportunities out or finding other ways that you can donate your time helping out the city in which we live.  Oh and don’t forget to rush Alpha Phi Omega next fall!      


Men of Color Initiative

Becoming involved with some organization, club, or group at your university is a must. Not only does it look good on a resume but it allows you to meet a lot of different people and potentially even bring you closer to the school you’ve decided to attend. Here at DePaul University I have become involved in the Men of Color initiative. It is a program that works to help acclimate male minority students into DePaul. The program aims for incoming freshman to have someone to help them not only use all of DePaul’s resources to the best of their ability but also have someone to talk about common struggles such as being a person of color in a predominantly white college.
Programs like this are very important because having people you can identify with and know what you’ve been through and knowing you are not alone is something that a lot of students do not have. Being a part of this program just within the last year has opened my eyes to just how important it is that I can help incoming freshmen navigate the tricky world of university. In fact, in just the last two months I helped a student to ultimately decide DePaul was the best place for their university education just speaking candidly about my experience. So whether it is a program like this, a school-sponsored one, or even an intramural sports team try to get involved, it can change your life.

Epi-CFS Volunteering

Whenever I ask adults what their favorite part of college was, a large percentage of their responses relate to how involved they were. One of the best parts about going away to college is the opportunity to discover different parts of yourself. By investing your time in different organizations on campus, you have more freedom to explore those passions. There are multiple ways to involve yourself while pursuing your degree. DePaul has a convenient website, OrgSync, where every club and organization is listed to make it easy to see what is available.

I joined a lot of clubs when I started in the fall and was quick to realize that not all of them were for me. I did, however, find something that I really liked. In the winter, I found a research team that needed volunteers for their Epi-CFS team. After submitting my resume, and going in for an interview, they offered me a volunteer position and I’ve been working with them ever since. Through this opportunity, I’ve gotten the chance to network and meet with lots of different people in the psychology community. I volunteer at the center four hours a week, calling and screening-eligible participants. The research assistants on the team are some of the kindest people I’ve met and they’ve created a wonderful community within the center. Even though I’m only a first-year student, they’ve already offered to write me letters of recommendation for graduate school and are there to answer any questions I have. These are resources I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t looked into being involved on campus.

Finding activities that you're passionate about is just as important in college as it was in high school. It’s important to keep an open mind, one of the best things about being in a new place is trying things you would have never imagined you could do. Be patient, you’ll find the club that’s right for you in no time. :)

Song of the Week: Like Vineyards- Little India​


Delta Sigma Pi

I remember after finishing my first quarter I wanted something more from my DePaul experience and that I wanted to join some kind of greek life. That’s when I decided to rush Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed professional business fraternity on campus. Many people think “fraternity” and think of a very social group of people that only have fun. People also think “professional/business” and may think boring.

Delta Sigma Pi is an organization that has helped me grow a lot, especially professionally. This fraternity has a large variety of things to offer business majors. We have the lowest dues on campus and students have the opportunity to rush in the Fall or Winter. We focus a lot on professional development, community service, and everyone’s favorite - brotherhood events. Below is just a snapshot of the types of events we have.

Professional Events: There are always a handful of professional events every quarter which can vary. But some that happen often include professional/alumni panels, how to dress workshops, resume workshops, guest speakers, and a yearly event that is a personalized internship/job fair for members of the fraternity.

Community Service Events: We are heavy on giving back. Some community service events we’ve done include visits to the Ronald McDonald House, Chicago Marathon, Junior Achievement, Anti-Cruelty Society and donations to local causes.

Brotherhood Events: Although we are a professional fraternity, we also know how to have fun. There are an endless amount of fun events we do such as going to Chicago Fire games, grill outs, game nights, bowling, and dinners just to name a few.

Freshman year was a lot of me trying to find out what kind of people I wanted to be surrounded by. I’m glad I found this organization because the people in it have been such a great influence on me and many of the people I have met in this organization are some of my best friends.


Making the Most of Student Organizations

I remember how shocked I was when I first came to DePaul and realized how many on-campus organizations there were. Whether you’re into Greek life, skydiving, food, or community service, there is literally something for every kind of person at DePaul. Getting involved in student orgs are an awesome way to meet new people and are a great way to assure you get the most out of your college experience.  

In high school, I did a lot of community service, and I knew I wanted to continue that while at DePaul. Joining the community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, was the perfect way to do that. Not only was I able to do a ton of service for a variety of organizations across the city, but I was also able to meet new people and share that experience with them. 

One of my favorite parts of Alpha Phi Omega is that they had service events that focused on all aspects of giving back. I was able to participate in everything from walking shelter dogs, to volunteering at local soup kitchens, and even participating in huge Chicago events like The Chicago Marathon and Polar Plunge.

Of all the different events I got to be a part of, volunteering for Vincentian Service Day was definitely my favorite.  Each year DePaul students, staff, faculty and alumni participate in a day of service with 50+ community partners in the Chicago area. Though it only happened once a year, I always looked forward to participating in this special day. Being able to see the DePaul community giving back in so many different ways is inspiring and a very special moment to be a part of.

No matter what you like to do with your spare time, getting involved in student organizations is something I absolutely recommend. DePaul has hundreds of different clubs and groups to choose from, and it just may be the highlight of your college career.  


DePaul Fest Putting in Work

festThe lineup for DePaul Fest 2018 was recently released and I can say I am fairly impressed. A$AP Ferg and BJ The Chicago Kid is a pretty good lineup considering previous years’ performers. Out of all honesty, I passed on Logic last year, but this year is looking to be a must-attend for me. I was sincerely shocked when I heard A$AP Ferg was coming to DePaul. I wouldn’t say I actively listen to his music, but I thought an artist of his caliber would be too big of a name to book for Fest. As for BJ The Chicago Kid, I think he is a hidden gem. You might know him from his hook on Schoolboy Q’s “Studio,” Chance the Rapper’s “Blessings,” his remix of Kanye’s  I Can’t Hold My Liquor,” or his feature on A$AP Mob’s “Way Hii.” I had the chance to see him as a part of the Redbull 30 Days in Chicago, but I was not able to. I have high hopes for this year’s Fest.

Tickets for Fest 2018 are available now for only $10 with an additional $1.09 fee.  Check the link ​below to grab a ticket. The concert is available only to DePaul students and it is one ticket per person. The concert will be held on Friday, May 25th at 5:00 pm on the Quad in Lincoln Park. I am hoping A$AP Rocky will make a surprise appearance at Fest, but that is definitely a long shot.


How to Survive Spring Quarter

It’s here! It’s here! The trees are beginning to grow leaves, the grass is finally green again, and the sunshine reminds your skin of a warmth you haven’t felt in a long time. Springtime in the city is well underway, and you couldn’t be happier about it. The only downside? All of your friends that go to schools on the semester system are already enjoying their summer vacation while you have one more month until finals. But worry not, for I’ve thought up a few ways to make the most of the few weeks while staying on top of your work.

Work Outside!

As it warms up, consider a change of scenery and do your homework outside. DePaul’s quad is absolutely gorgeous and one of my favorite places to be. The trees are just far enough apart to set up a hammock and do some reading for class. If that’s not really your thing, there are some tables with solar-powered charging stations for your laptop. There truly is no excuse not to be outside, and hopefully, it will help you feel like you’re not missing out on spring weather.

Plan Out Your Week!

Being the queen of procrastination, I admit that this is something I’m still trying to get better at. However, mapping out your week and dedicating time to completing assignments will greatly help reduce your stress levels. Prioritize what you can get done and what you can hold off on to give you more control over your time.

Make Time For You!

Even though school should be your main concern, don’t neglect your needs and the things that bring you joy. It’s easy to feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to dedicate to yourself, but these things are very important for your well-being. Laugh with some friends, have a picnic on the beach, or enjoy some ice cream from Jeni’s (10/10 would recommend). Just remember to devote some time to yourself, everything else can wait.

Summer vacation is right around the corner so stay persistent, make time to relax, and get ready to CRUSH the rest of spring quarter! :)

Song of the Week: Next Year- Two Door Cinema Club


Formal Season

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

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

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

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

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


ARCH

At the beginning of last quarter, a friend and I decided that we needed to get more involved at DePaul. We have attended various meetings for clubs, but it has been difficult finding something that we can both attend regularly due to our hectic work and school schedules. As we were browsing Orgsync, DePaul’s website listing all of its clubs and organizations, we found something called ARCH. According to the website, “ARCH is an organization that promotes awareness of homelessness and mental illness in Chicago through service and reflection.” As students who have always been involved in service in our own communities, ARCH’s mission statement appealed to both of us. As we read more about it, we found out that ARCH travels to a local women’s shelter, Deborah’s Place, every Sunday morning to cook brunch for the women staying there and engage in dialogue with them.

Ever since we discovered ARCH, we have learned a lot through this engagement. Last year I interned with a nonprofit working toward connecting homeless people in Chicago with permanent housing, so it felt right to involve myself in something along the same lines. Traveling to Deborah’s Place on Sunday mornings is the best way to start my week and is a deeply meaningful use of my time. I would encourage anyone looking for an impactful way to spend a couple hours each week to become involved in ARCH. It has allowed my friend and me to gain a lot of perspective as well as to feel as if we are positively contributing to our community.  


A City Full of Friends

College is going to be a completely new experience. You’ll get to meet different people, move into a room with someone you may not know and make decisions independent of your parents. This is one of the most exciting yet trying times of your life. It’s very easy to get comfortable in our own worlds; which is why it’s important to remember that there is something to learn from every person you interact with. In dedicating time to hear about different experiences from others, there is the opportunity for individual growth.

I would say that my college experience here at DePaul has been unique to that of any other schools. With a campus in Lincoln Park and the Loop, I’ve had the chance to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. Chicago is home to 2.7 million beautiful people and living here has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of them. Building relationships and networking is a crucial skill to have as a young professional, and what better place to practice that than a big city school? 

Not only have I had the chance to befriend people here at DePaul, but also at other universities in the Chicago area. This past year alone, I’ve met some incredible people from Loyola, Northwestern, and UIC. In doing so, my college experience has incorporated the different cultures from various universities. I love how accessible everything is via transit and how easy it is to go visit the different campuses.

There is something incredible about merging school cultures and getting to show other students around the best parts of campus. Some of my favorite people come from halfway across the country and I wouldn’t have met them had it not been for college. I carry a little piece of every person I’ve encountered with me, and I can’t wait to keep learning from new people. :)

Song of the Week: Real Peach- Henry Jamison ​ 


My Memorable DePaul Experience

 I have only been at DePaul for less than 2 years now and I have experienced so much so far. My freshman year was the most eventful year, there are a lot of things Chicago and this university have offered me.

There is always a lot going on in Chicago and probably some sort of event every day. Also, there are always famous people in the city not to mention there are a lot of great people who are from Chicago. Like Barack Obama.

In the spring of 2017, Obama came to the University of Chicago for an event on their campus. This was the first time he made a large public appearance since leaving the White House. He did a talk with young leaders (college students) from all over Chicago.

I really enjoyed this event because it felt like a conversation with Obama, although I wasn’t talking to him and just watching him talk to six amazing college students from Chicago.  I also enjoyed how this event was not about politics at all, it was about how the next generation can get involved and engaged with civic life.

The discussion was very inspirational and was mostly lead by the students with Obama having charming comments in between. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from that event:

The single-most important thing I can do is to help, in any way I can, prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and take their own crack at changing the world”

It’s not just that we’re reading different news, but we don’t talk to each other anymore. Civic engagement at some point will require a level of civility”

“Worry less about what you want to be and worry more about what you want to do”

This event was very intimate. I believe there were only 400 people in the room and 300 of those were Chicago university students. Each Chicago University received a few tickets where they could pick how to distribute the tickets. DePaul chose to raffle these tickets off through an online sign-up and I was happy to get a ticket.

Going to a school like DePaul has given me a lot of cool experiences like this. I’m excited to see what else I’ll get to experience while here.  


Uncovering My Passion at DePaul

It may sound cheesy, but something that has made my DePaul experience memorable is being passionate about what I am studying and being surrounded by peers and professors who share this passion. When I came to college I did not think I would be majoring in Environmental Studies because I wrote it off as being too difficult and wrote myself off as being not smart enough. I worked my way through a variety of majors before finally realizing what I was meant to be doing, and that is studying the environment. The restoration and preservation of the planet is the most important thing in the world to me, and being able to study what I love most every day is such a meaningful experience.

Without my professors encouraging me to declare an Environmental Studies major and the support of my friends and family, I would probably still be stuck in a major I am not proud of. I am thankful I decided to take a leap of faith and declare a major I was extremely intimidated by because I have gained such an immense amount of knowledge and experience in this process. Nothing compares to the feeling of talking with a professor about a rainforest we both visited in Costa Rica and felt connected to or talking with my peers about the actions we take to help the planet. Within my own circle of friends I am often referred to as the crazy environmentalist, but within my classes, many of my peers share the same mindset as me. They are an inspiration to me and we all encourage each other to do more for the environment. Since my major is so closely intertwined with my daily lifestyle, it is important to me that I’m surrounded by people who share my struggles, passions, and triumphs. Struggling through three-hour labs has not been a walk in the park, but all of my hard work will pay off when I graduate with a degree I’m proud of and am excited to use. ​


My DePaul Experience

My DePaul experience can be summed up as unexpected. As in, when I started going to this school I certainly didn’t expect to be performing music in front of people - not once but three separate times. In fact, when I entered DePaul I didn’t think I would be making music at all. Where you decide to go college really can change the trajectory of your life. Whether that be the friends you make, the classes you take, or the paths you embark on, I feel like DePaul has influenced all of those things. Music is a big part of my life now and I’m not sure if it would be that way if I didn’t go to school here. The people I’ve met have allowed me to experience new things and have opened my mind to different ways of thinking that I believe have allowed me to become more diverse. Whether it be the way I dress, the way I talk, or the way I interact with people my development as a person is forever tied to my experiences at this university. Whether they’ve been bad or good I have dealt with things I wouldn’t change at all, because it has allowed me to grow into the person I need to be for what I want to do in the future, and thanks to what has happened to me here that will be a lot. I’m thankful for DePaul and their diverse student groups, organizations, and their location because I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything, and I hope you experience life-changing moments of your own here.


Friendships Abroad

As I look towards graduation just one short month away, it’s hard not to reflect on my past four years here at DePaul. I’ve taken some amazing classes, met awesome people, and overall have had countless memorable experiences. Looking back on my years as an undergraduate, I most remember the once and a lifetime experience I had when going abroad through DePaul’s Study Abroad program.
While it’s cliché to say that studying abroad was the highlight of my time at college, I can’t help but feel that way. Living and studying abroad was always something I was interested in, and DePaul could not have provided a better program. Not only do they have long and short-term options, but the number of destinations they offer all across the world is amazing. I chose to study abroad in Budapest, Hungary during the fall semester of my junior year. While I was nervous about leaving my friends and family behind, I knew that the opportunity to study halfway across the world might never happen again.

While I can go on and on about all the amazingly fun and memorable times I had while abroad in Budapest, it was really the people that I met during that semester that is most memorable. Not only was I able to meet other students from different countries, but I also got to spend those months abroad with DePaul students I never would have met otherwise. The program I was a part of consisted of over 40 students from DePaul, and it was comforting to know that someone just like me was going through this exact same experience. While I loved studying abroad and would recommend it to anyone, the friends you meet along the way are without a doubt the sweetest takeaway.  


Visiting Home

Being an out-of-state student is difficult, even though the state I am from is only a six-hour drive from Chicago. Since I am constantly working, studying, or in class, the number of times I am actually able to make it home for even a weekend are slim to none. For this reason, I decided to fly home this past Sunday and surprise my dad for his birthday. I had not been home since Christmas, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a trip back and see some of my family while also celebrating my dad.

I arrived in Ohio Sunday morning and spent the entire car ride to my house laughing and catching up with a few of my siblings. When we made it home, they all went inside before me while I waited to surprise my dad. After a few minutes, I rushed inside and he couldn’t believe it! He kept asking me how I made it and did not stop smiling for the longest time.

Although spending a day at home was a very short trip, it was also just what I needed and I am thankful to have been able to make it for my dad’s birthday. Being fairly far from home with no family in the city can start to become a little tough after a while, so it’s important for me to make time to go home and see my family. Although I usually force them to come visit me in Chicago because I love showing them around the city and introducing them to my friends, sometimes I miss spending time in the place where I grew up. Hopefully, my family will be visiting me in Chicago sometime soon! ​

Chicago Eats: Beatrix Market

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

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

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


Beat the Winter Blues

Chicago is known for a lot of things: Navy Pier, the bean in Millennium Park, deep dish pizza and unfortunately, extremely long winters (I say as I write this in April). One day while waiting for the train, a friend of mine noticed that the heat lamps had a sign that read “operate November 1 through March 1”. He asked if the winters were truly that long, to which I nodded unhappily. Once the cold months hit, it’s hard to imagine a time where the sun was a consistent part of each day. Fortunately, after living in the Midwest for nineteen years, I’ve gotten some insight on a few things that can help you battle the long winters.

Remind Yourself of the Color Green!

When the sky is constantly gray it’s easy to forget that the world was once painted with other colors. My favorite way to reincorporate green into my life is by buying flowers and succulents to brighten up the room. Additionally, Chicago has two beautiful conservatories that are both warm and free! If you don’t feel like making the trip to the Garfield Conservatory, the Lincoln Park Conservatory is a short walk from campus. They always showcase a diverse collection of greenery that serves as a wonderful reminder of what the warmth will bring

Be Healthy!

Taking care of yourself is so important, especially during the colder months. Drinking enough water keeps your skin hydrated and healthy, despite the cold air. Exercising releases endorphins into your system that both boosts your mood and helps fight stress. Also eating food that’s rich in vitamins can help compensate for the lack of Vitamin D the sun isn’t providing.

Surround Yourself with Positive People!

Several studies show that the people with whom we surround ourselves with make a big difference in our emotions, both positively and negatively. During the winter, it’s easy to isolate yourself and most of your time doing activities alone. Spend more time with friends and people that you can share laughs with, it’s more than likely that their excitement and smiles will be contagious. :)

Song of the Week: Camera- Young the Giant​


Subscription Boxes

Monthly subscription boxes are all the rage, and I have definitely fallen into their trap. With subscription boxes offering everything from clothes, skincare, makeup, food, and even pet toys; it’s easy to get into the habit of receiving a fun box full of goodies every month. The cost of these monthly boxes vary, but most of them are fairly affordable. However, over time, they can definitely put a dent in the budget. Here are some pros and cons I’ve found with these monthly boxes. 

Pros:

There is absolutely nothing better than getting unexpected mail. While subscription boxes technically aren’t unexpected, it’s still a nice surprise when they show up in the mailbox every month. Many of these boxes also allow you to customize your preferences and send you products based on what you like. Not to mention it’s a great way to try out new products that you otherwise wouldn’t have tried. Another great pro of many of these subscription boxes is that you do get a lot of bang for your buck. When I was receiving my Birchbox, a subscription box for makeup/skincare, some of the $10 boxes had $50 worth of products in them. Overall they are a fun and convenient way to try new and exciting products.

Cons:

While there is really no glaring negatives to monthly subscription boxes, there are a few small downsides. One is that the more expensive boxes do put a dent in anyone’s budget when you look at how much you’re spending annually. Another big risk I discovered with these boxes is the difficulty to quit. It was easy to justify spending so little each month in turn for receiving a box full of goodies, and that fact alone kept me coming back month after month. You also risk not liking or having a use for some of the products you receive in your box, but you can always regift!

The verdict:

Overall subscription boxes are a good deal. Be wary that you will probably have a hard time quitting once you start, so make sure to build the monthly payments into your budget. It really comes down to putting in some research and choosing which box (or boxes) are worth it to you.  


Happy Easter

Due to a busier class schedule and work, this is the first year I’m spending Easter away from my family. I’m not fond of change and celebrating the holiday in a different city was something I was dreading. Fortunately, one of my lovely friends was also spending the weekend in town and asked me to go to church with him. His love for architecture and need to explore led us to the Holy Name Cathedral, right off of the Chicago stop on the red line. The church was beautifully decorated with stained glass and lots of flowers for the holiday. Our plan was to get there early so that we could find seats but we underestimated how busy the service would be. Every row was packed with families and friendly faces, we walked around the whole building before finding a spot to sit.

The mass went by quickly and even though it was a new experience, I ended up really enjoying it. Growing up, my parents raised me to be Catholic. I’ve noticed that ever since moving to Chicago, my appreciation for the religion and the beliefs they teach has increased. Although DePaul is affiliated with the Catholic church, you have to actively seek out the religious side of campus (just look for the cardboard cutout of the pope in the Student Center). This separation has allowed me to further develop my faith because it’s something I’m looking for voluntarily.

College is all about discovering new things about yourself and staying true to the values you cherish. I love using my faith as an excuse to go out into the city and find new churches with new faces. Despite spending Easter away from home, today was one of my favorite days. Tommy and I started a tradition of eating breakfast at 2:30 pm, and that’s something I hope will never change. :)

Song of the Week: A Dog’s Adventure- Atta Boy


Learn the Language of Business

Yet, you shouldn’t read it solely because it is required, but rather for its content and relativity to your major and your forthcoming career. I recommend any student in the Driehaus College of Business to subscribe in order to familiarize themselves with the rhetoric of the business world.

I once considered subscribing to the paper version of The Wall Street Journal but was deterred because of the pricing. Now that I have to subscribe, I found that there are student discounts available. From class one up until the final exam can be as long as twelve weeks. I found a subscription for online access that costs me one dollar for fifteen weeks. Even if you prefer to read the articles as if they are in a layout of the newspaper copy, there is an option to view the print online. Other discounts I remember seeing was a combo of the print and online version for fifty dollars for the entire year.


Wait, How Old Are You?

You teach high school? But you look like you could be IN high school! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this…and sure I MAY have gotten stopped by the school security guards once or twice before.  But I’d like to attribute that to me just being in the halls at unconventional times—AKA during class periods.  Still, everyone always tells me I look so young, but what is a 22-year-old supposed to look like?  I am, relatively, young!  But when I look at my friends, I don’t feel as if I look noticeably younger than them, so what’s going on here?   

I’ll admit that I do not usually wear a lot of makeup and I don’t spend much time in the mornings selecting my outfit.  I am good to go with jeans and a tee shirt because I like to go with the flow.  Plus, I would rather spend more time in bed than in front of the mirror.  But as a teacher, I know that I need to dress professionally and I do!  Still, the comments come and although older women often tell me that I’m lucky and I will appreciate the comments soon enough, I don’t believe them. 

Whenever people make remarks or jokes about how young I look, I find it irritating.  What is the point?  To me, it undercuts the way I look and sometimes calls into question my qualifications as a teacher.  So next time you think you are complimenting someone by calling them baby face, think twice!  Because yes, believe it or not, I am a senior in college!  This too is something I had to say when I walked into immersion week as a CQM and was directed to where the freshmen were sitting… ​ 


Spring Break Up North

collageThis year, my friends and I decided to take a more unconventional approach to spring break. We made a quick run to ETC, packed our warmest clothes and drove five hours to a cute cabin in Northern Michigan where we spent the next four days shivering among nature. Despite the cold, we managed to have a really lovely weekend. After being in the city for so long, it’s easy to forget how incredible it can be to be surrounded by greenery with no sounds except the rustling of leaves and the birds singing.

As soon as the car was parked, we wasted no time to get inside the cabin. Some people stayed and started cooking dinner while others took the golf cart out for a spin. There was so much to do, but we still found time to relax. With temperatures so low, the lake was still frozen enough to walk on. It was a little nerve-wracking to have so many people on the ice at once, but we got some really cool pictures out of it. I had forgotten how beautiful sunsets could be, and you could see every color painted on to the sky when you stood on the lake. As the day darkened, spontaneity took us on a walk through the forest. If you looked up, the stars decorated every corner of the sky. Never in my life had I seen that many stars at once; we all took turns pointing out different constellations that were familiar to us.

Even though we didn’t get to escape the cold, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my spring break any other way. I got some quality time with some of my favorite people and we got away from the city stress for a while. A massive thank you to Evan for taking us to his cabin, I can’t wait to go back. :)

 

Song of the Week: Like Gold- Vance Joy​


Spring Break

This was the first year the DePaul calendar had cut our Spring break short but I found a way to make sure I had a long enough break. I luckily only had one in-person final which was originally scheduled for the last day of finals, but I knew my professor had another section of the class which had their final on the first day of exams. I planned ahead from the beginning of the quarter and made sure I studied accordingly and made sure my professor was fine with me taking my final early. Therefore, I was able to have a lengthy Spring break of a week and a half.

One would think that I went through all that work and cramming to study to go somewhere hot and tropical for Spring break like everyone else, but that was not my Spring break. I really wanted to go on a road trip with friends this break but its hard planning car situations out last minute and making your friends take off work. Instead, I spent most of my break with my family and my break flew by so fast.

My brother was home for a few days, so we enjoyed being couch potatoes for the first time in forever where we watched all the March Madness, 5 Netflix ​movies, and about 2 seasons of the Office. I hung out with my little cousins and caught up with them doing family things like puzzles and games. Finally, I hung out with my parents and I went shopping with my dad and cooked with my mom.

Although it feels like I was absolutely unproductive this break, I was happy I was back home and able to spend time with my family - which doesn’t happen too often because of school. It was so relaxing since I had no homework or tests to worry about, I essentially shut off my brain for 10 days.

Only 10 more weeks until the next break!


Top Tacos

TacosTacos are a type of food that can take on many interpretations; there are Korean style, choice of corn or flour tortilla, onion, and cilantro, or lettuce and tomato. After three years in Chicago, there are three establishments in particular that I find myself eating at the most. The evolution of my taco preferences does not only signify my maturity as a student but as a taco connoisseur as well. 

Taco & Burrito Express​

On North Halsted just a short walk from DePaul’s Lincoln Park, this was my go-to place when I had those 3:00 am Mexican food cravings. In all honesty, I do not remember what the tacos taste like, for I am one of those people who would rather order the same thing every time than to try something different and risk not liking it. Thus, I ordered the California burrito most of the time, which came with steak, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. When all others are too timid to stay open past 9:00 pm, Taco & Burrito Express does not falter from satisfying late-night appetites.

Taqueria Los Comales​

This was the restaurant I would have recommended for freshman and sophomore year. There are locations scattered all throughout of the city, but the flagship location for myself was in Pilsen. From Lincoln Park, a trip to Los Comales seems like a daunting task. Nevertheless, these tacos are so good that once I got the craving I was determined to make the journey all the way to the 18th Pink Line. What did I get every visit? Three lengua (beef tongue) tacos with a horchata.

Mary’s Taqueria​

In the middle of my junior year I found my current and only taqueria I will ever need. Some may say I am biased because my girlfriend works here and is the plug for tacos, but I can say without hesitation these tacos are my favorite. I still have the same taste for lengua tacos with cilantro, onion, and salsa verde, but I do diversify my orders now. Along with lengua, I recommend el pastor and tripe, which is the muscle lining of the cow’s stomach. It may sound gross and unsanitary, but like tongue, it will surely be an expected delight.  


Solo Spring Break

DePaul’s spring break was a little bit shorter this year, so I decided to take my exams early so I could enjoy the full week. It kicked off with St. Patrick’s Day, which Chicago is known for celebrating by dyeing the Chicago River bright green. My friends and I had the best time adventuring around the city attending various parties and get-togethers and going downtown to see the river. It was a great way to celebrate the end of winter quarter and relax a little.

Next stop for spring break was Puerto Rico. I decided to take a solo trip and go on an adventure of my own, which might seem unusual for spring break when people are usually gathering a bunch of their friends to head down to Florida or Mexico. I wanted to take a trip by myself because I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about solo travel before I study abroad this fall in Budapest, Hungary. My older sister has also taken countless trips by herself through Southeast Asia and Central America, and seeing how much she learned and grew from these experiences inspired me and pushed me to take a trip of my own.

My trip to Puerto Rico was a huge success! I was able to navigate the country pretty well, and a native Puerto Rican even complimented my Spanish skills (which I’ll be honest are very weak). It was a huge challenge, but it turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken. I saw beautiful sights, swam in the Atlantic, learned a lot about how the people are recovering from Hurricane Maria, and even formed friendships with people from all over the world who were staying in my hostels. I highly encourage everyone to take a solo trip of their own, even if it sounds daunting. My experience traveling to Puerto Rico taught me many lessons and has also inspired me to take more trips like these in the future.


Spring Break in NYC

While most people spend spring break lounging on a beach or relaxing at home, I spent mine exploring the streets of New York City. After a friend of mine graduated DePaul early and moved from the Windy City to the Big Apple, I knew I had to visit her. Though I've visited New York a bunch of times before with my family, we mostly stuck to the overcrowded tourist destinations in the past. And I have to admit, it was a completely different experience seeing the city with a local than it is seeing it as a tourist.  

Flights from Chicago to New York were surprisingly affordable, but in hopes of saving as much money as possible, I booked the earliest (and most painful) 6 a.m. flight. I was in the city for only three days, but each was jam-packed with things to do. We explored different neighborhoods, ate a ton of good food, and checked out some of the best sites in the city.

The first day was spent walking around Chelsea, a hip neighborhood in Manhattan. We explored Chelsea Market; an urban food hall that was pretty much indoor food paradise. This place seriously had food to fit any and every mood. While in Chelsea we also checked out the Highline, an elevated walkway, and greenery built on an old railroad track. With great views of the city, this is definitely something I recommend to anyone in the area.

The next day was full of exploring lower Manhattan neighborhoods. First, we walked through SoHo, a neighborhood known for its shopping and upscale boutiques. We also visited Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park, and hopped around to some quaint Irish pubs in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  The day was finished off with none other than a classic $1 New York pizza slice.

For the final day of exploring we ventured on over to Brooklyn, a quieter part of the city that was pretty much a hipster’s paradise. Like any true tourist, I had to visit the famous Brooklyn Bridge, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The iconic bridge was built in 1883, making it one of the oldest roadway bridges in the U.S.  It was surreal to finally be able to see something in person that I have seen so many times in photos. The rest of the day was spent exploring neighborhoods in Brooklyn, including DUMBO, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint.

While it wasn’t exactly the relaxing beach vacation most people like to take on spring break, it was definitely an adventure. Exploring the city through the eyes of a local made the entire experience that much more exciting. Not to mention I got to visit some of the best restaurants that I would never have discovered if it weren’t for local insights. Overall it was a successful spring break exploring one of the world’s most exciting cities.  


The Economical Brew

coffeeCoffee has become a necessity to the everyday lives of those in modern society. I must admit that I take after my father by absolutely needing a coffee in the morning in order to function. Like shampoo, everyone has their preferred coffee brand. Some have Starbucks, others Dunkin Donuts, or the local staples like Emerald City and Metropolis Coffee Company. Sure, there are those fulfilling sentiments of buying a cup and sitting in-store, but I have found that it’s best to brew the pot yourself at home.

Like my father, I have grown to like Dunkin Donuts coffee, and while special flavors like coconut or pumpkin spice are a nice treat once in a while, I have my very own daily routine. I suppose I am one of the few who takes their coffee black and cold, thus I brew my pot the night before. Does the coffee taste as good? Honestly not, but the amount of pots I can brew from one six-dollar bag of Dunkin coffee grounds is obviously more reasonable. Also, I enjoy coffee like how one would enjoy tea, wine, or whiskey; I don’t like it too sweet, I want to savor the bitterness and unadulterated flavors. As for adding flavor, I’ll mix some ground pumpkin spice or cinnamon into the coffee grounds if I am craving it. I am not advising to swap your favorite coffee brands, but to buy their coffee beans or grounds and brew some yourself.


Weekend Traveling

Last weekend I had the chance to visit my best friend from home at Miami University in Ohio. Since DePaul students typically do not have classes on Friday’s, it is easier to take weekend trips during the school year. I was able to leave on Friday morning and return on Sunday night which allowed me to spend more time with my friend and get the most out of the weekend.

DePaul’s proximity to O’Hare also makes it easier to take trips like this one. A short 30-minute drive or about an hour on the L will get you to the airport. Taking the L to O’Hare is what I prefer simply because it’s free with your student U-Pass and the ride to the airport is fairly scenic and enjoyable. However, for those 5 am flights, I usually call an Uber or a Lyft.

Visiting other schools makes me realize how grateful I am to go to DePaul and be in the city of Chicago. Most typical colleges throughout the United States do not have even close to the number of opportunities offered at DePaul because of its location, and I’m thankful I ended up in such an exciting city for my four years of college. Being away for only one weekend made me miss it here, which reaffirms that this is the school for me.


All About Orientation

Transitioning to a new place is always nerve wrecking. There are many uncertainties and everything around you is changing faster than you anticipated. College is completely different from high school and often, we don’t know what to expect. At DePaul, there are a variety of programs and activities implemented to help students adjust to the new city lifestyle. Our orientation is called “Premiere DePaul;” it is a mandatory overnight stay designed to introduce incoming students to all of the resources that DePaul has to offer.

Once you’re signed up for one of the sessions, you are divided into groups based on the major you declared on your application. An Orientation Leader (OL) is assigned to your group and they are meant to help guide you and answer any questions you may have. My group consisted of students from the College of Science and Health, and they weren’t all necessarily psychology majors. This is the first time you are introduced to your future classmates and it’s interesting to see how Chicago draws the attention of people from across the country.

Orientation consists of a lot of introductions and icebreakers for your small group as well as a plethora of information being thrown at you. While this may seem overwhelming, you can ask questions that you may have at any time and there are people there to answer them. During this time, you pick your classes for the fall quarter as well as get more familiar with the campus. There are optional tours of the university and information sessions going on at varied times. Students sleep in the dorms for the overnight portion of orientation to get familiar with dorm life.

It’s important to remember that everyone is nervous going into college and this is a wonderful time to acquaint yourself with some friendly faces. Orientation is only the beginning, so have fun, put yourself out there and welcome to your future here at DePaul! :)

Song of the Week: All Comes Down-Kodaline


Lauv at Polar Palooza

Every Winter Quarter, DePaul hosts Blue Demon Week – aka homecoming! This is a week where many campus organizations host events to celebrate being a Blue Demon. There are so many things to do such as crafts, fitness classes, basketball games, food and even a concert – not to mention tons of DePaul swag. All of this is free too, so it definitely doesn’t get better than that!

What I was most excited for was DePaul Activities Board’s (DAB) Polar-Palooza. Polar-Palooza is the concert that is always held during Blue Demon Week.

This year, they brought out Lauv. He is a musician from San Francisco but wrote his debut EP based on his time in New York where he studied Music Technology at New York University. He’s well known for his singles’ “Easy Love” and “I Like Me Better.” Going to a lot of concerts, it’s always worrisome to me that artists will be terrible live or too flashy, but Lauv did not disappoint. He seemed like he was just having fun dancing and singing on stage.

It’s almost better that Lauv is not too big of an artist yet and is up and coming. I think it’s great that DePaul always gets artists to perform here before they get too big so you get to see them before all of that. And did I mention DePaul students get to see these artists before they are too famous...for free?

I’m really excited to see who will perform at Fest this year because the lineups never disappoint and it’s always fun seeing these concerts. Even if you aren’t too big on concerts or have not been to one, I still recommend grabbing a group of friends to go because that plays a large part in your concert experience. 


Study Abroad Opportunities

I just found out I received a scholarship that will enable me to study abroad in Budapest this fall, and I’m so excited! Study abroad scholarships at DePaul are easy to apply for and can be extremely helpful in regards to saving on travel and living expenses. My scholarship pays for half of the fee to study abroad, which means I will likely be able to participate in the program.

DePaul study abroad programs range from week-long trips during Spring Break to academic year-long trips, and everything in between. The program I am interested in lasts for Fall quarter at DePaul, but actually goes a little bit longer due to the difference in DePaul’s quarter system and my study abroad institution’s semester system. Rather than being in school from September-November, I will be in Budapest from August-December. Some people see this as a disadvantage, but I disagree since it will give me more time to be abroad and experience living and studying in another country.

Since DePaul has such a variety of programs, it is easy to find one that will fit your needs and preferences. DePaul’s study abroad website makes it even easier by allowing you to search for programs based on specific filters and specifications. For me, Budapest seemed perfect due to the low cost of living and prime location. Whatever you are looking for, DePaul has it!

Although I still am unsure whether or not I will be studying abroad in Budapest this fall since there are many factors to consider, I’m grateful for the opportunity to even consider such an experience. Due to the vast array of resources DePaul offers for those interested in studying abroad, this entire process has been made much smoother and easier to navigate.


Aspiring Musicians


Visiting Friends

After struggling through midterms for two weeks, I decided to visit a few of my friends at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (U of I). Visiting friends at other schools is so much fun and it is so exciting getting a different college experience for a few days.

There are a lot of ways to get there but I took the Greyhound ​bus, which cost me about $30 roundtrip -which isn’t too bad. There are also other ways to get there like the Amtrak ​and Suburban Express, which I prefer but the times for those didn’t work with my schedule. Although I enjoyed the convenience of the Greyhound, I’m not a fan of the bus or the station. They can sometimes get crowded and aren’t the cleanest, but the prices and times are always great.

I’ve visited before and each time is always a different experience. In comparison to DePaul, U of I is practically the opposite which makes sense because DePaul is not a state school. It was weird being surrounded by corn and not skyscrapers, and having to walk 20 minutes to get to and from one class to another because the campus is 100 times larger than DePaul’s.

Although it is totally different from what I’m used to, I loved it. The campus is really beautiful and the academic buildings vary from really old antique looking to brand new and modern. I even went to a class with one of my friends and did my homework in one of their Libraries for one of the days.

If you and your friends ever have a free weekend, I highly recommend planning a visit one way or the other. There are so many ways to get places, as I mentioned, and it’s always better to catch up with friends in person.  


Professional Wardrobe

shoesAs most students will realize their freshman year, you will notice that there is far more freedom to spend your money with minimal parental guidance. Since college began I spent a lot of money, both foolishly and savvy. While I was trying to identify my own sense of style, I noticed I was lacking the appropriate attire for someone majoring in accounting. I remember the first networking events where I had to wear my father’s suit and tie, and that was the usual outfit for all my business-related occasions. Yet, I have learned a thing or two when it comes to finding a quality suit, tie, shoes, and such.

 An obvious location to buy formal wear for cheap prices is at a second-hand store such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. However, this idea is not appealing to some (me) because of the thought of not being the first owner. So, I recommend taking it a step above to the department outlet store, Nordstrom Rack. On average, the prices are well below retail, but you definitely get your money’s worth whenever there is the “Clear the Rack” clearance sale, which is usually 25% to 30% off already markdown prices. I bought Florsheim dress shoes from here, as well as True Religion jeans for only forty dollars.

The next tip is one I obsessively follow, and that is online shopping. All I have to say is do not underestimate the promo codes. These are relatively easy to find, but there are some stores where if you sign up for their email list you’ll receive a promo code. For example, Calvin Klein​’s site offers 15% off for signing up your email. Now, I am a little extra, but what I do is make a temporary email account, sign up for the promo code, use the code, delete the email account, and then repeat. That way, no matter what sales are occurring I will always have an extra 15% off. Aside from signing up for email promo codes, make an account through the supplier’s website and their reward programs, for some, will offer exclusive promotions or birthday rewards. I remember Ralph Lauren gave me a fifty-dollar gift card for my birthday and Calvin Klein gave me a 20% birthday reward. I prefer shopping Calvin Klein’s site because you are able to apply one promo code, but multiple rewards on one purchase. For example, there was a suit jacket for $425 with matching pants for $175. The sale occurring was 60% off these two, but I applied the 15% off email promo code, the 20% off birthday reward, a 10% off reward for completing a survey, and then a $20 off loyalty reward. Thus, I took a $600 suit and bought it for around $150. I use this same method for Calvin Klein dress socks, ties, and so on.


Group Fitness Fun

Aside from having a bunch of different workout equipment and machines, the Ray Meyer Fitness Center also has a variety of group fitness classes that are included in every student’s membership. Taking advantage of the Ray is something that should seriously be on top of every student’s to-do list. I’ll admit exercise isn’t exactly my favorite activity, but having a free gym membership included by being a student at DePaul is hard to beat. And because lifting weights or hitting the elliptical isn’t really my thing, the group fitness classes are my favorite way to get in a quick and fun workout. Here are my top three favorite classes at the Ray.

Barre Burn: Barre classes are fairly new to the world of group fitness, and this quarter was my first time taking one at the Ray. The class combines light dumbbell weights, dance-inspired moves, and the ballet bar for a total body workout. You don’t need to be an expert dancer by any means to do this workout. The ballet bar is mostly used as a prop to balance while doing a range of exercises that focus on strength training. You can also ditch the sneakers for this workout, barefoot or socks only!

Cycle: There’s no doubt that I was pretty intimated before taking my first cycle class. But it is seriously such a good workout and one you can easily modify to your endurance level. The class combines a variety of cycle situations, from hard uphill climbs to long sprints. One of my favorite things about cycle classes is the loud music and colorful lights in the studio. Cycle is such a great way to push your limits and get excited about working out. 

Zumba: If you’re looking to burn some calories by having a dance party, then a Zumba class is definitely what you need. This exercise is popular among people of all ages, and with good reason. The dance-fitness class incorporates Latin rhythms and simple repetitive dance moves to get the ultimate workout. Though this class is dance inspired, the moves are easy enough where anyone can get the hang of them. This is the perfect fun workout to do with friends!

For more group fitness classes check out the schedule at the Ray.   

Finding Your Creativity

photo This quarter has already proven to be incredibly stressful and busy, so it’s important to take some time every once in a while to focus on something creative. I had a couple hours of free time yesterday, so I decided to grab a friend and experiment with a photography idea I had thought of earlier.

We headed over to Levan, an academic building on campus, and found an empty classroom with a projector. I played various videos on the projector while my friend posed in front of it, and even though I’m still figuring out the correct camera settings to use for this specific idea, the photos turned out pretty well.

I’m glad I was able to focus on something creative for a little while before getting back to my apartment to work on homework for the rest of the evening. I’ve only just started learning about photography, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to de-stress. Coming up with interesting ideas for creating photos has shown me that I’m more creative than I initially thought. I have always thought I lacked creativity and was not artistic, but being forced to experiment with creating unique photos within my photography class has shown me I’m capable of more than I thought. As each week goes by and I gain more constructive criticism from my classmates and professor, I can feel myself growing as a photographer. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the quarter takes me!

Play4Polarpalooza

One of the coolest things I believe DePaul does is hold multiple music events on campus. At the end of the school year, we have a concert called DePaul Fest which has led to musical acts such as Childish Gambino, T-Pain, The Neighborhood, Logic, and many others performing for a price that’s more than affordable for all students.
But not only does DePaul give established artists a chance to perform here but up and coming DePaul students as well. I have been to many of weekly events where students host panels and performances all over campus allowing students to perform covers of songs, poetry, and even original material. For instance, this Tuesday, February 6th at 7 pm to 9 pm yours truly will be competing at the Play 4 Polarpalooza competition where six DePaul musical acts will be competing for the chance to be the opener for the winter concert, Polarpalooza. Don’t worry though this isn’t going to be me plugging myself for an entire blog. I more so just want to let any students know that this campus is a great resource to not only have your music heard by the student population but also start to get your name out there and collaborate with other DePaul musicians. I wish everybody competing the best of luck and hope anybody interested will come out to support not only your favorite blogger but the rest of your fellow DePaul students. You might see an accompanying theme to a lot of my blogs here but the gist is there are a lot of cool things that make DePaul a really great place, so definitely take advantage of them and definitely spread the word!


Stretch Out the Stress

The only downside to living in the Midwest is that the winter seems to drag on way longer than they should. Visits from the sun are less frequent and the sky seems to have forgotten that there are colors besides white and gray. I’m the type of person that needs to be surrounded by natural color in order to be productive. That’s why this weekend I decided to make the trip down to the Garfield Park Conservatory and take a morning yoga class.

Popular for its stunning displays of diverse greenery, the Garfield Park Conservatory is the perfect place to escape the winter for an afternoon. Always free and open daily, this beautiful Chicagoan gem is about 45 minutes from campus right off the green line

The conservatory has different activities that vary every month, and this past weekend a few friends and I decided to grab our mats and check out the yoga class that they offered. Accompanied by a hundred excited strangers of all ages, the room was packed and full of positive energy. I’ve done yoga in several different places, but this class was undeniably the best experience out of all of them. Decorated with a beautiful fountain in the middle, and surrounded by a diverse population of trees the ambiance of the room was perfect for a relaxing yoga practice. We enjoyed ourselves, to say the least.

There’s always something going on at the conservatory. This yoga class runs every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9-10 am. If you need a little pick me up, I would absolutely recommend you try it out. If yoga isn’t really your thing, I’m looking for someone to try the beekeeping class with me! :)

Song of the Week: Cool It Child- Hazlett


Concerts on concerts!

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

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

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

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


Apply for Study Abroad

In honor of the study abroad deadline being just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to talk about why I encourage every DePaul student to go abroad. People who talk about their study abroad experiences often sound like a broken record, going on and on about how it is life changing and their favorite part of college. I’m here to tell you that all the great things you hear about going abroad are completely and 100% true. From immersing yourself in a different culture to meeting new friends from DePaul and beyond, it’s absolutely one of the most worthwhile college experiences I have had. One of the best parts about all of DePaul’s programs is that they have something that can fit everyone’s wants and needs.

I studied abroad the fall semester of my junior year in Budapest, Hungary. As one of DePaul’s most popular programs, I got to travel across the world with over 40 DePaul students and take classes at Corvinus University located right in the heart of Budapest. The program focused on studies in commerce, society and culture in Eastern Europe, but students could choose to take classes on any number of things. While I was in Budapest I took a class on the Hungarian language, a class about Eastern Europe film and culture, and even a communications course. I was also lucky enough to have four-day weekends, which gave me a chance to travel with friends to countries all over Europe and the UK.

Though I'm partial to recommending everyone take part in the Budapest program, DePaul offers close to 100 different programs of various lengths for students to choose from. From short two-week trips to programs that are a full year long, you can truly tailor the study abroad experience to your liking. DePaul also offers study abroad fairs and info sessions for select programs that give prospective students a chance to learn what the program is like first hand from student alumni. For those looking to study abroad this summer or next fall, applications are due by February 1st.  Take a word of advice and study aboard, you definitely won’t regret it!


Wanna Go Workout?

Athletic is a word I’ve always used to describe myself. In high school, I was involved in a variety of sports and I enjoyed being active. In moving to a new city and adjusting to a more demanding schedule, finding time to exercise daily became a challenge. Lucky for me, I got a membership to the Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center when I decided to enroll at DePaul. Often referred to as “the Ray,” our gym has a multitude of options that meets everyone’s athletic needs. As someone who has zero knowledge about how to use any exercise machine besides the treadmill and gets easily intimidated by fit strangers, I usually opt for the fitness classes. From pilates to cardio kickboxing, there’s a variety of new workouts to try. These are some of the best classes that I’ve taken are

Yoga:  I used to play soccer in high school and yoga helped me stretch out my body. Not only is it a really healthy way to relax and meditate, but it’s also secretly a workout. With some ab exercises subtly woven into the practice, this class will have you do hard work without you realizing it. There’s usually at least one yoga class that runs every day so it’s easy to find a time to go, even during the busiest of weeks.

Boxing Bootcamp: A friend of mine convinced me to try this (thanks, Tommy!), and even though I felt totally out of my element at first, I ended up really enjoying myself. There is something very empowering about learning different kinds of punches and realizing that I’m absolutely capable of defending myself, should the occasion ever arise. This class does wonders for your arms. Fair warning though, you will be EXTREMELY sore after day one.

Zumba: Dancing is one of those activities that I am absolutely horrible at but continue to do because it’s so much fun. The combination of upbeat music and a room full of energetic people is such a powerful motivator and will get you through 45 minutes of intense Zumba.

I’ve grown to love the Ray and incorporate a visit into my daily routine. Going to these classes with friends is a fun activity that will encourage healthy habits (and it’s free!). Even if occasionally it means braving the cold, I know I’ll feel really good after working out. And as a bonus, they have really delicious smoothies in the cafe on the first level :)

Song of the Week: Don’t Take the Money- Bleachers  


Day and Night

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

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

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


Surviving Night Class

As an education major who volunteers at high schools during the school day, I am accustomed to having a night class at DePaul.  In fact, this quarter I have three night classes throughout the week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday!).  But even if you are not an education major, you are likely to have at least one night class by the time you graduate from DePaul.

Night classes are once a week for about three hours, usually 6:00-9: 15 PM or 5:30-8: 45 PM.  They can quickly feel quite long, but I am here to share with you a few tips that can make your experience with night class go just a bit more smoothly: 

1) Eat dinner beforehand—Nothing makes class drag longer than a grumbling stomach.  Also, this prevents you from eating dinner past 9:00 pm, saving you from late-night eating induced nightmares!  When you get home from the class you can focus on unwinding by watching an episode of your favorite TV show, rather than trying to cook something up when you are already drained.

2) Be sure your professor is giving you the 15-minute break you are allotted—Sometimes professors try and negotiate with the class on the first day regarding this.  They may offer to let you out 15 minutes early in reward for powering through the three hours uninterrupted.  Although this may seem sweet at first, it is important to give our brains a break, even if it is only for a few minutes.  No matter what, just know that the lecture/class time is only supposed to be three hours, despite the class being three hours and fifteen minutes.

3) Bring a water bottle and pack a snack—I can definitely say that I drink the most water when I am in class.  It not only keeps my body healthy, but it mostly gives me something to do when I am stuck sitting in the same position for a long time.  If boredom strikes, you can at least enjoy a quiet, light snack and cool water from the water bottle fill-up stations, conveniently located in every building.

4) Try to make friends, or at the very least exchange contact information with one classmate—This gives you someone to talk to during the break, someone to collaborate with during discussions or projects, and most importantly someone to connect with if you miss a class.  Since night class is only once a week, it is important to attend every class.  But if you are sick, it is always helpful to have someone to text right away to find out what you missed!


Being Vegetarian in College

With the start of a new year comes a long list of resolutions that usually takes a while for me to start addressing. That’s why this past November, I decided that I was going to start my journey towards self-betterment a little earlier. Over the course of the past two months, I chose to transition into a vegetarian lifestyle. Meat wasn’t a huge part of my diet before, so I thought it wouldn’t that big of an adjustment. I made this change while we were on our long winter break, and I grew nervous about maintaining this diet in college, where the food available to me was more limited.

Fortunately, I returned to the student center pleasantly surprised. Over the break, the university had built a new vegan restaurant next to the sandwich deli. “Rooted ” offers the option of a wrap, a salad or a bowl with lots of different kinds of yummy foods to mix together for endless combinations. This was my first experience with vegan food and I fell in love with it! This is my new go-to place because everything goes well together and it’s so delicious, you can’t even tell it’s healthy.

One of the things I appreciate about DePaul is how accommodating they are to students’ needs. There is a variety of foods to enjoy even with a limited diet.  In case you need some more inspiration, a few of my favorites meals are:

Salads with a lot of garbanzo beans.  Right when you walk into the main portion of the cafeteria, there’s a salad bar that’s always stocked with enough fresh greens to satisfy any salad craving.

Buffalo Mozzarella Sandwich.  The Bean is the main cafe on campus. They’re always stocked with lots of different sandwich and wrap options when you want a quick bite to eat before class. I love the buffalo mozzarella sandwich because it’s super filling and easy to take with me.

Veggie Sushi. We are fortunate enough to have a kitchen staff that makes fresh sushi every day. That’s right, FRESH sushi. The veggie sushi holds a very special place in my heart. They sell it at ETC, which can be found on the second floor of the student center. I will say that sushi is super popular and it goes quick. For the most variety, I’d suggest going early in the afternoon.

There are lots of signs and labels on foods listing the ingredients. It’s always safe to check before you eat anything. If you have any other dietary concerns, don’t hesitate to ask the staff. They’re super kind and very willing to help you find something that suits your needs. Happy New Year and happy eating! :)  


Digital Cinema

Shout out to all Digital Cinema students! Especially the ones not aware! You should use all the resources here at DePaul to your disposal. As students of the College of Computing and Digital Media, we have unique opportunities such as renting extremely expensive and high-quality equipment. I’m in my junior year here at DePaul and I certainly don’t think I’ve used these resources as much as I should have been.
But it’s never too late, underclassmen should be aware that at the Loop campus in the basement of the 14 East Jackson building there is “The Cage​” that allows you to temporarily borrow equipment. If there’s any short films, sketches, or even professional interviews you would like to do, I would suggest using these resources to the best of your ability all four years. Don’t be afraid to ask about certain materials and equipment if you’re not sure how to use them. Always make sure you’re getting exactly what you ask for and please always return it on time. 
There are many students here at DePaul waiting to use the equipment so try not to damage it either. I recently rented cameras from the cage and had one of the best filming experiences of my life. I’m personally not so handy or knowledgeable behind the camera so it was difficult at first but I learned quite a lot just to getting into it and doing what I can. I think in-class learning is a necessity but getting actual experience is just as important. So it doesn’t matter what your concentration is, rent some equipment, start filming, and get some equipment!


Study Abroad in Switzerland

“Hi, how are you?” “How was your break?” “What did you do?”

It’s the first week back from our six-week long winter break and I have been prepared to answer these same questions about 5 times a day. I’m glad I finally have something to talk about this time. This winter break I spent 10 of my days studying abroad in Switzerland and it was one of my highlights of 2017. I’m going to swiftly go through some of the things that we did on our trip and hopefully convince you to study abroad- or just travel in general.

The first full day we were in Geneva we had a tour at the United Nations in the morning then a meeting with the Ambassador from Costa Rica at the World Trade Organization in the afternoon. I still can’t believe I was at the UN and got to sit at a table with the Costa Rican ambassador with my classmates and hear about what he had to say- he was so personable I could have listened to him talk forever.

The next day we walked to cultural sights of Geneva after we had a morning at the Red Cross Museum. The Sunday we were there was our fun day! It was filled with good food and beautiful views. We went to a chocolate factory to learn about how chocolate was made and of course, we ate a bunch of amazing Swiss chocolate in the end. The chocolate from there was amazing, it melts in your mouth and tastes so clean- if that makes sense. After a morning of chocolate, we went to Gruyere Town which was a small town on a mountain where we had a raclette lunch and explored a castle.

Monday we had a visit at UNICEF which was one of my favorite visits. We met with a woman who knew so much about UNICEF and answered everything and more we asked. She was so knowledgeable about what she did and worked her way through a unique route to get to where she is now.

On Tuesday we moved from Geneva to Zurich, a larger more city-like area of Switzerland and along the way, we stopped at another castle and did some Christmas shopping in one of the many Christmas markets we had seen. On the second half of our trip, we did a lot of visits: we went to a college in Zurich, the World Economic Forum, WWF, and ROPKA. Our professor made sure we visited a good range of organizations, for example from a grassroots one (ROPKA) to WWF (such a well-known one).

Although it seems like what I enjoyed most about my study abroad trip was the food, I enjoyed every single educational visit we had more than anything. I have experienced so many different types of organizations of the nonprofit world and love the memories and knowledge I have gained from the visits we did and people we met.

I highly recommend studying abroad, especially this program if you are a business student and are interested in traveling. It’s good exposure to traveling along with an interactive way to learn about an interesting subject. I’m very glad this trip was my first experience in Europe. My Professor has created an amazing program and has inspired me to continue traveling and exposing myself to more experiences and cultures.  


#OneWord2018

It’s January—a time of new beginnings, resolutions, and future goals.  I am not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but in my English Education class, I was introduced to an intriguing idea. 

We were to choose a single word to reflect and focus on each day throughout the New Year.  Now telling someone who is thoroughly invested in the English language and its many intricacies to pick just one word for an entire year is definitely a challenging proposition.  But after watching this video in class, I was truly inspired.    

Breathe. 

I chose this word to guide me through 2018 for a variety of reasons. 

We breathe every second of every day, most of the time without even realizing it.  For the majority of us, it isn’t work to do so.  For my grandma with emphysema, it is an act of labor—one she cannot do without the assistance of 24/7 oxygen flowing through a “hose in her nose” as she says.  But together, we breathe. 

breatheTo breathe is to be alive and when life gets tough it is important to remember that even though it can sometimes be challenging, life truly is a beautiful gift. 

I am currently a senior and 2018 has been a highly anticipated year.  When I graduated high school in 2014, 2018 sounded so distant to me as I joined the “Official DePaul University Class of 2018” Facebook group. 

This year, I will student teach at Jones College Prep, graduate DePaul, and begin my life as an adult—no longer in that weird semi-independent, but still very much dependent on my parents' stage of life.   

Through all these exciting, but incredibly challenging and stressful changes, I will remind myself to breathe.  To take a step back and realize how lucky I am to live in Chicago, to attend a great university, to be able to rely on an unbelievable support system of family and friends, and to breathe—to be alive!

Though it has only been four days since I have selected my word, it has already positively influenced my perspective on this New Year and on my life as a whole.  When I am feeling overwhelmed, I breathe.  When I am feeling joyous, I breathe that feeling in too. 

So I encourage you to think, what word inspires you to tackle 2018?  What word do you want to think about right when you wake up, the moments before you fall asleep, and all the time in between?  There are so many words to choose from, but by selecting just one you can work towards living a more focused and intentional lifestyle. 

Happy New Year to all!  And don’t forget to breathe.    


Winter Break at DePaul

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

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

I hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating winter break!  


How to Save Money in 2018

Being a college student in Chicago is pretty tough when it comes to your wallet. From going out with friends to buying food and groceries, it can be hard to save money for the future. But following a couple rules and changing your spending habits can really help put some more cash back into your budget. Here’s some money saving hacks to follow in the New Year.
Use a budgeting app: Learning how to budget isn’t the first thing on any college students to do list. But figuring out your monthly income and expenses can help you understand where all your money is going. Budgeting apps make it easy to see all your spending habits right from your phone and will give you a better sense of where you need to improve.  

Check the library for required textbooks: Buying used or renting textbooks is a great way to save some extra money. But before you buy always remember to check the library. Professors often keep required textbooks in the library for students to check out. The best part about it is that it’s completely free. Textbook prices can be pretty steep, so this simple trick could definitely give you some extra money in your budget.

Pack a lunch: Between classes, schoolwork, and jobs and internships, most students are running around and out of the house for the entire day. Packing a lunch or snacks when you know you have a busy day ensures that you won't end up spending another ten dollars at Chipotle.  Plus use the money you save for going out to dinner with friends or family on the weekend!

Buy a coffee maker: Spending money on coffee is one of the biggest money drainers that I’m definitely guilty of. Splurging for a coffee or latte once and awhile isn’t so bad, but it can definitely add up. Investing in a coffee maker for your dorm or apartment is a great way to get your fix without breaking the bank.

Take advantage of student discountsStudent discounts are seriously one of the best parts of being a college student. From restaurants to clothing stores and even electronics, thousands of companies are willing to give you a deal just because you’re a student. Whatever you’re spending your money on, make sure to always ask if your DePaul ID can save you some cash.

Save spare change: The old trick of throwing your spare change and dollar bills in the piggy bank is actually a great way to accumulate money over time. Get in the habit of putting a couple dollars in a jar every few days and see how much you can make down the road.


Meet Haedy!

Hello, dears! My name is Haedy Gorostieta, and I have an ongoing love affair with iced chai lattes. I am a first-year Psychology and Spanish double major here at DePaul.  Coming from Waukesha, Wisconsin, a not so small suburb just 30 minutes west of Milwaukee, moving to such a huge city was definitely a challenge. In Waukesha, the night sky is frequently decorated with stars and there are more trees than people. Nonetheless, I’ve come to fall in love with Chicago and all that it has to offer.

Some of my pastimes include discovering new bands and adding them to my Spotify playlists, exploring the city’s green spaces, and throwing up peace signs in every photo that’s taken of me. I live for stolen hours in cute coffee shops with my trusted journal and laptop, feeding off of everyone’s productive energy, and trying to check off items on my to-do list. My favorite day is Sunday as it stands for relaxed mornings and a fresh start to a new week. You can often find me admiring sunsets or exploring unique pockets within the city. 

Just having finished my first quarter of college, I’ve come to the realization that I’m at the beginning of a life-changing journey. And what better place to bloom than in the city that never sleeps at night? I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to document my experiences through these blog posts. If they’re the slightest bit helpful, then I’ve done my job. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to stop by; it truly means the world. And if you see me strutting down the streets of campus, don’t be afraid to say hi! :)  


Meet Joe!

Hi there! I’m Joe Hendrix and one of the newest DeBloggers! I’m a junior here at DePaul University majoring in Digital Cinema  with a concentration in screenwriting. I’m from the city of Chicago and I couldn’t be happier to be at a university that allows me to stay in my hometown around my family and friends while also exploring new parts of the city I’ve never been to all while also meeting new and interesting people. As you can tell by my major I’m really into movies and television, specifically writing for them.

But I’m also into music as well, over the last couple years I’ve become fond of many different genres such as alternative R&B, underground rap, Triphop, etc. At the end of my freshmen year, I even began to start making music myself. I find it to be a fun way to express myself as I believe music is a medium that everyone at some point or another will enjoy. Music is universal.

That being said I want to be a jack of all trades when it comes to my career. I’d like to create a television show, movie, album, anime, and probably some other stuff in my lifetime. I like to think of myself as a creative. I don’t want to limit myself to just one career or thing that defines me, and I don’t think you should either. People I look up to like Donald Glover are comedians, writers, musicians, and actors and that inspires me to try to go after and obtain whatever I want in life. And I’d like to hope that in the future I can try to achieve many things I didn’t think were possible when I was younger, and I hope you do too! I look forward to you learning more about me and my adventures here at DePaul! Have a nice day and always go the Vincentian ​way!


The Benefits of Finals Week

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

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

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

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

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

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


Christmas in Chicago

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

Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree Lighting

When: November 17 @ 6pm​

Where: Millennium Park

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

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival​

When: November 18 @ 5:30 pm

Where: Michigan Avenue- from Oak Street to Wacker Drive

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

Christkindlmarket: Chicago​

When: November 17-24

Where: Daley Plaza

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

Christkindlmarket: Park at Wrigley​

When: November 24-December 31

Where: Park at Wrigley

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


Fall Quarter Finals

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

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


Six Things to do over DePaul's Six-Week Winter Break

Winter break is so close I can almost taste it. And one of my absolute favorite things about being at DePaul is the insanely long winter break we have to enjoy.  So whether you’re staying in Chicago or heading home for the holidays, here are six things you can do this winter break.

Take an online class: School might be the last thing any student wants to think about over break, but taking a class during winter intercession is a great way to catch up or get ahead on your credits. DePaul even offers a lot of online classes during winter break, so you can take the class wherever you’d like!

Visit friends/family: Six weeks of break leaves you plenty of time to do some traveling. Whether you’re planning a big trip cross country or visiting friends or family nearby, winter break is the perfect time to do it.

Apply for jobs and internships: Late fall and early winter is the perfect time to start applying for spring jobs and internships. Many employers begin posting job openings during this time, and getting a head start on your resume and application process can give you a leg up on the competition!

Volunteer: Volunteering is a fulfilling and fun way to spend free time during break. Organizations and charities are always looking for extra help during the holiday season, and a few hours of your time can make a huge difference in your community.

Make some money: While classes and homework are on hold for six weeks, it’s a perfect time to make some extra cash for the future. So pick up some extra shifts at work or look for a babysitting gig over the holiday, the extra money will come in handy once school starts back again.

Sleep in: Perhaps something that is on every college student’s to-do list over break is to sleep in. Sleep is hard to come by during the school year, so take advantage of the extra time and catch up on some zzzs while you can.  


Week 9 Focus

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

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

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

​​​

Young Thug at the Metro

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

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

 


Life as an Out of State Student

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

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

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


Common Freshmen Questions

Q: What’s the quarter system like?

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What happens if you are absent?

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

Q: How do you meet people?

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

Q: What’s the best part about DePaul?

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


Debunking Study Abroad Myths

Let’s be real, everyone wants to study abroad. I mean, who wouldn’t, right? Spending a semester in a foreign country is exciting, fun, and adventurous. In fact, many study abroad alumni often credit a semester overseas as one of the best experiences of college. As much fun as studying abroad is, it can also be scary, nerve-wracking, and a total culture shock. Study abroad often gets a good rep, but there is some controversy out there surrounding the entire experience. After studying abroad in Budapest during the fall of my junior year, I learned a lot about what the entire experience is really like. Here are some of the most common ideas out there I hear about studying abroad, and why I think they’re not entirely true.

You’ll fall behind in credits: Many students think that you can only take electives while studying abroad which will make you fall behind in course credits. While it is true that many students decided to mainly take electives, most programs have classes that will fulfill major or learning domain requirements. So even if you don’t have any elective credits to spare, studying abroad is still an option!

It’s too dangerous: In the state of our world today, spending a semester overseas can be scary as far as safety is concerned. That being said, universities are very in tune with what’s happening in the world, and would never send students off to a country they believed to be unsafe. Many study abroad programs also have a very extensive safety protocol so the university knows where all students are at any given time.

You need to be fluent in another language: Living in a foreign country where everyone speaks a language you’ve never heard before is definitely a huge culture shock. Language barriers are one of the biggest turn-offs for students when choosing a country to study in. Knowing the native language of a country is absolutely beneficial, but not necessary. English is widely spoken and understood across the globe, and many programs have a language component where you can take a beginning level class to help learn the basics of the native tongue. 


(Fuh)n on Lincoln Avenue

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

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



Finger Lickin' Chicken

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


Halloweekend 2017

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


What is the UCWbL?

I have worked at the UCWbL for a little over a year now and this experience has greatly impacted my time as a DePaul student.  As a tutor, I have worked with students to brainstorm topics before they have even begun to write.  I have spoken with international students in comparing Chicago to their own cities, while simultaneously helping them to grow their English vocabulary.  I have even assisted students in organizing and designing their online portfolios through Digication. 

Many students do not realize all that the UCWbL offers and more students should really take advantage of our diverse services.  Some may think that they don’t have time to make an appointment, but with five different kinds of appointments, there is something for everyone: 

1. Conversation Partner: English Language Learning (ELL) students practice their vocabulary, grammar, and overall conversation skills in-person. 

2. Face-to-Face: Students collaborate in-person with their tutor during any stage of the writing or project process.

3. Online Real-time: Students meet and collaborate remotely with their tutor over video and live text chat.

4. Screencast Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides audio and visual commentary via a 10-15 minute video clip. 

5. Written Feedback: Students submit a draft and their tutor provides written marginal comments and a detailed summary note.

Note: Appointment options 1-3 require students be present during the actual appointment time, whereas options 4 and 5 do not.  Rather, in these options the tutor works independently on writers’ submissions and they receive feedback after the appointment is over.

The benefits of making an appointment at the UCWbL are countless, but I will leave you with a few:

1. Second Opinion: It is always great to receive feedback and you as the writer get to decide what the tutor focuses on.  Whether you need to be reassured that your thesis is strong, double check your APA citations, or brush up on your grammar, having a second pair of eyes can’t hurt!

2. Minimizes Procrastination: Making an appointment allows you to set deadlines for yourself.  Whether you are brainstorming with a tutor or receiving feedback on a draft, with an appointment at the UCWbL you are not leaving your assignment until the last minute.

3. Possible Extra Credit: Some professors offer extra credit if you take the time to make an appointment at the UCWbL.  Be sure to ask if you are on the hunt for an extra point or two!


Finding an Internship in the City

Handshake: DePaul makes getting an internship so much easier with their online career platform site that is exclusively for DePaul students. Handshake has thousands of jobs and internships listed, as well as career-related events and resources. Because the site is for DePaul students only, it’s a great resource that can help you gain an edge over the competition.

Career Center: The career center is an amazing resource that DePaul offers and students should definitely be taking advantage of it. When I was looking for internships, I met with an advisor several times to strengthen my resume and create focused and concise cover letters for various positions.  The career center also offers interview tips, career fairs, advising, and so much more.

Clubs: Joining one of DePaul’s many professional clubs is a great way to meet people with similar interests and start networking with professionals outside of DePaul. Many of these clubs have networking events that can help you build connections and may even lead to a job or internship.

Follow up: This is a simple tip that can make all the difference in scoring an amazing internship. Following up with companies you have applied to can make you stand out from other applicants and give you a competitive edge. A simple email or phone call is a great way to show employers how interested you are in the position.

Email notifications: There are tons of job websites out there that can notify you when new companies are looking for an intern. Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn are always posting new jobs and internships for college students. A lot of these sites have a weekly email notification that tells you which companies are currently hiring.  


Short Trip to D.C.

This summer I visited my brother who lives in Arlington, Virginia the week before school started. This weekend I was thinking about all the places I visited when I was there so I thought I should write about my trip for my blog post. A lot of people visit the D.C area because there is so much to see around there so I narrowed it down to a few of my favorite places I visited.

National Gallery of Art - East Building

The National Mall is extremely overwhelming. I thought I enjoyed museums until the National Mall but there are way too many museums to visit and it certainly gets boring after a few museums. If I had to pick my favorite building along the National Mall I would say it was the East Building of the National Gallery of Art- mostly because I’m a huge art gallery fan. This was the contemporary and modern art building and I really enjoyed it and I definitely recommend going here if you’re an art fan.


Washington Monument

To be honest my favorite thing about the Washington Monument were all the fun pictures that I was able to take interacting with it (I didn’t upload any on this page because my brother is terrible at taking pictures.) But I suggest the classic holding the monument in your hands or casually leaning on the monument like it’s your best friend.

This art museum along the National Mall was super cool because they had a few interactive exhibits. For example, the picture on the right was an interactive outdoor exhibit by a Japanese artist, Yoko Ono, where people can write wishes on a tag and attach it to the tree. There was also one indoors called “My Mommy is Beautiful” and people could write things about their mothers.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial was the first place I visited and it might have been one of my favorites because my brother kept reminding my mom and me that this is his favorite place. The memorial was very quiet and respectful which is why I enjoyed it so much.

Arlington Cemetery

My brother lives in Arlington and this was my favorite place we visited out of all the places I visited from the five days I was there. This was another peaceful and respectful place which made the long walk through the entire cemetery worthwhile because everyone was paying a lot of respect throughout the entire cemetery.


The Van Gogh Universe

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


Alpha Omicron Pi Semi-Formal

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

Here are a few reasons why:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chicago Holiday Bucket List

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

Lincoln Park ZooLights​

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

Skating at Millennium Park​

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

CTA Holiday Train

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

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival​

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

Christkindlmarket

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


Treat Yourself

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

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

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

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

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


Nashville Hot Chicken in Lincoln Park

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


Chicago's Music Scene

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

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


Meet Olivia! (No, This is Not a Repeat Blog)

It was my second day of freshman year.  Classes had not yet begun and I ventured out of my dorm alone to attend Sunday Night Student Mass at St. Vincent DePaul Parish .  I remember sitting in the pew by myself for the first time.  I had always gone to church with my parents, but now it was time for me to independently live out my faith as an adult. 

After mass ended, a student announced that any freshmen interested in attending a first-year student retreat should meet at the back of the church.  I had attended a few retreats in high school and enjoyed them, so I decided to stay.  And boy am I glad that I did!  There was a small group of students gathered to learn more information and I introduced myself to one of the girls standing there.

“I’m Olivia,” I said nervously.  “No way, I’m Olivia too!” she smiled.  I laughed and I asked her if she was going to go on the retreat.  She nodded and so we both signed up.  We continued to talk as we walked out of church together, finding out that we both wanted to be high school English teachers too.  A few weeks later we were reunited on the retreat and became inseparable ever since! 

Flash-forward to today and we are still best friends.  We lived together for two years (sophomore year in Centennial Hall and junior year in Sheffield Square ) and have more similarities than we can count.  But we also have our differences and we use these to challenge each other to become even better people.  The only thing better than being friends with Olivia is being able to introduce ourselves as “Olivia and Olivia” wherever we go because we are almost always together.  

It’s crazy to think that I would have never met Olivia if I didn’t put myself out there in attending mass alone that second day of freshman year.  Sometimes you want to do things that others you know may not want to do and in doing that you can meet new people that you have something (or in my case, almost everything) in common with.  So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new things, alone or otherwise!  


An Afternoon in Chinatown

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

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

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

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

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#WhyApply

When I was a senior in high school, my head was spinning with the thought of all of the colleges I could apply to and potentially attend. It seemed as if the opportunities were endless, which caused me to feel extremely overwhelmed and unsure of which choices to make. One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to attend school in a city filled with opportunity and potential for growth. I wanted to be in a place where I could do a million different things and not feel as if I was limited in any way. For me, that ended up being Chicago due to its location (six hours from home) as well as my love for the city and all that it has to offer.

Once I knew I wanted to go to school in Chicago, the next step was to decide which school was right for me. My situation was a little bit different than your average applicant because I applied before I even visited DePaul due to being an out-of-state student. By spending a lot of time on DePaul’s website, I gained some insight that led me to realize how important service is to the DePaul community. As secretary of my high school service club and an extremely active volunteer in my community, I knew service was something I wanted to continue to be a part of in my college career. DePaul’s emphasis on service was a large factor in my decision to apply as well as one of the reasons I was drawn to DePaul in particular over other Chicago schools.

Once I applied to DePaul, the decision to attend school here was fairly easy. It’s cliché to say that once I stepped on campus it felt like home, but it did. DePaul is unique because it does not feel like you are constantly surrounded by the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. When you are on campus in Lincoln Park it feels like a college campus, and when you are downtown in the Loop it feels like you are right in the middle of Chicago. You could go from a class in 14 E. Jackson to an internship with any of Chicago’s Fortune 500 companies within ten minutes. On the other hand, you could also go from a class in Lincoln Park to relaxing on North Ave. Beach within about twenty minutes. At DePaul, you really do have the best of both worlds, and this is another significant reason that I was drawn to this school in the first place.

Good luck to all of you seniors who are in the application process! I know you’ll find the right school for you, and hopefully, that means being a blue demon for the next four years here at DePaul.


#WhyApply

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

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

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

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

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


#WhyApply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bid Day

As recruitment came to an end last weekend, my nerves were at an all-time high. The night before bid day my roommates and I stayed up late running through every possible scenario, but we really did not know what to expect. On Sunday morning, hundreds of girls crowded into Cortelyou Commons to wait to see which sorority gave them a bid, and it was such an exciting environment! Everyone was dancing and having a good time while trying not to think about the sealed bid cards our recruitment counselors were holding.

When I opened my bid, I found out that I had received it from Alpha Omicron Pi. When I met with them for Preference Tea on Saturday I had really enjoyed the conversations I had and the people I spent time with, so I was really excited to receive an offer to join. After finding out my bid, I walked over to the quad where I “ran home” to Alpha Omicron Pi​. It was such a heartwarming experience to arrive at their spot on the quad and receive countless hugs from people I was excited to get to know better. Spirits were high and everyone was happy and excited to see the new members of their chapter.

After hanging out on the quad and taking tons of pictures, we headed to Buckingham Fountain to take even more! Everyone boarded trolleys and we ended up blasting some throwback hits and singing our hearts out the whole way there. The girls in AOII were all incredibly welcoming and inviting, which made the experience that much more fun.

Once a million pictures had been taken, we boarded the trolleys once again and headed back toward Lincoln Park to an arcade called Replay. When we arrived, there was tons of food waiting for us and free games to play ranging from pinball to Pacman. With icebreakers, good food, and lots of laughs, we ended the day right and had a blast doing so.

Bid day was a really great experience for me this year, and I am so glad I ended up signing up for recruitment and giving Greek life a chance. Although I came in with a lot of preconceived notions and misconceptions, the process taught me a lot about what Greek life at DePaul truly stands for, and I am incredibly excited to find out all that this year has to offer within AOII​ and the Panhellenic community as a whole. ​


Best Places for Book-lovers!

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

 Myopic Books

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

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

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

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

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

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore​

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

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


How To Spend a Dark Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Never Bored on Eboard

Last week I wrote about getting involved, but this week I wanted to specifically dive into what it’s like to be an Eboard member.  For those of you who don’t know, Eboard is short for Executive Board.  This sounds super fancy, but basically, it just means that these members are elected to lead a campus organization.

In the spring of my sophomore year, I was elected to serve on Alpha Phi Omega ’s Eboard as the pledge educator.  As the pledge educator, I led weekly pledge classes to help new members get to know the ins and outs of the fraternity.  I really enjoyed this role because it allowed me to connect with our newest “bros” and get some practice leading a classroom, something I always appreciate as a future high school teacher. 

But something I did not think about when I ran for the position was the other part of being on an Eboard—working as a group.  I am not going to lie; being on Eboard was quite stressful at times.  Trying to coordinate six different schedules to coordinate meeting times, plan events, and keep our 60+ members happy sometimes felt as painful as a group project (and who likes those!?). 

But learning how to collaborate effectively with my peers in a new way was extremely beneficial in allowing me to learn more about myself and in preparing for the professional world.  Here are three things I learned as an Eboard member:

1.      Communication really is key: I know that is literally so cliché, but there were many times when our Eboard was a mess because people went totally MIA (including our VP of Communications ironically!).  If you are having a busy week, that’s ok.  Just let the rest of Eboard know so that they can cover for you.

2.      Some things are just out of your control: Our Eboard had a lot of lofty goals at the beginning of our term, but some of them were just impossible to achieve due to things outside of our control.  Planning takes time and we often were running out of it due to the speed of the quarter system.  We also struggled with the commitment and energy level of our members at times.  We could only control what we put in, not necessarily what they chose to take out, which is important to remember when leading a group. 

3.      No matter what, leadership is truly rewarding: Whether things were running smoothly or there were many bumps along the way, knowing that I was leading an organization in achieving their goals was exciting!  I loved leading the class, chapter meetings, and events because it allowed me to appreciate the Eboard before us and after us as well as all the leaders in my life. 

 


A Day Outside the City

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

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

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

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


Good Luck Finishing This Sandwich

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

The Responsibilities of an Apartment

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

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

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

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

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

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Family Weekend

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

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

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


Best Study Spots in the Loop

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

Goddess and the Baker​

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

HWL

Harold Washington Library ​

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

Two Zero Three​

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

Peach and Green​

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


What I Learned From My Freshman Year at College

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

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

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

2. Capture it. Write it.

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

Journal

3. Do more of what you love.

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

4. Keep an open mind.

This one is simple.

explore

5. Adventure/ Explore!

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

6. You are more than a grade.

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

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


Panhellenic Recruitment

As I start recruitment this week, I’m excited to get to know how Greek life at DePaul differs from my initial misconceptions. Meeting each chapter and getting to know the girls who are a part of them is something I’m looking forward to, and I’m hoping that my open-mindedness going into this process helps me to find what works for me, whatever that may be.

Even if I don’t find my “Home away from home” as many sororities proudly advertise, I hope to take some lessons away from the experience of recruitment and learn more about myself as well as the countless girls I will be meeting. Although I am anxious about how the whole process will play out, I also can’t wait to start meeting all of the strong women who represent the 8 chapters at DePaul.

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Getting Involved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dorm Room Essentials

Let’s be real, living in a dorm room isn’t the most glamorous thing any of us have done. Between the drab walls and furniture, and sharing a small space with a complete stranger, moving into the dorms can be a bit daunting. Despite the fact that it may not be the most ideal living situation, dorm life lets you meet tons of new people from all corners of DePaul. Here are some of the must-have dorm room essentials that will help you survive the year.
RoomPower strip: This is the holy grail of an essential dorm room item. Odds are you are only going to get one outlet to yourself when living in a dorm, and let’s be real, that’s not going to cut it. Power strips are a quick and cheap fix to make sure all of your essential items stay powered up – just make sure it is surge protected. 
Handheld steamer: If you’re anything like me, then 95% of your clothes are wrinkled before you even get a chance to wear them. And lugging an ironing board into your dorm’s laundry room isn’t the most ideal fix. A simple handheld steamer will make sure your clothes stay fresh and wrinkle-free. Use it for bed sheets too!

Seating storage: When you’re living in a dorm you need to take advantage of storage wherever you can get it. Seating storage is a great way to add another sitting area to a small dorm room while also getting a small space to store your things. This is the exact seat I had when I lived in the dorms.

Shelf

Closet storage: Again, I can’t stress how important storage is. I was mildly horrified when I walked into my dorm room and saw how small the closet was. But fear not, the way you use the space is far more important. From shoe organizers to hanging shelves, closet storage will seriously save your life while you live in a dorm.

Microwavable mug: Not going to lie, this is an item everybody should have, whether you live in a dorm room or not. A big, microwave-safe mug (like this one) is seriously a genius invention. You can use it for the essential college meals, like microwave mac and cheese, but it can also be used in an attempt to actually cooking a real meal.  You can make things like steamed vegetables, mug cakes, and even omelets!

Miscellaneous dorm room essentials: Throughout the year you’ll find yourself needing the most random things for your room. Among those are TONS of command hooks, velvet hangers, a mini tool kit, a first aid kit, and a Brita water filter.

Happy dorm living!  


Cherish Your Amazon Prime


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

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

PrimeNow

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

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Welcome Back!

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

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

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

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

Succulents and Pens

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


Meet Richa!

Hi, readers!

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

Books

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

Richa

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

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Lakeview Living

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

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

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

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



Meet Sarah!

Hey y’all!

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

pride

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meet Olivia!

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

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

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

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

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

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


(Re)Discovering Chicago

 This year, as a senior, I experienced my first Immersion Week.  For those of you who don’t know, Immersion Week is a unique DePaul opportunity that allows you to meet with the class of your choice every day from 9am-5pm and embrace one of DePaul’s many catchphrases: The City Is Our Classroom. 

Most people enjoy this adventure during their first quarter at DePaul, as freshmen.  This allows them to get the hang of the public transit system, explore the city’s neighborhoods, discover the hidden gems of Chicago, and of course bond with fellow first-years.

As a first-year student just a few short years ago, I had chosen not to arrive at DePaul a week early to participate in Immersion Week and thus opted for my Explore Chicago Dancing class.  I remember moving into my dorm room in University Hall and feeling behind.  Many of my fellow floormates already knew each other and the city better than I did due to the intensive Immersion Week that I had shied away from. 

With that being said, I am delighted that I finally amended one of my biggest first-year regrets as a senior, checking Immersion Week off my DePaul bucket list! I participated in our class Discover Chicago’s Printed Works Past and Present as a Chicago Quarter Mentor (CQM). As a CQM, I led discussions regarding campus resources, adjusting to newfound college independence, and academic success.

Before I go, I will leave you with my Immersion Week highlights:

  1. Speaking with Streetwise, an organization that allows those suffering from homelessness make an honest living by selling their magazine and providing necessary resources to help them get back on their feet
  2. Personally connecting with first-year students by reflecting on my own DePaul experiences
  3. Visiting Open Books, a used bookstore located in the West Loop that promotes children’s literacy by working with Chicago students through various in-house programs
  4. Typing on a typewriter, or at least trying to, at The American Writers Museum
  5. Bonding with our staff professional Justine and our professor, Prof. Easley over delicious Chicago meals

I totally recommend checking out Open Books and The American Writers Museum to experience their greatness for yourself. But until then, you’ll have to just take my word for it!

 

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The Best of DePaul's Welcome Week

It’s that time of year again! Time to retire your swimsuits and beach towels and trade them in for a backpack full of textbooks. Back to school time always bring with it varying emotions. Some are anxious and excited to begin a new school year, while others refuse to believe summer is coming to an end. No matter what kind of student you are, DePaul’s extensive list of back to school events will definitely have something for you. From barbeques on the quad to study abroad and involvement fairs, here’s some of the best of DePaul’s back to school events.
VIA

Vincentians in Action: Whether you’re new to DePaul or are a seasoned upperclassmen, you undoubtedly know about the Vincentian values our university prides itself upon.  Our namesake, St. Vincent de Paul, and his fellow Vincentians aimed to build a better community through service. The Vincentians in Action group is a community of students on campus who aim to do the same. As part of the welcome back events, the organization is holding an open house for any and all students interested in learning about the various opportunities available to serve our surrounding community.

Involvement Fair: The involvement fair is often dubbed an event that is solely for freshman students.  Despite its rep, the fair is great for any student who wants to get involved around campus. With groups from all different walks of life, anyone can find an organization that interests them. Joining an on campus group is a great way to meet new people and get involved around DePaul.  

Vinny Fest

Vinny Fest 2017: Vinny Fest is an annual gathering of DePaul students and faculty held on the Lincoln Park quad. The festival is a celebration in honor of St. Vincent de Paul’s Feast Day. During the celebration, there will be games, raffle prizes, Vinny trivia and plenty of snacks for all. This is a fun and laid back event that gives students the opportunity to hang out with fellow classmates and show some DePaul spirit.

Study Abroad Fair

Study Abroad Fair: No matter where you are in you DePaul career, it’s never too early (or too late) to think about studying abroad. The Study Abroad Fair is a great way for students to learn about the over 70 study abroad options DePaul offers. From long to short-term programs, DePaul offers study abroad experiences all over the globe. The fair will feature many study abroad alums, so you can learn from students who have first-hand experience studying through DePaul’s program. As a study abroad alum, I definitely recommend this event!


The Grand Finale

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

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

DePaul University, you’ve been good to me. 

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

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

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

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

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

Josue Ortiz
Class of 2017   

Greeked Up!

Greek Fest
 
It was a beautiful early summer night following a late night excursion to Oberweis. Rather than take the brown line back, I decided to walk - given the warmth and stillness that is otherwise rare during the day. Making my way south down Sheffield, I walked through an empty street lined with a set-up of tents. Turns out I was amidst the aftermath of the first day of Lincoln Park’s Greek Fest. 

The next day, in between apartment showings, I thought it’d be a good time to check out the fest and maybe even taste some food from a different culture. Free admission…nice. Live music and dancing…nice. However, it is the food I am most focused on. Looking at the menu I notice the familiar gyros, but many others that are exotic. I kept true to my word of venturing from the familiar and asked someone what certain items are, such as moussaka, pastitsio, and spanakopita. I decided to go with the pastitsio, which can be described as Greek lasagna made with macaroni, ground beef and béchamel sauce. I thought the twelve-dollar price was typical for a festival, but the portion was not. Served with a side of rice, this was a fulfilling portion that should have been considered my dinner. 

I was glad to have popped into Greek Fest, even if it was just for a quick meal. I made sure to visit at least one cultural fest this academic year since I missed Pilsen’s Mole De Mayo for the second year in a row. Word of advice, give up the burger and fries for a day, look for a festival in your area, find something on the menu you cannot pronounce, and order it. 

Graduating!

Last Sunday, I sat in Allstate Arena at the College of Science and Health’s commencement ceremony. I know everyone often says this, but I cannot believe that I am finished with undergrad! It seriously went by so fast, and were truly some of the best and transformative years of my life.

I have made many wonderful friends, some of whom will be FFL (friends for life). I struggled through my sophomore year, switched my major, and found something I am really passionate about. I became more confident in and steadfast to myself, and developed strong morals and convictions. 

Sarah
I grew a heart for people and for the world, and am determined to make a difference in my future career. I found a church I love (Park Community Church-- go check it out!!) and met inspiring people that have influenced my faith journey and walk with God. 

I fell in love with Chicago, which really isn’t a hard thing to do, even despite its winters. I studied a lot, and continued to develop my love of learning and knowledge. If I were to pick one word to describe these last four years, it would be growth. 

Thank you, DePaul, for the past four years. I have immensely enjoyed my time here in Chicago and am appreciative for the ways the city has been transformative. Thank you as well to those who have tuned in weekly to read about my life. It has been such a pleasure to update you all about my life here at DePaul and in Chicago. For the last time, thanks for reading! 

Summer in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

The Last of My DeBlogs

Over the course of two years, I’ve written about 70 blogs for DeBlogs. As I went through and counted the blogs that I’ve written, I realized that this will be my last blog that I write for DeBlogs! So, in honor of my last blog, I thought it might be fun to compare where I was in my life when I started to where I am in my life now.

When I first started at DeBlogs, I was a junior at DePaul, majoring in Spanish and International Studies, who had just found out he had been accepted to the BA/MA program in International Studies. 

Now, all I have left to do for my master’s is to finish my thesis, which I’ll do over the summer. I’ll (hopefully successfully) defend my completed thesis when school starts back up in the fall, and then I will officially be a master’s graduate!

When I applied to work at DeBlogs back in Spring 2015, I had to submit a sample blog to show that I was a decent writer, and that I could come up with something interesting to say. I had returned from studying abroad in Madrid just a few months prior to applying to DeBlogs, so I chose to write my sample blog about my time in Madrid. 

Annette's
You may have to zoom in to read all of the flavors that Annette’s offers, but it’s worth the effort. In case you were wondering, the cut-off flavor is Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownie—my favorite flavor (with Salted Caramel Pretzel a close second!).
This year, I suddenly found myself returning to Madrid in order to do research for my thesis (thank you for funding my trip, DePaul!). While the last minute trip meant that I had to push back my timeline for finishing my thesis by a few months, it was absolutely worth it. Not only did I get to return to my favorite city in the world, but I also got tons of information for my thesis.

I’d like to end my final DeBlog with my last-ever food suggestion. During my time at DeBlogs, I’ve recommended countless restaurants and bakeries. As my parting gift, I urge you to visit Annette’s Italian Ice ​at some point during the summer. Of course, despite the name, I go just for the ice cream. If you go once, you’ll go again: I’ve gone like four times this month to satisfy my need to stress eat.

Farewell Freshmen Year

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

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

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

Junior Year Wrap Up

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again, and by that I mean the close of another school year. Twelve classes, thirty weeks, and one year later it’s officially time for me to close the book on junior year. Junior year is obviously a big deal, you’re officially an “upperclassmen,” yet you still feel pretty young. It’s the year most people get into the bulk of their major courses, and you start making strides toward where you want to be after college.

Budapest
I won’t lie, this year was definitely hectic. Regardless it was hands down the best year I’ve had at DePaul yet. I started out on an unforgettable note by studying abroad my fall quarter. I spent 20 weeks in Budapest , Hungary where I took tons of interesting classes, one being Hungarian language for beginners. The four months I was abroad I traveled to 10 different countries, successfully drained my entire savings account, and made some amazing memories. 

Going abroad was such a great experience, but come the end of the semester I was definitely ready to come back to America. Getting back into my daily routine at DePaul was hard, especially coming off a semester in Europe where homework essentially didn’t exist. Despite the challenging workload brought on by junior year, the best part of it was that I was that I was finally taking most of my major course classes. I was able to experience all the classes I had been waiting to take since I got to DePaul my freshman year, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. 

Brooke
One thing I did notice about this year was the fact that I kept feeling like I should be doing more. DePaul students are definitely ambitious, and it seemed like everyone around me had an internship or was making strides toward their career. It’s definitely easy to get overwhelmed and start comparing yourself to what other are doing. I realized that everyone moves at their own pace, and working yourself up and comparing your progress to everyone around you isn’t going to do you any good. Overall junior year was definitely one for the books, and I can’t wait to see what senior year brings. 

Taste of Ravenswood

Food
 
Since I saw it on television years ago, I always wanted to visit Gene’s Sausage Shop and Delicatessen ​in the Ravenswood​/Lincoln Square​ Community, so I finally made the effort up there since I now live not too far from there. 

If you’re familiar with the Denver-based Casa Bonita, the one from South Park, this is pretty much its deli-sister. This place has it all; pierogis, cheeses, and you know there is an ample supply of sausage. However, the main attraction is the rooftop restaurant. Unfortunately, due to the rainy weather, it was closed.

But, what I did not expect was running into another as seen on TV restaurant right across the street. Jerry’s is a restaurant that specializes in sandwiches, and I love me a good sandwich. From a college student budget, it can get a tad bit pricey, but you won’t be disappointed with whatever you decide on because these aren’t your brown sack lunch sandwiches your mom packed you for school. 

Besides the food, the area is unlike anything I’ve seen in Chicago yet. The restaurants are nestled on a cozy, narrow street with a small-town atmosphere that brought me back to my hometown, except there is no fountain back home. If you want pure and good food, Gene’s and Jerry’s will satisfy a sandwich craving. 

FEST 2k17

Living in University Hall definitely has its perks. One of my personal favorites is that FEST, DePaul’s annual end of the year concert, is hosted on the Quad just steps away from my front door. While the concert was happening, some people even watched from their windows instead of paying for a ticket. It was cool to be able to say that this year’s artists performed in my front yard. 

FEST
On Friday night, my friends and I attended FEST. Even though it was raining, that didn’t put a damper on the concert. This year’s lineup was Jesse McCartney and Logic, and the pair did not disappoint! I have been obsessed with Jesse McCartney ever since I was a little girl jamming out to Beautiful Soul with my sisters, which made seeing him live that much better of an experience. The entire crowd was singing all of the lyrics along with him, and when Beautiful Soul came on I’m pretty sure half of the girls cried. 

When Logic came on stage, I was unsure how it was going to go because I had not heard much of his music. As soon as he started his set, I knew it was going to be a good time. He was extremely high energy and really amped up the crowd. After Jesse had us all in our feels, Logic was able to get us dancing and unable to stand still. 

FEST
One of the best parts of Logic​’s set was that he played songs off of his new album for the first time live. We were the first audience to ever hear them! It was really cool to be able to hear his music like this, and I was really glad that he picked DePaul to be his first live audience. 

FEST was such a cool event to be a part of! I am so glad that my friends and I decided to go, and we will definitely be attending next year as well. It’s so awesome that DePaul offers an event like this right before finals for students to let loose and destress for a couple hours.  

Save Lives, Give Blood

I’ll be the first to admit that needles aren’t my favorite thing in the world. I have no real irrational fear of them, but I tend to psyche myself out every time I get a shot at the doctors. That being said, giving blood is pretty much the only time I voluntarily allow someone to stick me with a needle. We’re all familiar with the American Red Cross, an organization set on increasing the availability of blood nationwide. The organization hosts hundreds of blood drives across the country on a daily basis and is set to host a two-day blood drive right at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center on DePaul’s campus. 

Give Blood
Giving blood is a quick and easy way to help save lives. Nationwide someone is in need of blood every two seconds, and one blood donation can help save up to three lives. According to Red Cross’ website, an estimated 38% of people nationwide are eligible to give blood, but less than 10% actually do. Check out the eligibility requirements on their website to see if you can become a donor. 

Blood donation can definitely be a little scary, especially for a first timer. So here’s what to expect if you do decide to donate. On the actual day of your donation, make sure you stay hydrated. It’s recommended that you drink an extra 16 ounces of water on donation day to make the process go as smooth as possible. The actual blood withdrawal only takes about 10 minutes, but plan on the entire donation taking around an hour from start to finish. You must first go through the registration process, a mini physical to check blood pressure, pulse, and iron levels, and you finish with the actual donation and refreshments afterwards

I promise you, donating blood is a great way to help make a difference and literally only takes one hour of your time. The Red Cross says you can donate blood every 56 days, and with tons of times and locations to donate across the city, making a difference is easier than ever. The donation at The Rey Meyer Fitness Center is set to be June 27 & 28 from 3-7 p.m. Make a difference and sign up to save lives! 

Broadway in Chicago

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

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

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

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

Soccer

It all started in the summer of 2010. The United States Men’s National Team (U.S.M.N.T.) qualified for the World Cup. My friends were all talking about it but I didn’t have much to contribute. I never really watched soccer or even played it before that summer. However, as the tournament progressed the USMNT would perform well enough to make it out of the group stage. One of the more significant matches was against England as the USMNT tied 1-1 with an equalizer from Clint Dempsey in the 40th minute. 

Soccer
Along with the World Cup, my friends would also join a Sunday soccer league that was hosted weekly at Kelvyn Park. In need of some additional players, I would join the roster and go on to finish the season. This is when soccer really started to interest me. I was playing weekly with my friends in the league as well as joining pickup games at various parks in Chicago like Haas, Montrose, Foster, etc. 

When not on the pitch, we were at my friend Antonio’s house eyes glued to the T.V. as the world’s best footballers came together to compete. It was the start of what would later become a passion of mine. Throughout my four years at DePaul, I participated in the intramural soccer league hosted by The Ray as well as leagues around the city. Currently, I play in a Sunday soccer league at
Soccer
Peterson Park on the far North side of Chicago. We’ve only played one game but I’m feeling optimistic for this league. A lot of our squad consists of the same players from several years ago when I first joined the game. Also, we’re rocking some pretty cool Japan national kits. I encourage all my fellow soccer enthusiasts, players, or even just fans to check out recreation leagues throughout the city. It’s a great way to meet people, get some activity in your day, and embrace soccer culture! 

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

Side note, if you are reading this blog and play goalie or know someone that plays goalie, let me know! Our squad is looking to fill that position! 

Honors Research Conference

As I have talked about many times before, I wrote a senior thesis about maternal mortality in Afghanistan for my final project for the Honors Program. It was really rewarding to write, and I came out with a final paper that I am really proud of and a topic that I am passionate about. Every spring, the Honors Program celebrates these projects and other students’ research papers by holding the Honors Research Conference. I was able to present by paper at this conference, and it was a really cool experience.

Honors Research Conference
Overall, there were over 80 students presenting a poster, and about half of those students (me included!) were also giving a 10-minute long talk about their project. We had to design an academic poster and then create a cohesive summarizing speech about our project. Shortening my talk to 10 minutes was actually pretty hard – I had a lot I wanted to talk about! I was nervous going into the presentation, but it went really, really well. I feel like I articulated me point well and was able to give a brief overview of everything I talked about in my paper. It was also interesting to hear and learn about other students’ projects. The projects were so diverse, from healthcare to analyses of art and literature to creative writing pieces to economics.

This conference was a great experience, and one that I am sure I will have to do again in grad school. I really enjoy school, and am excited to continue learning and exploring and sharing my knowledge with others. Plus, I got to wear my Leslie Knope suit, and I’ll take any excuse possible to do that!

Rickmobile to Chicago!

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday in Agrabah

In case you didn’t know, for the past two years, I’ve been in a long(ish)-distance relationship. Even though a long-distance relationship is never ideal, we’ve made it work. To be honest, it definitely helps that my boyfriend lives just a few minutes away from my parents. While he always offers to travel to Chicago to see me, I nearly always choose to travel back home to Wisconsin since it means I can kill two birds with one stone. So roughly every other weekend, I pack my bags and head home to Wisconsin to spend time with my parents and hang out with my boyfriend.

Aladdin
However, last weekend, my boyfriend knew I had way too much to do to spend the whole weekend back in Wisconsin (it’s so hard for me to get anything done at home), so he decided to drive down to Chicago on Sunday to spend the day with me. Since we don’t get to spend a ton of time together in Chicago, I immediately started wracking my brain for something special to do. Then, the idea hit me.

I’ve written before (here and here ) about how much I love rush tickets for musicals. Rush tickets allow you to get up to two last minute tickets for popular musicals at super discounted prices on the day of the show. The catch is that the tickets are first-come, first-serve and generally pretty competitive, so you might have to get in line an hour or two before the box office opens. So, at 9:30am on Sunday, I got in line for rush tickets for Aladdin . Just an hour and a half later, the box office opened, and after a few minutes, I walked out with two tickets in the twelfth row for just $25 each.

The show is worth seeing if for no other reason than to see Aladdin and Jasmine fly around the stage on the magic carpet during “A Whole New World​.” Like, seriously, consider seeing it just for that reason. If you need even more reasons, the sets and special effects are stunning (I never knew that indoor fireworks existed). The show is seriously one of the most beautiful shows that I’ve ever seen. Plus, the actor playing Aladdin originated the role on Broadway, so you know the cast is insanely talented. 

Aladdin is in Chicago until September 10th, so if you have a couple free hours and $25 burning a hole in your pocket, definitely head on over to Agrabah!

Warm Weather

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

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

Tips for Finding an Apartment in the City

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

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

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

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

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

My New Grocery Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unwind Outside

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

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

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

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

Metropolitan Music

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


Soulja Boy at Double Door


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

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

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! 

Mother's Day in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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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 
Art
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. 

Art

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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Top 5 Surprises of Freshman Year

I’m not ashamed to admit that before coming to college I researched pretty much everything I could about what to expect. And I mean straight up Googling “what is college actually like.” Looking back, that probably wasn’t the best way to realistically prepare myself for what to expect when it came to university. But after my countless hours of research, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my freshman year would be like. But honestly, I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried. Here are the top five things that surprised me about freshman year:

Meeting people: It’s a fact that everyone comes into college worried about making friends. The plus side to that is that people are seriously so friendly freshman year. From orientation to your dorm floor, everyone wants to meet as many people as they can. I was not expecting people to be so welcoming off the bat, but I also wasn’t expecting how fast relationships come and go. The people you become friends with your first week of college probably won't stay your friends all four years of college. But don’t fret, with so many people to meet, you’re sure to find your niche.  
 
Freshman Year
Me and my freshman year roommate 
Classes/attendance: Practically all through high school my teachers would go on and on about how much harder college classes are going to be. College classes definitely have a large workload, but they are not as scary as high school teachers make them out to be. One thing that definitely surprised me was how much attendance and class participation mattered. Coming into DePaul I was expecting a classroom full of hundreds of students. In reality, most of my classes have no more than 30 students, which makes attendance that much more important. 

Homesickness: Whether your hometown is 20 minutes away or 20 hours away, homesickness is bound to get to you freshman year. Getting homesick is totally normal, but I was honestly surprised at how long I felt homesick for. Everyone always goes off to college and talks about how amazing it is, but no one really talks about how much they miss home. Though your homesickness might linger, it’s no cause for worry; soon enough college will feel like a second home. 

Money: I knew I was going to spend a lot of money in college, but I had no idea it would add up so quickly. Sure, having a meal plan saves some money and is super convenient, but the cash dwindles quickly the first year of school. From buying textbooks and schools supplies to grabbing food with friends on the weekend, money is definitely easy to spend while in college. Try making a budget or applying for an on-campus job for some extra spending cash.  

Time: When all is said and done, freshman year flew by and I was really surprised at how fast classes went by on the quarter system. Ten weeks seems like a long time to be in class, but midterms and finals sneak up on you way faster than you would imagine. Freshman year is definitely a whirlwind of emotions and new experiences, so remember to take it all in while you can. 

Lewis Watson at Lincoln Hall

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

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

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

Sprinting to the Finish Line

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

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

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

In Search of a New Home

Looking for a New Home
 
Well it happened. I will soon have to say goodbye to my Centennial apartment. After trying to get a two-person studio amidst the mad rush of applying for on-campus housing, I was not fortunate enough to snag a place at Centennial​, or anywhere for the matter. So, where do I go now?

I have now accepted the fact I will have to live off campus next year, and I am perfectly okay with that. However, I am not sure about the whole process. I do remember a workshop within EDGE Program that pertained to finding apartments, but I threw away all of the sheets and notes I was given. 

Luckily, DePaul does offer guidance when it comes to searching for off-campus housing and not just on-campus. In fact, there is a website committed to just this reason. At this link, there is an interactive experience dedicated to finding that special place to call home. The listings here are rich with details, but can be a tad bit pricey. There is also apartments.com and apartmentguide.com to expand your options.

As for myself, I have just begun the process. I’ll come back to this subject once, or if, I find an apartment for the next few years. 

Food in Chicago

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

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

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

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

There are few college students today who don’t describe their state as being “stressed out” a lot of the time, especially as DePaul students are wrapping up midterms this week. With this in mind, I wanted to seek out ways the university was helping to combat this problem.

The Ray
Sarah Hardin, Associate Director of Wellness Services and Initiatives at The Ray is part of this initiative in reducing stress. 

Wellness Services focus on the wellness wheel, which includes physical wellness, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, social, intellectual, and financial. DePaul’s goal is to offer resources for all of these, she said.

Each quarter, The Ray Meyer Fitness Center, known to students as The Ray, offers a variety of wellness workshops to go along with different types of wellness. 

This quarter, workshops have included “Eating Healthy on Campus,” “Fuel for your Workout,” a running efficiency clinic, and coming up Thursday May 11, a wellness walk and expo entailing a 1.5 mile walk around campus, raffles, prizes, and information about campus and local wellness resources​

Additionally, every quarter the week before finals, The Ray teams up with other services on campus to provide Brain Fuel Week. During this time, a variety of relaxing events are available for students, like coloring books and massage chairs in the library, make your own aromatherapy bottles, and a “DeStress Through Mindfulness” workshop on June 1.

Wellness
“The Ray is the big resource for stress relief. We are the alternative to stress,” Harding said. She also emphasized that other activities are available at the gym aside from working out, like intramural sports, a variety of fitness classes, DIY arts and crafts workshops to stimulate creativity, and a weekly midweek meditation class.

The midweek meditation is put on by the Office of Religious Diversity every Wednesday at 12:30, and is an opportunity to “take a time out, relax, and focus in on what is important to reduce stress,” she said. “You don't have to love physical activity to come here.”

A lot of individual resources are available on campus as well, like the University Counseling Services. They have a number of counselors available that target different areas, and offer different support groups, like a women’s group, and an anxiety and depression support group.

If you or someone you know is dealing with stress or other psychological distress, reach out the counseling services, or attend one The Ray’s many stress-reduction and wellness workshops. 

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!


Lessons Learned: Changing Perspective

As graduation rounds the corner, I have been reflecting a lot on what I have learned in my last few quarters of college, and the new changes that are occurring in my life. I thought I would take this chance to share with you some of the things that have come up for me, in hopes they may help you in your reflection on your own journey to, through, and after college. 

Lessons
One of the biggest lessons I am learning is to begin changing my perspective when it comes to my accomplishments. This is admittedly a huge challenge for me. I can be a very “big picture” thinker. The way I think about things always includes the larger frame of reference in the world, and in my life. With that, the things I want out of life both professionally and personally, are, in a way, big. I have big dreams of an illustrious acting career, the type of work I’ll do, the places I’ll go, the people I’ll meet, the money I’ll make—all of these things are indeed “big.”

However, I have found over the past few months that not everything I do is as “big” as I can imagine. For years I had always imagined myself on a rocket to success come graduation, while in fact, the grind is much slower than I had once thought. There is a lot of hard work and a lot of challenges and failures that will occur on my road to the success I seek – and that’s okay. I have started to realize that the things I once thought about as “small” are actually victories, and for my own mental well-being, I should honor them as such. For example, I may not be on Broadway yet, but I am understudying at a great theatre company in the fall. While in my mind there are more amazing things I desire, I have to recognize that this is actually a great accomplishment, that will lead to other opportunities in the future. And while I do not have a talent agent before graduation, I am still auditioning and booking work to do post-grad. These are wins, and I am learning to find satisfaction and pride in these things, that help me keep my spirits up as I move forward. 

Lessons
I am learning to be grateful for the challenges I am facing in the transition out of school, because I know they are making me stronger and more resilient in the long run. I’m also learning that the seemingly small things add up to a big picture that I can call success. 

So, to anyone who may be down on themselves when it comes to your accomplishments, be it the schools you did or didn’t get into, the jobs you landed or missed, the opportunities that presented themselves or not, know that even if your successes aren’t as big as you imagined, they are still successes and you should value them as such. You are still working hard, and you are still moving forward, even if the path doesn’t look exactly as you thought it would. Stay strong, be proud, and keep working. From my own experience, I can say with confidence that little steps add up to big moves. 

Creating

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

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

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


Back from Madrid

When I wrote my last blog, which feels like forever ago, I was finishing up the first half of my time in Madrid. A week later, I’ve now returned from Madrid and I’m suffering from severe jet lag. I still haven’t totally processed the fact that I just spent ten days in Madrid. While part of me feels like my time in Madrid went by way too fast, another part of me feels that I had to have spent a lot longer than just ten days in Madrid. Maybe that’s just because I did so much in ten days; according to my phone, I walked over 75 miles while I was in Madrid (the weather was amazing, so I never took the subway). I’m very happy to be home, but not so excited about returning to my uneventful day-to-day life. 
 
View from airplane
My first glimpse of Chicago on my way back from Madrid. 
The real reason I went to Madrid was to do research for my thesis, and surprisingly, my research actually went way better than I ever anticipated. The DePaul Graduate Research Fund paid for me to go to Madrid so that I could visit both the National Library of Spain and an independent archive to gather sources for my thesis. However, I unknowingly booked my trip during Easter festivities in Spain, so the library and the archive were closed for several days while I was in Madrid.

To make matters worse, about a week before I left for Madrid, the archive’s website suddenly said that the archive would be closed until January 2018 for renovations. Just my luck, right? WRONG. Even though I was convinced the archive was closed, I was also pretty deeply in denial. One day, because I’m so obsessive, I decided to take a quick walk just to at least see the building of the archive. Shockingly, I discovered that not only was the archive open, but also that I would be able to take home copies of the documents that I wanted to study!

Before becoming convinced that the archive was closed, I had planned to spend three days at the archive, taking notes on as many documents as I could go through. Now, in a fortunate twist of fate, I could take the documents home, spend as much time on them as I wanted, and spend even more time at the National Library in the meantime! For a master’s student, that’s about as exciting as things can get. Now to get back to actually writing my thesis.

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. 

Ice Cream in the City

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

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

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

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

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


Wig Out!

The latest show to open on the mainstage this spring was a fabulous play WIG OUT! This wild and unique show features a super talented cast of BFA and MFA students from our acting program here at DePaul, and directed by MFA director Nathan Singh. This play dives into the world of an underrepresented community of queer people of color, it is a story that doesn’t often get told, and for this reason it was a very welcome addition to our mainstage season.

Wig Out
Our website describes this play:

Welcome to the underground drag scene, a place where many gay men create families for themselves. The legendary House of Lights is one such family. As they prepare for a competitive ball with a rival house, each member confronts their identity within the family. Wig Out! is an electrifying tale of community, queer sub-culture, and sexuality by Theatre School alumnus Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Themes: How far will we go to feel loved, accepted, and celebrated?


This play was written by Academy Award Winner Tarell Alvin McCraney, who is a Theatre School alumnus. It is an honor to be producing a play written by a member of our own TTS family, not to mention such an amazing artist.  As part of the programming for this show, Tarell came to The Theatre School to join the post show discussion for this play as well as speak to the students of TTS about his successes since leaving DePaul.

The cast features Vincent Banks (Venus), Michael Cohen (Lucien), Matthew Elam (Wilson/Nina), Kayla Forde (Faith), Keith Illidge (Deity), Tia Jemison (Fate), Michael Morrow (Rey-Rey), Skylar Okerstrom-Lang (Loki), Isaiah Rush (Eric), Nick Trengove (Serena), and Sola Thompson (Fay).

Wig Out
The production team includes
scenic design by Maggie Armendariz, costume design by Hailey Rakowiecki, lighting design by Emmaleigh Pepe-Winshell, sound design by Connor Ciesil, dramaturgy by Cassandra Kendall and Patricia Mahoney, and stage management by Ben Gates-Utter.

Come check out The Theatre School on the corner of Fullerton and Racine. As always, student tickets are $5, and $15 for the general public. For ticketing info visit our website.

Stay Fabulous DePaulians!

A Day in Lincoln Park

On Saturday I took my sister and her friend from out of town here, and we spent the afternoon walking around Lincoln Park. My sister wanted to show her some of our favorite places, so after going to Kibbitznest and playing scrabble, eating chocolate croissants, and doing art, we walked through DePaul’s campus to the infamous parking garage where you see the whole skyline. It’s known because it used to have “the city is yours” spray painted on the top, but that since has been covered up.

Kibbitznest
After we walked through Oz Park, and made our way to Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, a tapas restaurant that has been there since my mom lived in Lincoln Park in her twenties. It was a beautiful atmosphere and beautiful night. It made me appreciate just how many things there are to do within walking distance from campus.

If there had been more time/if it was open, my number 1 favorite place in Lincoln Park is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool right next to the Lincoln Park Zoo. You walk in and feel like you’re in a whole new world covered with flowers and stones and water and birds – every color is so bright. My favorite thing to do sophomore year was go on a run to there and then sit with a book or journal and enjoy the beautiful view.

Why I Chose DePaul

As an out of state student, I've gotten asked why I chose DePaul more times than I can count. For me it was honestly a no brainer. Between the location, the academics, and the opportunities DePaul is able to give students, it was the perfect fit. Despite committing to DePaul being an easy decision for me, I know the stress the entire college application process puts on a student. After the countless admission essays, college tours, and weighing the costs of different schools, I was more than excited to finally make my decision when May 1st came around. Here are some of the top reasons why I chose DePaul.  

Academics: Even before I graduated high school I knew I wanted to study public relations. When looking up PR programs while I was applying to colleges, I continued to stumble upon DePaul’s program. Through research I was also able to find that PRWeek recognized DePaul as one of the top five PR schools in the U.S. three years in a row. Despite the fact I knew what I wanted to major in long before I my first day of college, I know tons of students go into college undecided on what major they might choose. The great part about DePaul is they literally have a major for everybody. Even though I was fairly certain I would stick with PR, I could rest easy knowing if I wanted to switch majors, I had a ton of options to choose from. 

Choosing DePaul
Location: I grew up on the seacoast of New Hampshire in a pretty tiny town. And needless to say, I was eager to move to a big city for college. Boston was too close, LA too far, and New York too big, which made Chicago the perfect fit. The past three years I've spent living in Chicago has been such an amazing experience. There are tons of great foods to eat, shows to see, and festivals to visit. Not only is it a fantastic city to explore, but the career opportunities that can be found throughout the city was something that immediately drew me to DePaul. When I first toured here and heard that many students get real life experience through internships around the city I was beyond excited.   

Campus life: Campus life is also a huge factor that made me choose DePaul in the long run. This includes everything from Vincentian service opportunities, on campus groups and clubs, and study abroad opportunities. While at DePaul I've been apart of tons of different community service projects across the city, joined clubs, and even spent a semester studying abroad in Budapest​. I remember when I first toured DePaul and it seemed like nearly every student was doing something they loved outside of class hours. No matter what interests you, there is a group here on campus that would be a perfect fit.


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. 

Chicago Jazz Showcase

Chicago Jazz Showcase
 
In order to get my money’s worth, I try to enroll in a two-credit class every quarter. I might as well if I am paying for eighteen credit hours. For the winter quarter I decided to take a five-week class that pertained to jazz in Chicago. I am a fan of nearly all types of music, but jazz is a genre I am not so familiar with. 

First off, it was not only an interesting class, but easy as well with minimal work. Most classes we spent listening to jazz through CD’s or YouTube videos, or watching documentaries. The most engaging component of the class was Professor Joseph Cunniff’s requirement of attending the Chicago Jazz Showcase at the Dearborn Station​, not too far from the Loop campus. Founded by Joe Segal, he has kept the showcase alive for seventy years now, with Joe still manning the entrance and collecting money. The showcase has seen many greats such as Count Basie and George Benson, and for a modest fee too. I paid around fifteen dollars because Cunniff has connections of course, having been in a jazz band himself. Whether you’re a fan of jazz or just curious and want to explore it more, this would be the prime location to hear good live music. 

Reasons Why Working on Campus Is the Best

NSEW
As I’ve talked about before, I work at the front desk of the College of Computing and Digital Media in their advising office. I’ve had this job for over two years now, and I love it. I get to interact with so many students that come in, the advisors are great to work with and willingly answer all of my questions, and I couldn’t ask for a better boss. These past two years I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with unpredictable health issues/medical withdrawals, and she lets me back with open arms every single time. It’s incredible.

Once a quarter we have a student worker meeting, usually on a Friday afternoon, to discuss how things are going, changes we should make, etc., but when I walked into last Friday’s meeting, we were showered with gratitude, posters with our pictures on it, spirit animals, and lots of treats. Last week was National Student Employment Week ​and to celebrate, they gave each of the five student workers a basket filled with contributions from each of them. Mine was filled with baked goods, fun socks, art supplies (because I’m often found drawing and painting at the front desk/making everyone art), and so many nice words. They brought in snacks and brownie sundaes and we all hung around (and, here’s the icing on the cake: got paid to do so!)  

NSEW
I’ve had a number of jobs and also have friends who work on campus either at DePaul or at other colleges, and I’ve never appreciated one this much or found someone to describe an equivalent position in the same way I’d describe working here. I can recall so many days at jobs I’ve had in the past where I woke up dreading coming in or had stress dreams about work, woke up thinking my shift was over, only to realize that was fictional and I still had to get up and go. If that’s ever happened to you, it’s the worst.

Logistically, the perk of the schedule changing every quarter to line up with our changing class schedule has relieved so much anxiety, and somehow always works out. Since we’re all in positions of having weird availability around class times, I’ve had days where I only work for two hours at the end of the day, days where I work the entire shift, and days when I come in, leave for two hours to go to class, and then come back. 
NSEW

And, let’s be real, any job where you can also do homework during the downtime is a huge advantage to maintain a positive work, school, and life balance. In fact, I’m writing this article from there right now! 

I found both of these jobs on the Campus Job Board, and if you haven’t already been on there, I highly recommend checking it out!
​​

How To: Stay Motivated Spring Quarter

Spring quarter at DePaul is undoubtedly the hardest quarter as far as staying motivated. While the rest of the college world is finishing finals and trading in textbooks for sunscreen, us DePaulians are still trying to make it through midterms. Pair that with Chicago’s summer-like weather conditions and it makes staying motivated for spring quarter pretty much impossible. But fear not, summer will (hopefully) be here before you know it. Here are some of the best hacks that will make spring quarter as painless as possible. 

Studying
Reward yourself: One of the worst things about prepping to start a boatload of homework or getting ready for a major study session is the daunting thought that it will never end. Though I personally give myself too many rewards while studying these days, it’s important to have something to look forward to. Set goals for your schoolwork and don’t forget to reward yourself every time you check something off your to-do list. 

Stay organized: If you’re like me, then right when school starts up after summer you raid the nearest Staples to get all the best planners, notebooks, and pens. And by the time spring quarter come around, you have to fish out an old pen out from the bottom of your bag. Revamp your organization skills to help yourself stay focused and finish off the quarter strong. 

Quit procrastinating: As the queen of procrastination, I know this tip is easier said than done. I mean my life motto is pretty much “if tomorrow’s not the due date, today’s not the do date.” But the truth of the matter is, if you really buckle down and focus on schoolwork, it’s not half as bad as you build it up to be. Block off a period of time and dedicate it solely to getting work done. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you don’t check Instagram every five minutes. 

Stay positive: Though it may seem like Spring Quarter has no end in sight, summer is getting closer everyday.  Don’t beat yourself up if you’re lagging behind in a class or didn’t do well on your last quiz. Think positive and stay focused on the end goal; it will be here in no time.  

Presenting and Flying

I’m a perfectionist, so I have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on myself to do well. While I appreciate that it pushes me to do quality work, I’m not so much a fan of the anxiety I give myself. I just unnecessarily stress myself out a lot. For the past few months, I have been stressing myself out about presenting at the Midwest Political Science Association conference. Back in October, I applied to present because, I mean, why not? But after I got accepted to the conference, and as the date of the conference got closer and closer, I just really started psyching myself out.

Presenting
On one of the 500+ pages of this book, you will find my name. Good luck searching. In case you were wondering, this thick book is just a schedule of the presentations.

In the weeks running up to the conference, I regularly panicked about whether or not my paper was good enough, and I had trouble falling asleep because my mind would keep running. I psyched myself out so much that the day before I was scheduled to present, I decided to reorganize my whole paper and re-do my entire presentation. Against every piece of advice, I never slept the night before my presentation, choosing instead to change and revise my presentation. I may have gone a little crazy.

But on Friday, I finally presented my paper, and you know what? It went better than I ever anticipated. Not only did I get really good feedback, but I discovered that I just really like being at conferences. I loved going to panels and sessions to hear what other people are researching, and if you’ve never been in the Palmer House, it’s beautiful (and surprisingly huge—I got lost a few times). So, despite the mental torture that I put myself through, I’m actually super happy that I did the conference!

I’m writing this blog from my bed in Wisconsin. Even though the conference isn’t over, I had to run home right after my presentation so that I could finish packing for my trip to Madrid! I can’t believe it’s already time for me to go. It feels like I booked my trip just a few weeks ago, but now I leave in less than 24 hours! Next time you hear from me, I’ll be writing to you from Madrid while chomping on churros (and, of course, while doing lots and lots of research).

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.

Introduction to Sustainability

As spring quarter began, I anxiously (and excitedly) awaited the start of my Introduction to Sustainability class. Having just declared my major as Environmental Studies with a Sustainability concentration, I was eager to dig in to a subject I was interested in and felt passionate about.

When I read through the syllabus for the class, one thing stuck out to me as especially daunting: the Impact Project. The main idea of the Impact Project is for students to lessen their environmental impact on specified days throughout the week by altering how they consume food, use transportation and electricity/water, and produce waste.

Shower Timer
The picture is of the shower timer I’m using
For food, students are encouraged to become vegetarian in order to conserve resources (such as land and water), reduce their carbon footprint, and lower the amount of methane emissions going into the atmosphere. Since I am already vegan I decided not to pursue this category, but many of the students in my class did choose it and are giving up many of the foods they previously thought they couldn’t live without.

For those who choose transportation, there is the option of either committing to entirely self-propelled transportation (biking, walking, etc.) or simply refraining from driving/riding in Ubers and instead taking public transportation. This seemed like a good challenge for me because I am often taking users when I am in a rush. Rather than paying extra money for an Uber, I have been trying to wake up a little bit earlier in order to make time for getting on the bus or the ‘L’.

In the electricity/water category, students are supposed to lessen their water and electricity use by at least 50% through strategies such as using a shower timer, unplugging appliances, charging electronics during the day so they’re not plugged in all night, etc. This part of the project has shown me that it’s easier than most people think to lessen shower time and conserve water.

Finally, the hardest category (for me anyway) is waste. On these days, students are challenged to produce zero waste. This includes food packaging, plastic bags, plastic cutlery, etc. I initially did not think it would be as hard as it seemed, but this changed immediately when I woke up and realized I couldn’t even eat my usual granola bar for breakfast because it was wrapped in plastic packaging. I am learning to carry around reusable containers/cutlery in my backpack and never leave home without my reusable water bottle.

Though the Impact Project has just started, I am already gaining a different perspective and understanding of the Earth and how I can make lifestyle changes that have the potential to significantly benefit it. Although this project is already extremely challenging, I can’t wait to learn more about what I can do to help the environment, and I’m so glad that DePaul offers classes that have the capacity to alter students lifestyles and make them into better and more well-rounded members of society.

My Last Show: Cinderella: The Remix

Now that spring quarter has rolled around I am currently working toward the opening of my spring quarter show at The Theatre School. Being that I am getting close to graduating, this is my final show of my undergrad career, making the experience very bittersweet.

Cinderella: The Remix
A rehearsal shot of Hunter Bryant playing Chocolate Ice in Cinderella: The Remix
The show I am working on is called Cinderella: The Remix. This play is part of our Playworks series for Families and Young Audiences. This play will be performed at the Merle Reskin Theatre, DePaul’s performance space in the Loop. This large proscenium theatre will welcome hundreds of young elementary school aged children and families this spring. 

I am really lucky to be part of such a fun show for my last production of undergrad. This hilarious play is a new twist on the classic Cinderella story. The play takes place in a fictional land called Hip Hop Hollywood. The protagonist Cinderella wants to be a DJ, but unfortunately in Hip Hop Hollywood, girls are not allowed to DJ. She and her best friend Chin Chilla (yes, you read that right) disguise themselves as boys in order to follow their dreams and DJ for the hottest rapper in town. They encounter challenges and triumphs on their way to empower young girls to follow their passions and realize their potential. The play includes music, dancing, rapping, and is a blast for the whole family. While it is odd to know that this is my last play here, it is heartwarming to go out on a high note.

Cinderella: The Remix
Chanel Bell shows off her DJ skills as Cinderella in rehearsal for Cinderella: The Remix
I play two characters in this show. First, I play Cinderella’s stepmother, named Bad Ma’amajama. She works hard to push her other son, Chocolate Ice, toward success as a DJ, and discourages Cinderella from auditioning for the famous rapper J Prince. I also play the fairy godmother of the story, who comes in the form of a entrepreneurial media queen named Hoperah, loosely based on Oprah. She shows up to give Cinderella and her bff Chinchilla the confidence they need to overcome obstacles and believe in themselves.  I have had a blast creating these larger than life characters, and rapping my way through a story that really means something. This cast is completely made up of minorities, and gives us the chance to represent the populations of young kids who come to see this play who are also from those communities. I really believe it is great to send a message that young girls are smart and capable, and if they believe in themselves, and persevere, they can overcome the odds and be successful. I am proud to be part of a show that can do that for its audiences. 

Themes: Fairy Tales; Gender Roles; Girl Power; Hip-Hop; Identity; Pop Culture; Sexism

Cinderella: The Remix
The cast features Chanell Bell Copeland (Cinderella), Hunter Bryant (Chocolate Ice), Mariana Castro Florez (Chin Chilla), Samantha Newcomb (Bad Mamajama/Hoperah), and Nosakhere Cash-O'Bannon (J Prince).

The production team includes scenic design by Angela McIlvain, costume design by Emilee Orton, lighting design by Richard Latshaw, sound design by Madeline Doyle, dramaturgy by Yasmin Zacaria Mitchel, and stage management by Emily Mills.

This show opens April 20th, and runs Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as Saturday afternoons until we close May 27th. If you or a youngster you know if looking for a great way to spend 70 minutes this spring, come check out Cinderella: The Remix! For more information check out our website

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! 


DemonTHON

If you are a DePaul student, then you have for sure heard of DemonTHON. For those who don’t know, DemonTHON is DePaul’s 24-hour dance marathon that benefits Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Participants raise money throughout the year through fundraising, canning, and donations. Then whole thing culminates in the dance marathon. That’s 24 hours of standing, dancing, and cheering for the sweet little kiddos who aren’t able to stand or dance because of illness. This year’s dance marathon is from 5pm on April 28 to 5pm on April 29 – which, if you are counting correctly, is in TWO WEEKS. 

I participated in DemonTHON last year, and it was an incredible experience. My legs and feet have never been as sore as they were during that 24 hours, but it was so worth it after seeing how much money we raised for the kids. Last year, the organization hit the one million dollar mark that had been raised and donated to Lurie’s hospital. It was awesome to be a part of, and I am similarly excited for this year. 
 
DemonTHON
Part of Cru's DemonThon team this year 
The 24 hours are split up into six different theme hour chunks. Some of the theme hours this year are Harry Potter​, Nightmare on Sheffield, and Battle of the Decades. These theme hours provide games and activities which make the time pass quickly. We also get to learn the Morale Dance, a ten minute long dance that is performed every hour of the marathon. Throughout the event, we hear from and meet families who have directly benefited from the money raised for DemonTHON. It is so inspirational to hear the strength and hope that these kids and their families have in the midst of scary illnesses. It is a jam-packed, fun-filled, emotional 24 hours that I am really looking forward to participating in again!

If you are a DePaul student and have not signed up yet, now is your chance! Join a team, raise your $250 fundraising goal, and dance for the kids!

My Last Quarter

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

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.

Community Partners Internship

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

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

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

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

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

Spring 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.

Spring Quarter Must-Do’s

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on Spring!

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

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

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

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

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! 

Honors Thesis

As many of you probably already know, last quarter I completed my Honors Thesis Project. I have written about my thesis in some of my previous blog posts, and I am happy to announce that I officially finished it and turned it in this past week! It ended up being 35 pages long, and I am super proud of it.

Honors Thesis
It was actually really enjoyable to write, and if you are in the honors program, I encourage you to take on the thesis project for your senior capstone. You get to choose what you research and write about, ensuring that you are actually interested and invested in the thesis. You have 10 whole weeks to write it - you have to be disciplined during those 10 weeks and manage your time well, but it definitely is enough time to tackle a project of this magnitude. You also get to choose the professors who you work with, so you can choose professors who you have experience with or who you know you work well with. There is a lot of freedom in this project, which is great, and the honors program really just wants to support you so that you can create some of your best work. 

If you are planning on continuing your education after DePaul, have a research study or project you have always wanted to do, have a topic that has always interested you that you want to explore in-depth, are a really talented creative writer, or just enjoy writing and creating in general, than this project is for you. Do not let the page limit or time length of this project intimidate you. You will end up creating a project you can be really proud of and present. If you have any questions about my experience with this project, feel free to ask them in the comments section!

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!

Wrapping Up Winter Quarter

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

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

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

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

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!

Planning for Madrid

In less than five weeks, I’ll be on my way to Madrid. I’m already to the point of excitement where I can barely fall asleep at night. I usually end up lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, just thinking about all the things that I’m going to do in Madrid. I’m boring like that. But with my trip coming up so quickly, it’s probably actually a good idea for me to start preparing plans for my time in Madrid.

As I’ve been working on my thesis, I’ve been forced to accept that not everything is accessible online. Since I’m researching Spain, it would make sense that there are some resources that are only available in Spain. The Graduate Research Funding program is paying for me to go to Madrid so that I can access those kinds of resources. To that end, I officially submitted my library card application for the National Library of Spain last night. The personal significance cannot be understated. With this application, I will finally able to settle my personal vendetta against the National Library of Spain.

National Library of Spain
This is a picture of the National Library of Spain that I took after the security guards refused to let me enter. Depending on the outcome of my library card application, they very well may have to let me in this time.
Back when I was studying in Madrid in 2014, one of my professors in Madrid recommended that I visit the National Library, knowing that I worked at DePaul’s library and would probably be interested in seeing the National Library. Very excited about this suggestion, I ran over to the National Library that same day after class. However, when I tried to enter, I was told that I would need a researcher ID card in order to enter, and was politely directed to the exit. Over two years later, I’ve only become more bitter about being rejected. This time, with card in hand, no one will be able to stop me from looking at books.

While I’m very excited about restoring my pride and digging through archives in the National Library, I’m mostly excited to eat my way through Madrid again. I already have a prioritized list on my phone of all the food that I need to consume once again. Expect a comprehensive blog about my culinary escapades after I get back.

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. 

We Are DePaul Blue

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a new student campaign called We Are DePaul Blue. They launched as part of a Public Relations Campaign class, where they’re part of a national competition where schools are teamed with a national non-profit client.

This year, they were assigned Campaign to Change Direction, whose philosophy is, “If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve”. 

Students Mia Hinkebein, Kate Hohenstatt, Alexa Ohm, and Meghan Thesing are working behind this project.

“Their mission is essentially what we’re localizing to DePaul, so it’s about mental health, self-care, and most importantly for them, knowing the five signs of emotional suffering,” Alexa said.

These five signs are:
1. feeling hopeless
2. poor self-care
3. feeling agitated
4. feeling withdrawn
5. personality changes

We Are DePaul Blue is aiming to teach these five signs to the DePaul community.

“Their big thing with the five signs is that we have to start with a common language in order to normalize it,” Mia said. 

Thus, the four girls are encouraging individuals and groups to take the pledge to learn them and are also presenting them to student organizations on campus. They want to start talking about it, because the only way to combat a stigma is to bring a voice to it.

“A big component of our campaign is the friend aspect because people are more likely to reach out to a friend to talk about their mental health than go into a counselor, so it is just building that community on campus,” Kate said.

 
Events
Here is a list of their upcoming events - stop on by or follow their social media accounts to learn more! 
Since their launch mid-February, they have received a lot of positive feedback from students, and hope to turn this into a student organization at DePaul in the future. 

We Are DePaul Blue’s launch also comes at a fitting time with finals just around the corner. They recently had a “Decompress Your Stress” event, as well as “Positivity Pop Up” where post-it notes with positive sayings were put up on campus for students to take. 

In addition, a lot of events are coming up to encourage self-care and positive well-being before the quarter comes to a close, such as a self-care workshop on February 28 and a mindfulness meditation on March 8. 

“Even if the people coming to our events are people who are having a great day that day and just want to try this, they have a network of people who at one point are probably going to need them to know what these five signs are or know what that self-care tip is to help them,” Alexa said.

To get involved with We Are DePaul Blue, take the pledge to learn the five signs, attend their events, follow them on social media, and use #WeAreDePaulBlue. 

They also encourage you to share your story​ and talk about mental health more often to help combat the stigma and normalize the topic.

The Final Round: Auditioning My Final Time

As spring quarter rapidly approaches, graduating students are now looking straight ahead at their final quarter of college. Spring quarter will be a whirlwind of changes and mixed emotions. This will be the time when I take my last college classes, participate in the last events of my collegiate experience, and perform in my last show of undergrad. Now, at the end of February, we here at The Theatre School​ are in the midst of casting the spring quarter productions, which are the final shows of the year, and for me, the final shows of my time here at TTS.

Today I arrived on campus, highlighted scenes in hand, ready to audition for the last round of shows of my undergraduate experience. The audition process for the casting pool was the same as usual. Each member of the acting company split up into groups, and sent into three different rooms to audition with scenes from our three main stage productions.  We were greeted in each room by the smiling faces of students and faculty working on each of the shows, and were encouraged to have fun auditioning for each role we read. While the day had a familiar feel, putting it in those term s- the “last time”, really took me aback. 

Auditions
This is the last time I’ll go online to DePaul’s Backstage domain to check out the audition sides. This is the last time I’ll find a partner in the hallway who would be willing to read with me in the audition room. The last time I will walk into the room full of my classmates, colleagues, and cohorts, to audition for a play that I will help to create within this learning environment. 

Along with my final set of TTS auditions comes the realization that this spring will be my last TTS show. With this in mind, it makes me determined the make the most of whatever process I am in for the next few short months. I want to be able to learn as much as I can before I leave, and really enjoy myself in the process. It is also really exciting to think about what lies ahead. If this is my last show of my undergraduate career, the work that waits beyond is many wonderful experiences creating my own work, and working in the professional world! While it may feel a bit strange to know that this last show means something is coming to an end, it also means a very beautiful beginning to a chapter of life that I’ve been thinking and preparing for for a long time. Finally I can say I’m almost there, and finally I can say I’m ready.  Here’s hoping I’ll break a leg!  

Blue Demon Dance 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Return on Investment at the Chicago Auto Show

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

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

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

We Are Proud to Present

The last show to open on the mainstage this winter was a unique and impactful play with a title to match the description. We Are Proud To Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, Between the years 1884-1915​ was the last show to hit the Fullerton Stage this quarter. 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow. 
This contemporary piece written by Jackie Sibblies Drury, is an intense and thought-provoking play within a play that challenges topics of race, identity, violence, and storytelling. What stories do we tell? Who has the right to tell them? How do the complexities of our own identities influence these stories and how we fit in them. The characters of this play, a group of young passionate artists, wrestle with these questions, coming in and out of the world of their own presentation, until the lines between reality and the story their inhabit become blurred. 

The TTS website describes this play:

“An ensemble of eager, well-meaning young actors devises a play about a nearly forgotten African genocide. When their artistic director suggests they should not read the German letters that make up the core of their presentation, the group must come to terms with the fact that they can't tell a new story until they have unearthed the original one.” 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow.
To give you a little insight into how this play operates, the list of characters gives us a hint. The 6 character cast includes characters named Black Woman, White Man, Black Man, Another White Man, Another Black Man and Sarah (played by a white woman). These characters are played by actors who fit those descriptions.  I was lucky enough to see this play on opening weekend, and was insanely proud of the students who came together to create this play. A play that deals so personally with such tough topics and images requires a huge amount of bravery from each of the artists involved. This is an extremely relevant and well-acted play that punches you in the gut and forces you to face the realities of your actions and your history. 
 
We Are Proud To Present
Photo credit to Michael Brosilow. 
The cast features Ayanna Bria Bakari (Actor 6/Black Woman), Tuckie White (Actor 5/Sarah), Keith Illidge (Actor 4/Another Black Man), Michael Morrow (Actor 2/Black Man), Sam Straley (Actor 1/White Man), and Arie Thompson (Actor 3/Another White Man). 

The production team includes scenic design by Jessica Olson, costume design by Olivia Engobor, lighting design by Joseph Clavell, sound design by Haley Feiler, dramaturgy by Hampton Cade and Lauren Quinlan, and stage management by Erin Collins.

For more information on our season of shows, visit the TTS website!
 

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! 

I’m Going to Madrid (Again)

In the fall of my junior year at DePaul, I went and studied abroad in Madrid for a quarter (you can read more about that here). I was a Spanish and International Studies double major, so I figured I should probably visit a Spanish-speaking country at some point. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement. I encourage anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to study abroad to do so.
 
I consider studying in Spain to be one of the greatest decisions of my life. Not only did studying abroad help me improve my Spanish and nearly complete my Spanish major, but studying in Spain also inspired me to get my master’s in International Studies and write my thesis on the Spanish transition to democracy.
 
Madrid
I’m going back to Madrid and I’ve never been more excited about anything in my entire life.
A little over two years after returning from Madrid, I sat in the International Studies department conference room and defended my thesis proposal. At some point during my defense, I made an offhand comment about how I was having a hard time finding some specific information on the transition because so many records and papers aren’t available online and are only held in Madrid.
 
The members of my thesis committee encouraged me to apply to the Graduate Research Fund, which funds graduate students who want to conduct research or present at a conference. At the very last moment possible (you can’t even imagine), I submitted my application for funding to go dig around in some archives in Madrid.
 
Ever since I submitted the application, I haven’t been able to think about anything else. I’ve just been looking up flights and hotels in the hope that I’d be accepted. And then, finally, just a few hours ago, I got the email. My request for funding had been approved. I started screaming and booked everything right away. In less than two months, I’ll be on the plane back to Madrid.

BIG NEWS: The Theatre School Announces its 2017-18 Season

Big news has hit the halls of The Theatre School, in the form of the 2017-2018 Main Stage Season. The announcement was shared with the TTS community at an event in the Merle Reskin lobby of the new theatre school building on Fullerton and Racine.

TTS Season Announcement
A large crowd of students and faculty gather around with attentive ears to hear which shows had been selected for next school year. There was a general buzz of excitement from the students who will in the casting pool next year, each thinking about what the future holds for them and where they will end up. Over the past couple of years, it has become a new tradition for each director of the upcoming shows to present the show they are directing at a special event. They share with the community their reason for choosing the show, their thoughts and concepts about the production, and why it matters to our community. Each show chosen for the upcoming season was chosen because of how relevant it can be to the current social and political time we live in, and how the story may matter to our community and the world at large.
 
It is a very special time to see how our school is recognizing the current atmosphere and responding with art that fits in with our thoughts, feelings, and actions of the moment.  As a school, we still have not completed our current season of kick-ass shows, but we all have much to look forward to next year. Honestly, as a soon-to-be graduate, it was a little surreal to talk about the upcoming season knowing that I will not be a part of it.  I will be moving on to a world of unknown things, but will no doubt come back to visit and see what they do with this new season of shows. It’s all so exciting!
 
SO, without further ado, I am pleased to share with you all, the 2017-2018 season:
 
ON THE FULLERTON STAGE
 
Into the Woods
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim * book by James Lapine
Directed by Barry Brunetti * musical direction by Mark Elliott
November 3-13, 2017 (previews 11/1 & 11/2)
 
Frankenstein
By Mary Shelly* adated by Nick Dear
Directed by Micharl E. Burke
Frebruary 9-18, 2018 (previews 2/7 & 2/8)
 
Three Sisters
By Anton Chekhov
Directed by Jacob Janssen
April 13-22, 2018 (previews 4/11 &4/12)
 
New Playwright Series
Title, Playwright, and Director TBD
May 18-26, 2018 (previews 5/16 & 5/17)
 
IN THE HEALY THEATRE

Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England
By Madeleine George
Directed by April Cleveland
October 20-29, 2017 (previews 10/18 & 10/19)
 
Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play
By Anne Washburn
Music by Micharl Friedman * directed by Jeremy Aluma
January 26-February 4, 2018 (previews 1/24 & 1/25)
 
MFA18, Title TBD
 An emsemble performance created by MFA III actors, directed by Dexter Bullard
May 4-13, 2018 (previews 5/2 & 5/3)
 
CHICAGO PLAYWORKS FOR FAMILIES AND YOUNG AUDIENCES
 
Augusta and Noble
By Carlos Murillo * directed by Lisa Portes
October 5-November 11, 2017
 
Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook
By Allison Gregory * adapted from the book series by Barbara Park
Directed by Krissy Vanderwarker
January 11-February 17, 2018
 
The Cat in the Hat
By Dr. Seuss
Directed by Jeff Mills
April 19-May 26, 2018
 
STUDIO SERIES, Titles/Playwrights/Directors TBD
 
 
For those joining the DePaul Community next year, it is already time to get excited about the many good things in store!
 

Get the Schedule You Want

Schedule
Perhaps one of the forgotten days with regards to its anxiety-inducing suspense, but stressful nevertheless, is your enrollment date. This is the day when you and many other students wait for the minutes to countdown until there is that mad rush when the enrollment button opens up. This is the day you either get that dream schedule of yours with classes that make your quarter flow smoothly or classes that tear your days apart. Yes, the procedure for class scheduling seems like a simple process, but what if your course cart schedule doesn’t go as planned before you even have the opportunity to enroll? There are some things to consider before you organize your class schedule.

Honors Program

Surely any honors program may give off an intimidating connotation, but there is a certain advantage that comes with the challenging coursework. If you are in any honors program whether it’d be the University Honors Program, Strobel Accountancy Honors, Finance Honors, and so on, you’ll get the advantage of priority enrollment over non-honors students in your grade and all students below you. This comes in handy especially when you have those required core classes that are critical to graduating on time.

Degree Progress Report

Beside D2L, I probably use this tool from DePaul the most. The degree progress report can be found on Campus Connect and primarily depicts the course structure for your major. However, the DPR can also make searching for classes a more efficient task by clicking the box of a requirement that will open up window providing details on that requirement. Clicking on “Course List” will open another window to show the courses offered in order to fulfill that requirement. Furthermore, clicking an individual course will lead you its description and sections offered where you can finally add it to your course cart or schedule.

DPR
What the typical DPR appears as for students
Advisors

As a twenty-one year old man I like to think I can do things myself. However, I’ve learned that even my judgments can be stubborn when it comes to class scheduling. I remember freshman year when I thought I had my schedule all figured out, taking a summer course and transferring it over to DePaul. Yet, there may be prerequisites affiliated with certain courses or some courses may only be offered during certain times of the year. I hadn’t noticed this until I met with my advisor to assist me with my schedule. She pointed out the flaws and how it would have actually hindered my future classes. Moral of the story is to get an outside perspective, preferably a professional one whose job is to advise students.

Other details

When searching for courses, be sure to look for those small details I’ve mentioned above. Within course descriptions it will tell you if it has any prerequisites, where it is located, and usually who the professor will be. If not, you could schedule a Loop class back to back with a Lincoln Park class, or get denied at the enrollment time like I did when I tried to take a class that wasn’t available until I had junior status. Another thing, make sure to be caught up on all payments and have no withholdings otherwise all classes will get a red X at the time of enrollment.

Even if one of the courses you want is full you can still request to be put on waitlist and have the chance to be accepted if another student opts out. I was able to get into two or three courses this way thus far. Take into these consideration so that when the enrollment date comes the most difficult part will be waking up early enough for your time.

Make It Count

What would you do with a $500,000 marketing budget if given absolute freedom? 

Scratch the marketing part, what would you do with half a million in general? Some might buy a fancy car others may pay off their student loans or even buy a house. 

Casey Neistat
Casey Neistat, my favorite YouTuber on the platform at the moment, decided to go on a spontaneous, worldwide exploration with his friend and fellow filmmaker, Max, in his adventure movie titled Make It Count. 

I love this piece from Casey. Even though it is an advertisement it is fresh, real, and exciting. There was absolutely no plan or preparation for this video just a run and gun type mentality and the desire to do something epic. The Nike product isn’t even featured in it aside from a couple seconds in the beginning. This blog is shorter than usual, as I just wanted to give a brief introduction to the video. Please take a couple minutes out of your day and make sure to check it out. I know it got my adrenaline pumping. 

As for this week I leave you with this short movie from my favorite YouTuber. Click here to see the video. ​Enjoy!

Summer Bucket List

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

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

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

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

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

Brunch in the City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t Go Wrong with Do-Rite Donuts

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

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

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

The Little Things

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

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

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

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

Valentine’s Week Ideas

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

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

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

Living On-Campus

Quad
 
Unless you’re a commuter, local, or just fortunate enough to have your place, you more than likely spent your first year of DePaul living on-campus. Although some look to the dorm life as a burden, I look to living on campus as an advantage more than anything else. As a sophomore living at the on-campus apartment of Centennial Hall, I deeply enjoy all the spoils that come with my time staying within DePaul.

Skyline
The view from my Centennial apartment that never gets old
Whether it was Seton Hall freshman year, or Centennial my second, it is really nice to be in the vicinity of nearly everything DePaul. If I want to work out at the Ray, eat at the Student Center, study at the library, attend Lincoln Park classes, or hop on the train, it is all within a short walking distance. For most that live off campus, it is a pain to have to get on the train or bus to go nearly anywhere. And with all that is available on campus, I find it much easier to get involved and active. As I have seen with some friends that live off campus, they’ll at times say they don’t want to do some things, like play basketball at the Ray​, because it’s too far.

Another great benefit of living on-campus that many people overlook is the quality of the rooming. As a freshman with anything from one to three roommates (such as myself) it can be difficult to appreciate the conditions you’re living in. In Seton we took pride in our high ceilings and walk-in closets. Now, I was lucky enough to get a two-person studio apartment at Centennial. My roommate and I are spoiled with our own bathroom, two closets, fully equipped kitchen, free laundry, and individually controlled air conditioning. I’ve been to a couple of apartments in Wrigleyville and none have compared to the spaces at Centennial. 

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.

Yoga in the Air

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

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

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

The Latest and Greatest: Richard III

Now is the winter of our...Latest show! Get it? That’s a play on the famous opening line of my current production! It’s another round of Shakespeare for me this winter at The Theatre School. This quarter I have been cast in Shakespeare’s Richard III​. I am taking on the powerhouse role of Queen Margaret, a noble woman scorned, as well as rounding out the ensemble of actors as the Lord Mayor of London, and a member of the opposing Army. This is an ensemble driven piece, meaning most cast members are playing multiple roles and helping to create this piece together. Having just finished Romeo and Juliet this past fall, and growing my love for this classical writer, it was exciting to me to try my hand at one of Shakespeare’s fiercest female roles. A mature woman, who had her Kingdom stripped from her uses curses to exact her revenge on the guilty parties involved. It has been a blast to explore this language and my more powerful qualities. 

The TTS Website describes our show: 

“Richard, Duke of Gloucester, conspires, manipulates, and murders his way onto the English throne, making more than a few enemies along the way. Can Richard rule England? Or will his misdeeds undo him? This Shakespearean classic explores the effects of morality, or lack thereof, in a political state.”

Richard III
Our show will be produced in the Healy Theatre, our large black box theatre within the TTS building. Tickets are now on sale with the opening of the show January 27th running until February 5th. Directed by second year MFA director Jacob Janssen, the goal has been to bring this politically charged play to our modern American audiences who are also experiencing the transfer of power, and have to deal with the aftermath (current election/inauguration anyone?). The neat thing about our production? The title character of Richard III is being played by a female actress! Yes to untraditional casting! 

For those in the Chicago area, come by and see this dramatic and powerful play. As always tickets are only $5 for students and $15 for the rest of the public. For info or tickets visit our website.

I am pumped to see how the show turns out, and the reaction from the community. And I am always glad to know that whatever the end result, the process and learning experience is always worth it to me. 

Be well DePaulians! 

#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! 

Writing a Personal Statement

For those of you who have ever applied to graduate school or have looked into what applying entails, it is a lot of work! Most schools require your transcript, two to three letters of recommendation, your resume, GRE scores​, and the dreaded personal statement. The personal statement is a short narrative that describes your education, experience, and professional career objectives. You basically have to sell yourself to the university you are applying to. It is a lot of pressure to put on a 1,800 word essay! 

Here are some tips to writing your personal statement:

● Go to a workshop class. DePaul offers workshops specifically to help you write your personal statement. Use this free resource!

● Think about a moment or experience that is really important to you or has shaped who you are as a person. I wrote how my worldview was expanded by my love of reading. I had a friend who wrote about how her trip to the Philippines opened her eyes to the reality of human trafficking. Then, connect that experience to the reasons you want to go into the field you are applying to. 

Ohio State
My personal statement must have payed off - I've already been accepted to Ohio State!
● Give yourself time. Do not do what I did and give yourself a week to write your personal statement (I mixed up the deadlines for the programs I was applying to. Whoops!). You do not want to feel hurried or pressured to write this essay. Give yourself as much time as possible to make it the best quality.

● Use friends or professors as resources. I had a couple of my good friends who I knew were well-educated and eloquent edit my personal statement and it was one of the most helpful things I did. Getting another perspective on what I was writing and having someone fix a mistake I had glossed over really improved my personal statement. 

I hope these help! Good luck! I promise, writing your personal statement is not as intimidating as it looks. 

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!


Studying for the Big Test

Studying
When it comes to exams, it’s been a hit or miss thus far. Upon my first quarter at DePaul I thought I would be able to get by with my laidback high school studying habits (not studying at all) and walk into the midterm or final, ace it, and get an A in the class as I had always expected. However, I received a rude awakening when my overall grade of a B+ going into the final was lowered by a D on my exam putting me only a few tenths of a percentage from receiving a C in the class. After that I vowed to commit myself like never before and put in hours of studying for my exams. Since my first quarter in which I averaged a 3.0 GPA, I have raised my GPA to a 3.58 in a year. While studying does obviously improve test scores, I still managed to get a C+ in another class. Here are some observations and tips for when it comes to studying for exams.

The most obvious tip is one that will save you the stress and exhaustion of cramming in hours of studying, and that is to keep up with the work. In classes where homework is not required nor taken for a grade are the classes where I found myself taking advantage of this leniency and ultimately saw the negative impact. I would put off reading the chapters and relied on the class lectures for soaking in the material, but I was only lying to myself thinking I could possibly get away with this. Therefore, I recommend not only reading from the text but also reading the chapter before your professor lectures it. That way the material won’t be overwhelmingly new to take in and repetitive information won’t hurt anyway.

Nevertheless, doing the assignments simply won’t cut it for preparation of the exam. Material from the beginning chapters may have slipped your mind by the time the midterm or final comes around so it’s essential to revisit them. When it comes to studying I find it best to be in a quiet and solitary environment. The primary location I use for studying is the most familiar and that is my room at times when my roommate is not there. Sitting at my desk with no distractions enables me to solely focus on whatever I’m immersed in. If your room is constantly occupied then I recommend the study rooms available on every floor of DePaul apartments and dormitories. Although noise from the hallway may inevitably cause minor distractions it is still a good location for isolation. One last location I have used is the library. At the Lincoln Park campus library the third floor is dedicated entirely to quiet study. Here you can find yourself with many other stressed students all studying in near silence. The library is good study spot but I admit I’d much rather stay in my room in something comfortable than to walk over the library to study, being comfortable and doing what works best for you is the last tip I propose for when it comes to studying for exams. 


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! 

New Year Same Me

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

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

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

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

Stay awesome friends!

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!

Burgers for the Soul

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

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

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

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

December Intersession

Making the transition from fall quarter to having six weeks off for winter break is a pretty big change, especially since most schools are not on the quarter system so chances are most of your friends are in the midst of finals these weeks after Thanksgiving.

If you’re anything like me, you strive off of the structure associated with classes and due dates, and all of a sudden having nothing to do seems nice at first but after a few days you’re bored and stuck in a rut.

That was me the past two years. So, this year, I decided to make a change. For these three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas I decided to get a required basic communications class out of the way by taking a December Intersession course online. Additionally, I continued working at my job in the CDM ​Advising office as a student worker.

Even though my class was online and I didn’t have that structure of needing to show up for class, I took that as an opportunity to structure my schedule by going to coffee shops or Barnes and Noble to do my readings or write essays. I scheduled in going to the library to take the midterm and final exams online. I used the structure of being in front of a computer at work to write these blogs or post the required discussion posts for the class.

These little changes made such a huge difference. And, so I could still see my friends that go to school in Chicago but do have finals, we could study together or take a break and grab lunch. 

So, if you have basic intro classes you’ve been waiting to get out of the way or even have open electives and one of the December classes offered catches your eye, I definitely recommend trying it out! Just be ready to do a lot of work, it’s not a blow-off period, you’re squeezing 10 weeks of class into 3!

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 :) 

Public Speaking

As a journalism major, one of the super fun classes I’m required to take is public speaking. Immediately after I signed up for this class during enrollment last spring, I dreaded beginning. Public speaking is on the top of my “things I hate doing” list.

Growing up I was super shy and introverted, and although I’ve outgrown that, I’m an incredibly anxious person and am still not a fan of having all eyes on me. Luckily, the class hasn’t been as bad as I expected, and I actually learned some valuable skills (and didn’t pass out or run out of the room during my speeches).

So, here are some tips I have for the next time you have to give a speech either in class or outside of school.

1. Notecards. We were allowed to have notecards with bullet points during our speech, and naturally there were those kids in my class who thought they were better than that, so didn’t use any. Luckily I looked past that cockiness and wrote down a few notes for each point I was making. It allowed me to not completely read from them but when I’m super anxious sometimes my mind goes blank so it was a good safety net. And if I wanted to quote someone I could have the whole quote actually written out.

2. Eye contact. Eye contact is one of the most uncomfortable parts, and I have a tendency to avoid looking directly at people, but instead look above them or literally anywhere else. Lesson: don’t look above them. When other presenters did that it was so obvious to the audience and it definitely looks odd. Instead just keep your eyes moving around the room without holding it anywhere for too long.

Public Speaking
3. Don’t wait until the very end to present yours. 

4. Timing. Because we had a certain time length our speech had to be, I would practice my speech alone and time it, but you almost never speak at the same pace during the speech. I talked much faster when I was in front of the class because I was nervous, so if your time requirement is 5-7 minutes, aim to have to be closer to 7 when you rehearse (if you're like me and your anxiety quickens your speaking rate).

5. Speak about something you’re passionate about! Luckily my professor was very open about topics, and we could literally present on anything, as long as it filled the general requirements (i.e.: a persuasive or informative speech). When you talk about something you're passionate about, you feel less inclined to follow the rigidity of your notecards, because you can just speak from all the knowledge and passion you have inside. So, naturally my speeches were about going to school in Canada, yoga, and companies that donate profits to charity (and I’m obsessed with elephants so used The Elephant Pants as an example).


Floating