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Warm Weather

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

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

Tips for Finding an Apartment in the City

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

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

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

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

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

My New Grocery Obsession

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unwind Outside

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

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

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

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

Metropolitan Music

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


Soulja Boy at Double Door


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eat Your Salad, No Dessert

Salad
Last week I detailed which ways one can stay active and physically fit amongst the freedom of doing (or not doing) what you want and eating what you please. This week I want to focus precisely on the eating component. Like I said before, I could eat Chinese food just about everyday, however, considering sweet and sour chicken is not the healthiest choice I took it upon myself to seek foods that are tasty yet nourishing. For simplicity, I am going to divide these foods between on and off campus.

Being a freshman or even an upper classmen living on-campus such as myself, the Student Center offers an abundant variety of food at almost anytime of the day. There are times when I was guilty of eating mozzarella sticks and burgers at midnight or ice cream for supper, but there are healthier options available to those stuck within the limitations of a meal plan. Both the Student Center in Lincoln Park and the DePaul Center cafeteria in the Loop offer a “garden bar” with options such as vegetables, tuna, or low-carb pastas. If you’re like me then you’ll get tired of the usual offerings provided by DePaul, but not to worry, there are limited time platters that change on a weekly basis.

Additionally, since I have the luxury of an apartment with a full kitchen, I like to take some vegetables and other ingredients from the garden bar and use them to cook a little something of my own at my place. I often use the chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach for omelets, burgers, or pasta.

Of course, DePaul’s on-campus dining does provide a limited amount of offerings. Being in Chicago, you can just walk a block and surely find a refreshing alternative. Living in Centennial, there is literally a Whole Foods beneath my feet. I’ve only eaten there twice now, however there is a wide assortment of healthy foods available there. What makes Whole Foods unique is that it serves as a grocery store with an on-campus-style of eating as well. There are buffet counters in the center of the store where one can simply fill up a plate or to-go box just as you would at the Student Center. But besides Whole Foods, the city is bountiful of restaurants for the occasions when you want to treat yourself or not put up with having to cook or do the dishes afterwards. Going to a Walmart, Costco, or Target is also always a safe way to go for a greater assortment of ingredients and other packaged snacks.

Midterms and Art

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

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

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

Treat Yourself

Flat Top
Last weekend was my birthday, and my family decided to treat me to a meal I’ll never forget. Of course, going back home away from the bustle of the city to just relax by a bonfire and being able to appreciate the fall weather was great in itself, but it was where I ate that is the real highlight of my weekend. Here are two restaurants that are located in Chicago that I highly recommend trying out.

Flat Top Grill – 30 South Wabash Avenue

Flat Top Grill is a create-your-own stir fry, meaning that you ultimately have control what ingredients are going into your bowl. Now, considering you are given a relatively small bowl to fill with vegetables, rice, noodles, sauces, and many other options, you can strategically stack your ingredients in order to get the most of your money. Additionally, you are given the opportunity to choose two meats, as well as other add-ons such as eggs, cheese, tofu, and roti bread. Once all thrown together and cooked by the chef, you are presented with your unique dish (such as the one shown above) in a surprisingly big portion. What I like about Flat Top Grill is that it can be worth the money. For lunch, one bowl is $10 and $13 for dinner. For an additional $4, you can go up to put together as many bowls as you wish, but I have never been able to create more than two.

Fogo de Chão – 661 North Lasalle Street

Fogo de Chão
This restaurant is a Brazilian steakhouse, or churrasco. Granted that I went to the one in Naperville, there is also one in Chicago. One of the best meals of my life, Fogo de Chão is an endless buffet of meats. You are given these coasters that have a green side and a red side. The green side is a cue for the waiters who are walking around with meats such as filet mignon, top sirloin, rib eye, sausage, chicken, and lamb and offer if you would like to try whichever they have at the time. You can refuse any particular item, but when you are full or want to take a break, turn the coaster to its red side so that you’ll no longer be approached. There is no possible way you will leave hungry, for you’ll still be eating even when you are full. Yeah, the food is that good. WARNING. This place will break your bank, for just between two people the cost was around $120. If it weren’t for a gift card, I most likely would have never tried this place. However, the food was so delicious I think I have devoted myself to come back at least once a year for a special occasion. Therefore, I recommend only going here if you are comfortable paying big money or simply wanting to treat yourself.

Preparing for an On-Campus Job

On-Campus Jobs
As a writer for Deblogs, this is officially my first job through DePaul University. However, this does not necessarily mean this is the first on-campus job I have applied to. There were plenty of opportunities which I attempted to take advantage of, but unfortunately I was not qualified enough. Or perhaps, maybe it was that I was not prepared enough when it came time to show my capabilities in the job interviews. If you feel as if you are not ready for a job or simply want to improve your employability, there are plenty of resources available through DePaul that enable you to make yourself stand out in an interview when the time comes.

EDGE Program

EDGE stands for Education and Development Grant for Employability, and by all means it does serve as a tool to gain experience and develop self-knowledge about jobs and careers by participating in projects that also contribute to DePaul. This is a yearlong program and only first-year students are eligible to participate. At the beginning of the year, I attended an information fair to see the various departments that students are able to choose from within EDGE. After submitting my top five, I was placed within my top choice of the Career Center. Each department will have their own certain goal or focus, thus, my experience in the Career Center was different from that of my roommate’s with the Green Team. Just to give a sample of what kind of activities there are in EDGE, I had to go around and talk to companies at the job and internship fairs, then work the fairs by directing guests or facilitating the coatroom, I attended workshops regarding to topics such as budgeting or finding apartments, practiced elevator pitches and mock interviews, and conducted a survey to help improve the interface of Handshake. If you are able to get into this program, regardless of the department you choose, I highly recommend doing so. The time commitment is not overwhelming at all.

Career Center

Going off of the Career Center team with EDGE, there are plenty of ways to improve your professionalism with the Career Center that do not require you to be a part of EDGE. Located at the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses, I have been to the Career Center many times for help. Primarily, I go to their offices for advising and review of my resume. As an assignment for EDGE, I was required to go in for resume advising, however, I have been back a few more times on my own accord. Additionally, there are other advising sessions available to students whether it’d be cover letters, conducting mock interviews, or simple career advising for any concerns with your major, career path, and interview preparation. Scheduling these sessions are simple, many times I have just simply walked in and got started right away. However, if walk-ins are not available, scheduling appointments are as easy as calling or walking into the office to schedule an appointment. If there are questions about the process or about any of the services available, look here for further information.

Job Board

Looking to the campus job board may sound obvious, but most people overlook all the fine details within job postings that can otherwise be used as strengths within the resume and cover letter. As burdensome as tailoring your resume and cover letter to each individual job posting seems, doing so will make you appear more qualified and dedicated to the job from the perspective of the employer. Within most given job postings, each will have a section dedicated to a summary, duties and responsibilities, requirements, and transferrable skills. It is essential to look over all these and find a common or repeated theme across them. By identifying what qualities and skills the employer is seeking and then taking out keywords from the job posting and incorporating them into your resume and cover letter, it will surely grab the recruiter’s eye. Personally, I will often take some words directly from the job posting and paste them into my cover letter and then display how I have that skill or trait through a prior job or experience. From these techniques, I have always been able to get to the interviewing step in the process of getting an on-campus job, however, I never executed the interviews as well as my resume and cover letter. That is why with taking advantage of all that I proposed the chances of getting the on-campus job you desire will substantially increase, there is no such thing as being too prepared.

Post Election at The Theatre School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing for Winter

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

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

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

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

Winter Break in Chicago

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

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

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

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

Go Tribe - or Not

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

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

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

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

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


Finishing up the Quarter

How is it the end of the quarter already? These past 10 weeks went by so fast!

I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to winter break. This has been a crazy quarter and I am ready for a rest! This has been my busiest quarter thus far academically and I am really looking forward to having some time to watch Netflix, read for fun, and catch up on some sleep. 

Zoo Lights
Zoo lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo
I will be keeping busy over break, but not in the busy/stressful school way. I will be in Chicago over break working, which I am really excited for. I have a full-time nannying job for a 3-month old little nugget - it will be such a treat. I love babies and honestly she will take 3 naps a day so it will be a fairly easy job.

If you have never spent Christmas time in Chicago, I highly recommend you do so! There is so much to do and city feels so much more peaceful and magical. I personally am looking forward to seeing the Lincoln Park Zoo ​Lights and going to the Christkindlmarket downtown at Daley Plaza. 

This next week will be consumed with finals, but then we will be rewarded with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie. Oh, I am so excited for Thanksgiving dinner! And then, only a month until Christmas! I hope this has been a great quarter for you all. Have an incredible and relaxing break and holiday season! I look forward to catching you all up on my life in the winter. 


DePaul by the Numbers

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

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

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

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

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

Number of…

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

Sincerely,
Zoe Krey

The Happiest Place on Earth

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

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

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

It Happened

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update: My Life as a Master’s Student

​I’ve written almost 50 blogs for DeBlogs. When I started at DeBlogs, I had so many ideas that I knew I wanted to write about. But after about the 30th blog, it started getting a little trickier to come up with new ideas off the top of my head. I was coming to the end of the list of things that I thought more people needed to know about (like Demon Discounts or all of the resources at the Library), so I just started writing more about my experiences and basically what I had been doing for the past week.

So every week, I sit down and grab my phone and go through all of the pictures that I’ve taken recently. Usually, I’ll find a picture that’s funny or has a good story, and then I’ll go write about where I was or what I was doing when I took that picture. Well, today, I went to look through my pictures. What do I find? Just a wall of pictures of random pages from books and my notebook and two pictures of bags of oranges in front of a sign that says “Apples” (see photo). Now, I know that I’m not the first person to take photos of pages in a book. I didn’t invent the wheel either. But this wasn’t just one day where I studying and snapping pictures of books —these pictures were taken over a five-day period.

Willy's Photos
This is very representative of my life right now.

So I guess what I’m saying is that my life has revolved around schoolwork and my internship this quarter. Since I’m a BA/MA student, I’ve had to take three graduate courses this quarter. A typical graduate course load is just two courses. I started the quarter off strong and thought that I’d be able to handle everything. By the third week, I had submitted my letter of resignation to the library, where I had worked since my sophomore year. The BA/MA program is no joke. It’s been incredibly challenging, but it’s also been so exciting to see myself progress in my research. I still so happy that I chose to do the BA/MA program. But in all honesty, nothing is more exciting to me than the fact that Winter Break is just a few weeks away.

A Little More Summertime

After looking at weather forecasts that call for temperatures ranging from high 50’s to low 70’s, the trees losing their green colors, and noticing that I have to wear a sweatshirt everywhere I go now, it dawned on me that summer is officially over. Sadly, that means no more beach days until another eight months or so for me. Despite the days getting shorter and snow just around the corner, there are many things to look forward to until the next summer comes around.

Fall
 
As much as I do enjoy the summer, the fall is ultimately my favorite season. In October, there is so much to look forward to. I may be biased in saying that October is the best month because my birthday is in it, but there is much more to it than that. Yeah, all the leaves changing color is pretty and that, but it is the haunted houses and decorations for Halloween I find most comforting. 

After signing up through OrgSync, I am going to Statesville Haunted Prison with a few friends. The event is being put together by the University Apartment Communities and we’ll be bused to and from the haunted house all for free. Another thing I want to check off my list before the month is over is going to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America. Mix rollercoasters, haunted houses, and cool autumn weather, it ought to be a good time. 

Perhaps even more exciting for a lot of people is the start of the basketball and hockey season. Whether it’s college or professional, both are right at your doorstep in Chicago. 

Personally, I like to watch most Bulls and Blackhawks games in the comfort of my room with my big HD television, but if I do ever want to go to a game I always have the luxury of getting discount tickets through DePaul at the Student Center and just hopping on the train. If I stick around long enough into December, I can experience the CTA Holiday Train​ this year or even the Christkindlmarket, both of which I’ve never done even though I’ve lived in the Chicago suburbs my whole life. 

Although I am sure I missed plenty of seasonal activities available during the winter season ahead, it is always helpful to look on OrgSync for event postings. I mean, if there is something free, why not try it!?

​​​

Do or Die

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

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

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

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

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

#LetsGoCubbies

#LetsGoCubbies II (World Series)

Thank you and as always stay awesome!

Go Cubs Go!

Get Ready for Finals

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Now let me spoil your celebrations. News flash: hold on to your hat because finals are quickly approaching. I hope you’re ready. Finals Week officially begins on Wednesday, November 16th—just a little over two weeks away! However, if your schedule is anything like mine (I hope for your sake that it isn’t), your finals are coming up even sooner than that. My last final is due on November 14th, two days before the start of the so-called “Finals Week.” How does that make any sense!? It doesn’t. But it does mean that I have to start getting ready for finals ASAP. Now, as a master’s student, this is my fifth year of finals. I know what I’m doing. I’ve developed and perfected my own strategies for getting through finals. Here are a few of my suggestions:

-- Ideally, start working on your finals as early as possible. As teachers and professors have told you a thousand times, if you do a little bit of studying, reading, and writing every day, you’ll retain the information better and finals will be a breeze for you. Plus, you have time to go back and edit your writing. If this is how you work, be proud of yourself and know that I’m extremely jealous.
Halloween
In honor of Halloween, my mom dug out several different pieces of costumes that I wore when I was in elementary school. Here I am modeling a Harry Potter robe and part of a grim reaper costume. It had a hood, but it covered my face, so my parents made me cut it off.

-- Be realistic about yourself. If you wait until the last minute to do homework, you’re probably going to wait until the last minute to prepare for finals. So even though working a little bit each day is ideal, you can’t expect to suddenly adopt that kind of schedule just in time for finals. Instead, try to set achievable goals and benchmarks that improve, rather than change, how you normally work.

-- Building on that idea, prepare for the worst case scenario. I know that I’m a severe procrastinator. I always try to work on that. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not. But I’m always prepared in case I procrastinate until the last minute. So now in the days leading up to finals, I’ll try to stock up on healthy(-ish) snacks and get extra sleep so that I’m as clear-headed as possible if I need to pull an all-nighter to write the essay that I’ve had four weeks to write.


Who is Logan Paluch?

Who I Am: Hello students of DePaul, my name is Logan and I am the newest member of the DeBlogs team. I am a sophomore within the Driehaus College of Business double majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. I am from the southwest suburb of Yorkville, IL which is about an hour outside of Chicago. I went from driving 70 down country roads with a view of cornfields to riding the train everyday with a scenic skyline I can take in from my apartment. I was a member of the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program with the Career Center freshman year, but I am always seeking new means to get more involved on campus.

Logan
One of many great photos from the Nicki Minaj concert
What I Do: There are a few things you should know about me and what I am interested in outside of the classroom. First and foremost, I have a slight obsession with Chinese food. Whether it’d be takeout or a buffet, you know I’m always down for it. After an entire academic year I’ve spent here at DePaul, I have yet to find someone else who enjoys country music as much as I do. That being said, I often go to country concerts, an average of ten a year to be exact. However, I am a fan of nearly all music. My favorite concert so far was Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd, but then after that the best concerts were Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, etc. I enjoy exploring the city, always seeking new restaurants to try out. I often go to the Ray to play pickup basketball, workout, or play intramural volleyball. You can also catch me at the beach trying to relax and escape my academic responsibilities by playing sand volleyball or just sleeping. 

Why I Do This: As much as I would love to explore the city, visit every Asian restaurant, and blog about how awesome the food is, I want to share all my experiences on and off campus, the good and the bad, so that hopefully others can learn from them to get the most out of their experience at DePaul. Between keeping up with two honors programs, maintaining physical shape, looking for jobs and internships, and trying to make friends along the way, I realize it all can seem overwhelming. Although these fours year are meant to pursue an education for your desired career, it can be much more than that. Studying at DePaul in a great city like Chicago is a unique experience!


Cru Fall Retreat

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

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

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

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

Meet Emily!

Oh hey there!

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

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

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

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


The Theatre School Drag Show

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

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

Opening Night: Eurydice

Midterms have come and gone, and life in my little part of campus is just as busy as ever! The last couple of weeks have been a blur running from here to there, rehearsal to tech to performances, juggling class work, homework and just plain life work. But at the end of this very crazy workweek, the community at The Theatre School was rewarded by seeing another work of art come to life on stage. This past weekend marked the opening of yet another TTS Mainstage production, this time in our versatile Healy black box theatre, located inside the new Theatre School building on Fullerton and Racine. Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, was the second of three Mainstage productions to open this Fall quarter at DePaul. I was able to attend opening night of this gorgeous show, and while it took a lot of hard work to put up for all involved, it certainly was something to be proud of. 
  
Orpheus
Orpheus, played by MFA actor Keith Illidge sings at the gates of hell in Eurydice. Photo by Sophie Hartler 
Eurydice is a modern play with a twist on the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice; it is a beautifully written and poetic story of love, everlasting bonds, and the mysteries of the afterlife.   Our website describes the tale: 
 “Eurydice and Orpheus are young and in love. On their wedding night, Eurydice meets a man who claims to have a letter from her deceased father. She pursues the letter but dies in the effort. Orpheus descends into the Underworld to save her, and Eurydice must choose between a life with her husband and the certainty of her father's unconditional love”

This play is one that I have seen many times and know very well. For me, this is unusual, as I typically see a lot of plays I have never read or do not have any preconceived ideas about. I have seen this play 3 times in the last few years, and even performed in it myself during my high school years of acting competitions and festivals. The lovely thing about Friday night’s performance, was that I was able to see the play in a new and exciting way, seeing my ideas of the characters and the (under) world they inhabit in a fresh way that may have challenged how I thought about them before. The design of the show was stellar in my opinion, and created really striking memorable and moving moments, that I am still thinking about. Especially for myself, as a very visual person, the images I witnessed in the show were quite striking. I was so proud of the work I saw on stage that night, and really impressed to see the growth by many of the artists involved.
 
Eurydice
The lovers Orpheus and Eurydice, played by MFA Actors Keith Illidge and Sola Thompson. Photo by Joseph Clavel 
The production team includes scenic design by Joy Ahn, costume design by Emilee Orton, lighting design by Simean Carpenter, and sound design by Connor Ciesil.

The cast features Edward Hall (Big Stone), Keith Ilidge (Orpheus), Sarah Serebian (Little Stone), Kiah Stern (Loud Stone), Michael Stock (Father), Sam Straley (Man/Child), and Sola Thompson (Eurydice), all directed by MFA director Michael Burke. 

To any and all around the Lincoln Park area, looking to see an unusual, and undoubtedly gorgeous piece of theatre, I encourage you to come see Eurydice now through the end of October at The Theatre School at DePaul. Student tickets are always $5. For more information about our season visit our website and stay tuned for info on the last mainstage of the Fall season, Romeo and Juliet, coming next week. As always, stay great DePaulians!
 

25th Reunion Dinner

The Willis Tower
One of my favorite experiences I’ve had at DePaul is being a member of the Student Alumni Ambassador program. Every quarter, we don our finest business-casual wear, attend fancy alumni events, and get our mingle on! 

The Student Alumni Ambassadors were founded to strengthen the bonds and connections between alumni and the university, enlighten alumni on the current university culture, engage current students in the alumni community, and develop future alumni leaders. It’s a great way to network with DePaul alumni, but it’s also fun to learn about their experiences at DePaul. 

This past weekend was alumni weekend, and I attended the 25th Reunion Dinner, as an SAA, in the Willis Tower’s Metropolitan Club. It’s no surprise that the views were spectacular and the food was amazing. 

Tasked with saying a few words to kick off the event, I spoke about how grateful I am for my experiences at DePaul. I truly believe that DePaul’s ability to incorporate Chicago and its resources into the classroom is unparalleled. 

Salmon
On the menu for the night were passed hors d’oeuvers including quatro formaggi arranchini, three-hour short rib on a crostini finished with a blue cheese crown, and jumbo shrimp with horseradish spiked cocktail sauce. Beyond that delicious spread came the main courses, which included salad, pan-seared salmon with a smoked paprika crust, and crème brulee with fresh berries and a traditional caramelized candied crust. 

Did I mention being an SAA was pretty awesome? 

It was great to connect with former DePaul students from the graduating class of 1991 over a delicious meal 66 floors above the ground. Their passion for their alma mater has not faltered, making me excited about my future as a DePaul alumni. 

Crème Brulee
If you have the chance to become an SAA during your time at DePaul, I could not recommend it enough! Plus, you get to work with the amazing John Palmares, the associate director of the Office of Alumni Relations​ (also a DePaul grad).

160,000 members strong, the University Alumni Association is something I look forward to joining in 2017. 


#LetsGoCubbies

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

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

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

Stay awesome! 

Halloween in Chicago 2016

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

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

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

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

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

DePaul in the Fall

We have arrived at one of my favorite times in Chicago. I absolutely love Chicago in the fall, especially in Lincoln Park. The changing leaves are beautiful, the weather is perfect, and everyone is cozy in sweaters and scarves. 

The changing season also means that so much is happening at DePaul right now! We have finished midterms and are experiencing the calm before the storm that is finals week. I personally have two huge final research papers, an exam, two formal poster presentations, and a thesis proposal due by November 18. *Gulp.* Everyone say a prayer for your friendly neighborhood DePaul student - most students' schedules are like this. 

Fall at DePaul
It is also prime visit time at DePaul​! I have been noticing a lot of tours happening around campus and it is cool seeing all of the students who could potentially become Blue Demons next year. Go class of 2021 (wow, so weird)! The tour guides do a great job of showing you around campus and highlighting the unique and awesome parts of the school. This is really the ideal time to visit - it is not snowing or miserably cold yet - so come and see why DePaul is the perfect school for you!  


About Our New Blogger Logan

Who I Am: Hello students of DePaul, my name is Logan and I am the newest member of the DeBlogs team. I am a sophomore within the Drihaus College of Business double majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. I am from the southwest suburb of Yorkville, IL which is about an hour outside of Chicago. I went from driving 70 down country roads with a view of cornfields to riding the train everyday with a scenic skyline I can take in from my apartment. I was a member of the Education and Development Grant for Employability (EDGE) Program with the Career Center freshman year, but I am always seeking new means to get more involved on campus.

Logan
One of many great photos from the Nicki Minaj concert
What I Do: There are a few things you should know about me and what I am interested in outside of the classroom. First and foremost, I have a slight obsession with Chinese food. Whether it’d be takeout or a buffet, you know I’m always down for it. After an entire academic year I’ve spent here at DePaul, I have yet to find someone else who enjoys country music as much as I do. That being said, I often go to country concerts, an average of ten a year to be exact. However, I am a fan of nearly all music. My favorite concert so far was Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd, but then after that the best concerts were Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, etc. I enjoy exploring the city, always seeking new restaurants to try out. I often go to the Ray to play pickup basketball, workout, or play intramural volleyball. You can also catch me at the beach trying to relax and escape my academic responsibilities by playing sand volleyball or just sleeping. 

Why I Do This: As much as I would love to explore the city, visit every Asian restaurant, and blog about how awesome the food is, I want to share all my experiences on and off campus, the good and the bad, so that hopefully others can learn from them to get the most out of their experience at DePaul. Between keeping up with two honors programs, maintaining physical shape, looking for jobs and internships, and trying to make friends along the way, I realize it all can seem overwhelming. Although these fours year are meant to pursue an education for your desired career, it can be much more than that. Studying at DePaul in a great city like Chicago is a unique experience!

Family

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

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

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

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

ST*RS Have a Ball

ST*RS
Each year, the graduating class of The Theatre School has the opportunity to be a part of a unique organization called ST*RS (pronounced “stars”). This stands for Support Tomorrow’s Rising Stars. Each year the graduating BFA 4 and MFA 3 class in a variety of majors may choose to join this organization in the hopes of helping with the many costs of the transition into the professional world. The main objective of ST*RS is to raise money for all of the students involved to pay for costs related to flights to showcase, headshots, portfolios and more. As a graduating student, there are many of these costs to consider, and it can be quite overwhelming. By joining ST*RS, students can plan and facilitate events throughout the year, where the proceeds can then be collected and divided among it’s members at the end of the year. Our organization has created many different ways to earn some dough, from holding a pop up Café in the lobby, to dances, to Drag Shows, game tournaments and more. The goal has always been to host events, and, yes, collect the proceeds, while simultaneously creating unifying activities for our school, and a chance for students of all disciplines to come together and have fun. Having been in TTS for the past 3 years, I have been to many ST*RS events, but now have the chance to be a part of the action making these events become a reality for us. 

ST*RS
Now that Fall is officially upon us, ST*RS kicked off the season with their first major event, Fall Ball. Fall Ball is fun night of dancing and socializing at TTS. A dance is held in our Healy Theatre​ on campus, complete with lighting, décor, and a rockin’ DJ. Guests are invited to dress up, bring dates and friends, to dance the night away, enjoy delicious refreshments, and celebrate the start of a new year in style. As a junior I attended the Fall Ball of 2015 and had a truly wonderful night, and could not wait to be a part of it this year, this time as a member of ST*RS. On Friday evening, students and guests were greeted in the Lobby of the Theatre School, and directed to our versatile Healy Black Box Theatre, on the 4th floor. There they were met with harvest themed décor, a TTS Step and Repeat where they could pose for pictures taken by our student photographer, and refreshments out on the patio. Upon entering the theatre, attendees enjoyed fun playlists supplied by our DJ, and an open dance floor waiting to be torn up. The changing colored lights of the Healy set the mood for a lovely time, and pretty view overlooking Fullerton Ave. I know for myself as an acting major, I frequently spend most of my time in movement clothes, yoga pants and sneakers for my classes. So it was so enjoyable to get dressed up with my friends, and (with the risk of sounding dorky) have a night of good clean fun! While there were not as many people in attendance as the year before, I believe the students who attended had quite a fun evening. I know that ST*RS is looking forward to more fun events throughout the rest of Fall Quarter and the rest of the year - I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as well! Until then, the Fall Ball was a great way to usher in the Fall Season, to celebrate the new school year, and bring our school together in a fun and exciting way.

Political Science Watch Party

My four-year plan changed. As most of them do.

Most notably, it turned into a three-year-and-one-quarter plan. But also worth noting, it started in the realm of political science.

I began my journey at DePaul with a strong belief that my calling in life was to be a lawyer. I was going to become Elle Woods (minus all the pink), and ultimately rule the world. However, as I progressed through DePaul, I started to become more interested in public relations and advertising. 

Debate
At the end of my sophomore year at DePaul, I declared my secondary major as public relations and advertising​. The rest is history. 

Although my dreams of being a lawyer have been postponed (who knows, maybe one day I’ll go to law school), I couldn’t be happier that I gained a political science degree. Being a political science major has taught me how to be pragmatic and assess situations from all sides. It has taught me how to break up dense information, conduct research, and has strengthened my writing skills. 

Every single one of my classes was thought provoking and very useful. Despite hoping to pursue a career in public relations once I graduate this Thanksgiving, being a political science major has shaped the way I think, and I know I’m smarter because of it. Plus, it has given me the opportunity to join Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honors society. 

Last year, I had the pleasure of serving the club as Vice President, and was able to create my own initiatives and help out at the new member induction ceremony. It was an awesome way to end my year on the board. 

For the first presidential debate this week, Pi Sigma Alpha and the political science department hosted a watch party for students. It’s awesome to be a part of a community that is so interested in politics. 

Need advice on declaring your major? Let me know. But understand that adding majors or changing them isn’t as dramatic as it seems :)

Chicago Versus Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamilton in Chicago

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

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

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

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


I Survived Grey's Anatomy

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

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

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

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


Chicago’s Lakefront Trail

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

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

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

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

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

boats
See you on the trail!

Daring to Dream

​Many have said that as young college students yet to enter the “real world,” that a great unknown lies before us. The world is our oyster, the possibilities are endless, and our whole lives are ahead of us, waiting to unfold in amazing and surprising ways. When you really think about it, it is pretty true. College is the small chunk of time in the transition between adolescence and adulthood where one can explore and learn about the world, themselves, and what they want for the future. Being in my last year of undergrad has made me become very reflective on my true passions and desires, and well as contemplating the many possibilities for what can happen post-grad.

As a 4th year acting student, I am currently taking an audition class, where we learn how best to prepare for the world of auditioning for professional theatre. Within this course we discuss the realities of the business, and ways to be successful. One required text for this course is the book, “The Actor’s Business Plan”, written by former Theatre School professor and acting coach, Jane Drake Brody. This book guides the reader through preparation for the business of acting, and life. The first assignment I had to complete is creating a list of dreams. This seemingly simple assignment has really had an impact on the way I am examining the possibilities for my future, and has made me reflect on the importance of dreaming big.

Textbook
In this assignment, you create lists of your biggest, truest dreams in many categories. The dreams are broken down into categories for Career, Personal, Financial, Educational, and Community Service dreams. Your task is simply to begin listing your dreams for each of these areas of your life.

Growing up, we were often told to dream big, but as you get older, there is sometimes a pressure not to admit what your truest, grandest dreams are because they might not be realistic, they might not come true. There is an aspect of practicality that makes it hard to say what would honestly be your dream. This assignment took the pressure off and allowed me to truly evaluate my ultimate dreams for the future. In the days since I completed it, I have been noticing the importance of dreaming big. Before I wrote them all down, I didn’t even realize that some of these things on my list were dreams of mine at all! I believe that the bigger you dream, the greater success you can have. Even if your accomplishments don’t turn out exactly as you had them on paper, it is still important to name the dreams you have. To paraphrase what my audition teacher tells our class, don’t prepare for failure! There will undoubtedly come times when you fail at things in life, but don’t count on that. Count on making these dreams a reality.

I want to encourage all young people to take a good look at your dreams, and write them down. No one else has to see them, but if you are honest with yourself, you set yourself up for the possibility of them coming true with hard work and determination. Be great DePaulians!

Interested in learning more? Check out The Actor’s Business Plan: A Career Guide for the Acting Life by Jane Drake Brody, available on Amazon.

More Transitions

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

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

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

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

The Great Hike

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

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

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

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

Hiking

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

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

Get the Most Out of DePaul

Every morning, from my first day of kindergarten through my last day of 12th grade, as I left for school, my mom would remind me to “take advantage of my free education.” Well, when I arrived at college and realized that my education was no longer free, I felt even more pressure to get the most out of it. DePaul has so many resources for students, but tons of students don’t even know what they’re missing out on! So I figured I’d just compile a few of the ways to get the most bang for your buck at DePaul: 

I’m a huge advocate for regularly meeting with advisors. Especially because advisors can really help you strategize and maximize your time and credits at DePaul. I came into DePaul hoping to just be able to graduate within four years. I quickly realized that if I was going to pay for the credits anyways, I might as well try to get as many majors and minors as I can. Four years later, I graduated with two majors, a minor, and a few master’s courses already under my belt. It was only because I kept in touch with my advisors that I was able to figure out how to finish all the requirements within four years. 

Taking care of your mental and emotional health is extremely important. There have been times when I definitely haven’t taken care of myself like I should have, and my metal health suffered. And when that happens, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and unmotivated. The good news is that you definitely don’t have to handle that all by yourself. 
Don’t submit a resume without having someone look it over! I cannot recommend strongly enough that you go visit the Career Center (or, at the very least, their website). The Career Center offers so many great services, but my favorite one is easily the resume review. You can meet with a Peer Career Advisor who can help you with any questions you have about resumes, cover letters, and interviews. If you’re in a rush, they also offer handy walk-in appointments. 

career center
If need help with an essay or want feedback on your writing, you can make an appointment to meet with a Writing Center tutor. If you’re trying to clarify or strengthen an argument, write your thesis statement, fix your grammar, or whatever, the Writing Center can help. No matter your skill level, your paper will only get better if you meet with a Writing Center tutor. Pro tip: ask your professor if they offer extra credit for meeting with a Writing Center tutor.

There's nothing worse than having computer problems when you have work to do. Luckily for you (and me), DePaul’s Genius Squad is FREE and has locations both at the Lincoln Park Campus (in the library) and at the Loop Campus (in the Lewis Center). Next time, bring it to them and see what they can do before you give even a dollar to anyone else.

Welcome Back Blog

Happy fall, DePaulians! For those who don’t know me, my name is Samantha Newcomb, and I am a senior majoring in Acting at the Theatre School at DePaul

Holy cow, that may be one of the first times I have introduced myself that way (as a senior), and it is blowing my mind just a bit.  
School is back in session and I have already experienced a huge milestone. Wednesday was my LAST first day of school! It sounds crazy coming out of my mouth, but now that I am in my senior year of college, this is the last time I will experience the thrills of “back to school” (yes, okay, maybe some day I’ll go to grad school but not right away). Simply remembering that this is my last year of school –ever really puts things into perspective. For the last 17 years I have focused on nothing but school. Putting all my efforts into my studies and getting good grades, all the time and energy spent on getting to middle school, high school, choosing a good college. The time has certainly flown by, and while I consider myself a life-long learner, it really is amazing to me that I am facing my very last year of consecutive study. Next stop, getting my degree!

DePaul Campus
This year is really unique, because it is focused on the transition from academia to the professional world. For my course of study, this means focusing less on the “how to” of acting itself, and shifting toward the business aspects of the arts industry. Topics include auditioning, compiling good resumes and headshots, getting agents for representation upon graduation and more. Of course as many people put it, we are facing entry into the “real world.” I am both nervous and excited for this process, and hope to share my experiences with you all along the way! 

Other things I am looking forward to this fall:

Typical autumn things - changing leaves, fall clothing, warmer beverages and cooler temps 

Reuniting with my frie​nds and classmates - 3(ish) months apart is a long time!

My new classes -  I am taking a mixture of classes on familiar and new topics including Musical Theatre, Meisner Acting Technique, Movement to Music, Auditioning, and Rehearsal and Performance. Now that I am in my last year, my classes are entirely focused on my major. 

My Fall Show - Updates on this to come! 

I can say that I am genuinely excited to begin my senior year, and really soak up all I can in my last year at DePaul. I can already tell that it will be an eye opening, challenging, and growth-filled year. I have many goals for myself academically, professionally, and personally, that I hope to accomplish. I want to do well and work hard in class, and on stage, but I am really trying to keep in mind the need to have fun and enjoy it along the way! I know that I can often be too focused on doing the right things or on the goals I have, that I forget that college is supposed to be an enjoyable time to learn, explore, and have FUN! Life is about the journey.

Welcome back to all in the DePaul Community, I hope you are as excited to start Fall Quarter 2016 as I am! Stay tuned as I fill you all in on the happenings at The Theatre School, my life as a senior and more. 

Until then, be well and do good! 

Keep Calm and Senior Year

Ten weeks. That’s it. 

As I begin my fall quarter this year, I also begin my last quarter at DePaul...ever. On the one hand, no more late night trips to the library, finals week, or homework. On the other hand, no more “free” gym membership, L pass, or summer break either. 

I have mixed feelings about the end of my journey at DePaul. I’m excited to enter the real world and use my degree, but I’m sad to leave the routine of school and my campus community. While it’ll be nice to never have to attend a class again, it’s also new territory. The last time I wasn’t in school was a good sixteen years ago, which is crazy.

What is life without school? I’m not sure. I think I’ll have to pick up a new skill like piano ​or a language to fill the void of class and homework. 

St. Vincent Circle
Until then, I’m dedicated to the job search. (Shameless plug: If you know of anyone in need of an aspiring public relations professional, please let me know.) This summer I sharpened up my resume, did some job market research, and finished up an amazing internship with Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. I’m optimistic about finding a job, but let’s see if I feel the same way in five weeks…

My classes this quarter are ideal, but my schedule, not so much. It figures that my worst schedule would occur when I had the earliest registration time. I’m taking two political science classes and my final public relations requirement. A mere 12 credit hours stand between me and graduation. That’s a hurdle I know I can jump.

So here we go! The ten-week stretch. What’s life got in store for me as a DePaul grad? We all will just have to wait and see.


Welcome to LA

The statuses are being posted, the pictures are being shared on Instagram, and everyone is sharing their first day of school posts. Many of my fellow seniors are even saying “last first day of school!” Which is true and makes me excited and nervous, but we will talk about that in a different blog.

Beach Josue

Welcome to fall quarter here at, my favorite university, DePaul! If you’re a new Blue Demon a super welcome to you! This fall I am studying in Los Angeles, California for DePaul’s LA Quarter program. It’s pretty nice over here in LA the weather is warm, the palm trees are cool, and the history is rich. I’ve yet to go to the Hollywood sign but rest assured it is on my to-do list.

For those unfamiliar with DePaul’s LA Quarter​, it takes place in the fall and spring quarters and is for students studying animation, film, and other majors of that nature. I was fortunate enough to get in this fall and will be here until the winter quarter. The main ideas while out here is to get an internship with a production company, explore the city, and network. I look forward to sharing more of my LA experiences with my readers throughout the quarter and if you’re interested in having a more visual experience with me, you can check out my YouTube channel where I will be vlogging some of my days here!

Thanks for reading my blog and once again welcome to another new year!

Stay awesome friends!


Apparently School Is Starting

Willy
As you can see from my technique and form in this picture, I almost made the Men’s Gymnastics team to compete in Rio this summer.
Like I do everyday, I got hungry today. After realizing that the only food I had in my apartment was half a bottle of ranch dressing, I decided to venture outside and wander aimlessly until I found some food. This has become my routine over the summer — I never remember to buy groceries until one day when I open the fridge and see tumbleweeds just blowing around a vast, empty space. So off I went to take my usual route and cut through the quad. Today, however, my trusty shortcut became a longcut. I quickly found myself in the middle of the DePaul Involvement Fair, stuck in an unmoving mass of people. Using the giant inflatable rock climbing wall as my North Star, I was able to make my way through the sea of people (and make a pit stop at a table that offered free cake) in a few minutes. As I walked away, it finally sunk in that the school year has officially started again. 
 
So, WELCOME BACK (or just WELCOME if you’re new to DePaul)! I hope everyone had a great summer. Personally, I had a roller coaster of a summer. It started off real rough for me. The second week of summer break, I went to get my hair cut because I was starting to look like a Beatles impersonator. I asked for a trim, but I can only assume that the hairdresser heard “buzz cut” instead. The result was not pretty.

Other than my new haircut that made me look like a moldy Mr. Potato Head, my summer was surprisingly fantastic. I had a summer thesis research course that was intense, but also super helpful (and it only made me cry a few times). In addition to working at the library a few nights each week, I started an internship that has been better than I ever could have imagined. I actually loved it so much that I decided to continue interning there through the fall! 

Willy Haircut
After receiving a panicked call from me about my disastrous new haircut, my parents demanded that I send them a picture so that they could assess how bad it really was. At the time, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. 
Since I’m a BA/MA student (which you can read all about here), I have to go above and beyond the standard graduate course load this fall and take three courses. By the end of fall, I will have to have a formal thesis proposal completed and ready to present. I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve already secured a thesis advisor, so hopefully the rest of the thesis process will go just as smoothly! I’m way excited to get deeper into thesis research and to see what I can come up with when pushed to the brink of mental collapse.
 
So it is time to buckle up and brace yourself for harrowing accounts of me stress eating my way towards my master’s degree. Welcome back to school! 

Welcome Back!

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOP and Music in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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


Surplus With A Purpose

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

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

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

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

My Not So Typical College Job

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Summer!

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Reflections: My Last Show of the Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Live In A Pineapple Under the Sea?

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

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

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

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

​​


And That's a Wrap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utilizing Your Summer

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

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

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

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

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


My Five Favorite Memories

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

1.  Chicago Jazz Festival​

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

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

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

 3. Bakery-crawling

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

4. Bowling nights and attending ILMEA

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

Dancing in Sierra Leone, Africa

5. All of these things:

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

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


Presenting at the Honors Student Conference

On Friday, May 13th, the unluckiest day of the year, I was lucky enough to be able to present at the third annual Honors Student Conference. This year, over 100 students presented research papers, artistic works, or thesis projects at the conference (you can see the program here!). 

While Honors thesis students are obligated to present at the conference, any Honors student is eligible to present a poster at the conference. In order to present a poster, an Honors student can either apply for the conference or be nominated by a professor. If you apply, you submit your paper or work to the Honors Student Conference Committee for consideration. If a professor nominates a work you completed for class, you’re automatically accepted to the conference. I was honored to be nominated by one of my favorite professors (thank you, Professor Steeves!) for a paper I wrote for my Honors Senior Seminar. 

To be completely honest, I almost turned down the opportunity to present at the conference. Unlike most people (I imagine), it wasn’t the idea of public speaking that gave me anxiety. I did theatre for years; I have no problem speaking in public and I knew my topic well. I got anxious when I found out that I would have to make a poster. Not only am I not a very visual person in general, but my paper topic was very conceptual and theoretical and did not lend itself very easily to visual representation.

Thankfully, the Honors Program offers two short workshops to prepare everyone for the conference. While everyone had to attend a workshop about how to present a poster, I opted to also attend the workshop on how to create a poster. I furiously took notes and started working on it that night. While I was able to format everything right, I still struggled to figure out how to visually organize my topic. I stressed out about it for weeks. Unsurprisingly, I finally had my flash of brilliance the day before the conference and stayed up until the early hours of the morning working on my poster. In the end, the stress was worth it and I could not be more proud of my poster.

The actual conference experience was amazing and stress-free.  Everyone was so complementary about my poster and at least pretended to be super interested in my paper and what I had to say. I had sort of forgotten that there are so many students studying subjects other than my own. Of course I’ve taken classes with students from different majors, but I rarely get the opportunity to see students represent fields of study that aren’t my own. So it was exciting to see people that I know and actually be able to see what they are studying. Likewise, it’s exciting to speak to professors outside of your department about your field of study. Each professor ends up approaching your topic from a different perspective and their questions make you understand your own topic even better. 

Presenting at the Honors Student Conference was really the best experience. If I weren't a senior, I would already be looking to present again next year. If you're ever on the fence about presenting, do it and I promise you won't regret it.


Just in Time!

As I finish up my third year here at DePaul, I have visited the Career Center a total of 10 times. Some meetings were more successful than others in terms of actually finding internships I am interested in. Most of the time I just went to talk to an advisor about possible things coming in the future so I can stay on track and not lose sight on why I am even at school – to get a job that fulfills me.

Something I am looking forward to participating in is the Just in Time Fair. This career fair happens every year directly after graduation. This gives students the much needed opportunity to come face-to-face with employees of all kinds and learn about the application process and job descriptions. Of course technology has to play into this somehow, they also made a Career Fair Plus App!

This app features the ability to plan out your trip and become familiar with the employers that will be showcased. It also shows an interactive floorplan, event details, real time updates, and tips for those needing to better prepare. Along with this, the Career Center​ gave their own insider tips. 
  • ​​​​​​Research companies you’re interested in and come prepared to ask specific questions that reflect your knowledge of that company.
  • Attend the How to Work a Job Fair & Internship Fair workshop. Learn how to effectively showcase your skills and abilities at a fair.
  • Have your resume reviewed. Is your resume error-free and ready for employers? Visit the Peer Career Advisors for a resume critique.
  • Practice your 30-second pitch. Your pitch is how you introduce yourself – it’s a brief overview of you, your background and career interests. An engaging pitch and firm handshake can help you market yourself and stand out to an employer.
Even if you’re not graduating you should still check out the App and the employers list so you can get a sense of the type of companies and non-profits that are looking for fresh faces!


Copa America Centenario

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

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

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

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

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


Summer Plans

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Campaigns

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

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

Issue:

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

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

Audience:

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

Sponsor:

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

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


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

It's Graduation Time

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

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

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

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

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


PAWS Chicago

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

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

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

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

Chicago Rock Spot

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

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

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

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

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

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


Candy Expo

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

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

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


Lakeview Food Obsessions

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


Back to the Lyric and to Symphony Center

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

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

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

DePaul Violinists at Symphony Center post-concert!

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


Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

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

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

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

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

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


In Defense of the Quarter System

Every May, right about halfway through the month, you start hearing DePaul students complain about the quarter system. It’s not hard to figure out why. I know firsthand how brutal it can be to see pictures of your friends from other schools already enjoying summer break (or even worse, graduating) when you just finished midterms. I don't think that the quarter system gets the respect that it deserves. Here are a few reasons that I love the quarter system:

It's easy to fall behind and hard to catch up in a ten week quarter. At the beginning of the school year, I downloaded an app to try to stay organized and on top of my work. I spent six hours one night inputting every assignment I had during the quarter. I don't think I ever looked at the app again.
You get to take more classes. In a semester system, you typically take 4-5 classes per semester. At DePaul, the typical course load is 4 classes per quarter. Over the span of four years, the quarter system allows you to take 8-16 more classes than you would in a semester system. So while the 10-week courses in the quarter system move fast and can be hard to keep up with at times (these pictures show my desperate attempts to stay organized), those extra classes can make adding a minor or a second major so much easier.

If you have a bad quarter and your grades drop, you have plenty of opportunities to raise your GPA. Rough quarters happen to the best of us. Whether you’re dealing with personal issues outside of class or you just don’t understand the material in class, it’s way easier to recover your GPA in the quarter system. Under the semester system, your final GPA is the average of eight semesters. Under the quarter system, it’s the average of twelve quarters. So when it comes time to calculate your overall GPA, a single semester has a way bigger impact than a single quarter.

If you don’t particularly like your professor, you don’t have to deal with them for that long. Somewhere along the line, you’re inevitably going to end up taking a class with a professor who, for whatever reason, you wouldn’t take again. The good news is that, in a quarter system, your class with that professor only lasts for ten weeks rather than fifteen weeks. You can always see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The schedule just makes way more sense. The semester system is fragmented in ways that the quarter system isn’t. In a semester system, Thanksgiving break interrupts fall semester and spring break divides spring semester. In the quarter system​, Thanksgiving means the end of fall quarter and the beginning of winter break, which is the entire month of December. Spring break marks the end of winter quarter and the beginning of spring quarter.

Let me know what you think about the quarter system!


Pathways Program Mentors

I have started a dangerous journey: I have begun watching Grey’s Anatomy​

Do you think I could be a new addition to Grey's Anatomy?
I had sworn to myself that I would never watch it because it was such a big time commitment and I didn’t (and still don’t) have the time to get sucked into 12 seasons of a show that I knew I would like. I even know a lot of what happens because I didn’t care if my friends spoiled it for me. You guys, I seriously was never going to watch it. Until I watched a couple of episodes with my best friend and got completely hooked. I am now halfway through season three and it is taking over my life. 

I am invested in the characters, plot, and drama, but it also reminds me of the times I spent shadowing my aunt in the hospital when I was still a Pre-Med major. My aunt is a fertility specialist and I really enjoyed the time I spent with her. Her job is so interesting and I learned a lot from my time with her. I got to shadow doctors in the OR, attend patient consultations, and really get a clear picture of what it is like being a doctor. 

As part of the Pathways Program at DePaul, you also have the opportunity to shadow physicians in the field that you’re interested in. A really cool aspect of the Pathways Program is that you are assigned a mentor from Rosalind Franklin. Your mentor will be able to answer any questions you have, support you through the process of applying to Rosalind Franklin, and help connect you to opportunities, like internships or shadowing experiences. It is one of the most beneficial aspects of being a member of the Pathways Program, I think, because it helps you make connections and gives you someone who really knows what it is like to practice the profession that you are interested in. 

Logan Square

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

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

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

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



Dancakes Treats DePaul!

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

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

Dancake's Instagram!

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


Spring Events in The Windy City

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

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

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

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

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


On Campus Jobs

If there is one statement that goes without saying, it is that college is expensive! No matter where you go, public or private, trade program or 4 year university, it all costs big bucks. DePaul offers many scholarship, grant, and loan options to help finance your education, and make getting a degree affordable. But what about the other stuff? 

It is always nice, and often necessary, to have a little money on the side to take care of other costs related to school or your personal life. Depending on your schedule at school, the possibility of internships or paid part-time jobs can vary a lot. For me, I have a very busy class and rehearsal schedule from 8am to about 10pm every day. This makes it difficult to squeeze in an outside part-time jobs that work with my student schedule. I am sure this is true for many students. But we still need to make money, gain skills and experience, and build our resumes, right? That is where on-campus student jobs come in. There are a variety of campus jobs that students can have. At The Theatre School, I have a position as an office assistant to my Voice and Speech professor. I help with clerical duties such as copying and filing, organization, scheduling, and any other tasks my teacher needs help with in order to go teach her classes as efficiently as possible. This position is great for me because I get to spend time with a professor I really like, doing simple work throughout the day. The best part about it is that it works well with my crazy schedule. I can spend my hour breaks in between classes and rehearsals performing my duties, because I often don't have many consecutive hours to work. This position was offered to me by a professor, and I know that many professors throughout the entire university have students who help them with their office tasks. There are, however, many different jobs that one can hold on campus here at DePaul, at any campus location. 

A great way to find out what is available is to visit the DePaul Campus Job Board. This is a webpage managed by the DePaul Office of Student Employment​. To do this simply visit the Student Employment webpage and login as a student using your school-issued Campus Connect username and password. Next click on the tab that reads "Jobs" on the top of the page and you will see a new page that looks like this:

This page lists all of the student jobs that are available now. On the right hand side of the screen you will see options to refine your search. This page enables you to look at student jobs by department, campus locations and more. Some jobs require more experience than others and are clearly labeled here as to whether they are entry level to experienced job opportunities. By clicking the link to each job you will see the description of the job, and the requirements to apply for the position. Need an entry level job on the Loop campus? No problem, able to take a more experienced position at the Lincoln Park location? You can find that here, too. On-campus student jobs are great because since they are made for students, the schedules are often very manageable around your class schedule, and there is a limit on the number of hours you can work in a week, because DePaul believes in giving opportunities, but that studies come first. ​

Finding a job off-campus is not too hard to do either. Being in a busy city, there are numerous businesses that hire. If there is a particular business or company you would like to work for, I recommend visiting their website or calling to see if there are positions available. Other ways to find part-time work to supplement your class schedule are to visit job search engines, such as Handshake, Snagajob, Indeed, and more. Or visit the DePaul Career Center. And never doubt the power of word-of-mouth. Put it out there that you are looking for work, spread the word, and often you will come across someone who knows of a position that is available and might be the right fit! 

College is expensive and students are busy, but trust me, using this handy Job Board site, and keeping your eyes open can absolutely lead to part-time jobs that will work for you as much as you work for them!

Date Ideas That Aren't Netflix and Chill

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

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

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

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

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


Preparing for Adult Life

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

       1.     Opened up a credit card

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

 2.     Lived off campus

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

 3.     Found a church

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

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

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


VSD 2016

Vincentian Service Day (VSD) is DePaul’s annual day of service where hundreds of students go out in the community to carry out the Vincentian mission. 

Each year athletes, scholars, staff, faculty, and more meet in the McGrath arena on a Saturday morning to get hyped for the day. This year the focus of our service was centered on homelessness. Several students shared their experience followed by an address from President Father Dennis Holtschneider

It is an event that is inspiring, fun, and reflects what DePaul is all about. I participated with the Office of Multicultural Student Success (OMSS) and led our group along with my friend and fellow scholar Katie. We went to the Hermitage Community Garden​ in Englewood and helped pull weeds, lay mulch, and prep soil for planting. 

After our service was done, our group reflected on what we had done and how our time was spent. VSD concluded with a cookout that is usually in the Quad but because of weather was in the Student Center. There was hot dogs, music, games, and throwback pictures previous VSD events. It was time well spent!

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


The Big Reveal

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

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

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

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

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

Go Cubs Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let's Talk FEST

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

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

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

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

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


Post-DemonTHON

Last week, I wrote about the exciting impending event, DemonTHON and this week, I am thrilled to recap the event and talk about what a fun success it was! For those who need a refresher about what DemonTHON is, it is DePaul’s 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Dancers raise money to participate in the event and then stand/dance for 24-hours, For the Kids (DemonTHON's motto). 

The big event was jam-packed with activities, stories, and music that made the 24 hours go by quickly. Each hour all the dancers participated in the Morale Dance, a 10-minute long choreographed dance to a mashup of a bunch of songs. By hour 24, we certainly knew the dance moves! After the Morale Dance, we heard a Miracle Story, a story from families and kids who have been treated and cared for at Lurie’s Hospital. Those were some of my favorite parts because we were able to meet and hear from people who have been positively impacted by the money we’ve raised. It made the sore feet and tiredness so worth it!

The Cru team at DemonTHON. PC: Alex Segall Photography
Each chunk of 4-5 hours had themes, too, like State Fair and 2000’s. Each theme hour gave dancers the opportunity to change into costumes and play themed games. We were fed food donated and catered by businesses all over Lincoln Park, which was great. We also danced a whole lot, which actually helped our feet not hurt. My favorite was the Half Hour Power Hour, which was half an hour filled with constant throwback 90’s and 2000’s music. What a blast!

I do not think I have ever been so tired and sore at the end of the 24 hours, but participating in the event was so worth it. We raised $274,887.77 FTK (for the kids!)! In the five years that DemonTHON has been at DePaul, $1,000,000 has been raised, and that is just absolutely incredible and humbling. I am so proud to have been a part of something so important and inspirational. FTK!

Garage Sales in Chicago

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

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

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


Day Trips from Chicago

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE DePaul, but sometimes it’s nice to have a day away from campus to regroup. Below you’ll find four places within a three-hour drive of campus. Don’t have a car? Check out the student car share program through Zipcar​!

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

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

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

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


Performing with the Chicago Symphonic Winds

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

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

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

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

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

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


Leisure at DePaul

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

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

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

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

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


Walking for Multiple Sclerosis

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

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

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

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

Me and Will at the 2016 Walk MS


Chicago's Famous Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Misanthrope

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

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

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

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

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

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



DemonTHON

I had a very long, fun, emotional, physically exhausting, incredibly rewarding weekend: I danced for DemonTHON, DePaul’s 24-hour dance marathon that benefits Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Throughout the year, DemonTHON ​hosts events around DePaul and Chicago to engage with and raise money for the children being treated at Lurie’s. The entire event is wrapped up at the 24-hour dance marathon, which was this past weekend. For 24 hours, I stood and danced for all the children who can’t. 

I was on the Cru DePaul team and I was so excited for the weekend. To be honest, the thought of being on my feet for 24 hours straight was a little lot daunting, but it is for an amazing cause and I was surrounded by all of my friends. I was most excited to meet and hear the stories of some of the children who have been treated at Lurie’s. They are such an inspiration and have made the entire fundraising adventure and the dance marathon 110% worth the aching feet and tired bodies.

The Cru crew dressed up for Tacky Prom. Don't we look great?
Throughout the year, DemonTHON has hosted events to raise money and to celebrate those who are dancing. My favorite event was Tacky Prom where we dressed up and danced in bad 80’s dresses. It was so fun! DemonTHON has also hosted many bake sales in the Student Center, sold lots of merchandise, and gone canning almost every week, among numerous other fundraisers (where 100% of the profits go to the kids!). So far, in the four years DemonTHON has been at DePaul, students have raised $725,112.23. That’s amazing! I am so happy I get to be a part of something so special that makes such a big difference. I will be writing an update next week talking about how the big event went and how much money we raised. Stay tuned!

Where to Study: Group Edition

Let’s get one thing clear: no one likes group projects. It’s impossible to find a time when everyone is available to meet. There’s always either someone who does nothing or someone who tries to do everything. If you’re lucky, you might even have one of those people in your group who asks a thousand questions or that one person that does all of their work, but does it all wrong. You can never decide on a place to meet up. Now I may not be able to help you with your annoying group members, but I’ve come up with a list of the best places for groups to study on campus.

I'm always at the library (and not just because I work there).
Probably the most obvious place to study is the library. All four floors of the library have tons of tables and chairs and desks, but for group work, definitely stick to the first two floors. Each floor of the library is supposed to get quieter as you go up and you don’t want to be that group that everyone else on the floor complains about. If you want to talk as a group, but don’t want to be distracted by everyone around you talking, you can reserve one of the study rooms in the library.

If your group is working primarily on your computers, try out one of the media:scape tables on the first floor of the library if you haven’t already. While you can reserve the media:scape tables in the Information Commons on the first floor of the library, the media:scape tables in the Scholar’s Lab in the library are first come, first serve. Each media:scape table has one or two big monitors, either a PC or a PC and a Mac, and a bunch of connection cables for laptops. After everyone plugs their laptops into the media:scape table, you can switch which screen is displayed on the monitor with the push of a button. It’s especially amazing for doing research as a group. Whenever someone finds a really helpful source, they can push the button and everyone can see that same source up on the big screen.

The media:scape tables could not be better for when your group has to make a PowerPoint.

If your group is a little more casual, or you’re just studying for a test with a bunch of people, the SAC Pit is the place to go. While the SAC Pit is super busy during the morning and early afternoon, it quiets down and turns into a great place to study. If you’re looking for somewhere quieter during the day, you can just go up to meet at one of the tables on the second, third, or fourth floor of Levan Center, which is connected to the SAC. The tables are right next to huge windows, which obviously provide tons of light, and aren’t used nearly as often as they should be.

My other favorite place to meet up and study is at the Arts and Letters Hall​, right across the street from Levan Center and the SAC. All four floors of Arts and Letters have different arrangements of tables, couches, and chairs that make studying a lot more comfortable. That being said, I get distracted way more often in Arts and Letters than I do anywhere else, so I can only study here when I'm feeling particularly motivated. It's one of the most popular places to meet for group work, so good luck finding a table during the day.

Good luck studying!


Vincentian Service Day 2016

Do you enjoy doing community service? Do you want to make an impact on Chicago? Are you a DePaul student? Are you free on May 7th? If you can answer yes to all of the above, then Vincentian Service Day sounds like something you need to sign up for! 

Taken from DePaul’s website, “Vincentian Service Day (VSD) is an annual tradition at DePaul. Started in 1998 as a part of DePaul's Centennial celebration, we are now in our 18th year. On the first Saturday in May, over 1400 DePaul students, staff, faculty and alumni will participate in a day of service with 100+ Community partners in the Chicagoland area and cities around the country.”

Vincentian Service Day is on May 7th, 2016
I participated in VSD last spring and it was one of the highlights of my sophomore year. I volunteered with the Pathways Program and our location was the Irving Park YMCA. We spent the morning and afternoon painting the hallways of the dormitories and then headed back to DePaul for a huge picnic and cookout on the Quad. It was so much fun! It was a great way to bond with my classmates and friends and the staff at the YMCA were so grateful and appreciative of what we were doing. I truly felt like I was making a difference, which is what VSD is all about: making a positive impact in the community around us.

This year, I am participating with Cru DePaul and we are volunteering with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization helping children and families in need international and local by supporting and strengthening various organization and churches. I am very excited for May 7, and to give my day to help someone else’s. Join with me and sign up for Vincentian Service Day! I can guarantee you will experience something positive from it. 

Let's Go Hawks!

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

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

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

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

Let’s go Hawks!


Media Studies at DePaul

During my course as a college student, I have heard some remarks about Communication majors that just do not add up in my brain. As a Communication & Media major, I continue to learn about the influences of media and where we stand within it. I have heard people saying that Communication is a cop out major. My response to this is loaded with factual ammo as to why Communication and Media studies are so important. Just like history, media has the ability to interpret the past and give us insight to where we have been and where we are going.

To me, learning about media is like a fish learning everything there is to know about water. As millennials​, we are constantly interacting with it and surrounded by it either consciously or subconsciously. Our inner workings are molded and mirrored by media and understanding it to its fullest degree is something I find philosophically important.  With this in mind, let me tell you about the current media course I am in this quarter!

The central idea of this media course is about diving into popular culture and exploring seemingly “trashy” or “stupid” media products. It makes for a very entertaining class and one where there is a lot of class participation because we all have a lot to say about the media texts around us.

By the end of this course, I will hopefully be able to understand and critically engage with a variety of academic methodologies and models for the study of media, usefully build on and reassess these same models in their own understanding of culture and media, and write my own analyses of media texts and related cultural phenomena. 


Living in Wrigley

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

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

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

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

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

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


Bogdan the Carwasher

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

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

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

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

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

The U-505 Submarine!

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

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

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

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

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

Admitted Students Weekend

When spring rolls around students all over the country are going through the same thing: making college decisions. The acceptance letters are in, the financial aid packages have arrived, and now there is one thing left to do: CHOOSE. While I am now in my junior year of my undergraduate career, I remember this time of year vividly, my senior year of high school trying to choose the right college to attend. I've briefly mentioned some of my experience choosing a school, but there is an event coming up at The Theatre School that is has got this on my mind. That event is Admitted Students Weekend. I remember as a high schooler going on countless college tours, reading endless pamphlets, and surfing around too many college websites. Sometimes these would be an overload of too much information, and sometimes not enough information, but the tours and pamphlets and websites don't always let you know what the student experience is really like at a college or university. Enter Admitted Students Weekend. I remember once I had received my acceptance letter to DePaul, I was beyond excited. But I had a big choice to make whether to attend DePaul, which had been my first choice at the time, or choose one of the many other options I had. A big thing to consider is fit - do I think I can fit here? Will I get not only the education I desire, but also the student experience I want? 

The Theatre School at DePaul hosts an awesome event to allow students to get a taste of just that. Students who have been accepted into one of the many different degree programs at TTS are invited in April to come to campus for Admitted students Weekend. This is a 2 to 3 day event where students who have been admitted get to truly experience the student life of people with their major. These prospective students get to spend the night in the dorms with current students with their same major, seeing for themselves what it is like to live on campus. They get to watch classes attended by current students to see what they are learning, and get to attend a demo class themselves to try out some of the work. This is a chance to meet some of the other students who may attend, meet current students, ask questions and feel the energy of the school. There are panels with current students and panels with alumni, answering any questions, addressing concerns, and sharing their own experiences. 

As a girl from the Pacific Northwest, who had never really been to Chicago other than to tour the schools, it was important to me to know more before making a huge decision to move all the way across the country. Also I knew that the other school I had visited really didn't feel right to me. In April of 2013, I got an invitation to attend Admitted Students Weekend, to come see what it is like to be an Acting Major​ at DePaul. I can honestly say that it is one of the best decisions that I made. With some objections from my parents, I found a way to get a ticket to Chicago to visit for the weekend. When I got here, I got to tour the school (this was not the beautiful 73 million dollar facility we have now), meet the students, ask questions and get a feel for it myself. I really had to ask myself, based on what I have seen and heard here, could I see myself here? I think that is a CRUCIAL question to ask yourself when picking a school. There are many factors to think about, for me they were location, cost, curriculum, diversity, and more. To be honest, cost was a huge one for me, coming from a single parent home. But to be even more honest, it was important to me to put the cost aside and ask myself is this where I see myself for the next 4 years? For me, the answer was yes. I loved the idea of conservatory style training paired with a well-rounded liberal arts education. I loved the idea of being in Chicago. I loved what I saw as a collaborative environment with committed students and artists. I loved the values DePaul has regarding service to our community and using the city as your classroom. These appealed to me greatly. 

I just received an email today saying that this coming weekend is Admitted Students Weekend at TTS, and to be on the lookout for ways to make the students feel welcome, and help them with their decision. It is crazy to me to be on the other end of the experience this time around, as I have the last few years. I am so grateful that DePaul hosted a weekend like this, as it really helped me make one of the biggest decisions in my life. My advice to anyone currently making their own college decision is to definitely attend any event offered such as the one I have just mentioned. But if you have only experienced the tours, and the photos and paragraphs that are scattered across the website, really ask yourself, "Can I see myself here? Will I get what I want out of my education and my experience?" Answer honestly, and go with your gut. Everything else will work itself out. 

This is a very exciting time of year, and I am very excited to see who decides to become a Blue Demon next fall. 

DePaul Internship Credit

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

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

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

The answers? Yes, yes and yes.

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

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

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

Status: Officially Employed!

With less than two months of school left, preparing for life post-DePaul is scary, exciting and stressful all at the same time! Though my main focus should be on finishing my classes, maintaining my GPA and enjoying my time in the city, I can’t help but worry about what is happening next – where will I work? Where will I live? What will happen to my relationships, and how will I go about building new ones? I feel like I’ve had job applications on my mind more than anything else – until this past week when my post-grad status shifted from unknown to employed!

After only filling out a few job applications, I’ve officially been hired by a school district to teach 5th-12th grade band. For this particular school, I had a FaceTime interview due to distance after submitting my application materials through email. The superintendent and I had a great conversation about the direction of their band program and the ways in which I could help provide a challenging and enjoyable learning environment for their students. Within three hours I had received the job offer! Taking the advice of my advisor, I made the three hour trip to the school to make sure it would be a good fit before making any kind of decision. Once I had seen the school, spoken with both principals and discussed further job requirements, I had no doubt in my mind that this was the job for me. I signed my contract and am now eagerly waiting to start my first job as a real-life teacher this August!

This new job will pose a lot of new challenges for me, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will be responsible for teaching 5th-12th grade band (probably about 65-70 students), with the expectation that I will begin a marching band, prepare students for ILMEA auditions and perform several times a year. The school is located in rural Illinois, just about 3 hours outside of Chicago – certainly a drastic shift from the environment I’ve been living in these past four years! Aside from teaching and having ownership over my band program, I’m really looking forward to fresh vegetables from local farms, starry night skies and forming new relationships with my new co-workers and neighbors. I might even think about getting a pet to keep me company!

It is pretty uncommon for teachers, especially fresh-out-of-college teachers, to be hired this early before the start of the next school year. I consider myself extremely lucky to already have a plan in place! Being a DePaul student has prepared me so well – I know that all of my graduating colleagues will be successful because of the education we have received here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.

For now, I’ll be doing my best to stay focused and get my physics homework in on time. Only 6 more weeks until graduation and the start of the next chapter of my life!


Be a Student Employee

​​Like most people, I’m not a Rockefeller, so I’ve had a job (or two) on the side during college. In fact, as I’m writing this, it is currently National Student Employment Week (or something along those lines). For the record, I feel appreciated, but also devastated that I had to miss the student employee dodgeball tournament the other night (the library’s team was called The Late Fees). Nevertheless, I realized that I’ve been working at the library for almost three years now. Now that I’m searching for internships and jobs off-campus, I’m realizing all of the benefits of on-campus employment.

I can't belie​ve I missed out on dodgeball.

The most obvious benefit is straight-up proximity. There are tons of jobs on both the Lincoln Park campus and the Loop campus. The first year I worked at the library, I lived across the street from the library. I could literally go from my bed to the front door of the library within four minutes. You can’t beat that. You also can’t overstate the efficiency of being able to get from class to work in minutes, which is why on-campus jobs are especially convenient for commuters.

As you probably know, DePaul operates on the quarter system, which is obviously different than the typical semester system. Unlike many internships (most of which are based off of the semester system), on-campus jobs are structured around the quarter system. So instead of trying to schedule your classes around an internship that may overlap two or three weeks with the next quarter, you can build your work schedule each quarter around your class schedule. And if you drop a class or add a class early in the quarter and realize that now you have class when you’re supposed to be working, most supervisors are pretty willing to work with you and to be flexible to accommodate your new schedule. You can expect supervisors to be extra understanding during finals as well!

Furthermore, since on-campus jobs are based on the academic calendar, most jobs are reduced or optional during academic breaks. I’m very close to my family, so I spend all my breaks at home. Even though the library is open during breaks, I’ve never worked during a break (and I still have my job!). Plus, if the university closes because of weather or something like that, that most likely means that work is closed, too.

Nine times out of ten, I recommend searching for an on-campus job rather than an off-campus job, especially if you’re like me and you’re lazy and you don’t want to travel that far for work. I think an off-campus job is best for those who really want experience in a specific, specialized field. But if you’re just looking to earn some money on the side, you don’t need to look that far.


Spring Break 2016

Who needs Miami or Cancun?

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

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


America the Beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Advantages to Your Student ID

One of my favorite parts of going to such a diverse school like DePaul is having friends in so many different fields and majors. I am a Health Sciences major, but some of friends are majoring in Psychology, Finance, Communications, and English. It is so cool to see how close we are even though we all have such different passions and majors.

One of my friends, Trevor, is in the School of Music and is majoring in Vocal Performance. He is passionate about opera and this quarter he had a leading role in Die Fledermaus, a German opera. It was thankfully performed in English as my German skills are pretty lacking. To give a quick insight, the three-act opera in centered around a masquerade ball and is full of disguises, romance, lust, and humor. 

Trevor played the witty friend to the main character and humorously meddled in the lives of his friends to reveal an affair. Trevor and the entire cast did a wonderful job and it was a very entertaining way to spend a Friday night.

I really encourage DePaul students to take advantage of performances like these. With a Student ID, tickets are free and you get the opportunity to see the immense talent of your fellow students. There is so much more, too, that DePaul students unknowingly have access to that is not taken advantage of. Did you know that with a Student ID you get into all of the DePaul athletic events free? There’s even a shuttle bus that takes you down to Allstate Arena to watch the boys’ basketball team play. DePaul has a lot of talented students, whether their passions be in music, athletics, or theater, and it is so cool that we get the opportunities to see their talents be performed. 

Final Countdown Spring Time

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

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

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

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


Shufflin' for the Last Time

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

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

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


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

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

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


Spring Quarter Fun on Campus

​​​​​I hope everyone had a great spring break and got to go do something wild and crazy and fun! Some of my friends went to Europe, some went skiing, I went to IKEA​ and got lost in the lighting department. But school has started back up and the mourning period for Spring Break is now over. But still, you need some fun stuff to do during your free time this quarter! So. It’s that time again. I’m back to tell you all about events happening this quarter!

At the beginning of each quarter, I always hit up the websites for DePaul Activities Board (DAB) and for the Office of Student Involvement . DAB releases their event calendar (around which I plan my personal calendar).  My favorite programs are usually the movie premieres, where DAB hands out free tickets to the premiere of a popular upcoming movie at the movie theater a couple blocks away. This quarter, the premiere is Captain America: Civil War​ on May 5th, which you know everyone will be trying to get tickets to. 

As you can see on the calendar, DAB hosts a wide variety of events. All I need to read is “Canines on Campus” for me to get excited. I’m definitely hoping to go to An Evening with the Upright Citizens Brigade​. If you don’t know what the Upright Citizens Brigade is, all you need to know is that Amy Poehler was one of the original members. And, of course, FEST, DePaul's annual end-of-the-year concert, is at the end of May, so keep your eyes open for more info about the headliner and how to get tickets.

I also visit the Office of Student Involvement’s website to find out about DemonTix​, DePaul’s discount ticket program, to see what events they’re selling tickets for this quarter. While the sporting events all went on sale last month and are probably sold out, you can always buy discount movie passes through Office of Student Involvement. And this quarter, starting on May 5th, you can buy discount tickets to go up to the SkyDeck​ in Willis Tower! It’s also definitely worth keeping up with both DAB and the Office of Student Involvement on Twitter or Facebook, since they sometimes announce impromptu giveaways (that’s how I got tickets to Book of Mormon​ last year!).

I wrote about the Humanities Center​ events last quarter, but I just want to review once again how amazing the events are. While DePaulywood Squares (a take on Hollywood Squares​, substituting professors for celebrities) most likely will have already come and gone by the time you read this blog, there are still four other events hosted throughout the quarter, including an event about Moby-Dick that somehow incorporates a screening of Star Trek II . It is my personal mission to make it to Hungry Hungry Humanities: The Secret Life of Food​, because you know I love my food.

Let me know what you’re planning on going to this quarter!​


I'm Going to LA!

I frequently talk about the film program here at DePaul University. The reason being is I am a film student. I am now done with the majority of my third year of college and have only this Spring Quarter to complete before I head into my final year at DePaul. 

It’s a bit nerve-racking, I must admit, but some good news has recently come my way. The LA Quarter​ is a program available to students that wish to go to Los Angeles and study for a quarter. It is typically provided for the fall and spring quarters. In order to get into the program you have to submit a piece of work, fill out an application, write a letter of intent, and get a professor to recommend you. All of which, I did about a month ago before the deadline. 

I didn’t tell anyone that I applied, not even my family, because I didn’t want there to be all this excitement if I didn’t get in. Also, I am kind of superstitious and did not want to jinx myself. About two weeks after applying I was onset for this short film titled Cobra Cliff. We were preparing our next shot and I got an email from CDM​ with the header saying “LA Quarter” but no giving any indication of acceptance or not. I pardoned myself from the set and immediately opened the email to see that I had been accepted to the LA Quarter for Fall Quarter of the 2016-2017 academic year. I wanted to jump with joy and excitement and tell all my friends but we were seconds away from rolling so I didn’t. 

Somehow, I held in all my excitement for the rest of the shoot but the moment I got out I texted my family, my friends, and everyone else that would care to know. Today, I share it with you my fellow reader and friend. If you are pursuing film here at DePaul be sure to check out the LA Quarter. I am very excited for this opportunity and look forward to writing to you all from sunny LA next year!


Spring Quarter Update

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

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

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

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

Stepping Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wellness Day at The Theatre School

As students prepare for finals, they can often wear themselves thin. With various projects, papers, and performances, students are very hard at work this time of the quarter, and can often be stressed out to the max. Over in The Theatre School ​building, The Theatre School Student Government Association, or TTSSGA, saw the students overworked and unable to take time to destress or take care of themselves. They came up with the idea to have Wellness Day, and event during the lunchtime hours in the TTS lobby. Needless to say, the overstressed students of TTS were very excited for this. 

On the day of the event students swarmed the lobby during their lunch breaks. As you walked into the lobby there was a table to the side giving out information on various health topics such as drug use, mental health, nutrition and more with a prize wheel giving out personal care items such as chapstick. The Box Office of the building had been transformed into a smoothie making station. Students from the TTSSGA surrounded by fruits and vegetables, were behind the counter blending up healthy smoothies for a long line of students. I sampled the mango-ginger and it was quite refreshing. Further into lobby was a station for students to get neck/back massages. Two professionals from the Ray Meyer Fitness Center brought massage chairs over to TTS and students signed up for 5 minute slots to rub away some of the tension they had been feeling preparing for finals. The last component of wellness day may have been the best - PUPPIES! Yes, you read that right, puppies! 4 registered therapy dogs of various sizes were stationed with their humans corners of the Merle Reskin lobby, and students could come and sit with them and pet them to their hearts content. I think many students would agree with my opinion that this was the most fun part of the event. It was so sweet and comforting to spend time with these sweet dogs. It really did calm and destress me to spend time petting my favorite canine visitor, who goes by the name Dude. 
During such a stressful time it is always nice to take a short moment to yourself to de-stress and recharge, do something that recharges your energy, even if just a little. Needless to say Wellness Day at TTS was a greatly appreciated and very successful event to lighten everyone's spirits as we prepare to get back to work to the hard work we all do. This is a great example of one of the ways Student Government can do good things for the student body. 


DePaul Opera Theatre Presents "Die Fledermaus"

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

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

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

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

Losing Wisdom, Gaining Strength

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABC - Always Be Creating

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spring Break and Easter

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

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

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

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

Will and Me after Easter services at St. Paul's!
It was through singing in choir that I met Lois and Greg, an older married couple who invited me to join them for my first Easter in Chicago four years ago. Since then, I’ve become best friends with their daughter, Hope, attended several family dinners and receive a formal invitation to Easter brunch every year! It has been so wonderful to have a support system here in Chicago since all of my family is on the East Coast – I’m so grateful to St. Paul’s for helping me create these relationships that will hopefully last my whole life. 

Due to some scheduling conflicts, Greg and Lois held their brunch on the Saturday before Easter, which allowed me to join Will’s family for the first time on the holiday. Though I was a little tired due to my week-long battle with Bronchitis, I feel so lucky to have been able to spend time with two families that I care about so much! I might be 1,000 miles away from my own relatives, but having both families in my life has made Chicago feel  more like “home” than I ever thought it would.

Organization

Ok so, I was not born an organized person. The four corners of my room are usually filled with half folded clothes and books I’ve never read. Color coding and shaping deadlines does not come naturally, but over time (and after a lot of mistakes and missed events) I have learned that getting things done comes easier when I actually KNOW what I need to do and when. Obvious, right? I wish it was that easy to actually implement though. I have curated a little list that’ll hopefully help all of those people like me that were not born with an organizational bone in their body.

1. Write things down: You know that family member that always remembers every significant birthday and holiday? It is not magic they are using….it’s a pen and paper. We have all been at the point where we go “oh pshhh I’ll remember that” and then 2 weeks pass and you forget your mother's birthday. You’re only going to complicate your life more if you try to pack your brain with reminders. This is also helpful around midterms and finals time. When deadlines come quick and assignments pile up, the best way for me to get started is to write it out and see what needs to be done first.

2. Only keep what you really need: More things means less space. This can create too much clutter. I am quite the packrat and I realize that it sometimes hinders my ability to feel organized and put together. When I started to down size I did it with the “3 day rule” in mind. If I do not use it or think about it for 3 days straight than get rid of it or find it a new home. Decorations are nice and all but sometimes it comes to the point where it overloads your space and inevitably you mind.

3. Stay away from bargains: if u have recently downsized, will you just replace the things you’ve left behind with something new you see on sale? NO. Do you really need 4 pairs of bookends? Probably not. Sometimes sales just create new clutter that is unnecessary.

4. Work hard: put some elbow grease up in there. Things are not naturally going to get organized, unless you are privileged enough to have a personal assistant. It does require real work to be and stay organized. If you put in the effort and time, than you will enjoy a clutter-free life.


Testing My Spanish

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

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

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

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

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


Big Break

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what doing a thesis looks like.

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

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

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

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

Body Positivity on Campus

One of my favorite things about DePaul is the social awareness campaigns that are spread throughout campus. Due to the diverse nature of the student body, it seems to me that many topics are covered and are ever-changing. For example, when I went to the Ray they had an area in the middle with a poster showcasing that it is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The poster was about body positivity and encouraged people to add a note to the body positive board and share what they love about themselves.

I thought that the poster was perfectly placed since the Ray is a place where people go to get in shape, and it is frequently ignored that body image is something that can destroy a person’s self-esteem. Eating disorders are a huge epidemic on college campuses and I love that DePaul I taking action this week, and every other week, to educate, screen, refer and treat college students who struggle with eating disorders of all kinds.

I think that with early detection and showing students that there is a safe community of people who want to help will make all the difference.

This is an issue that not many people feel comfortable talking about even to their best friends, but it is admirable that DePaul is making it a point to create outreach to vulnerable people with these disorders.   

For those who don’t know, being body positive is all about working to change the common ideas of what a body SHOULD look like. It stresses the important of self-love, regardless of size, and that body images projected through the media does not reflect the real reality of the human body and the many forms it takes.

Below is a cool picture of 10 ways to incorporate body positivity into your life!


5 Tips for Surviving "DePlague"

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

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

Tip #1: Be Prepared with Your Tool Kit

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

Tip #2: Make a Doctors Appointment

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

Tip #3: Know how to seek emergency medical attention

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

Tip #4: Notify your professors

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

Tip #5: Clean your space!

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


Event Planning at DePaul

In high school, often students are forced into taking the same core classes over and over and over again. In college, life could not be more different. 

This quarter, I’m taking an event planning class, a film class, a social media strategy class, and am completing my senior thesis. Needless to say, my class schedule is far from boring or repetitive.

My event planning class has been one of my favorite classes at DePaul. My professor, Anne Davis, works for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and many of her lessons and homework assignments come straight from her actual job.

The insights you get from having a professor who actually works in the field that they teach about is something that is invaluable and very common at DePaul. Last quarter, I took a political communication class taught by someone who was working for U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth. I’ve also taken an honors art history course where my professor was a guest curator for an exhibit at the Art Institute.

Getting a firsthand perspective on real world, real time projects and events makes class so much more interesting. Anne has brought in some really impressive guest speakers, letting our class ask questions and learn the behind the scenes details of events like Taste of Chicago​, Chicago’s Draft Town​, and Chi-Town Rising​.

We’ve also learned how to negotiate sponsorship for events, plan event layouts, and create production schedules. Every homework assignment was created in the hopes that the assignments could be used as work samples on job interviews. I feel confident about the work and feedback I’ve received on my assignments from Anne, and would definitely consider bringing them with me to a relevant job interview.

One of the coolest classes Anne planned was a backstage tour of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra​. My class and I got to see the symphony’s dressing rooms, practice rooms, instruments, and we even got to sit in the seats behind the musicians  that face the audience.

Anne’s class has introduced me to the true nature of the event planning industry. I’m finding that I have a newfound interest in the industry and I hope that my future career will involve planning large scale events. Her class is definitely not easy, but the work that I am producing and the knowledge that I’m gaining makes every project and quiz worth it. ​​​

A Cappella at Auditorium Theater

Lately, I’ve found myself feeling a little skeptical about Facebook. Have you noticed that they show “sponsored ads” based on website that are visited from your computer? How could Facebook possibly know about the dress I was Googling, or the Shamrock Shuffle​ that I’ll be running in April? The Internet is a scary place – and quite honestly I’m not sure how I feel about Facebook snooping into my Internet history browser.

That being said, for the first time (and possibly only time) I was intrigued by one of the sponsored ads that popped up – “International A Cappella Semifinals! Get your tickets now!” I will be the first to admit that Pitch Perfect​ is one of my favorite movies – so I clicked the link to see what it was all about.

Less than 24 hours later, my boyfriend and I were at Auditorium Theater​ buying tickets to the Varsity Vocals International Collegiate A Cappella Semifinals​. Let me give you a little more background info before I tell you how ACA-AMAZING it was. (I’m sorry. I had to!)

Our view of the
stage!
Varsity Vocals​ is an organization that puts together a cappella​ competitions for both high school and collegiate groups. According to their website, they bring together over 500 high school and college level a cappella groups to stages across the world – who knew a cappella was popular! The Organization brings in professional educators and performers to judge ​the competitions and provide feedback to every group – fostering continuous growth is part of the mission of Varsity Vocals.​

For this specific competition, there were 10 collegiate a cappella groups from the great lakes region. Some of the colleges represented were University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign​, University of Michigan​, University of Wisconsin​ and Oakland University​. Each group performed a “set” of about 3 songs – no instruments, just pure vocals. The amount of talent we witnessed was astounding. I was even more amazed when I learned that each group arranged the music and choreography themselves! I loved the stories each group told through song, and it was clear that every group was excited to share their music with the crowd as much as the crowd was excited to list. (I even caught Will singing along…)

In the end, Oakland University’s a cappella group, Gold Vibrations​, received 1st place for their performance, meaning they will advance to the next round of the competition. It was really cool to see how supportive all the other groups were – though I’m sure slightly disappointed after all of their hard work, there seemed to be only scared excitement for Gold Vibrations’ big win.

So, although I do not approve much of Facebook creeping into my Internet usage, I’d say Facebook got it right this time. Had I not seen the sponsored ad, I would have completely missed my opportunity to geek-out at a live a cappella competition. Music is so important in the lives of so many people – and every day I am reminded that becoming a music teacher was the right decision!


Strategies to De-Stress

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

Go on a Walk

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

Work Out

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

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

Treat Yo Self

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

Take a Break

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

Create Something

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

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


De-Stress During Finals

During this time of year, the weather gets nicer and the motivation to sit in the library to work on an essay decreases. I have always noticed that finals week is the most strenuous when the temptation to play outside is apparent. Sitting in the Student Center and looking out the window to see everyone walking to the quad to lay in the sun pains me because that’s LITERALLY all I want to do. Since finals are almost in full swing I figured I would make a list of ways to de-stress during a time full of presentations and papers.

1. Make a plan of attack: nothing like an open plan book and some highlighters to get your organization in check. The thing that helps me the most is to write down everything that needs to be done and when it is due. That way your plan of attack will go smoothly when you decide what to do first. Jumping off this of idea, it is=smart to find time in your weekly schedule when you can actually work on the things you outlined for yourself.

2. Find an animal: animals just want love! People have emotional support dogs for a reason, they really really do reduce your stress. Being able to take your mind off of the responsibilities of daily life for a moment can revamp you brain and kick start you into a healthy pattern of work.

3. Go for a run: I’m sure you’re asking me… “I have so much to do so when will I find time to up my cardio?” Well, I’m in the same boat. It sure does take a lot of motivation to do more than a swift walk, but if you have a break in your schedule a good way to de-stress is going on a run/jog/walk/whatever. That way it can hopefully bring you back to an alert state of mind that will help you with your studies. 

4. Take a few deep breaths: I know this sounds very hakuna matata, but so what. Deep breathing will help you decompress and get your noggin back to a neutral state. If you’re too stressed and start to work on a new paper, you might just end up producing some content that is not up to par. Take the time you need to feel okay before diving in.

I hope these will help you during your time at college! Just remember that everyone is in the same boat and stress is more than common in university. Find tools and resources you need around campus to make it through your 4 years with ease! 


Teach Abroad: Sierra Leone, West Africa

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

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

Sierra Leone is in West Africa.

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

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

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

Show Your DPU Pride

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

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

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

To the Art Institute!

When I am feeling overwhelmed with college, the best medicine is to get out into the city and do something fun. It’s easy to forget about all the amazing opportunities that surround us when we are worried about due dates, deadlines and GPAs! Last weekend, Will’s mom requested that we join her at the Art Institute of Chicago​ to celebrate her birthday – just the stress-relieving adventure I needed! I was super excited for two reasons: I hadn’t been there in two years AND DePaul ​and the Art Institute have an agreement that admission is FREE for all undergraduate DePaulians this year. What’s better than spending a day appreciating beautiful artwork for free? 

In the short amount of time we spent at the institute, I saw a lot of amazing things. I’m currently taking a class about the history of Medieval India​ to fill my history requirement, so it was really neat to see Islamic Art from the 13th and 14th century empires that existed in India. Seeing art that directly relates to what I’m learning in the classroom really enhanced my understanding of the readings and lectures – Chicago truly is integrated into our curriculum!

Bronze Bowl with Lace, Ursula Von Rydingsvard
There was one more piece of artwork that I found truly fascinating – which ended up being the exhibit that Will’s mom had been dying to see. It was a sculpture called Bronze Bowl with Lace​ by Ursula Von Rydingsvard​. The sculpture was outside due to its towering height and stood alone with the skyline as its background. It was truly beautiful, and you can see in my picture just how huge it was! The work is made from cedar and has a very unique lacing pattern at the very top. I’m really glad we had the opportunity to see it while it’s here, as it will be leaving the Art Institute in mid-April.

The perks that come along with being a college student in the city of Chicago are awesome. We are super lucky this year to have free admission to the Art Institute – but even if we didn’t, all the museums in Chicago have “resident days​” where admission is free or discounted with proof of Illinois residency (giving your zip code usually works!) The only one I have yet to experience is the Adler Planetarium​, but it is high on my lists of to-dos before graduation. I’m definitely re-inspired by my trip to the Art Institute, and I’m looking forward to getting out into the city more the next few months.​

D-Factor Finale

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

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

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

Miracles 'Til Midnight

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

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

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

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

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

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


Easy Photo Guidelines

Fueled by the desire to showcase your life, it is important to keep in mind the power that well-shot photographs hold. You do not need a fancy DSLR camera to properly immortalize the things you have been involved with or the people in your life. DePaul offers some beginner photo classes, but these tips below have been mighty helpful for me as an amateur photographer that enjoys taking photos day-to-day.

TIPS:

Rule of Thirds: Essentially, the photos will look better if the subject isn’t centered. That may sound counter intuitive, but it makes for a more interesting composition. Many camera phones come with grid options. Place items of interest onto the intersections of lines for a stimulating photo arrangement. Let’s take for example a horizon. Don’t place it dead center but instead align the subject along the left or right grid line. Pictured on the right is a quick example

Change Viewpoint and Watch Out for Clutter: Sometimes eye level can get boring. Try moving the camera up or down, or even tilting it downwards for a more dynamic and dimensional shot.  Also, try to keep one main subject where you want the focus if you’re shooting something other than a group photo.​

Resolution: Always take the time to make sure your device is set to full resolution and quality. Also, don’t zoom in with your camera, but rather zoom in with your feet. Your photo will lose heaps of quality if you manually zoom! For better lighting and contrast, make sure to tap your cell phone screen before taking the picture. This allows for your phone’s camera to adjust the lighting. If not, the subject or background might be too heavily contrasted and the photo will turn out unusable.

Shoot Multiple Times: The beauty about digital photography is it allows for multiple attempts and mistakes, you can take multiple shots of the same thing and one of them could, surprisingly, be vastly different than the rest. Try not to delete when you’re out and about because sometimes the photo could look interesting on a computer monitor as compared to a phone screen.

I know many of these tips seem pretty basic, but small adjustments in the way you photograph can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Luckily, the cost of errors on digital cameras is free!


Coping With College

When I finished student teaching in the fall, I thought my last two quarters at DePaul would be a breeze. Thinking that taking three classes, instead of six or seven as in previous years, would be a piece of cake, I picked up extra shifts at my work, agreed to more babysitting gigs and committed myself to maintaining a strong GPA through the end of this year. Now almost done with the quarter, I’m realizing that I was very wrong! Though I am still managing to get all my work done, it has been a real challenge to keep up with my various jobs (four, to be exact!) and still make time to relax and see my friends. I think it’s pretty common for college students to overwork themselves, which is why I want to share a few coping skills that have been working for me in dealing with the stress of college.

The first and most important thing I’ve been doing to keep myself afloat is getting enough sleep at night. I have heard horror stories of my peers who have procrastinated so much that giving up a night of sleep is their only way to get work done. THIS IS BAD. Even if I haven’t finished my work for the day, I always make a point to get at least seven hours of sleep at night and wake up earlier if necessary.

Exercising has also been a saving grace for me these last few weeks.  Regardless of how much work I have to do, I try my hardest to get to the Ray Meyer Fitness Center​ at DePaul at least three times a week. Even if I only have time for a quick run or weight lifting session, getting my body moving makes me feel empowered and motivated to get things done.

Though it may not be the healthiest coping mechanism, food helps me get through all of life’s challenges. Often times I’ll set a goal – such as, get all of my homework due Monday done by Friday afternoon – and if I do it, I get a pizza. Who wouldn’t do homework in exchange for pizza? There is nothing more satisfying than a big slice of pepperoni pineapple from Renaldi’s​ or a massive plate of beef Pad Thai from Noodles in the Pot​ after a long week of online quizzes, discussion posts and readings. Side note: these foods are more satisfying if I eat well during the week - something I have been striving to do since the beginning of the New Year!! The addition of a Whole Foods​ with a gigantic salad bar on DePaul’s campus has been a dream-come-true for my waist line…

Lastly, my friends are crucial in minimizing the stress of school. Doing homework with my best friend Kelsey has been a major factor in my ability to keep up with my classes. Even though our assignments are always drastically different, it’s still fun to celebrate the completion of a task with a high-five or another cup of coffee. (Coffee and College go hand-in-hand for me. Addicted? Maybe. Necessary? Yes.)

One of the major lessons that I have learned this year is that my education needs to come first. College is becoming more and more expensive each year, and though DePaul offers great scholarships​, student loans can still be scary! Have bills to pay or enjoy having money for meals, concerts and experiences? Me too! Working is important for so many college students – myself included – but never forget that college is for learning first. Enjoy your time as a student; wherever you end up, never let work negatively interfere with your success in college.​


Yoga at DePaul

Typically speaking, winter is usually a season that comes with a pinch of sadness and a lack of motivation for me. This season, I took it upon myself to become more physically active during a season in which I normally just stay inside and cuddle next to my room heater. Luckily, enrolled students at DePaul get a discounted fee for instructional classes at the Ray​, our fitness center. The yoga classes provide people with the opportunity to learn more about their body and experience a workout that connects mind and body.

The particular class I signed up for a month ago was called Ashtanga​ or Power Yoga. It was described as a vigorous and dynamic form of yoga that sculpts and tones every muscles. It was said to be challenging and that I would learn how to create energy flow that linked my breath and movement. To be honest, I should have picked a more beginner level class but I am happy that I challenged my body in a way that I never have. My classes were every Monday night for an hour.

Although the session was only 5 weeks long, I feel like paying for a program really motivated me to stay with it and be involved until the end. Signing up for this class actually got me out of my house during the winter when all I wanted to do was the opposite. When it comes to physical exercise, I have been more inclined to practice yoga instead of hitting up the elliptical or treadmill. I think it has recently come to me that I should go about being fit in a way that both improves my mind and body so that I’m not purely focused on my own body image.

Why is yoga beneficial?
  1. It is said that the purpose of yoga is to create strength and harmony for the body and mind.
  2. The relaxation techniques incorporate din yoga can lessen chronic pain
  3. Increased flexibility
  4. Helps maintain a balanced metabolism
  5. Can be effective in developing coping skills and having a more positive outlook on life.
What I love most is that about yoga is that it isn’t about comparing yourself to others, but to explore your own limits and modify the poses in a way that is pleasant for your own unique body. 


Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company

If you really know me, you’ll know that I once had pizza seven days in a row during high school. You’ll also know that my Twitter bio once said, “All I care about is pizza and like 5 people” for an extended period of time, until I realized that while hilarious, it wasn’t exactly professional.

Pizza is a passion of mine that is as infinite and infallible as cold winters are in Chicago. While I don’t discriminate against trying different pizza styles, my favorite is of course deep dish. How can you beat a classic, thick-crusted pizza pie?

To that question, there surprisingly is a valid answer. While I could never definitively pick my favorite pizza place, as a parent can’t pick their favorite child, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Company​ undeniably makes my top three.

Located in the basement of an unassuming brownstone, this restaurant changed my life in three words: Pizza Pot Pie​.

Weighing in at half a pound, the Pizza Pot Pie is not for the faint of heart. I can proudly say that every time I’ve been here I’ve been able to eat the whole thing. I actually harbor secret disdain for those who take home leftovers. You gotta be in it to win it when you go to Oven Grinder Company.

Made from scratch with homemade sauce, a special blend of cheeses, doorknob-size, whole, fresh mushrooms, and delicious sausage, these pies can make any dream come true. For vegetarians there even is a version without meat, and for those who are hungry beyond belief, there is a daring one-pound version of the pie.

However, you can’t go to this restaurant without ordering the Mediterranean Bread as an appetizer. If you do, you didn’t truly visit Oven Grinder Company. The bread comes on a plate that is all too small, so it literally spills over onto the table. But you’ll find that that is half the fun of eating it. Simply delicious, the bread will be gone in the blink of an eye if you’re splitting it with friends, so casually make sure to eat it fast so you get the most.

A quick four blocks away from the Lincoln Park Zoo and Lincoln Park Conservatory, Oven Grinder Company makes for the perfect afternoon lunch date. Check it out when you’ve got an empty stomach and a “can do” attitude. You’ll definitely need both components to finish your meal. 


Student Spotlight: Natalie Vanderlaan, Vocalist

Enough about me already – let’s talk about another DePaul student that you should know about. Over the past 3.5 years I have had the opportunity to meet and network with some truly phenomenal musicians and teachers. Last week, I had the privilege of attending a performance by my colleague and good friend, Natalie Vanderlaan, a 4th year music education student (like myself) and fabulous vocalist, pianist, and composer. I decided to interview Natalie about some of her recent accomplishments and how DePaul has helped her along the way.​

Natalie Vanderlaan, Senior, Mezzo Soprano

First of all, let me tell you that this girl has accomplished A LOT over the past few years. Here are just a few highlights:

- Member of the DePaul Choirs where she performed works such as Beethoven 9​ and the Mozart Requiem​.

- A vocalist in Chicago’s annual Schubert celebration, “Schubertiade​” for two years.

- A chorus member for the opera, La Boheme​ her freshman year.

- Music director at Etc. Music School​ in Evanston, IL, where she helps to create and direct original musical theatre for children kindergarten to 12th grade.

- Music director and pianist for a show at Second City Chicago​.

- Regular performer at the DePaul “Lounge”​ – every Thursday evening, DePaul brings in student musicians to give performances for anyone who wants to attend.

Thursday night at the Lounge, located in the DePaul Student Center​, was where I saw Natalie perform last week – It was awesome! Not only is Natalie a great singer, but she also wrote a majority of the songs she performed. I kid you not; this girl could give Sara Bareilles​ a run for her money. I don’t think I could have been more impressed.

Natalie performing at "The Lounge" last Thursday

In an interview with Natalie after hearing her perform, it was really awesome to hear her talk about how much DePaul has helped in getting her to where she is now.

​“Through DePaul I’ve learned to be a compelling and original performer – and to not apologize for taking the stage and for making a statement” – Natalie Vanderlaan

Natalie said that the most helpful skills she’s learned came from her music theory, music history and music education classes at DePaul, and says these classes were really foundational in her recent accomplishments. Natalie also stressed the importance of collaborating with her peers - taking advantage of the knowledge and skills of others is crucial for a growing musician and educator.

“I chose DePaul not only for its excellent track record with music, but also because of the Vincentian ideal and integration into the city of Chicago. DePaul celebrates and empowers the inherent dignity of every human being, all while providing us with opportunities to strengthen our skills and learn through experience in the city”

So true, Natalie. Thank you DePaul, for surrounding me with some of the most talented friends I could ask for.


The Fashion Outlets of Chicago

In the wise words of Robin Sparkles from How I Met Your Mother, “Let’s go to...the mall!”​

My obsession with dedication to shopping is no secret by now. Neither is my rule to never buy anything at full price.

The struggle is so real on Michigan Avenue as I look longingly at window displays full of glamorous items that cost the same as my tuition. Water Tower isn’t much help either. However, before you get too depressed, realize that the mall of your dreams is a quick hop, skip, and city away.

The Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont​ gives you access to designer brands for reasonable prices. As someone who is in constant need of internship clothing, the Fashion Outlets present a one-stop-shop for everything professional. By no means is everything affordable, but a surprising portion is for a poor college student.

My spirit animal Robin Sparkles.

Not to mention the Fashion Outlets has a Wetzel’s Pretzel​ in the food court. May I suggest you order the Dog Bites?

I admire the simplicity of the mall’s navigation. The layout makes it easy to visit every store systematically. The more expensive designer stores are on the top level, leaving the bottom level for more affordable stores.

Additionally, the mall offers a free shuttle directly from the Rosemont Blue Line to the Fashion Outlets. The shuttle comes about every 10-15 minutes, but if you’re in a rush, or find that it is too cold to wait 15 minutes at the shuttle stop, an Uber is about $6. If you’re really desperate to save your money for the mall, the mall is also possible to get to by foot from the blue line. If you’re fortunate to have your own set of wheels, the mall offers free parking in the parking garage as well.

Next time you’re in the mood to revamp your wardrobe, try shopping in Rosemont. The longer trip will be worth the wait! Happy shopping!


Interdisciplinary Arts: The Honors Program

As a member of the Honors Program​, I have had the opportunity to take many classes that have both interested and challenged me greatly. One of the nice things about the required classes for the Honors Programs is that they are so diverse. I get to take classes on subjects I would never learn about otherwise, which I think is one of the great things about college. I am a Health Sciences major which means I take a lot of sciences classes with labs and other health-oriented classes, but I also get to take classes through the Honors Program about, for instance, the rhetoric of fairy tales, film and literature representation of World War I, and the perception of Muslim-Americans in the United States following 9/11. These program offerings are not only interesting, but make well-rounded, educated students (something that I hope to be!). 

One of the best Honors classes I have taken thus far at DePaul fulfilled the Interdisciplinary Arts requirement (HON 205). The topic of this class was Constantinople: City of Two Empires. I knew nothing about Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) before beginning the class, so I did not really know what to expect. As is the usual of any Honors class, the course consisted of a lot of critical, intense reading. In all honesty, this class required the most reading out of any Honors class I have taken yet and at the beginning of the course that was definitely something I did not expect. As the quarter progressed, I became more and more fascinated by Constantinople ​and its rich history, beautiful art and buildings. As a result, the reading became less of a chore and more of an interest. That tends to happen to really good classes, and this one was no exception. 

The Hagia Sophia, church-turned-mosque-turned-museum, is one of the most famous buildings in the world and resides in Istanbul. It was one of the buildings we extensively studied in HON 205.
It helped, too, that our professor, Dr. Elena Boeck, was so passionate and knowledgeable about Constantinople. She expected a lot out of us, which is normal in an Honors class, and was super helpful during her office hours and genuinely cared about our progress. HON 205 was one of the hardest classes I have taken, but one of the best. It was a unique class because the history of Constantinople is something I highly doubt I will study in another class, but I am grateful to the Honors Program that I get to take classes like this. Plus, if I ever get the opportunity to visit Istanbul, Turkey, I will be able to show off my vast knowledge of the city (bonus!). ​

Writing At DePaul

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

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

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

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

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


The Theatre School Announces 2016-2017 Season

On Thursday evening a special event took place in The Theatre School. The Theatre School Student Government Association (TTSSGA) hosted an event to celebrate the announcement of the 2016-2017 Season! In the winter of each year, there is an announcement of the plays we will put on in the coming school year. Now typically this is sent out in the form of a school wide email. This year, however, member of the TTSSGA, wanted to bring the school together as community to announce next year's season of plays. 

At 5pm, students from all disciplines filed down the stairs and into the Merle Reskin Lobby of the school. This was the first time ever that there had been a collective event to celebrate the great work and great art we have to look forward to next year. The Dean of the Theatre School, Dean John Culbert, gathered in front of the mass of students along with the artistic directors of our theaters, and directors of next year's shows. 

The Dean began with some opening remarks about how we choose the next season of productions. He talked about how the subjects and themes of our Main Stage shows reflect what we as a school are thinking about. These production are how the world knows what is important to us. It was great to hear from the leader of our school, and know that he and the team he works with has us, as students and young artists, in mind, as well as the issues of our current world. I had always wondered who chooses the next season, how they decide and of course, what the shows will be. One by one, the directors of next year's shows got up to the microphone, announced their show, and answered a simple question, "Why here, Why Now?" The directors shared the themes of the shows they had chosen and why they think they are relevant in the community and world we live in. 

It was a great event to get the whole school excited about the season, and to be on the same page about our collective goal as a school. I cannot tell you how excited I am for next year’s season, and excited to share it with all of you. Next year's season is as follows: 


On the FULLERTON STAGE: 
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Cameron Knight 

by Jackie Sibblies Drury
directed by Erin Kraft

Wig Out!
directed by Nathan Signh
 
New Playwrights Series
Title, Playwright, and Director TBA

In the HEALY THEATRE

by Sarah Ruhl
directed by Michael Burke

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jacob Janssen
 
MFA17 
An ensemble piece to be performed by MFA III actors
 
CHICAGO PLAYWORKS FOR FAMILIES AND YOUNG AUDIENCES

by Jeremiah Clay Neal
directed by Ernie Nolan 
 
Night Runner
(developed through The Theatre School's Cunningham Commission for Youth Theatre)
by Ike Holter
Directed by Lisa Portes
 
book and lyrics by Psalmayene 24
music by Nick tha 1Da
directed by Coya Paz
 
This coming season touches on so many relevant topics, such as election and new leadership, race, sexual orientation, gender roles, violence, family dynamics and more. I am so excited to explore these important topics on these amazing stages next year! Good things ahead! ​

Crock Pot Diaries

In my attempt to become a culinary artist this year, I did what any first time chef would do: I invested in a crock pot.

I use the term “investment” here quite loosely, as I bought my crock pot off of Amazon for $22.24. As everyone knows, the college student life is not one of luxury.

That being said, my 8-Quart Hamilton Beach 33182 A Slow Cooker​ is a straight-up champ. First of all, it’s huge, allowing me to make leftovers to take to work since I’m always on the run. Secondly, it heats up pretty fast and has some nice handles for carrying.​

Mixing some of the ingredients

For my first meal, I scoured Pinterest and found a recipe for slow-cooker chicken pot pie​ that looked pretty delicious. It took me about a week to hoard all of the ingredients — thank you Target and Tony’s Fresh Market —needed for the recipe. That’s not to suggest that the recipe called for anything extreme. I simply had nothing in my arsenal of spices.

So off I went to gather things like garlic powder, thyme, and three and a half celery stalks to begin the cooking process. I will admit I googled “how to dice an onion” before I began. As an ametuar, I’m not cutting any corners by assuming I know how to do things I don’t.

The finished product (minus the biscuits)

So after 25 minute of prep and about 4 and a half hours of slow-cooking (on high), my meal was complete.

How did it taste? Deliciously victorious. Or, to put it in the words of my roommate, “You definitely bought this at the store.”


"Free Run"