The Topics

The Latest

Richa Patel

Christmas in Chicago

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

Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree Lighting

When: November 17 @ 6pm​

Where: Millennium Park

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

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival​

When: November 18 @ 5:30 pm

Where: Michigan Avenue- from Oak Street to Wacker Drive

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

Christkindlmarket: Chicago​

When: November 17-24

Where: Daley Plaza

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

Christkindlmarket: Park at Wrigley​

When: November 24-December 31

Where: Park at Wrigley

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


Week 9 Focus

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

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

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

​​​

(Fuh)n on Lincoln Avenue

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

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



Short Trip to D.C.

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

National Gallery of Art - East Building

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


Washington Monument

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

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

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

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

Arlington Cemetery

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


Treat Yourself

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

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

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

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

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


Why Did I Apply

I remember growing up, a lot of my friends had a “dream school” they wanted to go, but I didn’t have that. As I was applying to colleges during the fall of my senior year I never thought that DePaul would be the college I’d end up at. I’m halfway through my sophomore year and have realized that DePaul is perfect for me. This university fits everything I need and it turns I am going to my dream school.

Location: First of all DePaul has an amazing location. Honestly, I found DePaul to be the prettiest of the Chicago universities. Although I’m from the suburbs and would visit the city almost every week for fun before my freshman year, I never get tired of Chicago. I love Chicago and couldn’t see myself in a rural area for school. Chicago is full of culture, opportunities, and lessons and it is true when everyone says “the city is your campus.”

Financial Fit: DePaul met my financial needs. Money is a very stressful thing and that played a large factor for me when I was applying to colleges. I was lucky enough to qualify for some of the many DePaul scholarships.

Business School: DePaul has a well-known business school and knowing I wanted to major in accounting made it easier for me to see why DePaul was a good fit. DePaul offers a lot of good networking opportunities since it is located in and near the city. I thought about how being surrounded by the fast pace lifestyle of Chicago would help me prepare more for the future.​​

​​​

Best Places for Book-lovers!

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

 Myopic Books

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

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

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

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

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

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore​

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

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


The Responsibilities of an Apartment

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

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

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

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

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

​​​​​​

What I Learned From My Freshman Year at College

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

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

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

2. Capture it. Write it.

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

Journal

3. Do more of what you love.

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

4. Keep an open mind.

This one is simple.

explore

5. Adventure/ Explore!

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

6. You are more than a grade.

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

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


Meet Richa!

Hi, readers!

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

Books

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

Richa

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

​​