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Richa Patel

My Summer

Now that I think of it, the last time I’ve had a real summer was about 3 years ago. Ever since I’ve graduated high school, I’ve been taking summer school, interning, or both. It might sound dreadful and a waste of my youth, but I love being busy and bettering myself professionally and academically, so I’m not complaining. Also, I think it’s very common for DePaul students to keep busy since there are so many opportunities in the city.

My first few summers I spent time at my community college back home taking classes. I recommend doing this earlier in your college career because your last 60 credits must be at DePaul, and summer classes at a community college are a great way to get classes out of the way. Just make sure the classes you are taking at the community college transfer to DePaul: this is a great thing to talk about with your DePaul advisor or any advisor at a community college.

This summer, I’m taking classes at DePaul, which I’ve never done before but I’m sure it will help in the long run as I’m close to graduating. Summer school is always more fast-paced but, in my opinion, it gives me a better chance to retain everything. 

In addition to classes, I will be interning at the same place I interned last year at as an accounting intern. I remember I was applying to almost every accounting position on Handshake last spring quarter because I wanted some more accounting experience. I ended applying to a nonprofit I had never heard of and got the internship, loved it and they asked me to come back this Summer and I’m more than excited. Enjoy your summer…I know I will!


Balancing Studying When it’s Nice Out

Nice weather is a blessing and a curse. With DePaul being on the quarter system, it means that we have class until mid-June and the weather is beautiful for about the last 2 months we are in class and struggling to get assignments done and study for midterms and finals. 

If you’re like me, the nice weather is a huge distraction and there are a bunch of things you rather do than stay inside and miss out on the beautiful weather cooped up in a library. I try my best to still get sun when it’s nice out and here’s how:

To begin with, online homework can be done at any coffee shop with outdoor seating which is almost any Starbucks, but you can also work on the top of the 11th floor at the DePaul Center, the Quad, and many more places that have access to wifi outside. If you don’t have any work to do online, it is so much easier to get your daily dose of nature. If I have readings, I usually print them out so I can read them outside – my favorite but also distracting place are the tables right by "The Bean" a block or two away from the loop campus. 

The Bean in Chicago




It’s nice getting away from my laptop and having notes, homework, and readings in front of me rather than a screen so I always print those out or write them out by hand so I can take them anywhere and recycle them when I don’t need them anymore.

There are still a lot of ways to enjoy the weather. Time management is huge, and if you plan well you can have days where you even study on the beach. Or if you study better inside, study near some light and you can always give yourself some breaks to take a walk or treat yourself somehow.

sunny apartment



Adding a Double Major

The great thing about college is that you get to choose what you want to study as opposed to high school where you are forced to take classes on things that you have no interest in. The wide selection of majors and classes DePaul offers makes it more exciting to pick classes. I always knew I wanted to major in accounting from taking classes in high school and enjoying it then. I knew I wanted to add another major but had a lot of trouble picking what else I wanted to major in. 

I ended up switching majors and minors a few times throughout my time at DePaul and it’s very normal, as I’ve met people who have even changed their major 5 times. I knew I wanted to add another major and that I wanted it to also be in the business school to make things easier. The best way I think to approach adding another major is talking with others that have majors that interest you. I spoke to a lot of people who have a major in economics and always enjoyed my economics classes so I ended up adding that as my double major. I especially enjoy it because there are some economic electives that also fulfill the understanding the past requirement so I don't have to take more classes. 

It’s also beneficial if you know exactly what career you want to pursue after graduation, that you choose a major or minor that enhances your skills for that career. It’s great to take advantage of adding a major, minor or concentration to show potential employers that you have specialized or extra knowledge on certain subjects that can make you a more valuable asset to an employer.


Busy Season at a Big 4

kpmg logo

So I’m back writing for DeBlogs after taking Winter Quarter off to intern full-time at KPMG. If you’re an accounting major you have most likely heard of The Big Four accounting firms; Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG. I just got done interning at KPMG for audit, and I have learned a lot!

All in all, I had a phenomenal experience. I definitely recommend interning during busy season if you’re an accounting major. I had the opportunity to meet interns from all over the country who want to work in Chicago and made great relationships with them. I also was able to also expand my network within the firm with my teams that I was on and also with the clients I worked with. Everyone I met throughout my internship was so knowledgeable and helpful which made learning on the job easy especially with no prior audit knowledge.

I was glad that during my entire internship, I was treated the same as a full-time employee. This really helped me see what it would be like if I were asked to come back as a full-time employee (which is very common after a big 4 internship). The hours are a lot longer during January-March (busy season) which can be anywhere from 40 hour work weeks to 70 hours a week. It sounds rough, but it’s not too bad because interns get paid by the hour and the teams you work in are pretty fun where they find ways to make busy season a bit less stressful, and also many people (like me) take off from school to focus on the internship so there is nothing else to worry about.

Although, there are a lot of technical things you learn and do on the job, there are always “intern” tasks you have to do like get coffee or run errands. The best way to go about any internship is to have a good attitude, it definitely goes a long way.

chicago skyline from above



December Intersession

Winter break for DePaul students is the best. This year the break is 7 weeks long instead of 6 weeks until we start our Winter quarter. We have so much time off to do whatever we’d like. Some people take trips, relax or work. With the great opportunities that DePaul has, we are allowed to take classes during the break.

Winter Intersession classes are a great way to open up your Winter class schedule. The way it works is that you can take a class during the intersession and it will count toward your Winter quarter which also means that the cost for your Winter quarter tuition is lumped in with the intersession costs. There are usually a very limited amount of classes available during the intersession but the list of intersession classes comes out at the same time as the registration period for Winter quarter so it’s always easy to plan out what classes you need to take.

These classes are very condensed over a few weeks depending on the class. Some can be from 9 am to 5 pm for a few days a week it might seem overwhelming but sometimes it’s easier to retain things if you were lectured on them a day before. Intersession classes also don’t take up the entire break, at most they can take up one-third of your 7-week break so you still have time to take a vacation and relax from school if you wanted to.

I highly recommend looking into intersession classes. You can also keep yourself busy during the break with a class and you can have a more relaxing Winter quarter with one less class.  


Work and School

DePaul has a work hard and study hard culture and I really appreciate that. A majority of the students I meet work while going to school. Whether it’s an internship, retail job, or a babysitting gig, many students here find the balance between studying and doing homework for all their classes and earning some money on the side so they can enjoy the things they like. 
I didn’t start working any real part-time/seasonal jobs until my freshman year at DePaul which I consider a little late because some of my friends and family have been working since early high school. My parents never encouraged me to work because they wanted me to focus entirely on school but I find joy in the independence of working for money that I can spend on whatever I want. I also think I do better in school when I’m working.

Seasonal jobs are a great advantage to DePaul students. Especially now that we have a 6-week break, working during the holiday season at retail stores is a great way to get in a lot of hours and make a lot of extra money for the holiday season whether you are staying in Chicago or are going back home- so many employers are looking to hire during our Winter break.

Many employers understand the importance of school when they have college students as employees. I love working at DePaul because they are definitely the most understanding employer I have ever had and are always flexible when I have school work or events. Many of the on-campus jobs allow you downtime to do your homework and my favorite part is that depending on the department, you build good connections with professors and advisors.


Spring Quarter Motivation

It’s week 3 of Spring quarter and the common lack of motivation is striking students, especially me. It’s the beginning of April and all my friends are raving about how they are done with school in less than a month and I could not be more excited for summer. Although I love the quarter system, the Spring quarter always gets tough.

It’s kind of a good thing that it still feels like Winter outside because if it was 90 degrees I would be nowhere near the library or any enclosed building. The weather is keeping me still in school mode thankfully. I have been trying to stay away from the cold by staying inside at cozy coffee shops to get my schoolwork done.

The best way to motivate yourself the rest of the school year is to keep a countdown. I’ve had one from the start of this quarter and have been counting down the weeks until Summer. Planning out what I have, week by week, has also kept me organized as I’m drowning in deadlines and papers. Also crossing things off my to-do lists and calendar are a few of the best feelings in the student world.

It’s good to keep in mind that once you work hard to get good grades for your last quarter of the year you can treat yourself to a nice trip during Summer!


Photographing Chicago Landscapes

I’m really glad that DePaul makes it required for students to take a Chicago course, either Discover or Explore. I took Explore because I didn’t want to end my Summer early and I felt like I was familiar enough with Chicago being from the suburbs. But thinking I was familiar with as much as I could be with Chicago, I went to a lot of places I had never been to with my Explore class. I took Photographing Chicago Landscapes with Thomas Denlinger. I’ve always liked photography and wanted to do more with it so I chose this class as my Explore course and I loved it.

We visited Pilsen, where we did a street art/ graffiti walking tour and went to the National Museum of Mexican Art. We took a lot of pictures of the neighborhood artwork. We also visited Devon street which is an Indian neighborhood, we even had lunch there. In the first week of classes, we went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory where we were able to take a lot of pictures of nature. I made albums of the photos I took during this class and here are some of them.

It’s a good thing that DePaul has this as a required first-year course because many students that go to DePaul are not from the area so it helps them learn more about the city they’re going to school in. It even broadens the Chicago knowledge of those who think they are already familiar with the city like me.


Picking Classes

Its midterms week and course cart has opened! How exciting? Everyone is asking each other about what classes to take and who is the “easiest” professor. I love making my schedule and I spend at least an hour every time when making mine because I want to make sure I can handle that schedule for 10 weeks. Here are some things I consider when I’m making my schedule.

Although many people look at ratemyprofessor.com and ask their friends who the “easiest” professor is, it’s important in addition to these sources to look more into picking professors than just this. Ask your friends about the professor's teaching style. Everyone learns differently and this is always my number one concern when picking a professor. So don’t fully think that a professor with a 4.8 overall and 1.8 difficulty will be your type of professor.

I just started taking online classes and I love them. These classes are what you make of them and I enjoy taking them because they allow me to learn at my own pace (along with deadlines) and free up my schedule. Online classes are not for everyone and can take some time getting used to so try one out and see how well you can handle them if you are unsure about them.

It may sound weird but I also consider the weather a lot when picking my classes. I don’t mind waking up early for a class when it’s hot outside, but cannot get out of my warm bed and walk to the train for an 8 am in the cold. So in the winter term, I tend to schedule my classes later in the day and in the spring term, I schedule them earlier so I can be done with my day early and enjoy the rest of my day on the beach.

My last piece of advice would be to make sure you leave time to breathe in your schedule. Don’t take the 5 hardest classes at once. Add at least one fun class per quarter so you don’t completely dread going to your classes.  


Study Abroad in Switzerland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

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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.​​

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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.  

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