The Topics

The Latest

Articles by Sarah Fisher

Graduating!

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

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

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

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

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

Summer in Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

Broadway in Chicago

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

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

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

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

Honors Research Conference

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

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

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

Why I Chose DePaul

The official College Decision Day was a few weeks ago, so congratulations to all of you who have committed to DePaul University! Go Class of 2021!

Orientation
At DePaul's orientation

When I think back to the season where I had to decide on a college, I remember it being really exciting. I couldn’t wait to choose the school I would attend for the next four years! By the time I had to make my final decision, I had narrowed my list down to two schools: Ohio State University and DePaul University. Ohio State was cheaper, closer to my family, and home to the infamous Buckeyes. However, DePaul was in Chicago, had the exact program that I (at the time) wanted, and had a special quality about it. I felt really pursued and desired by DePaul, something I never got from a giant state school, and knew that the four years I would experience at DePaul would be valued by its faculty and staff. I obviously chose DePaul, and I am so glad that I did.

DePaul has been the place that has enabled me to grow, both in my academics and in my convictions. It has been the place that has helped me find my passion and provided me with professors who have been strong influences and knowledgeable resources. It has given me lifelong friends and has molded me into an adult. I am extremely thankful for my time at DePaul, especially now that I am about to graduate. For those who are about to attend, you are lucky! Good luck!

Washington D.C.

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

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

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

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!


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!

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!

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!

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.

Taking the GRE

For those of you planning on furthering your education after you receive your undergraduate degree, you know how extensive the applications are. They require many components: resume, transcript, letters of recommendation, personal statement, and some sort of test (and money – those application fees are no joke). Medical schools require the MCAT, law schools require the LSAT, and business schools require the GMAT. There are more specialized tests that I am sure I missing. However, the test that covers admission to most graduate schools is the GRE.

I recently took the GRE over winter break, and I’m here to give you all the inside scoop on it!

GRE Practice Book
I studied using the Kaplan GRE study book, pictured on the side. I like Kaplan – they give you lots of tips and have an online program with accessibility to tons of practice tests. Spend a lot of time reading over the tips on the essay section of the GRE. I would say that was the part of the book that helped me the most. Practice the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections as much as you can because you want to become as familiar with the test as much as possible before you officially take it. Also, look over some of the math terms/equations that you may be fuzzy on. Some of the math that was tested on the GRE I hadn’t done since sixth grade and I wish I had looked over those terms more. 

The best thing about the GRE is that is an individually-timed test. If you remember back to the SAT or ACT, you took it in a big room with lots of other students, and you all started and ended the test at the same time. Because the GRE is computer-based, timing is up to you. If you finish early on a section, you can just continue on to the next one. You don’t have to wait for everyone. I was told to allot 5 ½ hours of my day to the GRE, but finished the test in 3 ½ hours because it did not take me the whole time.

Overall, the GRE was not that bad. Was it the best 3 ½ hours and $220 I have ever spent in my life? Heck no. But, it got me into graduate school and for that reason I am mighty thankful for it. Don’t stress about the test, come prepared, and I can assure you that you will do great.

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.

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.

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. 

Writing a Thesis

As some of you may know, I am currently in the process of writing a thesis paper as my capstone project for the Honors Program. It is a lengthy process (my thesis will be around 30-40 pages), but a rewarding one. Thankfully, the Honors Program does not throw you into this project unprepared. The Honors Program offers a 2-credit class (HON 300) during Fall Quarter, taught by Nancy Grossman, the Associate Director of the Honors Program, to give guidance on the final project.

I am so thankful I took this class, and if you are remotely considering writing a thesis, you should take it too! It is a small class (my class had 12 people) and if you are planning on writing a thesis, everything that is due during the quarter would be due anyway. In order to enroll in the capstone thesis project, you have to submit a thesis proposal, which includes an abstract, annotated bibliography, and proposal statement for the project. Throughout the quarter in HON 300, those components are due, so you have the opportunity to work ahead and get feedback on the proposal that you will eventually submit to be approved to write the thesis. Regardless if you take the class, the thesis proposal is due, so it really is to your advantage to enroll in HON 300 (you get credit!).

Studying
Another reason to take the class is that you also get feedback on your topic and thesis statement from your peers. It was really helpful to get constructive criticism on my topic, as I was able to refine it and think about my topic in ways I never would have originally due to the perspectives from my classmates. It was also fun to critique other students’ topics, too!

While writing a thesis paper for the Honors capstone is ambitious and intimidating, it is also a satisfying experience. I know I will be better prepared for graduate school after writing this thesis, and it is definitely something for me to show off and be proud of. Come be ambitious with me!

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!

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. 


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!

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!  


Let Girls Learn

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

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

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

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

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

JYEL Credit

​Something that every DePaul student has to fulfill is their Junior Year Experiential Learning (JYEL) credit. There are many ways to fulfill your JYEL credit, like through a study abroad program, an internship, or community-based service learning. I currently am in the midst of fulfilling this credit through an internship.

I have an unconventional internship as it is not at a company or organization. I am a research assistant for a professor in the Health Sciences department through the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. At the end of last year, my professor and I both filled out an application for the program and we were accepted, which means that I get paid for the research that I am doing (a huge perk)! We are looking at Federally Qualified Health Centers in Chicago.

Stress
How I sometimes feel taking 18 credits and doing research.
Along with this research position, I am enrolled in a 4-credit University Internship Program (UIP) class about careers in the nonprofit sector. The combination of the class and the research position makes me eligible for JYEL credit. It is a somewhat unconventional way to fulfill the credit, but I am really enjoying it so far. It is a lot of work, but it is rewarding.

Every student has to fulfill their JYEL credit and if you are interested in research, I really recommend this route!

Ohio Visit

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

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

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

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


I Survived Grey's Anatomy

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

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

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

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


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!

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!


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! 

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! 

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. 

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. 

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!

Exploring Chicago

One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is explore the different neighborhoods around the city. Did you know there are 77 total neighborhoods? That is a whole lot of places to visit!


Thething I like most about the different neighborhoods is that each neighborhood has its own unique identity and culture. You would get an entirely different experience visiting River North (right near downtown) than you would visiting Lincoln Square (way northwest of the city). Each neighborhood has its own collection of stores, restaurants, and cool places to visit. 


Recently, my good friend Jasmine and I drove to Gold Coast, a very affluent and historic neighborhood right near downtown. We wanted to celebrate the end of the quarter and her graduation (she graduated a quarter early!) and she wanted to go the cafe located inside the Restoration Hardware store​.  I know what you are thinking. A cafe in a Restoration Hardware? That sounds crazy. 


Inside Restoration Hardware in the restaurant -  it was so cool!

You guys, this was one of the most amazing places I have ever been in Chicago. It is four floors of beautifully designed rooms and spaces with an exquisite cafe in the center that has glass ceiling. It was STUNNING. While Jasmine and I waited for our table, we explored the different floors. I had a strong desire to marry someone rich and buy a house and start having babies just so I could afford/buy all of the beautiful furniture in this store. Once we got our table, the food was delicious (unsurprisingly). If you ever get the chance to walk through this store, I highly recommend it. You will never feel so simultaneously amazed and poor in your life, but it is an unforgettable experience. Continue to take advantage of all the cool places this city has to offer!

Springtime in Lincoln Park

I love spring when Chicago seems to blossom again. People are less tentative to wear winter coats and wince when going outside, and are more likely to spend time outdoors and enjoy the wonderful spring weather. Not only are the people blossoming in Chicago, but the flowers and trees are, too. Lincoln Park is beautiful during this time of year. I was lucky enough to have my parents come and visit this past weekend and we certainly enjoyed the great weather.

One of my favorite things to do is head east to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory​. Both are free and make for a very fun afternoon. My parents and I first went to the zoo and headed straight to our favorite exhibit: the gorillas. They were super active this past weekend and were really entertaining to watch. There was a baby gorilla, too! 

Our other favorite animal to see is the giraffe, which we got a really good view of, as you can see in the picture on the side. It was the perfect day to visit the zoo and now that the weather is steadily improving, you can visit, too!

After the zoo, my mom and I headed over to the Lincoln Park Conservatory. It does not take that long to walk through, but is absolutely beautiful. It is filled with any type of plant, fern, or flower you could imagine. I have friends who will bring homework to the conservatory and sit in the midst of the flowers and study. It is so peaceful.

The conservatory is a great backdrop for photos!
These are only a minuscule amount of the crazy cool and beautiful things we can do in Chicago now that the weather is warming. Make this the time to pack away your winter coat and start exploring the city again!



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!

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. 

Summer Foods and Farmers Markets

Have you ever noticed that the food you tend to eat in the winter is a whole lot different than the food you tend to eat in the spring and summer? I definitely have. The frigidness of the winter seems to permeate my entire body and that makes me crave heavy, rich foods. I made many pots of chicken soup and pans or casseroles this winter because they were filling and warmed me up from the inside. My friends and I always seem notice a little extra padding on our bodies once the winter is over because warm, comforting foods usually tend to mean unhealthy foods.  

Once spring and summer hit, I no longer crave these comfort foods, but am excited to go to the store and buy lighter, healthier, more sustaining food. One of my favorite things to make is called a Buddha Bowl, which is described as a “grain-, protein- and vegetable-rich dish.” They are super customizable, meaning you can put almost anything into it and it will most likely turn out delicious! My favorite combo is quinoa​, broccoli, avocado, sweet potato, and spinach. Yum! 

A picture of Green City Market, one of the Farmers Markets in Lincoln Park located just south of the zoo. This picture was taken from their website.
Now that we are (hopefully) nearing summer in Chicago, fresh fruits and vegetables will be available in abundance. There are many Farmers Markets around Chicago, and quite a few in Lincoln Park. The produce and goods at these markets is a bit more expensive than at your typical grocery store, but the freshness and quality is so much better and plus, you are supporting a small business. Let’s hope for a fast-approaching summer! 


Chinatown

One of my best friends, Clay, recently celebrated his 22nd birthday. I was in charge of helping plan his party and when I asked him what he wanted to do, he replied with one word: Chinatown​

Even though I am nearing the final quarter of my third year at DePaul and in Chicago, I had yet to visit Chinatown. It was always a fact that perplexed me because I love visiting those kinds of neighborhoods and my favorite food is Chinese food. Somehow, though, I had never been given the opportunity to make the trip down. I was so happy that Clay decided he wanted to go to Chinatown for his birthday. Celebrating Clay was the perfect excuse to venture to Chinatown!

A cool sign we saw on the main street of Chiantown
If you have never been to Chinatown, I really recommend you go experience it! It was super authentic and beautiful. One of my good friends recently went to China and she said that walking along the main street of Chinatown really made her feel like she was back in China. The food was great, too, which was another perk. We ate at Seven Treasures, which was delicious. I ordered pork chow mein and ate the whole thing - it was so delicious. We ended up having a huge group with us - there was about 25 of us total! Luckily, we could make a reservation and all eat at one place. It was a great night. 

My first visit to Chinatown was definitely a success and I look forward to heading back there soon to try a different restaurant. It was certainly a memorable evening and a great way to celebrate Clay. 


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. 

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!

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!​
​​​

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!). ​

Gilmore Girls

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

Netflix is officially reviving Gilmore Girls!

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

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

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


Café Hopping across Chicago

There is nothing worse than trying to do homework in space where you cannot focus. It is so frustrating! Conducive study spaces are essential when trying to work on homework or projects, and you quickly learn what type of study space works best for you. Some people like the intense quietness of the library, while others need the hustle and bustle of people and chatter around them. Either works fine, as long as it truly does work! I find myself craving different types of study environments depending upon the mood I am in and what assignments I have to get done. Regardless, some of my favorite places to go and study are located around the city. I’ve made a list of them below and I encourage you to check them out! I promise, some serious studying will get done.  ​

Harold Washington Library​ (The Loop): There are tons and tons of spaces to study within the nine floors of the library, but my personal favorite is the Winter Garden on the ninth floor. It’s an atrium with tons of natural light and a beautiful glass ceiling. It is so peaceful in the midst of the busy South Loop. Plus, they have free Wifi! ​

The Winter Garden on the ninth floor of the Harold Washington Library
City Grounds​ (Lincoln Park)This café is a few blocks east of Oz Park and is a great space to study. They have both an upstairs and downstairs space, lots of tea and coffee options, and a good amount of seating. The café itself is located in a very quiet and residential part of Lincoln Park, which makes for a calming study environment. ​

Bourgeois Pig​ (Lincoln Park): This place is hands down one of my favorite places to eat in all of Chicago. They have the best made-to-order sandwiches (they are named after famous novels- my favorite is The Great Gatsby), a plethora of drink options, and tons of seating. Their playlist is really good, too, which is super important, especially if you are like me and forget your headphones half of the time. It is a really homey café, and one of my favorites.  ​ 

Two Hearted Queen​ (Lakeview): This is a newer discovery made by a couple of friends and me. There is tons of seating (always a perk) and the drinks are so good. I have had some of the best hot chocolate at this café and my coffee-drinking friends enthusiastically approve of the coffee. They also do a cool card game when you are purchasing your drink. If you pick the Queen of Hearts from a deck of cards, you get a huge discount on your drink. It is a relaxing, warm café and I really recommend it!

Hakuna Matata

​​​Growing up, The Lion King was my favorite Disney movie. I loved all the songs, Timon and Pumba cracked me up, and I had a major childhood crush on Simba. Imagine my joyful surprise when I learned that The Lion King was also a Broadway musical! The Lion King came to Cleveland the summer before I entered my freshman year at DePaul and you can guess how excited I was. As a special treat, my grandma and I bought tickets to the show. It was my first Broadway show that I had ever seen and it was absolutely amazing.
​​Watch the video below to see a song from ​The Lion King.
Early every fall, I check the Broadway shows are coming to Chicago. So far, I have been lucky enough to win lottery tickets to The Book of Mormon and Motown. Two hours before each show starts, you can enter your name into a lottery to win dirt cheap tickets. It is a great opportunity to see shows that you otherwise would not get to see because of expensive ticket prices. The only downside is that getting a ticket is not guaranteed! When I looked at what shows were coming this season to Broadway, The Lion King was one of them. I was pumped! My goal was to see it again on Broadway.​

When I went and saw it the first time, my grandma and I had seats on the main floor on the aisle, which I think were the best seats to have for this specific show. During the opening number, “The Circle of Life,” a lot of the animals and characters walk down the aisle to the stage. It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. I knew that if I got tickets to see The Lion King this season, I wanted similar seats. I went out on a limb and asked for The Lion King tickets for Christmas and to my immense surprise, I was blessed enough to get them! The show was this past Thursday, January 14, and it was everything that I imagined it to be. If you ever get the opportunity to see the show, I highly recommend it! You certainly will “feel the love tonight.” ​

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new quarter, DePaulians! It seems crazy that our six-week winter break has already passed and it is now 2016. Where did the time go? I hope that everyone’s break and holiday was fun and relaxing and that everyone is enjoying their winter quarter.  

That is always the goal of a new quarter, to be ready and motivated, but I feel like that is always wishful thinking. The beginning of this quarter was a rough one for me! I felt like I had very little time between the New Year and the first day of school and felt very rushed. Also, my computer completely broke right before the first day of school, which was a big ‘ole bummer. I signed up for an online class this quarter, so completing those assignments with no working computer was a struggle. I am thankful that I live so close to campus, so making treks to the library was not that big of a deal, but still a major inconvenience. 

A big joy in my life is my dog, Oreo. Too bad he did not come back to Chicago with me!
Even though the beginning of the quarter was stressful, I am happy to be back in Chicago with my friends and to be establishing a routine. I really enjoy my classes this quarter thus far and while I do not particularly relish the subzero temperatures, I savor the cup loads of hot chocolate and excuse to wear cozy sweaters. The winter can definitely be tough in Chicago with the seemingly never-ending wind and snow, but I have learned that finding little joys each day and week make this season go by quicker and less painfully. And to me, sweaters and hot chocolate definitely qualify as little joys. ​

Red Cross Club at DePaul

One of the things I really love about DePaul is the amount of clubs and organizations ​it has. That is obvious every September at the Involvement Fair when the Quad is completely packed with students checking out all of the groups DePaul has to offer. I personally love being involved and now that I am a junior, I have found the clubs that I love and am passionate about. I am involved in many, with one of those being the Red Cross Club.

This is a new club that was started at the end of last year. I am on the Executive Board as the treasurer and we have been excited to think about potential events for the upcoming year and how we want to make our mark on campus. We have a few in mind, like a Valentine’s Day Blood Drive and an event where you can create your own first aid kits. During fall quarter we had a Halloween event, too. We walked around Lincoln Park during the city’s Trick or Treat time and instead of asking for candy, we asked for non-perishable food items to donate to the RTW Veteran Center. The RTW Veteran Center helps homeless veterans by supplying three hot meals a day and giving them assistance to get back on their feet. It was super successful and we are thankful to the families of Lincoln Park for being so generous.

Most of the group that went out to collect food items. We definitely adopted the Halloween spirit by dressing up!
Because the Red Cross​ is a national organization, the DePaul Red Cross Club works closer with the Greater Chicago Red Cross Branch. It is a blessing to get advice and support from the Red Cross and also is wonderful because they present us with many opportunities. For example, once registered as a Red Cross volunteer, CPR and First Aid classes are free! What a great opportunity to get certified and use the skills to help people. I personally am excited to see how the Red Cross Club will grow and make a difference on campus this year. ​

Chicago Sunrises

I hate getting up early. I am not a morning person. I am not one to sleep until 1:00 in the 
afternoon either, but I cringe anytime I have to set my alarm for earlier than 8:00am. Now that 
winter is quickly approaching, getting up early means getting up before the sun. How depressing and miserable is it to wake up when it is still dark out? People who enjoy waking up at the crack of 
dawn genuinely confuse me. It is not for me - I am definitely one with the sun. It takes a lot for 
me to wake up super early, which means that I have never really seen the sun rise.

In high school when school would start at 7:30am, I often did see the sun rise. But, I did not 
appreciate it. I did not wake up early solely for the purpose of watching the sun rise, and I 
resented it because I hated waking up so early for school. Here at DePaul, I have a couple of
friends whose favorite activity is getting up early to walk to the lake to watch the sunrise. They 
definitely do not do it all the time, but once or twice a quarter I hear of their plans to go watch 
the sunrise and subsequently grimace at the thought of waking up at 6:00am. This past weekend, though, my friend got a big group of our friends to drive to the Adler Planetarium to watch the sunrise over the city. 

It was a low-key struggle to get up that morning, but it was so worth it. If you have never been to 
Adler, I highly recommend going at any time of day. The view of the city skyline and the lake is 
so beautiful! Watching the sun rise over the city reinforced my love for Chicago and my 
appreciation for living here. How blessed am I to be able to go to college in a city as amazing as 
Chicago? It is one of the best cities in the world.

Basketball Season Has Begun

The other night was the first Cavs ​game of the season. For those who don’t know, I am from Cleveland, Ohio and am a HUGE basketball fan. Sadly, the NBA championship last year did not end in our favor, but I am so excited to watch the Cavs dominate this year. They better do well - I’ve talked enough trash talk to my friends who root for the Bulls. I am too competitive for my own good!

I am not just a fan of basketball, but have played it since I was in first grade. It was something my father was passionate about and those genes seem to have passed on to me. Basketball is such a fun, exhilarating sport to watch and to play. It is fast-paced, physical, never boring, and something amazing always happens. 

I’ll never forget the games in high school that went into double overtime or games that were won by a lucky half-court shot. I’ve made life-long friends through playing basketball and I am so glad it was such a big part of my life. I don’t play for DePaul, but sometimes will still shoot around or scrimmage with some of my friends, which I think is sometimes more fun than playing super competitively. 

The DePaul Women's 2015-2016 basketball team. Go Blue Demons!
Speaking of competitive basketball, DePaul basketball will be starting soon! The men’s​ first game is on November 7 and is at home, and the women’s ​first game was on November 2 at home, as well. I actually have never seen the men play because the Allstate Arena, where they play, is a hike for a car-less girl like me. The women are super fun to watch and are really talented. If you are on campus during one of their games, I encourage you to get tickets! It is a fun way to spend an afternoon. 

Go DePaul, go Cavs, and go Chardon High School! 


Halloween Costumes

My family has never been big on Halloween. 

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

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

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

Apple Picking

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

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

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


My Trip to Costa Rica!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall Visit Day

Now that I have been at DePaul for a few years, it is always fun to look back on what my life was like as a freshman and how different my life is now. I loved my freshman year, the experiences I had that year have definitely shaped me into the person that I am today. Just recently I was in Munroe Hall, where I lived my freshman year, and it brought back so many good memories. Now that the fall tour groups are starting to make their way around campus, when I see them I always think of my first tour of DePaul. 

My mom and I took a trip out to Chicago to visit DePaul just as I was beginning my senior year of high school. We stayed downtown and I remember that the train was delayed and I was so worried about being late. It was one of my first college experiences and I was already making a bad impression! However, we made it and all was well. Someone who works for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions gave a presentation highlighting all the wonderful qualities about DePaul (and there are many!) and went through how to apply. The presentation, and the information packet that came along with it, were very helpful and answered many questions my family and I had about the school, for example: questions about the residence halls, public safety, and how the quarter system differs from semesters. 

After the presentation, the big group was split into smaller groups and we got a tour of campus. My campus tour guide took us to all the big, main areas: the Student Center, a residence hall, the academic buildings, the library, the dining hall, the fitness center, and the quad. I remember being very overwhelmed at all that he showed us, but campus is actually so easy to navigate. You get the hang of it really quickly and fall in love with the campus almost immediately. After the tour, my mom and I walked around Lincoln Park for a while and checked out what the neighborhood is like. Lincoln Park, too, is amazing and is a safe, great neighborhood to live in. I could not ask for anything better! 

I had a really good experience on my tour and it is what made me come back for another one later in the year. Most, if not all, of my questions were answered, the campus is beautiful, and I truly felt like everyone who I came in contact with was interested in me and my future. I know how great DePaul is and I hope other people will get to have the same wonderful experience that I have had, too. 

I'm on a Boat: Boat Cruise 2015

What is the best way to end the weekend? I have found the answer: go on a boat cruise! This past Sunday night, along with about a hundred other college students, I had a two-hour long dance party up and down Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. How did I get to do this, you ask? I am part of an organization call Cru​, a Christian group and community.​

One of my best friends and dancing partners, Lauren, and me taking advantage of the skyline.
It is not just found at DePaul, Cru is an international organization. Students from DePaul University, Columbia College, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Harper College attended this event. All of these schools have students involved with Cru, and collectively we are referred to as Cru Chicago. Since none of us individually have huge numbers, like a state school would, we are lumped together. It is great because there is more community. We experienced a lot of the CRUmmunity on the boat CRUise (get it?)! There is nothing like a good pun to truly brighten your day! 

Back to Sunday night: the boat we went on was two stories and we docked right by Navy Pier. We then headed out to Lake Michigan and traveled north and south on the lake, which meant absolutely amazing views of the city. The lake was a little choppy, but that did not get in the way of picture taking or dancing. Thankfully, no one fell in! We then headed back to the river where we boated around downtown Chicago. We had left Navy Pier at dusk, so we experienced the sunset from way out in the lake.  I sometimes forget how beautiful and grandiose Chicago is, especially when school is so busy, but it is evenings like these that remind me. 

I'll never tire of this view!
I feel so blessed to live in this magnificent city! As Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” I agree with you, Frank. Nothing one-ups you, Chicago.


Treat Yo Self to S'mores in a Mug

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

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

Welcome Back!

​​​​​Hello all and welcome back! I am so excited to be joining DeBlogs for another year and getting the opportunity again to share my thoughts and experiences on this page. I truly am looking forward to this upcoming quarter - I think it will be a great one! Summer break, however, was definitely needed. It was a busy, crazy, but exciting and fun summer! 

This summer, I worked as a nanny for a family with three beautiful, young children. The mom mostly stayed at home with the baby, so the two older boys and I were free to go on many adventures. We visited lots of parks (some with water!) and museums, made homemade ice cream, performed some science experiments, dabbled at potty training (I am now an expert at the potty dance), read many stories, cried many tears, and giggled many laughs. It was a jam-packed, but unforgettable job, and I discovered a new appreciation for motherhood. It is hard work!

My family also took a vacation this summer. We have been going up to Traverse City, MI​ for the past few years and it is becoming our new tradition. We rent a cottage on one of the many lakes and sometimes hitch our boat to the car and bring it, too. The week is spent exploring the many towns surrounding Traverse City, trying new restaurants, and reading and relaxing on the water.
The view from the dock at our cottage. So relaxing!

This year we experienced an unexpected occurrence: we lost power for almost four days! A mega hail and thunder/lightning storm hit where we were staying and knocked a power line down. Because we were located in such a remote area, we were one of the last groups of people to have our power turned back on. It was not the most fun way to spend vacation, but we made do and it certainly was memorable. Bathing and shaving my legs in the lake is a memory I will keep for a long time!

Even though this summer was really busy, it was refreshing and I am excited for the challenges and opportunities this quarter will bring me. Junior year is a big year where I will have to make many big decisions and start figuring out what life after DePaul will look like - yikes! However, I believe that I am ready for whatever this year will throw at me. I hope you all are look forward to this new school year, too.

It's Summer, Baby!

It is the end of another school year. I cannot believe that I am done with finals, that this is my last blog post for the year, and we get three months of summer break! It has been an absolutely crazy year that has gone by so fast. I got an apartment, learned how to live on my own and as an (gulp) adult, became more involved around campus, got a hernia, changed my career path, and learned a lot about myself. Somehow, I came out alive! My sophomore year is over and I am now a junior, an upperclassman. Gosh, so crazy!​

I am excited for this summer and I already know it will be a busy one. Hopefully, it will not fly by as quickly as this school year did. I have a full-time nannying job for three sweet children, which will keep me on my toes and surround me with lots of love. I have to go back to Ohio a couple of times for a few family graduation parties and I am looking forward to seeing lots of extended family and friends. My aunt, uncle, and two of my cousins are coming out to the city over the Fourth of July weekend, so it will be very nice to spend time with them as I do not get to see them very often. My family is also taking a vacation up to Traverse City, which is one of my favorite places on Earth. We have gone there for the past few years and it is such a beautiful area. Northern Michigan is the best. We always rent a house on one of the many lakes and this year, we are planning on hitching our boat to the back of the car and pulling it up to Michigan. I am really excited for a week of relaxation, beach, and sun. ​

One of our first trips up to Traverse City feat. Momma Fisher. Isn't the water beautiful?
I also want to get some peace out of this summer. This past school year was great, but really stressful, and I already am anticipating a busy, jam-packed summer. I want to take the time to find sweet, quiet moments where I can read a book or go on a walk, spend time with my friends, cook dinner for myself, and just soak up the beauty of Chicago before school begins again in September. I want to take care of myself this summer so I can begin the next school year healthy, happy, relaxed, and with the motivation and drive to do amazing things. I already finished a book the day after my last final, so it looks like I am already off to a good start. 

It has been such a pleasure sharing pieces of my life with you all this past year, and I look forward to doing it again next year, as well. Happy summer! 

Graduation Season

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

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

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

My Favorite Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Books

As I have posted before, I love to read. It is my favorite pastime. Unfortunately, it is one of the first things to go on the backburner when life gets busy. As much I want to, I cannot justify reading a book for fun when I have got 60 pages to read for another class. However, now that we are nearing on summer break, I will get to indulge in a good book as much as I want, especially when my family goes on our vacation up to Traverse City, MI. I am sure I will bring many new books, but there are the few that have stuck with me throughout time and remain my favorites. I have listed them below, along with a brief plot summary.

•    A Thousand Splendid Suns​ by Khaled Hosseini​. This book tells the stories of Mariam and Laila, two women born a generation apart in Afghanistan. Their lives in Kabul span from the monarchy rule to the communist reign to the Taliban terror. Mariam and Laila form a strong bond that ties them together throughout the dangers around them- both in their home and in Kabul. The book illustrates how the women’s love and commitment to each other and their children transform their lives. 

•    To Kill A Mockingbird​ by Harper Lee​. This classic takes place in rural Alabama during the Great Depression. Lee tells the story of the Finches: young Scout, her older brother Jem, and their father Atticus. Throughout a span of three years, we read of Scout and Jem’s new friend Dill, their attempts to sneak a peek at the town bogeyman named Boo Radley, and the long trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman who is defended by Atticus, a lawyer. By viewing these events from 8-year-old Scout’s eyes, we get a unique perspective at the issues of race, class, justice, prejudice, and growing up.

•    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes​. Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living in a small town in England when
she takes a much needed job caring for Will Traynor, a paraplegic. Before his accident, Will was young, successful, a traveler, and into extreme sports. Now, he is still young and attractive, but is moody, bossy, and depressed. When Louisa refuses to treat him like a victim and shows him that he still has a life worth living, an interesting, fateful relationship blossoms that leads to a heartbreaking ending. 

I have many more favorites, including Harry Potter​ (I did not think that I needed to summarize those!), but these definitely make my top five list. I hope you find the time to dive into a good book this summer! Even if you do not get to go on vacation, a book will take you somewhere new.

Taking the Opportunity to Study Abroad

A beautiful little guy I met at the clinic in Honduras
Studying abroad in college is always something I have wanted to do. It is such the perfect time to do it and usually, you get course credits for doing so. So far, I have not studied abroad, but I have gotten the opportunity to travel outside the country with different organizations on campus and gosh, it just makes me want to travel so much more! I went on a medical brigade to Honduras with Global Brigades​ in the December of my freshman year and we set up a temporary clinic to give medical treatment to the rural Honduran people. Then, this past December, I traveled to Ecuador with Cru and we went on a few of the college campuses in Guayaquil ​and shared and talked with the students.  ​

Both of these trips were amazing experiences. My worldview has widely expanded as I was able to see how people outside of the United States live. The Hondurans and Ecuadorians were so loving and thankful for all they had, even if it was not much. It certainly made me think about how blessed I am back in America and how it is so silly that we let money and objects define and fuel our lives. I made friends in Ecuador who I still talk to today and they keep me grounded and remind me of what is really important. Both of these trips have changed my life and as I think about my schedule for my upcoming junior year, I think it is the perfect time to study abroad.

I have always wanted to study abroad somewhere in Europe and considering that I am a Spanish minor​, preferably Spain. It is a gorgeous country rich in history, culture, and good food. I have a few friends who are studying in Spain and their pictures are amazing. Plus, they can easily leave and spend the weekend in Paris or Morocco or Switzerland. Casual, right? How cool would that be? However, to my surprise, the DePaul program that has stood out to me the most is the study abroad trip to Mérida ​in Mexico. It is during next year’s winter quarter (goodbye Chicago winter, hello Mexico), I would finish the requirements for my minor, and I would experience so many cool things throughout the ten weeks I would be there. I currently am in the process of applying, and I pray it works out! It is an amazing opportunity and would be a wonderful experience. Once you begin traveling, you never want to stop!

Midterms

Midterms are kind of weird at DePaul. Finals week​ is a definitive, set week that is the last week of the quarter. Midterms, though, are not really scheduled for a specific time. I have had midterms during week 4, week 7, and one of my friends even has had one during week 9! I do not necessarily mind that, though, as it spreads out when I have exams or papers due. However, this quarter, my midterms were not screwing around. I had all of mine this past week: two tests, three papers, and a presentation. I tip my hat to you, Midterms.

It definitely was a rough week, but I was determined to make it manageable. My body is basically incapable of pulling an all-nighter, so I knew I had to be ahead of the game. I worked ahead, studied what I needed to, and did not save anything for the last minute. While I certainly could use a nap, I think it was pretty successful this week.

I think this attitude I adopted for midterms is something I should be doing all year. I have certainly saved many things until the last minute, and all that causes is stress and anxiety. I remember cramming for a biology ​test last year until 3:00 in the morning. I ended up having to drink something with caffeine, which I usually don’t drink- I don’t like coffee or pop. I felt awful afterwards, but I still had to keep pushing through. Needless to say, I did not do as well on that exam as some of my others. However, the exams that I studied for in advance and really prepared for were some of my highest exam scores. Really, this is all common sense, but I think for some reason it is somehow lost in the busyness and stress of school.

School does not have to be the big dread that we sometimes make it. In reality, we are super blessed to have the chance to get a higher education. Only 7% of the world’s population has a college degree. That really shows how lucky we are and how we should not waste our education. So, yes, organic chemistry​ might be the worst thing to ever exist, but at least I had the opportunity to take it and learn something. School will fly by and then we will be real adults (gosh, so scary), so I am determined to make the most of the education I am fortunate enough to get.

The Intricacies of Scheduling

This week is week five of the quarter, and I cannot believe that we are halfway done. I still feel like I am acclimating to my new schedule and teachers, and forming my routine, but we are already almost done with midterms! This weekend, I received an email from one of my academic advisors that included information and instructions on scheduling for next quarter. Now, that is really crazy! I’m still getting a handle on this quarter’s schedule, and I somehow have to think and plan out my schedule for fall quarter which is still five months away? Yikes! Thankfully, DePaul makes it really easy.

First, there is this thing called a Degree Progress Report on our Campus Connect pages, which is a gift sent from God. It shows all the classes and credits that you need to fulfill in order to complete your major/minor. You can also choose a “What If?” option, which allows you add a double major, a minor, or completely change your major, to see what classes you would need to take!
This is my Degree Progress Report. The classes I need to take are highlighted red, the ones I am currently taking in yellow, and the ones I have completed in blue. 

The Degree Progress Report will show how the change would affect what classes you had to take or what electives would need to be fulfilled. I always consult it before I schedule my classes or I make an appointment with my advisor, just to familiarize myself with what I still need to take and how I should accordingly plan. 

To schedule, you add classes into your course cart on Campus Connect. I actually think it is really fun. On the site, you get to search for all the classes available for that quarter and see what professors are teaching. So, I can search for any 200 level Spanish classes to fulfill my Spanish minor, or a specific health class I need to take, or just for a certain professor who I have really liked to see if he or she is teaching any classes in the next quarter. I usually try and come up with two or three prospective schedules to see what I like best and to have as back up just in case a class is full when I try and register for it. 

Every student gets a day and time slot for when they are allowed to register, and it is only then when you can officially register. Upperclassmen, athletes, honors students, and special students (like Pathways kids!) get priority scheduling, while freshmen usually have the last time slots. It’s like a big game. Scheduling can be frustrating and stressful, but it so relieving and kind of exciting when you have registered and get to officially know how the next quarter is going to be. The DePaul advisors are always very helpful and accessible during these few weeks of scheduling, too. There are always questions to be answered, and they truly want us to have the best quarter possible. 

Why I Chose DePaul

 This is the golden question. Even now, as a sophomore, I get asked frequently why I chose DePaul. The summer before my freshman year I felt like I was a broken record. Every time I get asked it, I seem to forget every reason WHY I chose DePaul. In actuality, there are many reasons why I chose to come to this great school!

I applied to five colleges and got accepted into four of them (gosh darn it, reach school). Of the four, I was torn between Ohio State and DePaul. OSU was closer to home and was technically cheaper due to in-state tuition, but I received the biggest academic scholarship​ from DePaul and truly loved the school more. I also was accepted into the Honors​ and Pathways Program​. I was really excited about the Pathways Program as I was very passionate about becoming a doctor and the program was a perfect match for me. In my opinion, it would have been a silly and careless decision to say no to a school that was giving me the opportunity to shave a year off my undergraduate degree and create connections and a good relationship with a medical school. 
 
Arriving at DePaul for Freshmen Orientation. I can't believe it's been two years!
Besides the academic and financial reasons of choosing DePaul, I really felt like I connected with the school and belonged here. Choosing a school is so important and it is essential that you fall in love with the university you will be attending for the next four years of your life. I love Chicago and was so excited to go to a college that would allow me to live in and explore the city. I especially loved the location of DePaul: it’s in the city, but not right downtown, meaning that I would get a break from the crowds, traffic, and noise. Lincoln Park is beautiful, safe, and is full of restaurants, parks, and so many things to do. The advisors, professors, and staff, for the most part, are friendly, helpful, and passionate about their jobs.  I have made lifelong friends here and I encourage everyone who is interested in DePaul to come check it out and experience the same great things that I have. DePaul University was the right school for me and I am so happy that I chose it. 

Go Blue Demons!

Theater in Chicago

I am one of the least musically talented people to exist. I mean, I can sort of play the piano (I used to take lessons) and I can semi-carry a tune, but make me do those things in front of a crowd and I will most certainly get booed out. I’m sure my neighbors don’t appreciate my (loud) shower voice. Hey, I try my best. I do, however, have a lot of musically talented friends, which makes me feel vastly inferior. To name a few, I have one friend who is an opera major at DePaul, one who was admitted to the Chicago College of Performing Arts, and one who is in The Theatre School at DePaul. Even though I have no talent in that area, I have grown up with friends who do have talent and who have been in many shows and performances. I think these wonderfully talented friends are the reason that I have such an appreciation and awe for theater and people who can sing and act so fantastically. 

My grandmother and I have made it a tradition to go see a show in downtown Cleveland every summer. We leave extra early and have dinner at one of the restaurants in Little Italy and then grab dessert at this lovely little place called Presti’s Bakery. I get a chocolate-covered cannoli and she gets a chocolate
Grandma Shirley and I after seeing The Lion King.

macaroon, every time, and goodness, are they delicious. Then, we drive on over to Playhouse Square and enjoy watching people vastly more talented than us. So far, we have seen The Lion King and Million Dollar Quartet. Side note- if you ever get that chance to see The Lion King on Broadway, DO IT. It is an indescribably beautiful experience and my absolute favorite show to date. Watch the opening number that was performed at the 2008 Tony Awards and see how superier the show is. 

Coming to Chicago, I was excited that I would get the chance to see many more shows. Last May, two of my friends came out to Chicago for the weekend and we got rush tickets to see Motown, which was amazing. All the songs were popular ones from the Motown music era of the 1960’s, so it was really fun to recognize a lot of them and see them performed so well. Later that May, two different friends came out at we saw The Sound of Music at the Lyric Opera House. We had seats that were really high up, but the opera house was built so that the higher up the seat is, the better the acoustics are. Gosh, it was beautiful. 

This year, my best friend, Lauren, and I are trying to get lottery tickets to see The Book of Mormon. I have heard from many people how funny and great the show is, so we are excited to hopefully get tickets. I highly recommend taking advantage of all the opportunities in Chicago to see performances. There certainly are other venues to see shows besides the expensive ones downtown. I believe it truly highlights the amazing gifts that we have all been given. Some people are gifted at science, some at journalism, but the ones in theater definitely have the gift of music.


Springtime in Chicago

Now that spring break is over, it is time to get into the swing of school again. Spring quarter has begun, and only 10 weeks stand in the way of summer! That somehow makes the quarter seem a lot more manageable. Spring quarter is infinitely better than winter quarter, not just because of the lack of snow and bitter winds, but because there is so much to do around Chicago. Now that the weather is improving, I have actual motivation to leave my apartment and explore the city. It is amazing how much warm breezes and sunshine make the soul happy. Below I have listed some of the must-do activities that take place this spring in our newly awakened city.

•    The beach. Chicago has miles of beautiful lakefront to explore. Thankfully, most of the lakefront also has beach access​. I’ve been to the Fullerton beach and North Avenue beach, but I know there are many other amazing ones. And what better place to lie in the sand than with the city view in the background? 

•    Enjoy the parks. Chicago is full of beautiful parks: Lincoln Park, Oz Park​, Millennium Park​, Grant Park​, the Maggie Daley Park​…I could keep going. Now that the weather is improving, take advantage of it and go outside! I love reading a good book and people watching, but you could hang out with friends, do homework, have a picnic…again, the opportunities are endless!

The highlight of Millennium Park: The Bean!
•    Take advantage of random events. Just on Facebook this past week, I have seen event pages made for a ginormous book swap in Old Town, a vintage garage sale off the Argyle red line stop, and a massive kite flying festival on Montrose Beach. These types of events are the really cool, memorable ones. They are unique, interesting, and bound to make a fun impact on your day. 

•    Ice cream. Ice cream is the essence of summer, but why wait until then to enjoy? Chicago has a bunch of delicious ice cream places: Annette’s, Jeni’s​, Ghirardelli, Oberweis, Margie’s Candies​…there is even a neighborhood guide to the best ice cream places in Chicago. Go get yourself a big ole’ cone and indulge in some creamy goodness!

Chicago is obviously full of many more wonderful outdoor activities to try now that the weather is improving, but these are the ones that I am the most excited for. It is an amazing time of the year- don’t waste it!


Working with UrbanSitter

Ever since I was in seventh grade, I have been babysitting. I love everything about children: their silliness, smiles, laughs, curiosity, and hugs. When I came to DePaul, I knew I wanted to continue finding families to work for. It is the best job, especially for a college student. You essentially make your own hours, as you can accept or decline jobs as your schedule permits. Also, I love growing close to a family because it gives me a warm, loving place to be that usually combats the loneliness or stress that comes with college life.  

Because I am not from Chicago, I did not really know how I was going to find families to babysit for. There were a couple job postings on one of the bulletin boards in the Student Center​ that I had luck with, but I did not really find a lot of jobs until I joined an online site. There are a few babysitting websites in Chicago, but the one I chose is called UrbanSitter​. It was one of the best decisions I made, as I have gotten so many jobs and contacts from this website.

As a potential sitter, you set up a profile containing an introductory paragraph, past experience, hourly rates, and the neighborhoods you are willing to work in. Your profile goes through a screening process and if accepted, you then update your availability for parents to see or apply to jobs already posted. It is really easy and once you meet a family on UrbanSitter, it is likely you will stay in contact and sit for them again. I have many repeat families that I love sitting for that I found on UrbanSitter.  It is a great way to make money on that random Friday or Saturday night where you don’t have plans. You essentially get paid to play with kids and then after they go to bed, watch TV or do homework. UrbanSitter is also great if you are looking for a part-time, weekly job. I have had a wonderful experience with UrbanSitter and I recommend it if you are looking to babysit in Chicago.


Whole Foods

Almost a month ago, DePaul received a gift: a Whole Foods​. And boy, it is a wonderful gift. We were in desperate need of a grocery store. Going shopping was becoming a chore. I did not mind walking the 0.7 miles (yes, I mapped it) to the Trader Joe’s/Aldi combo on Clybourn Avenue or even taking the Fullerton bus to Jewel Osco. But after buying a huge cartload of groceries, was I really going to lug all those bags back? Heck, no. I almost always took a taxi back to my apartment and let me tell you, that was becoming an unnecessary expense. So, imagine my excitement when Whole Foods opened a mere two blocks away from my apartment. Exciting stuff, guys!

When I first heard last year that a Whole Foods was coming, I was less than enthused. An overpriced, health nut grocery store? No, thank you. However, I have had some health issues these past few months that have required me to change my diet. Guess what store was the best place to shop at? That’s right, Whole Foods. My original impression of Whole Foods certainly was wrong.  I had to trek out to the Whole Foods by North and Clybourn, but this one is so much more convenient. 

The view looking out to DePaul from the top window of Whole Foods
Yes, Whole Foods is a little expensive. But I have realized I am paying a little more for food that is a lot fresher and better tasting. The produce section at Whole Foods is amazing and the quality of the produce is way higher than other grocery stores that I have been to. Every time I go to Whole Foods I stumble upon a food item that I have never heard of or tried before, and it definitely is widening my taste bud horizon. Also, their prepared food section is incredible. They have a wide variety of hot foods, soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and sushi that taste really good and are so convenient. I have stopped at Whole Foods numerous times to grab a quick lunch or dinner and the great thing is that I know exactly what I am putting into my body. Whole Foods has been a superb addition to Lincoln Park and the DePaul community and I know it will be widely visited and praised. ​

Three Things I Wish I Knew as a DePaul Freshman

My freshman year was a whirlwind of a year. I cannot believe how quickly it went by, particularly the first quarter. Starting college in a bright, new city was exciting and I was blessed to have a great experience last year. I learned a lot my first year of college, academically and personally. Both my younger sister and
cousin are starting college next year and it makes me think of all the things I wish I knew starting my freshman year, especially living for the first time in Chicago. Having made it through my first year, here are a few things I wish I knew coming into DePaul.

1.    Explore Chicago. Chicago is a huge city divided into numerous neighborhoods​. As a new incoming freshman, it is easy to be intimidated by the sheer size of the city. Become familiar with public transportation. Always know how to get back to campus. Go to the famous places and discover the places that are not as well-known. Do not be afraid to take a cab. Visit the lakefront​. Eat a LOT. And most of all, relish the four years that you will get to spend in one of the most beautiful, famous cities in the world.

2.    Don’t worry about making friends. Making friends is probably one of the most nerve-wracking parts of starting college. Remember, everyone is in the same boat and everyone is nervous, whether they seem it or not. College is such a good time to make friends that have different majors ​and plans, and who offer different views on life. The people you meet the first week of school do not necessarily have to become your best friends, either. I still am very good friends with some people I met at the beginning of the year from my classes and dorm​, but I also have wonderful friends that I made during spring quarter or even earlier this year. Think of college as the chance to add on to your friend circle, not having to start completely over. ​

3.    Live in the moment. Looking back, I realize a lot of my freshman year was spent thinking about my future and all the things I had to do to make my future successful. Yes, it is important to have a plan and work hard, but college, especially a college in Chicago, is full so many experiences and memories that you do not want to miss out on. Study hard for your midterm, but also go out to dinner with your friends. Apply for that great internship, but also go see that awesome new movie. College is such a fun time, so enjoy every minute of it.



Staying Warm in Chiberia

It is common knowledge that Chicago winters are brutal. We are not nicknamed “The Windy City” for nothing. While winter is characteristically thought of as only a three month long season, in Chicago, we enter almost six months of blustery, frigid weather. I have been told by many people that I should not complain about the weather because by going to DePaul, I somehow consented to the horrible weather we get every year. Sure, in some sense that may be true, but there is a very drastic difference between talking about -30ºF wind chills and experiencing -30ºF wind chills. Experiencing the weather is 10x worse, but as Chicagoans and DePaulians, we have to know how to handle it. Below are my tips for staying warm.

•    Invest in a great coat. When I came to DePaul as a freshman, I brought a normal winter coat. It was a little puffy and had a hood. After only experiencing Chiberia for a week, my kind mother sent me a new coat that went almost down to my knees. It helped, but still, the winds were too strong. This year for Christmas I got a huge, puffy coat that goes down to my ankles. It makes me look like an eskimo, but it is glorious and warm. 

•    Seriously, bundle up. This goes beyond having a great coat. A hat, scarf, and thick gloves are necessary. Brave one day without them and I promise, you will agree with me. Sure, you may look a bit silly, but that silliness is worth not having to be painful and numb for half of your class. Also, a good pair of snow boots are useful. DePaul does a great job of shoveling the sidewalks, but not a lot of other places do. I always shake my head at the poor soul who is wearing Toms when there is 10 inches of snow on the ground.

•    Drink warm beverages. Always have a mug of your beverage of choice at your disposal. I am not a coffee fan, but tea and hot chocolate never fail to warm my insides. It gets so cold out that you can actually feel the drink traversing your esophagus and warming up everything it touches. It is a wonderful thing. My go-to places to get that feeling are: Starbucks (there are three within two blocks of campus), the Bourgeois Pig (a cute, book-themed café), and Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (a bit far from DePaul, but just look at that menu).

Obviously, even with these tips, you may still be freezing. Spring and summer in Chicago are worth the agony we experience every winter, I promise. Do not let these winters deter you from Chicago! You will become a true fighter and Chicagoan. 


Lincoln Park

Chicago is divided into numerous neighborhoods, each with its own personality and experience. DePaul University is located in Lincoln Park (LP), which is one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods, in my opinion. One of the reasons I have loved my experience at DePaul so far is because the school is located in LP. It is far enough away from downtown that life is a little more relaxing, but close enough that it only takes ten minutes on the red line to get into the heart of Chicago. LP is full of restaurants, beautiful homes, numerous parks, a zoo, and is less than a mile away from Lake Michigan. Here are some of the best assets and excursions that Lincoln Park has to offer:

•    The Zoo: The Lincoln Park Zoo is awesome. It is open year-round and has free admission. It is not huge, but every time I have been there I have had a great time. The monkey, lions, and giraffes are my favorite exhibits to see. The coolest part of LP Zoo is the events it holds. In the summer, it has movie nights on the main lawn. Last summer, my friends and I went and saw Harry Potter. During the winter, it is decorated beautifully with a light show and there also is an ice skating rink. The LP Zoo is definitely a place to check out. 

•    Oz Park: Right in the heart of LP is Oz Park, named so because of the statues of Wizard of Oz characters spread throughout the park. The park has baseball diamonds, basketball and tennis courts, a playground, and lots of paths to explore. It is the perfect place to read a book on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The Scarecrow at Oz Park
•    Homeslice: Homeslice is a pizza place a block away from DePaul’s campus. The pizza is delicious, with lots of options to choose from. The best thing about Homeslice is its patio out back. It has heated lamps, cushions, couches, and Christmas lights [Editor’s note: A really cute French bulldog named Gary also lives there!] It is a really cool environment to enjoy some really good food. 

•    The houses: LP is full of amazing architecture. Some of the houses and apartments in LP are insanely beautiful (and expensive). I once walked past a house that was built on six lots, was fully gated, and had actual gargoyles built into the house. It is worth it to take a walk around LP and see some of these incredible places. 

•    Annette’s: Hands down, the best ice cream ever. Annette’s is a tiny ice cream shop in LP that never disappoints. Owned by Annette, who is almost always working every time I have been there, the shop not only sells ice cream in almost every flavor imaginable, but also homemade Italian Ice. I am more of an ice cream girl myself, but I have heard the Italian Ice is really good. I tell myself that I go to Annette’s so often in order to support a local business, but truthfully, it is just to eat a scoop of peanut butter cookie dough. 

There is so much more to do and see in LP than what I have listed. Come check out Lincoln Park and see what is has to offer. 

My Residence Hall Experience

When I officially decided I was going to attend DePaul, I knew that I needed to figure out where I was going to live. I wanted to live on campus because I grew up pretty far away in Ohio. My knowledge of Chicago and the amount of people I knew coming into DePaul were both slim, so I wanted to live in a dorm because I knew it would help me make friends and help my adjustment to DePaul be the best it could be.

When I had visited DePaul, they did not show all the dorm buildings. The housing website online was really helpful when I was ranking my housing choices because it showed pictures, dimensions, and features of all the dorm halls. I ended up being placed in Munroe Hall. That was the dorm hall that we slept in during orientation, so I was happy that I was already a little familiar with the layout. Plus, it did not have community bathrooms, which I knew I did not want.

A view of McCabe Hall and Chicago's skyline
Move-in day was a little overwhelming but I loved being able to decorate my room, meet my roommate and suitemates, and get to know other people on my floor. The dorm rooms in Munroe are situated around the outside of each floor in a rectangle with the elevators in the middle, so it was easy to become familiar with everyone who lived on the floor. 

I loved living in Munroe my freshman year. I made a lot of friends that I know I will be friends with for a long time. The dorm hall was pretty close to all the buildings on campus so I never felt isolated, and the rooms and bathrooms were fairly spacious. 

I recommend living on-campus during freshman year because it is so easy to meet a lot of great people and establish a community setting. I love my apartment now, but I still sometimes miss the comradery that existed on my floor last year. My residence hall experience my freshman year was a great one and helped make that year memorable.

Lessons I Haved Learned as a Bibliophile

Ever since I learned how, reading has been a pastime to which I have been avidly devoted. Now, as a college student living a hectic life, my free time has diminished, as has my time to read. Even when I am consumed with homework and extracurriculars, I still remember the feeling that washes over me when a memorable book ends: sad, a little satisfied, but mostly like I’m awakening from a dream. In that dream I have traveled to California along Route 66 with the Joad’s, defeated Voldemort with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, felt the harsh racism of the south with Scout, and flown a kite with Hassan and Amir. I have battled the Capital with Katniss, written stories with Skeeter, solved a forty-year old murder with Mikael and Lisbeth, and married a Native American chief with Mary Dodd. I have visited the Inkworld with Meggie, performed in a circus with Jacob and Marlena, flown through worlds with Peter Pan, and helped Liesel hide Max from the Nazis. The beautiful stories I have read continue to teach me valuable lessons that I adhere to each day. 

College presents us with countless opportunities that seem overwhelming and difficult. It is hard to choose a major, make new friends, and live alone in the third largest city in the country. Dr. Seuss addresses this in his book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! : “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.” For an author of children’s books, Dr. Seuss is pretty wise. As adults, we have the choice to make our life what we want and live in a way that makes us happy. The unnamed narrator in the book asks his readers a vital question: "Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed (98¾% guaranteed)." College is challenging, but with courage, confidence, and faith, it can easily become an exciting journey, and the best time of our lives.

 J.K. Rowling also shows awareness of how valuable our choices are with her creation of Albus Dumbledore. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore says, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Rowling created a profound man with wise insight into good and evil, morality, and human spirit. This quote is one of my favorites that Dumbledore says, as it is applicable to not only the Wizarding World but to our world as college students. 

As a child, I always walked around with a book in my nose, so much so that I would run into walls and doors. My mom would get frustrated at me for how much I asked to go to the library. I eagerly awaited the Scholastic Book Fair at school. The librarians in my hometown know me by name. I give a lot of credit to the books I have read for forming the person I am today and for the decisions I have made. An author named William Feather​ once said, “Books open your mind, broaden your mind, and strengthen you as nothing else can.” Books unleash new worlds and dreams and blissful memories. It would be impossible for me to list every book I’ve ever read, but each book, even if I don’t remember it, has given me immeasurable and irreplaceable wisdom. My life would be meaningless and would have turned out quite differently if I did not have books. 

Of all the books I have read, these will forever be my favorite.


Why I Changed My Major

If you were to ask me when I was a little girl what I wanted to be when I grew up, you would have gotten a stereotypical answer like a teacher, or a singer, or an actress. If you were to ask me between the times of middle school and last week, I would have said a doctor. Now, I would not be able to give you a concrete answer.

I have been set on going to medical school and becoming a doctor for almost ten years now. It is something that I was very passionate about. I think, however, I was naïve about the process that it takes to become a doctor. Beginning this year, I began to realize just exactly how long I would be in school and how hard it would be, and it filled me with a sense of dread. School wasn’t fun anymore, I was stressed, and the thought of my future began to affect my mood and health. 

Go explore and enjoy this marvelous city!
This is not what I wanted my college experience to be like. So many people have told me that the four years of college are the best four years of your life. For me, it was beginning to turn into the worst four years. Therefore, I decided to take control of my life and change my plan. I dropped out of the accelerated path and changed my concentration from pre-med to a more general concentration. I still am a Health Sciences major​ because I still want to do something in the health field, I think. However, I now have room in my schedule to study abroad, take crazy electives, minor in Spanish, and explore and discover what I want my life to be like. 

I already feel so much better! I have so much more freedom and a lot of paths for my future have opened up. I for one am excited to see where I am taken. It is difficult for me to do something like this because I am a person who thrives and lives for a concrete plan. I don't have one anymore, but it is for a very good reason. College is such a fun time, and it is useless to spend so much time, energy, and money on something that you don’t enjoy or aren’t passionate about. Whether you are an art major, a chemistry major, or a business major, enjoy yourself! DePaul and Chicago are the perfect places to discover so much.  

Beating Those Winter Blues

Chicago has a long-term relationship with disgusting weather. Now, granted, this winter’s weather is an immense improvement from last year. We have yet to reach -50ºF wind chills, thank goodness. However, this dreary, cloudy, overcast weather is quite a bummer. It makes doing even the simplest tasks a trial and severely diminishes the motivation and work ethic of all. This is not my first year dealing with such foul weather. Last year, Chicago became a Polar Vortex for four months, and I am from Chardon, Ohio, the snowbelt of northeast Ohio. Regardless, no amount of experience with nasty weather prepares you for the dull and dismal sensation of winter. 

I have developed a couple of tricks that help deal with the overwhelming blanket of grayness that comes with a Chicago winter. They will not make winter go away, but hopefully they will make the sun appear to shine more frequently! 
The Snowpocalypse of 2011. Let's pray this doesn't happen in the near future!

•    Get enough sleep! Sleep is essential anytime of the year, but when the gray skies threaten to make everyone drowsy, a base of good slumber can never hurt.
•    Find a good playlist. Music defeats the blues anytime, anywhere. An upbeat, catchy accumulation of songs will make it seem like a party in July.
•    Treat Yo’ Self. The quote taken from the wonderful show Parks and Recreation reminds us that there is nothing wrong with splurging on a special thing every now and then. Whether that is a massage or a pedicure, the treat will feel extra special in this dreary weather.
•    Watch Netflix. Yes, that’s right. I am saying that it is alright to watch a movie or binge watch a new TV show. This is not something that should be done frequently, but sometimes, a mindless activity like Netflix-ing is all that is needed to give your mood a boost. 
•    Surround yourself with loved ones. Whether it is friends or family, loving faces are sometimes all that is needed to improve your mood. Having a movie night, going out to dinner, or busting a rib from laughing are all phenomenal ways to spend time with those who matter the most. 

Everyone has different tricks to help them cope with winter, but these are some of the ones that I find work pretty well. Winter is a very long season in Chicago, but hopefully, it will be springtime before we know it!

Banter about Bucket Lists

I don’t watch that much television. It is not because I dislike it; I just don’t have the time. However, there are a few shows that I follow: Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, and Bones. All three are very different from each other, so I get nice a taste of drama, comedy, and crime. Because I am so busy during the quarter, breaks are times where I get caught up to the episodes I have missed. I recently have gotten into watching old episodes of Bones (thanks Netflix). 

I was re-watching an episode the other day and one of the topics the episode tackled was having a Bucket List. A Things-I-Want-To-Do-Before-I-Die List. It made me think: what are the things I want to do before I die? This is a very loaded question because there are a multitude of facets that merge to create our lives. That means that within those facets, there can be copious wishes and desires. That makes for a very long and diverse list! There are familial goals: get married, have babies, be loved. Travel goals: see the Yi Peng (Festival of Lights in Thailand), the aurora borealis, the Swiss Alps. Adventurous goals: ride an elephant, float in a hot-air balloon, go snorkeling by the coral reefs. There are career goals, faith goals, school goals, personal goals, and so many other categories.

Yi Peng: The Festival of Lights and one of the items on my Bucket List
After I finished the episode, I became excited to make my list. I am not the type to journal or write creatively, so making a list like this was something I normally would not do and I was surprised that I was so excited to make one. That got me thinking. Is this type of list good to have? Or is it harmful? It is wonderful to have goals, dreams, and aspirations. It is necessary because it gives us something to work towards and be excited about. However, I think creating a Bucket List makes us yearn for the idealistic life and dislike the one we have. Have goals, but live in the moment! Appreciate the everyday occurrences, the sweet moments we have with friends and family, and the seemingly trivial accomplishments. Sure, visiting another country or seeing a famous monument is amazing, but it is the small memories that will accumulate and define our lives. It is becoming quite apparent in today’s society that life is short. Dream to see the big things, but want to experience the small moments.

My Ecuadorian Trip

It is difficult to write one blog post about winter break, as six weeks is a lot to cram into five paragraphs. It was six weeks full of travel, family, relaxation, and celebration. One of the activities that occupied my winter break was a trip to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I went with Cru, one of the organizations on campus that I am actively involved. A group of 13 went, comprised of college students, adults, and high schoolers. We went for a week.

In Guayaquil, we went to three college campuses and talked to their students. I have studied Spanish for the past six years, and it was super cool to be able to use it. It is amazing how different the Ecuadorian culture is from that of America. People in the States are much more time and money-oriented. Those two things fuel our society. In Ecuador, relationships are cherished. It was a wonderful change of pace and truthfully, it was weird coming back to the United States. Going abroad makes you realize how the American way is not always the best way. 

We went to the three universities during the week- ESPOL, Católica, and La Universidad de Guayaquil-, and then on the weekend, we took a bus for about seven hours to a small town called Baños which is tucked in a valley in the mountains. That was definitely an interesting trip. I don’t know if the highlight was roasting in a 95ºF bus or almost being left behind at a random bus station. Imagine a gringo (the Spanish term for a white person) in Birkenstocks sprinting after the moving bus- it was quite the spectacle. 

Once in Baños, we unleashed our adventurous sides. First, we went canyoning, which is repelling down waterfalls. That was definitely intense. We donned wetsuits and harnesses and scaled down these massive waterfalls, with a rope being the only thing preventing our untimely deaths. It was terrifying while I was doing it, but now, it is an amazing memory. After canyoning, we went zip lining, which was beautiful. We sped along over these wide open valleys and rivers. I wish I was able to take a camera. Finally, the last thing we did was take turns on The Swing at the Edge of the Earth, which is a swing attached to tree house that soars over a ginormous valley. It was incredible. There is a picture below, as it is impossible to describe. 
 
The Swing at the Edge of the Earth. Don't look down!
The entire trip was such a blessing. The weather was warm and sunny and it was a great escape from the stress of school and the impending Chicago winter. I had the best time and am so happy I went. I urge anyone who even thinks they want to travel to do so! I know once medical school starts I will have zero time to even think of traveling, and I’m sure other people who are planning on going to grad school or start working after graduation are in the same boat. Life is short and the Earth is so big! Explore it and fall in love with it- I know I have.

My Visit to RFUMS

This past weekend I visited Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS), the school I will most likely attend to study medicine. I am in the Pathways Program at DePaul which partners with RFUMS and gives students special opportunities to observe, shadow, and have experiences throughout the health care field. Within the Pathways Program, I am pursuing the Accelerated Degree 3+ Option. Essentially, I do three years of undergraduate school at DePaul, my fourth year at DePaul and my first year at RFUMS are combined, and then I complete my final three years of medical school. I get to complete my schooling in seven years instead of eight, which saves quite a bit of money and helps me achieve my dream of being a doctor in less time!

RFUMS had an open house this past weekend, which is why I visited. It is a 45-minute drive north in a town called North Chicago, which is near Lake Bluff and Lake Forest. I took the Metra, though, because I don’t have a car with me at school. Thankfully, I went with my friend Katie and we were able to figure out directions and ticket-buying (we were definitely not familiar with the Metra). At the open house, we got to speak with representatives of each program that RFUMS offers, as well as representatives from housing, student involvement, and financial aid. Then, we split off into smaller groups depending upon our interests. I went to talks about Allopathic Medicine (which is the kind of medicine I want to study) and Nutrition, Wellness, and Prevention. Both were interesting, informative, and made me excited to start my medical training. We then got a tour of the school, which was nice to see. It is a lot smaller than DePaul so I’m sure I will be able to get my bearings much quicker!

I am happy I decided to attend the open house. It was a really early, cold morning and Metra was kind of a pain, but I got to see a glimpse at what my future will hold and that put all the stress and school work that I have now into perspective. In a year and a half I will be in medical school! That is crazy to think about, and without the Pathways Program I would not have any of these opportunities. It is these moments that make me so thankful that I chose DePaul. I have included links to RFUMS and the Pathways Program. Enjoy!

This is Rosalind Franklin, the woman who the university is named after. She made amazing discoveries in the structure of DNA, but her work was stolen by James Watson and Francis Crick and was never rewarded the credit for her discoveries.


Apartment Life

I lived in the dorms my freshmen year (Go Monroe!) and even though I had a good experience, I decided to live in an apartment my sophomore year. I lucked out by finding a teeny studio apartment a block away from campus. The location is so fantastic. As I was planning to live alone, I was quite excited to have a kitchen, bathroom, and the choice of how to decorate all to myself.

I definitely had a picture of how my life was going to be in my apartment, which my friends and I aptly refer to as the Fishbowl (a Fish[er] lives in a Fishbowl...get it? Give me this one bad pun, you guys). I thought I would be cooking meals for myself every night, that there would never be a dirty dish in the sink, and my place would be clutter-free, vacuumed, dusted, and spotless every day. Oh boy was I wrong! If I had no classes or responsibilities I’m sure my expectations would be fulfilled, but it’s crazy how life gets in the way of even the tiniest tasks like doing laundry.

Now, I’m not saying that my apartment is a pigsty. I am not a dirty person. I’m just saying that there are moments, and everyone has them, where I can be a bit messy. And I’ve discovered it is definitely not the end of the world. The dishes eventually get done (Can we get an AMEN for paper plates?), I’ve gotten quite speedy at vacuuming, and I’ve discovered a few go-to meals that take 15 minutes at the most to make.

Even though my life in the Fishbowl isn’t what I totally expected, it is still a joy. Every time I walk through my front door I am greeted with the personal touches that scream “Sarah,” and that leads to a peaceful, happy, cozy life in Château Bissell.

Nothing better than Christmas lights and a map of our great city


Baking Extraordinaire

I love to bake. I am really good at it, too. Cooking is wonderful, but nothing beats pulling a sweet, warm dessert out of the oven.

The first time I ever remember baking, my mom let me make sugar cookies by myself. All was going well until I could not find any eggs in the fridge. I did, however, spot some Southwestern-flavored Egg Beaters. I thought that if I picked out the peppers they would be a fine substitute. As you can imagine, I was quite wrong. I promise my skills have improved since then!

My favorite recipe to bake (and probably the best) is chocolate chip banana coffee cake. Oooohhh boy is it good. It is so good that it is the treat all my friends and family request. It is the golden recipe. The cake-y bread, the melted chocolate chips, the crunchy cinnamon-sugar topping…my stomach is grumbling. The most adventurous thing I have made, though, was a Seven-Layer S’mores Cake for my best friend’s birthday.

You guys, this cake was RIDICULOUS. The layers were: brownie, chocolate chip cookie, cheesecake, and graham crackers, all combined with marshmallow frosting and chocolate frosting. And, I made everything completely from scratch. It took me probably five or six hours because everything had to bake and cool and then the pans had to be washed so I could reuse them for the next layer…you get the picture. Another thing you should know about me is that I am the messiest, most haphazard baker. My mom refuses to come into the kitchen while I am experimenting with a new recipe. Something almost always explodes, leaks, overflows, or is dropped, whether it be the food processor or flour or batter. Who cares what the process looks like if the final product is delicious, though, am I right? When I finished the cake and brought it over to my friend’s, her dad told me I should drop the dream of becoming a doctor and enroll in culinary school. That was one successful cake! Here is the cake’s recipe. Enjoy looking at the pictures and if you have a go at the recipe, good luck!

This is one of the pictures from the blog where I got the recipe. All credit, of course, goes to Fat Girl Trapped In a Skinny Body.



Christmas Season

​Guess what?

It is officially November, so you know what that means….it’s Christmas season!

If you should know one thing about me, it is how much I absolutely love Christmas. It is not only my favorite holiday but my favorite time of the year. Yes, it is cold, especially in Chicago, but it is a good kind of cold; the kind that is definitely crisp but not unbearable. The snow is perfectly white. Two words: gingerbread cookies. Christmas decorations and lights are on display and Christmas music is being played everywhere. In fact, I am listening to Christmas music as I write this (Michael Buble Holiday Radio on Pandora…check it out). Christmas movies are found on seemingly every television station. It is truly a beautiful season.

To me, Christmas is not about the presents or the nice, long six week break from school (although those are nice perks). It is the holiday spirit that makes me so happy. It seems like everyone is in a better mood around Christmas time; people are more giving, kind, and cheerful. Everyone is uplifted by a magical force. Christmas also gives us the chance to go home and spend time with those we love, whether it be family or old friends. As college students, that does not happen often. 

Being in Chicago during the Christmas season is awesome. There is so much to do and see. At the end of November there is a parade and tree lighting ceremony on Michigan Avenue, complete with fireworks. In Millennium Park, there is an ice skating rink open. The Macys on State Street is decked out in Christmas cheer. A ton of Christmas-themed plays and ballets are open all over the city. And there is much more. Last year, I went home to Ohio for the whole break, but this year I am staying in Chicago for a few weeks. I cannot wait to explore the city’s holiday gems. 

It is clear that I love Christmas, and it is pretty hard not to living in Chicago. We can miss the true meaning of Christmas as it can get lost in the business of school, money, and life. Take a break from studying and watch a Christmas movie (Elf is definitely the best), bake some cookies, or stomp around in the snow. You will not be sorry. I hope everyone has a truly blessed and magical Christmas season!




Fall in Chicago!

​I absolutely love Chicago in the fall. Well, I love fall anywhere I am, but it is especially great in Chicago. There is nothing better than walking down the sidewalk and hearing the crunch of the leaves, or riding the trains and seeing all the beautiful, vibrant colors of the trees. Fall is also the time of year when Chicago is not unbelievably humid and hot or bone-chillingly frigid; right now, it is the perfect temperature. That is always a bonus in a city abundant in crazy, fluctuating weather! 

Because Chicago is a great city for foodies, seasonal fall foods can be found far and wide. So many places offer fresh apple cider, caramel apples and almost anything pumpkin. Considering there is basically a Starbucks on every street corner, lovers of the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte are definitely in luck. 

Coming from a small town, it was tradition that my family would carve pumpkins, go apple-picking, and get lost in a corn maze or haunted house. Urban downtown Chicago is not abundant with acres of fields for mazes and fruit, but there are tons of places right outside the city that are perfect for fulfilling everyone’s autumn needs. This weekend I am going apple picking at a farm about an hour outside the city, and I am so excited. I can’t wait to buy a warm glass of cider and smell the fresh air, crisp air. 

 
Every season in Chicago is amazing because Chicago is amazing, but fall is definitely one of the best. Whether it is the noise of crunchy leaves, the breeze of the cool air, or the abundance of corn stalks decorating the city, experiencing autumn in Chicago is not a disappointment. 


Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

​This year I am volunteering at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (is that a long name or what?) downtown off of Michigan Ave. I have only had two shifts so far but I can tell it is going to be one of the best experiences of my year. I am in the Cardiac CCU, which is the intensive care unit for children with cardiac problems. It is definitely sad to see such sick children, but it reassures me to know that I am helping to brighten their days. There is no age limit on the CCU- there are newborns up to adults. My focus, of course, will be on the babies and children. 

Outside of the beautiful hospital which was just built in 2012
So far, I have held a lot of babies which just fills my soul with peace. Babies are so special and helping them relax and sleep is a wonderful job, especially if the baby doesn’t have very many family members coming to visit and nurture them. Playing with the older kids is a blast, too. They are obviously much more interactive. So far, I have been beaten in Uno, fished Play-Doh out of a container of bubbles, and learned all the names of (and decapitated) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For the record, they are Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Donatello. Having a younger sister, I could only tell you the different ways to dress a Polly Pocket or Barbie. 
Even though they are sick, these children have already made an impact on me. Instead of being able to go to school and play outside like normal children, the kids on the Cardiac CCU are stuck in hospital rooms. Life is short and you never know what it will throw at you. Be loving, happy, excited, and grateful for all the opportunities and the life you have. Life is a gift so don’t waste it!


Midterms at DePaul

​It is that time of year again: midterms. As DePaul is on quarters rather than semesters, the week of midterms seems to creep up rather quickly. Last year, I didn’t really have many midterms. The chemistry and biology departments do not classify a specific test as a midterm, per se. We had 4 tests a quarter that occurred every 2-3 weeks, so if one happened to fall on Midterm Week it was more of a coincidence rather than a planned event. The midterms I did have were in my non-science classes, like my required Gen-Ed or Spanish classes. 

This year, though, my midterm schedule has done a complete 180º flip. I have so many more papers/tests/lab reports due in this one week than at any time last year. It is stressful for sure, but it helps me to fine-tune my time management and prioritizing skills. Being a Health Science major and in the 3+ Pathways Program would be impossible without these skills, so practicing them as much as possible is key. They will carry over to medical school and beyond.

It is also essential to know when your limit has been reached. There comes a point where so much studying and homework has been done that the mind does not function anymore. Humans were not meant to work 18 hours a day without a break or substantial food. Shoving a few granola bars and an apple down your throat throughout the day is not a meal that will fuel your body for ridiculous amounts of study. It is not slacking off to curl up on the couch with a home-cooked meal and an episode of Gilmore Girls or Bones for an hour. It is nourishment and a break from constant stress and work. With good fuel, your body can then head back over to the JTR (John T. Richardson) library for some more of work. At least this work will be done with a satisfied stomach and “Where You Lead” stuck in your head. 

​​


Visiting Home

​The first week in October, I was blessed with the opportunity to go home. I’m from a small town in Northeast Ohio called Chardon that is about seven hours away from Chicago, so I do not get to visit that often. In fact, last year I did not go home at all except for breaks. In a way, not being close to home is a good thing because I do not get super homesick or behind on homework, but lately I have definitely missed Chardon and my family.

Chardon, like I said, is a small town. We are 15 minutes away from Lake Erie, 20 minutes from Amish Country, an hour from Cleveland. We are known for maple syrup and snow. Chardon is absolutely beautiful in the fall, so I was glad I got to go home when I did. Every year, my parents host a giant Fish Fry. My family has a boat, so my dad and his friends go out on Lake Erie and up on Lake Chautauqua in New York and catch a huge amount of fish. At the Fish Fry, the fish gets cooked and about 120 people come over for a celebration of fall, football, fish, fire, and friends. It is a super fun evening and I was so happy to attend this year as I was unable to last year. Tradition is very important to me, and the Fish Fry is an annual Fisher event. 

I got to see my dogs that weekend, too, which was amazing. My dogs are my favorite things on this planet and cuddling them makes everything seem right! My flights got messed up from Chicago to Cleveland, so I ended up only getting a few hours of sleep on the Friday morning I went home and had to leave to get to Midway at 4:00 AM. Needless to say, getting home away from the chilly fall air and snuggling under a blanket for a nap with my dogs was the perfect remedy for a stressful couple days and an incentive to get through the rest of the quarter.

Me and one of my dogs, Oreo.