A ghostly good time

How often do you take going to school and/or living in this city for granted?

I don’t let a day go by without stopping to take in the views around campus or making plans to explore the city. It’s incredible how much beauty is all around us every minute here. The city and campus is ever-thriving; take advantage of everything they have to offer!

View from Commons North Residence Hall Tower Lounge

This week, I’ve been drowning in homework, tests, work and programming. But that didn’t keep me from having some fun.

One of the absolute highlights of this week was my residents’ program Wednesday. Two of them put on a talent show program in the lounge off the laundry room on our floor. There was a great turnout, with residents performing card tricks, self-defense moves, jokes and more.


On Thursday, I went with the Residence Hall Association (RHA) on the Chicago Hauntings Tour. It was easily one of the scariest nights of my life. I 100 percent believe in all things ghost-related, so the tour was pretty serious to me. We started out at UIC’s very own Hull House and traveled around the city with our tour guide explaining things the whole way. The minute we started the tour at the Hull House, we were given time to explore the property and takes pictures in hopes of catching some sort of paranormal activity. I walked through the infamous courtyard and immediately felt unsettled. The feeling didn’t leave through the entire tour and continues with me as I sit in my room. It’s moments like this when I am truly appreciative of everything this school offers to its students. I most likely never would have gone on the ghost tour had RHA not taken me and made it so convenient to go. It was crazy to learn so much history I had never heard before and to think that these haunted sites are just miles away from the comfort of campus.

One of the stops on the tour: Couch Mausoleum and the former Chicago City Cemetary

After such an exciting week, my work is not finished. On Saturday, I am participating and presenting in a conference UIC is hosting! The Chicago Area Student and Campus Housing Association (CASCHA) is for leaders in Campus Housing, and is a perfect networking and information-gathering site. I will be presenting on the linkage between social media and leadership.

Here’s to a successful conference. Make sure you take part in some city exploration!









Turning 21

I went to Seasons 52 for my pre-birthday celebration with my cousins, brother and boyfriend. It was coincidentally the Grand Opening the night we had reserved! The whole experience in the restaurant is great and if you have not gone before, you should really check it out! I received flowers that were HUGE from the staff and a cute card and memorandum (they took a group picture for us and printed it right in the restaurant…and stuck it in a frame!). The food was delicious, especially dessert! (:

Quail x3

My cousin ordered quail for dinner, lol! I did not know they even had that at Season's 52. The menu always changes each season so I guess I'm not surprised. I greatly enjoyed my chicken and veggies, hehe.

Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road Birthday Dessert

Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road Birthday Dessert (The most amazing delicious thing ever).

The piano man was great too. He played “Roar” by Katy Perry and “1000 Miles” by Vanessa Carlton (the guy’s accent was great). It reminded me of the movie “White Chicks,” hehe. I went home with my brother and boyfriend afterward and got to see my parents and the great gifts they received from my boyfriend since he just came back from Hong Kong after being there five months to see his parents. Apparently he and my brother went to the Chicago Fashion Outlets in Rosemont the day before to get me gifts, so I was quite surprised to see what I came home to! I always forget you get gifts on your birthday…(you can tell I don’t celebrate it too often besides with cake). My brother got me these pretty grey-and-purple Nike shoes and then my boyfriend got me a purse from Tori Burch (he won’t tell me the price but I’ll get it out of him, then think of a more brilliant gift once his birthday rolls around…I better save up).


My new purse!

I don't wear purses that often, but it sure is weird wearing your backpack and a suit to an interview! I took my "lady" purse (as my mom calls it) the day I had my Fulbright interview when I wore my suit, but it could have matched better. I didn't want to wear my backpack because that would look really odd and unprofessional (I guess). I absolutely love this gift! It's so simple and is very fitting for me. ^_^

I got to start my MCAT restudying and play some Grand Theft Auto 5 (I’m terrible but the story is sooo good). I wanted to accomplish more out of my weekend, but I don’t get to go home that often with my new job and other responsibilities so I figure I deserve a break!

Seasons 52 Flowers

These were the flowers that Seasons 52 gave me for my birthday during the night of their grand opening! Aren't they beautiful? Flowers are my favorite! They look so happy.

Speaking of my job, I have been working this week like crazy since I got to take my birthday weekend off. I am going MWF 5pm-2am this whole week! >__< I am not awake for my TR 9am classes, lol! Oh well, it’s pretty exciting to work in the ER. It’s just tiring because I stand and sit a lot and my eyes strain from the computer screen…but still enjoyable that I don’t really think about being tired or hungry during that time. (:


All right, this puppy has got to sleep! Anatomy and physiology exam 2 is coming up…and selection of next semester’s classes too! EEP. Can’t believe it. @_@

Okay, NOW I’m going to go work…peace out UIC.

Course evaluations

Always wondered what happens to those teacher evaluation forms you fill out at the end of each course?
Well, as an Undergraduate Student Government (USG) member, I’ve been working on getting that information displayed for all students on our website. USG funds the program that allows the colleges to get student feedback on courses and their professors. In the past year, other members of USG and I have been working with a professor to get that data from the colleges. With that information, we have had the obtainable data displayed on our website. You can view the currently available course ratings here.
This is awesome because this allows students at UIC to obtain REAL course ratings, as opposed to other websites that can often give unreliable data. So remember these evaluations when you’re making your schedules next month! Please spread the word to all of your friends!
We’re currently working on getting more recent course evaluations. In the meantime, if you think of any improvements that could make the page better, please comment and let me know!
Until next time…

Pete the Cat

I decided, after taking a poll on Facebook, to be Pete the Cat for Halloween at Mary Lyon.  They are allowing the students to dress up and I am BEYOND excited to dress up, too.

For those of you who do not know who Pete the Cat is, you are missing out.  Pete is the star of a series of children’s books that all have a moral to each story. I Love My White Shoes is about Pete the Cat walking along in his brand new white shoes singing “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes,” and “Oh no!” he accidentally steps in a big pile of strawberries, turning his new shoes “RED”.  “Does Pete cry? Goodness no.  He keeps walking along and singing his song. “I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes.” The story continues with Pete stepping in blueberries, mud and water.  “Does Pete cry? Goodness, no.” And the moral of the story is, “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song.”

So, I am going to share with you my plans for my Halloween costume! I think am going to be Pete the Cat from “I Love My White Shoes.”  I already purchased a pair of royal blue jeans and a royal blue long sleeve top.  Those things I know I will wear again, so I am not spending money on a one-time outfit.  Next, I am going to go to Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric to get blue fabric, maybe wire, and velcro to make the tail.  Then, I am either going to use a pair of Converse I already own and cover one with red duct tape, and one with blue duct tape, OR I’ll buy all white shoes.  Not sure which I should do.

Lastly, the head.  I have not figured out how to do the head.  I could make a mask out of paper, BUT I think that isn’t creative enough.  I saw someone create a head with a ton of paper mache.  BUT I don’t think I have the time or energy for that.  Another idea I could do is buy a cat mask that is the right shape and paint it blue, definitely feasible.  I could also get a hat with ears and paint my face like a cat.

The moral of the story is no matter what I do, this costume is going to be GREAT!

My teacher was very excited when I told her.  I’ll be the hit of the school! I’ll post pictures!

Fall into internships

How do we ever truly know if we are choosing the career we belong in for the rest of our lives? I’ve always felt that this was such a huge decision for us to make at a fairly young age. If you asked me what I wanted my career to be at the end of high school, when I chose a major in college, or, quite honestly, this time last year,  I would’ve outright told you that I have no idea or made up some sort of answer that would correlate with an English degree in an attempt to avoid jokes and criticism. As of summer 2013, I can confidently say that I know what I want to do, all thanks to a life-changing internship.

I always thought that applying for internships was one of the most difficult and exhausting things to do; obviously, I was mistaken. Looking for and applying for internships involves thinking clearly about where you would like to be and finding out whether or not there is a program available. Prior to this past summer, I had spent my last two breaks helping in any way possible in a surgeon’s office in my local hospital. I loved the job and planned to return last summer. However, the job wasn’t aligned with where I was headed in my degree. I took English 202 (Media and Professional Writing) fall 2012, and it gave me the push I needed to start applying for internships that matched my goals. I didn’t feel like I had a concrete career goal until I finished English 202. It was then that I realized I love the public relations field and wanted to explore it more deeply.

I thought about what I liked at my summer job. A big part of that is the location; I enjoyed working at the hospital. My older sister works at the hospital as well and informed me of their Public Affairs & Marketing (PAM) team. This is where my second tip comes in — network, network, network! Yes, my sister is a part of my family, but her networking on the job was what provided me with contact information of the PAM team managers.

It was time to take matters into my own hands (3rd tip: take the initiative- don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!) I contacted the manager and provided her with writing samples and a resume generated in English 202 (#4: start building your professional portfolio now! Always keep your resume up to date.) From there, I landed a phone interview with one of the managers and finally, I headed into the office to meet the team and be interviewed a little more. I feel like I discuss that part so nonchalantly…I was terrified, as expected! That’s where tip 5 comes in — be confident! You have every right to be nervous, but don’t let that keep you from showcasing your skills!

I knew this internship was going to be incredible when one of the managers sat me down in his office and said, “This isn’t going to be one of those internships where you run and get me coffee. We want you to learn as much as you can here.” (#6: absorb any and all information you can!) From that moment on, I knew this was the place for me.

Besides completing the necessary paperwork and medical testing in order to work in a hospital, I was cleared to start my internship after that day. I spent the rest of the summer working hands-on with the team, writing press releases, working with the media, and sitting in on important conference calls and meetings. I really felt like a part of the team and that I was making something out of my summer.

Leaving my internship in August was heartbreaking. I adored everyone in the office. I loved that they treated me like an important part of their dynamic team. I thrived on the incredible work that was going on every day, and I was especially thrilled that every day was different from the next.

To this day, I am still in touch with the team. I love getting a phone call to simply catch up from my boss. I can’t imagine where I would be had this internship never occurred. That’s why I urge you to get an internship! Check online, talk with your advisor, attend the fairs UIC puts on, utilize your professional network, and check the massmails! There is something out there for everyone. Don’t discredit something just because you aren’t looking for an internship. If I had continued to keep my eyes shut about the idea, I would still have no direction. Look for an internship today!


Just hold on, we’re going home

We’re in our eighth week, so that means we’re halfway through the semester and half a semester closer to graduation! :D

UIC Medical School Fall Tree Blend

The best part of fall is when the leaves change colors. What's even better? Leaves displaying an ombre pattern, crawling up the UIC Medical School building. Beautiful, eh?

Feeling pressure? I probably do, but I try to suppress it with a million activities so I never have to think about it. The stress looms, but hey I got my flu shot at the UIC Pharmacy (man do I love Campus Care) so at least I’ve got one less thing to worry about.

I have literally been at the Writing Center every single day working on my Fulbright application. I can’t believe I started working on this right after I submitted my AMCAS application (and later withdrew because I want to retake my MCAT and build a stronger application). So, it’s been like what, three months?! Putting together AMCAS was a lot of work too, but I don’t think it was as much as I have been for this Fulbright application (and that means I am going to start working on my AMCAS application 2015 materials so that it’ll be spectacular when I submit in June!). I have gone through like 10 million drafts and worked with various writing center tutors to make this thing rock. The most help I have received was actually from a previous Fulbright winner and who is currently in his second year at UIC’s medical school (funny dude I might add, and that I worked with him my freshman year when I started doing research).

Classes are going well so far. Work is too. Hmm…what is there to look forward to this month…aha! My birthday. :D I don’t even have any plans yet but I know I want to go home and spend it with my family! Hopefully my skin clears up before then so I can take decent pictures and show you what I end up doing. I’ll be sure to get my grandma too…she’s so silly, and she’s 90! Ha ha ha.

All right, time to go silent mode (like a ninja!). I need to clear my head because I know I have to start implementing my MCAT schedule and you know what that was like last semester…(pain to my brain, yet thrilling at the same time).

Peace! <><


Socializing on campus

Since the UIC Confessions Facebook page has been brought back over the summer, I found myself not as interested in it. Why? Because it seems like a lot of the page is flooded with students complaining that they don’t have any friends on campus. I do realize that sometimes students tend to feel “disconnected” from campus and their peers due to UIC being a commuter-based school. But I ask myself: why is socializing a big problem on campus? What can we do to rid of this connotation?

Whenever I walk to class, I notice that many students (myself included) have their headphones in. I personally like jamming out before class, simply because it helps me feel motivated and sane. But walking with your headphones on also disconnects you from everyone else around you. What if someone from the class that your heading to always takes the same route as you and wants to walk and talk about how much you hate (or love) your class? Or what if someone just thinks you look awesome and wants to chat? All of these opportunities disappear because many of us have our headphones in.

I personally have no complaint about feeling disconnected from campus. Since my freshman year, I feel like UIC is a part of me. This is probably because I am heavily involved in extracurriculars. But what about other people who feel disconnected? Isn’t the simple answer to just GET INVOLVED? I’ve preached this so many times, but what is the big apprehension behind joining a student organization? If you feel like you are one of those people who feel disconnected and want to do something about it, then you can find a bunch of organizations to join here.

One of the things I found to be most effective in meeting people outside of my extracurricular activities is sitting next to someone new in class. This was especially useful during my first couple years at UIC. Whenever I had a new class, I made sure that I sat somewhere new every class session so that I can interact with new, exciting people. I can honestly say this was really effective because I’ve met a lot of awesome people and became class buddies with them. I still talk to many of them today! So if you’re scared to get up and talk to someone in the Inner Circle, start by sitting next to someone new in class.

There are many ways to make friends, or even soul mates, on campus. Just swallow your pride or embarrassment and speak up – bite the bullet! Take the first step by doing something about it, rather than sitting on a computer talking about it.

Until next time…


Going through the motions

The semester is only halfway over. Yikes! I feel like I’ve been on autopilot and just going through the motions because my brain is already fried.  In the last few years in grad school, I’ve definitely been challenged more than ever in my life.  The papers, the observation hours, the assessments and going to class two nights a week for 3 hours takes a lot.  And I would say that up until now, I have been pretty much constantly stressed.  Stressed to the point that I can still function and have fun as a person.  But this is the first semester that sometimes I feel like I cannot take one more thing or I will just lose it.  And then another thing comes along and I have to deal with it.  If I wasn’t as organized as I am, writing reminders and post-its everywhere, I WOULD lose my mind (like good ‘ol Johnny here).

To be perfectly honest, when this devil semester started, I was questioning if this is really what I wanted to do.  (I can already hear my mom’s voice in my head yelling at me for that one, “What do you MEAN…you aren’t SURE this isn’t what you want to do?! You’re TWO YEARS into your program!).  Well, I was scared because I wasn’t happy.  I still am not as happy as a clam. I can’t go out and do fun things and relax much. But happiness has to start with me and how I look at things.  I just have too much work to do for school that I don’t have time to analyze my “glass half-empty” outlook. Ironic, isn’t it?

Then I took a look around my class one night.  I looked at each and every person listening to our professor (while I should have probably been doing the same).  EVERY single person looked just like me. Exhausted. On the brink of a nervous breakdown.  Hungry.  Confused.  And this sounds bad, but it made me feel better.  I wasn’t alone.  Everyone was just as stressed as I was.  Everyone felt this semester was evil.

After that, I took a look at myself and thought about what part of the day I enjoyed the most.  My favorite part of the day (besides the part when I get to go to bed) was being at Mary Lyon and doing my clinical work.  The part when I actually get to teach kids.  I mentioned this to a friend and fellow teacher and she said, “Lauren, that’s all that matters.”  All this time spent, and papers written and classes attended doesn’t matter in retrospect.  What matters is that I love teaching and I am going to be great at it.

You know how I know this? When I was in high school and even in college AND now I struggled greatly with math.  I asked my older brother “When the heck am I EVER going to need to know or use this?”  The answer was “Umm never.  It’ll teach you to keep working at something.”  The point wasn’t because I’d need to teach kindergarteners the Pythagorean Theorem.  (Although it might be if we continue to allow people, with no knowledge or experience teaching children, to make our education policies. But THAT’S A WHOLE OTHER BLOG). He meant that the whole point was to learn perseverance. How to persevere.  How to push myself, even if I don’t understand.  How to solve problems.  Not division problems. But problems of life.  And was he right.

Everything I am doing now (even if it stinks…a lot), will in some way, teach me something.  What to do, what not to do, whatever it is.  I am going to succeed and I am going to be great at what I do…simply because I know how to work hard, I HAVE worked very hard to get to where I am and because I am strong.

And THAT makes me happy as a clam :)


Happy haunting!

Halloween is rapidly approaching — are you ready? I know my floor has been getting ready to celebrate the holiday! I am a Resident Assistant in Courtyard, one of campus housing’s awesome residence halls. This past Wednesday, I put on a floor decorating program in hopes that my residents would be willing to take time out of their night to beautify our public space. At 9 p.m. sharp, I nervously grabbed all of the supplies from my room and headed out to the hallway. Slowly but surely, my residents started coming into the hallway and asking how they could help decorate. I was thrilled to see so many of them meeting each other and coming up with really unique ways to decorate.

I can honestly say that Wednesday night was the happiest I’ve ever felt in my two years as an RA. I felt like what I was doing mattered, and I am confident my residents are building meaningful relationships through the activities we’ve done. It’s crazy to see how so many different people from all over the midwest (and sometimes even the country) can come together within the residence halls and become a makeshift family. These interactions are so much more important in the long run than they seem in the immediate moment. Sure, they may be stringing streamers across the floor together one night, but years down the line, they may be the best man at one another’s weddings. I’m confident in things like that.



Through all of the cheesiness, what I am trying to say is that your time here at UIC is not to be wasted; get involved in one way or another, whether it’s helping your floormates bring Halloween cheer to your floor or joining a student organization on campus. There are too many opportunities at your fingertips to simply go to class and go back to your room and hop on the train and head home. If Halloween brings you together with other students, so be it. If something else does, run with that. It’s your UIC experience, and it’s all about how you make it.

When it was all said and done, our floor was looking incredibly festive. I was so happy to see the dedication my residents showed to better our floor.

Peer Mentor Chuck & Resident Tom posing in front of their hard work.

If you’re struggling with finding ways to get involved, visit the Campus Programs website. If you live on campus, talk to your RA about getting involved.



Cultivate you

I am all for transformations. It’s fun, exciting and liberating (such as transforming a PCR fragment into E. coli and then later to Tetrahymena, or maybe the transformation of a person’s look or simply decorating a dreary room into a beautiful gallery! I think change tends to be a good thing, even if we want things to stay the way things are.

Happy Halloween from the Honors College

I went to the Honors College Student-Faculty Luncheon for the first time (mainly because my fellow doesn't really attend these things, but my new fellow invited me!) and it was a lot of fun! I had a great time catching up with my fellow and getting some good mentoring. We ate tacos, rice and beans and tres leches cake from De Pasada off Taylor Street. It was really great Mexican food! :D I forgot to check in with her to receive a piece of Honors College merchandise, but oh well. No biggie. HCAB (Honors College Advisory Board) did a great job with decorations!

So, I had my Fulbright interview! I had no idea I was going to be talking to eight people in the room, but everyone was very nice. I got a lot of great feedback and I can’t wait to finalize my essays even further. Because I work at the Writing Center, I know the peak hours that writers sometimes do not show up and/or cancel their appointments, so as long as I keep refreshing the page for an opening on the day of, I have some hope! Of course, I can’t rely on that all the time so I made sure to make my appointment a week in advance. These things fill up so quickly so I am always bummed to tell people who want to come in that we’re full. Please make an appointment and register here!

Honors College Student-Faculty Luncheon Line

There was quite a line for the Honors College Student-Faculty Luncheon, but it was pretty fast and fun to see everyone who is in the Honors College. Free food is always great!

I am going to be on a pre-health panel for the UIC Open House Oct. 5th and I’m pretty excited to share my experiences and how UIC has prepared me for my path to prospective students. I remember attending a Preview Day when I was in high school for UIC and that’s when I could really see myself as a student there (erm, here). I remember going to UIUC and Augustana College and feeling really awkward and unhappy in those college visits. I’m not sure why, but if you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, don’t go there! You have to trust your instincts on this one…

I have papers and exams coming up, but I’m trying not to think about them (and more of studying the actual material). Thinking isn’t going to do me any good. OH! I saw full-body cadavers for the first time, finally. I am glad it wasn’t as bad as I had made it out to be. I’m not a fan of the formaldehyde though…it burns my nose and eyes. I start crying if I get too close because of the chemical fumes, lol! Learning about the body is so cool; I’m very happy I decided to take this class for an elective! I did really well on the lab and lecture exam so I hope to keep it up and maybe pull off straight-A’s this semester! I honestly think the class I am most concerned about is Foods, LOL. I thought it’d be easier but there’s a lot more to food than you think!

More to say, but I’m out of breath. Until next time. <><