Category: City

About the city of Chicago: around town.

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!









Lollapalooza 2013

Everyone who knows me, knows I am a city girl.  So, seeing a ton of bands play in DOWNTOWN CHICAGO is amazing.  The lake, the skyline, Buckingham Fountain!  Lollapalooza 2013 was awesome. I’ve gone every year for about 4 or 5 years.  I think it’s so great to be able to see so many bands right in Grant Park. In the past couple years, I’ve seen Gnarls Barkley, Foo Fighters, Jane’s Addiction, Lady Gaga, Wolfmother, Green Day, Japan X, Erykah Badu, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Postal Service, NIN, Mumford and Sons, Queens of the Stone Age, Alex Clare, The Lumineers, Steve Aoki, Eric Church, and many more! Definitely worth getting a three day pass.  The only problem is, they sell out so quickly.

This is my brother and I at the Lake Shore stage watching The Lumineers on Saturday.
This is my oldest brother’s girlfriend and me at the Lake Shore stage watching Eric Church on Saturday.

This is the amazing view from the south side of Grant Park.  Who wouldn’t appreciate this?

This is Postal Service at the Bud Light stage on Saturday night.  This is the first time i’ve ever seen them.  Their music reminds me of when I was doing my undergrad at Columbia College.  I would listen to Postal Service while riding the train.  This is me and my guy seeing Queens of the Stone Age at the Bud Light stage on Friday night.

Another issue that I had this year is that many of the bands I wanted to see were playing early on Friday and I couldn’t get there due to work AND many of the bands were playing at the same time as other bands that I wanted to see.  Naturally, I had to choose!  The artists that I was heartbroken I missed were Imagine Dragons, Icona Pop, Atlas Genius, Thievery Corporation, Hot Chip, Ben Howard, Matt & Kim, Grizzly Bear, and Tegan and Sara.  That’s a lot :( !!

However, I’m already looking forward to next year! August 1, 2 & 3 of 2014!!!

Hard work is satisfaction

What I love about writing is that you have the chance to revise, revise and revise. With multiple revisions, you can achieve some amazing results that you feel strongly proud of! I’m a spontaneous writer, so, when I force myself to write, it can be annoying. What I like to do is free-write like old-school style (just grab a loose-leaf notebook paper and pencil or pen and just WRITE!) or read examples of work that is similar to what I want to write about.

Thai Bowl

I had lunch outside with my brother and my dad one afternoon at one of my most favorite Thai restaurants: Thai Bowl! I ordered Jade Noodles and they were super delicious.

I finally finished my personal statement, and technically I would be done and ready to submit to my medical schools but I still have two more essays to write for the MD/PhD programs. I have to write one essay that is below 3,000 characters (with spaces) about why I want to pursue an MD/PhD and one essay that is below 10,000 characters (with spaces) about my significant research experiences (the personal statement is 5,300 characters by the way). I’m not too sure how to write the second MD/PhD essay because it seems like it’d be straight-forward but I’m not sure if I have to fill up the space. I’ve been looking online at forums but there doesn’t seem to be much of a clear answer. It’d be easy to fill the space up if you worked in multiple labs but I’ve remained consistent in one lab only (I wonder if people are allowed to work in two labs…that sounds like cheating, lol!).

Giant Head

I was walking on Michigan Avenue towards the Art Institute and saw these big heads with a bunch of different designs using plants. It was a little weird for me, but it was fun to see.

Art Institute of Chicago

It was quite a sunny and busy day by the Art Institute of Chicago! I met with an incredible MD/PhD student at UIC (Tammy) and she helped me so much with brainstorming ideas for my personal statement. I had written a draft before the one that I have now but when I went to pre-health advising for a final look they said they were totally confused the whole time and didn't understand my organization. I actually cried after that session, lol. I tend to get emotional with my writing so it kind of hurt to hear that it wasn't good, but later I understood why they said what they did and it made me a lot more aware of how I present myself on paper. I normally do fine with these kinds of things but after doing a ton of research and looking at examples I knew exactly what they wanted but I had trouble expressing them in a straightforward way because I'm just an abstract person sometimes, haha!


My favorite part of the museum is the entrance, and the violin players.

Rest on a Bench

Ah, Chicago's views are magnificent!

I had my first online tutoring session at the Writing Center and it was pretty cool. The set-up was like Google Docs where you can invite people to a chat and then highlight things, etc. I was scared it’d be difficult to have a conversation with the writer or even going over grammar rules without being able to write things down on a scratch piece of paper to work it out with them. Luckily I did well and we finished on time! I’m super happy to be working at the Writing Center again! I would work more hours if I wasn’t crazy doing other things at the same time, hehe.

Lydia Will Kill Us

For one of my sessions, I used this cute sign that reads: "If we get to class late, Lydia will kill us." I had Lydia as my ENGL 222 instructor so I was cracking up when I first saw that sign. I didn't know the purpose of it until I saw the colors for dependent and independent clauses. Brilliant.


Tammy had her kids play in the water and we watched them. They were so cute! We had gone to Payless to purchase water shoes and Walgreens to get food for the picnic later.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

I thought it'd be a fun idea to take advantage of the free concerts by the Grant Park Orchestra (Camino del Inka). It was very nice but went on a bit late so we departed and I walked back to MRH.

I’ve been vibrating diabetic mice at research and it has been good until someone else is using the hood and I have to snoop around for free rooms that I can change mouse cages in! I traveled with the other student researchers in the UIC MOST Summer Program to the American Dental Association and it was a nice facility! We got to listen to a lecture given by a researcher working at Rush on metal implants. I got giddy inside when he spoke about the inflammasome, hehe. He showed pictures of a patch test that can test for allergies to metals and in my head I was like “I DID THAT ON MY BACK TOO!” I couldn’t shower for a week as instructed by the doctor. I’m glad that’s all over.

American Dental Association

Outside of the American Dental Association, there was this really wickedly cool sculpture of a family (I assume). I wish I could have gotten a better look at it.

I really can’t believe August is almost here. I really have to get my application in ASAP! I wonder how many people are in the same boat as me. Gah this sure is a stressful process! I’m excited for the week before school because I can slightly rest up until hitting the books and cramming my life into our short days. Am I the only one excited for Christmas right now? xD

University Hall

Every day in Chicago is hot, sunny and beautiful! I dress in pants and a light sweater (plus my floppy hat) because I don't want to get burned by the sun's UV rays. I'm always sweating because it makes things a lot hotter, but it's nice to know that at least my skin won't get darker! I don't want to damage my skin. Anyway, I was waiting for the 7 bus to go to research after tutoring at the Writing Center and thought University Hall looked nice.

Enjoy your summer because school will be here before you know it! Then, it’ll be graduation. Eep!

Piling it on

Piling – (Pile-ing in case you were confused…)

So I started working at the Writing Center again and was surprised that people signed up for my time slots in the morning so fast! It was awesome to tutor again and it makes me more excited to write my personal statement and describing those 15 experiences I need to include for my AMCAS application.

H&M at Roosevelt Collection

I went to see The Lone Ranger with my friend Jeffrey and it was surprisingly really good! Johnny Depp had his crow on his head the whole time. Anyway, apparently there's an H&M at the Roosevelt Collection! I think it's kind of random, but pretty cool. I wonder what other stores will be poppin' up here soon.

I am still in my research program and working at housing making websites too. I got to learn more about what it is a clinician-scientist can do and how it is a great time right now to become one. I’m very excited to pursue an MD/PhD (we’ll see how it goes though, haha…depends on that MCAT score and other things) but one person had brought up teaching in addition to being a clinician, which I never thought about and am kind of thinking of now. There aren’t too many people who ever talk about being involved in medical education (you have to find them!) but I’m curious to understand more about it and maybe encourage some of my pre-medical club members to investigate what the eclectic nature of becoming a physician can entail.

Whole Foods

There was a time I tried gluten free food and had to go to Whole Foods as my safe haven, haha. I like how close it is to MRH. (:

It’s kind of weird to know that school starts in about one month and a week! I have to start checking out what books I need to purchase or rent for the school year. The most important thing is making sure you’ll actually use the book! This is my schedule in case you were curious:

  • KN 251 – Human Anatomy and Physiology I
  • HN 110 – Foods (Woohoo)
  • HN 311 – Nutrition During the Life Cycle
  • BIOS 323 – Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • HON 201 – Honors Seminar (Dental Caries: Prevalence, Etiology, Classification and Everything You Need to Know About This Infectious Disease)

I am pretty excited to take on these classes and do research + tutor + work (and more, of course). It’ll be my last year of undergrad at UIC (and hopefully not my last year in total!). We’ll see where life takes us though. I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather! (:

Lord Stanley

I had the most crazy, random, amazing birthday weekend, and it’s not over yet.  My party is yet to come.  Last week, I got my hair done…

I was on the news! Not for anything good, though.  I was at Oak Brook Mall with my guy and there was an apparent “shooting.”  We walked right by all the craziness.  Allegedly, three men tried to rob a jewelry store and the security guard shot one of them.  But at the time, we had no idea what was going on.  Cops were walking around with rifles and we overheard one say “Any updates on the description?”  Pretty scary.  So, we left and as we were leaving a camera guy stopped me and asked if I could describe what was going on inside.  Here it is. Everyone was telling me they saw me on TV.  Kind of cool.  Too bad it was for something so negative.

That night, my cousin took me to Joe’s on Weed Street for the Jake Peavy and friends fundraiser.  We saw some country bands and then we ran around the city taking pictures with everything Hawks!

Tyler Hamilton, an upcoming country star with an awesome voice.

The Lions in front of the Art Institute.

A building downtown with the lights saying “Let’s go Hawks.”

Another building with the lights to say “Let’s go Hawks.”

In front of the Stan Mikita statue at the United Center.  We stopped by and ask a security guard to take a picture.

The best part of all…THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS WON THE STANLEY CUP ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!!Yep.  That is me crying.  I was so emotional and so happy that they won, I cried like a little baby.  And my friends and family were sure to take as many videos and pictures as they could.

I wanted to follow the cup around the next day like I did in 2010.  But I was running on about 4 hours of sleep from celebrating our victory, that I barely made it through my work day.  I went home and slept.

My party is approaching and I’m very excited to celebrate my birthday again with friends and family.  Hey…it’s not my birthDAY.  It’s my birthWEEK! I’ll post next week all about it :).

City love

Last weekend was one for the books.

My guy and I planned to stay in the city for the weekend for a few reasons.

1) We wanted to use our Shaw’s Crab house gift certificate that we won from Eric and Kathy from 101.9 The Mix Radio station2) My brother and his girlfriend were out of town, so we had a place to stay…AND they needed their fish fed.

3) It was the Hawks VS Kings Game 5 and I wanted to go somewhere to watch it.

4) I love being in the city.

Well, about 30 minutes before we were about to leave to catch a cab, I just HAPPENED to look at the fine print on the back of the gift certificate.  “Valid only Friday through Sunday.” WHAT?!? Well, good thing we didn’t go and rack up a bill we that couldn’t use our gift certificate for!! Phew! Close call, but I was kind of disappointed.  I was REALLY looking forward to some crab legs!

Quick thinking by Kyle, he remembered a place he’s been wanting to take me that has amazing ribs.  And he knows I love me some ribs! So, we grabbed a cab and headed to Twin Anchors in Old Town.

I definitely recommend this place. I hate to admit this but … yep … I ate an entire full rack of ribs.  I’m justifying it by saying I hadn’t eaten that whole day (which is true).

Our next plan was to head to Benchmark to watch the game.  It was about an hour before puck drop, so we figured we had plenty of time. Old Town had other plans for us.  I hadn’t realized that the Old Town Art Festival was going on.  It’s blocks and blocks long and Benchmark had a huge line.  I started to freak out a bit because it was so chaotic and we could not find a cab for the life of us.  (Sidenote: he had a strained abdomen, so walking wasn’t exactly the best idea).  I saw an elderly man slowly getting out of a cab and I ran for it.

For some reason, I could not come up with a place to go to watch the game.  We ended up heading to Five Star on Chicago Avenue.  (They have a special place in my heart because I had my 21st birthday party there).  They only have one big TV and I found a place right in front of it.

So … Game 5. Blackhawks vs Kings.  Blackhawks are up in the series 3-1. One of the most nerve-racking and riveting games of the 2013 NHL Playoffs.  The first period we were looking good.  Keith scored almost immediately and Kane shortly followed.  The second period, the Kings answered, tieing it up.  Grrr. Third period, Kane scores again making 3-2 with just under 4 minutes left.

People in the bar started going crazy.  But I knew.  There was still time left.  With 9 seconds left. … 9 SECONDS … the Kings tied it up AGAIN.  And we were headed to OT.  And not just one OVERTIME … TWO OVERTIMES!  “Hatrick” Kane saved the day with a 3rd goal sending us to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins.

I was pretty exhausted throughout the whole game.  Yet when they won and when we witnessed The Naked Bike Ride (Yes, it’s a real thing), I suddenly found the energy to continue the night.  My brother met us and we headed to 694 Wine Bar (which I highly recommend, as well.  The people there are great and they have tons of different kinds of wines, meats, cheeses and specialty beers).  A great ending to a great night.


Your spring break staycation continued

Last week, I told you how to start off your staycation with some events going on in the city.  Here are a few more activities! They are not free, but they are affordable and pretty cool!

Thursday, March 28

Analog -This show relives a man’s self-prescribed task of transcribing, by hand, the entirety of the 1954 novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Admission: Pay-What-You-Can.  (Please support the arts! Normally, Students tickets are $10)

Friday, March 29

Between Heaven and Earth
Walk into a lush bird habitat filled with videos of birds flying overhead and the sounds of birds calling to each other at this special exhibition. It explores the impact that birds had on ancient Egyptian religion, design and the conception of the state and includes 40 artifacts.

Oriental Institute Museum
1155 E. 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Admission: Adult suggested donation: $10
Children under 12 suggested donation:$5

Saturday, March 30

Ebony Fashion Fair
Inspiring Beauty: Ebony Fashion Fair, an exhibition of an American story that explores the show’s legacy, vision and creativity of Eunice W. Johnson. You’ll see priceless garments collected over the fashion show’s 50-year history.
Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Admission: Adults – $14.  Students and seniors  – $12. Kids 12 and younger – Free

So there you have it!  How are you spending your spring break?  I’m really looking forward to the exhibit at the Chicago History Museum.   Get ready for spring break pictures in the upcoming weeks!

Living Vegetarian in Chicago

When I was 15 years old I told my father I wanted to be a vegetarian.  i just remember eating chicken one day and feeling VERY guilty.  He thought I was joking!  He told me I would not last two weeks.  Nine years later, I am still a vegetarian. I could not be happier and my father has FINALLY admitted that I’m not going through a phase.

One great thing about Chicago is that there are AMAZING vegetarian options.   This week I will highlight a few of my favorites.

1. Native Foods

Native Foods is an amazing restaurant. First, there are multiple locations throughout the city.  Secondly, the food is amazing and affordable.  I love this place so much I went twice in one weekend. When I signed up for their rewards program I received my drink for free!  I am pretty sure the burger in the picture below is my new favorite thing to eat!

The portobello and "sausage" burger from Native Foods.


2. The Chicago Diner: 3411 N. Halsted St.

Once people find I am a vegetarian, the second question I am asked is, “Have you been to the Chicago Diner yet?”  (The first question is usually, “Why the heck are you a vegetarian?”)

I moved to Chicago in 2007, but I did not get a chance to try the Chicago Diner until 2012!  One thing I enjoy about the Chicago Diner is that many of the menu items have a vegan or vegetarian option.  I decided to try a vegan “bacun” and avocado wrap. I’m not ready to go full vegan, but this wrap was WAY too delicious!

3.  Karyn’s Cooked: 738 N. Wells St.

I love Karyn’s Cooked.  It is arguably the most amazing restaurant in Chicago.  I brag about the awesomeness of this place so much that CBS2 Chicago did a segment with me about it.  The great thing about Karyn’s is that you can indulge in a number of comfort foods that are mostly vegan.  My personal favorite is the Jerk Tofu Wrap and the Vegan Pizza.  The prices are very affordable and the ambiance is great for couples.

"Ribs" from Karyn's Cooked.


So if you are vegetarian, looking to become vegetarian, or just plan curious, I highly recommend you check out these three places.  I bring my meat-eating friends to them all the time.  Once I brought my supervisor to Karyn’s and now it the first restaurant he suggests for lunch.

A little urban exploration in my life

My best friend Ariane and me.

On October 13 and 14, the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosted its annual Open House Chicago.   During the event, parts of the city that normally would be closed opened their doors to the public.  I’m usually not into that kind of stuff, but hey….it’s FREE.  So get ready for PICTURES GALORE!  My best friend and I went to the House of Blues, Wit Hotel, Kemper Building and Chicago Tribune among other places.  The weather was horrible and the visibility from most of the high skyscrapers was very low.  However, how often does one get to pretend they are an awesome rock star on stage at the House of Blues?

I am a rock star!

My favorite place was the Wit Hotel.  The restaurant on the top floor was open to the public. It was extremely beautiful.  The outside portion of the restaurant was on a ledge similar to the Willis (Sears) Tower. Ariane was too scared to go out there to take a picture with me!

Me on the ledge at The Wit Hotel. Ariane REFUSED to take a picture with me!

We wanted to eat at the restaurant, but unfortunately the prices were not lowered for the everyday folks.

Top floor of the Wit Hotel.

We also had access the private theater in the Wit Hotel.  It could fit approximately 40 people. The single chairs felt like sitting in first class on a plane.  They were extra comfy and could recline. There were also about 10 loveseats in the back for a more romantic experience.

Private theater at the Wit Hotel.

Another great place was the Chicago Tribune. We had access to Robert McCormick’s office. For those who don’t know, he was the owner of the Chicago Tribune in the 1920s.  Many of the things in the office were original from when the building was built.   The coolest part about the architecture was that in the back of his tiny closet was a set of stairs that went up two floors.   The tour guide told us that during McCormick’s time, people would get shot and killed over stories put in newspapers. McCormick wanted to make sure he could escape in case he made someone really mad.


In other news, my mom sent me a picture from Afghanistan!   I love modern technology.   My mom usually lives in Washington, D.C., so we normally communicate via telephone once a week and Facebook.  Nothing has really changed.  I still speak with her once a week (granted, one of us usually has to sacrifice sleep due to the time difference) and she is slowly but surely navigating Facebook more efficiently.


My mom in Afghanistan with her crew (she is the one in plaid).

Unfortunately, I did not get the “CHECK PLUS” on my paper I told you about last week, but my instructor left a comment that said “very nice discussion.”   So maybe this week is my week to get the check plus.

I didn’t plan on doing the Chicago Marathon, but…

Hello my fellow UICers!   I hope midterms and papers find you well. I’m barely above water!  I write a paper every week for my Criminology Theory class and the professor either gives us a “check” or a “check plus”   I REALLY aiming for the “check plus”  next week so I’m spending my weekend in the library!

So here is something crazy.  I ran the Chicago Marathon on October 7!   I really wasn’t planning to.  My trainer for the Honolulu Marathon called me and told me that he had extra bibs and asked if I wanted to run with Team to End AIDS  as part of my “training.”  So, while I was debating between another run down Lake Shore Drive or the Chicago Marathon…..the choice was pretty easy.  One of my favorite parts  were the signs people held up.  They ranged from inspirational to hilarious.  Some of my favorites were:

“Pain is temporary, but pride is forever”

“Guess what, by the end of the day you will have ran a marathon.”

“Your only option is FINISHING.”

“Chuck Norris is tough, but he never ran a marathon.”

I saw the UIC Pep Band around Mile 17.  They were playing “YMCA” and all the students were doing the moves.  I found a little adrenaline rush as I ran passed SCE.  So THANK YOU UIC PEP BAND!


After I ran the marathon my legs felt numb, but my pride was through the roof!

If you are tired of “Eye of the Tiger” and looking to crank up your running playlist, here are a few songs that kept me going and have a subtle “you can do it” message:


  1. Kanye West – “Stronger”
  2. Stefano – “I’m on a Roll”
  3. MC Hammer – “2 Legit 2 Quit” (*bonus points if you do the dance while running*)
  4. Breathe Carolina – “Blackout”
  5. The Jacksons – “Can You Feel It?”
  6. Foster the People – “Don’t Stop (Color the Walls)”
  7. Rihanna and Nicki Minaj – “Fly”
  8. Kelly Clarkson  - “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
  9.  Quad City DJs – “C’mon N’Ride It ( The Train)”
  10.   The “Mortal Combat” Theme

Last but not least, I am sad to say my awesome supervisor officially left UIC as the Group Fitness Coordinator.  I am happy for her new opportunity, but it sucks a little since she taught me everything I know about group fitness. She has literally watched the process of my growing into a group fitness instructor since day one.  Fern Delima will be missed.

Myself with Fern Delima before her last day at UIC.


Oh I know I said I was going to post about the pros and con of this new weather, and I decided that besides wearing cool boots and drinking pumpkin spice lattes…I really DO NOT like the cold.  I miss summer. :-(

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