Category: Living

Living at UIC: res halls (dorms), food, getting around campus.

Realistic Resolutions?

It’s officially 2014! What a journey 2013 has been.

At the start of 2013, I put on a program for residents called something along the lines of “How to Make (and keep) New Year’s Resolutions.” I had tips and tricks on something I myself had never actually done. Somehow, I still felt justified by my position as a resident assistant to provide suggestions for how to make sure resolutions were followed. I gave out a sheet that had a column for 20 things to do during 2013 and another column for 13 things not to do during 2013. At the time, I looked at this as a really unique way to plan for the upcoming year. Everyone filled their sheet out and took it, maybe to put it up in their room as a constant reminder, maybe to shove in a drawer never to be seen again. Either way, I felt like I helped people think about how they wanted the year to go.

Sitting here a year later, I see things so much differently. Although this list may have been a great idea, it wasn’t THE idea. The way I see it now, it isn’t so much about setting goals for yourself to work out more often or to study “x” amount of hours per week; instead, thinking about the new year requires thinking about how you plan to remember it. We learn from failures, successes, experiences, losses, etc., not from trying to force ourselves to act a certain way or avoid desserts. This learning comes from remembering days gone by and previous choices made.

With this in mind, I recommend considering this technique. I’m not saying that we should all stop setting goals for ourselves in regard to health or fitness or social lives. What I mean is that we need to focus more on the time at hand and how to make the most out of it by an understanding of the past. Get a memory jar- have small slips of paper on hand in your room near your bed. At the end of a particularly interesting day (or every day) write something about the day that will help you recall it and place this in the jar. Don’t let yourself open the jar until the very end of 2014, or even 2015. This is a great way to look back on the entirety of the year. Include everything- not just happy times or successful moments.

If the memory jar isn’t for you, sit down by yourself or with a close friend/family member in front of a camera and talk freely about the year. Store the video for a year and pull it back out at the end of the year and for years to come.

Ideas like these give you a fun an sentimental way to look back on the year as well as to help you to welcome in the new year. Having these things to look back at will remind you of things in life that you may have forgotten. What I’m trying to say is that you don’t always need to make actual resolutions to prepare yourself for success during the upcoming year.

So no, I am not trying to steer you away from the traditional resolution. I think it is great to enter the calendar year with a goal in mind and your heart set on success. At the same time, I strongly advocate remembering the previous year in one way or another to make sure that you don’t let the years pass you by too quickly…whether or not this is possible, I still haven’t determined. I’ll get back to you on that one…

Next week we’ll take a look back at my 2013. Until then…

Fall 2013 Semester in Review

We’ve almost made it through 2013! We’ve sold our books, headed home for break, (hopefully) passed our classes with flying colors, and made plans for break. Now is definitely the time to look back on our stresses and successes in a positive way. Not to turn into a Lifetime movie or anything, but everything we’ve gone through in this past year has shaped us into the student, friend, family member, and individual we are today. What better way to think about how far we’ve come this semester than through the ever-relevant gif?

Every time the bus tracker said the 8 bus was due.

fun fact: about 2 out of 3 gifs in the “running gif” tag are this one


When your professor told the class there wouldn’t be a final.


Every time the cafeteria put out chocolate chip cookies.


Every time you had to hear a student ask the professor something they already answered.


Every time you walked into class to see someone sitting in “your” seat.


When you studied for 16 hours straight and forget everything during the exam.


Every time you did that awkward dance with someone on the sidewalk to get out of each other’s way.


Every time you tried to cross Harrison Street…


Every time you checked your grade on Blackboard.

Sweet mother of god!__________________________________________________

When you saw the remodeled Courtyard and were totally blown away.

I love everything about this gif


When you started getting along with people in your classes.

I’ve never had any real friends.


Every time you tried to navigate BSB.


After you finished rocking your presentation.


Every time you walked to class only to find out it was cancelled. 

This is just not acceptable.


That time the teacher called on you and you blanked in front of the whole class.


When your professor couldn’t get the projector to work.

I ain’t even mad.


That time you found out you had to work the entire weekend.


Every time you couldn’t keep up with your professor as they changed slides.


When people stared at you because you were well-dressed in your 8am class.


That moment you realized you got an A in your hardest class.

Congratulations on making it through 2013! Keep enjoying winter break and the holidays!

Gif source:

Brace yourselves…winter (break) is coming!

♪♫♪ Dancing bears, painted wings, things I almost remember…

I numbly left SES after my organic chemistry 1 final on Thursday morning. It was absolutely frigid outside, but it didn’t stop many of my classmates to linger outside the building doors to commiserate over the terribly treacherous exam through murmurs of disdain, worry, and even indignation. Despite my own concerns over the final exam, I defaulted to my typical coping mechanism, which is generally a mindset of optimism.There’s nothing I can do to change anything about it now, so being negative about the situation would only depress me further. I try to combat my worries with some blind hope instead. Maybe it’s a bit foolish sometimes not to worry more, but I did the best I could and in my heart I believe that everything will be okay in the end. As one of my best friends often asks me when I’m anxious about something, “What’s the worse that can happen?”

That being said, I am so thankful for my wonderful friends who listened to me worry my mind out over organic chemistry this past week! They were my lifeline when I felt like the brain matter was seeping from my ears, so I am forever grateful that I have them in my life! So with that final hill climbed and (maybe) conquered, I can finally relax for winter break! Because my finals didn’t end until Friday, I’ve been a little frazzled trying to completely prepare and pack for going to Taiwan and Japan for 3 weeks! It’s incredible to think that I’ll be in Tokyo in less than a week…but I’m so excited! My mom, brother, and I will be staying a week with my aunt in Japan and then 2.5 weeks more in Taiwan with my grandma. Everything has been really busy around the house with everyone packing, but I’m just getting more and more excited. I have never been to Asia in the wintertime before- whenever I traveled to Japan or Taiwan in the past, there was always sweltering heat in the spring or summer. But I’m excited to finally be there in the winter for once! It can’t be as cold as it is in Chicago, right?

Stay warm, friends – the cold and the snow don’t seem to be letting up, so remember to stay safe this winter break! I’ve never been too fond of the cold, but with things like Christmas lights, holiday songs, and hot cocoa, I guess I don’t really mind!

Far away, long ago, glowing dim as an ember / Things my heart used to know,, things it yearns to remember / And a song someone sings once upon a December… ♪♫♪

(Once Upon A December - Liz Callaway)

Making the most out of break

Somehow, fall semester has crept past us and winter break is upon us. I’m not sure if I am happier to see this break than I am terrified that I only have three more semesters here. Before the new semester begins, we are lucky enough to have a month-long break to relax and renew ourselves before another stressful (and fun) semester. It’s important to make the absolute most out of your time off from school so that you return with a clear head and the feeling that you have accomplished more than just finishing a tv series and countless bags of chips. Here are some tips on how to get everything you want (and then some) from your winter break.

1. Write it down! Before break starts (or in the first few days) compile a list of things you want to accomplish. It doesn’t matter how random or specific your list is- as long as it is comprised of things you hope to get done over break, it works! With an actual list, you will be more capable of holding yourself accountable. Plus, you get that awesome feeling of checking or crossing something off of your list! You can also add to it throughout the month.

2. Set a sleep schedule. Your body functions its best and you feel the most rested when you are on a fairly regular sleeping schedule. Set this early in the semester and try to stick as close to it as possible for the duration of the break. This will help you have a more productive sleep (REM!) and will keep you feeling more refreshed than if you are staying up into the wee hours of the night and sleeping well into the next afternoon. The best part about a routine sleep schedule is the hours in the day that you get to spend awake. This will give you even more time to enjoy!

3. Connect with friends and family. Whether you haven’t seen your friends from home since the summer or you’ve been skipping out on sibling time, make it a point to restore these relationships over the holiday season. This is the perfect season for strengthening bonds. Don’t just make tentative plans- follow through with them. It’s important to incorporate quality time with your loved times as much as possible.

4. Remind yourself of the things you enjoy. During the academic year, we all have a tendency to let go of certain things we enjoy in order to succeed in school or focus on what we deem important. Our hobbies and favorite activities aren’t meant to be forgotten. Pick these things back up- whether it’s playing an instrument, crafting, or exercising. The more committed you become over break to give yourself time for the things you find happiness in, the more likely you are to carry this into the second semester.

5. Read! I’m not just saying this as an avid reader and English major. Reading is a great form of stress relief, a temporary escape from reality, and a way to sharpen your brain. Even if you’ve never enjoyed reading in the past, take some time to look into what genre you would enjoy. No matter what, give it another chance.

6. Breathe. It’s so easy to forget to stop, relax, and take in the world around you. Take the month to do just that. Look outside the window. Take a walk around the city. Watch one snowflake fall all the way to the ground. You’ll be reminded how special life is.

Above all else, enjoy break in your own unique way. Before we know it, we’ll be back at UIC working through another semester. Have a great time off! Until next time.

I can’t wait!

Break is just a few weeks away, but it’s terrifying to think about how much I need to accomplish before it’s here. The only way I can get through these insane weeks is by looking forward to everything that is coming up:

1.  RHA Ball at the Sears Tower

2. Sunday’s Paramore Concert

3. Spending time with my family over break

4. Closing the residence halls for break

5. Deciding on a spring internship

6. Seeing my final grades

7. Cooking

8. Baking lots of holiday desserts

9. Following tradition and setting up the Christmas tree with my boyfriend & his brother

10. SNOW

11. Warm coffee & hot chocolate

12. Ice skating

13. Red nail polish

14. Inducting new chapter members to NRHH

15. Reapplying for my resident assistant position

16. Finding out my final grades

17. Winter programs with my residents

18. Christmas shopping

19. Seeing the Zoolights & Magnificent Mile Lights

20. Catching up on TV shows over break

21. Reading books

22. Making a snowman

23. Being around extended family

24. Sledding

25. Blogging about the upcoming weeks

26. A brand new semester at UIC <3

What are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!



At home stress remedies

So it’s that time of year — final projects, research papers, exams and STRESS. But if you just breathe and get to work, things will be alright. Today, I’m going to share with you all my personal habits and likings that relieve my stress. Take a look below — I hope these help!

Aromatherapy – So if you live in any of the residence halls, then please move to the next suggestion. If you’re a commuter student, then this is for you! Nothing relives my stress like some aromatherapy. I like to light a scented candle on those nights where stress or anxiety is at an all-time high. There’s something to be said about the aromas of a scented candle and the beauty of the light during a book’s worth of readings. I also like to burn scented oils in my room whenever I need a moment of relaxation. The oils help promote relaxation and peace. Aromatherapy, overall, is the closest thing you can get to therapy itself!

Tea – It’s always a great feeling having a cup of hot tea whenever I’m feeling stressed out. My favorites that help promote relaxation are any brand of green or chamomile tea and Yogi brand Kava Stress Relief Tea. All of these drinks help me take a moment out of my busy day to enjoy myself. The magic of tea is euphoric.

Sweats – If you don’t have access or dough to any of the above, then just slip into something comfortable. There’s something behind the mentality of being in your shirt and jeans at home after a long say. Slip into something different and more comfortable when you get home, like sweatpants and plain T-shirt. Not only will it remove you from the state of mind of being at school or work, but you’ll be comfy as well!

Let me know what your stress relievers are below!

Until next time…


Sunday studying…

Got the radio on, my old blue jeans / And I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve ♪♫♪

My current state-of-being: secluded in the corner of Caribou Coffee, huddled over my laptop and textbooks while binge-drinking vanilla tea latte. I’m quietly singing to the Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne songs that keep playing over the café speakers, but I should probably stop since the barista keeps giving me odd looks. Today is a peaceful Sunday, even though as always, I’m barely keeping up with plenty of work to get done. The weekend is always too short, and this semester is just flying by. I can’t believe I just registered for spring courses. At the moment I’m just relieved to take a break from my treacherous organic chemistry homework to make my very first blog post ever!

My name is Sarah and I am currently a sophomore Biochemistry major and Russian minor, which I am often told is an odd combination. But I studied abroad in Russia in high school and fell in love with the language, so I’ve kept up with it ever since. It’s my hope to study there again sometime in the next three years. I am “one of those crazy pre-med students” and a member of GPPA medicine. It’s an incredible honor to be a part of that program, and one of the big lessons I take away from it is to never let myself settle for complacency, in classes or otherwise. I try to consistently challenge myself and take risks, even if it leads to a rather hectic lifestyle with long days and late night.

After a long day, I decompress by making all types of hot tea, tinkering on the piano, and reading for fun, especially young adult books from my childhood. I have awful eyesight and somehow I went from being farsighted as a toddler to being extremely nearsighted now. My go-to series to watch on Netflix is How I Met Your Mother but my all-time favorite shows are probably Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. Whenever I get a chance to head home in Naperville, I like to relax by baking with my mom, going to the movies with my brother, or cheering on the Chicago Bulls with my dad. I own over 30 scarves and always have trouble picking the right one every morning. It seems like the weather is getting colder every day and I’m dreading the frigid days ahead because I get cold very easily.

I love music and couldn’t live without it. One of my favorite things to do is to craft playlists for specific people, occasions, or memories. I have all kinds of artists and genres in my iTunes library. While I listen to instrumental or piano music when I study, I indulge in Taylor Swift and radio music, especially when I workout. I try really hard to carve out an hour a day to go to the gym, and my workouts usually consist of running, Pilates, and some casual lifting. I like to challenge myself by signing up for various races throughout the year. My longest one yet was the Chicago Half Marathon this past September, and I actually just finished the Chicago Perfect 10 (10K) yesterday morning at Navy Pier! Stay tuned for my next blog post coming soon about that experience.

Well, it’s time for me to get back to the books – I have plenty of cell bio reading to get caught up on before a quiz tomorrow as well as work to get done for my job. I work as a Peer Mentor in Courtyard residence hall for Campus Housing, and I’m currently planning a tea-tasting program. I’m super excited because I absolutely love tea and can’t wait to share it with my residents! In the meantime, though, I’m keeping to my corner in Caribou with my books…although I think it may be time for another latte…

I’ll be strong, I’ll be wrong, but life goes on / I’m just a girl trying to find a place in this world ♪♫♪

(A Place In This World – Taylor Swift)

Talk to me, talk to me

I cannot stress enough how important communication is in practically any setting. While there are some things I may agree that conversation does not need to take place in order for something to get done, I think that can only happen if communication about that situation already had taken place. So, how can we all communicate better and be appreciative about it?

Well, I think it starts with seeing who else is affected by the communication in the first place. Sometimes we’re stuck on our own bubble and got our own things to worry about that we kind of blow off each other with no signs of why. And man that hurts! The people who are affected by that one person gets KILLED, whether it be at work, at social outings, or school.

This works on both sides. While the person might not be doing their job well, perhaps, it is also the person who notices this and feels hurt by this to speak up, not to wait around for the other person to suddenly realize how much harm they are doing (because they might not ever notice). No one wins like that.

These conversations are difficult to start, mainly because they are truly confrontational in nature. I feel that a lot of people are scared of confronting or being confronted, but if we all don’t express our voices in a nonjudgmental environment, then we’ll continue to see situations through one scope or perspective. We can try and run, but the tension and unease will catch up.

Sorry to sound like I am ranting! I am like many of you with a tight schedule and trying to make ends meet by studying hard in school and juggling part-time jobs and other extra-curricular activities. It is unfriendly to all of us who receive news last minute, for example, about something as important as the three things I mentioned just now. Even waiting on an email, say, about a job offer, is a big deal, especially if the company said they’d contact you last week and didn’t! Surely we can all pitch in what we are thinking about, knowing that someone else really needs to receive this “intel” because it DOES affect them greatly.

Can we ever find peace? I always wondered what it must be like to be a judge. You want to hear both sides of the story, but if one person is over powering the other it gets kind of frustrating, and you know how people love to exaggerate or twist the truth! Not sure how many of you plan on going to law school and working ten years to later become a judge, but if you do I applaud your efforts and hope that you can make the difference that this world needs in enforcing good communication among peers, colleagues and all.

Keeping in touch with the student body

As some of you readers may know, I am the chair of the communications and recruitment committee for the UIC Undergraduate Student Government. As I hold this new position, I’ve been working hard to assure that undergraduates are aware of USG and how we serve as the official voice for the undergraduate student body.

I love my position because I get to apply the same skills that I learn about in my communication courses. Some of the new ideas my committee members and I have brainstormed will help assure that our image is projected throughout campus in a variety of ways. We will utilize our digital screen on the 2nd floor of SCE to project biweekly updates of what we are currently working on for the student body. Also, I am thankful that UIC News will also put some of our updates in the paper whenever there is room. We’re also working on getting our news updates on campus televisions in the student centers. We’re also going to be purchasing stand-up banners in the student centers as well.

Recently, we also started having our members go throughout campus to talk directly to students. The past couple of weeks, we have been in the Daley Library set up at a table with a USG tablecloth, giveaways and other promo material. This is a great way that will get the word out there about USG. So keep an eye out on our website about the next promo table location.

Let me know if there is anything else we can do to get the word out about USG! Feel free to comment below.

Until next time…


Catching the conference bug

I’ve been told by countless people in Campus Housing that I need to go to at least one leadership conference during my college years. For one reason or another, I found myself in my junior year, having held numerous leadership positions throughout my years here, yet never attending a leadership conference despite all of the encouragement I’d received. This time, I had absolutely no excuse to not be on the delegation; UIC hosted this fall’s CASCHA (Chicago Area Student and Campus Housing Association) conference. Our school hasn’t won a bid to host for a long time, so this is a really big deal! Schools from all over Chicagoland (some even as far as Valpo!) came out for the daylong conference to attend sessions put on by fellow leaders and professional housing staff as well as network/meet other Campus Housing leaders.

UIC's CASCHA 2013 delegation!

I was scheduled to present on leadership and social media from 3:30-4:15. I had no idea how I was going to talk for that long, but I had all day to think about that. The conference started bright and early. I groggily walked out of the residence halls into the Montgomery Ward Lounge and found myself facing a large, loud group of people, all from different Chicago area universities. It was really cool to see all of the different student leaders who, despite being from completely different schools, faced the same challenges and shared the same successes.
My presentation went well, and when it was over, I felt as if 1,000,000 pounds was lifted off of my shoulders (I worked really hard on the presentation and stressed out about it quite a bit.) I was sad to see all of the student leaders go, but it is really cool to know so many other student leaders at our neighboring schools. Our delegation had a great time and represented UIC perfectly.

The conference was such a great experience, and I am so glad that I can finally say I attended a leadership conference while living here in housing. It is incredible that Campus Housing offers us so many opportunities to get involved and become a leader in a way that best suits you.  I definitely plan to attend more in the very near future (hopefully the Illinois State Residence Assistant Association next semester!) Talk to you next week!

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