Category: Living

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

Lake Geneva and Twin Lakes

After planning my vacation for about 7 months, It finally came … aaaaaand went.

We went to Lake Geneva, stayed at The Cove right on the lake, and attended Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  The performers were great! I definitely will be going next year.  It’s huge! You’re in the middle of a cornfield with a main stage, 3 smaller stages, food, and multiple camp sites. Our group knew some people in a few of the campsites.  People bring RVs and tents.  One campsite we went to was formed in a big square and each group of people took turns cooking meals for the rest of the site.  Pretty cool! The only thing I heard that wasn’t great was that the people who camped, had to pay $6 to take a shower.

The hotel had a shuttle service that picked us up from our hotel everyday and brought us to the concert and back.  Of course we had to pay, but it was so convenient.  I had never been to Lake Geneva before, and I loved it! Downtown Lake Geneva is so cute.  We planned to go on a lake boat tour, but unfortunately that never happened.

By the main stage of the event, they had cardboard cutouts of some of the artists like Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.  This is a picture of my boyfriend and I with cardboard Dierks Bentley.

I had such a good time with my cousin, Rachel.  She is already talking about buying tickets for next year.  July 24-27, 2014, here we come!!

The Graffiti Run

This past weekend, I did a race called “The Graffiti Run.” It was so much fun! Definitely a good starter race for someone who is just starting to run or someone (like me) who doesn’t run on a regular basis.

My friends, Kelly and Veronica, and I had a blast.  Thanks to Brian Koch, my co-worker, for designing our awesome shirts.  Our names were on front and sponsors, Pie-Eyed Pizzeria and The Competitive Foot, on the back.  These are the “before” pics.  The Graffiti Run is similar to that of The Color Run.  The participants wear as much white as possible and throughout the 5k course (about 3.2 miles) you get colored powder thrown at you as you run by.  My only issue is that the course was technically in the parking lot of Toyota Park, which is made of gravel and rocks.  You have to be conscious of where you’re stepping so you don’t roll your ankle.

There were a few different waves of runners.  We ran with the first wave and were done within the hour.  After you reach the finish line, they have a color throw when everyone throws their color packets in the air at the same time.  It was crazy! You couldn’t even see.  It was a sea of color. I would have loved to take pictures of the entire event, but I had to protect my phone from the powder.

The after pics!!

Another great weekend spent with friends and family.  I am having a great summer! I hope you are too!

Next week, I’ll document my time in Lake Geneva, Twin Lakes and Country Thunder!!

Summer Working Out

Hello UIC!

Hope you are all having a wonderful summer! At the start of summer, I made sure I got a membership at a gym nearby since I want to achieve my fitness goal by September. I’m using the summer to learn to eat healthier and work out for a healthier heart. I started out running outside and on the treadmill and doing arm workouts with weights.

Apart from being in the gym, I actually started making fruit smoothies with protein shake in them. Since I am vegetarian, it’s more difficult to get my protein in so I started eating cottage cheese and more beans in my diet.

Hopefully I can meet my goal by the end of the summer!

This is the pool at the gym I go to. It's amazing! Swimming is one of the top three exercises since it minimizes joint impact.

Cancun Wedding

Even though I only have three weeks left until I take my MCAT and should be studying insanely, I can’t seem to focus as much as I want to. Then again, being on a sudden family trip to Cancun to attend my cousin’s wedding isn’t something you get to do all the time…and hey maybe the break will help clear my mind from all of this craziness going on. I don’t know why I feel so exhausted all the time. Ah, you know what it might be the new medication the allergist prescribed…my skin has been getting these weird rashes everywhere. He says it’s just my eczema but I don’t think so…this is different. Well, in any case I’ve been super itchy and I have a stronger antihistamine to reduce the symptoms, but it makes me very drowsy and I find it very difficult to get up early in the morning.

Mule? Donkey?

I couldn't figure out if this was a mule or donkey, but it was pretty cute! We took a picture next to it but they wouldn't let me use my phone camera, and then we found out it was $10 for the photo and I didn't have cash on me so I feel bad for wasting their time! Oh well, it was fun! My brother got to ride it, haha!

Anyway, how exactly do you study when you’re on vacation? Is it plausible to bring everything and get to all of your studying material? I think the most important thing is to have one specific goal and have that as your absolute must-do assignment for your whole entire trip (assuming its only a weekend). For example…

  • Verbal Reasoning passages (just one and timed)
  • MCAT flashcards – all of physics
  • Make a studying schedule (if you can’t study at all, at least do something productive and make a schedule via Google calendar or some thing… And be specific!!!)
Heart Fried Rice

Isn't that sweet? This place was made for lovers!

I am hoping to get a lot accomplished on the plane ride but we’ll see! I get kind of sick when I read in a moving vehicle. I haven’t been on a plane since last summer in Taiwan. I still can’t believe that was a whole year ago! I still feel like I just came from it sometimes.

Fruit Faces

You can do a lot with fruit apparently! This is like edible arrangements on steroids or something.

Cesar

This is my new friend Cesar! He showed us how to shoot a rifle and do archery. Surprisingly I hit the target on my first try with the rifle, whereas my brother and my three other cousins were unable to get even close! I was in disbelief too. I think I may have to check out the shooting ranges around the Chicago area sometime!

EDIT: I was unable to study the whole entire trip. This means I better buckle down these next three weeks! I tried to do my best but it was too hard avoiding “fun” when it was everywhere, even if your room!

Wedding Gazebo

They were setting up for the wedding...it was so beautiful I cried three times that night!

The Beach

The ocean rocks! Too bad I was unable to swim due to my unfortunate state of womanhood. Ah...maybe next time!

Maraca and Program

It was so sunny and I hate being bombarded with UV rays! I can't wear sunscreen because it irritates my skin/eczema...so I do my best to stay in the shade and wear a floppy hat. On our seats we got these cute maraca-things that said to shake them when the bride and groom were pronounced husband and wife! So cute!

How’s your summer going? (:

Dancing!

Did I ever tell you I like dancing? Hehe.

EDIT: I took more photos but I’d have to ask for permission (not that they wouldn’t say yes but I like to keep peoples’ privacy). Overall Cancun was amazing and I am really happy I was able to go to my cousin’s wedding. We weren’t going to go originally because we had no money but my dad was able to pick up a small project so we were able to go! Now that I’m back in Chicago, it’s time to get real and kick this MCAT out of the water! Good luck to all of my pre-medical friends and acquaintances who are doing the same, and all others who are studying for examinations for applications/licensures/etc. (:

Nothing could top last week

Back in October, when I first introduce myself to you, I had a blog entitled “Nothing could top last weekend”  I was happy to do cool things like meet celebrities, receive some recognition at work, and of course….to begin blogging.  I am happy to say that my final blog is ending with some pretty amazing news as well.

After two years of a lot of hard work, I finished my master’s program.  When I looked at my grades I was surprised to see STRAIGHT As!  I haven’t had straight As since 2009-2010, when I was a sophomore in my undergrad years.  I worked hard, but I thought for sure I had a B in there.  It was a great way to finish off the program.

Last Monday, I received a call from a job I interviewed for, and I am happy to say I GOT THE JOB! Because of that, I will be leaving Chicago and moving out to Aurora in the fall.

After finals, I went straight to D.C. to see my mother!  She came back temporarily from Afghanistan.  It was great to see her because the last time I saw her was in July.

Once the group fitness summer program at UIC is over in August, I will be leaving this place for good. I am so grateful for everything I learned and gained at UIC. Six years is a long time to stay in one place, at least for a military brat it is.  I am happy to be leaving on a very positive note.

Thank you, UIC.

How to slim down for summertime Chi!

We’re right on the cusp of the end of the year!  To get everyone prepared for swimsuits at the lake and fun summer clothes, I decided to share with you some of my favorite exercises that get your heart rate up and your muscles working!  Be sure to check with your doctor before you start a fitness regime. 

For your abs: plank jacks (medium to hard)

Plank jacks are a great way to work your abs!   Come down on your forearms and come into a plank.  Make sure you have a straight line from your neck all the way to your feet (you should be looking down to achieve this).  Next, you will move your feet as if you are doing a jumping jack, but be sure to keep your glute muscles low as your natural instinct will be to move them upward.  The faster you go, the harder you work, but aim to keep going for 1 minute straight. Rest and repeat 4 more times.

For your arms:  side-tricep pushups (medium to hard)

My classes hate this exercise, but everyone agrees that the triceps really get worked. Lie down on your side with your top hand coming down by your bottom shoulder.  Next, use your other hand to hold yourself. Then use your hand touching the floor to bring your entire upper body off the ground.  Next, slowly come back to the starting position, but only tap your body on the ground.  The second you feel your body touch the ground, use your tricep to squeeze up for your second repetition. Continue these repetitions for 45 seconds. Then switch arms.

 

 

 

 

 

For your legs: single leg dead lift (easy to medium)

This exercise can be done with or without weights. Weights make it more difficult. Put all your weight one one leg. Bend over and have a straight line from your neck to your feet. Once in this position, squeeze back into the starting position. Repeat for 45 seconds, then switch legs.

 

 

To get your heart rate up: bosu burpees (hard)

Burpees are already hard!  The added element of a bosu will really crank up any burpee you are already familiar with. Hold a plank with your hands on the bosu. Jump and bring your feet close to the bosu. Stand up and hold the bosu above your head. Come back to position 2 (with feet close to the bosu). Repeat. Complete for 45 seconds. Rest 15 seconds, then repeat.  This exercise can be modified a number of ways.  Feel free to NOT use a bosu at all, and/or stick with positions 1 and 2.

These are exercises I do with my class on a weekly basis.  I hope to see you this summer. Even though I will have graduated, I will still be teaching at campus recreation!  I hope you check out some of our classes!!! 

Wrapping up RECESS and USG

This past week was certainly a busy one, as always. Luckily, I finished the majority of my homework over the weekend so I can dedicate my time to tying up some loose ends.

On Wednesday, Campus Programs and USG held “RECESS,” a fun carnival-esque event where students could roller skate on the quad, make their own lip balm or tie-dye shirts, snack on some popcorn and cotton candy, and enjoy music from the UIC Pep Band and UIC Radio. The goal of the event was to have one last blast of school spirit and fun before the end of the semester…and boy did I think we succeeded!

I spent most of my day Wednesday running around passing out flyers about RECESS and finishing some last minute stuff for the event. Around 4 p.m., the fun started.

The quad was packed with students waiting to partake in the activities. We also had a lot of students trying to win an iPad Mini that USG was raffling off in a photo scavenger hunt contest. With music blasting, people laughing and skates rolling, the event was loud and fun. ABC7 even stopped by to film coverage of the event!

Overall, I was so happy to see that students came out to RECESS and more importantly, enjoyed it! I think it was a huge success and hope that we can make it even bigger and better next year.

On Thursday, USG held its last meeting of the academic year. It was bittersweet having my last meeting as the vice president of the organization. It was bitter because I’ve held the position for two years and it’s become a part of me. It’s sweet, though, because now I can change my role in the organization and help in different ares. And as a member, I will now have voting rights — yes!

I’m really starting to see all the blessings I have at UIC. From being able to provide fun for students through RECESS, to being able to help the undergraduate body at UIC, I’m having a blast being a college student.

Now to brace myself for the next two weeks of school…dun dun dun!

Until next time…

Mike

 

 

My thoughts on Boston

On Monday April 15, as I was watching TV, the program was suddenly preempted to go to a special news report.  I watched in horror as the news reporter said there were “two explosions” at the Boston Marathon.  People were being carried out in wheelchairs; everyone had blood on their faces.  The images were too similar to the horrific morning of 9/11.  All last semester, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to blog about not one, but two marathons I was able to run.  My blood, sweat and tears went into training.

2012 Honolulu Marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I was running, I saw the many supporters who took time out of their day, some of whom woke up as early as 4 a.m., in order to make signs and cheer on random strangers.  How tragic it is that on a day where communities come together, where random acts of kindness and encouragement are endless, that this year’s Boston Marathon will forever be known as the “Boston Bombings” and “Terror at the Boston Marathon?”

Unlike most many marathons, the Boston Marathon is unique in that the runners must have a certain time in a different marathon (e.g. the Chicago Marathon) in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  With that said, for some of these people, running is their life.  Their friends and families look up to them because of their running achievements, and I bet some of their children want to be just like mom and dad and run marathons as well.  All of that is to say that this tragedy felt a little too close to home.  At first I was in shock, and then thought, “that easily could have been me in Chicago, that easily could have been me in Honolulu.”  Now, I feel it is time to make a difference.  I plan on donate what I can to the Red Cross.  Secondly, I plan run the Chicago Marathon next year with the Red Cross.  Who knows, maybe I will even be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year.  Just as marathons are a time for communities to come together, now is a for a nation to come together.

2012 Chicago Marathon

Productively busy

It’s funny, but I feel like I’m the most productive when my schedule is fully loaded. This semester I am at 18 credit hours, have an internship and still in USG. It’s a pretty heavy load…but knock on wood…I’m managing it well?

I think it’s because whenever I am beyond busy, I truly value the free time I do have and make sure I accomplish all my tasks on time. It’s like I realize that I have no time, so I make sure I make use of the time I do have. I’ve been studying management intensively this semester so this is the best way I am making sense of this.

I am doing pretty good in my classes this semester, which is great. But I still feel like there’s more to make up for. I wish I could schedule more time for exercise and meditation. These things really helped me last semester, but I haven’t had the time to really fit them in. It’s something called work-life balance that I need to find. I feel like school eats up so much of your time that it’s really hard to live you life, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I still go out and have fun with friends, but I think there’s always more I want to do. With college being a time of working to get to the next level, it’s just so hard to squeeze everything you want in you want to do in between.

So I’m writing this complant-esque blog to see what you all think…how do you get a sense of work-life balance? Thoughts?

Thanks!

Mike

 

75 reminders for tough times…

Hello UIC!

Now I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve sensed a lot of people around me have been down in the dumps lately. Whether it be a recent heartbreak, a poor score on a midterm, stress, or maybe no reason at all, college takes a toll on everyone. Whenever I am feeling down, a positive way that I try to deal with my negative feelings is to look for inspiration! The words below are an inspirational collection of sayings I found online not too long ago. This list of 75 reminders are saved as a Microsoft Word document on my laptop. I usually look back to the document whenever I am having a bad day. I am sure most of you have heard the majority of these lines in some form or another, but it never hurts to be reminded to keep moving forward no matter how hard life hits you! Most of you have probably also seen the movie “Meet the Robinsons,” yeah? Remember the main message in the movie? KEEP MOVING FORWARD!

  1. You never know how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have.
  2. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  3. You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
  4. Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect. Nobody has it easy. You never know what people are going through. Every one of us has issues. So don’t belittle yourself or anyone else. Everybody is fighting their own unique war.
  5. Crying doesn’t indicate that you’re weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you’re alive and full of potential.
  6. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  7. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.
  8. Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. Let it go.
  9. Making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world. Start small. Start now.
  10. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  11. Never let success get to your head, and never let failure get to your heart.
  12. You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life.
  13. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
  14. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.
  15. Give up worrying about what others think of you. What they think isn’t important. What is important is how you feel about yourself.
  16. When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  17. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are.
  18. You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to appreciate the things that are only yours.
  19. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world who’s struggling, who’s frustrated, or unsatisfied, or barely getting by. But that feeling is a lie. And if you just hold on, someone will find you and help make it better. Because we all need a little help sometimes – someone to help us hear the music in our world. To remind us that it won’t always be this way. That someone is out there right now.
  20. Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to lose.
  21. Sometimes we accidentally allow small problems to escalate and dominate our lives. If we get overcharged a few cents, it is irritating, but don’t let it ruin your day. There will always be small issues that irritate us; the secret is to be able to give them the miniscule level of importance they deserve.
  22. Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go.
  23. Ask yourself whether each of your relationships drags you down or lifts you up.  Surrounding yourself with positive, loving people is half the battle of living a happy, successful life.
  24. Spend more time with those who make you smile and less time with those who you feel pressured to impress.
  25. There are few joys in life that equal a good conversation, a good read, a good walk, a good hug, a good smile, or a good friend.
  26. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future for too long. Right now is life. Live it.
  27. No matter how cautiously you choose your words, someone will always twist them around and misinterpret what you say.  So just say what you need to say.
  28. In order to be creative, we must lose our fear of being wrong.
  29. Not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of good luck.
  30. To be great does not mean you have to dominate others.  It means you have to dominate your own potential.
  31. If you are passionate about something, pursue it, no matter what anyone else thinks.  That’s how dreams are achieved.
  32. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
  33. Forgiveness is one of the primary keys to happiness.
  34. The best revenge is happiness, because nothing drives your adversaries more insane than seeing you smile.
  35. Stay positive when negativity surrounds you.  Smile when others frown.  It’s an easy way to make a difference.
  36. If a person wants to be a part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so. Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
  37. Don’t regret intimate relationships that don’t work out. Because they will only help you find the right partner for you, and better appreciate them for everything they do and everything they are.
  38. What lies before us and behind us are tiny matters when compared to what lies within us.
  39. The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time.
  40. Never lie – not even a white lie!  When you steer away from the truth, you steer away from your soul. Be honest, be real and tell the truth. This awareness forces you to make better choices and be a stronger person.
  41. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go.
  42. Don’t get caught up in wasted potential from years past. Potential is all we ever have.
  43. We are not alone. No matter how bizarre or embarrassed or pathetic we feel about our own situation, there will be others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say “I am all alone,” it is your mind trying to sell you a lie so you will continue to feel sorry for yourself.
  44. It is okay to be angry. It is never okay to be cruel.
  45. Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.
  46. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.
  47. Money is a renewable resource. If you lose some money, don’t sweat it. You can always make more. However, if you spend valuable time stressing over money, or lost opportunity, you’ll never get that time back. Time is more valuable than money – time is the greatest constituent of life.
  48. Never let people know that they got to you. Ignore them. Hold your head up high and pretend all their negative remarks don’t even phase you, and someday they actually won’t.
  49. There is nothing to hold you back except you. And there is only one question to ask yourself: “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Think about it.
  50. Life is way more enjoyable when you stop trying to be cool and simply focus on being yourself.
  51. It’s often hard to tell just how close you are to success.
  52. When you spend time worrying, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
  53. No matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win.
  54. You must see things how they are instead of how you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
  55. Even when you feel like you have nothing, someone else likely has far less. Find them and help them. You’ll see why.
  56. Laughter is the best medicine for stress. Laugh at yourself often. Find the humor in whatever situation you’re in.
  57. If you want to feel rich, just count all the great things you have that money can’t buy.
  58. Forgiving yourself is far more important than getting others to forgive you.
  59. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  60. You can press forward long after you can’t. It’s just a matter of wanting it bad enough.
  61. It’s not about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll rarely be 100% sure it will work. But you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Sometimes you just have to go for it!
  62. If it were easy everyone would do it. This is why get rich quick schemes will never be true. If it was so quick and easy then everyone would be millionaires. Accomplishing great things is hard work, but well worth it.
  63. Notice and cherish life’s surprises. Just because it’s not what you were expecting, doesn’t mean it’s not everything you’ve been waiting for.
  64. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel, to be open and authentic. Tear down any emotional brick walls you have built around you and feel every exquisite emotion, both good and bad. This is real life. This is how you welcome new opportunities.
  65. You must create and look for opportunities. Opportunities rarely ever come knocking on the door of someone who’s not seeking them. You have to create and seek opportunities for yourself.  You have to take the initiative to get the ball rolling and the doors opening.
  66. If it’s out of your control, why fret about it? Concentrating on things you can control is how you make good things happen.
  67. Saying “no” to right people gives you the time and resources required to say “yes” to right opportunities.
  68. No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
  69. If you spend 80% of your time focusing on the problem and only 20% on the solution, what do you think is going to happen?
  70. No matter how badly you think your life may be going, or how messed up you think you are, there is at least one thing you are doing right in your life or you wouldn’t be alive reading this.
  71. A problem is a chance for you to learn.
  72. The greatest struggle is to be something different from what the average man is.
  73. In times of great stress, it’s always wise to keep busy, to plow your anger and frustration into something positive.
  74. One thing is for sure: Regardless of the situation, life goes on.
  75. Everyone wants a perfect ending.  But over the years I’ve learned that some of the best poems don’t rhyme, and many great stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end. Life is about not knowing, embracing change, and taking a moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.
When life gets stressful, we often forget the things we should remember, and remember the things we should forget. You know who’s awesome? Read the first word of the first reminder again. :-)
“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
- Robert H. Schuller
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