Category: Living

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

Spring cleaning on the Internet

Spring may not start for a little while, but I decided to get a head start on some spring cleaning.  I really wanted to clean up my “Internet footprint” this year.  As someone who is trying to enter the workforce, it is time I make sure my best face shows up on the Internet.  Here are a few things I did.

1. I checked out my privacy settings on Facebook. 

Facebook privacy settings are notoriously confusing and controversial.  I found it difficult to navigate, but I made sure everything on my Facebook page was set to private.  The only things I currently keep public are my work history and education background (things that employers would see already on my résumé).

In case you didn’t know, every single post on Facebook comes with a little marking that will tell you exactly who is able to see the post.  You can also change your individual post to “public,” “friends only” “only me” or “custom.”  If I make a post or picture public, it usually has to do with an event or conference I attended. (Again, things employers would see on my résumé anyway).

2. I took a blast to the past on Facebook

With Facebook Timeline, it is very easy for you to take a glance at all the things you did on Facebook since you opened your account.  I can only speak for myself, but some of the things I talked about in 2008 are pretty embarrassing to look at today!  Therefore, I went back and deleted a lot of posts, pictures and pages I “liked” that seem childish and immature to me now.

Maybe "I can't touch this," but I CAN click the "unlike" button

3. I Google myself

I Google myself often.  I like to know what potential employers can see at any given moment when they Google my name.  I once found a very old outdated social networking page from high school!  Talk about blast from the past! I really don’t want potential employers to know what was on my mind when I was a 16-year-old band geek! Some people say it is narcissistic to Google yourself … I say it is smart!

I'm on the left as a 16-year-old band geek. I'm pretty sure my Myspace and Xanga pages were all about coffee, SpongeBob and the cute tuba player.

It felt great to go through a spring cleaning of my Internet footprint….maybe next week I will have the courage to tackle my closet!

I love my black history

It is Black History Month!  While we are busy celebrating some amazing and famous people in history, I chose to make it a point to celebrate a few important people in my life who I have learned so much from.

My grandmothers:

My paternal grandmother inspires me.  Every time I have a conversation with my grandmother, I feel that anything is possible.  She has a way of making all of her nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren feel special.  I am sure part of this comes from knowing the difficulties of raising four children herself.  My grandmother has never missed a birthday, she has a close relationship to my mother, and I feel like I have just been “pep-talked” after each conversation.

My paternal grandmother

 

My maternal grandmother (Granny):

Granny reminds me how hard my people have worked.  Granny was born and raise in a tiny town in South Carolina named Pamplico.  2011 population: 1,236. Despite living in a small, tight-knit community, Granny has many stories of injustice.  She once told me a story about her walk to school.  During this time, blacks went to separate schools and had separate buses. Every day during her walk, the bus with the whites would drive past them.  Some of them would throw rocks at her while she tried to go to school.  My granny reminds me that my ancestors, my family and others in the black community worked hard so that I can go after all of my dreams.

My granny with my sister and me in the early 1990s.

 

My mother:

If my grandmother inspires me, and my granny reminds me, then I have to say my mother is a fusion of the two.  She is a role model of the person I want to be.  My mother left the tiny town of Pamplico at age 18 and joined the military.  She got married and had two kids before the age of 30.  She retired from the military at the young age of 38.  Afterward, my mother worked her butt off to get her dream job inside the Pentagon!  That was not enough for my mom.  She knew she wanted to do more so she decided to serve our country in a civilian manner and took a job in Afghanistan! My mother is a product of what all the civil rights activists fought for.  Nothing is impossible for my mother.

My mother when she just joined the military.

Hopefully, I too will be a black historymaker in someone’s eyes.  Each time I want to procrastinate or feel the work is too much, I remind myself of these three wonderful women.  I remind myself that they accomplished all their dreams in much harsher time periods and anything is possible if I continue to work hard for my dreams.

My graduation in 2011.

Mama’s in the kitchen, burning that rice!

It is a new year and a new resolution!  I consider myself to be a very determined person.  So I do not like when I begin to slack on my New Year’s resolutions.

This year, one of the things I want to begin to do is cook!   I usually run on coffee, frozen dinners and sandwiches at Tropical Smoothie.  So this year, my boyfriend and I decided to begin “experimental Saturdays”  in which I cook a new meal each week.   Last Saturday, I cooked quinoa stuffed tomatoes.  It was pretty good. I followed the recipe exactly and it tasted all right.  Next time I make it, I will add a few things of my own to make it a little bit sweeter.

My quinoa stuffed tomatoes!

When I was a child, if I asked my mother what was for dinner she would respond, “if-its.”

Me: “What are if-its, mom?”

Mom: “If it’s” in the kitchen, then you can eat it.

So, the other day,  I put together some vegetable broth and a bunch of vegetables I keep for snacks. The end result was my own if-its!!

My if-its

My boyfriend is a WAY better cook than I am!   After I made the stuffed tomatoes, he showed me up and made stuffed peppers. I can’t remember the last time I tasted something so good!

Stuffed peppers!

The only thing I don’t like about my newfound love of cooking, is the mess in the kitchen afterward!  The last thing I want to do after enjoying a great meal is clean up the dishes!

This Saturday, I will use the leftover quinoa to make a quinoa loaf with mushrooms and peas!  What are your favorite things to cook?  Where do you get recipes? I use the Whole Foods Recipe app!  It’s free and very vegetarian-friendly!

Have a great week everyone and don’t forget to stay healthy!

UIC in Waikiki (Part 2)

While some people spent 12/12/12 at a casino somewhere or getting married…I spent the rare triple day turning another year older.  There are few places I would have rather been than spending my 24th birthday with old friends who really know how to bring in a birthday.  The night, I received an awesome treat at a Japanese restaurant called honey toast!

Honey Toast is exactly what it sounds like. It was like eating breakfast with ice cream.

In front of the Japanese restaurant the night before my birthday.

Afterward, some old high school friends and I went to Dave & Busters!  I did not do very well.  I lost at Pac-Man, Connect Four, and pretty much everything.  I’m pretty sure I ended the night with 20 tickets.   I was NOT very lucky indeed!

 

 

 

 

This is random but I thought it was cool. Many things in Hawaii are written in English and Japanese.

Menu for my birthday breakfast.

Anyway, later that 12/12/12, a DIFFERENT set of friends took me out.  We went to a restaurant that really reminded me of Hawaii called Sweet Home Cafe.  At Sweet Home Cafe, you order a couple of broths, then purchase various plate of veggies and/or meats.  The waiter puts the giant broths on burners in the middle of the table.  Afterward, you and your friends just add in everything they want and everyone eats from the broths.

Even the dessert was communal.

The communal sharing aspect has Hawaii written all over it. I have not lived in Hawaii in more than five years.  I have not been back in two years.  Despite that, my old friends treated me like it was just yesterday since we have seen each other.

My friends Kallen and Chelsea treated me like a queen on my birthday.

 

I must say, spending 10 nights in Hawaii was amazing.  I ran a marathon, got to see my old friends and eat some great local comfort food.  However, I missed Chicago! I missed my cats, UIC, people in my department, Mr. Greeks and Potbellys.  Even though few things are more beautiful than a sunset at Waikiki, i’m pretty sure I like my winters cold and my beaches from Lake Michigan.  It’s great to be home.

Beautiful sunset at Waikiki.

 

Appreciating veterans every day of the year

No words can describe how the picture below makes me feel.

The "check plus." The ultimate sign of "you are on the right track."

A check plus is considered a “very nice paper” in my criminology theory class and they are NOT given out lightly.  It is very interesting that I received a “check plus” on my paper considering that I spent my weekend writing this paper while in Georgia!

I went to Georgia in early November to attend my father’s retirement ceremony.  My dad served in the Air Force for 30 years!  I do not get to see him very often.  Usually Thanksgiving time and a summer trip is the extent to our face-to-face interaction.  So it was very interesting hearing the many stories people had about my father about how he not only impacted the Air Force, but also their lives. Even President Obama had a few kind words for my dad.

Dad's certificate from Obama.

 

My dad spent 30 years in the Air Force.

Many people in my family have served in the military.  Both of my parents, my stepmother, my grandfather and a few aunts and uncles have served or are STILL serving in the military. Coming from a military family has allowed me to have some great opportunities in life that sometimes I may take for granted.  One thing I will never take for granted is that people in the military make a conscious decision to serve for our freedom.  Veterans Day may be over, but we can thank our veterans any day of the year.  

Me, my father and my sister, Krishna.

Free thing to do this weekend:

Have you heard of Flywheel?  It’s an indoor cycling class and your first class is FREE! My co-worker Alicia works there and I guarantee you that if you are looking for an intense workout, she will not disappoint!

Cheap and fun thing to do this weekend

Me and friend Jordan at the Prince and Michael Experience.

My friends and family know me as a Michael Jackson fanatic!   Every blue moon a party happens in Chicago to celebrate Michael Jackson and Prince. The Prince and Michael Experience is a party I try to never miss.  Fanatics like myself dress up, do the dance moves and just have an all around great time appreciating these two artists.

If you love MJ, Prince, and other associated artists check out the Prince and Michael Experience at Beauty Bar Chicago Saturday, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60642. Cost is $5 dollars, and you must be at least 21.

 

 

 

 

The joys of commuting…seriously!

To you 85% of commuter students at UIC: No, this blog headline is not sarcasm. I actually enjoy commuting! Just hear me out.

So today I was driving home and found myself, as always, singing out LOUD the lyrics to my favorite songs. It was a long, tiring day and little things, like singing out loud on my way home, get out some of the tensions and pains of the day. It’s little things like this that made me realize commuting really isn’t that bad!

Freshman year, I was kind of bummed and worried that I wouldn’t be dorming at UIC. Like most others, cost came into play. Also, I only live 7 miles away (20-minute drive) from UIC. There was no way I would be dorming at UIC when I’m a hop, skip and a jump away from home.

I feel like there is a bad stigma associated with commuting. Whenever someone mentions to another that they commute you get the typical shock-of-horror face and comment like, “Oh gosh, that sucks!” But it really doesn’t! I’ve learned to love commuting.

Although my drive is relatively short compared to others, I appreciate the drive itself. Again, I can sing aloud. But I can also just get in my car across from my classes and drive to run an errand around town. Furthermore, it’s nice to not be in the same “school” mindset that residents may have all the time. When I leave campus, I leave school behind. I obviously still have homework to do, but I’m able to leave the school mindset that I have when I am physically on campus. I look forward to going home to my comfortable bed, away from the physical school atmosphere. Home is a getaway.

For others who may commute by train, it’s not so bad either. I tried it out before but stopped because the CTA and Metra stations are far from my house. But from the times I did try it, I loved the fact that I was able to study or read on my way to classes. I am kind of jealous of those who have a nice comfy Metra to get to school in. I would totally utilize that time sitting to catch up on work or just enjoy a good book.

I hope that UIC students get away from the stigma that commuting is “bad.” Can you think of some ways that we could rid of this? I have some, but I’ll save my big ideas for another day. In the meantime, let me know how we can make commuting sound like a good thing!

-Mike

 

Wait…I’m Half-Way Done With College?

Two years ago I was a freshman on a train on my way to classes at UIC for the first time. Today, I’m 20 years old, in my junior year of college.

Let me introduce myself – the name is Mike Queroz and I am now a junior here at UIC. I am majoring in Communication and minoring in Managerial Skills. I hope to be involved in the some type of media or corporate public relations management after I graduate in May 2014.

Me!

I’d like to say I have made the most of my time in college so far. Since I came to UIC I’ve been heavily involved on campus. I’ve been a part of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) since freshman year and I am currently in my second term as the Vice President. In USG I’ve done some amazing things like lobby in Springfield and co-organize the Undie Run. Last year, I was also a social media intern for the Office of Sustainability and wrote for HerCampus UIC.

I feel like now is one of those times I’m going to have to take a step back. Not only do I have junior-level classes this semester and my Vice President duties in USG, but I’ve added on a couple of more things, too! I was able to snag a great internship at a record label this semester and have also took on a part-time job doing childcare. Yeah, yikes! However, I’ve been managing well so far and just have to keep my head in the game of success.

But I’m ready to go full force at it, and I know that I want all of you to go along this journey to success with me. On the way, I hope to share with you all some of the things I’ve learned (and I am learning) on how to succeed at UIC.

As Chris Brown would say…”Leeeeggo!”

Some members of USG and I (far left) in Springfield talking to Rep. Ken Dunkin

 

Healthcare: TW vs US

I’ve got a week with my family in Taiwan before I go to the Aid Summer Program, which means I’ve got one week to get back into academic mode and apply for some last-minute scholarships, prepare my teaching plan, and start making some graphics with my Wacom tablet!

I just wrote a post on my Tumblr to give a half-update…but for this one I will try to make it sort of more medically/health-related.

My grandpa was going to the hospital one morning and I asked my aunt if I could come along to see what the hospitals were like in Taiwan compared to the ones around school. He was just getting a check-up so it’d be pretty quick. He’s had cancer before and gotten surgery for it each time so frequent check-ups are definitely necessary! He’s so cool.

Click here to see the photos I took!

Anyway, the people of Taiwan are all required to have health insurance (woohoo national healthcare) which makes healthcare affordable. My aunt says they get “two” health insurances…not sure what that means. My Mandarin has improved a lot but there are some things I don’t understand and always ask them to say it again but in another way (dumb it down, haha).

Overall I think there are a lot of pros to national health care since so many people have sickness…but were we all healthy we wouldn’t need doctors or nurses or pharmacists…so I guess having the choice of healthcare is good too since some people know how to take care of themselves and don’t need to waste money on medical bills when they are perfectly healthy eating good food and exercising…and sleeping well!

That’s really the equation for good health. Eat well, sleep well, and exercise! Of course, you can’t accomplish that if you don’t have good mental health…so we can add that into the equation too…haha.

My skin has been pretty terrible, and I got a haircut because my aunt told me it’d make my skin feel better if it was shorter…but I didn’t think it’d be this short! I haven’t had it this short since I was like five years old…I’m so embarrassed. She thinks it’s cute but I think it’s awful. Ahhhhh! I guess I just have to get used to it.

Hope Chicago is doing swell! The weather in Taiwan is always hot and humid, but because of the typhoon the rain has kept Taiwan cool.

Preparing for Taiwan

I’m leaving in two days (June 12) and I am totally NOT ready for this trip! The main issue I have isn’t really what to bring like I thought it would be, but rather it’s about how I’m going to manage to not scratch in the humid, crazy hot weather. My skin has not been good at all these past few days that Chicago has been hot and I’m terrified about the adjustments I’ll have to do for Taiwan!

I’ve dealt with the weather before the last time I went back in 2009 when I volunteered with the Taiwanese Red Cross. I remember I was super itchy the whole entire plane ride and super sweaty carrying a large carry-on and my violin on my back. It was hard to see and I was the last one out of the airport! My cousins were scared that I missed my flight or something happened to me because I took forever. That was my first time flying by myself, though…so this time it should hopefully be different.

Anyway, I went to see a Chinese traditional medicine doctor (erm, more like a consultant or psychic?). She was an old lady that reminded me of my grandmother and we found her at a Buddhist temple in Naperville. I haven’t seen the dermatologist at UIC in awhile, mainly because it takes forever to get an appointment and I just felt that their medicine wasn’t helping me in the long-term treatment of my eczema…

The woman was surrounded by Chinese people waiting to get a diagnosis about their health and well-being. It was a very informal approach, but when it came to my turn she did what she did to everyone else, placed her hands above both of my wrists and then asked me questions about my ailment.

The main conclusion was that my mother must have had some spicy or fried food during her pregnancy with me to explain why I have had it so long, and that the only way I could possibly cure my eczema is by being pregnant myself and having a baby (after getting married of course). For some reason, this remedy has always been suggested for everything. It’s like somehow our problems will be solved with marriage and having children! But hey, I haven’t tried it yet and I guess I can’t judge how it works. I do kind of trust her word because I met a woman who had the same thing as me, but after she had her own kids her eczema completely disappeared! It must have to do with hormonal changes…

Unfortunately, I am in no position to get married or have kids (although I sure wish I was because I can’t wait to start a family!). For now, I am taking some Chinese herbal medicine that we bought from Chinatown and I hope it will work. Chinese medicine is always very bitter, but I don’t mind it as much as I thought I would.

I hope everyone is having a productive summer! I can’t believe I’m leaving so soon! :D

Feels Like Summer!

Hello UIC!

It sure feels like summer in the city. My neighborhood is packed, street vendors are out and barbeques are a weekly norm. Every summer there is a place where most people go to on a Sunday day. That place is, La Plaza Garibaldi, it’s like a concert outside, there are food vendors, advertisers, bull riding, horses, and music. Since this past weekend was Memorial Day it was open on Monday. One of my favorite bands came, La Arrolladora Banda el Limon, although I like them a lot, I do not like to go there because it gets really hot and usually that band comes to other locations. This is one of the main reasons why on Sundays and days when Garibaldi is open there is a lot of traffic in my neighborhood (La Villita, Little Village). It took my brother and me about twenty minutes to go three blocks to my brother’s favorite street vendor.

                                                              Traffic!

Living in La Villita, street vendors are found in every corner. Not all of them are the same, some might use different spices, might give more for the same price, and some might seem cleaner than other. Whatever reasons we might have, everyone always has one go to street vendor. My brother’s vendor of choice has her cart right on 26th (La veintiséis) street. When you order a fruit cup from her, you can guarantee that you get enough to feed three or four people. She is not at all skimpy. She also does a good job maintaining her stand clean and always wears gloves when handling food. I know food stands are not for everyone especially not those of weak stomach. If you do want to venture out of the norm, I invite you to Little Village.

                                                        Best Street Vendor

                                                      Gigantic Fruit Cup

My family is completely a summer family. We spend more time together during the summer. This past weekend did not fall short. On Sunday was my nephew’s birthday party, it was really fun. Monday, everyone went over to my cousin’s house for a taco day. It was a good day, the kids played in the kiddy pool, everyone ate tacos, and enjoyed the conversations.

Thanks for Reading!

-Letty

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