Category: Living

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

How I Save Money

UIC’s tuition is pretty cheap compared to other universities, but it’ll still make you want to cry when you realize how many loans you have to take out and convince your parents to agree it’s the best choice and still worth the money (although, if you are paying for it all by yourself…I guess you’ll have to be fighting with your brain!). My parents always tell me not to worry about money because they can just take out loans and that “one day you’ll make much more money to pay it back and still have a great big house” but is that really going to happen? Seeing as how the economy has been, I am pretty sure that everyone will struggle to make ends meet…and the most important thing is being happy with what you do and have a goal in mind to keep yourself motivated.

So, with that statement in mind, it really is important when you are in college to find out what appeals the most to you, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Finding the right career choice for every person is difficult and needs to take in every consideration. I’m not as good at math and science compared to other subjects (or compared to other people, haha), but that does not mean that I do not appreciate it…I’m able to tolerate my not-so-smart brain with hard work when it comes to math and science.

Here is a list of things that I do to save money (or get money) while being a full-time student with lots of loans and minimum scholarships. Most of these tips are pretty obvious, but sometimes we need a reminder!

  1. Apply for FAFSA. The financial aid office is probably the most annoying place you’ll have to deal with when filling out your FAFSA online and turning in extra forms at SSB, specifically the dependent verification form (I had to go four times until they finally accepted my forms!). As annoying and unhelpful that place is (depends on the person who helps you I suppose), they are your gate-way to receiving governmental aid. Includes loans (subsidized and unsubsidized, in which the latter is the one that has a very high interest rate), federal work study (HEART<3), and a bunch of other goodies like the MAP grant. Sometimes FAFSA is unhelpful for those who have parents that make a lot of money and so those students usually do not bother applying.
  2. Apply for scholarships. As a UIC student, you have many opportunities to apply for need-based and merit-based scholarships. I have personally been a recipient of the Association Award through SAUIC. Being an Honors College student, you have the opportunity to apply for tuition waivers and other scholarships that non-honors students cannot. You should also signup for Fastweb or Cappex to receive e-mails of scholarships you can apply for based on the information you give about yourself (GPA, Major, Professional Goal, etc.).
  3. Live on campus. You’re probably surprised when I mention this point, but if you believe in the statement of “time is money,” then you’ll agree with me that living on campus is the best choice. It’s not the choice for everyone though. For example, if you do not have a job and do not have financial support from your parents when it comes to paying for tuition, living at home is better. On the other hand, if you do not have a job but actively apply for financial aid and scholarships…and want to get a job on campus, then living at UIC will probably be a good choice for you. UIC is largely a commuter school, so while many choose to commute because “living on campus is just so much more expensive”…I disagree. Check out what UIC Campus Housing offers in addition to a new home (free laundry, free printing, security, lots of study lounges, faculty-in-residence, peer mentors, resident assistants…).
  4. Go out to explore, not buy. Shopping is not necessary. I personally only go for the fitness (walk around everywhere)! Unless I absolutely need something (toiletries, shampoo, food), I don’t buy it. Clothes? Eh, I don’t have anyone to impress. Besides, I want to lose a little flab before I buy any new clothes. Your computer died? Well, that’s why you have free access to a library full of computers (or computer lab at your residence hall). Actually, that goes to my next point.
  5. Take advantage of your resources on campus. The UIC Library is free, the recreation center is free (and that includes free classes for those who do not want to pay), the counseling center is free, the writing center is free, and the list goes on. FREE FREE FREE! Heck, students can even get free contraceptions at the Wellness Center or RA.
  6. Borrow books, rent books, or just don’t get them at all. Owning a textbook is only beneficial if you are going to use it again. I’d recommend those who take Nutrition 196 and nothing beyond that to buy the book because it contains a lot of useful information that anyone can refer to when it comes to food. Besides that, I wouldn’t own a single book unless it was a special UIC version that I was forced to purchase (like Microbiology). I’ve never purchased an e-book before, so I can’t say what the pros and cons of that are. Most people with science majors take the same classes, and hence have to get the same book. Talk to upperclassmen about borrowing books. I’ve rented my biology textbooks from Chegg and bought cheap paperbacks from Amazon (sign up for Amazon Student to get free shipping). If you’re wondering if you should even bother purchasing a book for a class, wait a week to buy to see how the class is structured. If the professor uses lecture capture (every lecture gets recorded and can be viewed as video later on Blackboard) or has incredibly good powerpoints with all the information you’ll need for the exam, you might not need a book to be successful in the class. I’d check out to see what other students have recommended for textbook usage.
  7. Use your student status when buying anything! People know college students are the poor, and so that’s why a lot of places offer student discounts, whether it’s buying online, buying a movie ticket, going out for dinner at Joy Yees or Kohan…make sure when you buy something, you ask if they offer a student discount.
  8. Buy in bulk. I buy notebooks/notepads in stacks from Staples or Office Depot. I always buy my food at Sam’s Club since I don’t have a meal plan at MRH.
  9. Keep things in good shape. Don’t wear the same shoes all the time; change them with a different pair every so often to make them both last longer.
  10. Be healthy. You don’t have to spend money on medicine or medical services (although, if you’re like me and automatically enrolled in Campus Care at UIC during the school year, take advantage of all medical services because you pay VERY VERY VERY little or NOTHING!).
  11. Find a part-time job. I already have four jobs (actually, I just got a new job so make that five jobs). I make very little money (roughly $200 every two weeks), but at least I’m trying! Even though I could be using my work time for studying, I just feel that I’m more useful in the world and acquire hands-on the skills I’ll need in the future that I don’t get out of my classes. UIC Career Services or the Student Employment center may be of help, or just Google what you’re looking for in a part-time job. I mainly got my jobs by reading all of the emails I receive from UIC and going to club meetings or talking to professors.

There’s probably more, but this is a good start. If you have anything that helps you survive in this economy you’d like to share, please leave a comment! :D

Anyway, summer has been pretty awesome. I’ll be living at SSR and working five jobs. Even though all of them pay more or less minimum wage (or not at all so I guess one of the jobs is now considered volunteering), I enjoy what I do a lot. My skin has been really great (because no more school, haha) and I am hoping to try traditional medicine (acupuncture) either here or in Taiwan to see if that will get rid of my eczema. I am hoping to draw on my Wacom tablet and then post a drawing up! Unfortunately my netbook is crazy slow and I should upgrade sometime soon…but electronics are always quite expensive (and the programs I need!).

The Bliss of Yesteryear

Over the past 15 plus years I have watched society drastically change; yes I am aware that it has been happening for centuries. However, I choose to speak on that which I had the opportunity to observe. I remember listening to classical music with my parents while my dad held my mother passionately and danced with her until her smiles and laughter got the best of her. I recall times when a house was not a commodity that was easily taken away or traded like stock, but rather a statement of achievement and something to pass down to the grand kids. I remember Sunday dinners with the entire family at our local restaurant “the pelican”, a name iconic within itself. And just like the era of the pink pelican in America so has the evidence of social and family morals dissipated. Our social media has made destroying whatever moral standing left its main priority and so far the culprits seem to be winning.

As I got older I wondered to myself how my father and mother were able to make time for me and my siblings while still being able to work and provide for us. I was fortunate enough to have been graced by an amazing human being, my father, the one who showed me how to tie my shoe laces, the one who corrected me when I was wrong not because he was upset but because he cared . Every day I wonder what life would be like if I did not have the opportunity to share the moments we had together and learn the valuable lessons of that I needed in order to succeed.

I must admit that at times I took for granted the wonderful family I had, being extremely selfish and ignorant. I just pray that I am half as good of a father to my kids when that time comes, “by then I should have already have a college degree amongst other things”. Saturday mornings were by far the most enjoyable day of the week for me.

Keep in mind that Saturday was my play day and I did just that! LOL on an average Saturday I would require no less than two baths, an A.M bath and then a midday bath. This was primarily because I enjoyed playing outside and I’m not taking the average outside like your neighborhood park. The outside of which I speak involves 20 arches of open plush green nature as God intended. I would run through the grass and climb trees (at times I would fall from these trees) and when I got tired went inside for mom’s famous carrot juice. Despite the name its pretty good stuff. After which it was back outside for a small hike with my dad, times were simpler and life seems more forgiving. But as I digress from my reminiscing of days long ago, the point I’m trying to get at is that things have change.

I mean people seem to have lost the true meaning as to why they even exist, or the importance of family. Over time work has become the primary priority and family a high second priority. And quite frankly that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, in my eyes at least. Each morning when I wake up I remind myself of the reasons I am attending college, yes financial security is a key factor but it’s not the only.

Providing an environment where my family can feel at peace and be able to live life to the fullest by achieving self actualization is my main goal. It might sound grandiose but hey where would be all be today if a few individuals from society didn’t have a grandiose ideas. A college education is not only for you, it’s also for the person depending on you. Until next time think ethically.


What a way to relax after taking final examinations!

I wonder what it feels like knowing you are about to get whipped cream smashed in your face.

Pledging better be worth it!

These guys give humility a new definition to humiliation. I wonder whats going through his mind.

Not Just Any Week

Hello Everyone!

I hope your semester has been going GREAT. This last week of the semester has been a whirlwind. In between finishing projects and presenting. I have found a little bit of time to do some other activities around campus. Our intramurals teams played in the semifinals and one of them even made it to the playoffs. It was a great season for our soccer team and I and anxious to see the great things to come next year.

On Tuesday I attended a film screening at the Latino Cultural Center. The movie is called Precious Knowledge. It’s about the Arizona Educational System. In Arizona there is a law that outlaws ethnic studies in Arizona. They were specifically targeting the Tucson Unified School Districts Mexican-American Studies classes. This movie opened my eyes to some of the unconstitutional things that are happening even within the country. I am looking forward to learning more about this dilemma.

Open Discussion about Precious Knowledge and the Arizona ban on ethnic studies.

On Wednesday I attended a talk from the Latino Policy Forum. It extremely eye opening. It really reiterated the notion that we have to empower the community to do great things. One of the things that Sylvia Puente, the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum talked about was the large increase that the Latino population has seen. She also talked about early childhood programs and the lack of Latinos enrolled in these programs. After her vivid presentation there was an open discussion with the audience about the educational system. I enjoyed the presentation and I am really looking forward to applying the knowledge learned with my family, friends and co-workers.

During the Latino Policy Forum’s presentation.

Thanks for reading this week!


*Photos by the Latino Cultural Center, Thank You*

Top 3: Growing UIC Summer Fashion Trends


Random Pictures of the Week:

Teaching class for Chicago's Project SYNCERE =) (4/20/12)

JST Prom Staff Night 2012! (4/16/12)

Prom Date! (4/16/12)

(4/16/12) So our JST Staff just had Prom Night to celebrate the end of an extraordinary year. We had music, dancing, and ate dinner in the cafeteria. Now Campus Housing is preparing for closing, a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure floors finish the year strong.

(4/20/12) In other news, I applied for Chicago’s Project SYNCERE. I wanted to be an Engineering Instructor and help communities throughout Chicago expand their science skills while also practicing fun projects in different fields of Engineering.

Top 3: Growing UIC Summer Fashion Trends

3.) Graphic T-Shirts written in Asian & Checkered Button-ups
As it gets hotter, graphic t-shirts with popular American logos/movies/anything accompanied with Japanese, Korean, or Chinese letters. Checkered button ups are on the rise too! easy to mix and match with a simple design.

2.) Phasing out Jean Shorts, Rise of Khaki Shorts!!
Jean shorts are being phased out! So time to toss out your jean shorts and grab different style khaki shorts. Remember, always get two different colors when picking out your khaki shorts and shirt for the day to make you look taller.

1.) Boat Shoes, Boat Shoes, Boat Shoes
This summer is going to be unarguably hot. What better way then to wear stylish boating shoes. This style is on the rise on campus as students relax in their colored shoes. I don’t know why but I’m craving red boat shoes right now =)

So next week is finals week!! Good luck Chicago!!

Stay Classy,

TOPIC NEXT WEEK: Surviving. Finals. Week.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What’s your lucky piece of clothing?


Ya Mero!

Hello UIC

This past weekend was relaxing compared to others. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to volunteer with The CHANCE Program for our UIC Cares Event. We had the opportunity to meet students during the ice breaker event and then participated in a panel discussion with other UIC Students. We answered questions about College life, academics, and struggles.

On Sunday, I went to the park with my family. It was really cloudy all day  so we were glad that we had the opportunity to stay in one of picnic groves. We were very lucky to have the grove because about halfway through our day it started to pour. Everything looked beautiful, although it was raining really hard, the breeze ,  smell of rain, and nature was so calming.

After the rain, a large amount of deer came out of the forest. At one point there were about fifteen deer that came out. All of the children were really excited some of them even wanted to run towards them.

On Tuesday was the Engineering Expo, the Expo is like a science fair but scaled to a college level. Engineering students work on a project for sometimes up to two semesters. The project is either an improvement to a current tool or process, or a completely new and innovative tool or process.  a large amount of my friends participated in the Expo I was very happy to see that a large amount of them also received prizes for their ideas.

Later on in the week, SHPE-UIC hosted the Engineering Challenge. Our SHPE Jr. Students competed in a Case Study competition that dealt with issues that they see every day. It was really refreshing to see their thought process, their improvement in presentation skills and their innovation. The ideas they came up with were innovative and practical.

Thanks for reading this week!


Grocery Shopping

Today was the most exhausting day of my life; I had the hardest Finance test ever created by civilized humans. Ok maybe it wasn’t that bad but still it was very stressful. And to add to the existing stress I had to go get groceries. I thought the day was going to get even more morbid but things started to seems as though they were turning around. I got home and guess what!! My new movie from blockbuster arrived! Yes! It’s Colombiana, and yes I know it’s about a year old but still I haven’t seen it, don’t judge.

After getting over the excitement of having a new movie came back to the realization that I need to get groceries. I am the kind of guy that goes into a store and get everything in 15 minutes flat. Why is it that guys use less time in stores when shopping, I think Darwin forgot to proposed that males were predisposed to a single strand of gene that allowed us to zero in on our intended needs, LOL. So to avoid being in “Casa Del Pueblo” for an hour I wrote a list. Mans second best friend.

And then there was more

That bimbo stand looked pretty good to be honest. I miss being a kid sometimes, I remember when I use to eat all I wanted in the store and paid for the empty rappers at checkout, LOL, now people look at me as if I’m crazy.

The deli was by far the most complicated part of my shopping experience, telling the butchers how you wanted your steak fillet or your ground beef is so time consuming, partially because I have to wait to tell them what I want.

So after taking 20 minutes to shop for groceries, thanks to the meat man I was 5 minutes over my long standing grocery shopping record.

Ok I’m finally home, these bags were heavy!

Unpacking is the part of shopping that I despise; I always end up putting bags everywhere and breaking at least one of the eggs.

Even though all that happened I still ended the day on a high note thanks to Colombiana and some mandarin oranges. Until next time think ethically.

A Taste of Grad School

Home cooked dinner.

There ain’t nothing better. (especially if your roommate cooks it for you and it’s ready when you get home :)

Yes, I’m well out of college and supposed to be cooking for myself a lot, but somehow graduate school has brought me back to the dark ages in terms of simple functions like cooking. (If you consider the dark ages complete with tv dinners and a microwave.)

To me right now, healthy, balanced, home cooked meals are like ice cream. They are not a necessity, but they are a delight, and make me feel happier inside after eating them. I think it’s important to cook for yourself at least occasionally while in school to stay balanced. This means making it a priority every once in a while. (over physics homework? yes, sometimes even that.)

Here are some ideas for cooking while in grad school:

-Go to Stanley’s. (or find another local, cheap fruit and veggie market) The veggies are so cheap that you’ll get mad at every other grocery store for overpricing you your whole life.

-beans, grains and more beans. They are not too difficult to make. Sometimes you have to soak the beans which is a pain, but you can make a lot of them at once and use them as the base for a whole week’s worth of meals! Just don’t eat too many at once.

-if you have to make nachos (and everyone HAS to make nachos sometimes), add some tomatoes, peppers, corn or other veggies on there. It makes them more delicious!

-eating fruit can be a chore. Make it a habit to eat fruit for breakfast and dessert. Always carry around a banana or apple (i like to bring almonds or other nuts and raisins along with it to make my apple more exciting). That way, you can avoid the vending machine when your tummy rumbles.

-always bring your lunch. ALWAYS bring your lunch. Not only is it cheaper, it’s usually healthier. Give sandwiches a chance. They can be formatted for your specific likes and dislikes. Sandwiches are like works of art- making them is a very personal experience and a creative experience. Use whatever is in the fridge. One thing that I’ve learned time and again in my life is that when you put avacado on a sandwich, it makes the sandwich more delicious by at least 100%.

-last but not least, find the free food on campus. There is always something there. Whether it’s a booth giving away free candy, a gallery opening serving wine and cheese, or a lecture in the library that you have to sneak into and pretend you are a big fan of the speaker (shhh, i didn’t say that), campus food is usually around. And there’s usually extra, so you don’t have to feel too guilty. In fact, you’re helping them out!

Alright, those are my tips after years of experience of being in school. I hope they help!

My Fun Lazy Spring Break

This week was by far the most difficult week of my semester, not because of hard classes but because of adjustment issues. Coming off of a week’s vacation is one of the most challenging tasks. I mean come on, you went a whole week just waking up whenever you please, (that’s if you didn’t have a job to tend to) and eating as irregularly as one possibly could. Not to mention catching up on all of your favorite TV episodes you’ve been TIVO-ing since the start of the spring semester. And if your spring break was anything like mine you probably didn’t get to your home work until the Sunday before classes started back up. Before you judge me just know I do not support procrastination.

What was weird was that I didn’t know what to do with my time once spring break had begun; I walked around in a daze for about 3 hours thinking to myself “wow I didn’t realize how much time was in a day”. To break my daze I did something productive, I went out and bought an Xbox and got the new Battlefield 3. Man! That game is amazing! I take my hat off to the creators of the game. So needless to say I played my entire day away. What topped that whole experience off was some good food; I bought some chicken wings, bread sticks, pizza and a 2 liter. This was amazing! And surprisingly I didn’t clog my artery with my entire grease intake.

After my daze wore off I realized that there wasn’t enough time in a day to play battle field! I then proceeded to enjoy my spring break by watching some Family Guy and South Park; yes I know it can be offensive at times. What can I say it amuses me! The best part of my week long vacation was that I had a chance to think and streamline the way did my school work. Over all my spring break was amazing and filled with soul searching. Until next time Think Logically (which clearly I did very little of over the break)

TAX Season

Hello UIC!

School has had me pretty tied up. I had the opportunity to work on a portion of my midterms during Spring Break. The portions that I did not get to finish I worked on during the week. It has been a hectic week, along with finishing my projects; I also had to prepare my speech. I am glad for all of my classes but I am mostly grateful for my renewable energy classes. They have taught me so much. I even decided to incorporate them in other classes, projects, and everyday scenarios. For instance, after my newfound knowledge of Mountain Top Removal, I had a discussion with my professors about the matter. It really coincided with our lecture on fossil fuels.

After returning from Kentucky, I realized that it is only a couple of weeks from Tax Day. Tax season is almost over you might be asking yourself, have you done your taxes? The answer is no.  Usually my W-2s and 1098-Ts come in the mail. This year, I have no idea what happened to them. I do not remember opting out of the hard copy form.  Along with not receiving them in the mail, another reason is that doing your taxes takes up a lot of time. I would fill them out myself if my accounting vocabulary were better. The year I tried to fill it out, the language confused me the frightening thought of messing up and getting audited stopped me from completing it. I usually go to one of the non-profit organizations that help to fill them out.

One of the organizations,  TAP, usually works down the street from my house. Although they are so come to me, filling out your taxes in one of these facilities is a daylong event. Usually they offer service on Saturday mornings. You usually have to get there about 7:00 AM and by the time, all of your paper work is done, you get home around 12:00 PM.  I know free things come at a cost and I should just go. The problem is that I usually either work, have family or student organization events on Saturdays.  In short, I am looking for another alternative to fill out my taxes.

I cannot wait for the upcoming week. SHPE-UIC is hosting nominations and the Easter Outreach and the CHANCE Program is hosting a workshop on Engineering Internships. I am sure all of the events will turn out great.

‘Till Next Week,


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