It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Christmas songs keep on playing in my head! It’s not a bad thing, though. Fall/Winter are my favorite seasons, mainly because of all of the holidays that are jam-packed into them. In the spring, there’s spring break, but that is more like catch-up to school time. This past Thanksgiving break was super short, as always. I still don’t get why the other U of I schools get a week off and we only get two days, but whatever. I’m sure it evens out some way or another…

Christmas at Rush Hospital

I'm working on Christmas Day at the hospital and while I may be missing a part of the festivities, it'll be good to work on this day. Rush sure has some nice decorations!

Prospects of this semester? I’d say I am for sure getting a B in Foods class, assuming there’s no curve. He has a set point scale that he sticks to, but I don’t know who is getting an A in that course because his exams are surprisingly specific and detailed (and even reading the book doesn’t help). Eh, it’ll be fine.

My other classes…I am hoping to miraculously do well in Nutrition During the Life cycle (got B’s on first two exams I think) final, then maybe I’ll get an A. I don’t really know how I’m doing since the grades aren’t totally up or scaled correctly. I am greatly crossing my fingers for anatomy and physiology to be good to me (that’s 5 credit hours!) as well as molecular biology laboratory. I really like both of those classes. My nutrition classes are usually enjoyable, but I think being around all of the dietetics people this semester has made me shy away from doing well as I should be (sucks to be the loner!).

Well, just one more week and we’re all done with another semester at UIC. This semester, while insanely fast-paced, was quite accomplishing. I got to do a lot of work that helped others and enforced my will to pursue a career in medicine. It is exhausting to keep learning, but if we don’t then we’ll never get better or move on to where we could be in life. I don’t think we can be perfect (because what’s the point in life if we were all perfect?), but we can be pretty darn close to it (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, anyone?).

Quick tips on studying/cramming:

  1. Re-write or re-type all of your notes. Once you’ve created your “study guides” in a nice manner, study like your life depends on it. Read it front to back so you know everything on it.
  2. Record yourself reading your notes or listen to lecture capture (assuming you have it for your class). Sometimes lecture captures take too long to listen, so my advice is to study your own notes and clarify some things you wrote down by watching the lecture capture. If that doesn’t help, there’s still time to see your professors/TAs or visit help centers like the writing center, science learning center or math tutoring (Honors College tutoring as well).
  3. Do practice exams problems every chance you get (if given). Just like studying for a standardized exam, the only way you’ll get better or understand what is being tested is to take the exam itself and find your weaknesses. Don’t just take the exam or do practice problems though. You have to analyze the crap of your mistakes and hammer down those concepts! This is the best way to study by far.

Happy studying. We’ll reach Nirvana soon!

Winding down, one semester go

As I’m writing this, I’m detoxing from the whirlwind that was last week. I had the rough draft of my senior communication research paper due on Tuesday, so I was writing my butt off until the last minute making sure it was just right. Needless to say, I really needed this Thanksgiving mini-break.
A couple of days ago it just hit me that we only have TWO weeks of classes left. I don’t think I say this every year, but this semester went by really fast. I suppose that’s a good thing, right? Although I have had a lot of work this semester, none of it has been too unbearable. I think it paid off taking more credits early in my college career so that I had only a few left for my senior year. Since I only had three major classes to focus on, I was really able to apply myself and give my best to all of them. I hope this reflects when I receive my grades in the middle of December!As I wind down this semester, I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I only have one more semester of my undergraduate career left. It’s actually a bit shocking to me that I have so little time. I think I have made the most of my undergrad years, but it’s odd that in just 6 months I will be graduating and (hopefully soon after) getting a full-time job.
In order to assure that I finish off strong in May, I am going to make the most of out of the relaxation that is called winter break. I’m already salivating at the thought of no time pressures of assignments and projects, and being able to sleep in, have some quality ME time, and time with family and friends.
But I can’t get too comfortable yet, I have two more weeks to tie up loose ends this semester. I hope all of you do great as well!

My holiday break bucket list

School is almost over, which means I will have a ton of free time soon.  The only way that I can take full advantage of my time off is to create my Holiday Break Bucket List.

Last summer, I wanted to start learning Spanish, apply for a couple scholarships, and lose 10 lbs.  Well, I ended up losing some weight but did pretty much nothing else.  So now, I have about 6 weeks off and I am going to get things done!

1) Go to the Dentist!! I haven’t gone for a long time mainly because of lack of time and money.  And I KNOW I have cavities. I just need to do it!!

2) Read I Am Malala.  She is so inspiring.  I have had this book on request from my local library for months.  Must be very popular.  So, I am going to just go buy it and read it.

3) Read The Reason I Jump.  It’s a memoir written by a thirteen-year-old Japanese boy with Autism.  I’ve studied a lot about children with disabilities, but I’d like to learn as much as I possibly can about very specific disabilities like Autism.

4) Be as organized as possible with Christmas shopping.  I already have a master list with pictures of what I am looking for, and where I can get them.  I am making many of my gifts this year so I need to keep a “To do” list so I get it all done in time.  I also need to budget everything and keep track of how much I spend.

5) Watch movies and be a couch potato once in a while. I can’t remember the last time I just laid around and watched movies all day.  So, I’m gonna do it….at some point.

6) Make a list of schools I am thinking of to do my student teaching.  It is a huge decision and will most likely propel me into my first teaching job.

7) Meet up with old friends.  There are people I haven’t seen in years and I want to organize a get together so everyone can catch up.

8) Get back in shape.  I wasn’t able to work out this semester due to not having any free time, ever.  Now I’m getting back into it and then when spring comes, I don’t have to worry about losing all those Christmas cookies that went straight to my hips.

9) Plan something awesome for New Year’s Eve.  My boyfriend and I are clueless when it comes to making plans for NYE.  This year, I want to go somewhere and have it planned ahead of time. Any ideas?

10) Get another tattoo.  I have been wanting a 2nd one and finally know what I want.  My cousin and I have been thinking about getting matching tattoos for a few years now and have a date set! Pictures to come!

11) Spend more time with my family.  It sucks that we all have such different schedules and it makes it hard to spend time together.  I hope to change that these next few weeks.

What kinds of things are on your Holiday Break Bucket List?


Enter the 20s…

♪♫♪ Do you know where the wild things go? / They go along to take your honey, la la la…

Apparently a lot of big things happened on 11/12/13. The number order must have seemed auspicious to a lot of people, because I saw the news report on dozens of couples that decided to get married on that day (many of them on a whim!). Also there was a report on a baby that was born at 14:15, and another baby that was born whose parents married on 9/10/11…

Haha well personally I celebrated 11/12/13 because it was my 20th birthday! It feels weird because many of my friends are a year younger or more than me, and I kept hearing, “You’re not a teenager anymore!” or “Wow, you’re sooo old!” I certainly don’t feel much older…it actually only really hit me yesterday during my Russian class when we were practicing speaking, and I had to say “Мне 20 лет” for the first time. I was browsing Buzzfeed (because who can resist clicking more links on the sidebar?) and I read an article that actually described age 20 as the “purgatory year” because you’re not a teenager but not quite yet an adult yet either…

Well, regardless of what should/could/will come in the next 10 years, I was just happy to relax a bit and celebrate my birthday with my loved ones. I still had classes and lots of work to get done, but my friends surprised me with some awesome presents that I am so thankful for. I got a beautiful soft scarf that’s perfect for this frigid weather, a fruit arrangement, and lots of cupcakes. In the evening, my wonderful parents also visited and surprised me with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins! I definitely ate waaay too many sweets that whole week…on the weekend my friends and I went out to Flattop Grill too!

During that same week, I was also pretty proud of my Tea Tasting program! All of the RAs and PMs of Campus Housing host programs that can be academic or just for fun. I love tea and frequently binge-drink it when I’m up late doing homework, so I decided to do a tea tasting — the only problem was that I didn’t really have it in my personal budget to buy a great variety of loose leaf teas. So, I had to rely solely on my program budget that’s designated for Jewel. I managed to get a a pretty good variety though, because I already had my personal stash of tea to pick from. In the end, I had green, peppermint, ginger, white, black, and chai spice. Overall, I was very pleased with my program as it had the best turnout I’ve had so far! The people who came said they enjoyed the tea, with the most popular being the pomegranate white. An old friend of mine also surprised me and brought his own loose leaf tea. I tried some loose leaf Golden Monkey tea for the first time, and it was wonderful.

In other news, I’m so excited to say that the third issue of The Ampersand will be out soon! For those of you who don’t know, The Ampersand is the newsletter for the UIC Honors College. We cover all kinds of Honors College related news, events, programs, and student life. If you like reading I Am UIC blog posts, you’ll probably enjoy The Ampersand as well! You can pick up your copy in the Honors College at Burnham Hall right before finals week. We are also on Facebook – like our page to get the most updates!

By chance I stumbled into writing for The Ampersand last year as a freshman because I just wanted to get involved in publications to write more, and it has definitely been one of my best decisions at UIC. I’m currently an editor and writer and I love it! It’s been a good way for me to stay writing in my free time, and also stay involved in the Honors College.

Tired? Stressed? Drained? (I know those feelings…) I recommend brewing a hot cup of tea — lately I have found it is one thing sure to make me feel a little bit better, no matter what.

Please don’t go, please don’t go / I love you so, I love you so / Please break my heart ♪♫♪

(Breezeblocks – ∆)

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!



Without home, six weeks

I remember conducting group work at the Writing Center and one student told me he wished the university worked harder to make him feel less home sick, especially for the first year of college. I thought back to my first year and didn’t even bother with thinking about home when I was busy exploring the city and diligently studying for my classes (that was quite an enjoyable year). It was sophomore year and beyond that I really wanted to be home as much as possible. I remember I used to go home almost every weekend; my roommate would go too! Yet, for more than one month now, I have not been home (neither has she). I am terribly homesick, and I know the full extent of what the student was talking about.

Sometimes we’re just so focused with school that we forget about family, or not that we forget them but we trust that they’re okay and do our best with the situation at hand. It’s when you start to get those texts from your mom, then your dad, then your brother that you start to feel inclined to go home because they miss you and you miss them. Even though I suspected this semester to be like this, I didn’t anticipate how little time I had for myself and school work. My job at Rush has been wonderful, but it eats up a lot of time that could have been used to get me those A’s that I wanted on those midterm exams. Now, I’m scrambling and buckling down to study (of course, how can that happen when the holidays are nearing and all I want to do is relax?).

Well, I shouldn’t complain. There are people working on Thanksgiving and Christmas, weekends and weeknights that want to be home too. I don’t even know how much they depend on this lifestyle to sustain their living expenses, but it’s what needs to be done to stay alive. There are people around the world who probably would trade places in a heartbeat with anyone in this university. So, be thankful for what you have and know that you are in a better place, no matter how tough you perceive your struggles to be.

Also, if you haven’t started your Super Saiyan studying mode yet, PLEASE DO! Next week is basically pre-finals week for me (paper due, presentation to prepare for, two exams and another paper). My actual finals week isn’t too bad, just two exams (but I’m sure anatomy and physiology and nutrition during the life cycle will be tough so I’ll need to go hard core!).

Man, one more semester to go and then I’m going to graduate! It’s going to be great. :D

The Power of Education

It’s pretty common to dislike your homework, but you should like your major work, right? Well, if there’s one thing that I’ve disliked across my academic career, like many others, is research. Why did I go to a research-based school? Because I knew understanding the theory behind communication would be vital to actually doing communication work in my career.
I have already completed my own communication research last Fall. This year, I had to take my last research class in order to complete my communication program. The seminar’s theme is monsters in the media. To sum it up in the simplest way possible, the course explores how monsters in film and other media are used as symbolism to talk about deeper, social and political issues in the real world. Before taking the course, the topic seemed to be a bit silly. But now that I am pretty much done with the semester, I now understand the importance of using allegory to communicate larger issue alerts to the public. In fact, I now look at horror movies and television shows in an entirely different manner — just last week, instead of watching “The Seed of Chucky” as a simple-horror film, I was ale to understand the deeper social implications the film had. The course has made me look at media as an even more powerful tool then what I thought before.
As a result of this appreciation, I’ve actually found myself enjoying critical research. Instead of dreading my research paper this year, I’ve actually found myself excited to write it as well as doing research for it. I’m writing my paper on how pop music uses its platform and monster imagery to create awareness for social change. It’s a pretty interesting paper, as I talk about how something as simple as Lady GaGa singing “Born This Way” means much more for LGBT rights and gender neutral equality. The entire process of researching and writing is fun — did I just say that? That’s the power of education!
As a result of me beginning to like my school work, I realized that I’ve actually learned a lot about the greater world from my education at UIC. I can honestly say when I graduate in May I will be a very educated adult ready for to apply my theoretical understanding to a great job. I have been thankful for this education.
Until next time…


The Ugly Sweater Run

Everyone has an ugly Christmas sweater, right?  Wrong.  A few months back, my cousin and I decided to do the Ugly Sweater 5k.  We had an elaborate plan to make ugly sweatshirts and tutus.  We went to Michaels crafts one day and bought things that would be easy to put on a sweatshirt (felt stickers, little pom poms, etc.) and got to work!

After we glued random pieces of Christmas-themed felt, pom poms, little presents, a big Santa clause that was WAY too much work to put together, little bows, Christmas lights, and some wise men, we used glitter glue to put out names on the back of the sweatshirts.

It took a really long time for the glue to dry, so we moved on to the tutus.  My cousin bought red, green and white tulle fabric.

We used all of this tulle and tied it around a ribbon to make the tutu.  We both had Christmas socks and black leggings to throw into the outfit.  The only thing we had left to do was run the race (and by run, I mean mostly walk).

This is before the race in the garage at Soldier Field, where you can really see our sweatshirts glow!

We had PLANNED to start running a few weeks ahead of time so we could actually run the race without dying.  (Yes, I am that out of shape).  But that didn’t end up happening, so we decided that we could walk most of it.  We ASSUMED most people would be walking because it wasn’t a really serious race and more about having fun.  Anyways, as we were getting in line at the starting point, we realized we were a part of the first wave.  In my mind, the sooner we started, the sooner we could finish and can go get food and drinks!  They told us that runners would be on the left and walkers would be on the right.  Well, apparently everyone was running so….we did too.  Until, about a 1/2 mile in, I thought I pulled something from not stretching enough and she was having chest pains from breathing in the cold air.  I tell ya, we may have had the best costumes, but we were not prepared for exercise AT ALL.

In the end, we did it!

I think I am going to do the Ugly Sweater 5K every year!! It was a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Perfect day for a perfect 10

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father / Run for your children, your sisters and your brothers… ♪♫♪

On Saturday, November 9th, I ran the Chicago’s Perfect 10 race at Navy Pier! I ran the 10K (6.2 miles) race, which took place at 7:30 AM. The 10-mile race, which was an extension of the 10K course, started shortly after at 7:45 AM. This was only the third annual Chicago Perfect 10 at Navy Pier, and it was run by the Gateway for Cancer Research, which is a nonprofit organization that funds cancer research, including new drug investigations, combination therapies, and alternative medicine studies. I was happy that my entry fee was going toward a good cause, and before the race started, one of the race organizers, who is a cancer survivor herself, thanked all of the racers for participating that day.

I had signed up for the race kind of a on a whim, so I was pretty proud of my results! I finished in 52:47 (with 8:31 pace), which was faster than I expected. That typically happens though — I’ve noticed that adrenaline really gets to me on race days and I usually with better times than I anticipate. I came in 4th place in my division (girls 15-19) and 149th overall out of about 1,500 people.

I’ve been completely occupied with my courses and work the past couple weeks, so unfortunately I hadn’t really designated a lot of time to train. These days I just try to make enough time to fit a good workout in every day! After being a Peer Mentor for a few months, one thing I have definitely instilled in myself is how to be relentless with my time management. (Though sometimes even after all of my planning, it seems like there still aren’t enough hours in the day.)

Navy Pier was lovely at 6 AM! I arrived just as the sun was rising, so I was able to watch it from the pier. Then I played the usual waiting game / pre-race pump up by ambling from different sponsor tents to another. After a few races, I’ve learned that it’s pretty routine. There’s always the typical GNC/Road Runner Sports/Skechers booths, dozens of runners stretching in one corner, and somebody blasting “Livin’ On A Prayer” or “Firework” in the background. I was happy that it all took place indoors though, because it was still frigid outdoors! I was glad I chose to wear my longsleeve shirt to run that day, even though I typically only wear short sleeves because I sweat easily.

The race course was beautiful as well — after running through the Pier, we looped by Lake Michigan and eventually entered Grant Park. It was wonderful being able to sightsee while I ran, and the course itself was not too difficult — only at one point did I have some trouble running on some grassy patches (I’m always nervous that I’ll roll my ankle). Also the wind was treacherous at some points, which was to be expected so close to the lake. I’m not used to running in really cold temperatures, but I luckily warmed up pretty quickly. I was most tired between miles four and five, but I distracted myself with my upbeat running music. I also have this ridiculously competitive obsession with trying to pass people during races for some reason; even though I know I’m exhausted, I don’t like being passed by runners behind me! I suppose it’s a good motivating factor, though, because I always redouble my efforts no matter how strenuous so that I can keep up with those around me.

I look a little wild-eyed in this picture because I was trying to keep my eyes open in the crazy sun!

Overall it was a pretty fun race, and I would definitely do it again. Running is something I hope to continue for a long time to come. I’m not signed up for my next race just yet, but it may be a St. Patrick’s Day 5K or the Shamrock Shuffle!

The dog days are over, the dog days are done / Can you hear the horses? ‘Cause here they come ♪♫♪

(Dog Days Are Over,  Florence + The Machine)


A balancing act

It has become beyond evident to me that I am drowning in to-do lists. Between assignments and responsibilities, I have been struggling to find the time to sleep or do any other vital functions of life, for that matter. Thankfully, days off school are rapidly approaching. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a little break from the insanity.

Last year, I found myself credit hours away from completing my English major but with about a million and a half elective hours left to take. My advisor suggested picking up a minor or a double major, ideas my parents had been bringing up since I started school (needless to say, I didn’t listen to them). I looked through the list of majors and minors offered and decided on a double minor — Communication & Managerial Skills. The required classes looked manageable (no pun intended), and I felt like the minors were very much in line with my career goal of becoming a public relations professional. And just like that, I signed up for both Communication & Management courses for the fall 2013 semester.

I knew these classes would be a lot different from English courses, which are nearly all I’ve pretty much managed to take the entirety of my college career (English gen eds, English major classes, etc.) With these new classes came entirely new coursework taught by drastically different professors and lecturers. Perhaps one of the biggest things I have had to adjust to is the professors’ teaching styles, which are all incredibly different from those of the English department. Instead of writing papers, something that I feel comes naturally, I have found myself answering questions posed by professors or written at the end of a chapter. Fiction novels have been replaced by textbooks with glossaries and indexes. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy every minute of it, but this semester has been a challenge that has taken me some time to rise up to.

Studying was a fairly new concept to me (at least in my college career). I’ve had to find time to fit this in to my daily routine, or at least weekly…

I’ve felt so out of touch with the literary world, and I’m dying to sit for hours and read books. Not the kind with definitions and exercises on the sides of the page. But I find myself saying that things like this have to be put on hold.

It seems like we are always trying to look ahead to the next time we will have free time, the week we don’t have any exams, or, just like I mentioned earlier, an upcoming break. But I don’t think it’s ever really going to get any easier. There will always be something that needs to be done. There will always be the tinge of guilt when I want to lay down and watch a movie instead of getting started on a project or doing my laundry. I think we just need to learn to live with this stress instead of always trying to diminish it. This crazy, incredible, exhausting first semester of junior year has taught me just that. That isn’t to say that important tasks should be ignored or put off-simply prioritized. As a wise old Dove chocolate wrapper once told me, “Take a moment for yourself today.”

I can either always try to get everything done and never have time for myself, or I can pick and choose my battles and enjoy my dwindling time here. I think it’s safe to say we both know my choice.

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