Category: Academics

Academics: majors and classes at UIC.

Let the music heal your soul

In the last year, life has gotten pretty serious.  I had many deaths in my family that brought me down so extremely low.  I’ve worked and worked and worked to prepare for my future.  As a person, a human being, I have been up and down, and up and down.  And I have become passionate about many things that can be considered controversial.  I have written a few blogs about controversial issues such as female reproductive rights, gun laws and safety, and politics.  After Robin Williams’ passing and finding out a past teacher of mine passed from suicide, I started thinking about writing about depression.  BUT I changed my mind! I want to write about something happy.  I want to write about things that make me happy, that keep me going, and get me through some of those hard days we all have.

One of my favorite songs is “Happy” by Pharell Williams.  Yes, it’s overplayed.  But honestly, it does make me happy.  I introduced my mom to the song and she immediately loved it as well.  We were talking over dinner one night about antidepressants and suicide and how some people just get rundown in this world.  One thing she does everyday is listen to the song “Happy.”  She said “some people take antidepressants, I listen to “Happy” everyday on my way to work.”  And I could think of a TON of songs that really do make me happy.  Music is a huge part of my life.  I grew up with music as a central part of the household due to my dad being a musician.

I could think of a million reasons to complain about in my life or things to get stressed out about.  But like my mom said, I am choosing to keep my head up and to keep going because I have a lot to be thankful for.  So, here’s my Happy playlist for the days that I need a push.

(in no particular order)

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

“Love Never Felt So Good” by Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake

“Dirt” by Florida Georgia Line

“Love on Top” by Beyonce

“The Man” by Aloe Blacc

“Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore

“Tonight You Belong to Me” by Patience and Prudence

“Dancing in the Dark” AND “Born to Run” by Bruce Springstein

“Three Little Birds” AND “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bob Marley

“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

“All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the waves

“Chelsea Dagger” By The Fratellis

“Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show

“September” by Earth, Wind and Fire

“Move your Feet” by Junior Senior

“Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’” by Micheal Jackson

….and the list goes on.

Living in a sprawl…

♪♫♪ Sometimes I wonder if the world is so small that we can never get away from the sprawl…

Well, it’s week 2 and counting…so I figure it’s time for a mental health check.

Super challenging course load? Check. Required weekly First-Year-Experience programming for freshmen? Check. Rushing to get everything assembled for the Ampersand? Check. Schedule filling up with meetings for every day of the week? Check. Check. Check.

But…Stressed beyond my imagination? Actually…not so. I’m actually impressing myself by being decently calm and collected despite the ever-growing items on my to-do list. My semester will be rough, no doubt, but so far I think I have a handle on things as long as I stay on top of everything and figure what needs to be done when. Alright, I am probably attributing this to it being syllabus week, but I didn’t actually feel like I had a “intro” week to enjoy and get eased in. All of my classes feel like they started off running right away – no time for getting settled or any forewarning. I don’t think a single one of my professors spent more than 10 minutes running through the syllabus before immediately diving into the content, which makes sense since I’m taking all more difficult classes. Usually at last half or the entire first class is dedicated to discussing the syllabus and the course, so I needed to be on my game right away this time.

But all has gone well so far! I’ve been trying to be on top of it by reviewing everything we cover in class on the same evening and then getting ahead for next class too. If I can keep this up, I’m sure things will be okay…but it’s keeping it up that will be the challenge. Like I feared during the summer, I do feel rather burnt out after taking summer classes + doing research and then going straight into 2 weeks of housing training and now straight into fall semester again. Recently it feels like I’ve just had very little personal time to myself since I’m constantly surrounded by other people and have to consciously interact. I’m the kind of person who finds energy and recharges through being alone rather than with other people, so  even though I love meeting all the countless new people I have lately, I’ve been pretty exhausted for the past couple of weeks.

But aside from interacting with the residents on my floor, my staff, and reconnecting with my best friends on campus, I’ve actually been pretty good and trying to meet new people in classes too. One of my favorites is my Russian 201 class. The first day intimidated me greatly – mostly because I am one of the three non-native speakers in the class. Ever since Russian 102, the number of non-native speakers in my Russian classes has been dropping with each successive class as students satisfy their language requirement or find some alternative, presumably easier language to learn. I’ve always loved Russian and can’t wait to keep taking classes on my way to my language minor, but now that the class is 90% native speakers who have grown up speaking, understanding, and hearing the language at home since childhood, I’m anxious that I won’t be able to keep up. Fortunately, though, everyone in the class is so friendly, and the professor seems pretty funny and enthusiastic too. Even though a lot of people dislike language courses, I’ve always loved them, especially in college, because it feels like one of the few classes I get where the class size is small (for Russian usually only 10-15 students) and everyone is encouraged to talk and get to know each other extensively. There are some students in my class who I have known since Russian 103 and 104, so it was awesome to see some welcoming, familiar faces when I walked in on the first day.

Well, I know the bulk of this post has been rather dry so far…but that’s probably because there’s not much else I’ve been up to besides work and school. I’ll try to be more creative in the future, I promise…but in the meantime, the best I can share is that I went to an Arcade Fire concert last week! It has definitely been one of the highlights since my summer final exams ended. Brandon got us tickets and since it was at the United Center, which is so close to where I live on east campus, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go. As someone who only knew a handful of Arcade Fire songs (and admittedly only two off their newest album), I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but the concert was simply incredible. The concert was part of Arcade Fire’s Reflektor Tour, and they opened with the title song, which was one of the few I knew and really loved. The lights lit up all throughout the stage, switching around the room rapidly, and it was really exciting to just feel the craze and eagerness of the crowd. Many people even dressed up in costumes or formal attire (the ticket actually said to do so!) and it was funny seeing people walk in by dressed as cartoon characters. When we arrived, Brandon and I actually had our 300 level seats upgraded to 100 level seats free of charge! I’m not entirely sure why they closed off that level, but we definitely had an awesome view of the entire concert. I had a fantastic time just enjoying the ridiculous amount of streamers, balloons, and glowing lights that surrounded the inside of the United Center – and of course the music was entrancing as well. Because there seemed to constantly be something to new pay attention to, I was on my feet nearly the whole time. My favorite performance was the one of It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus), which had lyrics that alluded to the Greek myth. The lead singers Win and Régine were fantastic, with Régine appearing on the B stage across the main stage as they sang back and forth.

I'm pretty proud of this photo I managed to take! Régine is stunning.

Well…time to get some more work done if I want to stay/get caught up with eveything, even though the things to do just keep rolling in at a faster pace than I’m going at…but in between I’ll just make some time to add all the Arcade Fire albums I can find to my playlists.

…I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights ♪♫♪

(Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) – Arcade Fire)

You’ll thank yourself later…

Now that the first week of school is behind us, it’s really time to get down to business. First off, awesome job on getting through a stressful week of finding classes, ordering and purchasing books, figuring out when and if you have time to eat or nap, and trying to navigate through a sea of students! Since everything is settling down and we will all fall into routines pretty soon, it’s time to start habits…but only the good kind. Make it your mission to avoid forming as many bad habits as possible. Obviously the occasional procrastination or all-nighter will pop up, but do whatever you can to keep those sorts of things occasional. Focus as hard as you can on making the following things happen (as well as any additional things you can think of), and soon enough they will become another part of your routine, even more so something that made your semester significantly better- or even changed your life.

Ever since we were little, people have been telling us to make friends at school. There are quite a few ways to do this, obviously. But there are a couple things about this that I think are exceptionally important. If you live in Campus Housing or in an apartment with people you don’t know very well or even at all, get to know them. You’re living with these people after all, and whether or not you have a relationship with these people will dictate how your entire living experience will go. Plus, if everything works out, there is a chance you will become lifelong friends. If you don’t speak with your roommates, there are simple ways to go about changing that. My freshman year, one of my roommates had the same morning math class as I did. My senior memory isn’t serving me as best as it should be, but on either the second or third day of class, I asked her if she wanted to walk to class together. Even though the first few times were forced interactions, it eventually became natural, and we are now best friends. It definitely won’t always go that way, but remaining at least cordial and having conversations is important to being happy in your living space.

Another important thing to do in the first few weeks is to “make friends” in class. I don’t necessarily mean it in that exact way. It is a good idea to make friends wherever possible, but I’m referring to finding a buddy or two for class purposes. You may want to study together, to text one another and ask about homework, or to let one another know what was missed during an absence. This is something I tended not to do (unless I already knew someone in class) and it made it really difficult to study on my own or move on without the notes from a day I missed.

Along the exact same line, take good notes. Don’t take notes that will only make sense when you are writing them down; take notes that will make sense in December during finals week when you suddenly forget everything you’ve learned all semester. Write out full sentences if need be. Highlight when necessary. Take notes that would make sense to someone else – whether or not you plan to ever share your notes with someone else. There’s really no point in ever writing anything down in class if you aren’t going to do it well…the professor most likely doesn’t care if you take notes. It’s for you. So do it well!

One thing your professors most likely do care about (and that will affect you, too) is whether or not you are awake and alert in class. We all get tired, more like exhausted, pretty much every week. College is hard, and there are a lot of obligations and hours of sleep lost. But the point is – it all comes full circle. Don’t be falling asleep in a class that you stayed up for many nights in a row studying. All that exhaustion is for a reason, and it’s silly to wind up trying to catch up on sleep or even just be accidentally falling asleep when you were staying up for your education. Do whatever it takes to stay awake. You can sleep later on.

A good method to try and prevent extreme exhaustion is to maintain a sleep schedule. Obviously this isn’t that easy to do, and I don’t mean a ridiculously strict sleep schedule. But going to bed around the same time (within a decently sized window) and getting up at the same time each day will help your body adjust to the change. Even if you are off Tuesdays/Thursdays or have a day where you start later, wake up at the earliest time you need to get up at during the week. That way you’ll be ready to do it again the next day, and you’ll have more time in the day with which to accomplish things. It is college after all…always make time for a nap! One of the perks of being a college kid…

The best way to be able to stay on a sleep schedule is to accomplish things when you can and avoid procrastination like the plague. Writing down any and all due dates on the PLANNER that I so frequently recommend will help keep you on track and aware of what is to come. It allows you to figure out things in advance and (hopefully) prevent you from scrambling at the last minute to complete assignments and study for exams. This may even motivate you to do homework/projects/studying ahead of time and cause less stress as it comes, since things can pile up fast with multiple classes. The best part of it is that when you get things done ahead of time, you have more room for fun and sleep (what are those?)

As you are writing assignments down, make sure you aren’t doing so for no reason. Yes, there are the assignments that professors will know whether or not you’ve completed, like responses, problems, essays, etc. But there are also those that people try to get away without doing…most often reading assignments. Just do them. I’m not just saying that because I’m an English major or because I will usually read anything that is put in front of me. Once again- what’s the point of taking the class if you aren’t willing to learn and motivated to do so? Do the reading assignment. Besides-what if the teacher calls on you to answer a question?

Lastly, keep it clean. That is, your living space and homework space. The less clutter or mess around you, the less stressed out you’ll feel. Having a clean environment to do work and relax in will help you be the best student possible. Make time each week (or day, if you need to) to clean up your space. It’s a simple thing that you can do that will make a huge difference in your happiness in the long run.

Good luck with your week!

Ms. Lauren

My first week as a student teacher was great.  Exhausting…..but great.  Getting to know the kids was easy.  I am trying to make connections with each one of them. Each one is unique in his or her own way and I am so excited to work with them and watch them grow.

Every day, we have a morning group that consists of three boys and one girl, all age 3.  Each one of them stole my heart on the very first day.  We also have an afternoon group of 3 boys who are age 4.

One day a little boy with Down Syndrome spoke to me for the first time.  He hadn’t uttered any words yet.  The kids were having snack.  We have picture cards that we ask the kids to point to if they aren’t verbal.  I had the picture cards out for “want,” “more,” “water,” “cracker,” and “apple.” I point to the cards and say the word and ask what he wants.  He pointed to the apple card and said “App….app…papple.”  I was so elated! I mean, it was the highlight of my day.  No one had heard him say anything intelligible until this.  I am so excited to see these kids grow and improve.  I feel so lucky.

Being there a little over a week, I have been able to make some good connections and I’m hoping when I am done in 15 weeks, I’ll be hired! My seminar professor says that special education teachers are needed so much that she doesn’t doubt I will get hired immediately.  Cross your fingers and toes!

This was my first homework piece.  All of the kids did one and we put them on our bulletin board in the hallway.  It was a running joke with all of the teachers that no one would put their exact age and I was A-OK with that!!

This is our classroom.  After a couple days of moving and unpacking box after box, AND doing it in a room that was not yet finished with construction, we FINALLY came to a point where it looked presentable and ready for the kids.

On Wednesday, many of the teachers did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  I didn’t participate because I already did my challenge, but I was there to support them and take pictures.  They are such a great group of people.  I feel very lucky to be one of them temporarily.

Go Whittier Wildcats!! Thank you for all of your support!!

Here we go!

It’s the first week of school! Some people may be excited and ready to start and a lot of others are probably dreading getting back to the daily grind of classes, studying, exams, and caffeine drinking. Whatever emotion this first week brings you, it is inevitably time to begin another year of education…not to mention my final year of undergrad! Here is my advice on how to start the semester off on the right foot and to ensure success in the coming months.

Get a planner. I don’t care who you are or how organized you think you are. You are never too organized for a planner. I could not function during the school year without one of these babies. There is no better way to keep track of every requirement, event, assignment, exam — whatever you need to know — without having one of these handy contraptions. I especially recommend the daily planners with the whole month in calendar format at the start of each new one. These are awesome and allow for more things to be written down on each day. Some people recommend color coding things in the planner, which is great, too.

Save money on books. My first semester of college, I walked into the bookstore and was shocked to see the prices for my textbooks. I did buy quite a few of them because I didn’t understand the other ways to get books and because it was already the first week of school and I was worried things I ordered online wouldn’t arrive quickly enough. I now realize how wrong I was. You really, really, REALLY need to save money on books because it’s easy, it feels awesome, and just because you can!

~Order books from Chegg. I heard of this site as a freshman but never looked into it. Now, I wish I had been doing this all along. This online textbook rental service is fantastic, and they even send first time customers surprises in the box of books. Through this website, I was able to rent books that were originally priced at $200 for $50. They even include the return shipping label and box so that everything is free once your package arrives. Also, if your books don’t arrive in time for assignments or the first week of class, they often offer an online e-book for temporary use. Overall a great resource!

~ Rent at the UIC bookstore if reasonably priced. Oftentimes, the bookstore does also offer an option to rent textbooks, so long as you don’t damage or misplace them during the semester. This is a super simple way to save money on books; just this week, I was able to rent a book for one of my classes for $6. Make sure that when you are at the bookstore you are checking out the labels that show how much it costs to rent a book. Totally worth it.

~ Check the various Facebook pages where students sell books. When people are done with books they’ve purchased, they very frequently attempt to sell them to other students online. Check those pages before you ever pay big bucks for a book, because a lot of times, someone is selling the very book you need (especially those that are a UIC-only edition) and is willing to negotiate a price with you.

Get an accordion folder. Honestly one of the best things ever invented. Picking out multiple folders to match notebooks is fun, too, but when it’s time to get work done, I really just need to find whatever I’m looking for quickly, and I don’t want to have to search for it. That’s why this comes in handy. Having an accordion folder with multiple pockets-preferably even more pockets than you have courses so that you can also have a misc. pocket/student org pockets/etc., allows you to have everything you could ever need in one place with the added bonus of staying organized. 

Determine a study/homework space. I know it’s the first week, but this is the key time to start determining some things for the rest of the school year. With a lot of things, maintaining consistency is important. Finding a good place to study or do homework is vital at this time, because when it comes time to get down to business, you need to know where you’re going to go. Make a study space in your room, or find someone to go in public in which you feel comfortable. Sooner or later there will be a test, and I’ve learned from experience that studying in/on your bed is not the place to be.

Review each syllabus. Knowing what is going on in your classes-especially when you have a lot of them-is crucial. Make sure you know when all assignments/tests/etc. are so that you stay organized and get the best grade possible in all of your classes. Many classes have assignments due at a certain time each week or have a quiz on the same day of the week. Reviewing this after you leave the class will help you solidify that in your mind so that you are always on track.

Get involved…..You may or may not have read an entire blog about this last week, so there isn’t much more for me to say here. Don’t just go to class and go home or back to your residence hall room. Do something! Join an organization, run for your building’s hall council, go to programs, DO SOMETHING!

…..but still make time for yourself. It is so so so important (something I am still learning) to make time for yourself. You may get really caught up in academics and leadership on campus and completely forget to take care of yourself or do things you enjoy. Try setting aside some time every day or a few times a week where you can simply unwind, enjoy a favorite hobby, or be with friends/family.

Best of luck in the first weeks of classes and throughout the semester!

My first day of school

Too bad I didn’t get a picture of me on my first day of school.  Actually, my first day with the kids is today.  Last week consisted of moving, more moving, moving things again, organizing, and meetings.

We went to our classroom to find out it was not finished getting constructed.  They took out the sink (which we needed-you can’t have a preschool room without a sink), and hadn’t finished putting in the countertops on, windowsills, projector, or white board.  My teacher was moving from a room twice the size of this one.  So, there were over 160 boxes to move and unpack.  Oy! Then, the furniture.  Which was big, and totally unnecessary for preschoolers.  Yes, lots of stuff to complain about the first day.  I just helped as much as I could.  Apparently, there are a bunch of student teachers there, and I was the only one helping the move in.  I left exhausted, hurting just about everywhere.  My mentor said, “If you can handle this, everything else will be a cake walk.” I didn’t cry at all so I guess I have that going for me. :)

This is the room with about 1/4 of the boxes moved in: This was it as we left the first day (most boxes are unpacked and the centers were taking shape:

We have four kids in the morning and four in the afternoon.  I’m excited to get to the point where everything is done! Right now I just feel a little overwhelmed.  I know once I get in the swing of things and can actually put all of my training into practice, it’ll all get easier.

Update on the 17 day diet:

I finished the first cycle and will be moving on to the second cycle once I get settled in with the student teaching and the stress wears off.  There are so many recipes I’d like to share but I will share one of my favorites now.  Breakfast was always a bit tough because I couldn’t have cereal, toast, or a bagel.  I could have eggs but it did get a bit old.  So, I found a recipe for PANCAKES. That’s right! Pancakes.  How can you have pancakes if you can’t have flour? They are flourless pancakes made with fat free cream cheese.

Cream Cheese Pancakes

Yield: Four 6-inch pancakes

Serving Size: 1 pancake

Ingredients

  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 packet stevia (or any) sweetener
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients in a blender or magic bullet. Blend until smooth. Let rest for 2 minutes so the bubbles can settle. Pour 1/4 of the batter into a hot pan greased with butter or pam spray. Cook for 2 minutes until golden, flip and cook 1 minute on the other side. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve with sugar free syrup (or any syrup of your choice), fresh berries and I had it with a glass of pro-biotic Kefir.

Approx nutrition info per batch: 344 calories, 29g fat, 2.5g net carbs, 17g protein

Stay Hungry!! :)

Adventures in babysitting: The finale

Bye bye summer.  Isn’t that the most depressing phrase ever uttered? Today is my first day of student teaching…without the actual teaching part.  The children don’t come to school until next week.  This week we are basically starting from the ground up.  Our classroom has walls…and that’s about it.  The school that my teacher was at previously was where I thought we would be.  In the spring, we both found out her room would be moved to another school.  Apparently, they are redoing the big art room to accommodate our special ed preschool room.  It isn’t done yet. It might be nice to have a blank slate to start a brand new classroom.  We’re just hoping we can pull off a miracle before the children do show up.

School starting also means no more nannying, at least full time.  I was able to arrange a couple days babysitting after school.  Even though these boys drive me UTTERLY INSANE, I think I’d miss them if last week was the last time I’d ever see them. For our last long day together, I had the whole day planned.  I took them to Oz Park.  It’s a park in Lincoln park that my parents used to take me when I was little.  It has the most amazing playground made all of wood.  It’s huge and it was just as amazing as I remembered it being.  There are little nooks and crannies that kids can crawl through, and deemed to be a bit small for me this visit.  The boys had a great time and really enjoyed exploring a park they had never been to before.  I also put together my last scavenger hunt.  I put clues all over the house and candy at the very end.  They (the mom and dad) gave me a bottle of champagne to celebrate my new adventure and the boys all made me cards. My favorite was “Thanks for all the babysitting, Lauren.”  The day was great and it was such a nice way to end a hectic summer.

It is also the end of my 17 day diet: cycle 1.  I lost a little over 5 lbs (which was less than I set my goal for).  But I do feel better and that’s all that matters.  I am starting cycle 2 today.  Should be a bit easier because the list of what is allowed gets much longer.  Still no junk food.  No soda.  And I’ll only have wine like ONCE (or twice) a week.  Veggies. Fruits. Proteins.  I think my favorite part will be being able to eat shellfish again.  MMMmmm shrimp!! And I’m to increase my workout regimen from….pretty much nothing to riding my bike everyday.

This week begins a brand new chapter for me and I couldn’t be more excited.  Wish me luck!!

It’s crunch time

I don’t mean stomach crunches.  It’s time I buckle down my budget.  My piggy bank is on a diet, too.  I have worked tirelessly this summer to save up for a very (and I mean VERY) low income fall.  Student teaching is a full time UNPAID job.  The bright side is I saved some money (with the exception of some concerts-a girl has to have a little summer fun!).  But these next two weeks are the last of a nice paycheck.  Sigh.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I can be a bit of a worry wart.  I plan almost everything, and it’s very hard for me to let go and “see what comes my way.”  With the money I’ve saved and the extra from my student loans, I should be ok with the bills I have to pay for 15 weeks. It’s just the spending money I won’t have much of. SIGH.

Oh! And that whole not having a job thing.  Talk about stress.  Once student teaching is over, I am going to look for jobs like it’s my job.  It WILL be my job.  And hopefully, HOPEFULLY I stumble upon something that is available mid-year.  If not, I can be a substitute teacher for the meantime.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!!

17 Day Diet Update: As I write this, I am 10 days into the 17 day diet.  I have lost more than 5 lbs.  (I need to get a digital scale.  My analog scale doesn’t really work that well).  Wednesday, August 13th will be my last day.  And my boyfriend and I decided our first dinner out will be to…drumroll please…..Pizzeria Due!  I can’t wait to have a BIG, SLICE OF CHICAGO DEEP DISH PIZZA.

Honestly though, the biggest differences on this diet is how much better I feel.  My stomach feels smaller, I eat less, I have more energy (without drinking coffee), drinking tons of water a day is super easy, I sleep better, and I can see my body changing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going back on what I said about body image in a previous blog.  I am doing this for my body, to get my organs working clean without a lot of toxins, getting my metabolism up, decreasing the amount I need to eat to feel full, and lastly to train myself on moderation.  That’s how you can eat what you want and still feel and look good.  Then after I get my pizza fix, I’ll continue on to the next cycle of the diet which allows more options of food but still in good moderation.

Like last week, I’ll share a recipe I’ve used a couple times that can be found in the 17 Day Diet book.

Sesame Fish:

Ingredients: 1 lb of salmon

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce

1 Teaspoon chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Spray pan with vegetable oil spray to prevent fish from sticking.  Place fish in pan cook half-way.  Whisk olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic until well blended.  Pour over fish.  Finish cooking fish.  (Here I added mushrooms and onions and sauteed).  Once cooked, pour sesame seeds over the fish.  Voila! Yummy! Pair it with a side of vegetables. Enjoy!

The rhythm of life, still beating on

♪♫♪ Alors tu vois, comme tout se mêle / Et du cœur à tes lèvres, je deviens ton casse-tête…

I can’t believe it’s August. Seriously, where did my summer go? Oh that’s right, to research work, psych class, and, of course, organic chemistry lab. But I’m so relieved that this class will be over and done with in a matter of days…just need to get through this last final exam this week. By the time this post is up, unbelievably, I’ll even be done with it all. For the first time, I have a professor who does the “drop-any-exam” policy, meaning that I could drop the psychology final for my class because I was going in with a good grade already from the other three exams. Thank goodness, because I’ve had my hands full with so many other things! I turned in my final paper a couple days ago and I think it turned out nicely (how multitasking with laptops in class affects academic performance…it’s pretty much what you expect haha. Inverse relationship: more multitasking = lower grades. I guess I should take my own advice in the paper and more strictly stay off my laptop during lecture now…oops).

The final lab practical actually went well last week! We had to synthesize luminol for chemiluminescence, which is what forensics uses at crime scenes to detect bloodstains. It actually wasn’t too bad of a procedure, thankfully not involving distillation of any kind, and the hardest part was probably just heating things at over 200 degrees Celsius. I was relieved that one of my friends warned me not to burn my product, though, because I saw some people’s product turning black. I kept an eye on mine to make sure it stayed a yellowish color, and all went well (other than a few accidental brushes with the burning hot heating mantle). I was also careful to avoid my thermometer bursting, thank goodness, which is what happened to a neighboring student and scared me breathless because the glass flew everywhere. No one was hurt other than the thermometer thankfully, and everyone was a hundred times more watchful of their own thermometers after that. Note to any orgo lab students in the fall: keep your thermometer cooling down with your solution until at least 100 degree Celsius! The sudden temperature change from over 200 to room temp when you pull it out will make it explode, and this will terrify everyone around you and you will shamefully have to get the dustpan from the stock room and a new thermometer. While I didn’t have a very good percent yield, but the chemiluminescence portion went quite well. It felt like the longest seconds of my life, watching my professor watch her iPhone stopwatch to see how long my luminol would last. But that sucker managed to glow a brilliant bright blue for 20+ seconds, to my absolute relief.

In a matter of days I’ll be starting Campus Housing training and then right after that it’ll be time to shuffle into classes every day again. I don’t anticipate training to be difficult though, since I’ve been through it all once before last year, and I doubt very much protocol has changed. Honestly, I’ll probably be yawning through most of the lectures on community, duty, how to tutor, and so on, but it’s going to be so incredibly exciting meeting the whole new staff. Courtyard always has the largest staff by far (nearly 30 people), and with only a small fraction being returner staff (including fellow UIC blogger Holly, who is the Senior Resident Assistant!), there will be many many new faces to see and people to meet. I’m actually more nervous about getting ready for my residents, because I’ll have roughly 50 or more this year! That’s kind of a jump up for me from last year, when I was lucky with only about 30 residents. I’m worried that it’ll be hard to get to know everyone as personally, so I’ll have to step up my game in the first couple of weeks and try to put names to faces as soon as possible. And of course, I’m looking forward to meeting my co, the RA to my PM. I’m already thinking about door decs, bulletin boards, and floor decorations and what I can possibly make before the year is started. I’m not exactly the most artsy person when it comes to decorations and crafts, and it’s always been a struggle for me to be really creative with them…hopefully they come out somewhat appealing to the eye.

This is kind of what I was worried about when I started the summer – that I would feel burnt out at the end of classes and then jumping straight to training and then classes. But there’s no time for that, because who’s got time to be tired? I’m planning on taking this one free weekend (well, training starts Sunday, so really a little less than two days) to pull myself together and rally. I’ve got a long list of things to do that I’ve been putting off in lieu of more important things (school and work of course) and it’s time to catch up – namely little things for myself, like updating my music/running playlist at last because it’s sorely overdue, finish packing up stuff to move over to East campus, printing out some sheet music and chords to have ready to mess around with when I have time, and practicing that darn Bm chord on the guitar (the “real” way, not the “kiddie” way I’ve been playing it haha).

It’s not much, but these are little things that are keeping me sane lately. And I do want to cram as much reading of Neuroscience and Physics in as possible before the school year starts because I am so anxious about the heavy course load I’m taking this semester. I’m trying to scrape together a mental list of motivation to keep me going because, to be honest, I would love a vacation right about now!

Et malgré ça , il m’aime encore et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort / Mais il m’aime encore, et moi je t’aime un peu plus fort ♪♫♪

(Comme des enfants - Coeur de Pirate)

17 days

So, I’m on a new diet.  It’s called the “17 days of misery.”  JUST KIDDING. It’s called the “17 day diet.”  My boyfriend’s mom did it a couple years ago and she lost 10 lbs in two weeks.  Since I’ve been working so much, I haven’t had a lot of time to workout and I would like to lose 10 lbs before school starts. I’ve done cleanses before that helped me lose a good amount of weight, but also left me lifeless and pale. This seemed perfect because it was created by a doctor based on how the human body works. 

The 17 day diet consists of 4 cycles of 17 days, Accelerate, Activate, Achieve, and Arrive.

Accelerate- the rapid weight loss portion which helps flush sugar and fat storage from your system.

Activate-the metabolic restart portion, with alternating low and high calorie days to help shed body fat.

Achieve-a phase that involves learning to control portions and introducing new fitness routines.

Arrive-a combination of the first three cycles to keep good habits up for good.  On weekends, enjoy your favorite foods!!

Being in the first week of the Accelerate cycle, I immediately started noticing differences in my body, and not just in weight.  My stomach is calm, never upset.  I’ve been sleeping better, my complexion is clearer, and I lost 3 lbs in the first 3 days!

The big question is, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU ALLOWED TO EAT?

Answer (Accelerate): Chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, certain veggies (cleansing veggies), fruit (before 2 pm), and probiotics.  They also suggest you drink a glass of green tea with every meal, 8 glasses or more of water, and warm water with lemon right when you wake up in the morning.

The first day, I’ll admit, I.was.hungry.  But as I progressed and started making goals for myself, I felt better.  I think part of it was mental.  I started writing down everything I ate, which also motivated me not to cheat. Who wants to admit they cheated the first week of a diet? Not me.

Here is a sample of what one of my dinners consisted of: Cauliflower Pizza

I know, it sounds weird.  I thought it was weird at first, too.  But I miss pizza so much, anything that calls itself a pizza, is worth a try.

You need: one head of cauliflower, fat-free mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, one egg, pizza seasonings, and any veggie toppings you’d like.

Put little pieces of cauliflower in a food processor (It also says if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a cheese grater) until it has a rice like consistency/size.

Once you’ve done that, beat one egg and put it in your rice-like cauliflower.  Add 1 cup fat-free mozzarella cheese.  Mix until it becomes (somewhat) like dough.

On parchment paper, either on a pan or pizza stone, put the mixture and spread it into a circle about 1/8 inch deep. Smash down. Add pizza seasoning.

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake the crust for 20 min or until golden brown.

Take out, put on your favorite toppings (I used tomato, mushroom, basil, and garlic).

Put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes and VOILA! Pizza.

It was not bad at all.  I am actually not a huge fan of cauliflower but I was impressed at how flavorful it turned out.

I’ve been trying a new dinner every night to change it up a bit.

So, I am pretty happy with my results so far. I’ll tell ya my biggest challenge is not having dessert or wine.  But i’ve done ok.  Wish me luck! Stay tuned for an update next week!

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