Chicago in 3 Days

 

Looking to explore a new city? Want to experience a breathtaking skyline that’s also right on the water? It may be time to look into visiting Chicago. This past week I went for 3 days and really fell in love with the city. There are great deals on Expedia that will make it easier to travel on a budget and this guide will help you get the most out of your trip. 

Chicago Cubs

If you’re a Red Sox fan, Wrigley field will feel very familiar to you. It is the second oldest ballpark behind Fenway and has an awesome old timey feel. Wrigley is a beautiful field with great a great view from every section. There is history packed into the stadium and fun facts posted around the park to read up on the history of the Cubs. Awesome food, die hard fans and ice cold beer. Basically Boston, right?

The Bean

The Bean!

An icon in Chicago, the Bean can’t be missed. Located in the heart of the city in Millennium Park, it could not be easier to get to. Grab a Chicago dog from a nearby food truck and sit by the Bean for an hour or so. The perfect place to people watch and snap some fun pictures. There are other sculptures and artwork scattered around the park to check out too. Research restaurants around the Bean because there are many cool food joints hidden around the downtown area!

Art Institute

A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat

After you’re done with the Bean, move on to the Art Institute of Chicago to explore an incredible selection of artwork. The institute carries an impressive collection of pieces from Seurat, Monet, van Gogh, Warhol and so many more. It is not hard to spend an entire day here exploring every wing of this beautiful museum. Be sure to check out the modern wing upstairs for very funky, contemporary paintings and sculptures.

Navy Pier

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What is better than an amusement park on a boardwalk?! Navy Pier is a fun place to visit while in Chicago, even if it’s only for half a day. On certain days over the summer they feature outdoor movies on the pier along with other cool activities. There are many fun restaurants, carnival rides, and boat tours to explore. The Navy Pier ferris wheel is the perfect way to view the entire Chicago shoreline from end to end. To make thing even better, the shuttle from downtown to the pier is always free and runs about every half hour! Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan.

John Hancock Tower

Sunset from the top of the 360 Observatory.

The top floor of the Hancock tower hosts the most amazing view for a sunset. An elevator takes you 94 floors up in less than a minute. When the doors open, you are greeted by floor to ceiling glass windows showcasing a 360 view of Chicago from a bird’s eye view. It is so peaceful being in that beautiful tower and a perfect way to relax at the end of a busy day exploring the city. You pay for admission to the top of the tower and can stay as long as you want. There is a fun new feature at the top called Tilt! where you lean against the glass at the top of the tower and hang out above the city. Very scary, but worth it for the thrill!

Chi-town is my new favorite city and maybe it will become yours too!

Being Present

 

Credit: Pinterest

Last week I came across the above quote and it really spoke to me. Being physically present and being mentally present have two completely different definitions. Lately I have been feeling the absence of deep, meaningful conversations in my life and I yearn for that void to be filled.

I cannot remember the last time a phone wasn’t pulled out at some point during a conversation. When hanging out with a group of friends all it takes is one person to pick up their phone and everyone feels obligated to check theirs too. We have grown accustomed to the presence of technology and it is getting harder and harder to be fully present in day to day life. The truth about technology is saddening because no one my age knows how to entertain themselves without a screen. Someone whip out Yahtzee or Pictionary, PLEASE.

It may seem ridiculous to live without technology but pulling back from constant screen use is a great way to slow down your brain. Lock your phone and instead pass some time by reading, journaling or drawing…unleash the creativity! Once enough time is focused in a more constructive place than the depths of someone’s Instagram page a feeling of relaxation arises. There will always be time to be engrossed in social media but I hope more than anything that young people can learn to stay present in the more simple joys of life.

When having a conversation, I try to remind myself to continuously look someone in the eye and ask questions about what they are saying. That is the best way to show your true interest in another person. It is just too easy to get lost behind a screen when the world is going by around us. We walk around engrossed in the latest Tasty video or Snapchat story, completely oblivious to the beauty passing by with every step.

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It may seem impossible to go a full day without your phone but the experience will allow you to see the world a little differently. You don’t need that perfectly staged Snapchat video or Instagram story to show that you are having fun with your friends. There is definitely pressure in our world today about posting constantly to ensure that your followers know you are maintaining an interesting life. Your friends that you are hanging out with already know how much fun you are. Pictures and videos are great, but soaking in the memories with your eyes and ears is more organic and fulfilling.

It is always great to snap some pics of a new place or some cool food, but save the editing and posting until after in order to enjoy the rest of the day. People always seemed surprised when I say I left my phone at home for the day or night; it’s like a security blanket that is thought to be a necessity when I can function just as well without it.

Right now you are looking at a screen, as are billions of people around the world. Try taking a breather from all the screens and pay attention to the beautiful details all around you because the world is a lot more interesting than the Instagram popular page.

I snapped this pic before embarking on a beautiful walk down the beach a few weeks ago. Left my phone in the car (:

 

Fun and Cheap Adventures for Summer 2017

If you’re anything like me, you like trying new things and visiting new places. Even if you aren’t as inclined to branch out, summer is a great time to try new things and visit new places. New adventures don’t necessarily require lots of money and preparation, you can have a lot of fun in and around your hometown to spice up your summer and discover some hidden gems. Trust me, growing up in a small town has forced me to get very creative when I’m bored.

Whether you’re bored on a rainy day, or sick of going to the beach on your day off, these ideas can help you find something different to do this summer.

Public Parks

Acadia National Park

The best vacation I have ever been on was to a national park. Last summer my family visited Acadia National Park in Maine, and the sights were breathtaking. I have never seen such natural beauty and it made me want to go on a national park road trip. Wherever you live in the world, there are public parks, hiking trails, and lakes that many people don’t know about. A lot of them are free entry, too! If there is a daily fee, the money goes back into environmental efforts to keep the parks open and thriving.

There are numerous parks in Massachusetts alone, and thousands across the country. Many offer kayak and canoe rentals, camping grounds, and scenic walking trails. Parks are a great way to bring out your inner adventurer and spend time outside.

They are also perfect for your furry friends to enjoy.

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Aren’t into climbing mountains? Have no fear! Pack up a nice lunch and go sit by a beautiful lake or overlook, I promise you will not be disappointed. Lunch with a view is always a good idea.

Parks can be packed during the summer, but there are multiple trails so nothing ever feels too crowded. Getting out into nature is great physically, but also mentally. The warm summer air and the sound of birds chirping in the trees creates a natural zen environment. There is something so peaceful about sitting in a quiet park and taking a step back from a fast paced life. Every time I visit a park I feel happier and more relaxed when I leave.

Secret Beaches

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If you live near the ocean, I’m sure you’re familiar with the local beaches. But do you know all of small, secret beaches that aren’t crowded with a million umbrellas and coolers?

I am living on Cape Cod for the summer and I have started to discover multiple tiny beaches that are nearly empty. Most don’t even have parking lots and consist of a tiny path on the side of the road that leads to a little slice of heaven.

These beaches can be tricky to look up online because people like keeping their secret sanctuaries private, so doing field research may be your best bet. They are usually close to public beaches, unmarked and down a side road. Getting to them is an adventure in itself but once you reach the destination the serenity is well worth the journey. If there isn’t a sign that says “Private Property,” put your towel down and make yourself at home.

One of my favorite “private” beaches on Cape Cod.

When you find a place like this, shhhhh! It’s a secret beach for a reason!

Give your tastebuds something new and different

Coconut latte from Jaho Coffee

One of my favorite things to do over the summer is try to find the hidden gems of the food world. They are everywhere! So many restaurants in the U.S. are inspired by places all across the world, bringing an international food experience right to your hometown. Yelp is a great place to start and gives a reliable outline of what kinds of dishes to expect. It is particularly helpful to read reviews of dishes you aren’t used to before making the trip.

I like branching out to find different food because it is easy to get sick of the same things. I fell in love with Indian cuisine through my summer research and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to go to somewhere so new and different with so many amazing flavors I have never experienced before. My taste buds were happily surprised.

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Picky eaters can enjoy new food too, most places can create dishes that are fairly mild if that is what you’re comfortable with. No matter what kind of cuisine you are trying, try to choose something on the menu that sounds different and exciting. If you discover you really like it, try making it yourself at home! Fill this summer with new food adventures and maybe discover a new love for cooking.

Grabbing some friends and visiting a funky place for dinner is an awesome adventure and summer is the perfect time for it.

Unusual Sports

The category of sports encompasses a lot more than baseball and football. No running is involved, just fun! Whether it’s ziplining, whitewater rafting or bubble soccer, there are many wacky activities out there to try this summer.  

One place I have really been wanting to go the past year or so is a treetop adventure park near my house. Definitely find one of these places near you if you want to feel like a monkey! This park is a course of ziplines, tightropes, rope walls and more. It has been built in the woods so you really feel like you’re a tree animal! I went ziplining once before in New Hampshire and absolutely loved it and I am yearning to check this place out.

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Bubble soccer is another funny one that has become somewhat recreational in the Boston area. Once you put on the “bubble” you look like a hamster ball with legs. It is hilarious to watch but looks like it would be so much fun to try. There are locations and variations of this activity all across the U.S. and it would be perfect to rent some for a party, or just for fun with friends!

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Bubble soccer. Giphy.com

The Zoo

The zoo is so underrated. I absolutely love the zoo. You can find me there, standing next to a seven year old, just as excited as they are to see the giraffes walking around. They are fairly cheap to visit and showcase amazing, exotic creatures.

If you live near Washington D.C., the Smithsonian National Zoo is free!! It also happens to be the best zoo I have ever been to…they have giant pandas, lions, elephants, and so much more.

Giant Panda at the Smithsonian Zoo.

The zoo is a great summer day trip, and I definitely recommend going on a weekday if you can because it is a lot less crowded and easier to get up close to all of the animals. Some zoos also allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, so you can save money by packing snacks from home.

In addition to the zoo, go to the aquarium! So many beautifully colored fish, penguins, seals, and other water creatures that are amazing to see up close. The aquarium is a perfect adventure for a rainy day.

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I hope this list helps you kickstart an amazing, adventurous, memorable summer. (:

 

Registration is here!

It is November 7th and registration starts today as Election Day lingers in the distance. And luckily, Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games has something to tell you:

Credit: quickmeme.com
Credit: quickmeme.com

Yes, it has reached that time in the semester where we all have to attend academic advising or department advising meetings, figure out our pin numbers (for those of us who have them anyways), and to wake up bright and early at 7AM on our designated day! And in my case, I have a week to go until I will be able to register for my classes and as someone who surprisingly gets lucky with class registration, I want to provide you with some of my main tips.

Continue reading “Registration is here!”

Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal

Every time I mention my “bullet journal” — about twice per day — I usually garner a strange look from a friend or a passerby. I understand the confusion. It’s a weird name for what is essentially a DIY agenda, but I’m still a huge fan of the concept — name and all.

What’s a bullet journal, you ask? A bullet journal (often abbreviated to “bujo”) is a written organization system that has the potential to be an ongoing art project if that’s what you want it to be. If you want to stay organized, the bullet journal system is ideal for keeping track of everything you have to do. You can list your homework, workout schedule or anything else.

Continue reading “Planning Your Life with the Bullet Journal”

Working ‘Till College Do Us Part

When May is coming, all college students can think of is the potential for adventure, fun and sleep during their summer months. No more homework or projects or whatnots.

Well, at least until your internship starts, you get hired at your summer job, and finding the time to split between your friends at home, from school, and all that family you missed out on during the school year. Suddenly, you’re sick of your own summer. When’s the right time to quit?

For each person this question differs. Obviously the money aspect plays a big role and everyone’s fiscal responsibilities vary according to need, want and current stature. So this question is very personal for many. If you need to keep working or work hours on end during the week, quitting your job early may not be the write solution for you. However, as long as friends and family, a good book or show to binge online surrounds you, you’ll get a little break until the academic calendar offers a little solace.

However, if you do not fall under that category, there are many variables you need to take into account.

Are you happy at your job?

This is a question that has many parts. Are your coworkers nice; are your bosses understanding; are you paid well enough for your task? If your answers to these questions are astounding yeses, then you may be happy to keep working. Considering how rare that is, enjoy it while it lasts. But if you’re counting down every hour from the moment you get in, your bosses haven’t listened or respected your requests, the pay isn’t worth the treatment and work you’ve completed, then maybe you shouldn’t stay there all summer. How many times have you been able to see the friends and family from home since starting work? Have you actually taken time to relax before the academic grind begins? Did you go on an adventure of sorts? Don’t loose your summer to a job.

Leave time to relax, to craft, to see friends, to explore, to do anything your young collegiate heart desires. You’ll be working when you’re back in school. If you can afford it and need it, take some time for yourself.

How much time you need is up to you. If you hate your job, need some more money, but don’t want to loose your time at home to this paid task, why not quit a little before. A week, depending on how many things you want to do. Two weeks if you’re traveling or visiting friends and family. If you need that much time for the amount of events you want to complete this summer, do it. Take a month if at all possible.

Just remember to try and follow protocol. It’s never a bad thing to have another work reference or experience on your resume for the future. So try to at least give two weeks notice, more so if possible. Bring it up when you have their full attention. Tell them how grateful you were for this opportunity, even if you hated every second of it and are imagining the fanfare when you walk out. Explain that you need to start focusing on getting back to school, means it had nothing to do with them or your feelings towards them. And give an exact date of when your last day will be. Then, there will be no confusion of when to start the trumpeters.

Instagram Worthy Summer Adventures

Summer is almost halfway through and thus you may be thinking “what have I even done so far?” Between working or summer classes, it is easy to feel as if you are not making the most of  your “summer fun.” This is especially the case when social media tends to make your friends’ lives seem so exciting. If you feel as if you are wasting away your chance at some summer adventures, here are some ideas to help you make the best of your summer.

Day Trips

Juggling a summer job or internship while trying to still have a social life is not an easy task. One of the best ways to make the most of your limited time of is by going on day trips. Anything less than a two hour drive is a good option. Public transportation is also a great option. Going somewhere you’ve never been before even if it’s not a major tourist spot can still make you feel like you’re doing something. It’s always fun to explore a new town or city, try new restaurants, and experience the culture. You never know what you may discover.

Even if you’ve been somewhere before, there is almost always something new to do or see. You never know what you may discover.  You can always try searching Pinterest or even googling for ideas. Viewing your area from the eyes of someone else can remind you of places you’ve always wanted to go or never even knew existed.

Explore the Arts

Most cities, towns or neighboring areas have some sort of local arts scene. Don’t be afraid to check out a local gallery, nearby concert or theater production. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never heard of the artists or bands. In fact, that’s probably better as it will make the experience more of an adventure. Opening yourself up to new art is always a valuable experience. Local arts scenes also tend to be close knit, so it’s likely you’ll learn about other events while you are there.

Also consider checking out some local museums. Most museums are free or low cost and many even offer student discounts. Museums are a great way to learn something new and get inspired. Even your local town history museum is worth checking out. Typically, the people who work in museums are genuinely interested in starting conversations and sharing their knowledge, so be sure to ask questions and gain as much as possible from the experience.

Explore the Outdoors

Camping is a great way to travel on a budget. Most areas have nearby state parks with tent sites or low cost campgrounds. There is so much to see outdoors, and there are so many adventures to be had. Depending on where you live, there are likely different kinds of hiking trails to explore. If you’re a beginner start out with easy trails and see how you like it. There are also so many other options for exploring nature. Everything from riding your bike to spending a day at the beach can be a great summer adventure. If you don’t have a full day to spend outside, consider going on a picnic. Simply getting out in the fresh air can remind you of the joy of summer.

Record these adventures in photos and journals. You can post about it on social media if you wish, but don’t feel obligated to blog every minute. Remember, this adventure is something for you, not something to use just to show off. Make memories that are powerful and fulfilling without worrying about what your Instagram caption will be.

Surviving Festival Season: Concerts, Tours and All

You’ve waited for months, ever since you saw the lineup and qued up your computer in class to be the first to buy tickets. Congratulations, you’ve finally made it! The summer concert season is in full swing.

A huge gathering of artists sharing their craft for appreciative audiences, what is more beautiful than that? Reaching for your wallet to purchase that CD or band tee to find it missing from bag, is that beautiful too?

Here are some tips and tricks to surviving the concerts and tours with more than you showed up with.

  1. The Perfect Bag

I wish I could tell you all to wear a fanny pack with little locks on them, but even I refuse to do that. I know all of my belongings would be safer, but my pride would be ruined. There’s a certain appearance for each concert and festival one tries to create and attain and we’re not going to just ruin that for fanny packs.

People argue constantly on which is better, a purse or a backpack? When in all reality, if you choose wisely and use smartly, both are very effective and safe.

The first rule in choosing a bag: nothing open. I know you can get things easily, but so can others. Secondly, nothing loose. If your backpack is longer than your back, you’re not going to feel anything going on back there. The same goes for purses, tight straps across your body or smothered into your side. It’s like being your own doorman to your gear, you’ll know exactly who is going in and out of the realm of your possessions. And third and lastly to conquering your safety bag when swaying with hundreds of others to the beat, never keep your wallet easily accessible. At the bottom of your bag is best. If it’s not easy for you, it won’t be easy for anyone else. It’s not like you can’t get it, but you’re being smart about it.

  1. What to Bring?

Let’s think about this for a moment, truly consider the situations and scenarios you most definitely will be faced with and the one’s that could potentially happen. You’re going to get thirsty, fact. You’re going to want money, fact. It will be loud and bright, fact. So a bottle of water is needed, your wallet without a doubt, some ibuprofen would be smart, and sunglasses as well.

You could fall or spend the concert being kicked by overly-enthusiastic audience members so a small first aid kit with cleansing wipes and band-aids is smart. Did you check the forecast the day before? Is rain in your future or wind or shine? Plan accordingly.

The two final things to remember, make sure you have room for basic items you’ll also have to carry around as well. This includes house keys, car keys, back-up phone chargers and some memory cards. And under it all, you should find your wallet.

  1. What to Wear

I understand there is a fashion of tours and concerts, but weather is still a factor. Especially if it’s all day long, if you’re standing, and outside in the sun all day and night. Light and comfortable is best, even better if worn right from the start. If not, have options available. Wearing heels on grass for 8 hours isn’t practical, I don’t care what Sex & The City says. You start out in heels; you better bring flats with you.

Layers are great for winter, during testing seasons and for summer as well. Light layers, like a bandeau, a tank top and sweater are recommended. When it’s scorching and you’re boiling, you’re set until the wind comes flying your way and even then you’re set.

Make-up however, I know you don’t want to go out without it, it’s such a perfect photo opportunity, but if you’re smart, you shouldn’t have a problem. Wearing light coverage concealer, loose powder and sure long lasting products on your eyes will be best. Make sure not to touch your face often, especially if you’re sweating. Otherwise instead of being miraculous with the band, you could be smeared or breaking out from the sweaty make-up being re-absorbed into your pores. And even if all of that didn’t persuade you, how about the fact that the less you wear on your face, the easier it will be to breathe and, as a result, keep yourself cool.

Now go out and enjoy the music!

Navigating Your College Career Goals

I’m someone who likes to have everything figured out. I like to know that what I’m doing is ultimately helping me accomplish one of my long term goals, or at least moving me toward something – like a degree. Every class we take at school, every paper we write is moving us toward that little piece of paper that employers love to see.

Lately it seems that everyone knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives, and exactly how they’re going to do it. Lately, I feel as if I’m heading in the exact opposite direction. I write articles, blog posts, poetry, and anything that interests me really. But this past month, I had been questioning the lifestyle and career choices I’ve been making. I let a couple of political arguments on Facebook with family members change how I felt about being a writer. I wanted to put my skills to good use and switch majors and make a bunch of rushed decisions in order to do something I thought was more noble, or useful. I’ve spent the last month throwing myself into things that could’ve permanently locked me into something I didn’t want to do.

Most of us go through phases, when it comes to the big question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 7-year-old me might have said a singing space-bus driver. 15-year-old me might’ve said a lawyer or paralegal. Now, at 19-years-old, I still don’t have it all figured out. But I did figure something out. It’s okay to not have your life plan mapped out! And I figured something else out too! Writing is a skill that every employer likes to see on a resume. Words have power, regardless of profession.

I didn’t reach this conclusion alone, however. I reached out to many trusted friends, family, and even coworkers, having active discussions on what the options were when it came to my career and my major and all of them pretty much said the same thing. If you ultimately don’t know what you want to do – a degree is still a degree, and most employers will still value it even if it doesn’t exactly match the job description. They were right. A degree in X, Y, Z doesn’t bind you to a career in X, Y, or Z. Chances are, most of the alphabet is still up for grabs, as long as you have the necessary skills and experience to land it.  

Do not do what I almost did and make rash decisions to make up for the lack of direction. Do things you enjoy now – make connections with people who share the pleasure of doing those things. Do not build the roof of your house before building the foundation. Direction will come when everything settles. We may not know now where we’ll be in five years, but look around and you can see where you are now. Work hard, love harder and take life one step at a time.

Decision Making: Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Form

To some people, I may seem decisive. To others, they’ve probably never seen me set down a firm decision. Always yielding to the people around me, whether it be the cuisine for a dinner out with friends or a subject matter I didn’t know much about or have experience with. I wasn’t born decisive. And quite frankly, I don’t think anyone was. Either way, I’ve learned some things through the many decisions I have and have not made.

First off, not every right decision will lead to happiness. At least, not immediately. That must be accepted first and foremost. If you think the right answer and happiness are synonymous, you might have been making the wrong decision all along. Take breakups for example, I doubt they’re easy for either partner, but the decision was made probably for the better. Your heart will catch up to your decision, just not instantaneously.

Something else I’ve learned is that information will always be the North Star in the decision making process. Even if it’s an emotional decision, it’s grounding to have some sort of fact to connect your brain to whatever is going on in your heart. The hormonal and the logical will balance out when the right decision is made.

I want to clarify that being indecisive does not mean not having a backbone, and vice versa. But it also can be said, that you can have or be without both. This one, I do not have personal experience with. However, I have watched other’s struggle with indecisiveness and kindness to the point of fault.

Surviving in this world is simple: food, water, air, and sleep. Thriving in this world and being happy requires more. You can’t yield to everyone or everything. Being nice does not mean falling for what others say. Being nice does not mean someone’s problems are worse. Being nice does not mean letting yourself be unhappy because someone else needs you more. Being nice means treating people with respect; the same respect you want to be treated with. Being nice is taking an interest and asking the questions you want to be asked. Being nice is standing by a friend; a friend who is just as nice to you.

Just as there are people who are nice to a fault, there are people who are opportunistic to a fault. Or in a less euphemistic way, bratty personalities; spoiled characters that require the attention. These are the people who lead decisions and take advantage of those without the spine. And these you should be wary of.

If you’re saying or thinking false justification lines like “It’s only for right now, it will pass,” until it happens again or “they just don’t fully understand,” although you’ve explained it time and time again in various different forms and volumes. Then you’re in denial and you know you’re in denial. Imagine this article as your best friend slapping you awake. These lines are tiresome and old and it’s time to change your game.

If you’re in an intimate relationship with this person, please make decisions about what you want. Make the decision for you, not for anyone else. The decision for you is what leads to happiness. If you’re in a platonic relationship with this person, remember that any person can be kept at any length and you hold the key to the power of you. Listen to your heart, listen to your brain, and find the right decision for you, then happiness will follow.

I don’t think I can say the following statement enough, but being nice or indecisive or both does not lower your IQ. Even if you’ve never studied any subject in your life, you are an expert in yourself. Don’t let someone take advantage of you, whether it be what to eat for dinner or whether to stay in the relationship.