What To Do If You’re Feeling Home Sick.

By Guest Blogger: Alden Claire Knight

Something I’ve noticed at DePaul is that I always get mixed reactions when I tell people where I’m from. Generally, the consensus seems to be that people react with mild surprise. Others react loudly. Some don’t care. I mentioned previously that I was from North Carolina. I also mentioned that I disliked it.

North Carolina isn’t the most shocking place to come from. I’m picking up on the “what-an-anticlimactic-place-to-live” vibes I’m sure you’re experiencing right now.

Something you need to note: North Carolina is pretty far away. 2 and a half hours by plane; 12 and a half hours by car; 76 hours by bike; 249 hours by foot (not that I’d ever do the latter two). I can’t take the next Metra ride home or pack my overnight bag into my mom’s car. What I’m getting at here is this: when I’m homesick, it’s pretty tough.

No, I’m not saying I regret my decision to come to Chicago. In fact, I’ve frequently thought about what a great fit it is. But everyone longs for home sometimes. You can’t deny that sometimes you just want to snuggle up on your couch (in my case, with my dog) and watch your favorite movie. You wouldn’t decline the opportunity to get pampered by your mom or veg out with some high school friends. Maybe even visit your favorite childhood park or walk that trail behind your house that you loved when you were little.

I’ve recently discovered that what seems like well over half of the student population at DePaul are from the suburbs (or aptly, “the ‘burbs”). When asked on the first day of class where they’re from, classmates of mine will usually name a suburb and then either mention its distance from the city or its directional location in the state. Most in-staters nod in agreement, mentally adding another suburb to what seems like a never-ending suburban list. Nearly all of the friends I’ve made go home most weekends. This stifling tidbit of information hadn’t even crossed my mind until a friend of mine approached me a couple of weeks ago asking if I had gotten homesick at all this quarter. The reason she asked was because I was the only other person she knew who had come to DePaul from a state farther than five “driving hours” away.

Truthfully, my longing for home was far more difficult this quarter than last. I found myself feeling lonelier than ever when I came back from winter break and I noted that my calls home had practically doubled. It could’ve been a seasonal thing, or really just an “adjustment to college” thing, but I think it was my recognition that almost everyone I know here has the capability to go home whenever they feel like it. Friends of mine will mention how excited they are to go home for dinner and get a home cooked meal, or they’ll express their need for a haircut from their hairdresser whose known them for eight years. I realized then that I was jealous. Jealous because if I need a haircut, I have to go find someone I’ve never met. Or if I want a home cooked meal, I’d have to find a restaurant that specialized in that kind of thing. Of course, it’s not my friends’ fault in the end. They can’t control where they’re from. If you had the option of going home whenever you felt like it, who could blame you.

I realize looking back on this now, homesickness comes and goes in waves. Sometimes I want to spontaneously purchase a plane ticket and take the next flight home, but other times I’m super happy that I’m not in North Carolina anymore. It’s totally normal to feel this way, especially when you’re really far from home base.

During a rough patch when my longing for home was nearly unbearable, I made a list of things I could do to make myself feel better. I’ve tested some of these tricks, and most of them seem to work. Recently, for example, my mom and I have been watching our favorite shows together while simultaneously reacting via phone call.

Another item on the list included getting out of the dorm and seeing friends to take your mind off things. If friends aren’t available, take a walk around Lincoln Park (dependent on weather). We’re fortunate to be in a really beautiful part of Chicago. Exercising helps for some, and I know looking at old photos can bring back some great nostalgic memories. Compiling a care package for a loved one or friend from back home helped me a lot as well (I know I’m not the world’s best “feel good guru”, but these things worked for me).

My favorite, though, was to make a playlist of songs to unwind with. I’ve included one that I put together at the end of this post for you DePaulians who might be going through the same thing. Just remember, being homesick is totally normal. It’s going to get better. Enjoy…

Chicken Soup for the Homesick Soul (2)

Chicken Soup for the Homesick Soul:

Big Jet Plane – Angus & Julia Stone

Hero – Family of the Year

Piledriver waltz – Alex Turner

Seaside – The Kooks

The Commuter – Jeremy Messersmith

April Come She Will – Simon & Garfunkel

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths

Take Care – Beach House

Blue Skies – Albert Hammond, Jr.

17 – Youth Lagoon

…Alden Claire Knight is currently an undeclared Communication major however, intends to pursue a degree in Communication and Media Studies field with a concentration in Radio, Television and New Media! Alden also enjoys any film by Wes Anderson, with her favorite being Moonrise Kingdom!

Once a Blue Demon, Always a Blue Demon. Blue Demon Week 2015!

By: OSI Blogger Jacki Licciardi

It’s that time again… Blue Demon Week at DePaul University. The activities and DePaul pride is present all around campus, from the decorations in the café, to the blue attire students, staff, and faculty are wearing! I personally am very excited for all the events this week and food, yes, food!

If you have seen any of my other blog posts then I am sure you already know that I work as the Program Assistant for Social Media and Leadership Development in the Office of Student Involvement and of course that I am a graduate student here at DePaul. I bring this up because I did not complete my undergraduate degree at DePaul, so I was not familiar with all the amazing events that DePaul has for their students. Understanding or knowing about the Involvement Fairs, or DemonTHON, or Blue Demon Week were things I didn’t just “know.” These were events that were new to me as a graduate student here at DePaul.

Some of you may be very familiar with what Blue Demon Week is at DePaul but for me this is my first year being a part of this week long celebration. So what is Blue Demon Week? It’s simple; Blue Demon Week is a time that students, faculty, staff, and alumni come together to celebrate what it means to be a DePaul Blue Demon and be DePaul Proud! The whole week is packed with activities and events that bring everyone together to celebrate our community and cheer on our Men and Women Basketball teams! #GoBlueDemons

Another big part of Blue Demon Week is wearing BLUE on Thursdays to show our Blue Demon pride. I say wear blue all week… I already started wearing blue today. I have to tell you that I might have found a new color I like to wear.

BDW2015WeWearBlue

Yesterday was the first day of Blue Demon Week and we spent some time decorating the café in Lincoln Park. It was a great experience to be a part of because students and staff came together and took some time out to spread some red and blue cheer around campus!

The best part of Blue Demon Week is that everyone can participate…everyone! Even if you just wear blue on Thursday you will be part of something bigger. I am particularly excited for this Friday’s Blue Demon Dance at the Hard Rock Café. I hope to see you there. Once a Blue Demon, Always a Blue Demon. #BDW2015

Check out a full list of events at the official Blue Demon Site:DePaul Blue Demon Week

Dancing to Help The Kids: For All The Right Reasons.

By OSI Blogger: Lindsay Ritenbaugh

In April 2014, I completed my first Dance Marathon—and the third ever DemonTHON at DePaul. 428 registered dancers, 34 directors and assistants, 26 Morale captains, the overall advisor, and I stood 24+ hours For The Kids at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. These incredible students raised $214,050.46 this year, more than $468,000 to date, and have become the 17th most successful Dance Marathon in the nation! But more than that, they’ve raised awareness For The Kids and families with pediatric illnesses in the Chicagoland area. They did so with their opening video (which conveniently showcases the beautiful city in which I live). They did so with each Morale dance at the top of every hour. They did so with every event held on campus and throughout the Chicagoland area throughout the year. They did so through successful social media efforts before and during the Big Event.

I came to DePaul to work as a Program Coordinator for Student Organizations, expecting to supervise student employees in the office and maybe advise a student group. I had no idea how much the latter would impact my life and DePaul experience. During my first month on the job, I reached out to Edwin, the current DemonTHON advisor and offered my help if needed. I later met with Blair, the executive director, who asked if I’d be interested in advising the Morale team. The high school cheerleader/folk dancing camp counselor/karaoke extraordinaire in me was ecstatic. Throughout the year the advisors met weekly with Morale captains, their amazing director and assistants, the overall committee, and management core committee to prepare for this past weekend’s culminating events. Still, I completely underestimated what it would feel like to complete a dance marathon from start to finish. My feet were throbbing and tears (both happy and sad) fell on multiple occasions, but I would will do it all again in a second.

All of my dark hours, when I thought I couldn’t keep standing, paled in comparison to what the miracle children and their families face during treatment. I just thought of faces like sweet Mia Gurevitz and how DemonTHON serves them directly. Wouldn’t you keep standing if you saw this face?

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DemonTHON: I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them. And we help them in return (Wicked, 2004). Your ability to build campus affinity and fundraise For The Kids is a force to be reckoned with. And like St. Vincent de Paul reminds us, “There are two things to be considered here, namely, not only to do good, but to do it well.”

Fundraising for DemonTHON 2015 is continuing from today until the end of our Big Event on April 24-25, 2015! Every penny counts. Register or donate today!

If you’ve never experienced a reveal for a Dance Marathon, please watch this immediately: DemonTHON Reveal 2014

…Lindsay Ritenbaugh is the Program Coordinator for Student Organizations at DePaul University in the Office of Student Involvement. Among dancing and fundraising For The Kids, she enjoys watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and playing trivia!

You’re so nice. Minnesota Nice!

By OSI Guest Blogger: Erin McGrath

minnesota2

Enjoying the vibes of Minnesota.

I was born in the state of Illinois, Elk Grove Village to be exact. Living in the area of Elk Grove and also Joliet during my childhood. I grew up going to catholic school and living what I considered to be a normal childhood. Near my eighth birthday my parents had gotten a divorce and my mom decided to move to Minnesota with my step dad, where I had to make the decision of whom to live with. For any child in this non-ideal situation it can be hard to choose one single parent to live with especially being at such a young age. I had chosen to live with my mom and create a new life in Minnesota.

From what I remember Minnesota wasn’t such a scary place for me when I had first arrived, I was a very outgoing child, which did make it easier. On top of that, I thankfully had enjoyed my new Dad and siblings, whom made me, feel very welcome in my new family.

Not to mention that I now lived in the state that had the Mall of America! At the time, being as young as I was it was a great time because they had a theme park called “Camp Snoopy” with rides that related to the Peanuts characters and that’s not all… they also had a play area related to General Mills where you could make your own Cereal! Every child’s sugary dream!

As time went on…growing up in Minnesota, I started to associate myself more with Minnesota than Illinois, I was from Minnesota! In my eyes Minnesota and Illinois have some differences. I never noticed them in my younger years going back and fourth to visit my dad here in Illinois. It wasn’t until I started being here full time as a college student that I began to notice the differences.

Of course the first one being, the accent, obviously I had never noticed it while I was in Minnesota but once I started introducing myself to people all that changed. I would get comments like “Oh my gosh your accent is so cute!” and I would be so confused because I never thought I had one. Also I had certain words that as Minnesotans say differently because of our thick “O’s” like “about”, “home”, etc. At first I was very conscientious about my accent and tried my best to sound “normal”, but realized I loved my little “O” sound I had in words and also didn’t want to lose sight of my roots in Minnesota.

It has been nice being back “home” in the city of Chicago but I do see those differences. The city of Chicago is a very cultured place with such rich history and many different people fill the city. The atmosphere is also very different. Seeing that I grew up in a place that is referred to as an area where everyone is extremely nice to one another…Minnesota Nice. Every now and then I will mention to people that I’m from Minnesota and they’ll respond with “It’s so weird how nice Minnesota people are” when I hear that I really never know what to say because shouldn’t everyone be nice when you first meet them?

minnesota

Just one of the many beautiful views in Minnesota.

The atmosphere in each Chicago is full of buildings and sights to see, while Minnesota (where I grew up) and surrounding areas are very environmental sights with those sights being bluffs and of course the 10,000 lakes. So the big picture is much different.

Whenever I visit these sights in Minnesota I get a nostalgic type of feeling that just gives me peace of mind. My friends and I always come together and talk about our different sights… we refer to them as vibes. Being in a place like Minnesota, the vibes are again very nostalgic because of its great beauty. Not saying that Chicago is not a beautiful place because it truly is a great place and I love being here, but at times when I want to get away I see myself going back to Minnesota because of its environmental beauty and vibes.

Well with that said, now that I am in Chicago for studying at DePaul University, with the possibility of making this my home after college once again. I am very excited to possibly make Chicago my home again, even though my bank account might not be happy about it.  I will never lose sight of my home back in Minnesota and will always make sure I visit whenever I’m stressed because Minnesota is set as my ultimate happy place.  I do hope that people will enjoy my Minnesota Nice style while making Chicago my home.

So I have been living in Chicago for a few months now and the ironic thing is that while I was on break in Minnesota, I was telling my friends and family things like, “I can’t wait to be back home” or “Back home we have…” Which is why I can now say that I can’t wait for what the city has to offer me and what lies ahead for my future.

“Home is not a place- it’s a feeling” – Anonymous

chicago

Erin and her new home – Chicago!

..Erin McGrath is a current freshman at DePaul studying Health Science. Erin is also a member of Delta Gamma Eta Pi Fraternity!

Ready, Set, Love for Valentine’s Day!

By Jacki Licciardi – OSI Blogger

1166-happy-valentines-day-1680x1050-holiday-wallpaper

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I started thinking about what this day really means. A lot of us celebrate this day and hawk over whom will be our Valentine, right? Well, at least I have since grade school. I can put myself back in that wobbly, old wooden chair that had the desk attached to it, waiting and waiting . . .with pink and red butterfly’s in my stomach about how many candy grams I would get and who they’d be from. The anxiety heightened each time the teacher would call out “Jacqueline, one for you.” Basically, the teacher was announcing how cool I was to the entire classroom. They should have used the intercom so the whole school knew. Hmm that makes me wonder if schools still have intercoms.

Of course, as I got older the candy grams stopped, not because I wasn’t cool (I promise) but mostly because it’s just not something you do in high school or college. Although, I would argue this is when the real V-Day fun begins. This is when the actual day begins to mean much more. Instead of a bunch of heart shaped candy grams, you get roses and that big heart box of chocolates. (But I always hate when they don’t tell you which chocolate is which. I mean, I’m not allergic to coconut, but ugh I hate when I get that one in the bunch with no warning!) One year I got an XOXO pillow.–The year after that I got a stuffed dachshund with some super cheesy saying across it, like “You’re DOGGONE Cute.” Oh the excitement and accomplishment I felt! Yes, accomplishment is what I felt when in fact I had not accomplished anything at all. Looking back on it now, it just seems silly.

You might be thinking that the older I get… I keep upping the expectations for this wonderful day known as Valentine’s Day. Well, I haven’t. Why? Simply because the best Valentine I could have ever asked for was always right in front of me. My dad, Louie! Whose love is the best present I could ask for!

So instead of anxiously waiting for stuffed dogs and chocolates or eating a fancy dinner in an over packed trendy restaurant, I get a big ole hug from my dad. On that note, whoever your Valentine is this year, just enjoy how lucky you are to have that person. Give them a hug, a kiss, a high five – whatever you want! The day itself is all about who you love and it is 2015 – all love is love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why Are We All Truly Awesome?

By Kristin Hagen – OSI Blogger

When was the last time you felt awesome? I mean 100%, truly awesome for a long period of time. Now when I get a latte I usually feel pretty darn awesome, but once that caffeine buzz wears off I’m back to feeling mediocre. So I’ll ask you again – when was the last time you felt awesome – sans caffeine?

It’s really easy not to feel awesome. You miss your train. You don’t do well on an exam. Argh you forgot your sister’s birthday, AGAIN?!?!? Let’s face it – it’s tough just getting out of bed in the morning. (Who ever invented the snooze button is an evil genius!)

How do a lot of us deal with a bad day/week/month/year? We snap at people. We forget to say thank you. We walk around with a big scowl on our face. Hey DePaul, I’ve been there. I get it. Today I’m going to challenge you to do something different, and I’m enlisting the help of Robby Novak. Who’s Robby Novak? Well, you might know him by his other name, Kid President.

This motivational little man is changing the world with his positivity, adorable chubby cheeks, and killer dance moves. His favorite dance move is the Pencil Sharpener! He’s most known for his viral video “A Pep Talk from Kid President to You” – it has over 34 million views to date! This dapper little dude has one message for you – stop being boring because you were made to be awesome.

You know what, DePaul . . . It’s the truth. I was made to be awesome! You were made to be awesome! That person you sat next to on the train this morning . . . was made to be awesome!

What makes me love Kid President even more is he has every reason to be the opposite of awesome. He was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a brittle bone condition. He’s only 11, yet he’s had his bones break 75 times since he was born. Plus he’s had almost 17 surgeries. 17 surgeries?!?! I had a root canal two years ago and I’m still traumatized from it! I can’t imagine having 17 surgeries! Robby Novak is one special person, and he never stops dancing. No matter what – he never stops dancing! He’s been given every reason not to dance – 75 broken reasons to be exact. Yet he doesn’t stop.

I’ll be honest – I don’t feel awesome everyday. I don’t look at myself in the mirror and magically think “Oh wow, Kristin! You are so awesome!”. For some, self-confidence and awesomeness comes naturally. For me, it’s something I have to work for. I’ve taken a play from Kid President’s book – instead of dancing, I smile. I smile when I’m happy, when I’m angry, when I’m nervous. I give high fives. I say thank you. I compliment people. I’m even known for telling a stupid joke every once in a while. Why do I do this? Sometimes positivity is all we have. Kid President says “Give people high fives just for getting out of bed. Being a person is hard sometimes.” So true, Kid President. So true.

Go find your way to be awesome. Maybe you whistle, or dance, or smile, or knit sweaters. Whatever you have to do, go do it! If you’re needing a little inspiration, check out Kid President on YouTube

Kid-President-time-to-be-awesome

…Kristin Hagen is the Coordinator for Educational Programs and Communications in the Office of Student Involvement. Besides Kid President, Kristin also loves puppies, yoga, and treating herself to Starbucks Lattes every Friday!

Web Design 101: What is Responsive Design?

By OSI Web Designer: Jorge Dominguez

 Viewing-platforms

If you are looking to read a funny blog this is probably not the one. My intention is not to make you laugh but instead inform you. By reading this I hope to entertain (not make you laugh) and at least provide some words of wisdom… coming from me- a web developer with over 3 years of experience.

I hope to help student organizations and anyone else looking to build a website, understand a topic that might not be too interesting but essential.

As the Tech/Web Developer of the Office of Student Involvement, also known as OSI, I am here to help organizations with promoting themselves by helping them make a website! Registered organizations through the Office of the Student Involvement have the option of getting a website developed and hosted under DePaul servers. I am also able to provide a yourorg.depaul.edu URL to student organizations.

There are many student organizations that come to me with little to no knowledge on web development. I personally enjoy helping out organization who might not have any experience or knowledge on how to create a successful website. This is where my web development experience comes into place. I am able to show them my past work and educate them on what constitutes having a great website. It is very helpful to me when organizations already know what they want on their website in terms of content. The only hard part for them is figuring out how to layout the content and deciding on the design of their website.

When people think of the design of a website they mostly think of the color scheme, look of the buttons, font-type, font-color, and overall appearance. In reality… there is more to a website than just that.

There are two main types of website templates used in today’s world and that is static and responsive design.

 

A static template is a template with elements that are set to a certain size defined in pixels.

 

A responsive design template increases or decreases the pixel count as well as rearranges elements into different sizes that fit on the screen of the device the website is being viewed.

…For example, with a responsive design template the website automatically adjusts to mobile version when viewed on a smartphone and a desktop version when viewed on a desktop computer.

Responsive design is pretty much the future of websites and many modern websites are currently using this type of design. Since technology is becoming more portable, software and applications are also being designed to keep up with such devices. For these reasons I tend to recommend responsive design templates to student organizations when creating their websites.

I remember the first time I experienced a responsive design website like it was yesterday. It occurred when working on a homework assignment and I visited the Chicago Sun Times website. I was looking up an article on my laptop and accidentally clicked on the minimize button on the right corner of the window. After the website was minimized I noticed that the grid layout had changed to a continuous scrolling page. The main menu was minimized to a select list and the pictures in the web page were minimized to fit the width of the screen. I could not believe what I was seeing and continued to select and expand one side of the window. I then noticed that the content of the website increased and the grid layout changed to include more columns. I was really intrigued and proceeded to research this feature- (I had to know what this was). That is how I eventually stumbled upon learning about responsive design. One major benefit I discovered was that creating a responsive design website eliminates creating two separate websites, one mobile and a desktop version, to make it compatible with mobile devices.

The only down side of responsive design is that it is not supported by older versions of internet explorer. Although true, many of those older versions are also not being supported by newer computers and updates are no longer being pushed by Microsoft. This will eventually force people using old software to update to the newest version. As time passes by and old technology becomes obsolete, responsive design is looking to be the standard for websites.

…Jorge Dominguez works for the Office of Student Involvement as the Tech/Web Developer, creating websites for student organizations and maintaining the main departmental website. Apart from working for the office he is also a member of Sigma Lambda Beta and a Senator for 4th & 5th Year Students in the Student Government Association. During his free time he dances for Ritmo Dembow, a DePaul recognized dance group, in which he enjoys learning how to dance salsa.