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Lorena’s Life in the City

1 Dec


Chicago College Life has interviewed one of the Chicago college students that has been following our blog for the past couple of weeks. Lorena Lara, an 18 year old freshman living on campus at UIC, was interviewed by Chicago College Life about her experience living on campus and trying to be dependent on herself. She was a sample of our student audience whom we sought to know how much of an advantage and help our blog was to her in her life especially as a freshman.

CCL: What major are you studying?

LL: Right now I am undecided. I haven’t chosen my major yet, but I know I want to do something in the medical field because I like science.

CCL: How far is your hometown from school?

LL: It’s two hours away by train and other public transportation, or twenty-five minutes of driving.

CCL: Did your parents have an impact on your education decision?

LL: They wanted me to do something that did not involve a lot of years of studying. But I decided to go against their will because it’s my life. They actually wanted me to go to college for X-ray technician but I did not want to get an associate degree. I wanted more than that, so I decided to go to a university instead.

CCL: You said you have an undecided major, does that have anything to do with what your parents have suggested to you?

LL: They just wanted me to get an associate degree because it doesn’t take as long as a bachelor degree. My parents want me to be independent, and attending a university would make me dependent on my parents for a longer time. I am taking my time and not rushing things because I know I will be in a career that will make me become an independent afterwards.

CCL: Are you employed?

LL: I didn’t want to work my first semester of school, because I thought it would interfere with my grades. Now that I have learned how to manage my time wisely, I will probably look for a job for next semester.

CCL: How do you handle your college expenses?

LL: I get financial aid, and I get the rest of the money from my parents.


CCL: What is your housing plan like?

LL: I live in Courtyard . Our room and board also come with a a five-day meal plan, so on the weekends I either go home or go out to eat with my friends.

CCL: Where do you like to eat with your friends?

LL: I like to eat in Greek Town or Little Italy . Both neighborhoods are cheap, but when I am in a Mexican mood I go to Lalos . Every Wednesday they have Salsa night. OH MY GOD it is so fun, you have to go there!

Little Italy in Chicago

Lalos Logo

CCL: Why did you choose to live in the dorms, and how were your parents involved with that decision?

LL: I wanted to get the full college experience, but my parents didn’t agree with me living in the dorms because they said it was going to be a waste of money. I think their decision was basically a Mexican tradition—that young ladies are to stay with their parents. But I convinced them, and they’ve accepted it.

CCL: How often do your parents check on you?

LL: During the first month of school, they would call me like three times a day. But now, it’s every other day. The first question they  always ask me is if I am coming home this weekend Once I tell them that I am not, they think it’s because  want to go out to a party.

CCL: How often do you go home?

LL: I go home every other weekend. When I go home I shop with my mom, because when I am home, I can’t study. That’s why I stay at school most of the time on weekends, working in the computer lab on doing papers.

CCL: How well do you know the city?

LL: I know about restaurants, but I don’t have that much information about night life, in order to be really involved in “the nightlife” I need to be 21, because most things include alcohol. I have seen the section Chicago College Life has provided about nightlife and entertainment, I am interested in it and look at it every once in a while, [Sigh] Can’t wait!

CCL: Did you have any previous knowledge about the city?

LL: I have been at a couple of clubs,  for kids my age, but it’s on the north side of downtown. Now that I have been following Chicago College Life, I gained more knowledge on what is going on around me.

CCL: What do you like do for fun around the city?

LL: I go to the movies when I get home, and I go to the UIC Theater if I was not busy. As for clubs , I go where I’m legally allowed to enter; and I go bowling with my friends. I just think that I am totally missing a lot because I am not 21, but I can’t wait for that!

Lorena 2nd from left bowling with her friends

CCL: Do you feel more responsible now that you live away from home?

LL: Yes, I’m more responsible. It feels great because I don’t have anyone calling me to ask me what time I will be home. I can get to my dorm at any time without getting in trouble. However, I feel like living in the middle of the city makes me more vulnerable to danger, especially for a young lady like me. One tip I follow from my peer mentor and Chicago College Life is to always go out in groups—NEVER BY MYSELF.

CCL: Do you think that your life would have been different if you lived at home?

LL: Time managing can definitely be hard your first semester living in the dorms. Sometimes I feel I have to choose between sleeping, having a social life, or studying. I learned my lesson the hard way; as of now I’m on the border of failing a class because of my procrastination. But I see my friends and study with them, and I followed the tips from the topic on Midterm Madness; I hope I won’t fail!

Over all, one of the advantages that Lorena has from living in the dorms is and able to experience the city life. Living in student housing has allowed her to study with the classmates, connect with friends, and avoid hours of commuting. Even though Lorena lives away from home and is dependent on her parents, she is currently learning how to be independent.



Wingin’ it with Lizzy Sebuck

24 Nov

Lizzy Sebuck loves Red Bull


Landing the perfect internship can be a challenging and stressful task. It takes hours of researching, applying, and preparing before actually interviewing with a company. Although Chicago College Life (CCL) has attempted to make this process easier by gathering opinions from professionals on internships, the interview process, and campus career resources, we have yet to get a student perspective on the matter.  Lizzy Sebuck, a senior at UIC, is majoring in Communications and is graduating this December. Last summer she earned a position at the Red Bull corporate office in Chicago as their Communication intern. CCL sat down with Lizzy and got the scoop about her experience with a summer internship at Red Bull.

Lizzy (2nd from left) with Chicago Wiiings Team

Chicago College Life (CCL): How did you find your internship?

Lizzy Sebuck (LS): I had already been working with the Red Bull Wiiings Team for about a year when I heard about the internship.  Working with the team is a lot more than promotions… being a Wiiings Team Member includes knowing everything there is to know about the energy drink as well as the Red Bull brand as a whole. In that job, the Wiiings Team Members speak on behalf of the brand to consumers.

My boss at that job came to me when he heard that there was a position open at the office. He knew that I am a Communications major, a huge media and film nerd, and that I live and breathe Red Bull so he thought it would be perfect for me. You know how they say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? They weren’t kidding!

CCL: What was the interview process like?

LS: Scary! But I prepared for it A LOT before my interview. I spent about a week making my roommates and friends test interview me with questions we thought they might ask at the interview. I prepared myself by making up hypothetical questions, since I had no idea what to expect.  The actual interview itself was really not so bad because I was so well prepared.  The women who interviewed me were friendly but professional, so I was pretty comfortable talking to them about more work opportunities for a company that I already love.

CCL: How often were you asked to work?

LS: This internship was my life for 4 months! While I worked in the corporate office for about 40 hours week, this internship was way more than a 9 to 5 job.  Red Bull hosts many different events that span across culture; from sports to music, and art—this company kind of has its hands dipped in everything.  I would travel around the Midwest with this internship when I had to cover these events. I even lived in Detroit for 2 weeks! During these events the Communications team would work some pretty early mornings until late the next night to finish coverage for any given occasion.

CCL: What kind of responsibilities did you have?

LS: As an intern, I did just about everything and anything asked of me. For starters, I was responsible for press releases and media alerts for any Red Bull event or news. Furthermore, it was my job to contact all of the media outlets, organize interviews, and get coverage for all of our events. During the actual events the Communications team does just about everything.  The Media Center is “the hub” for the Communications team. At the Media Center, I would assist in writing press and news releases, media alerts, as well as update the entire Red Bull company of on-going changes to the event schedule as they would occur. There was literally nothing we didn’t do.  Sometimes we would arrive on site as early as 4 A.M.  to conduct interviews, work through the day at the event, and then stay up all night writing press releases and reviewing photos of the event.

CCL: What was most challenging about your internship?

LS: I didn’t really have a life when I worked as a communications/media intern at Red Bull… but I was totally okay with it. I love the brand and I loved getting real life experience in my major, so I was totally happy. Yeah, I had to sacrifice a LOT of time and did a LOT of work, but it was definitely worth it. The hardest thing about my internship was working long hours. 28 hour days aren’t easy, even if you have a Red Bull in hand!

Lizzy (far left) at Flugtag in St. Paul-Minneapolis

CCL: What was your best experience while working with Red Bull?

LS: The coolest thing about my internship was my last project. For my last event in August the Communications team and I flew to St.Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota for Red Bull Flugtag. Red Bull Flugtag is an amazing event that includes the creation of “flight crafts” of about 30 teams of people. This hilarious event was not only fun, but I learned how to work a national event. As a last task, it was my job to run and operate the Media Center for Red Bull Flugtag Minneapolis. What a cool thing to put on my resume, right? I organized and operated the entire Media Center for a national event held by one of the top companies in the world. It was amazing.

CCL: Lastly, do you have any advice for other college students in Chicago who are interested in interning?

LS: Start an internship somewhere that you might see beginning your future career at. This way you’ll get an ‘in’ with people who decide your role at that company, and furthermore gain experience in a field you could eventually be paid to work in! Get ready for a work overload! If you are working somewhere that you want to have a career at, you really have to bust your ass to show them how much you care.

Based off Lizzy’s experience, you should expect an internship to be challenging and put you to the test. It is important to search for a position that really appeals to you, since you’ll be asked to invest a lot of time and energy in the company. Learn from Lizzy’s experience from working at RedBull, and use your internship to network and advance in the career field of your dreams!

For more information about available internships, check out the career services offered by your university:





Come On, Do the Turkey Trot!

17 Nov

Food Coma?

Don’t let turkey weight gain hold you back from gobbling up Thanksgiving dinner this holiday!  You know you’ve missed mom’s cooking, and how could you resist pumpkin pie. College students—don’t fret! CCL has an easy solution that can help you return to your normal size, in no time.

Have you ever heard of the Turkey Trot? In case you didn’t get the scoop,

Boost your resume, and run for charity this Thanksgiving!

 the 5K Marathon for Running in the USA is being held in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25th. What are you waiting for?! Shake a tail feather, and run the Chicago Marathon for charity. All proceeds benefit The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. Don’t be a stuffed bird this holiday!

The marathon would be great to put on your resume. Plus, it can help you stand out from others and is especially useful with today’s competitve job market.



Let Your Spirit Guide You

12 Nov

Judaism SymbolOne of the goals of Chicago College Life (CCL) is to encourage students to be active and join different organizations.  Many of our previous posts have highlighted various social, political, and community groups and organizations for college students to take part in. For Example: Student Activism: The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Meet Saba, That’s Pretty Good Stuff Want to get involved? A Student Shares Her Experiences.   However, we have yet to address another type of organization that has just as much of an impact on student’s lives: religion. Our staff would like to branch out and share more details about religious organizations and how students benefit from them. Therefore, CCL surveyed numerous students in order to gain different perspectives about religion on campus, and why religious organizations appeal to them.

Buddhist Symbol







Rhonda, a professor at St. Xavier University, based her perspective benefits students may gain from involvement with religious organizations from her own experience as a very active member in the Catholic Church. Rhonda says:

“When students are involved in a religious organization, it allows them to meet people who have the same beliefs, or meet people who really don’t have the same beliefs. This becomes a learning experience for students. They get to share ideas, stories, faith, and spread joy and love with others.”

There were also students who expressed guilt from having strayed from their religion, and wish to regain their faith by expressing their emotional needs with others who felt like that had missed out. Abby, a student at IIT has recently joined the Catholic Spiritual Life, explains, “A simple way for college students to really express their emotions is to participate in religious groups and organizations that only speak spiritually.”


Islamic Symbol

In addition, it is beneficial for students to join religious organizations, because it allows them to be spiritually active. Claudia, a student at IIT, shares her opinion:

Students always get involved in some type of organization, but many do not promote religion. Most organizations deal with sororities and fraternities. When a student joins a religious group it becomes more of a serious issue to them, because it’s somewhere they can speak about family issues, and ask religious questions that they didn’t have answers to. Students go through a lot during a school year, so joining a spiritual/religious organization can help keep them involved in something that is a life changing experience.

Joining a religious organization can actually make students that are away from home and outside their religious culture feel a little closer to home. On the UIC Campus, the John Paul II Newman Center is a Catholic center and church that allows students of all religions and belief systems to use their space and resources, to come in and pray and seek guidance in whatever they need emotionally.

St. Paul Chapel
Map of Newman Chapel’s Location at UIC

There are many options for students who are interested in participating in religious groups. In Chicago, private universities such as DePaul and St. Xavier practice Catholicism as their main religion. Therefore, students have the opportunity to experience the many religious organizations available at their schools. At schools like IIT, students are notified about various religions, and are able to learn and gain access to these religions at orientation before they even start school!







All in all, a great majority of students do not realize the positive effect of participating in religious groups. After surveying various college campuses, it was clear that students enjoy religious organizations because it is a significant stress reliever from school and they offer a great support system for those who are suffering from pressure at work, or hardships at home. Let your spirit be your guide, and explore a religious group today!

Leadership in the City: An Interview.

10 Nov

Valerie L. Holmes

Valerie L. Holmes, the Associate Director for Student Development Services, explains why leadership is so important. One of her responsibilities include working with leadership development. She has a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration and has worked for several other universities. This is her 10th year working in student affairs, so given her background, she was a great person to talk to about the importance of leadership as it relates to students.

Chicago College Life: What is leadership and what are your perceptions about it?

Valerie L. Holmes: The most widely known definition of leadership comes from a group of scholars in higher education. It is defined as a relational process of people together, attempting to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good. What that means is, there has to be a positive and mutually beneficial relationship between the people involved and that they are attempting to accomplish positive change. For me personally though, although that is the definition of leadership that I teach most, I think there are very specific attributes to good leaders. Not everyone has the ability or capacity to master those attributes and I think that leadership can be both positive and negative.

CCL: Why is it important for students to learn leadership? How does it benefit them academically?

VLH: I think it’s important for students to learn about leadership because of what I call personal leadership discovery. In doing that, one finds out about him or herself, their personality, likes and dislikes, how they react and behave during times of stress and challenge or celebration and joy, how they treat other people, what they like about how other people treat them, etc. They learn about congruency between their own beliefs and actions and how to interact with people and yield a positive result.

It’s beneficial to them in several different ways. It teaches responsibility, accountability and how to think critically, which is important for students. It helps to strategically think about one’s life, as it relates to other people, and what it takes to be a support to someone. I think it also exposes them to different concepts that challenge their own past views of things and therefore allows them make their own decisions. In my opinion, leadership experiences and concepts are the things that connect the classroom learning with experiential learning. It brings them together and solidifies the collegiate experience.

CCL: What about learning leadership for a future career?

VLH: Leadership in a career is very important because employers are looking for students who have very specific skills. Not just as it relates to the actual field but skills that happen to be general. Those are the skills of communication and interpersonal relations. Employers are having a harder time finding graduates that have these skills. Students can be highly capable of doing the technical part of the job, but if they don’t have those general skills, they won’t get hired. Who would want to have to micromanage someone who they’re paying all this money for?  You say you’re an adult and that you’re capable, competent, and ready for the responsibility, but if you don’t know how to interact with people, then really you’re not a total package. So, when students participate in our programs around leadership or they do their own leadership self discovery, it opens the door for them to start learning more about how to interact with other people and that shows in an interview. Even just with answering generic interview questions, you can tell who has good interpersonal and communication skills and who does not.

CCL: You mentioned campus activities earlier. Could you mention some programs you have?

VLH: Well, I was brought in to revamp the office because we don’t have very much right now. But, some offices on different campuses have what we call “leadership staples.” You’re always going to have leadership workshops and conferences and we have both of those things here at UIC. We have been working on trying to come up with a workshop series that’s interesting and presented in a way that will be palatable to the students. In addition to those generic leadership offerings that other campuses have, we also have a luncheon series, a seminar series, and one on one consultations.

CCL: What are some general, well-known leadership resources?

Some resources mentioned by Valerie.

VLH: It depends on what field you’re in because well-known is subjective. From the business world standpoint, things such as StrengthQuest, Fish Philosophy, Whale Done or anything by Spencer Johnson is great. He’s written a lot of books on leadership and management. Kouzes and Posner and Susan Komives have great books coming from the student affairs standpoint. We try to integrate both the business and student development side of leadership and use things such as Who Moved my Cheese, True Colors, and the Student Leadership Practices Inventory. We also offer different academic workshops for students that are ran by administrators. They use simulations like the Archie Bunker’s Neighborhood and BaFa’ BaFa’ to showcase intergroup dynamics and how leadership comes into play in situations.

CCL: Do you have any last words for students?

VLH: In my heart, I feel very firmly that participating in the free leadership and free community service programs that your campus offers is the easiest, cheapest, and most fun way to make the biggest impact on your future. It’ll help you in your personal and academic life and future career. You’ll be exposed to things that people pay thousands of dollars for in the corporate world. It will give you a leg up over other candidates because you sort of already know the concepts of leadership. It lets you think about what you do in your life and not just going through life and letting it happen to you. You understand it and can tap into your own potential and make strategic plans for your future.

Here are some references for Depaul and Loyola students. Don’t forget to check out your own school’s leadership resources and take advantage of them.

Some fliers from Student Development Services’ leadership programs/events:

Student Activism: The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

8 Nov
By: Anastasia

Which side are you on?!

I never thought I’d take a road trip to Washington D.C with my senior seminar class on Halloween weekend. It was so out of the ordinary, spontaneous, and exciting! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join my classmates in what I felt would be a historical moment for media students. Our class is a special topic in communications at UIC titled “Fake News.” This course looks at the blend between media, news, and entertainment in comedy shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. These shows are a relatively new genre because they offer political commentary with a comedic twist. Also, they are quick to point out inconsistencies in the media and the hypocrisy of the government. After many exaggerated new reports and disappointing actions made by political leaders, Stewart and Colbert hosted the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on October 30th at the National Square Mall in Washington D.C.

Jon Stewart explains the significance behind the rally in an interview with Larry King on CNN:

Our communications class had observed Stewart and Colbert’s criticism of the media and politicians over the course of the semester, and we were eager to show support for an event that was asking for more quality reporting and an outlet for moderate political views.

Many people who attended had signs and costumes to express their opinion on different issues.

Our class at the Westin Hotel in D.C.

Seven-hundred miles and fourteen hours later, we finally arrived at the nation’s capital; ready to take a stand against extremism, and fight for reasonableness! Thousands of people gathered at the National Mall on Saturday to engage in intellectual conversation, respectfully disagree with political media, or simply because they were die-hard Stewart/Colbert fans and were looking to have a good time. The atmosphere at the rally was positive, and everyone was either cheering for sanity or marching to keep fear alive!

Here is a clip with footage from the event:

The crowd at the rally!

The rally was packed with performances by The Roots, Ozzie Osbourne, Tony Bennett, Kid Rock, and Sheryl Crow. My favorite part of the Rally is when Stewart and Colbert gave medallions to people who they felt should be rewarded for reasonableness or courage to withstand fear. Of those that I talked to who attended, they were not sure what to expect out of the rally. Some people thought that the gathering had to the power to change peoples’ perspectives on politics and the media, while others felt it didn’t have much significance at all. In my opinion, Stewart and Colbert have a lot of political influence, but they hide their power behind humor. In addition, I feel their reporting has made them into American Icons, and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear has the power to make an impact on popular culture.

College students are becoming increasingly active in politics, and now more than ever is the time to take a stand in what you believe in. For me, like many people who attended the rally, I feel like we’re living in a time where we have to choose sides. Politics are polarized and the media creates drastic reports about the current state of our economy as if our days are nearing an end. Take a stand and volunteer or join a local organization of your choice. YOU can make a difference at your school or in your community. Get started by checking out the student organizations at your urban university:





Ready for the Real World?

5 Nov

From the first few weeks of college, while cramming for exams and pulling all-nighters to finish those annoying 15 page papers, you say to yourself, “Man, I can’t wait to graduate.”  But a couple years later when that time finally comes, do you still feel that way?  Chicago College Life is here to share some real opinions from some Chicago college seniors who are (almost) ready to enter the “real world” and see if all that hard work was worth it.

You're almost done with undergrad, now what?

Graduating from college is not as easy as taking all of the required classes for your major and getting your diploma.  Each college and major have different requirements for finals projects, interviews and seminar classes that senior students are required to complete prior to graduation.  Whitney, a Secondary Math Education major from DePaul University, explained,

“On top of having to get through my last set of classes this quarter while searching for a job, I also have to complete an exit interview for my honors program.  I knew the interview was coming, I just wasn’t ready to cram one more thing into my crazy schedule.”

You can learn from Whitney’s struggle with time management by meeting with an academic advisor or counselor at least once every quarter or semester to make sure that you are on track with your classes and well-aware of any your major’s graduation requirements you have to complete before getting that diploma.

“Full Time Job?  Oh, yeah!  I better get one of those!”  joked Mike, a Civil Engineering major from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“I can’t believe I’m already a senior and graduating in a couple of weeks.  It’s hard to believe that I’m going to have to give up the college lifestyle that I’ve learned to love and have to turn into a responsible adult with a nine to five job.”

When asked how he is preparing to enter the real world, Mike explained, “I’ve been sending out my resume to potential employers in the city and suburbs, and so far I only have one interview lined up.  Cross your fingers I get it!”

Be prepared with an updated resume and cover letter!

Make sure to have an updated resume and cover letter that is prepared to be sent out and make sure to revise them for each application so they complement the job requirements and description.  Many Universities offer career services that help you create a unique resume and cover letter, and they will even assist in editing these documents!

Don't worry, this won't be you during your first interview!

Interview seminars may also be offered by your college, many of which conduct mock interviews to help you learn how to prepare for and execute the first nerve-wrecking interviews with potential employers.  Another way to prepare for graduation is to attend the job fairs that may be held at your school and in the Chicago area.  It’s a great opportunity to show off your networking skills and see what jobs are available so you can determine what type of company or organization that you’re interested in working for.

“I never thought I would be saying this after 16 years of school, but I’m going to grad school.  I think it’s the smartest move for me right now,”

explained Josie, an English major from Loyola University Chicago.   “The job market is growing, but I’m still sure that getting a job won’t be easy.  I figure, why not stay in school and get my Master’s Degree?  What’s two more years of school anyway?”

If you are like Josie and would like to pursue another degree, be sure to check out grad school fairs both at your university and in the Chicago area, ask your professors about programs they recommend and conduct your own online research to find programs that interest you and will help you transition into a career after completing graduate school.

Although undergraduates are excited to receive their diplomas and start their professional careers, entering the work force can be intimidating and unpredictable.  Chicago College Life understands the insecurities associated with change and that is why we created a check list for how to prepare yourself for the transition from college student to young professional or graduate student.

What's your next move?

Take advantage of the career resources offered by your university and don’t hesitate to explore all of your options post graduation!  Ready or not Chicago, here come a new group of young professionals!



Meet Saba

27 Oct


Wanting to introduce basic information about the culture and educational institutions of foreign countries and regions, there was one country that Chicago College Life was able to reach through one student. As a group, we were curious to learn about the experiences of other international students compared to the experience of local students. There are advantages and disadvantages for international students who study in Chicago. Meeting with Saba Firdausi who is a third-year international student at UIC helped us attain some basic information on her cultural background and her experience that we want to share with our peer students.

Chicago College Life: Where are you from?

Saba Firdausi: Pakistan.

CCL:  We were told that you used to wear the Hijab which means you are Muslim; is this correct?

SF: Yes, I am a Muslim.

CCL: Saba, what major are you studying?

SF: Pre-Med

CCL: How do you find your studying different from what you were used to in Pakistan?

SF: Here, college is hard. Over there, if you go into medical, it’s a lot of memorization and here some of the stuff is just technical.

CCL: How else is it different in relation to the treatment of the professors to individual students?

SF: The teachers here don’t help each student individually unless we go to their office, other than that if we asked them after class, they would be like “go to Black Board”.

CCL: Have you made any friends that are outside of your nationality or background?

SF: Yes, lots and lots of American friends; the majority of them are white.

CCL: Did you find it hard to “fit in” and get along with people at your community and at UIC?

SF: I used to wear the hijab, and everybody used to stare at me at school and even on the subway, people used to stare at me the whole time. I didn’t take it off because I was in school, I didn’t care because you have the professor for only one semester.  I mainly took it off because I couldn’t get a job; because my area is mostly American people and it’s really discriminating here.

CCL: You couldn’t get a job because you were wearing a hijab?

Saba before removing the hijab

SF: Yes. I went to apply for a job at Meijers; the manager was really discriminating. I went there for an interview, but she didn’t take me; three days later I took off the hijab and went again, and she was like “come back on Monday”. She didn’t recognize me obviously.

CCL: In school, how did you feel you were discriminated against?

SF: There was this French professor of mine that was really mean to me, but I got an A in that class. However; I have a friend who I took a laboratory class with and she was wearing a full burka, and she was paired with a guy. She explained to the professor that she couldn’t work with a guy, and asked if she could be paired with me instead, but he was mean and did not accept her request. This is enough proof that I am being discriminated against because the teacher did not respond to the request and did not understand our background.

CCL: what about your classmates, how were they treating you?

SF: In class, we were going over what we did this summer, so told them about how this past summer I went back to Pakistan. Then they started asking me if I saw any bombings and stuff in front of the whole class. They were seriously asking in a way, but I still didn’t take it seriously and took it as a joke because they were my friends. I don’t really care, because I joke with them the same way and make jokes about them being blonde. In my major, most of the people are international students, and so everyone has a similar situation as mine, and I think that just about every culture has its own stereotypes. You know there is this one name they call the South Asian girls and it is really common at UIC if you don’t know it, it is called “Desi girls”. People think that when they are calling us by that name they are insulting us, but they are actually not. If you look it up the name actually means that we are South Asian girls, and that is what it really means. There is an Indian song about this name you can look it up on Youtube, it talks about how Indian girls are pretty and special and how there is no one like us.

CCL: If you don’t already know there are many clubs and many Muslim organizations at UIC that you can relate to that are based are your personal interests and your background; have you joined any?

SF: Yes; I have joined the MSA (Muslim Student Association), but I don’t like it because it discriminates against American people, like how American people discriminate against us when they’re together. I used to go to their meetings, and all they do is gossip about Americans. I also used to go to these Spanish and chess clubs and was very uncomfortable and not used to it in the beginning, but once I went two or three times, I became very comfortable. I also went to ESL (English Second Language) clubs in order to learn English better and that’s how I started meeting people and I became more comfortable making friends. From there I started joining more and more organizations.

CCL: Now that you have become comfortable in joining clubs and organizations, do you consider creating your own club that is neutral and does not discriminate in order to teach people about your culture?

SF: Yes; actually, this past week I told my friends to come over, so they got dressed and everything.

Saba on left

CCL: Let’s just forget about all the discrimination part and move to the positive side of being an international student; there must be a purpose for coming here and in order to achieve your goals. Every international student has the same difficult process they go through at the beginning as you have mentioned, but we all know that there is a happy ending. Every story has a happy ending, that’s why we are patient right?

SF: Yes! Definitely! I came here to finish my degree. Most of the girls that come here from Pakistan go into the medical major and pharmacy because those are the best in Pakistan. I will be working right away when I get home because I will have my degree from here.

CCL: So you are setting your goals to helping your own country?

SF: I mean; if I am going to get my degree, who else would I want to help?  I am not saying that I am a saint, but I want to really help the people that need help over there since I will be working any ways. Plus, I am setting my goals for my future in Pakistan because I will be married there. CCL: What are other advantages that you are gaining here at this moment that will help you in the future?

SF: You already know that there are scholarships that are offered only for international students, so I take advantage of those. There is also one thing that I feel good about in school that makes it less trouble for me. I have English as my second language, and when I am assigned a paper to write, I can write it ahead of time and give it to my professors, and get them back with all the edits. That way I get  better grades; and I don’t use this as an excuse with my professors, but because they really are true reasons and most of the professors understand that and they help me out.

CCL: That is great, and it is great to hear about your experience at the school. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

SD: Actually, as we have discussed earlier, we all have similar experiences at the beginning, but then everything gets better at the end.

It is definitely true that most international students go through the same experience of being discriminated against, but things get better by time; one just has to continue trying. And for those who are local students, it is interesting to learn about other cultures and become tolerant of the backgrounds of your peer international students.


Chicago College Students: Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear

26 Oct

Are you a fan of Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert? If so here is a great opportunity for you!  On October 30, 2010 hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather at the National Mall in Washington D.C. for Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” as well as Stephen Colbert’s, “March to

Keep Fear Alive.” Some colleges around the city are offering transportation to and from the rally. Space is limited on the buses so make sure you check in with your school ASAP so you don’t miss your opportunity to view these talented comedians live in person!

For those of you who can’t make it, fear not. The rally will be streaming live onComedy Central as well as on their T.V. station.

Also,Chicago College Life’s Anastasia will be attending the rally so she’ll be able to give you the inside scoop on what really went down. Stay tuned for exclusive pictures and info you can only get here from the girls at Chicago College Life!



To find out more information about the rally visit the Comedy Central webpage.

Midterm Madness!

13 Oct

These tests have been circled on your calendar and highlighted on your syllabi.  You’ve been nervous just thinking about them since the first week of the semester.  It’s finally here.  Midterm week.

Too much to handle?

So have you been procrastinating and haven’t cracked open the book yet?  Or have you been studying so much that you are on the verge of a mental breakdown?  Either way, relax.  Just follow a few of these tips and you will be on your way to acing your exams and surviving midterm week.

Determining how to study for particular classes can be a challenge in itself.  Should you make flashcards?  Join a study group?  Memorize the professors’ study guides?

Everyone has a unique learning style, so be sure to embrace yours.  You will find that remembering anything from the structure of the elements in the periodic table to the theories behind differences in communication styles will be much easier.

Whichever method of studying you choose, here are some tips to help you out:

  • Break up your studying into 20-50 minute increments, followed by a short 5-10 minute break.

    Don't worry, you'll get everything done!

  • Change the topic or subject that you study every hour.  This will help you to stay interested and efficient while learning material.
  • Study in the day time!  An hour of studying during the day is twice as productive than studying at night!
  • Make a task list of what you want to accomplish during a session of studying and cross off items as you go along.  Not only will this help you to focus, but it will also let you see your progress!
  • Give yourself some incentives!  For every 3 chapters you read, give yourself 10 minutes on Facebook or for every set of lecture notes you get through, talk a walk around the library or wherever you are studying at.

(Material from Dartmouth’s website.)

Studying for hours or thinking about how you should have started studying for your test earlier can be stressful.  That stress can make studying harder than it has to be.

When you need some relief, try these tips to get your focus back:

  • Meditation: There are a bunch of apps (both free and low-cost) available on iTunes to guide you step by step through mediation to relax.  Check out this video that teaches an insight meditation which allows your mind to think clearly and come up with new thoughts (perfect for when you are in a studying rut!)
  • Deep Breathing:  Instead of freaking out for tests, focus on breathing.  A technique that I found on a stress relief website, explains to sit up straight with your hands on your stomach.  When you take a deep breath in, make sure your hands are pushed away.  Hold the breath for 5 seconds and repeat until you feel calm.


  • Progressive Muscle Tensing: Start with your left leg.  Tense up your leg muscles for 5 seconds, then release.  Move up to your thigh & hip.  Repeat.  Continue up the left side of your body until you reach your neck and face, then switch to your right side.  This will help your body learn to isolate tension and relieve your overall body tension that accumulates from stress.
  • Coloring: Who knew a childhood activity could be relaxing?  Google “coloring book pages” and print your favorites out or grab a piece of scratch paper and doodle.  This will focus your nervous energy into doing something creative and will relieve your stress.
  • Smile! Force yourself to smile 10 times in a row.  After that, it will be hard not to laugh and forget about your midterm anxiety!

(Material from here , here & here.)

Midterms don’t have to be horrible.  Study in a way that fits your learning style and use some of the relaxation techniques included in this post and you will be on your way to making the Dean’s List.

Have more study or relaxation tips?  Leave us a comment!


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