Illini Union

10 People You'll Definitely See If You're At The Illini Union

Would you like to buy a baked good to support our organization?

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Ahhh the Illini Union... a place near and dear to so many hearts here at The University of Illinois. From Starbucks and Auntie Anne's to a bowling alley and a computer lab, the Union has so many great things to offer. With all these different things going on in one building, it's a very diverse crowd. Although you may see a few familiar faces if you go often, you're mostly surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Some are there for the same reason as you and others, well who knows why they're there. Regardless of who these people are, you're sure to come across at least a few of those appearing on this list during your trip to the Union.

1. The person playing the grand piano

Spongebob playing tiny piano

We all know this person. They come into the nearly silent front room overlooking the quad and start tapping their little fingers on those keys. Most of the time, this can be soothing or eventually, you'll drown it out and forget there's even someone playing, or perhaps you brought your headphones! Lucky you! For those of us who forgot our headphones on our nightstands because we were watching "The Spongebob Squarepants Movie" in bed last night and forgot to put them in our backpacks *sigh,* we'll have to enjoy whatever piece of music that practicing musician has to offer. If this person is you, play as much as your little heart desires.

2. The person playing the grand piano...downstairs

Ross playing Piano

So this person is pretty similar to the last person, but they have an edge. They don't want to play in complete silence. They don't care if you listen to them playing or not. They want to watch you scarf down your Blaze Pizza you waited 35 minutes to get while they play.

3. The person taking up the six person table, by themselves

Donald Glover

I get that there aren't always too many tables, but if you're taking up a larger table and a smaller table opens up, consider moving! Obviously, it's annoying to move your stuff and get up, but it'll be a nice gesture to a group of people who need that table. A four-person table is one thing, but if you're taking up a table that big, expect strangers to make themselves at home on the other end.

4. The person that has clearly been there for more than 8 hours

Tired kid

The dark circles, messy hair, granola bar wrappers, and an empty coffee cup or three are all signs of this person. They probably waited until the day before to start really studying the exam material or maybe they're an engineering major and that's just what life is normally like. Either way, this person is stressed, tired, and wants to go home, so when you see them, give them an encouraging smile.

5. The person scrolling down social media while their textbooks remain untouched across the table 

Scrolling Tumblr

They've been there for at least forty-five minutes, and their books haven't even been touched. Everyone procrastinates in their own way! If this person wants to walk all the way to the Union to get nothing done, at least they got their steps in. This person does get annoying when the tables are running low and they're wasting a valuable seat. They're probably looking up study tips though, right?

6. The person staying at the hotel who wants nothing to do with the students

Leaving

You only ever catch a glimpse of this person. They get off the elevator and immediately head to the door. They don't want to make eye contact with anyone and would much rather take an Uber to a different Starbucks if that means avoiding the Union. They're normally carrying bags for their stay in or out, and it's really funny when their rolling suitcase gets caught on the door's threshold. Bon voyage, Champaign!

7. The person selling baked goods for their RSO by the door

Eating brownie

You see this person, then you don't. No, they didn't disappear, you're just avoiding eye contact. "I don't have any cash!" you say. You hear, "that's fine! We're accepting Venmo." You freeze because you don't know what to say, and you definitely don't feel like spending any money on their cake pops. You respond "I'm sorry, I'm gluten free!" to which they respond "we have gluten-free items too!" Now you're sitting in the union eating your $4.50 gluten-free brownie that tastes like dirt and you hate yourself and that RSO member.

8. The person eating Qdoba at the table next to you

get in my belly

Qdoba is one of the many food options at the Illini Union. You're bound to get stuck sitting by someone who decided it was a good idea to bring their food upstairs so they could continue studying. You can smell it from your table and you can't help but glance over at it. They're mindlessly eating away while writing their paper, meanwhile, you sit there in envy while you pick the pieces of gluten-free brownies out of your teeth.

9. The person on a bathroom break during a conference

bathroom break

They're walking slow, on their phone, and look dead inside. In reality, they've probably been at that conference all day and just want to go home or they're part of organizing the event and they're annoyed with whatever problems they may have run into. That bathroom break is about the only time they'll have to be alone and they just want to enjoy it. It's the little things in life.

10. The person passing through the Union to decrease their time outside in the cold

Sweaters

They're walking down either main hallway, probably rubbing their hands together, and blowing warm air into their scarf. Their face is wind-burnt and their glasses are fogged. They just walked from the Engineering Quad, and now they're headed toward the South Quad, so they'll take any second indoors that they can get. You'll only see them in passing, so be thankful you're not headed out in the cold behind them.

You may not encounter these people all in one trip, but they're all there. Who knows, maybe you are one of these people and that's nothing to be ashamed of. We all have RSO commitments and Pinterest boards to maintain. There's more of these people there than you think. Next time you find yourself in the Union, look around.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.
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College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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