10 People You'll Definitely See If You're At The 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?


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


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


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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10 Things You Will Learn During Your First Semester At College

Ramen for dinner... again...


I am a freshman at Elon University in North Carolina and have just completed my first semester. It was a crazy couple of months, but I would not change them for the world. Below is a list of important lessons I have learned, and I hope that this helps incoming college students prepare for their next four years!

1.  You are never alone

Kate Tulenko

Seriously, never. Whether you are in class, in the dining hall, or hanging out in your room, you are always surrounded by people. Me being a people-person, I love the constant stimulation of people around me, and quite honestly, it was weird being alone in my room when I came home for breaks.

2.  Not spending money is hard


Whether it's stopping at the local coffee shop or getting groceries, you will put a big hole in your spending account, so save up your summer job money while you still can!

3.  You'll find out who your real friends from home are

Kate Tulenko

Going to college is hard because all of your high school friends are all over the country. The people you called your best friends are now far, and only a few still keep in touch—These are the realest friends you could find.

4.  Your roommate will be your rock

Kate Tulenko

I was lucky enough to have a wonderful roommate this semester. We have been through a lot, and I am glad to have her in my life. Hopefully, you will be this lucky too (I'm not going to lie, some people are not as lucky) but try to make the best of the situation, whatever it ends up being. Your roommate will be there for you when you need them and will be there for every crazy story that happens, so get excited!

5.  There's no "Popular" group

Kate Tulenko

Sure, in high school there is that group of girls that seems to run the school and have everyone wrapped around their fingers. But in college it's different. There is no popular group—everyone just does their own thing and has a great time, and the best part is that no group judges another. Everyone is friends with everyone.

6.  Naps are IMPORTANT!

Kate Tulenko

I have said it once and I will say it again: College tired is a different kind of tired. And I think it's because you are always talking to people and doing things all day, and never really resting or doing nothing by yourself. It's honestly a blessing and a curse.

7.  Free food is a blessing


PREACH! Whenever there is free food you know I'm there! You will get bored of dining hall food, so when you see a different type of food being offered on campus for free you should tap that.

8.  High School was nothing compared to college

Kate Tulenko

I love my high school friends and had a great time with them, yes, but nothing compares to the freedom and fun you have at college. You will have the best time because you can do whatever you want whenever you want—just remember that you are at college for the education, not the parties!

9.  Working out is a necessity

Kate Tulenko

It's no secret that your entire body changes when you get to college because of the change in diet and different daily schedule than what you are used to. So try to go to the gym or get some type of workout every day or so to stay in good shape. I was a swimmer, so one of my go-to workouts is to swim.

10.  Your new friends will be your new family

Kate Tulenko

You will form an unbreakable bond with your friends at college because you all are facing this new chapter in your life, and no one really knows what they are doing. You will figure out this path together, which is what brings everyone so close. Me and my new friends felt like a family not even two weeks into the semester, and now that bond is even stronger. I cannot wait to see what the next three years will be like with my new family by my side. So, get excited for college—I promise it's everything people hype it up to be!

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My Sibling Is The Best Thing To Have Happened To Me

I once wanted to find a friend that knew everything about me, then I realized I already had him.


I am not going to pretend that my brother and I have always gotten along. We used to fight and hurt each other just as much as any other brother-sister relationship. But we were kids then. Since we have grown up, my brother has been a source of support and encouragement that is irreplaceable and honestly, the best thing to happen to me.

They say that your siblings are your closest family relationships. They are the ones who grew up with you, they are the closest in age, and they are the relationships that will last the longest in your family because of that. They know exactly why you are the way you are. They know all of your biggest failures and greatest successes, and chances are they were there every step of the way. They know exactly what buttons to push to get a rise out of you, but they also know exactly what you need to hear when times are tough.

My brother and I only really started being civil in middle school. I remember the first real conversation I had with him was about a girl he liked. I was so happy that he wanted to share that part of his life with me. I was so happy he thought I was mature enough to confide in. My brother is two years older than me, so in my eyes, he was always the cooler one, despite what I said to his face.

I have seen a lot of different types of sibling relationships since I have been in school. And when people go off to college like most of your other relationships, the dynamic of your relationship with your sibling also changes. I have never been so happy that I had someone to pave the way for me than when I found myself alone in a town 700 miles away from home. My brother made a similar transition two years ago. In the experiences where I wasn't there for him, he was for me. The kind of understanding and support you get from someone who has been where you are and knows all of the dynamics of the way you were raised is unmatched and invaluable.

Over the years, we've had our fair share of tomfoolery, but my favorite moments with my brother are those that are much more understated. While choreographing and dancing and mixing together is fun, sitting on a sofa and annoying the shit out of each other just like we did when we were kids means much more to me. There's something about being able to transition so seamlessly from a young adult planning their future to a straight up child that is so very comforting. And really, the only person that you can actually expect to have those kinds of moments with is someone who saw you through all your weird and quirky phases.

I haven't seen my brother in four months. He has been studying abroad and I just started college. He didn't come home for Thanksgiving, so we've really only talked over video chat. While there's a lot that can be shared over phone conversations, it is not the same as sitting in the room you used to share with your sibling and reminiscing on your childhood.

This past year has been a year of big changes both personally and professionally for both my brother and I. There's been some pain, some heartbreak, some loss, and a whole lot of growth. The best thing about having a sibling is no matter how far your journey may take you, no number of miles can break the bond you have. When you have a sibling, you automatically have your number one fan and your toughest critic, but no matter what role they are playing that day you always have someone in your corner. It has been a long year and a tough year, but one thing I am glad to say hasn't changed is that my brother is still an overgrown child who annoys the crap out of me… and he's still my hero.

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