Everything You Need To Know About Summertime In Chicago

Everything You Need To Know About Summertime In Chicago

The saying "Summertime Chi" exists for a reason.
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I don't know about you, but when I think of summer, the first thought that comes to mind is laying out on a white sand beach somewhere-anywhere, in fact-far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. At times, living in Chicago can be a bit overwhelming due to the constant traffic on the streets and floods of civilians everywhere you look. Yet, what I often tend to forget is how beautiful Chicago can be, particularly throughout the summer season. The sidewalks may be packed so tightly that you have difficulty passing the people surrounding you, but it is important to keep in mind the fact that everyone is out for a reason-to experience "Summer Time Chi" at its finest.

Aside from the main attractions of Millennium Park, Navy Pier and The Chicago River Walk, the city of Chicago offers a plethora of activities to experience in the summer. With different amenities at your favorite restaurants, such as a beautiful sliding glass door patio at Summer House Santa Monica, as well as festivals such as Spring Awakening and Lollapalooza, one's schedule is sure to remain booked throughout the season.

Oh, and let's not forget to mention the variety of parks and beaches that can be found throughout the city to ensure that you get an effortless tan.

From walking on the piers to jumping into Lake Michigan when you're in need of a cool down, there is nothing that Chicago cannot offer in the summertime. In fact, there is no place I would rather be... except maybe Hawaii. I hear they have the Pacific Ocean to offer.

Cover Image Credit: Gina Brennan

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40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

Because we all know four months without college friends or classes is WAY too long.
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It's been less than a week since finals wrapped up at the University of Minnesota, and I, among many of my other friends, are already lost on things to do. Since January, our entire schedules have been filled with homework and studying. The new freedom summer brings provides endless time (in between our summer job shifts, of course) for new activities and things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do during the school year. Below is a list of 40 different activities to keep you entertained during your break and to ensure you make the most of your summer.


1. Learn a new language.

I highly recommend starting with Duolingo. It's an app that provides free language tutoring through a series of activities and exercises. It offers a wide variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Greek, Swahili, among many others.

2. Volunteer.

There's an endless amount of volunteering opportunities offered throughout every major city in the country. For example, many hospitals will accept volunteers, as well as organizations in Minnesota such as Feed, My Starving Children, or the Ronald McDonald House. Most positions only require an application but be sure to check for minimum requirements such as age or experience.

3. Read a book.

Go to a library and wander until you find a book you think you'll like. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

4. Watch a TED talk.

This is one of my favorite hobbies any time of the year. TED is a nonprofit organization that shares short, approximately 15-minute videos ranging from science to business to global issues. There's a topic out there for everyone.

5. Start a garden.

Even if you don't have any outdoor space, succulents and cacti are very low maintenance and still add a little "green" to your indoor space.

6. Go camping.

Whether it's at a campground or in your backyard, enjoy the technology-free time with your family or friends.

7. Paint.

If you're not an artistic person, go to the store, buy a set of Crayola watercolors, and just paint.

8. Take an online course.

Coursera and edX both supply free online courses from top universities such as Yale, MIT, and Harvard. If you're trying to further your understanding of a particular topic such as physics or biology, I suggest starting with these websites.

9. Bake brownies or cookies.

Most stores stock up on the prepared cookie or brownie mixes, but if you have the time and ingredients, try making them from scratch.

10. Fly a kite.

Kites are available on Amazon for $10-$15, and instruction videos are available on YouTube to help you get started.

11. Play board games.

Life and Scrabble are my go-to's.

12. Make a scrapbook of old memories.

If you have the time and a little extra money, I promise the end-product will be worthwhile.

13. Start a journal.

You don't have to go buy the fancy Moleskin journals or buy an expensive one from Barnes and Noble, a simple notebook will do the trick. Write down your thoughts and document your summer.

14. Go to the beach.

Enjoy the sunshine, but don't forget sunscreen!

15. Go fishing.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and one of them is most likely within driving distance. Take the time on a nice, calm morning, and go fishing.

16. Binge-watch a TV show on Netflix.

"The Office," "Friends," "New Girl," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Grey's Anatomy" are good places to start.

17. Start a bucket list and cross off one item every week.

The items added don't have to be spectacular and nearly unattainable, they can be little things, too. In other words, I'm not expecting you to go skydiving, swim with sharks, and go on a cruise all in one month.

18. Learn to rock climb.

Both indoor and outdoor rock climbing are available depending on your level of comfort and experience. Remember to take every safety precaution and have fun.

19. Catch up with an old friend over coffee.

Call the friend you haven't seen in three years and ask to catch up over coffee. You never know how much their life has changed since last speaking with you.

20. Have a picnic.

Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and juice, and find a nice spot with a view. Maybe bring a book for a post-picnic activity.

21. Meditate or do yoga.

If you're unexperienced in both of these activities, many YouTube channels provide instructional videos. I'll post a link to one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors here.

22. Learn a new instrument.

Whether it's piano, guitar, or even this $7.49 recorder from Amazon, try something new.

23. Discover new music.

Spotify and Pandora are great music platforms to discover different songs and artists. Keep checking your local venues and maybe attend a concert if possible.

24. Complete a puzzle.

You can buy puzzles online for around $10-$15. However, thrift stores and stores like Goodwill often sell them for less than $5.

25. Visit a museum.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minneapolis Institute of Art are two of the post popular museums in Minnesota. If you check their websites and other internet sources such as Groupon, you might be able to find a discount for admission.

26. Go to a comedy show.

I'm unaware of good comedy events around the country, but if you ever find yourself in downtown Minneapolis, check out Brave New Workshop.

27. Build a card tower.

If you're unsure how to do so, here is a link to instructions.

28. Reorganize and redecorate your room.

If you'd like a change in your life, try redecorating or reorganizing your room. Donate old clothes, books, or furniture no longer in use.

29. Marathon the entire Harry Potter series.

I challenge you to do this back-to-back with each movie, but I also realize that is 19 hours and 39 minutes of watching movies, not including snack or bathroom breaks.

30. Play with a pet.

It doesn't have to be your own. For a real adventure, check out the nearest animal shelter.

31. Start a blog.

Wordpress and Weebly are two online blogging websites that I highly suggest. Although it takes awhile to become accustomed to the platform, these websites are great because they're entirely customizable to the type of blog you wish to create.

32. Go for a bike ride.

Whether it's along the river or out on back roads, go for a ride.

33. Teach yourself how to juggle.

This might be easier said than done, but some videos on YouTube might be useful.

34. Take a bubble bath.

Some bubble bath or a bath bomb, music, and a good book will have you relaxed almost instantly.

35. Go to a farmer's market.

Support the farmers in your community and try buying local. With a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and flowers, there's something for everyone. The farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis is open Thursday's from 6am-6pm, while the Lyndale Market is open daily from 6am-1pm.


36. Exercise.

Go for a walk. Run. Bike. Do yoga. Play soccer. Just get up, and get moving.

37. Become a tourist in your own city.

Pretend you're from out of state and only have a limited amount of time to explore your city. Take yourself and your friends or family to the must-see places around town.

38. Color.

Adult coloring books have become an increasingly popular trend. Available online, Barnes and Noble, and Target, they're easily accessible. You can buy a book, some colored pencils or pens, and enjoy the relaxing day.

39. Spend time with your family and friends.

Whether it's a movie day or going out on a walk, put away your phone or laptop for a day and appreciate the people standing around you.

40. Enjoy all the time you have not worrying about studying or homework.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Pizzio // Unsplash

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To The Stressed Out College Student, Be Optimistic For Spring Quarter

I am looking forward to a productive spring quarter.

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As a strenuous ten weeks of winter quarter is finally coming to a close, there is no better feeling than to be rewarded with a week of spring break. For most colleges and universities, this period of time is one of excitement and relief, as students approach a summer vacation that begins in May. Yet, for students with schedules revolving around the lovable (and often hatable) quarter system, it feels as though summer is far from our reach.

On a personal note, my previous ten weeks of classes have been bearable at best. I can proudly say that I have been counting down the days until spring break since our winter quarter began in January, though now that the week is finally approaching, I am reminded by the fact that I have yet another ten weeks of school in the near future. Interestingly enough, I have not started the countdown to June 18th quite yet. Instead, I am looking forward to a productive spring quarter that will leave me feeling energized and accomplished as I enter into a fresh summer.

I believe that the spring quarter withholds a sense of refreshment and newfound energy in comparison to that of fall and winter. Though students on the quarter system will end classes later than others, there is something to be said for spending days on campus when the warm weather finally breaks. Time seems to pass faster than it did in the dark and ominous weeks of winter quarter, and everyone seems to have a more positive attitude - as we can all see that vacation is approaching.

To the stressed out college student, be optimistic for spring quarter. Though tests and finals will still be ever-present, the completion of another ten weeks of classes is excellent motivation to achieve success and reward yourself within the coming months.

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