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  • Unofficial: What's it all about?

    By Amira Al Mutairi and Jennifer Avery

    As you walk down the street this Friday (3/7) through a crowd of partying college students, it may be hard to believe that the roots of their celebration can be found in a Christian holiday to commemorate the life of the best known patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick, as well as the arrival of Christianity to Ireland.

    The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States dates back to the 18th century. Though the holiday’s origins were religious, celebrations in the USA have, since their inception, been focused primarily on the cultural aspect of the holiday. Many people show their holiday spirit by dressing in green, drinking green beverages, eating green food and watching parades that highlight Irish heritage and culture. In cities where there is a large Irish/Irish-American population, the celebrations are even more elaborate. Chicago, for example...

  • Student Blogger: Being Open to New Experiences

    We have a new student blogger at ISSS and we're very excited to introduce her! Qianyu Cheng will be blogging with us this Spring and sharing her experiences as a sophomore at U of I.

    By Qianyu Cheng

    Hi! My name is Qianyu. I am a sophomore major in Actuarial Science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and I am an international student from China.

    As a student in University of Illinois, it is easy to discover the cultural diversity on campus. When I was in high school, all my classmates are from the same town. We all grow up in the same city and share the similar experience. So when I first found out about the diversity...

  • Student Blogger: Balancing Work and Play

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

    Thomas Merton

    College life has sometimes been tough for me. At times, I frequently spent a large fraction of my time struggling to focus on my assignments and readings. In high school, after a tiring day in class, I would come back home, sit down at my upright piano, and play my favorite songs. Looking back, when I felt frustrated or stuck, I would use that negative energy to create new music at the piano. Things changed in college.

    At college, I couldn’t find a way to to play the piano regularly, because the opportunity to find an unoccupied piano was limited. There was a piano or two in the student halls, but I was always wary of playing so loudly that...

  • Student Blogger: Building Trust and Having Ambition creates Leadership

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Back in high school, I had been involved in many activities, and my friends in school identified me with those activities. I was a member of a high school band, and my friends knew that I was quite good at playing the piano, because they had heard me play and seen me take part in competitions. But at UIUC, up to a certain extent, what I did in high school didn’t matter. I had to prove myself again. Although this seemed difficult and tedious, I took it as an opportunity to be identified as the type of person I wanted to be! I wanted to prove to myself that I could be a leader at my university.

    I started my search for leadership positions...

  • Student Blogger: Tech-ify your College Experience

    By Bentic Sebastian

    I have benefited greatly from using technology as a student. Technology is essential for success in college. But I only learnt how to use technology effectively by trial and error, and I could not find help from anywhere. I hope that after reading this post, you will learn how to use the powers of technology to your advantage at college!

    Problem: In my first semester, I was really excited about my schedule which I chose completely on my own! In order to find my classes, I used the paper map we were provided during Welcome Week. Regardless of how well made the map was, it still took me time to locate the building I wanted to get to, and find out how to get there. Since it was just a single sheet of paper, I frequently lost my map when I really needed it. I tried to fold it up...

  • Hello Fall!

    By Nicole Vernon

    Hello Fall!

    Fall has officially arrived! The weather is cool and the leaves are changing to a beautiful mix of orange, red, and yellow. Food choices also indicate that Fall has arrived– many coffee shops start offering Pumpkin Spice lattes, pumpkin flavored coffees or foods, Apple Cider (hot or cold) is available in stores, and apple orchards are...

  • Student Blogger: Freshman 15

    By Bentic Sebastian

    The first time my dad and I went to the PAR dining hall, we were both astounded! I could eat whatever I wanted. My dad was amazed at the stir-fry counter, the burrito corner, and the dessert options. When I asked him what he thought about how frequently I should eat, he replied “As often as you feel like”. I loved the dining halls but I wasn’t prepared for how I would face the idea of a buffet almost every single day. And that was the beginning of my Freshman 15!

    If you haven’t heard of Freshmen 15, this is an important phase that freshmen or other new students go through, especially in the United States. Freshman 15 refers to...

  • Student Blogger: Mini Party with an Open Door!

    By Bentic Sebastian

    Leaving my home for another country for further study was daunting for me , because I felt unsure about whether I would find friends as understanding as my friends back home. As an international student, I came to the university knowing nobody in my first year. Missing the whole week of Welcome Week didn’t help either, as I didn’t get a chance to see my future classmates, and I couldn’t sign up for the student clubs at Quad Day either.

    I came to my dorm on the day before classes started, and there wasn’t really time for me to meet the other students on my floor. I was very excited to see so many new people at university, but I was also anxious because...

  • Top 10 Reasons to meet your Academic Advisor

    This week, we're excited to bring you a guest post from Jenni Kotowski, Academic Advisor in the Division of General Studies (DGS).

    By Jenni Kotowski

    There are a number of good reasons to meet with your academic advisor on a regular basis. Besides the fact that your academic advisor can help talk about which classes to take in the upcoming semester; your advisor can discuss...

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    Student Blogger: A Truly Global Home

    By Bentic Sebastian

    When I was a freshman, I had a tough time choosing a dorm to live in. I did some research, and I finally decided to stay in PAR(Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls). Among many popular reasons (the great food being one of them), I wanted to stay at an LLC, which stands for a Living Learning Community. An LLC is a community of students who share a common interest, a theme of sorts. As a new international student, I found it beneficial to stay in an LLC, because I was able to make some good friends immediately after coming to the university. There are about eight LLCs to choose from in different dorms at the university. I chose to live in Global Crossroads.

    Global Crossroads is a Living Learning community in PAR. We lived on the second and third floor of Saunders Hall (one of the four halls in PAR). Our theme was the culture and customs of the various countries around the world. My LLC was special to me because...