Hello readers! You have tuned in once again into the Wonderful Life of Danny, trying to get a glimpse of things to come. Well, you won’t be disappointed because things get good.
And I don’t mean good like no exams, or good like hitting the home stretch of school, but good as in FREE TRIPS.
Alcon, one of the world’s largest companies in eye care, offers to fourth year optometry students from across the nation an all-expenses paid trip to the company headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. In order to be selected, you must show interest in contact lenses, whether through the school’s Contact Lens Society, the clinic’s Cornea Department or Contact Lens Symposium events. I was fortunate enough to be selected, and it was awesome!
My classmates have different ways of relieving stress. Some turn to retail therapy, be it on State Street or online. Many play intramurals and/or work out at the gym religiously. Others stroll, jog or bike on the lakefront path. Some come up to the fourth floor lounge in the RC to play the piano for an hour or so (I can often hear them through our living room wall—it’s great study music).
For me, I eat. Cooking has always been my stress reliever (well, that and cleaning), but I also like to indulge myself every so often by going out and trying new things. And in Chicago, you can’t help but want to go out. My parents always remind me to be frugal… except when it comes to food.
“You have to eat,” they say. “So, eat well.”
And eat well I have.
Below are my top five favorite places to eat in Chicago so far:
1. San Soo Gab San Korean BBQ
5247 N. Western Ave.
My parents and I ventured out to the cute North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Square for some Korean BBQ when I arrived in Chicago a few days before Move In Day. It was so authentic and tasty that I ended up going there again shortly after classes started with a handful of classmates. The restaurant is opened from 10 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning! Now I have a place to go if I ever have insomnia and the munchies.
I can say with absolute confidence that I am one of the
cheapest most frugal people at ICO. I’m Canadian, so I don’t get those awesome subsidized and unsubsidized loans that most Americans can apply for. I also don’t get the option to defer payment until graduation. I do get something called OSAP. It pays $210 perweek of class… which added up to be between $7,500 and $10,000 each year. Any extra money comes from a line of credit from the bank, or savings, so every extra dollar of adds up for me.
I worked for a savings bank for two years before I got to attend ICO. There, I learned to be the best coupon-queen/penny-pincher there could be. No matter how much I save, I will probably never be able to make my debt load disappear while I’m still in school, but my goal is do reduce my debt by $20,000 to $30,000 (depending on how many pairs of shoes I buy by the time I graduate). I’ll share some of my savings secrets with you.
Note: If you’re financially capable of making it rain harder than the hurricanes in horror films like the guy below, this post might not apply to you. Kudos, I am jealous.
1. I do as much work study as I can without sacrificing my grades.
My number one priority is to be an optometry student. There are some awesome jobs on campus that allows us to study on the job. I realize that it means we don’t get paid as much as the other jobs that are busier, but for me, it’s a matter of balance. I didn’t want to sacrifice my grades for an extra $40 a month. I was a note-taker, and I also sat at the security desks in front of the RC and the school. I pretty much get paid to do what I’m supposed to do here: study. Every dollar of income = a dollar less I have to take out. I save about $500 a month, or $6,000 a year doing work study alone.
Maintaining my involvement in the Chicago community is one thing that was important to me when I became an ICO student. In the past, I’ve volunteered with the Chicago Lighthouse, an exceptional organization that provides services, vocation, and much more for individuals with blindness or visual impairment. I started volunteering with the Chicago Lighthouse during undergrad and love the variety of events they have that give back to the community. Last month, I signed on to volunteer at their annual Flair fundraiser.
The event is pretty popular and mixes two things I love: vision and fashion. It’s organized as a pop-up shop in the 900 N. Michigan Shops, at which new and gently used designer garb is sold for a small fraction of retail. The proceeds from the sale support the blind and visually impaired. On the opening night of the four-day sale, there was a cocktail party and a runway show featuring some of the standout pieces. These clothing was worn by models with and without visual impairment. I volunteered during the weekend as a general floor manager, organizing clothing. I also greeted customers, informed them about the sale and cause, and answered questions about brands, sizes, etc. Being immersed in fashion for a worthy cause on a Saturday morning was a perfect escape from the routine of studying.