Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Blogs | 1 comment

Second year. That’s right, ladies and gents, the class of 2017 officially finished their first year at ICO about a month ago. Which, after nine months of rigorous coursework, only means one thing: summer!

It’s our last summer without classes, and my classmates are scattered all over the place–some are in the Caribbean on mission trips, some are in their hometowns, some are staying in Chicago.

I myself am staying in Chicagoland and have perhaps taken on one too many activities. I’m working in the admissions office three or four times a week and taking shifts at a Lenscrafters in the suburbs when I can. And, of course, I’d be a fool not to explore the city’s wide variety of downtime activities. I’m trying out lots of restaurants and rooftop bars, which are great for enjoying a margarita or cold beer with friends in the good weather. It’s days and nights like these that make up ten-fold for this past harsh winter (multiple polar vortices and all). Still on my summer to-do list is sampling what’s reputed to be the best tiramisu in town at Sapori Trattoria and attending Jazzin’ at the Shedd. Obviously we’re not exactly well-paid as students and cutting costs is great, so I’ve been making use of Groupon and LivingSocial deals to be able to enjoy new experiences at discounted rates of 50 percent or more. I highly recommend it.

summer in chicago

Beyond the money issue, I wouldn’t be able to rooftop margaritas unless I felt I was working hard, too. A few weeks ago, some fellow ICO students and I participated in a Stand Down event at the General Richard L. Jones National Guard Armory in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, only a few miles from campus. Stand Downs help provide homeless veterans access to food, clothing, shelter and health screenings. In addition to vision care, medical and dental care was also provided at this event.

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We students pre-tested, or performed entrance examinations, on the veterans, and ordered glasses for them. It was one of the most rewarding activities I’ve participated in at ICO. The men and women were so appreciative of receiving healthcare–access to which should, in my opinion, be a basic human right. I also found out upon reaching the armory that participating in the Stand Down will also count toward my required second-year volunteer hours.