Lessons beyond the classroom


The city is our playground. Photo: Timothy Nguyen


I hate to say this, but this is my final month of blogging for IamUIC. I’m not addressing that any more than that at this point because it’s too sad, so we’ll deal with that later. At any rate, this month, I want to wind down with some closing thoughts about my experience as a UIC student.

Each week, I want to give you some sort of wrap-up to this wild ride that has been my four years at UIC. So this week, I’m talking about things I’ve learned while in college…but not in the classroom. Academics are important, but so are the life lessons we understand as we go. Some of these are self explanatory.

  1. Sometimes you will be so confused that you don’t know which way is up…or which bathroom is the women’s.  No seriously, one time I was so busy and I was thinking about a million things and didn’t realize I was using the men’s bathroom until I left.
  2. You aren’t invincible, and you certainly can’t do it all. No matter how hard you try, you can’t, and if you still try anyway, you will reach a breaking point where you are so behind in everything. It isn’t worth it to make yourself miserable. Trust me.
  3. Being sick is no fun on your own. Whenever I’ve been sick, all I’ve wanted is my mom. And soup. Growing up is tough.
  4. If you let something get to you to the point that it makes you cry, sit down and cry about it. It won’t bother you nearly as much once you do that. Sometimes a good cry is all you need. Give yourself time to pick the pieces back up and you’ll find yourself feeling so much stronger and independent.
  5. Books will always be an escape. Nothing has ever been better for me. No matter where I am in life, relaxing with a good book is the ultimate thing. And that time to yourself is so important.
  6. Things break. Especially electronics. Especially MY electronics. But it isn’t the end of the world. I am the queen of broken technology. It’s a serious problem. And after losing months of pictures, contacts, documents, etc., I’ve learned that these aren’t the real things that matter. It’s an inconvenience, but that is not what you need to hold on to in life. Look around.
  7. You can never have too many rolls of paper towels… or too much chocolate.From spills to just plain old bad days, these college (and life) staples can fix a lot of things. And nothing like being prepared! #GirlScout
  8. There are few things that a quick call home or to our sister can’t put into perspective. When things are out of control and you don’t know where to turn, call home. Call your closest friend. It makes a world of difference.
  9. A boyfriend who is also your best friend is the best thing in the entire world (but also so is chocolate). Seriously guys, the answer to life is chocolate! But really, Kevin has gotten me through everything on this crazy journey, and I couldn’t have done it without him.
  10. Having a plan doesn’t mean having everything planned. Knowing the direction that you are going (not physically) and what makes you happy is often enough Follow that lead. And remember, you only answer to yourself.
  11. You can justify just about anything by saying you won’t want to do it as an adult. Midnight cookie run? Impromptu dodgeball fight at work? Who cares! Join in, do it – say yes! Some of my favorite college memories come from moments like this.
  12. Chicago is the ultimate playground. So much to do, so much to see (Arthur reference, anyone?) What a fun and exciting place we live and work! I’ve had the time of my life in this city, all the while getting a fantastic education.
  13. Petting a dog is the ultimate stress relief, especially your own. Nothing can’t be solved by a smiling puppy or a cuddle. Visiting dog parks or visiting my Bear have made a world of difference for me these years…and always will.
  14. You may not get wiser as each year passes, but you do get more tired. While I always feel like the same person, I do find myself running out of hours in the day even more and becoming tired earlier. Help!
  15. You can accomplish anything you want with the right amount of effort and an organized planner. Always remember: planners are everything! Give everything you have (and keep it organized) and these things will take you far.
  16. Life moves faster than a commuter trying to catch the Metra. Jokes aside, it’s scary how fast it goes. I’m turning 23 this year … but I feel like I was just 18 in my freshman year here. So make the most of every moment of life, and don’t forget not to take it too seriously!


Holly Brenza (F)


Holly Brenza is a senior majoring in English and minoring in communications and management. In her spare time, Holly enjoys playing with her puppy, Bear, and watching the Blackhawks and White Sox, reading and trying out new recipes. After graduation, she hopes to work in public relations.


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