Six vignettes of how senior year started

One Live

I had a great time at the ONE LIVE Les Mills cardio dance event at McCormick Place.


♪♫♪ I assumed there was only room for my dreams in my dreams so I’d sleep and repeat ‘til the moon went home / And I didn’t know where it’d take me but made me so crazy in love with it…


Snapshots of my last first weeks as an undergrad.


My Capstone will not be born from biology. Or chemistry. Or psychology. It’s about Russian environmentalism! I am still celebrating this. And waving good riddance to dreadful days stuck inside a fume hood. I am armed with a fancy LASURI grant (so very grateful!) and a lofty project title (The Preservation of Natural Resources and Environment in Pre-Revolutionary Russia…hoping the product lives up to this grandiosity).

And then…getting started.

Wise and Patient Faculty Mentor: To start, let’s have you translate some portions of old children’s journals. You can look for articles that relate to nature, animals, weather…anything about the environment.

Me, eager: Sounds great! Maybe they’ll be near my Russian level, too.

Wise Mentor: I think you’ll find them very interesting! Oh, but remember it may take some time to get used to the old orthography of Russian words. The spelling rules and letters were quite different so long ago.

Me, overconfident: No problem, I can transcribe it to modern spellings and translate.

That evening…

Line 1: “Къ свѣдѣнiю подписчиков…”

Me, lost: Um… *Googles for the next half hour*



Confession: I am in love with dancing. Many kinds, but specifically dancing Bodyjam, the Les Mills cardio dance class that made me leave my turtle shell of a comfort zone for the first time three years ago. And so when I found out there was a HUGE Les Mills event (ONE LIVE) at McCormick Place with Bodyjam on the schedule…of course I signed up.

My lovely mother (who commuted from Naperville to join me) and I rush inside the Skyline Ballroom, just barely making it on time for the big Bodyjam event. The speakers are deafening and then the lights go down and explode in flashing vibrant colors around the room.

We are surrounded by men and women of all ages and appearances who are completely throwing themselves into the beat of the music. My heart palpitates with adrenaline. Choreography flies through my head and out again, but it’s easy to keep up when there’s hundreds of people around you showing what to do. It is wild and free and crazy fun, better than any concert and any party. For the next hour, nothing exists outside that room of boundless energy.

If my current career goals don’t pan out, I want to work for Les Mills.



Most Trusted Advisor: So…you’re at 21 credit hours? That’s an awful lot. How are you feeling?

Me: It’s okay…little bit stretched thin with research and work and volunteering…but 3 of the credit hours do count as research credit for my Capstone…

Her: I see…why are you at 21 hours?

Me: Well, besides my neuroscience recs for graduation, I got a course overload granted because I really wanted to take anatomy and physiology here…I never took it in high school and I really want exposure to the material before medical school if possible…but now I’m having some second thoughts, I guess, with how busy everything is, and I really don’t want to give up volunteering…it’s just such a busy class.

Her: You know, if you want exposure, I think you could get what you need from an Anatomy coloring book. You can find some great ones on Amazon.

…and that’s how I dropped anatomy during week 2.




“Oh my goshhh, hey!”

“It’s been forever, how are you?! How was your summer?”

“Awesome, how about you?”

“It was good! Hey I got class, but like we gotta hang out and catch up soon!”

“For sure, text me!”

“Yeah, I will!”

– Rough transcription of the conversation that everyone had with everyone during the first week. (How many actually texted? It’s a mystery.)



Thought process at the Rec Center:

Wow it’s September…wow it’s late September… that day of the half marathon is getting closer and closer…and I haven’t even seriously trained for it…maybe I should actually do a long run today, see how it goes…but it’s the “try-it-free” week! I want to try that Zumba class and Hoop Dance and yoga and pilates and MORE Zumba…I should be fine for running, right? I’ll really buckle down, and adrenaline on race day should help, and I’ll carbo load, and it should be ok, right? Yeah, I’ll just do a few laps right now, see how it goes…

… this race is gonna be reeeally rough.



It’s a strange feeling calling this senior year. Sometimes I feel like I was in high school just yesterday, and other times I’m really taken aback by how much time I’ve spent on this campus. For better or worse, I’ve lived in Campus Housing every year I’ve been here, and it’s been my home. Sometimes I’m scared to think of leaving. And although I have rough ideas of where I could be next year, I really don’t know. I could be back here for medical school, taking the real step into my career. Or maybe I’ll be in another country. Or maybe I’ll be working. I have no idea. All I know is that I don’t have a lot of time left. More than the courses and this place, it is the people I met and love here who have made me who I am, shaped my life for these past three years. And there are a lot of people I’m not sure if I’ll ever see again after we walk across the graduation stage. That’s a terrifying and saddening thought.


Then the universe aligned with what I had in mind / Who knew there was a life behind those four pink walls?


Four Pink Walls — Alessia Cara


Sarah Lee (F)Sarah Lee is a senior studying neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program at UIC. She’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do, but some of  life goals include running a marathon, exploring Eastern Europe and becoming fluent in Russian. In her free time, she loves running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. A Naperville native, Sarah is a peer mentor in the Courtyard residence hall.

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