City Life at Half the Cost

As someone who lived in one of the most expensive cities (Los Angeles), the difference between what I spent during my undergraduate years at UCLA and IUB was stark.  For example, if you went during an inconvenient time during an inconvenient day to the movies, you may spend $15 (which doesn’t include the timed parking which may or may not be free); of course if you went any other time but matinee, you’ll probably be spending $20 per person.  In Bloomington, I have never spent more than $8 for a movie.

Now the Continue reading

And on Saturday… Strategies to find your niche in a large university

And on Saturday, the graduate gods said, “Let there be socializing!”

My program, Higher Education and Student Affairs, hosts a tailgate every weekend before an IU football game.  One of our program's traditions is to sign our names on the corn hole board.  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Nguyen

My program, Higher Education and Student Affairs, hosts a tailgate every weekend before an IU football game. One of our program’s traditions is to sign our names on the corn hole board. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Nguyen

Graduate school can be a difficult balance between academics, professional, and personal responsibilities.  My life, right now, is going to class half a day, going to work at my assistantship in the other half of the day, and then taking care of myself after 5 p.m.–working out, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and studying.  I feel like I am constantly on the move 5 days of the week!  But it is just as important  Continue reading

Chicago … a metropolis only a short drive away!

For those who enjoy large, bustling cities, Chicago is only a short drive away.  On a recent trip to the windy city, only over three hours drive from Bloomington, I enjoyed a dinner, theatre, shopping, and cultural! Firstly, I enjoyed dinner at Russian Tea Time before laughing out of my seat watching The Book of Morman at the Bank of America Theatre around the corner.  After a wonderful night of music and food, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile has all the shopping to offer plus the Christmas spirit at the ice-skating rink in Millennium Park.  Thank goodness the weather wasn’t too cold, windy, or snowy … Chicago can be brutal with all three.  My day was also accompanied with culture with a dim sum lunch in Chinatown and tacos in La Villita.  With only a short drive from Bloomington, Chicago offers a change of pace to students who are looking for a weekend away.  Don’t forget to stop by near by Indianapolis along the way!

The metropolis of Bloomington, IN

If you want to go to a graduate school with culture, don’t look any further.  Bloomington may be a small college town, but it is a cultural metropolis.  The IU Auditorium has a myriad of shows from music and plays to Broadway musicals.  This year, the IU Auditorium is showing The Cleveland Orchestra, Peter Pan, Traces, Dream Girls, and more.  They have a selection that will please anyone’s distinct tastes.

Don’t forget that the IU Jacobs School of Music is one of the best in the world, and its students and faculty perform at the IU Musical Arts Center.  Enjoy ballet, recitals, and music performances of the New York Met quality in your backyard in Bloomington.

The IU Cinema, a newly restored theatre, offers movie screenings from the classics to stunning documentaries.  Moreover, festivals help bridge the university life to the community.  One festival, the Lotus festival, engages the university community and attracts participants from other cities and states.

If you want culture, you have come to the right place!

Latino Film Festival and Conference

Currently, our very own IU is hosting its first ever Latino Film Festival and Conference. This event has brought together national scholars and film makers, to discuss the themes and issues within Latino cinema. The event began yesterday evening with a screening of Sleep Dealer, followed by a Q&A by the director, Alex Rivera. Several discussion panels were organized for today and tomorrow, along with more awesome film screenings, including Blacktino (director Aaron Burns), Gun Hill Road (director Rashaad Ernesto Green) and some classics, like Zoot Suit (Director Luis Valdez). This event is a depiction of the dedication by IU and the people and organizations within it to promote the diversity of perspectives and enrichment of life in Bloomington. And best of all, it’s completely FREE!!! Hats off to the IU Cinema and organizers of the event (for a list of the organizers, and more info, visit the website).

Small town…. Big opportunities

Moving to Bloomington from a suburb in Houston TX was quite a change for me, especially because I was born and raised near such a huge city. I will admit, it took me a while to adjust to the small town feel of Bloomington, but after almost 4 years of living here, Bloomington has really grown on me. Despite being small, there are always so many things to do around town. Events are usually organized both by the university and the town, and involve everything from community sports to art, music, fine dining, theatre, comedy, dance shows, cinema, lectures, and organizations for the community to join. A few web pages that I keep an eye on for events happening in town are this one:
and this one:
Bloomington not only provides lots of entertainment, but the town also has lots of opportunities for people to be THE entertainment. From having weekly open-mic comedy,  to making it feasible for people to schedule their own shows at some of the local venues. If you have a talent, Bloomington has a place for you to show it off 🙂

This is a picture of a show I was a part of recently. We played at the Bishop (a pretty cool music venue/bar in town)

IU Cinema

photo courtesy of

As a graduate student on a very tight budget, you often come to REALLY appreciate the opportunities for entertainment at a low cost. One of these options is the IU Cinema. The Cinema shows tons of films a year (approx. 150) from International/Foreign language films to new arthouse releases, to oldie classic films and special screenings. Best of all, attending is relatively cheap (usually free, but sometimes a few bucks will get you in). This week I watched Pina in 3D (which only cost me $3) and a special screening of the new PhD Movie (which cost me $0). Both were extremely good!