A Week in the Life of a Newberry Seminar Student in Chicago

What is the typical week of a Newberry Seminar student like?


Classes ran on a MWF schedule at the beginning of the semester. As the semester continued, the seminar tapered off. Encouraged to begin their individual research, students explored the Newberry Library. The Newberry staff worked right alongside each of the 16 students. Individual attention and interest from the staff encouraged each researcher to delve into unique areas of study.

Georgia Armitage (pictured in the back and center), developed one of the more unique projects this semester. Interested in architecture, She devised an in-depth case study on First Presbyterian Church of Chicago, Illinois. She evaluated the church’s explicit use of nature within the frame of Neo-Gothic architecture.

With plenty of one-on-one guidance from our seminar professors, Bill and Eric, projects like Georgia’s thrived. When we weren’t in class on Monday’s, our Tuesday’s were spent exploring the city of Chicago.


Available daily, Chicago runs free events all around the city. From winning free prizes in marketing campaigns in Millennium Park to strolling through the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Zoo Light Festival, we remained constantly entertained.

When Tuesday’s adventures would come to a close, Wednesday led us back to the library. Wednesday nights my roommates and I would bake. A lot.


After a long day at the library, carbs were a must. My roommates and I often bonded over food. A recurring delight of ours? Pretzels. With limited diets, homemade pretzels were among the few things we could all eat. That being said, our pretzels did not disappoint!

On Thursday’s we would present our research process to Newberry and the Chicago public.



Our professors–exceedingly present in our research–would schedule time for the class to present their research findings. Presenting throughout the semester kept us in line. Although the checkpoints were few, we were expected to present substantial work. Personally, my public speaking skills drastically improved.


Alas! The weekend has arrived. One of my most favorite times, and below, you can see why!

The Weekend

I know many will say that Friday is not a part of the weekend. But with this off-campus semester, you made your own schedule. Boy, was I thankful for that! On the weekends, we could explore Chicago with complete freedom. From eating at hole-in-the-wall breakfast places to eating at high-end sushi restaurants, I was well fed!





My friends doubled as my adventure team! Walking around Chicago was one thing, but with our free public transit passes, the possibilities were endless. But, there were times where we just wanted to stay in the apartment. Relaxing in Canterbury Court Apartments was easy to do. The already fully-furnished apartments were comfortable and became a second home to me!




This semester was extremely difficult. I cannot express that enough. The intensive seminar and independent research study left you wary at times. But the end results were worth the long, tireless hours. I would not have traded this semester at the Newberry Seminar for anything. I will always cherish the people I met and valuable skills I learned.

Thank you, Chicago.

Balancing Act

It has been a while, hasn’t it? To remind you, I (Shannon Rogers) am studying off campus (in Chicago) for a semester (this one to be exact). A few things, out of the ordinary have happened since my last post (hence why I haven’t posted in a while…).

Let me be raw with you for this post.

Following my last blog post, one of my dearest roommates underwent medical difficulties. We spent time with her in the hospital to ensure that she was safe, taken care of, and supported. Although you don’t expect (or even hope) for things like this to happen when you are off-campus, they are even still a possibility. Yes, I did not experience this first hand, but it was heart-grasping to see a close friend of mine go through extended treatment. She is one of the most strong-willed individuals I know, and ever will. As for now she is healing and thriving, continue to pray for her if you are able.

Through leaps and bounds, my confidence has grown during the course of the Newberry Seminar. I came into the program so certain on research that I wanted to do. When that research fell through, I searched–with great determination–for a new passion. I wrote 53 pages of research on a Cold War political cartoonist, John Fischetti. What!? Me!? The Communication major? The Social Science junkie? You sure bet I did. So why did I write about him? I am glad you asked.

Humor is my passion. And life is full of improvisation. The success of comedy relies on the actor saying “yes and.” “Yes”, means you accept whatever is happening. The “and” requires you to build off of what just occurred. This requires a strong ability to adapt, focus, listen, and be willing to take risks. All skills of which are particularly useful in the workplace.

I believe that in any business setting, it is important to understand the demands of cooperation and innovation. With my experience in comedy, I have found that I am extremely analytical when it comes to creating a scene. A scene requires development, or else it will completely crumble (the audience won’t be impressed). I may not be the funny friend, but I am really good at “Yes, and”-ing the funny friend!

Now, onto my last bit of news. I got ENGAGED! My boyfriend, now fiancé, of two years proposed to me on November 10th. These past two weeks have been a whirlwind of happy emotions. Such joy fills my heart that the Lord blessed me with a man so lovely as Jonathan. Praise God for we are getting married! Assuming you would like a picture of the event…

As you can see, this semester has been a balancing act to say the least. Things both hard and extremely exciting have entered into my life. I can say with great confidence that each of those things are shaping me in ways so that I can tackle any project, big or small, that comes my way.

For When You’re in Chicago…

Since each of my previous blog posts  have enticed you so, I am sure you are curious on some must-see sights and things to do here in Chicago! Below, you will find pictures—taken by yours truly—accompanied by my experience at each location. These have to be a few of my most favorite places here in Chicago.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park, arguably the prettiest park of Chicago, has a lot to offer. On any given day you will see runners, bikers, and especially vendors out here! It is a great way to get into nature while still being in the city. Along the walking paths there is a restaurant called The Patio and plenty of art pieces to admire! My favorite part about Lincoln Park? Several paths lead you to the beach!

Broken English Taco Pub, Old Town. If you are looking for a super modern and fun place eat tacos, Broken English is the place for you. Just a hop and a skip from the Gold Coast, this restaurant has a super speedy service, lively Hispanic music, and great authentic Mexican-food. If you are looking for a good deal, until 7 pm, most nights you can grab $2 tacos!

Mural, Old Town. There are beautiful murals and graffiti all throughout Chicago. But I have to say, Old Town has some of the prettiest on the sides of their buildings. If you are ever free on a Sunday afternoon, visit Old Town for a quiet and beautiful walk through a small town in a big city.

Oops, did I make you hungry for some exploring?


Because Chicago has a lot to offer.

Growing in Faith and Understanding.

Wow, I am already finished with week 7 of my semester off-campus. I knew that I would grow in many ways, but these five were not what I expected.

Research is hard.  

Where do I even begin here. Research is something I always have found interesting. I like learning things I didn’t know before; but, there are so many  types of research intended to bring subjects to light in different ways. Humanities research, as my professor this semester would say, is, “obsessed with the past. Humanities looks at the impact of something at its time, and only its time.” That struck me to my core. Since being in Chicago, I have learned that Humanities research, although incredibly fascinating, is not where I want to spend my time—not entirely, anyways. Although this may be a difficult “pill to swallow,” I am thankful I learned this about myself now, rather than later.

Pasta DOES get boring after a week of eating it. (?!)

Go out, people! I am serious, you are only off campus in this cool city/town/place once. I spent a week straight eating pasta for dinner every night. “Who could get sick of pasta?” you might ask. I am telling you, everyone could. Eating out only becomes expensive and unhealthy if you are not careful. Eating in can be just as unhealthy and expensive! I have made many a microwaved meal, and I am up for a home-cooked meal. Mom? Dad? Where are you in your infinite cooking wisdom?

Branching out is necessary.

This week I have been so blessed to reach out to other students in my program. The first couple weeks I had become close with my roommates, but only my roommates! That being said, I wanted to get to know the other students on the program. On a Monday, in the midst of intense studying, a group of us took a look around the room. Nobody wanted to be reading another page of their book. Someone sighed, “I just want a donut.” No wiser words have been spoken in that library! Immediately a group of us got together and ventured out into Chicago. We stumbled upon a quaint donut shop named, Glazed and Infused. If I hadn’t branched out, I would have missed out on some cool conversation with some people who are now becoming good friends of mine. I could explain to you the joys of this delicious donut, but I would rather show you.

God works in mysterious, mysterious ways.

This is probably the most important thing, that I am still learning about! I have loved this program in how it has brought me closer to God. My reliance on Him has grown stronger every day. I find it important to dedicate my time, when I have it, to digging into His Word. Through my time exploring different devotionals, I have come to understand the Bible in a new light, and God’s Love in a deeper way.

Ask me about my off-campus experience,

and I will tell you that it has been eye-opening in the best way possible.

Study Off Campus, Do It.

Hey friends, it has been quite some time, and for that I apologize (in hopes that you have actually missed my blog posts).

So, let’s catch up.

This first month off campus has been a roller-coaster. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love roller-coasters. I have one piece of advice for any student looking to do something at Hope: study off campus, do it.

I never thought that I would study off campus. I assumed, similar to high school, that I would just stay put. Since attending Hope, I branched out to tons of student activities outside my comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone allows God to work through you in ways that you couldn’t have otherwise. Listen to what He is calling you to do. If you don’t hear anything yet, just wait. It will be better than you could have imagined.


My roommates and classmates could not be more amazing! I have been challenged by them, in many ways, to think deeply. Closest to the camera, is my sweet friend, Lo Wall. In the lower left corner is my other sweet pal, Georgia Armitage. From Saturday morning Farmer’s Market adventures to exploring Michigan Avenue stores; these girls make city-living the best!



These are my classmates. In this program, we spend the first five weeks in a seminar setting. The setting is meant to prepare us for our individual research projects. For example, I am designing a project that focuses on comedic reactions during the Cold War era.

From taking a water taxi across Chinatown to spending a day exploring Pilsen (a Hispanic neighborhood), we have seen a lot of Chicago. The program had challenged me to view the world through many different lenses, other than my own.

Now for the fun stuff! Kidding…kind of. 

In just this first month I went to a Cubs vs. Brewers game. Although we (the Cubs) lost, it was a nail-biting game till the end! Not to mention, our seats weren’t so bad.

I will say that studying off campus is what you make it. You could be anywhere in the world, but if you don’t step outside your apartment or host-home, you could miss out on something extraordinary. Chicago has treated me so well. 


A Few Days Out…

And I could not be more excited to meet my roommates and move into my new apartment!  We received our roommate assignments about two weeks ago.  I am assigned to a one bedroom apartment with two girls from other colleges around the country.  Now, I know what you are thinking… “One bedroom!? For three girls!?” These were some of my first thoughts as well.

After reaching out to the apartment’s manager, I became more at ease. She informed us that we will have three dorm-sized beds placed in the bedroom.  The bedroom has a walk-in closet and a full sized bathroom attached.  Down the hallway is our living room (which doubles as our dining room).  Lastly, we have a compact kitchen stocked with a dorm-sized fridge, oven, dishwasher, sink, and cabinets!  Needless to say, I cannot wait to show you my apartment.

My roommates and I connected on Facebook Messenger.  Although we haven’t met, these girls are going to make Chicago more fun than I ever thought possible!  Together, we decided to create a spreadsheet for items that we are all bringing to the apartment.  I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet similar to this one.  This way, we don’t accidentally bring too many pots or pans!

Here is a clip of what we are bringing to the apartment!

The weeks leading up to this semester have been both crazy and satisfying.  There were a few weeks where I wasn’t sure if expenses would work out.  Paying for things like internet and meals for 16 weeks felt a little overwhelming to say the least.

That being said, these weeks have led me to further understand God’s control of my life.  As I experience the exciting challenges of this semester, I know that my reliance on God will produce results I never could have imagined for myself.


See you soon, Chicago! 

To New Beginnings

With just a little bit over a month left until I move into my apartment in Chicago, I am experiencing a whirlwind of emotions.  Some days I am overly excited to see what God has in store for me when I step foot onto the campus of Newberry.  And others, I think about how I will be in over my head during those 16 weeks.

My off-campus experience is going to be slightly different than others.  As you already know, I am not even going out of the country.  In fact, I live in a suburb that is just an hour outside of Chicago.  I have lived near the Windy City my whole life!  That being said, the most I have explored in Chicago, is Michigan Avenue.

What has allowed me to power through those “other” days?  Blogs like these that students have written in the past for Newberry.  In reading them, they have expressed the same excitement and concerns as I have!  Oh, and knowing that they survived the entire semester of independent research study doesn’t hurt either.

I look forward to the challenges that I will face.  (Knowing that countless hours of my time in Chicago will be dedicated to viewing the inside of Newberry.)  But, I know that the experiences here will grow me in a way that I couldn’t develop on campus.