Month: December 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka

If you have ever been to Hawaii, you know that Hawaiians have a unique culture all their own. The spirit of “Aloha” (which means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy) greets you when you board a plane to the islands and holds on to you long after.

At Loyola, we recently took some inspiration from the warmth of Hawaiian culture to wish a very “Merry Christmas” to those in need. Earlier this month, Loyola students took the IC Plunge for the sixth year in a row. A benefit designed to provide awareness for students in northern Uganda, the IC Plunge is dedicated to Invisible Conflicts, an organization that seeks to bring attention to domestic and worldwide social justice issues that have been largely ignored by the media. Funds raised from the IC Plunge go toward schooling for children who have been displaced by wars in northern Uganda.

December 3 was a cool Saturday, just under 50 degrees, and the water in Lake Michigan this time of year is roughly 40 degrees. And while 50 degrees in Chicago in December is considered warm, it is a far stretch from the balmy Hawaiian island temps. Still, the spirit of Aloha was visibly present as Loyola students put on their best tropical weather gear to try to bring some awareness to the issues facing school-aged students in Uganda. Take a look.

The IC Plunge is just one of the many ways that members of the Loyola Community get involved and make a difference. See how you can make an impact.

We wish you the best this Holiday season!

See Ya Later Chicago!

See Ya Later Chicago!

I’ve always felt going home for any extended amount of  time is bittersweet.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am so incredibly excited to be finished with yet another semester and just spend time with my family.  But as a student at Loyola, you make a home, and in a sense, you develop a family with your good friends.  Today, one of my closest friends who I’ve known since freshman year graduated.  I am so excited for her, (and a little envious!), but it only reinforced my own future.  While winter break will only last about a month, it is just a preview to the reality that exists after graduation.

I haven’t started packing quite yet, but I have made note of some of the things I will miss over winter break.  Coming from a super tiny town, there isn’t much to see or do.  The very first thing I will miss is my view!  Ok– so its straight across from a brick building, but at an angle its super great!

I will also super miss Ghirardelli!  My friends and I always stop in for a free chocolate square and delicious Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate! So delicious!

I will totally miss hitting up Water Tower Place!  It’s an all-in-one shopping destination conveniently out of the cold Chicago weather!

I’ll also miss the Water Tower.  It’s such an iconic building.

Speaking of iconic, I will definitely miss seeing the John Hancock.  I think the Sears, or rather Willis Tower is completely overrated.  The simplicity and elegance of the Hancock makes it one of my favorites!

Finally, I will miss my friends!  Especially Natalie who has now officially graduated!  Congrats!

A Day at The Shedd

A Day at The Shedd

On Wednesday, everyone on campus had a study day.  No one had finals unless they had a Wednesday night class. My friend and I, basically done with finals (okay, we may have been procrastinating studying for our last one..), decided to take a much needed break at The Shedd Aquarium.  We both hadn’t been there since we were in middle school, so we were excited to experience it all over again.

We both got in for free because her mom bought a Groupon (if you haven’t heard of Groupon you MUST click that hyperlink) that consisted of two tickets for around thirty or forty dollars!

There was so much to see at The Shedd.  We saw a Christmas show with whales and dolphins, which was really cool.  We also saw a jellyfish exhibit and of course, fish, turtles, and everything in between.  I was a little upset that the penguin exhibit was closed, though.. I love penguins!

It was nice to take a day and just explore one of the major attractions of the wonderful city of Chicago.  I highly suggest going to the Shedd or any of the other museums/planetarium on the museum campus.  It’s a great area with a ton of attractions that are definitely well worth it.

The Wise Words of Gandalf the Grey

The Wise Words of Gandalf the Grey

Around this time of year, every other status, tweet, text or overheard conversation seems to be about one thing and one thing only: finals. This blog post won’t be any different.

The other night, as I was studying for my anatomy and physiology final, I experienced a moment of panic. It seemed as though the pile of information that I had to study was growing larger and larger, as the hours I had left before the exam were growing shorter and shorter. My anxiety ended, however, when I saw a cool blog post on tumblr I had a life changing revelation. It’s put best by my favorite wizard:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” – Gandalf, from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien

Even though Gandalf won't let the Balrog pass out of the Mines of Moria, I know that he wants you to pass your finals!

I know that it’s a sappy way to final-ly (Sorry, I can never resist a good pun.) end my blog for this semester, but I think Gandalf is right. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college or high school, finals week is taxing and stressful. It’s important to realize that there is only so much you’re going to be able to get done, and that there is only so much you can control. Study as much as you need, focus on your exams, but then take a deep breath. Because as soon as you’re on semester break, you’ll have all the time in the world to do whatever you want, including my favorite winter activities: treats and snoozin’, snoozin’ and treats.

Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah, and I hope everybody has a great holiday season!

Picture of Gandalf – Attributed to William Cromar

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

If you love sweet potatoes, a smile was just brought to your face. If not, bear with me.

Specialty dishes and desserts made during this time of year bring happiness to everyone. They also force us to make New Years’ resolutions for our new diet and exercise plan. But for now, forget what I just wrote. Let’s linger on the idea of sweet potato pie, sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles, and other cakes and goodies that you just don’t get any other time.

What brought this on?

It is hitting me that the holidays are truly just around the corner. At Loyola, you see Christmas trees and a manger with the wise men making their way. The Web site offers the chance to send e-cards. Joyola was recently held to share the music of the Christmas season. We see students celebrating early for Hanukkah. It is holiday time!

I was imagining being at home with family and started to think about some of our traditions. I will try my hand for a second time at making lefse, a Norwegian specialty my husband’s family makes. I am hoping my mom saves a butter ring (hint…hint) for me to have with some coffee during my visit. I also can’t wait for the annual family Bingo game where we vie for odds-and-ends that we have all donated from around the house to a pile of fun treats for winners. I am getting excited to see everyone to enjoy time together with all of the sweets too!

What are the traditions you look forward to?

Talking with different people in the Admission Office, it varies. One person is heading across the country and just looking forward to a nice steak dinner out. Another is heading home to a Christmas Eve celebration that involves a soup dinner and a dessert that includes a special almond. Yes, if you get the almond, you get to open the first present. I love that one. Someone else mentioned staying here in Chicago and going to the Walnut Room at Macy’s for a special lunch with her mother and sister that has become a bit of a tradition for them. And someone even mentioned their longing for sweet potato pie.

Hopefully, you have the opportunity to celebrate some traditions of your own with family and friends.

Happy holidays!

Free Food for Finals

Free Food for Finals

So now that finals week is under way, there is a tradition at Loyola to give out as much free food to the students as possible.  This is probably to encourage and remind students to eat between all that studying.  Monday night, my friends and I enjoyed a slice of Connie’s Pizza at Water Tower Campus.  Last night was the traditional Finals Breakfast at Lakeshore Campus, and tonight, there is a Finals Breakfast at WTC.  It was really nice to check out the newly renovated Gentile Arena and hang out with friends before our study day. The rest of the week is undoubtedly scheduled with tasty treats to power us through to the end of the semester!

Best Places To Study Around Campus

Best Places To Study Around Campus

It’s finals week! Which means that the library is extra packed and it can be hard to find a good place to study. Here are a few good alternatives to the library:

1. An empty classroom. Loyola leaves the classrooms unlocked until about 11:30ish at night. So as long as it is after normal class hours this will guarantee some peace and quiet to really crank out the studying.

2. USGA Office. Not very many people know about it, but USGA opens up their office that is in the student union to anyone who needs a quiet place to study.  It is also right by Rambler Room so you will not have to travel far to get a snack!

3. The Stacks. Looking to really seclude yourself from the outside world? Then the stacks in the library are for you. It may take a little wandering around to find the perfect place, but most likely you will find a desk surrounded by stacks of books with no one else around.

4. A Friends Room. CAUTION: this will only work if you are both committed to studying! But if you are, it can be the perfect environment to get a lot done. A friends room will not be stuffy and uncomfortable like other places might be. Be careful though! It can also be easiest to get distracted in this environment.

5. Center Stage Cafe in Mundelein. The cafe in Mundelein can be a great place to study if you are not looking for a silent study area but are afraid of the seductive powers your bed in your room has. It also is right across the hall from the cafe so you can load up on the snacks and get buckets of coffee.



So, as a “Congratulations Nic, you made it through your New Media and Communications class” some classmates and I celebrated our success at a nearby restuarant called Soupbox.  Tucked away on N. Broadway, this urban hotspot serves the finest soup in town.  Though a little on the pricey side (around $9 for a bread bowl), the soup served, is fresh, hot and delicious…especially during the cold Chicago winters.  I recommend you check it out.

Chicago Winter

Chicago Winter

There are many reasons I love Chicago but at the top of the list is winter. This is especially true just before Christmas. Here is a list of all the things I have done over the past month and everything I look forward every year.

1. Ice Skating: Always a fun thing to do, especially, on those days when the sun comes out and you feel like you  need to take advantage of the great weather.

2. Zoo Lights: Christmas music combined with tons of lights and a zoo… It’s kinda awesome!

3. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Always a classic and there is always an uglier sweater than the one you have on. It’s amazing what the 90s produced in terms of clothing.

4. The First Snow: Better late than never, time to get out the pig skin and play some football in the snow.

5. Christmas Lights: The lights are everywhere and downtown has the parade each year to celebrate turning them on.

Best Winter Dates

Best Winter Dates

It is that time of year. Lights fill the streets, trees are found in the windows, snow is starting to fall and it is time to take a girl on the best possible date ever. I’ve noticed that winter offers the best possible dates available. Let’s not kid ourselves, a dinner and a movie date is lame and cliche. Here are some of the outings I’m personally looking forward to trying and the best ones that have worked in the past.

1. The Perfect Night in the City – So it starts with ice skating at the Grant Park rink. Don’t be confused this is not the same as the rink in Millennium Park. Behind that rink a block down is another smaller rink that is half the price, has a better view and lacks the crowd. Then walk down Michigan Ave. pass the beautiful sights and end at the Hancock center where you can take her to the 96th lounge for drinks and desert above the entire city. From there you really have the best 360 view of the city and the food is amazing.

2. Evanston Light Contest – For this date it would be best to start with dinner at one of the smaller restaurants in Evanston. Then after a nice dinner take her through the local neighborhood and look for the best decorated house. During this time a couple Christmas songs together would lighten up the mood. From there the rest of the night is up to you.

3. Zoo Lights – In Lincoln Park you will be able to find plenty of perfect restaurants to take your date. Either way after dinner is where the fun starts the zoo turns all the Christmas lights and they have random arts and crafts placed throughout the zoo that you can do with your date. Yes it is a bit childish but personally I love pretending to be 10 again and I have never had a date that does not love going to zoo lights. Plus, you are at the zoo and many of the animals are still out to be seen.

4. Dinner and a Movie – This is not the normal dinner and a movie, on a night that is cold and snowing the best thing to do is stay inside and who better to be with than that special someone. To make it a perfect night simply make her dinner to start off the night, move to some hot chocolate and end with a Christmas movie of choice.

5. Christmas Tree Watching – On this date after dinner downtown at the restaurant of your choice take her around the city and look for the best Christmas tree (this could also apply to decorations in general). Maybe stop and see Santa, definitely walk by Macy’s and just a prior hint the best try is always at daily plaza. But this date is set up to give time to talk and enjoy the Christmas spirit.