Month: April 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

ANZAC Day 2013

Photos by Chris Phutully

April 25th, or ANZAC Day (Australian New Zealand Army Corps), is a day of big celebration here in Australia.

It is a day to remember the group of armed forces from both Australia and New Zealand who served during WWI.

Australian culture is particularly proud of this day– school is cancelled, businesses close early, and all the locals gather in the city to celebrate.

Common traditions include memorial services, parades and special ANZAC cookies. I am fortunate enough to have an Australian roommate that makes these delicious cookies every year. The story behind them is that the wives all got together to bake and send them to the troops during the war. They are made with special ingredients to help them last quite a while. I highly recommend them. Here is a link to the recipe if you want to try your own:

Aside from the food, the festivities in the city were a great sight to see. People were heading into central Melbourne as early at 7 a.m. to avoid the traffic and get a jump start on the day. The parade included everything from little children playing instruments to military officers marching in uniform.

Although it obviously meant something different for me than it did for the Australians, it was a great experience for me to witness and be a part of as an international student.


Damen Ball

Damen Ball

On Friday, Loyola concluded its Weekend of Excellence with the annual Damen Ball, a dinner and dance that celebrates the accomplishments of students and faculty over the year.  This year, the event was held downtown at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.

The excitement for this year’s Damen Ball seemed to be at an all time high.  Tickets went on sale, first to seniors, at the opening of the new Damen Student Center, and sold out in just a few hours.  Tickets sold for $10.00, but the event turned out to be well worth the money.

From 9:00 to midnight, the Alder Planetarium was open exclusively to Loyola students.  The planetarium showed space presentations in their IMAX theater and allowed students to walk through the exhibits.  And after we all educated ourselves on the many facets of our solar system, we enjoyed ourselves on the dance floor!

All in all, it seemed everyone had a blast!  The Damen Ball was a great way to celebrate another completed semester at Loyola.

My friend Flannery Bohne and I outside Adler Planetarium
Political Science Lecture Series

Political Science Lecture Series

Dr. Bethany Barratt, McCormick Lounge Lecture, 4/26/13

One of the greatest parts of attending a university like Loyola is the many academic opportunities offered to students.  Over the past weeks, the Political Science Department has been hosting a series of lectures on various international issues.  On Friday afternoon, I attended one of the lectures.  Bethany Barratt, a research scholar and professor from Roosevelt University, presented on 9/11 and human rights.

Dr. Barratt has been working with a group of researchers on a new book scheduled for publication next year.  In it, they discuss the impact of 9/11 on American standards on human rights.  A majority of her lecture was critical of the Bush Administration’s actions following the terrorist attack on the United States.

Our country has often been criticized for its growing sense of American exceptionalism.  That is, we seem to believe that we are qualitatively better than other countries of the world.  This is often viewed as a superiority complex, where our mission to spread liberty and democracy becomes a mission to force our ideals on other nations.

The Bush regime (as Dr. Barratt refers to it) viewed the attacks on the Twin Towers as a unique event.  Ignoring the many instances of terrorism in other countries across the globe, the United States was quick in retaliation.  Human rights laws set forth in the Geneva Convention seemed no longer relevant as torture became a common practice of interrogation, as well as the suspension of rights to habeas corpus, privacy, and bodily integrity.

Research has shown that the rest of the world was shocked by our country’s response to terrorism.  Human rights as a guiding principle of our foreign policy seemed to lose much of its moral weight.  Unfortunately, there have not been many policy changes to solve this issue.  Even as the United States pulls its forces from the Middle East and elects a new president to office, these horrific practices are still implemented.  The real question is, however, what is the United States’ incentive to stop?  While popular opinion in the United States seems to be against torture, there has been little change in American foreign policy.

This lecture was one of many offered at Loyola over the semester.  They often bring to light issues that people have long forgotten about.  In light of recent events in Boston and elsewhere in the world, I believe that terrorism is a topic that should be discussed and understood.  It is equally important to be aware of the unethical practices that are often responses to terrorist attacks.  Bethany Barratt was an excellent lecturer in this regard.

New Favorite Restaurant: Cantina Laredo

New Favorite Restaurant: Cantina Laredo

The other day, I met my friend from my hometown, who also lives in Chicago (she teaches at a Chicago Public school) at Cantina Laredo.  We had both never been there, but I suggested it because I have heard good things.  Also, I’ve passed it a few times (its right on State Street), and the inside looks really nice and trendy.

We got really lucky, as we just made it for the food happy hour.  All of the food was half off.  We sat upstairs on these two couches and ordered tons of delicious Mexican food.  I got carnitas tacos and empanadas.  My friend got fish tacos and guacamole.  It was delicious, and my new favorite place, as the food happy hour is every day for three hours!

Yes, I am one of those people who instagrams their food, so of course I had to take a picture of my plates of food.  Here are the pork carnitas and empanadas.  Looking at this picture makes me want to go back there tonight… something I may just do!

Cousins in Chicago

Cousins in Chicago

Last weekend, my older cousin and her best friend visited me in Chicago!  They were my first visitors of the semester, so I was really excited to show them around the city.  They have only been here for dance competitions and other work related things (they’re dance teachers), so they were in for a big surprise in that they would finally discover everything Chicago has to offer.

They took the overnight Megabus and got to my apartment at 6 in the morning.  We slept for a few hours and then went for a delicious midday meal at Tempo Cafe.  It’s located right next to Water Tower Campus, and it has everything- from breakfast foods to burgers to hot meals.  It’s also open twenty four hours to satisfy any late night cravings.

After we ate, I took them to Millennium Park.  We of course had to take the cliche bean pictures- how could we not? Here’s one of my favorites. 

The rest of the day we went shopping on Michigan Avenue, and got Portillo’s for dinner. (delicious Italian beef) The next day, I had class, so I let them venture out on their own.  They spent most of the day tackling Water Tower Place.  I recommended FoodLife, the amazing food court in Water Tower, for their lunch and they loved it! They came back with piles of clothes, so it was a successful day for them

That night, we went to the restaurant RPM.  Its right downtown, and it’s actually owned by Giuliana and Bill Rancic. (Giuliana is the host of E! News and Bill is the winner of The Apprentice, a Chicago native and a Loyola grad if you didn’t know)  It’s a delicious Italian restaurant that is pretty reasonably priced for broke college students like myself! Also, it’s a hot spot for celebrities when they’re in town, so it’s right up my alley for pop culture junkies like me.

The next day, we conquered State Street.  It was another successful day of shopping.  We got deep dish pizza for dinner to make their Chicago experience complete.

I loved having the both of them visit, as I love acting as a tour guide and showing off the greatest city in the world.  I look forward to having more visitors next year!!

Preparing For Finals

Preparing For Finals

This week is the last week of classes before finals.  For many students, this week is just as difficult, if not more difficult, than finals themselves.  As the semester comes to a close, the last couple of weeks are almost always packed with lengthy term papers and final projects.

One of the most daunting assignments on my pre-finals to do list is a research paper for my class, Studies in the Renaissance.  I am researching John Donne and George Herbert, and examining how their poetry was influenced by the religious and historical events of seventeenth century England.  The paper is not due until Friday afternoon, but with all the other things I have to do I figured I would get a head start.

Unfortunately, I have had a hard time concentrating.  With hints of approaching warm weather and plans for Ghana, it has become increasingly difficult to rid myself of distractions long enough to write.  Thankfully, I am able to go to Loyola’s Information Commons (IC) to get some work done.  Though it gets pretty crowded around finals week, it is still much easier to concentrate in a library setting.

My favorite place to study in the IC is the silent room, which many people call the “Harry Potter room” due to its Hogwarts-esque quality.  The room is silent, which is perfect for students such as myself that work best without noise.  Loyola also allows students to reserve private study rooms, which can also be prime studying locations during finals.  The IC is a great place to focus on school work, and does a great job of catering to many different study styles.

So as finals week quickly approaches, I will surely be spending a lot of time in the library.  My only comfort is that in less than two weeks, I will be done for the summer!

The Megabus

The Megabus

When you are a student from out of state, it can be expensive to go home for school breaks or weekend visits.  Plane tickets can cost hundreds of dollars, and it is not always easy having a car in the big city.  Thankfully, there are other, less expensive options for those students needing a trip back home.

The Megabus is one such option, and offers cheap tickets to over one hundred cities across the country.  While they advertise tickets for as low as $1.00, it has been my experience that round trip tickets usually average between $30-$60 depending on your destination.

Last weekend, I took a trip to Cleveland, Ohio with a friend to visit her family.  The entire trip only cost me $35.  The trick is to book your tickets early enough to get a good price, which is easy enough to do online.  For that price, it is hard to complain.

Yet the Megabus does have its drawbacks.  Though Megabus uses fairly spacious coach buses, it can still be uncomfortable to sit in their seats for six hours.  Not to mention that the bus often times has a hard time keeping on schedule.

All in all, however, the Megabus is a great option for college students.  After taking a few trips, you begin to recognize familiar faces.  Students from Loyola, DePaul, University of Chicago, and many others frequent the Megabus.  And for only $35, it is a great way to save some money on travel!

Loyola Joins The Missouri Valley Conference: UPDATE

Loyola Joins The Missouri Valley Conference: UPDATE

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at Loyola. We opened our awesome new Damen Student Center and started construction to revamp our on student gym, Halas.

But perhaps the busiest office on campus was the Athletics. They did two majors things over the past week. First, they hired a new women’s basketball coach, Sheryl Swoopes. For those of you who don’t know, Swoopes is regarded as one of the best athletes (women’s basketball) of all time. Her accolades include a NCAA title, 4-WNBA titles and 3 Olympic gold medals.CRAZY!

The second move athletics made was even bigger than hiring Swoopes. Loyola announced hat Loyola was leaving the Horizon League to join The Missouri Valley Conference. Loyola held a press conference today announcing the move which is affective July 1 2013.

I was hoping to write more about the move today, but it’s been busy in the office. I’ll provide a more in depth look at the move early next week. Check back then!


As promised, I’m back to write more about Loyola’s move to the Missouri Valley Conference. To make it a littler easier to understand, I’m going to break down my analysis into a couple different section: who, what, when, where and why.

Who- A majority of Loyola University Chicago’s Division 1 athletic teams

Most of Loyola’s teams will make the jump the the MVC. The only team that won’t is Men’s Volleyball.

What- Missouri Valley Conference

Loyola was one of the founding members of the Horizon league and has seen the league gain attention over the last couple of years. But, change is good. Especially when you’re making the jump to the second oldest conference in the NCAA and a conference that has some serious basketball powerhouses (e.i. Wichita State and formerly Creighton). A new (and not to mention strong) conference, and one known for hoops, will help Loyola improve it’s level of competition and attract new recruits across all the sports.

When- July 1, 2013

As I wrote above, LU fans won’t have to wait long for the school to make the jump to the MVC. The switch is affective this summer and teams starting officially playing MVC teams in the Fall.

Where- All through the Mid-West and Arch-Madness

True to the name. MVC’s teams are all located through out the mid-west. Which mean, our teams don’t have to travel to far for games.  Each year the MVC hosts it’s annual conference basketball tournament in St. Louis, thus calling it “Arch-Madness.” The MVC hoops tournament is one of the first events that marks the start of March Madness and has had some impressive crowd turnouts over the last couple of seasons.

Why- Fit and Chicago

Last, but not least, is the why. There were a number of reasons given at the press conference as to why Loyola accepted the bid to join the MVC. The word that came up over and over again was “fit.” The league felt Loyola fit well with the league is trying to do now and what it wants to accomplish in the future. The MVC’s commissioner, Doug Elgin commented on how impressed he was Loyola’s facilities and commitment to the ‘student’ part of student athlete. Beyond fit, one of the bigger reasons the MVC looked at Loyola was our location, Chicago. Having a school in the nation’s third largest media market, allows the MVC greater exposure for not only the conference, but it’s teams.

Pretty exciting move, through and through.

Good News!

Good News!

I’ve had a couple days off from Urinetown, but there’s no break in the life of a theatre major!

Monday I auditioned for next year’s first Mainstage production, Lost in Yonkers, a play by Neil Simon about Jay Kurnitz, a 15-year-ol d boy who is left with his brother at his strict German grandmother’s house in Yonkers during World War II after losing his mother to cancer. Because rehearsals for the production start before the academic year begins (an unusual situation), the play was cast this semester. My audition went well, and fortunately I was called back on Tuesday!

Callbacks can be a long, arduous process, and Tuesday’s call back was no different. Different actors are paired with other potential cast members to read “sides”- small selections from the script used for auditions.  The callback audition lasted about four hours. Many actors were called back for only a few roles, and it was clear that the casting decision would be a tough one for the director.

I found out yesterday, though, that I got the part of Jay! I just got my script and I am so excited. This is the best role that I have been given the chance to play so far and I am so excited to work so closely with the faculty here on a Mainstage show. I can’t wait to start rehearsals-in four months!


Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Break part two! Sydney was probably number one on my list of places to visit while studying abroad in Australia. Calling it beautiful is an understatement.

When I stepped out of the airport and got my first views of the city, I was instantly reminded of Chicago, which was really comforting to me. The crowds, skyscrapers and business are all the similar, but have a European twist.

Despite the rain, my friends and I were determined to make the best of the small amount of time before break ended.

Of course, all the major tourist areas were our first priority. We were lucky enough to catch a young tour guide that showed us around and knew all the history and fun facts behind the city and monuments.

All the action was on the harbor, they had several lookout spots that viewed the bridge, opera house, and dozens of fancy cruise ships. I went into semi-shock standing on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. We made a completely full day out of walking around and gazing at all the sights.

On Saturday, the locals were running their weekend tradition, the markets. Either you’re there featuring your own specialty, or you’re shopping around for something unique and artsy. They had everything from baked goods to Aboriginal paintings.

We filled the rest of the time trying out restaurants, different neighborhoods and reccommended night spots. I can definitely say that I will never forget the memories I have made over this break. There is something liberating and empowering about being young, living your life and seeing the world.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  -Mark Twain