Month: September 2013

Life Around Loyola

Life Around Loyola

Loyola University of Chicago is a great place to be. Not only is it a beautiful campus next to the lake, but the community provides thousands of ways to get involved! Loyola offer various resources such as organization, study abroad, and business fairs. However, there are plenty of other, more laid back, events as well such as dinner crawls and ice cream socials. This blog will provide a visual insight to the life around Loyola!

Fostering A Dog In College

Fostering A Dog In College

I am an avid dog-lover. I grew up with a family dog my entire life and sorely miss my dog while I am at school. So you can imagine how often I find myself wishing that I had my dog, or any dog for that matter, with me at school to cuddle and play with. Unfortunately I am not ready to take on the full responsibility of adopting a dog, nor could I manage it financially.

However, last night I discovered that you can foster a dog for a short time from a local shelter! The goal of this fostering process is to help the dogs who live at the shelter adjust to living with people and socializing with other animals. Some of the animals at the shelter have some issues from past abuse or mistreatment and need help readjusting before they can be fully adopted into a loving family. This is the part where I come in 🙂

My roommates and I are looking into fostering a dog together. Most of the dogs are already fixed and have their shots which takes care of a lot of the financial burden. The dog would come live with us and we would take care of it for a short time while it adjusts to life outside of the shelter or until a family contacts the shelter wanting to fully adopt the dog.

While this whole process is somewhat ideal for a college student there are a few hurdles to consider. My roommates and I would need to combine our schedules and make sure that between the four of us we would not be away from the apartment for long spans of time. We would also need to consider the size of the dog in relation to the size of our apartment and make sure that the dog wouldn’t feel too cooped up in our smaller apartment. We are also concerned about the dog’s mental health and what moving around from the shelter, to our home, back to the shelter, and then hopefully to a permeant home would do to the dog. And finally we would need to be mentally prepared to give up the dog when our period of fostering is over. This last one might be the hardest.

The more I talk about the possibility of fostering a dog from the shelter, the higher my hopes get. My roommates and I definitely have a process ahead of us to get through before we actually have a dog in our home. But it sure would be worth it.


Callie, the dog that I grew up with.
How Many Schools Should You Apply To?

How Many Schools Should You Apply To?

That is the question. I hear it from students and parents each year.

And my answer—it depends.

Many times students start out open-minded and add schools to their list to check out. Maybe mom or dad graduated from one of them or it’s a state flagship school or you’re a fan of the football team. But the reality is there is no magic number of schools to apply to because it is different for everyone.

It’s completely normal to wonder if you are applying to schools that are the ‘right fit.’ And, for sure, every student has a few hopeful ‘reach schools.’ But where do you start?

Begin by thinking of what you want to study and in what type of setting (city vs. rural, big vs. small, etc.). Pick some schools that match these criteria and then look at the academic profiles of each school. Ideally, you meet the middle 50% of most of the categories listed such as GPA, test scores, and class rank. If not, broaden your search. Be certain to include schools that you are interested in and you meet all of the criteria. Then move on to a few schools that you would love to get in to but realize it is a stretch; it doesn’t hurt to try.

In the end, be honest with yourself. Be realistic—and just as importantly, know yourself. What type of academic student are you? What type of environment appeals to you outside of the classroom?

When in doubt, try to not overextend yourself. I did and I admit it. I applied to some 15 colleges and universities many years ago. I didn’t know what I was doing. I kept thinking that if I applied to a lot of schools, I would end up with many choices. It really doesn’t work like that. Only in hindsight (and with the use of today’s technology) do I wish I had just taken a few weeks to really do some research ahead of time to see which schools really matched my abilities and interests.

Happy researching—and good luck!

Pets in College

Pets in College

About a month ago, my boyfriend and I got a kitten named Ike. Since then, I’ve been meaning to write about him, but he didn’t fit well into any of my blogs.

Ike is just over 5 months old so of course he requires a lot of attention. He’s curious about everything, like every baby animal tends to be, so we’re constantly trying to teach him what he can and can’t do. For example, he still hasn’t learned that when I’m doing homework, he can’t try and play with my pencil or step on my laptop keyboard. In fact, he seems to think that this is the perfect time to get cuddly and playful so usually not a lot of work gets done when he’s around.

Having a pet can be a huge joy, but they require care, love, and attention. Ike is currently living at my boyfriend’s house where there are three other cats for him to play with and a huge home to roam around so he is constantly occupied. If he wasn’t living there, I wouldn’t have him.

If you want to have a pet in college, you have to weigh the pros and cons for both you and the animal. You have to consider the following questions:

  1. Can you afford your pet? This includes food, shots, litter (for cats), toys, Vet visits, cages, etc.
  2. Do you have time to spend with your pet/train it? Dogs require training, and not by your parents. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tells me they have a pet, but their parents were the ones that spent time with it, took care of it, and trained it. In the long run, an untrained animal or one that doesn’t receive enough attention from its owner is very difficult to live with. Giving an animal attention in college is hard when you are always in class or working, so if you are not up for the task of “raising” your own pet, don’t get it because it’s going to suffer.
  3. Can you have a pet wherever you are living and will it have adequate room in a safe environment? A dorm room is not the place for a pet. An apartment building that doesn’t allow animals is not the place for a pet. If you live with your parents and they say you can’t have a pet, then this is not the place for a pet. If you live with your parents, make sure it is okay with them for an animal to join the family because it is their house. If you live on your own, check with your building to make sure pets are allowed so that if you’re caught, you don’t have to get rid of your pet.

These are just several things to consider. Only after you can answer each of those questions can you proceed to possibly getting a pet. Once you do though, you’ll get a little cutie like this:

Making College Fun

Making College Fun

Even with a lot of work to do, I still find time to do enjoyable activities. Studying is important, but having downtime is just as important. I don’t work well when I’m stressed because my mood and motivation go down and nothing gets done. Therefore, I’m going to write several of the things I’ve done thus far since school started and things I hope to do in the month of October do de-stressing and have some fun.

Things that I have done:

1. I went to a Cubs game. They lost 2-1, but the game was still worth it. My boyfriend and I sat four rows behind home plate, the weather was perfect and the game wasn’t boring. Even though I’m not a baseball fan, I had a great time because I completely focused on being at Wrigley Field with someone I love spending time with instead of thinking about work, classes, or actually getting stuff done. It was really nice to give my brain a night off and not have to think too much about the stressful aspects of my life.

2. I’ve gone out to dinner about once a week. Since school started, I have gone to Outback Steakhouse and Bakers Square, and discovered Five Roses out in Rosemont, Moretti’s in Edison Park, and Rogs in Schiller Park. These places are out of the way for most Loyola students, but there are many delicious places to go out to eat in the area. Some of my favorites are FoodLife in WaterTower Place, Elly’s near Lincoln Park, and Pete’s near the Granville Red Line.


Things I Look Forward to Doing:

  1. I’m going camping this weekend. I’m really excited because I’m going to Milwaukee, WI tomorrow with my boyfriend and some friends. I’ll be spending a lot of time fishing, sitting by a campfire, gazing at the stars and hopefully doing some hiking. Smores and tents, here I come!
  2. I hope to finally do a corn maze this year. I’ve never done one so I would love to finally make that happen.
  3. Go to Fright Fest at Six Flags and go to the haunted houses. I’ve never gone to the haunted houses at Six Flags and I would love to see if they scare me because thus far, the only haunted houses that terrified me were the ones I went to when I was 12.
  4. I’m going paint balling at the end of October. I went once when I was 13 and I had a lot of  fun so I can’t wait to go again after all this time.
  5. Potentially go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins. The last time I carved a pumpkin, the nice word to describe what it looked like is interesting. This year, I want to try again and really make a pumpkin that can look worthy of sitting outside on the front porch for people to see.
Autumn Is Upon Us

Autumn Is Upon Us

Four days ago, September 22, was the official beginning of Autumn. Leaves are slowly changing colors, the weather is beginning to chill, and homework is piling up. After having my first couple of tests, I can officially say that every aspect about Summer is over. Late nights gazing at the stars have been replaced by staring at my textbooks until one in the morning. This is fine when what I’m reading about is interesting, but what if it’s not? What do you do when you have a lot of homework and no motivation to do it?

For starters, always find that time of the day when you are most motivated to get things done. I know that I can’t sit down right when I get home and do my homework. I focus best once everything I have to do for the day is done, which means I usually study towards the night. I work well under pressure, so I’m most focused starting at about 8 or 9 at night.

Second, know what you need to complete and when you need to complete it by. I’ve had an assignment notebook for the last 10 years because it keeps me organized. At the beginning of each semester, I write in all the tests, paper due dates, presentations, etc. I know of for the semester. This way, I know exactly when I need to focus most on a particular subject. This weekend, for example, I’ll be focusing on studying for my Project Management class because I have an exam on Tuesday whereas I just had my test for my Science class so I won’t be focusing on it as much the next week. With seven classes, my life is always about prioritization, knowing which class matters most in different points in time. This is how I have always stayed on top of my classes and grades.

Third, have your downtime to do activities that you enjoy, whether it be watching your television shows or going for a run. If you make your entire life about your homework and things you have to get done, you end up burning yourself out. In my next blog, I’m going to write about some of the activities that I have done since school started, and several of the things I look forward to doing in the next month. If I’m having fun in life, I’ll have more fun in school. I watch my TV shows during the day so that I can do my homework at night and I have fun Friday nights and designate Sunday as my homework day. If something is mandatorily due soon, I get it done, but if I have some time, I don’t want to sit and try to do homework while thinking the whole time “This episode aired four days ago and I still haven’t watched it…”

Lost in Tech Week

Lost in Tech Week

Another day, another tech week post-but that’s the life of a theatre major.

As I said before, I am currently playing Jay in Loyola’s production of Lost in Yonkers , which opens this Friday! I spent the weekend in the Newhart Family Theatre preparing. The last time I wrote about tech rehearsals, I was on wardrobe crew for Loyola’s production of Urinetown.

Being onstage is very different, especially in this production. Because there are very few instances in which I leave the stage, me and Kaitlyn (the senior playing my little brother) are responsible for most of the scene transitions, which have to as quick as possible. There are some moments where I have to change costumes on stage, then move set pieces around. This makes the process even more challenging, because not only do we have to worry about the artistic process of performing, but the technical aspect of making the show happen. Luckily, we spent much of the weekend’s rehearsals practicing the transitions themselves, and I feel very prepared.

This weekend reminded me of how lucky I am to be a part of our theatre department. I am so impressed with my cast members, who have really made the experience the best with not only their talent but also the fact that they are genuinely fun people to be around. And our faculty constantly amazes me with their talent and experience. This production specifically highlights the abilities of our faculty designers, who have created an intricate, beautiful set with an amazing lighting design. Walking on to the stage in period costume makes it hard to believe I’m not actually in the Yonkers living room in 1942.

Whether you are interested in joining the theatre department or not, I encourage everyone to come see the show!

Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

As previously mentioned in my last blog post, I now have my own apartment. Pretty soon after moving in, I discovered that there were a lot of things I would now have to learn how to do for myself. I would no longer have my mom or my roommates or my roommates’ boyfriends to kill spiders, hang shelving, and wake me up when my alarms are all accidentally set to silence.

Me being confused with what might be a screwdriver.

In order to prevent you from experiencing the same pain and trial and error that I’ve had to go through over the past few months, I decided to compile a list of all the essential skills I think could be helpful for anyone moving out of their home – be it to a dorm, their own apartment, or a place with roommates.

Me being confused with a tape measure

Without further ado, I’d like to present: Ellen’s Top 10 Master List of How to…

1. … unclog a toilet

2. … go grocery shopping

3. … hang up posters and pictures

4. … survive a zombie apocolypse

5. … order out

6. … have a roommate argument

7. … pack at the last minute

8. … cook in the microwave

9. … to set up utilities

10. … budget money

Me being confused with a hammer.

And, just a final note: While I’d like to pretend that my list of essential skills is pretty comprehensive. However, if you ever need more support, be sure to check out the Off-Campus Student Life office for more tips and tricks!

Much More Than a Farmers’ Market

Much More Than a Farmers’ Market

When students and parents ask me where to begin their college search, I don’t really have any one good answer. For some students, it might be available majors that is the most critical must-have. For others, it might be location. Still others might find academic or social clubs highly important.

But one thing I feel is essential for students is to look for some value added in their college search. What do I mean by that? It’s pretty simple actually—search for colleges that are going above and beyond—something that demonstrates they are a growing and vibrant community. That value added might differ between schools. And some colleges like Loyola actually have multiple aspects that are value added. Take our new Institute of Environmental Sustainability for example.

The opening of Loyola’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) is founded on the basis of collaborative learning, research, and experiential learning in an urban environment. It is an opportunity for students to take their interest in sustainable issues and apply it to their community where they can lead change. It’s also a chance to enhance their career possibilities—from the natural sciences to government and politics to business.

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

So, what is available? You name it. Loyola has its own biodome. Loyola has the premier geothermal facility in the city of Chicago with a system that spans 91 wells that go some 500 feet underground. There is an ecotoxicology lab. Students continue to work to make our own biodiesel in the Clean Energy Lab. There is even an aquaponics lab.

Simply put, it’s amazing.

The IES was student-driven from the start and now it has come to fruition. TAKE A LOOK.

So Say We All

So Say We All

As y’all may have noticed, I disappeared last semester. When they say that your spring semester of junior year is the hardest in the nursing program here, they aren’t kidding. Luckily, I was able to have such a relaxing summer that I feel rejuvenated and ready for my senior year!

So, what did I do this summer? Well…

1. I moved!

That’s right! I moved into my dream apartment in Lincoln Park! There is a little schlep to my classes on the lake shore campus (hello, 4 am Thursday morning wake up calls)…
The view from my rooftop!

… but it’s totally worth it for the neighborhood. I’m right by the Lincoln Park Zoo, the lake shore path, North Avenue Beach, countless restaurants and parks, and I’m only a 10 minute bus ride from work/the downtown shuttle.

I spent all summer exploring my new neighborhood and hanging out on my rooftop, and those two things alone made it a summer well spent.

2. I read!

When I first moved, I didn’t have internet for a week. To entertain myself, I started making progress on the giant stack of books on my nightstand. Once I started, I didn’t stop. To the chagrin of all my friends and my new apartment walls (I mayyyy have thrown a book or two out of anger), I constantly had a novel with me at all times.

The books I read this summer!

The books I read included:

– The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
– Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
– A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
– A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
– This Much I Know is True by Wally Lamb
– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
– The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
– Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert 

Hopefully, I’ll have read enough to hold me over until I have free time to read again!

3. I watched!

Once I did get internet, Netflix essentially became my new roommate. On the recommendation of my friends, I started watching Battlestar Galactica (BSG).

I watched it at the end of May, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that it took over my life to the degree that I couldn’t watch any more series until August (at which point I embarrassingly became obsessed with Teen Wolf).


While it took me a while to get through season 1 of BSG, but I watched season 2 – 4 (60 episodes about 40 minutes in length) in the span of 5 days. I. Became. Consumed.

Right now I’m fresh off of Teen Wolf, and I’m watching Scrubs because “it’s a medical show, so it counts as studying.” Unfortunately, since it IS the school year now, I can’t marathon 10+ episodes in a row, but Netflix will definitely be a part of my life year round.

In addition to watching Netflix, my senior year will be pretty busy with nursing school. I’m done with all of my core classes, so I can focus all my time on clinicals, skills, and theory courses. I accidentally joined the Bioethics Bowl team today, so I’m going to try and keep up with that for an extracurricular experience this year.

Either way, I’m pretty excited to really start getting ready for the “real world”!

Photo 1 attributed to Group Fox

Photo 2 attributed to myself

Photo 3 attributed to SyFy