Month: December 2017

What Happens in Study Abroad…

What Happens in Study Abroad…

… Stays with you forever.


It feels like months ago, or maybe just yesterday, or maybe even that I dreamed it, but finals week was just last week. Less than seven days ago I was in Rome, typing furiously on my last paper due and studying harder for my upcoming tests. I was mentally saying goodbye to every room I walked out of that I would never walk in again, memorizing the streets of the Eternal City so that even when I return later, I will know that city well.

And here I am, sitting on my couch in Minnesota, dogs curled at my feet and a homemade meal in my belly. I admit I was too busy last week to write a blog post, so here you get my recollection post. Half of the study abroad experience is how it feels when you come back, so I’d like to share with you what it’s like, coming back from some of the best times of your life.


It’s weird, I’ll tell you that. Some of my friends are experiencing reverse culture shock – American things are so loud, so big, so similar and yet so different. Every day for four months we lived knowing that the culture we were in wasn’t our own, so we had to be careful and aware of making mistakes, and it’s hard to shake that habit, even when we know we’re back in our home country. Some of my friends are living life brighter than they did before. Most every day we reminisce and share photos, talk about things we said or did to the people around us that linked to study abroad. For example, I can’t help but say ‘grazie’ when a waiter puts my food in front of me at a restaurant, a habit I should be breaking and say ‘thank you’ instead.


But it it is also really nice, to come home and go to Target in your sweatpants and hoodie and have nobody give you a second glance, or to raid the fridge, or to just lounge about all morning without being roused by the construction workers sounding like they’re drilling holes in your ceiling ( thanks, JFRC). People in your life who have studied abroad talk about their experiences with you, and although you can never really share it with people that weren’t there with you, hearing other people’s adventures and stories feel more real because you do the same thing, telling what you did to an audience that can imagine it.


My friend Mark likes to joke that he was only studying abroad for the Instagram pics, and sometimes I felt like I was doing amazing things just to say I did, but those sorts of feelings are okay to have. Everyone at the J-Force, whether they’re still traveling over Europe or went home on the group flight alongside me, is learning to think about their experience in new and different lights. I for one don’t shut up about it, which isn’t a bad thing. My dad brought home gyros, and I got into a long tangent about my time in Greece, and how different the food was to American Greek food, a friend of mine is studying abroad in Austria next semester so I gave her all the apps and tips and tricks I learned, and so on, and so on.


I really, really encourage everyone to study abroad, even more so now that I’m not abroad – I can see how it’s changed me, how amazing it was, how influential those short, short months will have on the rest of my life. Even if you think your major or course load won’t allow it, there are plenty of J-Term and Summer opportunities – or, heck, don’t go to a Loyola Campus. Find a study abroad program that will take you to somewhere you need to go, and transfer the credits. Business student? Go to London. Physics? You can make it work, early in your academic career. Talk to someone in the study abroad office, and just see what you can do.

In just four months, I can’t tell you all of my favorite things I did, or even favorite places. Let me tell you some, however, just to give an example of the sheer opportunity that study abroad gives you. I:

  • jumped into the waters of Delos, Greece, where Apollo and Artemis were apparently born
  • picked olives from an olive grove and tasted their olive oil two days later
  • went to the house where Leonardo da Vinci was allegedly born
  • climbed a Scottish mountain in a blizzard, for fun, then celebrated by eating haggis
  • went to the Trevi Fountain at one o’clock in the morning and found it almost entirely empty
  • saw the sunrise over the Roman Forum
  • touched the porphyry of the Four Tetrarchs in Venice, and my inner art historian nerded out
  • stood where Mussolini stood as my professor taught about his rise to power
  • sang karaoke with my friends at a festive Halloween party, the likes of which JFRC hadn’t seen before
  • walked through San Marino in a misty fog so thick I couldn’t see my hands

and so, so much more. I miss Rome, I miss constantly seeing my friends, and I miss the freedom of study abroad, the beauty of Italy and the diversity of Europe. Go. See. Do.

And as always, if you have any questions, let me know. I’d be happy to talk! Thus wraps up the ‘pasta’ part of my journey. Next month: ‘Peking Duck’!

Let’s Take this Moment to Reflect Take 3

Let’s Take this Moment to Reflect Take 3

Hello fellow Rambler, it’s that time of the year again. The Chicago weather has gotten much colder, the coats and thermal wear have gotten thicker, and the need for some quality piping hot chocolate and steaming herbal tea gets greater. You bust out all of your scarves, heavy duty gloves, and fluffy earmuffs; even this is not enough! The fall semester is winding down and it is already finals week here at Loyola Chicago! As part of Jesuit tradition, I am going to take this blog post to reflect on my experiences this past semester.

  • This semester was truly time consuming and a lot of hard work. I took 18 credits, which is a full load. It was exhausting, I always had work to do with numerous projects, papers, exams, etc.
  • In many of my classes I was able to gain some wonderful experience working with real world clients. In my Public Relations class we had to come up with a Public Relations Plan for a new product with dried cherry company based out of Washington state. For my Consumer Behavior class, we worked with Loom, a company tied with Catholic Charities to help refugee women create handmade products (scarves, earrings, pillows, etc.), and created video through our primary and secondary research, to help them promote their sales online.
  • In my Advertising class, I was able to come up with an entire advertising campaign with a group where we created our own energy bar catered toward college students. This project took up the whole semester to complete but it was super worth it! We had a lot of fun doing this!
  • This semester, my honors course was in Encountering Latin America and the Caribbean. Just like my other area study course, I had a lot of fun learning about this region in the world. Here I was able to apply many of the things that I learned when I studied abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica this past summer. I got the chance to read Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits which has become one of my favorite books of all time. Within its pages, themes of class, gender, and relationships are all covered; all in the context of Latin America. Additionally, I had to write a 10 page paper on the favelas, the shantytowns, of Brazil in terms of race, class, and criminology.
  • I was fortunate enough to be employed with the Quinlan School of Business for my junior and senior year. Currently, I am working with the Marketing department as their Marketing Research Assistant. As part of my job, I get to help the marketing faculty and the teaching assistants that aid them. I help find conferences, plan events, create presentations, and so much more! This job has allowed me to build connections with marketing professionals and gain experience with the marketing field.
  • Next semester, I look forward to my new set of classes, new events and promotions with my job, and of course being able to grab an internship for this coming summer!

Have a wonderful rest of your semester fellow Rambler and I hope you have a fun new year!

Cheers to a Great Semester!

Cheers to a Great Semester!

Just like that, Fall 2017 is done.

It is so remarkable and surprising that time went by so fast- I still remember the first day of class in August so vividly! Especially since Chicago has not received much snow yet, it doesn’t feel like Winter Break is approaching yet. Anyways, it is good to end on a good note and I wanted to reflect on my *last* fall semester here at Loyola on this blog.


  • 19 credits is a lot. Especially if you are taking multiple hard science-classes, doing 19 credits is a handful and you must be committed to your studies. To put this in more perspective, the “maximum” amount of credits a student can take is 18, but you can go over that too and cap it all off (with sprinkles and a cherry) at 21. I have not done 21 hours before, but I cannot fathom the amount of stress and workload those students have on themselves. Usually, there are two reasons for students going over 20 credit hours. (1) They want to graduate early (2)They only need 1 or 2 more classes more during that semester because it is not offered in other semesters.
  • I am glad I went to the President’s Ball. I initially did not want to go because I had other commitments, but my friends encouraged me to go. I’m glad I went because I think all seniors should celebrate their accomplishments at Loyola. Plus, the ball is all Navy Pier (How fancy is that?!). 
  • My college requirements were fulfilled this semester. Specifically, I took the language competency exam this semester to opt out of the College of Arts and Sciences language requirement. I took the risk of taking it this semester because I wanted to keep studying; if I didn’t pass the language exam, I would need to take 2 semesters of a language (meaning I would not graduate in Spring 2018). Do not fret, my friends. I just found out I passed! (IM GRADUATING!!) 
  • I made it through my first semester of being the president of the Vietnamese Student Association. My organization had 3 major events and we have over 200 current members on our email list as well as 14 interns training to get an eboard position next year.
  • I applied for graduate school (AND GOT ACCEPTED). This brings me great relief that I have a future ahead of me after I graduate from Loyola University.  
  • I need to love myself more. With all these responsibilities, I have sacrificed a lot of energy and time. I need to take care of myself by allowing myself to sleep more, eat more, and save time to do…..absolutely nothing 🙂  


Tips to Surviving Finals Week!

Tips to Surviving Finals Week!

You have a list. You are checking it twice. You’re going to find out if you know it or not. It’s Final Examination week here at Loyola! For the purposes of this list, I will be showing My Eight Do’s the Don’ts of getting through this finals week. So grab your hefty books, your study guides, and your healthy snacks; it is time to get cracking and start surviving!

The Do’s:

  • Form a Study Group: Yes, an actual study group, not a Community study group where you reflect on all your hardships and struggles that you have been going through your entire life. Study groups are truly useful in putting together the facts and figures/formulas with your fellow classmates. You are supposed to be helping each other out, take notes, and learn from each other. But please, please, PLEASE; do not be that person who takes advantage of the Study Group by showing up and not knowing your stuff. People are here to study and get work done, not have some free loader. Luckily, here at Loyola, we have places where students can form group studies at both Lakeshore and Water Tower Campus in both Cudahy and Lewis Libraries. For more information and to book your room follow the link attached: (
  • Ask Questions: When your professor starts to bring up the final examination, ask them the essential questions: format (multiple choice, short answer, true/false, essay), length (how many questions, there have been cases where a final has only been 1-2 questions), important concepts covered (cumulative or non-cumulative), and number of points (if not covered on the syllabus, where it most likely is) the more you know, the better for you.
  • Eat Healthy: A healthy mind is a clear mind. I know, it is easy to quickly grab “power meals” from Starbucks (with espresso shots, I see you there in the back). Or to bottoms up a Red Bull to get you through that all nighter. But, please, eat healthy options. Many of these unhealthy snacks and drinks are basically empty calories and full of unnecessary sugar. Instead focus on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and natural juices; your brain will thank you!
  • Treat Yo’ Self: Let’s say you have been studying (productively) non-stop for an extensive period of time and you just need to take a break. No, it’s not time to get that espresso shot. Instead it’s time to treat yourself. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath, that Netflix episode (limit yourself to one), a chance to go to the gym (join a fitness workout class), or splurge on yourself a bit (for me, this often entails buying a book at a bookstore on Belmont stop or getting a quality sandwich from Eately). Whatever you do, take this time for yourself, cause you deserve it. Just don’t get too carried away.

The Don’ts:

  • The All Nighter: Yes, you were able to put an all nighter in high school and still be okay (mostly okay). But in college, pulling an all nighter is equivalent to putting yourself up to fail. Basically, it is not a smart idea. You will be too stressed and mentally drained it will be too hard to focus and concentrate. Instead of doing an all nighter spread out your studying cycle into easy bite sized segments.
  • Rely on Caffeine: In college, coffee is very accessible. It is easy to grab and go. I am not anyway saying to stop and completely eliminate your coffee intake, what I am saying is to be smart with it. Before your final, do not chug your coffee for a few reasons. First, you do not want to have a caffeine crash after your final. Second, you do not want to be all jittery when you are taking your final and will not be able to focus or concentrate. Lastly, coffee is a diuretic, simply put, it will make you want to use the bathroom…a lot.
  • Procrastinate: Just, don’t do it
  • Binge on Technology: Your using your computer to study, well most of us do. If you decide to use it, please be smart. Focus on the task at hand and review your notes, previous quizzes or exams, etc. Just don’t be glued to your screen watching cute sloth videos (which are fun to watch by the way, when you have the free time) or online shopping on Amazon or Etsy.

Rome is Home

Rome is Home

Well, it’s wild. I only have two more weeks here. Where in the world did the time go? I can’t believe it. I feel like just last week we landed, just yesterday I was in Greece for Fall Break, just an hour ago it was summer. And now the clock is ticking, everyone is preparing for finals and slowly saying goodbye to Rome as we take our sweet time walking down the streets.

So this week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite places in Rome. I mean the city itself is a favorite, but inside it is a million gems that sparkle just as much. I wish I could take the time and say every single food place I love (which is quite a lot) but I’ll just tell you some, and why. Of the plenty of shops and fun places that don’t have to do with food, well. You can find those for yourself! From antique shops to tea stores to beautiful photography galleries, from tiny groceries to second-hand leather shops, Rome has it all. It’s a gold mine for each person to find on their own.

Bar (for Italians, this means coffee shop): Sciascia Café. Hands-down. Sciascia is nearly one hundred years old, decorates their cappuccinos with chocolate, and is decorated in such a cozy fashion, but it also has plenty of seating outside. It’s affordable, adorable, and just a short walk from the Ottaviano metro stop, the Vatican, and many local shops, since it’s in the hip but less touristy neighborhood of Prati. Check out their website here:

Lunch Spot: My favorite thing to do, whether I’m out and about downtown or just in the Balduina neighborhood, is eat pizza al taglio. I can’t quite recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but pizza is pre-made and you purchase it depending on the size or amount you want, to which they charge by weight and heat it in special ovens. This way, the chefs can do any sort of pizza they want, and many, many types at the same time. If you like pizza like me, you’ll be sniffing at these places as often as possible. And one of them just opened up in Chicago! Plus, most pizza al taglio places also sell suppli, the classic Roman equivalent of a mozzarella stick – except it’s rice fried inside the ball alongside cheese, and variations on that include chicken broth, cacio e pepe, arrabbiata, and so much more! I don’t really have just one that’s a favorite, since they are hole-in-the-wall type spots, but if you take a stroll around the city you can’t miss them. My favorite is in the Trastevere area, right across from the cocktail lounge Freni & Frenitizione.

Dinner Restaurant: I’ve already spent a whole blog post on Osteria dell’Anima, so I’ll tell you instead about Taverna Antonina, a lovely restaurant right in the heart of Rome. For all it is a very nice restaurant, it isn’t horribly expensive for Rome, and every meal is worth its price! I had a delightful rabbit leg, for example, which was cooked to perfection. Plus, they have been open since 1939, and specialize in typical Roman dishes. The lovely patio may scare away some student diners, but if you’re looking for a good meal, Taverna Antonina has it. Their website is here:


Aperitivo place: My friends and I love foodoo, a local place within walking distance of campus! Truth be told, I have not been there for anything except aperitvo, so I can’t comment on their food or other delights, but I can say they offer affordable and delicious drinks for the Italian happy hour! Traditionally, aperitivo also comes with free food, too, ranging from potato chips to a small meat dish or bruschetta. Foodoo gives you two kinds of bruschetta and a sort of fried dough ball that is very good! They don’t have a website, but they do have a facebook page here:

Gelateria: I adore Alberto Pica, a tucked-away gelateria between the river and Largo Argentina, where a cat sanctuary rests inside Roman ruins. Their gelato is genuine, home made, handcrafted, and bursting with flavor! I’ll be very sad to leave it when I must. Even today I got a gelato from them because I was in the neighborhood, even though it is considered cold around here. If you like pistachios (like me), get their pistachio flavor. It’s pretty much perfect.

Bakery: Another place in Prati, I love what’s called by the students “The Secret Bakery.” Its real name is Dolce Maniera, at least I believe so, but it has no outside advertising or label. You have to know where it is to find it, which the SLAs eagerly show students, and each sweet treat or breakfast bite – or really any sort of baked good – is there for two euros or less. It once cost me just two euros for a huge cronut and a pistachio-filled cornetto. So. dang. good. Even if you’re here for a short visit, go to this place. You won’t regret it.

And that’s my top places in Rome for eats, because #foodislife. Rome – and Italy – is so much more than food, but for understanding a culture and getting to know a city, food is the best place to start. There is no finish.


(But if you’re looking for a great museum/important landmark, go to Castel Sant’Angelo, in the first photo. I think I’ve spent like 24 hours in there total, I love it so much. And it has a great view of Rome!)

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at LUC

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year at LUC

Happy December, everyone!

Just like that, the fall semester is almost done! The school year is almost done and LUC students are finally starting to feel the Christmas spirit. When students came back from Thanksgiving break, they were welcomed by a huge 25 foot decorated Christmas tree, lit-up garland on the ledges of the stairway, giant Christmas wreaths, and tons of classical holiday music playing in the background in the Damen Student Center. On Tuesday, we had our annual Christmas tree lighting including pictures with Santa, chocolate fountains, and an ice-skating rink- yes, you heard me right- an ice skating rink.

Along with that, LSC is slowly becoming a winter wonderland with festive decorations all over. The large flower pots near the Information Commons have been designed with tons of evergreen branches, ornaments, and other things. Between Mundelien and Piper Hall, there is a real, lit-up, and decorated 15 foot tree!

Still not quite in the holiday spirit yet? Come listen to Christmas music by LUC’s Chamber Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale, Wind Ensemble, & Percussion Ensemble. This is a wonderful event put on by the music department that is scheduled for December 7th at 7:30pm in the Mundelien Auditorium.

The life-size Nativity Scene is also starting to go up in front of Mundelien. I like it because it isn’t in one area, but stretched out from the front of the building all the way to the front of Piper Hall. It’s cool to walk through the scene on my walks to Sullivan Center!


Go out and enjoy the holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!