Author: Jessica Xi

Friendsgiving Season

Friendsgiving Season

Students are heading home for the holidays, but before we do that, many of us indulge in a little trend called Friendsgiving!

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically Thanksgiving – but with your friends, instead of your family. Although in a lot of cases your friends ARE your family, some people go home and some stay, some are from the same suburbs and some are from further away. It’s not uncommon to see students walking to and fro with tupperwares, pots and pans, and other things on the nights of the weekend before Thanksgiving break. They’re all going to Friendsgivings!

Most people celebrate Friendsgiving by doing a potluck-style dinner, and everyone brings one aspect of a meal. It can be Thanksgiving-type meal: mashed potatoes, corn bread, turkey, more turkey, perhaps some green beans and so on, but it doesn’t have to be.

This year I was delighted to find myself celebrating not one big Friendsgiving but two! One of them was with my friends I made during my time in Beijing (although not all of them, given that many are at schools around the country… or still in Beijing), and the other was my friends from Rome and freshman/sophomore year, since a lot of them came to Rome or knew people from Rome. I didn’t host either of them, but was all too happy to take corn hotdish (aka corn stuff) to the first and mashed potatoes to the other. Both easy and delicious!

Not only that, but the university and clubs also like to put on Thanksgiving-style events. My sorority, Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., does our annual Unity Feast, where donating food to a food shelf nets you all you can eat from us, catered by Boston Market, which is a resturant that specializes in American comfort food. The Vegan society does Vegan Thanksgiving from a local restaurant called Chicago Diner where everything is Thanksgiving food but vegan, and so on.

(This plate is not from the Vegan Thanksgiving but from my Beijing Friendsgiving, in case you were concerned about the meat there.)

I wasn’t able to make it out to the Vegan Thanksgiving myself, but my friends both Vegan and not went and said they had a great time! Even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, Thanksgiving is a great time at Loyola because of the sudden wealth of food events that pop up, and how the usual annual giving tradition and consideration of those less fortunate than us recurs. Loyola year-round thinks about the poor and those with less oppportunity, but it’s when Chicago starts to get cold and windier that we too really buckle down on our philanthropic efforts.


Happy holidays, everyone!


Helping Global Neighbors

Helping Global Neighbors

Last week I went to the Kristallnacht memorial, but this week Loyola was hosting a presentation about something a little more recent. The Yemeni civil war is on its fourth year, but the American government has a chance to do something about the destruction it is creating.

Loyola’s Peace Studies and International Studies program hosted Hassan El-Tayyab, the Jordanian-American Policy and Organizational Director at Chicago Area Peace Action.


He talked passionately and at length about the war in Yemen, starting with presenting two short videos to give us a background on the topic. One of them gave a brief overview of the politics and current state of the fighting affairs, while the other was a passionate plea to the U.S. Senators by children in Yemen, affected by the civil war. You can watch that heartbreaking video here and learn more about what’s going on from that website.

After detailing the conflict, as well as sharing his family connection to the suffering and war crimes happening in the Middle East, Hassan moved to talk about his organization, Chicago Area Peace Action, and what could be done.

I learned that CAPA is working to pass two bills, one in the House of Representatives and another in the Senate, that would get U.S. involvement in Yemen recognized by Congress and then ended through the War Powers Act of 1973. Although many Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle have supported these bills, others have not done anything one way or the other, including Senator Tammy Duckworth – so, he shared, CAPA was taking action and had a rally scheduled outside of her office.

Loyola itself also has a local chapter of CAPA on campus, and our student organization has actions planned and a focus on raising awareness of what can be done to stop what the United Nations recognizes as the “worst man made humanitarian conflict in recent history.”

Overall, I was really glad I went to this event, and that Loyola allowed for this kind of awareness-raising event. Even as someone who reads the news daily, I think it’s very valuable to pay special attention to disasters like this and that we stay informed of the way our fellow humans are experiencing our planet at the same time we sit there and eat cookies and drink lemonade, in a building of a university we are being educated at, without fear of a missile or other government-sponsored attack raining down at us at any time.

My biggest takeaway, though, was that there is always something we as individuals can do. Even if it’s just signing a petition or writing a blog post, the speaker was very clear that even the smallest action, even just a small group of people, can affect global change – and save lives, if the bills can be passed in the new Congress.

Local Fave Restaurant: Nha Hong Vietnam

Local Fave Restaurant: Nha Hong Vietnam

You know how I’m always thinking about food?

Well, I’ve got another restaurant recommendation for you all! This one is not so local, but it’s near and dear to my heart.

Nha Hong Vietnam is a local restaurant in the Argyle neighborhood of Chicago – only about 15 minutes by the L – and about a five minute walk from there. Argyle is known as Little Vietnam, but Nha Hong has got to be my favorite restaurant in the whole area.

This past weekend I went there with my roommate (don’t tell her I’ve posted this pic) and it was, as ever, so good. I haven’t been there in two years, because of being abroad, and I missed the taste of delicious and cheap pho!

(Admittedly, I do have another roommate who is Vietnamese who makes her own pho, but there’s something about the way they make it at Nha Hong and the atmosphere that makes it just fun, even though it does cost more money than free.)

The restaurant is family-run and whenever someone goes there and the grandfather of the family is not there, my groupchats get a flurry of worried messages about his health. It’s not very large of a space, so you either have to go there not at peak hours or be willing to wait, but it’s so worth it. They used to give you free ice cream after your meal too, but last time I went they didn’t, so I wonder if they stopped that… or they don’t do that in the wintertime!

Their cheapest dish is about $3, and I swear they must have over 200 items on their menu. If I didn’t go there specifically for the pho, I’d no doubt be overwhelmed! Pho runs you about $8, which is a lovely price for a big bowl of warmth, happiness, and a full stomach.

If you have a hankering for Vietnamese food or find yourself by the Argyle stop, go to them! Campus has lots of good restaurants nearby, more of which I promise I’ll write about, but I just have to recommend Nha Hong. Check out their yelp page here. Yum!

Life’s a Beach!

Life’s a Beach!

Even if you’re from Chicago, when you think of the city, you might not think about beaches much – or at all.

I always find I surprise people when I mention that there’s a beach at the end of my street. It’s a real beach, no exaggeration – sandy shores, a pier, a lifeguard chair that’s usually empty, and picnic tables further back for families to gather around.

Coming from Minnesota, I’m no stranger to lakeside beaches. But I totally understand everybody’s surprise. I mean, Lake Michigan is a lake, sure, but it’s a Great Lake!

Up in Duluth, Minnesota, where Lake Superior meets the land, there’s no beach… just huge rocks filling the shore. In fact, Loyola is surrounded by beaches.

To the north of campus is three separate beaches within a five minute walk – Hartigan, Albion, and Loyola Park – but there are even more the further up you go. One summer, when I had my bicycle and worked here, I would always stop at the beach that was halfway between Loyola and Northwestern’s campus for a break.

This picture is the beach at the end of my block. Of course, nowadays it is a lot less pleasant to visit than it was in the summer, but it’s still beautiful… but I don’t put my feet in so much. Plus, it’s much emptier now!

I love going to the beach at sunset and sunrise (if I’m ever up that early) because the lake is just gorgeous. Sure, I see it from campus, inside the IC or walking around, but there’s something about being close enough to touch it. There are no beaches on-campus.

South of campus too is more beaches! The Lakefront Trail, a pathway stretching from Loyola down to Navy Pier that you can walk, run, or bike down, is pretty much all beach. In the summer and spring, it’s the best place to hang out with your friends, getting out and enjoying the fresh air without having to take public transportation or go too far away.

If you come tour Loyola, there’s no doubt the tour guide will take you lakeside, where, as we say, it’s Cooler By the Lake, but if you have some free time walk north just one block and you’ll find yourself a beach! Going to Loyola is not just the campus itself, but the Chicago that surrounds it.

Supporting the Arts!

Supporting the Arts!

Although some of our most populated majors at Loyola are science-based, like nursing or biology, and we have a very good business school, Loyola is still a liberal arts school seeking to educate and allow a space for the creative arts. That’s why we have a Fine Arts Program, and that Fine Arts Program puts on lots of showcases for the various disciplines that make up ‘the Fine Arts.’ Last week, I attended the student orchestra’s showcase, just for fun!

Actually, there were three orchestras – the symphony, the percussion, and the wind instruments, each taking their turn. They were all quite good – I played the oboe and clarinet in high school, so to see a symphony was quite fun. Beyond the sound of Beethoven, I love watching the bows go up and down. Wind instruments don’t really move like that as an unintentional visual show to accompany the music.

I wish I could include a video for you, but the file is wayyy too large. Attending the orchestra does come for the price of a ticket, unlike the basketball game happening the same night, but there was a student discount and I can go to many, many basketball games, if I so choose. It was really nice to see other students at the orchestra, there to support their friends, sitting amongst the parents and family members who came to Mundelein Theater.

Out of all of them, I think my favorite piece played with a version of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” but the percussion played a song called “Guac is Extra” which made me laugh.

In addition to the orchestra, Loyola also has an exhibition space for student artists who make visual media like sculptures, drawings, and photographs, and lots of theatrical performances throughout the year. I have a close friend who was the costume manager for a recent production called Violet, despite not being too deep into the theater world herself. That’s what’s fun about our theater program – you don’t have to be a theater major or minor to join! There are extracurricular band groups, a cappella singing groups, and so on, so you don’t have to take a class or dedicate more time than you can.

If you ever come visit and you see that something in the Fine Arts going on, stop by! They’re usually open to the public, free or at a cost. I know I for sure am looking forward to the annual Joyola production, a holiday-themed performance from singing and instrumental groups alike.

Remembering the Kristallnacht at Loyola

Remembering the Kristallnacht at Loyola

To be honest with you, one of my main hesitations about going to Loyola at first was that it’s a Jesuit university, and I’m not religious. But it’s been really great, these past four years, to see that Loyola is not just a Catholic university but one that thinks about the diversity of its students. I heard recently, although I don’t know if it’s true, that Loyola University Chicago is both the most diverse Jesuit institution and that a majority of our students are Hindu. Nevertheless, it’s the persistent idea.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I recently went to an event commemorating the Kristallnacht, the Night of Shattered Glass on November 9-10, 1938, in Germany and Austria.

Being a history major and that it was sponsored in part by the History department, I was reminded again and again to go – but I would have gone anyway. It was not a religious event, but it took into consideration the different religions and identities that Loyola students have even just to put on this kind of event. It’s like including the menorah in stereotypical holiday designs out there, next to Christmas trees and Santa hats and (although it seems like it’s getting rarer) saying “Joyous Kwanzaa” … Even though I don’t identify as a member of the group, I think inclusion is always good.

Dr. Elliot Lefkovitz was a really impressive speaker. It was heartbreaking to be there on the day that another mass murder was committed in the United States, and he read a letter from someone who had grown up in the Pittsburgh community where the Tree of Life Synagogue is, as well as a moving memorial of the lives lost. He especially emphasized that atrocities such as the Tree of Life killings and the Holocaust were killed themselves in abstractions: in learning that six million died in those short years of World War II rather than one plus one plus one plus one… and so on, and the same too at the level of eleven dead.

After speaking for a while, he played a short film he had made almost thirty years ago called ‘The Double Crossing’, interviews of refugees from Germany in 1939 who went to Cuba for safety but most were returned to the European mainland, over 200 of which were to die in the following years.

I was really amazed by it. I think one of the things that so drives me about history is the human experience of it all, and interviews like these, preserved memories of people who now have mostly passed away, are incredible. After the film ended, Dr. Lefkovitz read some quotes from Eli Weisel about the damage that indifference does in conclusion and answered some questions that had come up about the short film.

As always, I’m amazed by the variety of events you can find and go to at Loyola, and each one of them are exposure to unique things that I am so, so grateful I get to experience and learn about in my college years. When/if you tour here, you’re probably going to see posters for things you want to go to and clubs you want to join as well! When I applied to Northwestern University after touring it, my application letter was all about how I wanted to be involved in the different clubs and events I had seen on posters around the campus (although now of course! of course! I’m so glad I went here instead).

No matter where you end up, don’t be afraid to get out there and go to things. You’ll learn so much beyond the classroom!

Class Registration? How does it work?

Class Registration? How does it work?

It’s registration week at Loyola, which means a week of people panicking and being relieved in turns, of ducking out of classes for about two minutes to wait and wait for their requests to go through, and of arranging and re-arranging schedules, over and over again.

My mom likes to remind me she had to stand outside in lines to sign up for her classes. As stressful as this online system may be – I always use my phone, on data, to not get bogged down by a slow computer or worse – slow wifi – I can’t even imagine the stress levels that would bring about. Spend too much time in one line and can’t get to another class? But your backup is also full, and your backup’s backup only hinged on your first class being too full? Sounds like an absolute nightmare to me.

Luckily, several things at Loyola make it much easier. For one, if you are an Honors student, an athlete, a Resident Assistant, or disabled, you have early registration than the rest of your class, at different times. I don’t think it goes in that order. Second, seniors go before juniors, who have earlier times than sophomores, who (for the spring semester) are ahead of freshmen. So if you’re, say, a senior Resident Assistant, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a spot in all of the classes you want. How nice!

Loyola uses basically two sites: Sakai, and Locus. Sakai is sort of like Blackboard or Schoology, which your high schools might use, as a sort of classroom portal where professors can put resources, syllabuses, or assignment dropboxes as they wish. Some professors use it a lot, some not at all.

Locus is the business website, sort of. You can do a lot on there, from checking your grades to applying for graduation (eek!) to signing up for classes. I don’t know if it will show up very well, but here’s what mine looks like, as well as some of the classes I’ll be taking next semester. That’s right, your girl’s registration period opened up last Monday, bright and early at 9:15am, so I registered while walking to class!

It’s as easy as clicking buttons. Locus has this thing called the ‘Shopping Cart’ where basically you can put the classes that you want to take into it, so when registration comes around you don’t have to go looking for each class individually! Let me show you.

Of course, mine is empty because I registered for my classes already, but as you can see below, they’ve got little green check marks next to them. Whether you don’t get into a class because it’s full, you’re on the waitlist for a class, or you got in, Locus will tell you – none of that waiting around, or not knowing!

Some other features of Locus is the planner, where you can put in classes you’ll need for the future before your shopping cart is even open (it usually opens a few weeks before registration does), and – my favorite – the academics requirement report. Not to scare you but to comfort you, it tells you which classes you need to take to complete your major or your minor! It’s super handy. I don’t have to email my adviser for every little confusion and problem (although sometimes I do anyway, because my adviser is really cool and useful. I adore her, even though we’ve never met.)

So don’t worry, parents reading this, there’s no standing around biting your fingernails and planning strategic line-jumps with a card in your hand here at Loyola any more! I’m not so sure that there is any institution that does it like that anymore, although of course I can’t say definitively. If you’re looking at these blogs, hopefully you’re not stressed, but if you are – registration at whatever university you go to shouldn’t be one!



How do Loyola students give back?

Well, one of the ways that the Sorority and Fraternity Life organizations came up with is Greeksgiving – led by Allyssa Suarez, a sister of Delta Phi Lambda and the Programming Chair for the Multicultural Greek Council, the idea was to make bags and fill them with supplies that the people experiencing homelessness in Chicago may need.

Last Sunday, members from both the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Council gathered in Palm Court to get to work! Although neither the Interfraternity Council nor some orgs in the Councils that did come showed up, the work still got done – and hours before schedule, too!

The organizations, before this day, had gathered resources to donate, from warm cold-weather accessories like scarves and mittens to razors and shaving cream, feminine products and toothbrushes, hair brushes and water bottles, granola bars and baby wipes. Setting them all out was wonderful to look at and to know we would be giving these.

Each person there decorated the brown paper bags that we would be putting the items inside in a holiday theme, whether it was a menorah or the sun wearing sunglasses and a santa hat. You can see other designs on the picture below. Then, we assembled them and made holiday notes to slip in there too, just for good measure.

Overall, we made just under 50 bags!

Although of course we wish we could make more, we ended the event glad we were able to give, even just a little bit. No two bags were alike, due to the variety of supplies we received from the organizations, and they’ll be handed out sometime next week by the Labre ministry group on campus, who work to build relationships with people experiencing homelessness in Chicago and give them food as well. You can learn more about their work here!

This upcoming holiday season, it’s certainly much easier to think about the people suffering around us, since everyone is big into the, well, holiday spirits, and the cold sets in. Equally important, though, is thinking of others outside of this season, so I hope the tri-Greek council will be able to keep doing events like this into next year! That’s the true Loyola spirit!

How do you give back?

President’s Ball 2018

President’s Ball 2018

I had a friend who studied abroad in Vienna this past spring, and she went to a real European old, fancy ball, complete with formal dances that every Austrian person had been learning in school since they were young, and every foreign person had learned a few weeks before so that they wouldn’t embarrass themselves. I mean it when it was fancy.

Loyola’s President’s Ball? Oh, it’s not nearly as fancy. But it’s still a wonderful opportunity for students and their dates (if you have a non-Loyola date) to dress up and dance the night away somewhere nice!

The Ball is the final touch on a ceremony that awards one student from each of the colleges inside Loyola University Chicago the President’s Medallion that recognizes outstanding people – the medal-receiving ceremony itself is closed to the winners and their guests, but everybody profits from the dance thrown. It’s $15 for a ticket, but the school shuttles people to and fro the venue, and there’s free (non-alcoholic) drinks, chicken wings and other hors d’oeuvres, and a chocolate fountain. Chocolate fountain! That made it worth it for me.

This year the President’s Ball was at the grand Aon Ballroom at the very end of the Navy Pier, so although you couldn’t go outside without not being able to get back in, you could look out the window and see the magnificent lake or the skyline all lit up.

Overall, the night was grand fun! Loyola also provided a coat rack and a photo background for anyone who wanted to take photos in front of the formal Loyola logo repeated many times. By the time my friends and I left, at least half of us had very, very weary feet! The music played was good for dancing, and every time I turned around I saw another person I could call friend from these past four years of going to Loyola. I’m glad that my first President’s Ball was my senior year, because it definitely seemed like mostly seniors!

As for what we all wore, there was a great variety. I wore one of my dresses from a high school dance, not as flattering as it used to be but much better than spending money on something new. I saw some people there in full-length dresses one would wear to a much fancier gala, but also people in casual or fun-patterned suits and shorter skirts too. It was just mostly dependent on what you wanted to wear!

Overall, if you come to Loyola, I’d totally recommend going, at least once. It really made me feel connected with the Loyola community again, and hey… it’s no Vienna, but who can resist a night out like this?

Keeping in the ‘Loop’

Keeping in the ‘Loop’

Loyola students share a lot of things – common values, attendance at Loyola (shock, I know), dread at the incoming presence of finals week, to name a few – but we also all like to be kept updated on what is happening in the Loyola community. That’s why we have the Loyola Phoenix, our student-run newspaper!

With sections such as Arts and Entertainment, Current News, Sports, and Opinion, as well as podcasts and ‘Closer Look’, a column dedicated to tackling issues students are concerned about, the Phoenix covers lots of topics and is published in print every Wednesday, with online articles being updated often. Sometimes the articles create controversy and stir, like an article they wrote about their copies going missing (the general thought was: why is this a big deal?) and other times they echo student sentiment, such as the ones regarding student safety or lack thereof. It also strives for a social media presence so students don’t have to seek it out but they can pop up on newsfeeds to increase readership.

When our men’s basketball team was doing great in the Final Four, our  sports writers were all over it. They show a fantastic amount of dedication to sports and to Loyola as a whole by going out and supporting games and matches of all types of sports, even if I don’t really understand what they’ve written because I’m not a sports girl. If you want to see what was covered and written during the spring, you can search for the previous articles on the website!

Everyone on the team is a student, from the graphic designer to the top editor. Although personally I’m not always impressed by the quality of the writing (you don’t have to be a journalism major to write with them) I still appreciate what they are doing. They don’t just write about Loyola things as well! They have features on things to do around Chicago and the Arts and Entertainment section has reviews of new movies and artists of all kinds. It’s really neat to connect with Chicago and culture in this way, and they’re more than a student-run newsletter but a real newspaper this way.

So if you want to get a feel for student life at Loyola (beyond these blogs, of course) I’d totally advise you to follow this link and see their website.