Author: Laura Swanson

Free February at the Field

Free February at the Field

When it’s below 20-degrees outside Chicago adventures don’t sound all that appealing. Unless of course, the Chicago activity involves something indoors…and free.

For the entire month of February, the Field Museum is opening its doors for free to Illinois residents. This Saturday was the perfect time to take advantage of this (warm) museum because my brother came to visit and we hadn’t been to the museum since grade school. We certainly weren’t the only ones who decided to take advantage of the free admission, so we spent the day shoulder to shoulder with other museum goers.

We opted to skip the special exhibitions that cost a little extra, but still had plenty to see. First things first, we had to greet Sue, Chicago’s famous T-Rex, who looked charming as ever. Then, we worked our way through the Ancient Americas exhibit. This started with the first people groups known in the Americas and progressed to the history of Native American and Arctic Peoples. My favorite part was taking a pow wow in the Pawnee Earth Lodge, the buffalo fur covered benches made for a perfect mid-museum break.

Our next stop was Ancient Egypt. Even though looking at actual mummies freaks me out a bit, I still enjoyed the exhibit. I always find myself amazed by the technology and innovation the ancient Egyptians used. We also made sure to go through the Evolving Planet exhibit, which had all kinds of animal fossils. My favorite creature from this section was definitely the giant sloth. Yeah, it looks exactly how it sounds.

By this point we had already spent nearly three hours in the museum and decided that Giordano’s was calling our name. I’ve always loved museums so I was glad to get the chance to come and visit the Field again. If you’ve never been or are in need of something warm and free to do, I would highly recommend paying the Field Museum a visit this February!

Until next time, Sue.

Why Lakeside is Best Year Round

Why Lakeside is Best Year Round

For me, the noise and busyness of the city can be overwhelming at times. I find myself needing to find a place where I can just breathe; away from the cars and buses, not bumping into people on the sidewalk, or surrounded by skyscrapers. In any other city finding a spot that brings me a little peace might be nearly impossible. Thankfully, Chicago staked out prime Lake Michigan real estate. And Loyola snatched up the best location possible on the Northside of the city.

When I need a breath of fresh air, there’s no better place than lakeside. Loyola’s students are no strangers to the breathtaking lake views our campus offers. On sunny days the lake front is crowded with people reading and relaxing. (I’m telling you lakeside mood boosts are real.) We love to brag about the beauty of our campus, and even in the dead of winter the frozen lake is captivating.

Now, most people reserve their beach time for the warm days of summer, but chilly winter days don’t scare me. This Friday, a friend and I braved a February afternoon walk by the lake. Because Chicagoans are bold (and bursting with spring fever) we weren’t the only ones enjoying a day with temperatures above 30-degrees. The calm waves rolling onto the beach were soothing, even if the cool breeze wasn’t. The water was a pale shade of sea foam green that blended into the cloudy horizon and the beach was scattered with chunks of ice from a formerly frozen lake. So even if I couldn’t feel my legs by the time we made it back to campus a little lake time was completely worth it.

Whenever you get the chance to visit Loyola, be sure to spend time by the lake. (Even if that means gazing at it through the windows of the Information Commons like I’m doing now). Lake Michigan never disappoints. So, as long as Loyola’s my home it will serve as my breath of fresh air in the city.



Career Week 2016: Resumes in Review

Career Week 2016: Resumes in Review

Your ticket to the industry, a piece of paper listing your greatest accomplishments, or your rite of passage to adulthood. No matter what you call it, a resume is a vital part of entering “real life”. Something that, for me, is approaching more quickly than I’d like to admit.

Considering the necessity of a good resume when entering the workforce it was a no-brainer for me to attend the resume workshop, an event hosted through Loyola’s School of Communication Career Week.

On Wednesday, 30 communications professionals joined students at the Water Tower Campus’ Lewis Towers for the “Resumes that Pop to the Top” event. Students had the chance to meet with several professionals for resume critiques and career advice. The workshop was “round robin style”, which allowed us about ten minutes with the professionals we met before rotating to someone new.

Prior to the workshop I had thoroughly convinced myself that my resume would need to be completely thrown out and started over based on the critique I received. Thankfully, I was wrong. I had the pleasure of meeting with three different professionals, all of whom offered really helpful advice for not just my resume, but for the start of my career. In general the reactions to my resume were positive, which allowed me to take a huge sigh of relief.

The most common criticism I received was to change the order of my resume, so my most recent experience was showcased first. A piece I hope to add to my resume is a personal statement of sorts at the top. A few short sentences that provide insight into my personality rather than my technical skills is something I can only hope will “pop my resume to the top”.

Now that I’ve reorganized my resume, changed some sentence structure, and gained some insight into the professional world, I feel far more confident in my resume. I was, however, reminded that a strong resume is only one piece of the puzzle and I’ll need an impressive cover letter and interview to complete the picture. Although my resume is solid for now, it is a living document that will even need updating by next fall. But I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

For now, I’ll be grateful for the advice and continue to ask for reviews from others at every opportunity I’m given.


Here’s to Hoping for Spring 2016

Here’s to Hoping for Spring 2016


We’re only one week into a new semester and already things seem to be back to normal on campus. There are plenty of students in the IC on a Sunday afternoon, the downtown campus shuttle is always full, and the Damen Student Center has been busy with student organization meetings all week. At first glance it looks about the same as any other semester, but Spring 2016 has us all in very different places.

The freshmen are starting to find their feet and feel comfortable on campus. The sophomores are embracing their last year of underclassman-ship and are (hopefully) settling on a major. The juniors are buckling down to await senior year with joy, relief, and perhaps a little bit of fear. And the seniors are battling “senioritis” while making sure they pass their classes, make plans for post-graduation, and enjoy their last semester of their undergraduate careers.

So, here we are. Each of us looking at Spring 2016 from different perspectives and all pushing ahead hoping for similar things.

I hope that as we tackle this semester from our different walks of life we find time to enjoy each other and be grateful for our experiences. I hope we find time for weekend naps and coffee shop dates. I hope we get involved on campus and befriend students different from ourselves. I hope we get the grades we want and have a chance to leave this campus better than we found it. I hope we explore Chicago and reach out to our community. I hope that our professors cancel a class or two so that we can sleep in and I hope it doesn’t feel like winter until May. I hope that we find peace in our differences and that the Spring 2016 semester treats us all well.

Let’s see where this one takes us, Ramblers.



Getting in the Christmas Spirit with Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

Getting in the Christmas Spirit with Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

I love this time of year. And especially all the traditions that come with it. Visiting family, exchanging gifts, and baking way too many Christmas cookies, then come the Chicago traditions: ice skating at Millennium Park, visiting the Christkindlmarket, and heading to the Lincoln Park Zoo for the ZooLights.

On Saturday night, a group of my friends enjoyed a little bit of Christmas magic at the zoo. I was blown away by how many light displays covered the zoo. I would love to know just how many hours it took to set up and just how many light bulbs light up each night. They sure have a way with turning the whole zoo into a Christmas wonderland.

If you get the chance to visit I’ve got some advice for you:

Don’t drive. Traffic near the zoo is absolutely insane. Who knew other people wanted to see the ZooLights too? I would strongly recommend taking the L or the bus to avoid all that, it may have taken us just as long to find parking as it did to see the lights. But if driving is your transport of choice, be sure to have good holiday tunes and snacks handy so that you can at least enjoy the extra driving around.

Dress warm. This should be obvious, because it is winter in Chicago after all. I underestimated how long we would be outside walking around, especially because of our far parking spot. Bundling up and wearing comfy shoes will make your lights experience all the more cheerful.

Let yourself be like a kid. The ZooLights is very much a family oriented environment, so take a hint from all the kids that are bound to be running through the crowds. The lights look absolutely magical all through the zoo, enjoy it! And don’t be scared to pose by your favorite animal made of lights–the swans and I enjoyed our photo shoot.

Be cheerful. Sure it’ll be cold and there will be crowds, but keep in the holiday spirit. My friends and I strolled through the zoo while singing along with the Christmas carols playing over the speakers, eating chocolate covered pretzels, and drinking hot chocolate. We may have been a little too cheerful for our own good.

This city is full of all kinds of holiday events and I’ve loved having them become college-holiday traditions for me. Thanks Chicago, for spreading so much Christmas joy.

Giving Thanks For LUC

Giving Thanks For LUC

I feel bad for Thanksgiving. This perfectly good holiday has become overshadowed by the upcoming Christmas season. Rather than serving as a pause and time to give thanks with our loved ones it has become the perfect long weekend to get the best deals on the perfect presents and set up the Christmas tree. I’ll admit that this year I was out shopping on Black Friday and had been listening to Christmas music since the week before, but I still think that Thanksgiving should be given the credit it deserves.

I want this holiday to receive the credit that its due, because I for one have so very much to be thankful for. My thanksgiving weekend was filled with quality family time, reuniting with high school friends, and of course good food—all of which I am insanely thankful for. But I’d like to send some thanks Loyola’s way because it too has brought me plenty to be thankful for in the last 2 ½ years.

LUC thank you for…

  1. The city. I’m grateful that you have given your students the city of Chicago to explore. You’ve never tried to keep us hidden on the Lake Shore Campus, but instead encourage us to enjoy all the exciting things our neighborhood and our city offers us. And I’m always grateful that we’ve got a UPASS to get us around, plus a campus right in the middle of downtown.
  2. Jesuit values. Before I started school at Loyola I didn’t even know what a Jesuit was, but now that I’ve seen them in action I’ve become grateful that it was upon their values our school was founded. Our mission for social justice is one that seeps into nearly every course I’ve had and is certainly a message I will carry with me far beyond my college years.
  3. Experiences abroad. I quite honestly would not have become the person I am today without having spent a semester at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. LUC thank you for encouraging your students to take a leap of faith and spend time abroad while we are in college, and thank you for making that opportunity so easily accessible to us.
  4. Caring for the environment. You were not given the title of “The Greenest University in the Midwest” on accident. The initiative you take to make our campus one that will leave a small footprint on this planet is widely appreciated by your students. Thank you for recycling bins, water bottle refill stations, and geothermal powered buildings; your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
  5. Our professors. The reason we are here is to receive a high quality education and that would not be true of this institution if your professors didn’t strive to meet that standard. I’ve seen professors teach classes of 200 and still show us how very much they care and each semester I have a professor that blows me away with their knowledge, expertise, and ability to inspire.

Thank you Loyola, for all that you do.

Learning Loyola’s Lingo

Learning Loyola’s Lingo

In the same way that you’ll never understand the language in a foreign country you’ve never studied, you’ll never understand the ins-and-outs of Loyola without brushing up on the lingo. So to get you prepared for campus I’ll give you a quick LUC dictionary:


Ramblers (ram-B-lur-z)
1. Loyola’s mascot, represented by LU Wolf, formerly represented by Bo Rambler, which was short for Hobo. In 1990 the university stopped using Bo based on the fact that using a homeless man as the mascot for a top university was unfitting and decided to use a wolf instead because of the animal’s tie to St. Ignatious
2. The name is derived from Loyola’s previous mascot-less football team of 1926. The team travelled extensively across the United States earning the nickname “ramblers”, the football team is now gone, but the nickname lives on

LSC (el-S-see)
1. Lake Shore Campus
2. Loyola’s main campus located in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with more than 40 buildings and housing over 3,000 undergrad students
3. As the name implies, the Lake Shore Campus has one of its borders along the shore of Lake Michigan offering beautiful views and the perfect place to study or relax

The IC (eye-see)
1. The Information Commons
2. The floor-to-ceiling windowed building (connected to the Library) that sits on the shore of Lake Michigan
3. Three floors of pure study space, with every resource a student could possibly desire

Madonna (mah-D-on-ah)
1. In no relation to the popstar, Madonna della Estrada is Loyola’s on-campus chapel
2. This stunningly beautiful chapel hosts mass daily and is a proud symbol of the Catholic faith this university is rooted in
3. Voted as one of the most beautiful campus churches in the United States

Core (k-oar)
1.Loyola’s layered system of “gen eds” that involves 3 credit hours of college writing seminar, artistic knowledge, quantitative analysis, and ethics and 6 credit hours of historical knowledge, literary knowledge, scientific literacy, philosophical knowledge, and theological and religious studies
2.Designed to provide a well-rounded education for all students while promoting four vales essential to a Loyola education: understanding diversity, understanding and promoting justice, understanding spirituality or faith in action, and promoting engaged learning
3.Required for all students, but some course exemptions apply depending on your major

Sakai (seh-K-eye)
online resource
1. Accessed using your university ID and password
2. An online tool used by Loyola students and professors to access assignments and resources for each of your courses

LOCUS (low-k-us)
online resource
1. Accessed using your university ID and password
2. Loyola’s online student portal used for class scheduling, posting grades, requesting transcripts, paying bills, registering for housing, and more
3. At times complex, but with trial and error will become a familiar and frequently used resource

LUREC (loo-R-eck)
retreat campus
1. Loyola University’s Retreat and Ecology Campus
2. Located in Woodstock, IL this campus is used to host many Loyola sponsored retreats for students throughout the year
3. The campus is dedicated to restoring the wetlands and woodlands it calls home and is also home to an organic farm and apiary, much of this produce is used and served in LUREC’s kitchen

College Prom i.e. President’s Ball

College Prom i.e. President’s Ball

When high school ends, so does the hype around school dances. There aren’t a few set nights a year when the school hosts a dance and everyone buys a new dress, gets their hair done, and takes a date out for a night on the town. I absolutely loved getting dressed up with all of my friends, going out to dinner, and dancing all night. I was so sad to see it end with my senior prom. But, as it turns out I’ve still got a few opportunities to do it all over again at Loyola.

Loyola hosts two balls during the year. During the fall semester is President’s Ball and in the spring is Damen Ball. I hadn’t been to either before this year, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be attending them both in my last two years on campus. Because it is both of roommates’ senior year they decided it was about time to check out President’s Ball and I wasn’t about to pass about the opportunity to buy a new dress.

The reason President’s Ball is held at all is to honor an outstanding Loyola student from each school with the President’s Medallion. After nominations and an interview process, one student is chosen from The School of Communication, the School of Nursing, the School of Business, etc. A formal awards ceremony is held before the ball for the students chosen and their guests.

The rest of Loyola population is invited to the Ball that is held afterwards. The tickets were only $15 and included entry to the dance, refreshments at the ball, and a shuttle service there and back. The ball’s venue was gorgeous. Held in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, the high ceilings and semi-circular room made for quite the jaw dropping setting.

Before my friends and I made our way to the dance floor we made sure to take advantage of the refreshments. A chocolate fountain along with mini grilled cheese with tomato soup, plus mini hamburgers and hot dogs were perfect dancing fuel. The DJ played a wide variety of music to keep everyone happy and as far as I could tell everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.

By midnight when the shuttles were pulling away from Navy Pier my feet were in tremendous pain from my high heels, I was worn out from dancing, and had spilled chocolate fondue on the front of my dress. But nonetheless I had a really great time and am oh so thankful I don’t have to give up the proms I thought I’d left behind for good.

The Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait ’til Junior Year to Visit the Art Institute

The Top 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait ’til Junior Year to Visit the Art Institute

Why did I wait until my junior year at Loyola to visit the Art Institute of Chicago? I’ve been wondering the same thing. It’s not that I dislike art, because I absolutely love it. It’s not that I hate museums, because I find them so interesting. It’s not that I live too far away, because I’ve never lived closer.

Since freshman year I’ve been saying how badly I wanted to visit, but for one lame excuse or another I never made the trip downtown to visit one of the best art museums in the entire world. Now that I’ve been, I know exactly why you shouldn’t be like me and wait nearly 2 and 1/2 years to visit this incredible museum:

  1. It’s so easy to get to. Take the 147, the redline, a taxi. Chicago’s got plenty of transit options and the Art Institute is in an easily accessible downtown location, right at the end of Millennium Park.
  2. The 2nd largest collection of impressionist art. Chicago’s Art Institute is 2nd only to the Musee D’Orsay in Paris in terms of impressionist art (which just so happens to be my favorite style). How sweet is it that you don’t have to go to France to see Monet or Seurat?
  3. You’ll need more than one trip. In the few hours I spent at the museum this Saturday I didn’t see nearly half of the vast collection. I have every intention of visiting again in the near future and tackle the exhibits I missed the first time around.
  4. American Gothic, Nighthawks, Sunday Afternoon, Waterlilies. Some of the world’s most well-known pieces of art find their home in the same city as us, might as well visit your famous neighbors right?
  5. Did I forget to mention it’s free for Loyola students? One of Loyola’s best kept secrets is that with a valid LUC ID you can get into this museum for free! For 2 and 1/2 years I’ve been carrying around a free ticket to one of the world’s best art museums and didn’t even know it. Now that you do, don’t let your “ticket” go to waste.

Don’t be like me. Take a trip to the Art Institute as soon as you possibly can, and I promise if you even remotely enjoy museums or art, you won’t be disappointed.

Loyolacapella Gets Halloweird

Loyolacapella Gets Halloweird

If you’ve never been in to a cappella music before, Loyola might just change your mind. With four a cappella groups on campus this school is no stranger to crazy talented students singing without any musical instruments whatsoever. I must admit that I’m pretty biased for Loyolacapella, as one of my roommates is a member. But once you get here you’ll want to give each of these groups a listen because they all bring something unique to the aca-table.

This past Friday was Loyolacapella’s first concert of the year, their annual Halloweird show. Definitely an ideal way to get in the mood for the upcoming holiday–candy, costumes, and a little bit of spooky music, but mostly just another great performance.

The night opened with a performance by another Loyola gem, The Folkin’ Jesuits. This group of five campus Jesuits is an insanely fun and talented group that bring a unique and folk-y twist on popular songs. This time around they even added a few rap verses to their jams–crowd-pleasers for sure.

I loved Loyolacapella’s set list for the show, my favorites being: “Superstition”, “Wildest Dreams”, “Elastic Heart”, and their Halloween version of “Uptown Funk”.  Just as good as the singing itself was definitely the costumes. Each member of the group put on their best Halloween attire. There was a few classics, i.e. a werewolf, a cowboy, and a few zombies. While a few others stepped up the creativity to “Harry the potter” (Harry Potter attire, accessorized by a potted plant), Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable, “Lumber Jill”, and an Elaine Benes (Seinfeld character) look-a-like.

This group never fails to impress me, from their costuming to their ability to need nothing besides their vocal chords to sound just as good as the real thing. You could say I’m a fan. And I already can’t wait for their next show.