Author: Sam Bejarano

Moment I Realized LUC Was Right For Me

Moment I Realized LUC Was Right For Me

This school gained my attention all the way from California. I remember feeling disoriented not knowing where exactly I wanted to go to college. All my friends seemed like they had it all together by already applying. Some even knew where they wanted to go before school started senior year. It was October and I still didn’t know where I wanted to go. I felt like I was behind and most college applications were opening up.

The pressure was on and I didn’t know what to do or how to start looking.

How do I choose? How do I know which school is best for me?The moment I knew where I wanted to go happened in my room. I was browsing the web looking at different colleges. I felt the anxiety not knowing which was the one for me. I took a moment to center myself and the next action lead me to find Loyola Chicago. I looked up “what should I major in college” and a survey on Loyola’s website popped up.

After answering all the survey questions, my results showed me possible majors that could be of interest to me.

I researched more into the University and components I wanted my school to have. Many checked off my list. Medium-sized school ✔️ small classroom sizes ✔️ big city, but not too big like New York ✔️ Faith-based organizations available ✔️ Fields of study I was interested in ✔️ I then came across their Loyola virtual tour and fell in love with the campus.The same day I shared with my mom where I wanted to go to college.

For your college hunt, I recommend making a list with the components you want your ideal University to have.

Some questions to consider: Are you wanting a small sized student population or large? A primarily commuted based school? Are there certain fields of study you want your college to have? Do you want your campus to be in the middle of a city or a small town? Are there certain types of organizations or clubs you want to join and does the school have them?

This can be a tough decision to choose from with so many options. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. I hear you on that one.Being far from Chicago and with pricey plane flights and Airbnb, I decided to visit the campus only once. From choices of overnights where I would shadow a student for two days, one-day shadow days and Loyola Weekend, it was hard to choose from.

I decided to attend Loyola weekend during the Spring semester. This weekend event is devoted to different informational sessions, residence hall tours, and social events for admitted students to attend.

Visiting during Loyola Weekend.

On our campus tour, I pointed out all the buildings to my mom that were listed on the virtual tour.

Into the night we walked around the Damen Student Center. With the sunset view, light poles turning on and the campus quiet, I fell in love all over again. After visiting, this University felt like home. I saw the beauty in this school and I knew this one was for me.

A picture from that evening, to provide an illustration for your mind 🙂

Choosing the right college for you will take a lot of invested time. It can be scary, stressful and come with some anxiety. There is no “correct” path to go on and everyone gets there at different speeds. You aren’t alone in this journey because so many other high school students are feeling the same way you are. And to let you in on the secret, all current college students went through the same if not similar feelings you are experiencing.

For me Loyola was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want to be a number in the classroom, but rather for my professor to know me by name. I wanted a campus that builds community and would help me to prosper, rather than feeling like I was competing against my peers. Loyola was able to meet my criteria in the school I wanted.

Even through the ups and downs, I am proud to be a Rambler and am grateful for my experience here.

Loyola’s “What Should I Major in” quiz link I mentioned: https://www.luc.edu/undergrad/academiclife/whatsmymajorquiz/

 

 

Finding Your Niche on Campus

Finding Your Niche on Campus

The biggest piece of advice I received before starting college was to get out of my dorm room as much as possible. When I started at Loyola, I lived by this rule.

Every fall semester Loyola throws a Student Organization fair in Gentile Arena (where the basketball players play). Every club and intramural sport are present and have their own table to ask questions at. If you are interested in one of the organizations, you are able to sign up on the spot to receive emails on how to get involved and when club meetings are.

I found myself entering this event feeling intimidated at all the clubs available and all the people I didn’t know. Though, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by finding interesting clubs and engaging in conversation with the club representatives. I left leaving my email address on many club signup sheets to receive emails with more information and when their club meetings are.

Get involved in clubs that interest you and it’s okay if you end up leaving some during your four years. Clubs are also a great way to meet friends on campus. My first few friend groups sprouted from the organizations I was involved in. My Christian Life Community group sponsored by Campus Ministry included freshman like me who were looking for friends. And we were all able to find each other.

My advice for incoming students is know that everyone else is also trying to find their niche on campus. That can come from getting closer to your roommate in your dorm, trying out a new club, or introducing yourself to the person that sits next to you in class. Sparking a conversation can go a long way into potentially a new friendship.

The process of finding friends and feeling comfortable in this new environment is going to take some time. It won’t happen all at once and there might be some up and down moments. But eventually, as long as you put yourself out there, it will come. Some people might find this earlier than others, yet know that we all get there eventually.

If you feel like you are struggling transitioning into this new environment, reach out to your academic counselor, resident assistant or the Wellness Center at Loyola. We are all here for you and want you to reach college success.

Good luck and know you got this!

The three of us who all lived together on the same residence hall floor decided to spontaneously explore the city during one of the first weekends of freshman year.

Study Abroad Has Every Loyola Student Talking

Study Abroad Has Every Loyola Student Talking

You don’t realize how popular studying abroad at Loyola is until you become a student on campus. It seems like everyone’s mind is considering whether they want to study abroad. From taking the Loyola shuttle to the downtown campus, to waiting in line to pay for your curly fries in Damen, it is fairly possible you will hear the words “study abroad” once in a while.

This is due to the popularity of studying abroad at Loyola. 1 out of 3 students choose to go abroad either for a semester, a month in the summer, of two weeks during the January holiday break. The opportunities Loyola creates for its students to study in a different country attracts their attention. This leaves some students feeling like their college career wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t have an abroad experience.

This was evident in my friend group freshman year. I remember the night: second semester freshman year at De Nobili Residence Hall. I entered my friend’s dorm to see her two roommates on their laptops looking at places to study abroad and talking about when they would go together. I was astounded by this site, considering this topic hadn’t hit my mind. All I was thinking about were passing my classes and making friends.

My friend then asked me, “Where do you want to study abroad?”

I had no clue if I wanted to study abroad or even if that was an option. It seemed like a lot of discerning and planning. I left feeling confused as I returned to my dorm that night.

Questions I asked myself were: Did I want to study abroad? Is it a lot of money? How do I know which country is the right one for me? Will I be able to graduate on time?

Disclaimer: studying abroad isn’t for everyone. Some of my friends chose not to study abroad and their four years at Loyola have been memorable. AND there is no pressure to know freshman year where exactly you want to go and when. It will take time and seeking out answers to see if this is the perfect fit for you. I had a lot of time to decide if I wanted to go or not, and there was no pressure to know right away.

Rolling into the first semester of Sophomore year, I attended a Study Abroad Fair in Damen that was sponsored by the Office of International Programs. At one of the tables I met a student representative who had studied abroad in Thailand for a semester. We had a great conversation and he recommended for me to schedule an appointment at their office so we could look into the idea for me to possibly go abroad more in depth.

At my appointment in their office, located on the second floor of the Sullivan center, I met with the same student. This was a pat on the back for me because I was pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and seek out an opportunity that interested me. We looked through the Study Abroad website together which lays out all the various programs and locations.

Another student worker at the desk behind us overheard our conversation. His words are ones I will never forget: “I am so jealous of you”.

Jealous of me? How?

This other student worker shared with me his experience abroad and how he would go back in a heartbeat. After hearing both their testimonies of their experiences abroad like the culture, food and people, I was excited about what this opportunity had in store for me.

Once I have chosen my program, they directed me to follow up with my academic advisor to verify the courses and the financial aid office to consider all cost factors.

I was sold. I wanted to study abroad. And after learning that it was a possibility for me, it made yearning to go even greater.

After a few months of discerning and meeting with different offices, I had decided I would be attending school in Barcelona, Spain for a semester.

My first week in Barcelona, Spain in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.

To be continued…

First-Generation Lens

First-Generation Lens

I am a first-generation student, meaning I am the first person in my immediate family to attend college. Holding this identity is a privilege, which can be stressful at times.

My end goal: to be able to graduate.

Flying from California to Chicago with my mom during Freshman move-in, she expressed worry. She helped me get the essentials by taking me to Target to purchase dorm supplies and to buy school supplies. The next important component was visiting the Sullivan Student Center to meet with the financial aid department.

I remember my mother expressing her concerns with the payment process with the financial aid counselor. She expected that we would be eligible for more grants by being first-generation. Thank you to the FAFSA application, a new source I learned which helps students receive grants, federal work study (so you can have a job on campus) and much more, for being an outlet to fund my college education. My journey of me becoming independent began in that room, with my mother and I, two vulnerable and confused people, who cared so much about my college success.

We visited another office where we were introduced to the Achieving College Excellence (ACE) Director, who coordinates a government funded program for first-generation college students like me. As we left his office, my mom was fixated on the idea of me joining this program. The benefits of what they provide students such as advising and free printing was what she wanted me to take advantage of.

My mother, as loving and supportive a person she is, can only guide me to a certain point in this process. There were a lot of things I was unsure about and I had to motivate myself to reach out and find the answers. So once she flew back to California and first week of classes began, I realized what was ahead of me. Asking for help when I need it was more prominent than ever.

My mother and I during my high school graduation.

NEW

NEW

Three letters to describe my three years at Loyola. New. Who knew I would endure so much change within three years. But look at me now, growing to be a resilient human.

To give you some background on whose story you are reading about, my name is Sam and I am a third-year student majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Marketing and Political Science. You could say I am dipping my feet in the areas which will set me up for future success. The main reason I chose to study in a different state was to challenge myself, to get out of my comfort zone and to grow in a completely new city I have never explored before. And can I say, it was a lot of adjusting, but also being patient with myself in the process. Being a first-generation student, these three years have been about self-navigating with the help of many campus resources who wish to see me succeed.

In this blog I will tell my story and provide some advice for how I’ve survived college up until this point. And if you can relate to any of my identities, I hope this outlet makes you feel like you are not alone in this new journey.