Category: Chicago Livin’

Take Advantage of the Target across the street!

Take Advantage of the Target across the street!

Good news! Lucky for those who are not graduating this year, a new Target store has opened just off of Sheridan Road, across from the Loyola Bookstore.

The development, called the Concord at Sheridan, is a seven-story mixed use and mixed-income housing and commercial unit that will also include 111 one and two bedroom apartments, 29,400 square feet of retail space — including a Target store — and 136 underground parking spaces to accommodate residents and shoppers.

Three Corners Development Inc. will lead the construction of the new mixed-use building in a contingent agreement with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA), which currently owns the property. The plan to build the structure was approved by the Chicago Plan Commission May 18 in a unanimous decision. The Chicago City Council also approved the plans July 26. Of the 111 units, 65 apartments will be reserved for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) residents, who are low-income families in need of affordable housing, and the remaining 46 units will be rented out to the general public.

The main 23,000 square foot retail space was leased to Target for the construction of a “flexible-format store,” a smaller space curated to the needs of Rogers Park, which currently lacks outlets that carry clothing and housewares. Along with traditional Target merchandise such as style, wellness and grocery items, the store includes Chicago-inspired apparel and partnerships with local food brands, according to Target’s website.

How convenient is it to not have to take the red line to the Wilson stop to get your household goods? Now students can get snacks, clothing, beauty needs, etc. at a greater convenience.

Alderman Joe Moore, 49th Ward, said he believes the impact of the new development will be extremely positive for the Rogers Park community, especially Loyola students. This estimated to create 450 construction jobs and 70 to 80 permanent retail jobs and is estimated to bring in $650,000 per year in sales and property taxes. 

However, traffic has already been increasing greatly on Sheridan road with this new addition. There is hope there will be greater traffic regulation after the rest of the construction on Sheridan is done.

Local Fave Restaurant: Sushi Burrito

Local Fave Restaurant: Sushi Burrito

Boy do I have a restaurant I want to tell you guys about. Like a few of the others I’ve mentioned, it’s ‘local’ in the sense that it’s in the Chicago region, although many native Chicagoans will tell me that it is most certainly not in Chicago – it’s in Evanston. I’m pretty sure there were locations actually in Chicago, but I went to the Evanston one to make an adventure out of it.

Sushi Burrito, ever since I heard of it, really piqued my interest. I mean, what could be wrong about taking a sushi… and making it huge?

Well, lots of things, some people told me – firstly, that it was too big to get your mouth around so you were left without the greatest quality of sushi. They mean, of course, you get all of the flavors in one bite. Which is fair, of course. But I still wanted to try it.

The second complaint was that it was too big to eat at one sitting but unlike a regular burrito it wasn’t good as leftovers. This, I ignore, because I was determined to eat it all. As one does.

After a few years of not going, I finally got around to going to it recently. It was late in the evening, so I didn’t get a chance to drop by my other favorite places in Evanston, such as the bookstore that charges by weight like a deli, or the huge Barnes and Noble, or get bubble tea from Joy Yee’s, and so on, but that was fine.

I had a great time at Sushi Burrito. This is their website: I got the Chitown (I think), pictured below, because I asked the guy at the counter what was the most popular since I certainly couldn’t decide with so many options. Plus the cost – not too bad!

Overall I would recommend Sushi Burrito if you’re looking to try something unique. It’s a little far away to go often, but how fun!

Whether the Weather…

Whether the Weather…

If you’re not from the Midwest or, well, anywhere more Northern than Chicago, you might be worried about the weather here!

Take for example one of my friends from San Diego. She wanted to go to Loyola, she really did, but having never been more north than San Francisco, it took her quite some time to truly commit because of all of the things she’d heard about the climate.

As I’m from Minnesota, a year without seasons is odd for me, but we’re all from somewhere.

(This is a pic from when I walked out on the frozen lake… way cool.)

But I’ll be honest with you. The weather – or at least, cold weather – shouldn’t impact your decision too much. If you’re from somewhere cold and want to go somewhere warm, that’s a whole different story! In freshman year, I was with several of my friends who had never seen snow before when it snowed for the first time. The looks on their faces! It was so fun for me, and for them too!

Sure, we had the Polar Vortex here this year that shut down the school for two days. But that was really, really rare. Right now Minnesota is swamped with multiple feet of snow, and Chicago? It’s raining here, there’s not a trace of snow anywhere. People like to talk about how Chicago is cold and depressing, but I disagree. Sure, it can get windy – especially on the walk from Fordham Hall to the mailroom – and sure, it does snow and it is cold! But if you’re dressed smart – and I mean a coat and gloves, with hat and scarf for the coldest of days – the weather isn’t really a problem. You won’t be clomping around in the snow if you don’t want to, thanks to our groundskeepers, and (a friend from Florida timed himself) one can get from the Mundelein building to Bellarmine Residence Hall, a fifteen minute walk if you’re slow like him, and only be outside for three minutes of that by popping in and out of buildings.

And I gotta say, although winter gets us physically, there’s lots to do in Chicago in the winter. I wrote a piece about it before, and other student bloggers have talked about it too. Plus when it’s nice – it’s real nice! I know I always appreciate the lovely sunny weather between April-October more because of the November-March days. To sit outside on the Quad or outside of the Crown Center and look at the lake, or admire the clouds, and see Loyola moving around you…. it’s a good experience, a good thing to do every day when you can. Loyola IS one of the most beautiful campuses in the US – and if you don’t believe me, come visit (even in the winter) and see for yourself!

Such a ‘Bler: A Night of Play-reading in Chicago

Such a ‘Bler: A Night of Play-reading in Chicago

You’d be surprised how many theatres there are in Chicago. My friends from THTR 204: Playwriting and I started out the week with a reading of Emma Stanton’s When the Tsunami Knows Your Name at the Jackalope Theatre on the Thorndale redline stop. It was only ONE STOP away from my dorm! The reading was directed by our playwriting professor Devon De Mayo (so we got in for free haha) and served as part of one of our assignments for the course. We have to see at least two play readings and write a viewing response for them. Frankly, I’m totally cool with that! 

Here’s a little blurb about the play from the event: “When devoted veterinary technician Ruby witnesses one stranger’s tragedy, she finds herself drawn to a new path, making precarious pacts with co-workers, a police officer, and an elegant dancer named Tsunami. Populated by pet-devotees and set in a city by the sea, WHEN THE TSUNAMI KNOWS YOUR NAME explores how unexpected tragedy can expose the beautiful and ugly truths about who we are.” 

Now, I would give you a more personal summary of it but I’m still too emotional – and well the above was beautiful said. But I was blown away. This was not only because the characters were prenominal and wonderfully casted, but because the theme and metaphors were very close to home. 

From my understanding the Tsunami represented a certain sadness that we all feel and how it can be so scary yet comforting. I thought intertwining this metaphor within the tsunami dance scenes of the play made the sensitive topic more approachable for the audience. And the intimate space of the Jackalope Theatre couldn’t have been a better place for this experience. 

I have another play reading left for this course, but my Chicago theatre adventures are definitely not stopping there! 




Starbucks or Dunkin Coffee?

Starbucks or Dunkin Coffee?


Just writing this makes me so stressed because I ask myself everyday, do I like Starbucks coffee more or Dunkin Donuts? First off, what do I even order to make that judgement, right? Well, I am basing this off of pure black coffee y’all. Before I get into which one is ‘better’, lets explain why I even drink black coffee. For many years, I was that person who would say “ew! You drink black coffee???” So I would get my regular cream and sugar with a typical sweet flavor added into it and that got me through the day pretty well. Yeah… it wasn’t long until it started making me really nauseous and uncomfortable. (Lets keep in mind, I am lactose intolerant). So how do I know which chain is the real deal when it comes to black coffee? We can add the fun syrups and flavors later, but lets base this judgement on the actual coffee now.

Well for starts, if you are in the mood for just a regular cup of coffee, then it depends on your taste of the companies’ original coffee blend. Starbucks’ coffee tends to be very strong while Dunkin Donuts’ coffee tends to be more watered down. I personally prefer a Dunkin’ Donuts cup of plain coffee compared to Starbucks IF its just for my daily routine. I usually grab a Starbucks if I need something a bit more strong, like for an exam, quiz, or long day.

When it comes to the special-flavored drinks, I definitely have to give it to Starbucks. Starbucks offers a wide variety of flavored coffees. I personally love the pumpkin spice and caramel brulee latte. Dunkin’s special flavored drinks aren’t that great to me.

Hands down, Dunkin’ Donuts definitely beats Starbucks when it comes to the iced coffee. When I would drink flavored coffee, I survived on caramel iced coffees.

Dunkin’ Donuts is cheaper than Starbucks so it wins in this category. Starbucks drinks can be really expensive and sometimes you need to rely on those Starbucks gift cards to get you through these difficult times.

So to be honest, I can’t say one is greater than the other. I have apps for both of them. I go to both of them. I spend a lot of money on both of them. I enjoy both of them (at different times). If you need recommendations as to what to get from either one of them, let me know! I definitely have had more than just black coffee!

Local Fave Restaurant: XO Marshmellow

Local Fave Restaurant: XO Marshmellow


How do you like your marshmallows?

If you say: I like them when there’s a whole store dedicated to them, then you’re in luck! I may have written about this place years ago, when it first opened up, but I think it’s always good to bring the attention back.

XO Marshmallow is, at best, a ten minute walk north of campus. It has sweet treats and photo-ready decorations for anybody! Although the space is small, it manages to feel a lot bigger with the airy lightness of the colors and the delicious, fun treats they have for sale. A friend recently brought me a marshmallow pop from there and it was so good. A sign of a true friend, bringing me something just because!

Truth be told, I think they are a little magical in there. They invent all sorts of delights, from funfetti marshmallows to marshmallow turtles – and foods for those with dietary restrictions as well, so nobody has to miss out on the happiness. I’m always tempted to go up there and get a coffee or a hot cocoa, especially on days like these!

Check out their website here or pop by yourself when you come visit. Be sure to check their hours first, since it’s a small business they’re not exactly open all hours of the day, but it’s a local Rogers Park business that’s totally worth a visit.

Chicago, Loyola, Libraries

Chicago, Loyola, Libraries

What sort of classes do they teach here at Loyola? Well, a bunch, and they’re all fun (at least, to me!)

This semester, I’m taking a class called the Newberry Library Undergraduate Research Seminar. What does that mean?!? It’s a class they hold every year with a different topic and a different set of professors, teaching students from all over the Chicago area – Roosevelt, UIC, DePaul, you name it! It takes place at the Newberry Library (where I’m interning, but that’s for another post) which is located downtown. This semester, the focus is on Chicago art and literature from 1900-1960, taught by Professor Bradshaw from Loyola and Professor Pohlad from DePaul, a creative writing professor and an art history professor respectively.

The class has been a lot of fun, because I’m certainly learning and reading a lot about a time period I didn’t really know a lot about before. Plus, we get to use the Newberry’s enormous archives to supplement a research project on a topic of our own choosing. How cool!

We regularly get curators and historians from the Newberry giving us guest lectures about topics with archival materials such as Ernest Hemingway’s actual letters to a Chicago publisher, or Ben Hecht’s Oscar, which is super interesting and also the only one they have in the entire library.

Have you ever wanted to go around a museum with someone who actually knew a lot about the pieces? Because that’s what we got to do. I mean usually I do alright in the classical art section (history major, that’s me) but we were focusing on the modern art stuff since the class is about Chicago, 1900-1960. I admit, I wouldn’t probably even go into the modern art section without Professor Pohlad going like: come on, it’s interesting, just look, okay? I’ll tell you about it and why it matters and so on.

 (There he is, explaining a DuChamp. DuChamp is the very same guy who infamously said that a urinal he bought and put on its side was art.)

So the class did. If you haven’t heard, Loyola students get into the Arts Institute for FREE, and I always wish I went more. Tragically within the class time we only had enough time for the Modernists, and barely enough, really, but I fully intend to go back soon and look at the Roman and Greek marbles for as long as I want.

I haven’t been on a class field trip in a long time – once in Tai Chi class in China, and a few times in Rome for history class, but it’s always refreshing to get out of the classroom. Keep the Newberry Seminar in mind when looking at classes, and for sure don’t forget about Chicago’s art!

Study Abroad and More!

Study Abroad and More!


A lot of people ask me what it’s like to study abroad, but have you ever wondered… what it’s like, coming back from studying abroad? I know, I know, I didn’t either. I was like: heck yeah! I’ll come back (I guess, if I have to… I’d rather just have stayed… But…)

There’s certainly ups and downs. One of the downs, it feels like, is that suddenly you don’t see the people you saw every day for a whole semester every day any more. Whaaat, we don’t live in the same building any more? Life is busy and it’s hard to make plans now that we can’t just run into each other in the lounge? We can’t just plan a weekend trip to another state because we have jobs and increased homework now?

Preposterous. Luckily, the Study Abroad office here has social events covered. I went to the Study Abroad Alumni social there and ran into not only my closest friends (with whom I had already arranged to meet there) but also some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, friends that I saw often while I was abroad but, because I was abroad again and they weren’t, I lost touch with.

The Study Abroad Alumni social wasn’t just open to alumni – nope, it was totally cool for people interested in studying abroad to attend too, so I got to talk with some students who wanted to talk with people who had been abroad. The event was held in Ireland’s – it’s the campus bar, right in our Damen Student Center, a pretty cool place to do your homework until (if you’re over 21) the night comes and your friends arrive but you don’t want to go off-campus. Plus, I mean, they had free food from Felice’s, our student-run pizzeria, so how could anyone say no?

The Study Abroad office was also hosting a raffle contest, open to students who answered a question or two about their study abroad experience on camera. So look out for a video from them soon, if you’re curious! I can’t guarantee they’ll put me in there, since they did interview a lot of students, but I did win a t-shirt for doing so. (It’s like, a really cool shirt. It’s got that Tolkien “Not all who wander are lost” quote, which is really taken out of context, but I love it anyway because I’m a huge Lord of the Rings nerd.)

So, the moral of the story is: Loyola takes care of her students who go abroad, from the moment you decide to go to when you come back, if you so wish. But it was really fun! If you’re even thinking about studying abroad, no matter what school you go to, I definitely recommend chatting with students who have already gone. I mean, I met a girl who had spent the semester in Russia! I didn’t even know we had a program that could send students there! Way cool!

What’s the Story – of Emmett Till?

What’s the Story – of Emmett Till?

Reading this blog sometimes, it may come across as if Loyola is just constantly hosting events about sad things in the world – I mean, I went to the Kristallnacht memorial, the session about the war in Yemen, and last week I went to an event called “Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till.” Of course it isn’t, it’s hosting events that increase awareness of the injustices of the world, and memorials so that we don’t forget, as a collective. Among other events.

If you haven’t heard of the story of Emmett Till, I really recommend looking it up. I can’t tell it all in this blog, but … It’s good to know it. When I was there, an older gentleman I met – the spouse of a Loyola professor, who was at the basketball game going on while he was there at the talk – asked me why I was there.

“Well,” I replied, a little bewildered, “Academic interest.” I am a history major, after all. But as we got to talking more – about the topic, about Loyola life, even so far as to discover he was also a John Felice Rome Center alumnus and he was going to visit his son in China in the summer – I realized that I was also there out of a keen sense of I Should Know More. Just because something didn’t happen in my lifetime, like Trayvon Martin, like the events of Ferguson, and so on and so on, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be educated about it, shouldn’t be seeing the repercussions and understanding how it has affected us to this day.

That’s.. definitely my Jesuit education talking, but it’s right. The Story of Emmett Till event was hosted by the Loyola Library and presented by Elliott J. Gorn, who has published a book of the same title. He told us the story, as promised, and answered lots of questions that the very, very full house wanted to ask.

It helped, I’m sure, that there were refreshments served, and one professor with her entire class showed up. But there were people of all ages – from students to Loyola alumni to interested faculty and Rogers Park community members, all there to learn a little more from an expert on the Emmett Till story.

As long as I am able, I want to keep taking these opportunities to educate myself. So maybe I don’t listen to literally everyone’s advice about going to a professor’s office hours (I know, I know.) But Loyola presents so many opportunities to learn and grow that I can hardly keep up with them all!



Such a ‘Bler: My Second Lunar New Year in Chicago

Such a ‘Bler: My Second Lunar New Year in Chicago

It was a day in my Vietnamese áo dài (our traditional costume), Vietnamese food and non-Vietnamese friends!

I am an international student. I was born and raised in Vietnam and have been in Chicago for almost two years for university. In Vietnam, we celebrate Lunar New Year, which tends to come around early to mid-February – whenever the moon decides to finish its cycle haha. It’s a tradition in countries that celebrate Lunar New Year to gather with their family and friends for food and celebrations.

Noon on Monday, February 4th was when the clock hit midnight signifying the walk into the new Lunar New Year 2019 in Vietnam. I, as usual, was in class. Last year, I was able to wish my parents and brother on Facebook under the table (shhh) but this year, noon on a Monday meant THTR 266 – Acting I and so, my found sat on silent in my bag as the fireworks crackled back home.

Right after class ended at 12:10pm, I had a 25 minute break before my next class THTR 352 – Design II and so I quickly called my parents. I was running from Mundelein in my áo dài, wrapped in my winter coat and holding a Starbucks. I felt very cultured. It was nice to hear their stories about celebrations back home, though things were a little quieter with me being in Chicago, and with my dad being under the weather this year. Seeing them smile upon my call home from class in my traditional costume, made me even more homesick.


Later that day, my friends and I took the L to Argyle and had Vietnamese food at Nhà Hàng Việt Nam. I let them choose their order though they insisted on my recommendations. To my surprise they all chose VERY special and authentic dishes – it was a proud moment for me. They their first shared reactions to the food whilst I shared stories of traditions back home. Chicago was still chilly that day but my heart was warm. 

Here’s a throwback of my áo dài from last year on the beautiful steps of Mertz Hall: 

I made sure and will continue to wear my culture with pride each year. Don’t forget traditions even when you’re half way around the world from where you learnt them. Besides, it’s always fun to answer the questions that people ask when they pass by. Happy Lunar New Year everyone!