Category: Life At Loyola

A Series of Firsts: My First Spring Break

A Series of Firsts: My First Spring Break

Me and my ABI peers under the St. Louis Arch.
March 2018.

Hello everybody! Sorry for the short hiatus, this semester has been very busy for me! But I’m back from Spring Break, refreshed and ready to finish this semester strong!

After spending a week in sunny Cancún with my family, I keep going back to what my first Spring Break at Loyola was really like. As my first semester at Loyola went by my Peer Advisor, Kristi, had mentioned that if we wanted our experience at Loyola to be fruitful and to feel align with Loyola’s Ignatian values that we should consider going on an Alternative Break Immersion. ABIs at Loyola are a kind of mission trips organized by Campus Ministry in which students fully immerse themselves in a community for a short period of time to learn about the issues that these communities face, ranging from environmental issues to urban poverty and lack of education. What Kristi said resonated with me: I wanted to make the most of my Loyola experience, and I wanted to learn more about the issues that U.S. society has to face. This way, I decided to go on an ABI for my first Spring Break, and I soon learned that I had been placed in the group that would go to East St. Louis, IL, right next to St. Louis, MO.

I did not know what to expect from my ABI, as I had no clue where East St. Louis was located in the first place. However, Campus Ministry organizes ABIs in such a way that students going on the same trip have the opportunity to get to know each other and their Leader at least 2 times before the trip begins. As we met with my peers, we talked about the issues that we would see East St. Louis residents: the persistence of food deserts in the area, a great amount of poverty and homelessness, and the lack of good public education systems. We discussed how we wanted to avoid the “savior complex” to present itself during our trip, that we were going to East St. Louis to offer as much help possible without thinking that we would solve all their problems in 5 days. This is when I realized that my ABI would be a learning experience, especially for my peers and me.

The ABI itself was an experience that opened my mind, my heart, and my soul. As we settled down in the house that would host us for the week (shoutout to the students from Creighton who shared the house with us),  Responsibilities for us volunteers included helping at a soup kitchen and visiting a family at their temporary home. However, I chose to volunteer as a teacher assistant at the Catholic School in the neighborhood we were staying at, helping the First Grade teacher, Mrs. Mattern. I was there to help them with their class work and to do the little tasks that Mrs. Mattern might need help with. However, the kids were eager to play with me and learn about where I came from, and they always wanted me to be “it” while playing tag. They made me feel at home, and it was very hard to say goodbye on the last day.

No matter the role we partook in, everybody in my group was always with the members of the community of East St. Louis. Everybody I met was so kind, and always asked if I found myself alright and if I needed help with anything. Can you believe? Me, a volunteer, being asked if I needed help. It struck me like lighting. We were in a community that was given little by the government and outsiders, and yet, they had everything to give us: their hearts and their homes. Just like in Mrs. Mattern’s, we were surrounded by kindness and love for the neighbor throughout our week in East St. Louis. And as the ABI experience is all about reflection, every night we would come together and reflect on what our mission in East St. Louis was, and what we had learned that day. Through journaling and daily examines, I started getting a sense that my ABI trip was not only a mission trip, but also an experience of self-discovery and refleection on our mission at Loyola and in the world.

Yes, my first Spring Break did not fit the stereotype of what this kind of vacations look like: it definitely wasn’t sunny, and I didn’t have the chance to see my family nor spend time with my friends. However, my ABI trip to East St. Louis was so much more than I could’ve asked for. I was able to get to know my fellow peers, a group of young and value-driven people who supported me throughout our time at St. Louis and. But most importantly, I got to meet some of the people of East St. Louis, who showed me a side of the U.S. that as an international student I had never seen. And despite the conditions that the community found itself in, I could see there was hope for things to get better: I saw it in the parents who dropped off their kids at school, I saw it in the teachers and staff of the school, and I even saw it in the children, who shared with me their hopes for the future.

My ABI was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, and I hope that what I learned in East St. Louis will allow me to help others, now and in the future. I still think about the children at To learn more about ABIs, go to this site.

Such a ‘Bler: Being in My First Theatre Design Project | SECOND STAGE LABORATORY

Such a ‘Bler: Being in My First Theatre Design Project | SECOND STAGE LABORATORY

WE ARE THE HOPEFUL!  (That is the name of the first 2-Week Second Stage Show that I will be involved in.)

Second Stage Shows are student proposed projects that run for either 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 12 weeks and are performed in the basement of Mundelein – a rather smaller but cozier space compared to the Newhart. This does have its benefits and has proven to allow a large extent of creativity and experimentation for the students as it is a black box theatre space. 

We Are the Hopeful was created by Molly Cornell, a fellow Sophomore majoring in Theatre and minoring in WSGS (the bright eyes you see at the bottom.) And I feel so so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work alongside her on this incredible project! HERE IS SOME MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW ( GET YOUR TICKETS!!!): http://artsevents.luc.edu/event/9f3b5c0cfccaf3db5839902bacce5faa  

Our team of designers gathered in the theatre library on the 13th floor of Mundelein for the very first meeting! The actual 2-week doesn’t begin until April 1st but it was important that we got to know each other as well as began finalizing ideas for the pieces that will be showcased in the show. This way, the 2-week period can be filled with the actual intense designing process! After homemade cookies, zodiac sign reveals and way too many inside jokes, it felt like we were really a family. It also isn’t wrong to say that we were already coming into this project because of the vulnerability and optimism of the focus. I personally really appreciate the department’s decision to allow Molly to direct such an idea because it gives the exploration of such a personal topic more inviting. 

I can’t tell you much yet, but stay tuned for many behind the scenes snippets and progress updates!!!  Stay hopeful.

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Such a ‘Bler: A Poet’s Acting Career (SO FAR) | THTR: 266: Acting I Midterm

Such a ‘Bler: A Poet’s Acting Career (SO FAR) | THTR: 266: Acting I Midterm

Here is a story of how a writer of words learnt to perform the words (I’m honestly shook that I made it out of there alive.)

I am a theatre minor and have been in a THTR 266: Acting I for just over half of a semester now. It has been a rollercoaster because I’ll have days where I’m really exciting to go to class and days, I’m a bit more stressed about being present. Those more nervous days are ones where I have to perform my assigned scene. You see, I am a not much of an actress, a performer maybe, but I am more on the route of a director/playwright in the theatre department. And this week, my midterm rolled around the corner.

I played Corie from Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park and honestly, IT WAS NOT THAT BAD! My scene partner was a guy who has always been based in electrics. During our first rehearsal outside of class, the first thing he said to me was “I am a technician.” I was glad we were on the same page with the assignment because the next thing he said was “I just want to memories my lines and do this exactly how it was meant to be done.”

A few weeks and little scraps of rehearsal time here and there, we crammed two hours in the night before our midterm.  We finally had our lines (almost) down and agree on a simplified rendition of the divorce scene in which Corie throws a shoe at her husband Paul (you really should read the play, it’s quite a treat.)  And well, the next 10:30am morning, we were in front of the class and ready(ish) to go!

We ended up forgetting some lines, but eventually helped each other pull through in a fashion that made our professor, Jonathan Wilson, question “Where did you learn that from?” Frankly, I was quite flattered but also knew that despite not being an actress myself, I’ve had experience directing actors through my scripts and honestly that was probably the reason (other than JW’s incredibly patient coaching) that helped me pull off the scene. Other than an awkward pause in the middle and our unspoken decision to skip two pages of the scene in order to make it through smoothly after that awkward pause in the middle, our professor and classmates applaud the relationship to be very believable! In fact, the only thing wrong with the scene was our lack of rehearsal. I was quite pleased, and VERY PROUD because though we had some scratches here and there, the performance was overall enjoyable aND ACTUALLY GOT SOME LAUGHS!

I guess acting isn’t too daunting anymore (though lines still feel like science equations) and I feel a lot braver after the first half of this course. I also came away with a lot more respect and patience for actors as a director and playwright because after rolling through Neil Simon’s word maze, I understand the importance bUT ALSO THE CHALLENGE that is remember very VERY specific lines. I myself write super specific lines and will be sure to give more props to those who can remember them. It really is just as important to learn in front as it is to learn behind the stage, even if that isn’t where you idealistically want to be.

Here’s to more acting adventures (maybe.)

 

HEY, I ALSO MAKE VIDEOS!

HERE’S THE SUCH A ‘BLER PLAYLIST:

Loyola Ranks in Top 10 for Female Students in STEM Programs

Loyola Ranks in Top 10 for Female Students in STEM Programs

What is a stem field? College and university degree programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are considered STEM degrees, and they are in high demand across many industries. It is common to find most male students to typically outweigh the number of female students in most STEM fields; however, recently many colleges have sought to balance this idea by getting more female students into mote STEM programs.

For bachelor’s degree and above, female recipients increased at nine of the 10 largest such programs between 2012 and 2016. In fact, six of those STEM programs now award at least a third of those degrees to women.

We should definitely acknowledge this amazing increase our school represents. About 50% of our Loyola graduates were females in the STEM fields. This is a significant amount and being in the top 10 is truly incredible!

What Does it Mean to be a Part of a Jesuit Institution?

What Does it Mean to be a Part of a Jesuit Institution?

Loyola University Chicago is a Catholic and Jesuit University where ethical and spiritual values are central. These values are expressive of human wisdom, informed by the traditions of American higher education, and animated by contemporary ideals of the Society of Jesus.

Although I do not identify myself as a Catholic, Loyola involves students and patients, faculty and staff from so many nations and neighborhoods, religious backgrounds and ethnic traditions.

Loyola University is one of 23 Jesuit universities and colleges in the United States.

Here are five “characteristics” that explain the Jesuit method of education at Loyola Chicago that makes it incredibly inspirational.

The first characteristic of Jesuit universities is a passion for quality. Jesuit universities set demanding standards for both students and faculty. If it is worth doing at all, it is certainly worth our very best. Whether it be a medical or law school, business or liberal arts college – Jesuit education has, in every age, aimed at educational excellence.

A second characteristic of Jesuit universities is the study of the humanities and the sciences, no matter what specializations may be offered. Loyola wants our students to be able to think and speak and write; to know something about history, literature and art; to have their minds and hearts expanded by philosophy and theology; and to have a solid understanding of math and the sciences with a liberal education.

A third characteristic of Jesuit education and so of Loyola University is its preoccupation with questions of ethics and values for both the personal strength and professional witness of its graduates. Family values, personal integrity and business ethics have always been important. In recent years, this characteristic has taken on added dimensions. Spurred by papal encyclicals and the pastoral letters of the American bishops, Jesuit institutions have tried to focus attention on the great questions of justice and fairness that confront our age: economic inequity, racism and unemployment in our own country; the global imbalance of economic resources and opportunities; and poverty and oppression in the Third World, to cite some examples. These are not easy issues, nor do they have any certain and universally accepted solutions. But Jesuit institutions today feel compelled by our tradition to raise these questions for our students, not through sloganeering and political maneuvering, but in a way that is proper for higher education: through learning and research, reflection and creative action.

A fourth characteristic of Jesuit education is the importance it gives to religious experience. Religious experience is vital and must be integrated into the educational process so that a student has the opportunity to grow in both knowledge and faith, in belief and learning. As a Catholic university, we try to open this all-important horizon of faith experience for all our students, whatever their religious tradition may be. Faith in God is not an obstacle to learning; indeed belief can often sharpen and focus one’s intellectual search. Prayer and liturgy are no threat to knowledge; they help form and strengthen an educational community in the fullest sense.

Finally, we come to the fifth characteristic of Jesuit education: it is person – centered. No matter how large or complex the institution, each individual is important and is given as much personal attention as humanly possible, both in and out of the classroom. The reason for this specific care for the individual is that, for so many faculty and staff at Loyola University and in our sister institutions, teaching and patient care are much more than a job – indeed more than a profession. They are a way of life. This is true not only for members of religious orders but for so many lay men and women of different religious backgrounds who look on their work of teaching or administration as sharing in God’s handiwork, as service to others in the ministry of education and health care.

We believe that the real measure of our Jesuit universities lies in who our students become, so we engage them with real-world problems and promote social justice through academic and service-learning opportunities.

Let’s Not Repeat Fall Semester…

Let’s Not Repeat Fall Semester…

For many of you, I’m sure Fall semester was successfully a breeze, and for others, it may have been a tough adjustment from the all the summer fun. Whatever the case is, it is important that we don’t repeat fall semester and always leave some room for growth. Whether you had a good semester or a bad semester, my perspective on it, is that it can always be better and there will always be room for improvement.

A lot of what I struggled with was time management with my classes as a commuter. I had two difficult science classes and I had a hard time equally studying for both, as well as my other core subject areas. I found myself prioritizing one subject over the other, either because of my interest in one subject more than the other, or the difficulty of the subject. I believe I still did well in all classes; however, it could have been better and because of this, I find myself striving to do better this semester. It is important to have this mindset with anything in life because we naturally become used to a daily routine or what we already are “used to” that we barely leave any room for improvement. It can be either really easy, or it can be quite difficult to manage time, but if you force yourself to make a plan, it will definitely be better than “winging it”.

Regardless of what you’re struggling with or looking to improve, make a plan. What I plan on doing this semester is force myself to study within the first 1-3 hours of the classes rather than pushing it off a couple of hours later. If your classes are back to back or you don’t have time right away, at least review before going to bed. I didn’t believe in this at first, but it made memorizing content so much easier and it felt good knowing I actually retained and learned something. You don’t have to do this for too long, but a couple of minutes to an hour is sufficient to excel in a class.

I also struggled with catching up with readings, and tend to put them off last minute. I made sure I did not do that this semester because your upcoming semesters only get more challenging, and the class content/material is a bit more intense, so try to read as much as you can before your next class or after a class, so that you can focus on paying attention during lecture without feeling lost.

Another key thing you should do is get a planner and write out all the exam, quiz, papers, and final exam dates. This is extremely helpful because I found myself managing my time better and knowing when is a good week to go out or plan accordingly. Just looking at a syllabus is not going to help because you have to consider all of your other classes and make sure you are aware of instances where important tasks may overlap on a day. Finals week schedule is also important, making sure which classes have a final exam and when each are, so that you have enough time to study and not cram all the material.

 

 

maxresdefault

Come Explore Pakistan at LUC’s Explore Pakistan

Come Explore Pakistan at LUC’s Explore Pakistan

Image may contain: text

The Loyola Pakistani Students’ Association strives to recognize and alleviate the struggles endured by those in Pakistan, while raising awareness about its culture and beauty. Setting new goals every semester to raise money for those who are underprivileged in Pakistan, PSA decided to help provide for the Dam Fund in Pakistan.

This year, The Loyola Pakistani Students’ Association decided to dedicate all of its fundraising money toward the Kiran Foundation located in Pakistan.

Kiran Foundation is a Non-Profit organization that is imbedded in the reality of Lyari, an area that has been through immense pain and turmoil, but is resilient and largely misunderstood.

“We provide education rooted in the awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing by building safe and happy learning environments where children and their families can not only heal through their traumas but also flourish.”

“We nurture mothers and caregivers along with their children, and build safe and happy spaces where they are free to grow and thrive together. We develop positive habits in children from a young age, with the aim to nurture them into kinder, more mindful individuals.”

“We go beyond the ideas of conventional education, and incorporate elements that help children as well as the adults develop a deeper sense and understanding of themselves and others, enabling them to regulate their thoughts and emotions. The beauty of our education system lies in the fact that we engage parents and caregivers (especially the mothers) in the learning process as equal partners. Without the active involvement of the mother, our job is only half-done.”

Children give what children get. The abused have the tendency to become the abusers. This is the ‘Cycle of Abuse’ that has plagued the world at large, and areas like Lyari in particular. “We believe that the only way to reverse this cycle is to engage people in activities that help them direct their energy towards a purpose that is bigger than their pain.”

Known for one of our biggest events of the semester, on March 22 from 6:30p-10p, PSA will be holding Explore Pakistan: Rangon ka Bazaar, which literally means a ‘store/shop of colors.’ The theme is a traditional Pakistani open market with live stalls that bring the vibes of Pakistan alive filled with colors. There will be Pakistani food for dinner, performances, live food stations and an open dance floor! It is encouraged to dress to impress! Formal attire is required. Traditional clothing is preferred. All attendees must have a ticket to enter. Loyola Students are FREE and non-Loyola Students are $10. Ticket sales will be held in Damen from March 11-15th from 4-6 PM until we are sold out and will be sold on a first come first serve basis.

This is a very proud accomplishment of not just the Pakistani Students’ Association, but for Loyola as well. Loyola University creates learning communities that reflect the rich diversity of our global society and this is what truly makes the learning experience one of a kind.

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!

Girls and Weight Training?

Girls and Weight Training?

A lot of times, there is a stigma placed on women who lift weights– associating them with ‘manly’ characteristics. This misconception that women should not lift weights and put on muscle mass is still largely existent today and is completely wrong. There are a lot of long term benefits to doing so, and solely doing cardio to lose weight can have deteriorating effects. As a Freshman at Loyola, my goal was to lose weight, but I depended a lot on cardio for that. I used to go for runs every day, and solely go to Halas for the cardio machines. However, I noticed that I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. In addition to the goal of losing weight, I wanted to reduce my anxiety. As I faced a challenging Sophomore year, I began to take on a different academic route, and developed an interest for Exercise Physiology at Loyola. Developing my knowledge in this field, I began to experiment and try weight training, and it has significantly changed my life (literally). Here are 7 things that have benefited me, and can benefit you as well!

1. Lose Body Fat

Weight training builds muscle, as lean muscle increases so does metabolism. A higher metabolism means that you will burn more calories all day long. Studies found that the the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. For each pound of muscle you gain, you’ll burn 35 to 50 more calories per day. That can really add up over the long term; for example, 4 extra pounds of muscle can burn up to 10 extra pounders per year!

2. Gain Strength Without Bulking

One of the most common reasons I used to avoid weight training as well as women in general avoid weight training is because they are afraid of “bulking.” This is a misconception as it physically can not happen. Women simply don’t have the testosterone to build muscle like men. Women have 10 to 30 times less testosterone than men and have a much harder time gaining size from strength training.

3. Decrease Risk of Osteoporosis

Weight training not only strengthens muscles, it strengthens your bones. Weight training increases bone density, which reduces the risk of fractures and broken bones. Research has also shown weight training can increase spinal bone density to create a strong and healthy spine. (Nowadays you see a lot of elders at Physical Therapy clinics, because they are attempting to increase their bone density!)

4. Reduce Risk of Injury

Weight training also increases strength in connective tissues and joints. Strong joints, ligaments, and tendons are important to prevent injury and can relieve pain from osteoarthritis. Strengthening muscles and connective tissue will make injury from daily tasks and routine exercise less likely, and can even improve sports performance.

5. Burn More Calories

Weight training has been proven to raise your metabolism for up to 24 hours after a workout. The more intense the workout the more calories are burned. After an intense workout there is more Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, meaning there is an increase in oxygen consumption, helping break down fat stores in the body.

6. Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain

Weight-training will strengthen your back, shoulders, and core, helping to correct bad posture so that you can stand taller, with shoulders back and spine straight. A stronger back and core will also prevent lower back pain

7. Enhance Mood and Reduce Stress

Exercise and weight-training release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that prevent pain, improve mood, and fight depression. An increased in endorphins naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Endorphins also stimulate the mind, improving alertness and boosting energy. Weight-training can brighten your entire day or help you combat a bad one.

 

I encourage you all to step away from this negative connotation of lifting weights, and consider it in your everyday lives. It helps short term and long term, and will make your workouts worth it, trust me.

 

LUC PSA raises over $1500 for Dam Fund in Pakistan

LUC PSA raises over $1500 for Dam Fund in Pakistan

The Loyola Pakistani Students’ Association strives to recognize and alleviate the struggles endured by those in Pakistan, while raising awareness about its culture and beauty. Setting new goals every semester to raise money for those who are underprivileged in Pakistan, PSA decided to help provide for the Dam Fund in Pakistan. 

Since the recent election of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has created a mission to raise as much money as possible for the dams in Pakistan. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Pakistan will dry up by 2025. Pakistan touched the “water stress line” in 1990 and crossed the “water scarcity line” in 2005. The initial fear was that the country would reach the absolute water scarcity line by 2025 if the right decisions were not made at the right time. That time passed long ago. Water availability per capita in Pakistan has depleted to an alarming level. Past governments did little to deal with this massive crisis as it approached. 

Through many service events, PSA has raised over 1500 dollars and recently donated this to the Dam Fund in Pakistan. Just this past semester, events such as ‘Biryani Party’, ‘Lassi sales’ and the well known ‘Shaadi Mubarak’ contributed to this and through the help of its many members, were able to accomplish this goal. Shaadi Mubarak (Happy Wedding day!) was the largest event here at Loyola in November with around 200 attendees that recreated and experiences a ‘mock’ Pakistani weddings, ranging from the decor, food, dances, rasms (Pakistani wedding traditions), to even having a bride and groom play as actors! The purpose of this event allowed for students of all backgrounds to learn about the Pakistani wedding traditions and experience the excitement of it. It was a night to never forget, filled with colors, elegance, and love.

This is a very proud accomplishment of not just the Pakistani Students’ Association, but for Loyola as well. Loyola University creates learning communities that reflect the rich diversity of our global society and this is what truly makes the learning experience one of a kind.