Category: traveling

A Series of Firsts: My First Year at Loyola

A Series of Firsts: My First Year at Loyola

Me with a giant LU Wolf on my first day of International Student Orientation. August 2017.

I came to Loyola more than a year ago, not knowing what was in store for me. I had visited campus only once before Orientation, and this would be my first time studying abroad and living on my own. But I was still very excited about meeting new people and starting my academic formation in a place I barely knew. I hoped to learn about places and events that were important in social and historic terms, how to navigate the world, and to get involved on campus as much as possible, while still maintaining a good GPA. I obviously did not know the many obstacles and difficulties that I would encounter, at least not until my mother left to go back to Guatemala and I faced my first day of college on my own.

To be honest, my First Year was not what I expected. I did not think I was academically prepared for the college-level courses, and I felt like my classes were too difficult for me. I was overwhelmed with the pressure to be social and be involved in as many student organizations and programs and possible. I struggled to balance both my academic and my personal life, and was stressed during most of my first semester. To top it all of, homesickness hit me very strongly, especially with events such as Family Weekend and Fall Break, in which I was reminded that I was indeed, far away from home.

But not everything was difficult and gloomy during my first year. After I went back home for Winter Break and came back for my first Spring Semester, my mindset about college had changed. I already knew how to move around the many social/academic spheres at Loyola decently, I knew a fair amount of people on campus, and I had come to be familiar with Chicago as a whole. This allowed me to focus more on my studies and extracurriculars, in order to finally choose my career path and find my purpose in life: to be of service to others and to search for justice. I had finally found my space at a place I can now call my second home, and I am very excited what it has in store for me.

To be honest, despite all its lows, my First Year at Loyola was my best year so far. And it’s amazing to think that it’s been more than a year since I first started my life at Loyola. Time has flown so quickly, but at the same time, it is difficult for me to remember a time in which I wasn’t a Rambler. I have been to so many new places, which have taught me lessons about social injustices and how I might be of help to others throughout the rest of my time at Loyola. I have also met so many people, whether that be fellow students or professors and staff, who have come to play an important part in my everyday life and have grounding me and bringing support and guidance this past year. The amount of things I have learned so far has been more than I had expected, ranging from subjects like Sociology to Women’s & Gender Studies. But most importantly, I have grown so much as a person in these past three semesters.

Spring Festival? Spring Festivities!

Spring Festival? Spring Festivities!

I told you about my Fall Break trip to Greece for ten days or so last semester, but Spring Festival trip here in China is a little bit different. Sure, last semester we had Fall Break and also Thanksgiving break, and this semester we have Spring Festival and Spring Break (and two long weekends as well), but Spring Festival break was a trip to Yunnan Province, down at the border of Vietnam and Myanmar. Everything in Beijing shuts down anyway, and it’s still slowly reopening now, so the school takes all of the students down south. And by all, I really do mean all 37 of us.

Just like Greece, I couldn’t go into full detail or I’d be writing a whole book, but it was truly amazing. We were lucky enough not to have to take the train at all, just airplanes and busses, which was nice because we could sleep and stretch our legs at rest stops when needed – and get places where a train could never, and probably will never, go. Our first day there, I met with one of my father’s college friends with some of my own. It was a really cool experience, to be able to learn about his home province and my parent’s past without them there. And then it was a whirlwind of food, shopping, Old towns whose architecture capture China as it was and as people picture it to be while holding shiny technology stores and the latest in fashion, and laughing with my friends. One of my fellow Ricci Scholars and I vowed to make a dance video, and so we have – every city we went to we jammed on camera, and now, a week later, I’m working on putting it all together. Unfortunately my own pictures don’t upload, as usual, so I’m just using things from the internet. 

But besides the cities big and small, we also visited homes and villages of several minority peoples of China. Although over 90 percent of Chinese people are Han Chinese, there are still 58 minorities in China, half of which live in pockets of Yunnan, and we got the amazing privilege of meeting them. We stayed overnight in a Yi village and took a thirty minute drive in the back of an open air truck to get to a hidden lake for dinner. We climbed through rice terraces where any strong wind could push us into the water with the kind Hani people as our guides. We lived in a Dai village for a night and sent paper lanterns into the sky over Myanmar. We learned how the Naxi language worked and were welcomed into their town for a night of rituals, performances, and storytelling. Some fantastically talented Bai people in Dali treated us to their famous Three-Course Tea ceremony while performing Tang dynasty music.

Although it sounds like we were busy for thirteen days straight, we also had a lot of free time. When not dancing around like idiots, we bought trinkets and souvenirs, tasted Pu’er tea from a lady who picked the leaves herself, watched New Year’s Eve fireworks on a riverbank then ate kebabs at a night market, took a ski lift up a mountain, and so much more without it being an organized part of the day.

I was exhausted by the end of the journey, but I could have kept going for forever, probably. It was hard to leave the Province and I really want to go back, to see how much it will change and how much it will stay the same.

Ni hao from China!

Ni hao from China!

Coming to you live (and early) from Beijing, I’m abroad once more and feeling great! (So far.)

A lot has happened in the past week, but I won’t bore you with the orientation details. Let me just tell you about some of the surprises I’ve been having, and will continue to have, in this chapter of the adventure.

First off, in Rome I had a taste of what it’s like to live in a country where you don’t speak the language. But I picked up Italian pretty fast, signs were usually in Italian and English, and people usually spoke both languages. Even in Greece, where the alphabet was different, everyone spoke English and I didn’t have a lot of absolutely free time to jump into the culture and living anyway.

Here, I feel like a baby. Here’s a photo from my first ever trip to China with my aunt. Pretty much how I felt this first week. I think I’m pretty lucky, however, to have at least some of the culture ingrained in me and to know at least a basic grasp of the language. The other Ricci scholars and my new friends here mostly came in with no knowledge of the language or the culture. They’re really starting from nothing! Every day and every interaction though, I’m gaining more confidence. I haven’t yet eaten alone or gone downtown by myself, but I have no rush to. I want to get to know the people around here first! Meals are, in my opinion, the best way to get to know people. All my rusty chinese is getting polished, and fast.

 

But sometimes not knowing the language or the culture can lead to fun surprises! I have to tell you this story: my friends Mark, Jacob, Jenna and I were out for dinner at a restaurant none of us had been before. Mark wanted to try some Chinese beer, so I taught him the word for it – pijiu, since he already knew how to order something. He said it alright, I thought, but the waitress pointed to the menu, gesturing to the whole drink list. So Mark, not knowing how to read, assumed she meant all the drinks were beers and he should just pick one. Five minutes later, the waitress came back with a can labeled ‘herbal tea’, and gave him a straw for it.

The food here is so good. Of course, that’s not a surprise, but I’m always surprised by how cheap it is for the quality! You can eat a good meal for about 20 kuai, or just about 3 US dollars. We have a meal card for the canteen on campus, but it only has about 400 kuai loaded on to it (you can add more when you need), and you can spend it on the on-campus convenience store, so I’ve already spent about 100 kuai, which is about 20 dollars, on snacks and school supplies and other little impulse buys. I can’t help it! Everything is so cheap here! My friends and I went out for famous chinese hotpot, and our total came to 115 kuai each, which is only about 18 dollars, but we were shocked already. We will hate returning to the expensive USA, I can tell already!

I love China, I really do. The living is less loud than in flashy, fancy Rome, and it’s been really strange to see my friends from university back home who have started in Rome this semester, but I can tell how different I am because of Rome. I’m so glad I’m here!

Rome is Home

Rome is Home

Well, it’s wild. I only have two more weeks here. Where in the world did the time go? I can’t believe it. I feel like just last week we landed, just yesterday I was in Greece for Fall Break, just an hour ago it was summer. And now the clock is ticking, everyone is preparing for finals and slowly saying goodbye to Rome as we take our sweet time walking down the streets.

So this week, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite places in Rome. I mean the city itself is a favorite, but inside it is a million gems that sparkle just as much. I wish I could take the time and say every single food place I love (which is quite a lot) but I’ll just tell you some, and why. Of the plenty of shops and fun places that don’t have to do with food, well. You can find those for yourself! From antique shops to tea stores to beautiful photography galleries, from tiny groceries to second-hand leather shops, Rome has it all. It’s a gold mine for each person to find on their own.

Bar (for Italians, this means coffee shop): Sciascia Café. Hands-down. Sciascia is nearly one hundred years old, decorates their cappuccinos with chocolate, and is decorated in such a cozy fashion, but it also has plenty of seating outside. It’s affordable, adorable, and just a short walk from the Ottaviano metro stop, the Vatican, and many local shops, since it’s in the hip but less touristy neighborhood of Prati. Check out their website here: http://sciasciacaffe1919.it/

Lunch Spot: My favorite thing to do, whether I’m out and about downtown or just in the Balduina neighborhood, is eat pizza al taglio. I can’t quite recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but pizza is pre-made and you purchase it depending on the size or amount you want, to which they charge by weight and heat it in special ovens. This way, the chefs can do any sort of pizza they want, and many, many types at the same time. If you like pizza like me, you’ll be sniffing at these places as often as possible. And one of them just opened up in Chicago! Plus, most pizza al taglio places also sell suppli, the classic Roman equivalent of a mozzarella stick – except it’s rice fried inside the ball alongside cheese, and variations on that include chicken broth, cacio e pepe, arrabbiata, and so much more! I don’t really have just one that’s a favorite, since they are hole-in-the-wall type spots, but if you take a stroll around the city you can’t miss them. My favorite is in the Trastevere area, right across from the cocktail lounge Freni & Frenitizione.

Dinner Restaurant: I’ve already spent a whole blog post on Osteria dell’Anima, so I’ll tell you instead about Taverna Antonina, a lovely restaurant right in the heart of Rome. For all it is a very nice restaurant, it isn’t horribly expensive for Rome, and every meal is worth its price! I had a delightful rabbit leg, for example, which was cooked to perfection. Plus, they have been open since 1939, and specialize in typical Roman dishes. The lovely patio may scare away some student diners, but if you’re looking for a good meal, Taverna Antonina has it. Their website is here: http://www.tavernaantonina.it/

 

Aperitivo place: My friends and I love foodoo, a local place within walking distance of campus! Truth be told, I have not been there for anything except aperitvo, so I can’t comment on their food or other delights, but I can say they offer affordable and delicious drinks for the Italian happy hour! Traditionally, aperitivo also comes with free food, too, ranging from potato chips to a small meat dish or bruschetta. Foodoo gives you two kinds of bruschetta and a sort of fried dough ball that is very good! They don’t have a website, but they do have a facebook page here: https://it-it.facebook.com/foodooUrbanBistro

Gelateria: I adore Alberto Pica, a tucked-away gelateria between the river and Largo Argentina, where a cat sanctuary rests inside Roman ruins. Their gelato is genuine, home made, handcrafted, and bursting with flavor! I’ll be very sad to leave it when I must. Even today I got a gelato from them because I was in the neighborhood, even though it is considered cold around here. If you like pistachios (like me), get their pistachio flavor. It’s pretty much perfect. https://www.facebook.com/bargelateriaalbertopica

Bakery: Another place in Prati, I love what’s called by the students “The Secret Bakery.” Its real name is Dolce Maniera, at least I believe so, but it has no outside advertising or label. You have to know where it is to find it, which the SLAs eagerly show students, and each sweet treat or breakfast bite – or really any sort of baked good – is there for two euros or less. It once cost me just two euros for a huge cronut and a pistachio-filled cornetto. So. dang. good. Even if you’re here for a short visit, go to this place. You won’t regret it.  https://www.dolcemaniera.it/

And that’s my top places in Rome for eats, because #foodislife. Rome – and Italy – is so much more than food, but for understanding a culture and getting to know a city, food is the best place to start. There is no finish.

 

(But if you’re looking for a great museum/important landmark, go to Castel Sant’Angelo, in the first photo. I think I’ve spent like 24 hours in there total, I love it so much. And it has a great view of Rome!)

The Adventure is Happening!

The Adventure is Happening!

As I write this, I’m on a bus towards Cinque Terre, a particularly beautiful cluster of Italian seaside towns. And it’s only a part of my journey so far.

Hi everyone! I’m Jessica Xi, junior of Loyola aiming for majors in International Studies and History, and minors in Leadership Studies and Chinese. Above is a picture of my classmates and I – in class! I’m a Ricci Scholar, which means I am studying abroad this semester at our John Felice Rome Campus and next semester at The Beijing Center in Beijing, China, two of Loyola’s biggest overseas campuses. (We also have a popular program in Vietnam, and you can study anywhere else you wish, too!) Why am I spending the year abroad? Well, Ricci Scholars like myself do independent comparative research between the two countries. Mine is on expatriates, while my friend (and current roommate here in Rome) Melissa is doing Korean pop and television, and another Ricci Scholar, John, is studying underground music. Mark and Jacob, the other two, are comparing relics, icons, and religion. You can do really anything!

And ‘doing anything’ doesn’t just apply to the Ricci Scholars Program, but studying abroad in general with Loyola. For example: I’ve been here for a month, and I’ve already been to three different countries, seen the Pope, eaten gelato at LEAST three times a week, and crossed up and down Italy a few times! The Rome Center, or J-Force as we call it, does not schedule classes on Fridays so that students can have longer weekends to roam around wherever they’d like. I’m currently planning a trip to Morocco. Why not?

(Two words: pear. pasta. It doesn’t seem like it would be as delicious as it was, but something about the mixing of flavors… just prime.)

It may be cliche to say, but I love everything here in Rome. From the food, to the sights, to the people and even the classes here. Yes, the classes. I could go on and on about the food and deliciousness that is food, really anywhere I go, but the classes here I think are not always talked about. Let me tell you about my two favorite classes (and food, still.)

HIST 330 – European History from 1900-1945. There’s only three people in this class, including me, but it’s absolutely fascinating because we often have classes ‘on-site,’ which means out in the city. We can see where Mussolini stood to give this and that speech, or where this and that event happened. It brings to life history even more, and I’m a person who already loves history, so nobody had to ask me twice to take this class! Other ‘on-site’ classes include Baroque Art, where students go to museums, former studios, architecturally influenced churches and locations, and so on, as well as Fiction Writing in Rome, where you can see where stories were set, told, and written. And of course the Roman Catholicism course, where students go to important churches and see how they have changed or what they did – or hold.

LITR 248 – Italian Culture: Food and Wine. Yes, Loyola offers a class where we just talk about food all day. I’m a big foodie. I was so happy I got into this class, I almost cried. As you can imagine, it’s quite competitive to get in. We talk about the culinary history and influences of different Italian regions, and taste them all too. These past two weeks were about the red and white wines of Italy, and because our professor knows we are but poor college students, she brings us wines that are a little out of our typical price range to try – and dream about buying someday. Or at least, that’s what I do! We’ve tried breads, cheese, meats, and there’s more to come. I think next week is olive oil, and the week after that coffee, but we shall see. We really do learn things though, I promise, it’s not all just eating. I recently took a trip to a few cities in the Emilie-Romagna region, for example, and now that I knew what to look for, I could see the reason that some of their foods, like piedina or a particular type of cheese, came about, and how food traditions linger on today. Plus, it’s a course in the history of Italy and modern Italy too. After all, the United States is technically older than the country of Italy! Politically.

 

If I could change anything about my experience so far, it would only be my Italian skill level, which I’m working hard on anyway. So, in sum: I’d change nothing!

The Rome Center is only about a half-hour’s walk to the Vatican, and from there, literally the rest of Rome. I can get to my favorite place, the Pantheon, in about an hour if I dawdle! Although I love to venture out and explore the world, every Sunday evening or Monday morning when it’s time to hurry back for classes, I’m glad to be in Rome again. After all, as they say: Rome is home. I’ll tell you more next week!

My Study Abroad Experience

My Study Abroad Experience

If you are following me from my past school year’s blog, you may remember that I mentioned that I was planning to study abroad the summer of 2017. Initially, I planned on studying abroad in London, England for a class in International Public Relations, however, due to a very tense climate the month prior to my trip I realized for my own peace of mind that I should find another place to pursue my abroad experience. I’ll be honest and say that I was very uncertain and fearful especially since I was applying for study abroad in the middle of summer and many of these opportunities were already into full swing. My parents assured me and told me to patiently look and find an alternative program that would both help me and be accredited at Loyola.

When looking through the Loyola Study Abroad page I researched on both Loyola’s offerings as well as their affiliates. With much luck, I found an opening for a summer session in Heredia, Costa Rica through USAC (University Studies Abroad Consortium). When looking at what the program I realized that this was the one for me:

  1. I have always wanted to visit Costa Rica, my family and I planned to go there when I was younger but switched last minute and we ended up going to the Philippines. We already had the travel books/tips needed for the trip so the transition would be a lot easier.
  2. The program in Heredia, Costa Rica would be accredited at Loyola. I ended up taking a course in Tropical Conservation and Maintaining Biodiversity (which I took for Tier 2 Scientific Core) and a class on the Cuisine of Latin America. Both of these classes interested me and I felt that this would be the perfect setting for classes like these.
  3. Luckily, I am fluent in Spanish. Living in Heredia, Costa Rica I would be required to live with a host family (who only speak Spanish). This experience would allow me to be fully immersed into another’s culture and appreciate it for what it is.

My study abroad experience was incredible, overwhelming, and a true learning experience. My host family was a welcoming family who took me in as their son. Each day, my host Mama would prepare me breakfast, lunch, and dinner and talk to me about her loving family, life in Costa Rica, and about her fascinating life. To say I was spoiled would be putting it lightly. She grew a fig tree in the front of her house and would pick one from it to accompany my breakfast of eggs, toast, and fresh white cheese. Without fail she would always have fresh juice on hand whether it be passionfruit, guyabana, or strawberries. I also got to spend time with my host Papa who would tell me about their coffee farm in the countryside where coffee, sayote (a squash type of vegetable), and other healthy vegetables were grown. He would ask me about my Filipino and Spanish culture and would be fascinated how similar it was to Costa Rican culture. I also had a host sister who lived a few kilometers away. She would tell me about her love for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Turns out we are both Ravenclaws!

Through the USAC program I was able to meet a lot of new students from around the United States and the world. Some of my classmates were from Colorado, Alabama, and others were from Norway and Rome. There were 27 of us and we all got to know each other from wonderful bonding experiences. We were able to visit Monteverde Cloud Forest and go hiking or how we went zip lining on the longest and highest line in Latin America. One weekend, my friends and I were fortunate enough to go to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Sea and explore a black sand beach and enjoy the warm weather. It was this weekend that I stayed my first time in a hostel. Even for my science course we got to explore rainforests, national parks, and the waterways to explore biodiversity (we got to see different species of turtles, crocodiles, exotic birds, sloths, and howler monkeys).

But what made the experience most meaningful was spending time with my loving host Mama. We would go on adventures as she brought me to the Heredia central market to let me try a cheese and corn tortilla served with a light sour cream. It was delicious!!!!!! She also helped me buy souvenirs for all my family in downtown San Jose in the Artisanal Market (aka Hippie Market) by helping me barter and find the best prices. It was because of her that I felt very welcomed in the country.

Even though I was in Costa Rica for only three weeks, I miss the place dearly. I miss spending time with my wonderful host family (we are still in touch on Facebook and WhatsApp). My friends that I made in USAC are trying to find ways for all of us to meet up and hang out. My study abroad experience was truly unforgettable and only reaffirmed to me my appreciation for culture, traveling, and keeping an open and clear mind. Pura Vida, Siempre! 

Study Abroad: Summer Faculty Program

Study Abroad: Summer Faculty Program

When going to Loyola Admission talks or going on Loyola’s Study Abroad site, I am sure they talked about how we have three hubs in three big cities; The John Felice Rome Center in Italy, The Beijing Center in China, and The Vietnam Center in Ho Chi Minh City. However, did you know that you can take upper level classes in your major while also studying abroad? These are Loyola’s lesser known study abroad options, the Summer Faculty Program. Here, you take a three credit course over the summer with around ten other students and a Loyola professor while also getting the opportunity to explore. I am actually applying to be in the program that goes to London, England to learn about International Public Relations by visiting various reputable PR Firms (COMM 278). Here are some places that you can go and pursue deeper knowledge of your field of study:

FREN 300 (Montreal, Canada): Independent Study French for the Health Sector

COMM 373 (Santiago, Chile): Digital Storytelling

PLSC 300 (Havana, Cuba): Cuba Today: Politics and Society

MARK 399 (Athens, Greece): Global Political Economy of Marketing

ENVS 224 or  ENVS 364 (Reykjavik, Iceland): Climate Change or Sustainability Management in the Global Context

These are just some of the examples of the places that you can visit. For the full list please check out http://www.luc.edu/studyabroad/summerlocations/ for more information.

havana

With the Swipe of a Ventra Card

With the Swipe of a Ventra Card

Chicago is often seen as a city of diverse and unique neighborhoods, this is an understatement. Each of these neighborhoods are homes to different cultures, identities, and backgrounds that all make Chicago the city it is. One of the greatest perks of being a Loyola student is the Ventra card. This blue card, that is the size of a credit card with your photo and name, will allow a student to use any CTA “L” train line or bus throughout Chicago just by swiping your card. This opportunity allows students to further explore their Chicago classroom. Here is a link to see the “L” map: http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/maps/ctatrainmap_2013oct.pdf

Here are some places that you can explore all on the Red Line (from South to North):

  • Chinatown: With both food and culture, Chinatown is the place to have a true culinary/cultural experience that is a feast for the eyes. Starting in Chinatown square, the signs of the zodiac flank you and a cultural performance is usually put on the stage for both locals and tourists. Numerous restaurants and Chinese bakeries are very popular. These restaurants all serve authentic and traditional Chinese fare all for a good deal! In addition, the town has its own public library with books both in Mandarin and in English to accommodate its residents. http://chicago-chinatown.info/
  • Chicago and State: This stop is famous for both being the location of Loyola’s Water Tower Campus but also for the home of the Magnificent Mile, the Champs-Elysees of Chicago. Here, all  name brands (domestic and international) are found on this “mile” strip. Here, renowned restaurants, dessert shops, and cafes line the street as shoppers go about the stores. This place is both popular with tourists and Chicago residents. The Mile is an easy five minute walk from Water Tower Campus and is only two blocks away from the Corboy Law Center.
  • Lincoln Park: Lincoln Park is an area of Chicago that is the home for many young professionals and many recent graduates. This neighborhood has many restaurants, boutiques, and places for people to hang out. It is also the home of DePaul university (just off the Fullerton stop). In addition, Lincoln Park Zoo is popular attraction for many families. This zoo is one the last free public zoos in the country and is both known for its menagerie of animals as well as its annual Zoo Lights that come up during the holiday season. http://www.choosechicago.com/neighborhoods-and-communities/lincoln-park/
  • Lakeview: Lakeview is a general area that encompasses the neighborhoods of Wrigleyville, Boystown, and New Town. Wrigleyville is famous for being the home of the Chicago Cubs at the Wrigley Field. In addition, this stop has numerous restaurants and places for friends to hang out after a Cubs game, like the World Series! The Boystown neighborhood has one of the largest LGBT populations in the country as this was the first recognized LGBT village in the country. This area is known for both its annual Pride Parade during the summer and having cafes, bookstores, and like Lincoln Park sweet boutiques and shops. http://www.choosechicago.com/neighborhoods-and-communities/lakeview/
  • Argyle: Just a few stops before the Loyola stop, Argyle is also known as “Little Vietnam” that is popular with both pho and bahn mi sandwiches that are tasty and hearty. Like Chinatown, the food is of good quality and price and is definitely worth trying. One of the best places is a Chinese BBQ place that specializes with roast meats especially roast duck. This is one of the best places I have tried! http://www.chicagoparent.com/magazines/going-places/2013-summer/city/little-vietnam

ventra

Revisiting Summer

Revisiting Summer

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After [spring] finals week, I always fathom about what kind of summer I am going to have, what am I going to do, am I going to be productive…the list is endless. As a native Chicagoan, you would think that I would roam the streets of the Magnificent Mile or take a typical touristy picture next to the Bean (no, it is not called the Cloud Gate…).  If not, you may think my family would plan a summer road trip to the Dakotas or fly to another country to enjoy a relaxing week, holding coconuts with little umbrellas and colored straws watching a majestic dolphin leap in the ocean sunset.

Nah. Nope.

The first half of my summer was spent at Loyola taking a Genetics course and chemistry research. It is quite nice to take a course over the summer for some reasons. Firstly, you can focus on just that one class and dedicate more study time for quizzes and exams. Secondly (speaking as an introvert), campus isn’t flooded with people walking around and it is generally more quiet and peaceful outside. However, since I am taking a summer course (and class only meets for a total of 18 days over a stretch of 6 weeks), course material is crammed and the content is heavy-filled. Especially for science courses, it is crucial to be on-top of everything because if you don’t, it will be a struggle to catch up.

On toward the more exciting parts of my summer! I’ll focus on 3 main events to keep things simple and easy.

Music. If you do not know by now, music is what I live on. I recently joined my church’s Saturday choir, Seraphim, as a musician (not as a singer because my voice is not that angelic). For a couple of masses, I played the piano, but primarily I play the cello. I’m a mere novice at this giant violin, but I’m not giving up. The sounds that get produced and beauty of the instrument itself is enough to keep me motivated and satisfied to keep playing on. In addition to choir, I still attend Old Town School of Folk Music for cello classes. In July, our class had our biannual recital which included pieces from J.S. Bach, Bartok, and Suzuki followed by ensembles and other classy arrangements. Also, in the span of the three-month long break, I was able to play cello for 5 weddings too. I always wanted to do something like this and now, I got the opportunity to do so with talented musicians and vocalists.

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Marian Days. As I do every year (for the past 5 years), I go to Carthage, Missouri to attend an unforgettable and exciting religious event. This year’s theme is: Jubilee of Mercy, which coincides with what this year is called, declared by the pope.  If you want to know more about the logistics of Marian Days, here’s the link: http://blogs.luc.edu/uao/2015/10/15/40-years-of-tribulation-grace/

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Here I was able to participate in many things such as during mass and at a restaurant booth, and more importantly, meet up with some good friends, who live insanely far from Chicago. Regardless, Marian Days continually grows in attendance and I hope to participate more in that event in the near future (goal- play my giant violin in the orchestra during the evening mass).

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Fishing. Immediate downside is waking up early, but still, it is amazing to be up to fish and watch the sun rise over the Chicago skyline. Almost every Saturday was spent doing this. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be in a great city and be able to experience and see so much, Little things like fishing really do get taken for granted. It doesn’t matter that you do something grand to be considered worth talking about or bringing up.

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Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last forever and obviously, I’m back in school again. Junior year! (Isn’t it scary how time flies?) Throughout the year, I hope to add some more input on topics such as commuting and off-campus life in addition to anything religious related and cultural. This year, I hope to write better material and write more colloquially (to make things much more comfortable and enjoyable to read).

Anyways, I’m always here if you have any questions or simply want to get to know me better. I am friendly and am willing to help you get more acquainted with Loyola University!

Again, welcome (back) to my blog!

 

Summer is Coming

Summer is Coming

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As we wrap up the projects and exams and say goodbye to our freshman year, It’s interesting to look back and see just how much we’ve changed over the last nine months. In August I was eighteen and anxious. I started this year without any friends, I started this year with a roommate, I started this year on the dance team, and I started this year with no idea how much I would love Loyola.

Now I’m nineteen, which isn’t really a big difference, but at the same time it kind of is. This time next year I’ll be twenty and I know now that that day is coming much sooner than I ever imagined. I still feel like I moved in a week ago sometimes. I’m a much different person now than I was a week after move in though. I’ve made a lot of good decisions, and a lot of bad decisions, but most of all I’ve made a lot of memories.

Ending freshman year is kind of surreal. I don’t really know if i’m ready to not be the new kid anymore. I mean once you’re a sophomore you know what college is about, you’re still learning, but you’ve been around the block a few times already. That’s going to be weird.

Next year people start going to study abroad. They start specializing and looking for internships. The real world is gonna be coming at us even faster. I’m glad that this year I’ve found what I think I want to do with my life, and next year I want to do even more to make my future a reality.

Freshman year is fun, it’s a lot of learning both in and out of the classroom, and a lot of finding yourself. You find out a lot about yourself freshman year, and you start to understand who the people you went to high school with really are. People change after high school, and some people really don’t.

If you’re an incoming freshman, get excited, and don’t worry, because yeah it will be hard but it will also be totally worth it!