Tag: Study Abroad

The Journey to Roma

The Journey to Roma

This trip has certainly been a long time coming.  I’ve been dreaming of the day I would have the opportunity to study abroad in college for what seems like forever. And Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center was a huge factor in my choice to come here. But now my dreams are a reality and I get to post this…from Rome.

Loyola could not make it any easier for us to come abroad—especially to Rome. I’m quite literally attending Loyola University Chicago, just in Italy. The University has helped us with each step of the study abroad process. They provided an option to apply for our study visas on campus, a group flight rate—which included a shuttle to campus upon arrival, and even scholarship opportunities.

The physical journey here was not quite as pleasant as enrollment. Mine started with a missing passport scare—thankfully recovered with help from my roommates and uncle, then a quick flight from Moline (the airport closest to my hometown) to O’Hare, followed by a 2 hour layover, then the hop, skip, and jump over the pond to Frankfurt, Germany. Unfortunately, my flight was not as delightful as hopping, skipping, or jumping is normally. I was definitely lacking on the sleeping, but had the chance to catch up on some movies and reading.

When our crowd of “JFoRCers” landed in Frankfurt we all drowsily made our way to the gate and tried to stay awake for the next few hours until our next flight would leave for Rome. After a slight delay we boarded our short flight headed for Italy. I foolishly missed out on that napping opportunity and opted to read. And of course catch my first glimpses of the Eternal City from above.

Upon arrival to Rome, a friend and I had to take a cab to campus because we did not book the shuttle with the group. Which really wasn’t so bad after all, it turned into a bit of an adventure. Two other Loyola students ended up splitting the van-style cab with us. Driving in Rome for the first time was pretty intimidating. But I’m sure the crowded streets and aggressive drivers would make anyone uneasy. I was a little more worried when our cab driver parked in front of the “Hotel Massimissi”, not the JFRC campus. Apparently she had written down the wrong address. We weren’t too far from where we were supposed to be, so after another zip around the neighborhood we officially arrived to the JFRC.

We didn’t have a chance to rest easy though, our evening was packed with meetings, a walking tour of the neighborhood, speakers, dinner in Mensa—our dining hall, and plenty of important information that would’ve been much easier to grasp if we hadn’t been so jetlagged. Let me tell you, going to bed at 8:30 that night was perfecto. And I hope the rest of my semester is perfecto, too.

Let the Packing Begin

Let the Packing Begin

Packing has never been one of my favorite tasks. At first, its exciting to anticipate the trip. But after a while of organizing, stuffing things into suitcases, and trying to decide what should stay home–I get a little overwhelmed. Especially while I’m packing for an entire semester abroad.

I’ve never tried to pack up a suitcase for more than two weeks. So as you could imagine, packing for nearly 4 months at the John Felice Rome Center has been an entirely new ball game. I’m notorious for over-packing, but this time around it’s not an option. I had a friend over to help me decide which clothes should stay and which I could bring with. We made sure to pick my more basic options that can be easily layered and made into several different outfits.

Packing shoes came down to what was comfortable, adaptable to the weather, and would match most of my clothes. I ended up packing a few more pairs than I originally thought I would be able to–thanks to my efficient suitcase packing. (I packed 3 pair of TOMS shoes–maybe too many, but they’re my favorites, rain boots, tall brown boots, army green ankle boots, tennis shoes, wedges, and a pair of sandals).

I’m learning to utilize every inch of space that I can. What I’ve found to be the most helpful for packing all my clothes are space saving bags. Similar to Space Bags, except these don’t require a vacuum. After you place your clothes inside you roll the air out by hand, then can easily stack them in your suitcase. So far I’ve used 6 of them. (And they’re the reason I can pack 9 pairs of shoes).

The belongings outside of my wardrobe have been the hardest to pack. Deciding what I need when it comes to notebooks, toiletries, snacks, and all the extra gear that becomes necessary when you live in a foreign country has not been easy. I’m trying to think ahead about what I will use the most and what I won’t be able to get once I’m in Italy–like peanut butter. I’ve acquired things like converters, a mini battery-run alarm clock, an anti-theft wallet, a backpacking backpack–heavy duty and easy to carry for travel excursions, and of course a study visa. As I finish up my shopping this weekend I’ll be looking for a travel-size umbrella, a quick-drying towel for hostels, a toothbrush case, a lock for my suitcase, and some quart sized Ziploc bags for airport security.

Packing my suitcase is just the first step in this semester long journey–I’m excited and a little nervous to fly across the pond on Tuesday for what is sure to be an adventure I will never forget.

ROME-ing for the Spring of 2015

ROME-ing for the Spring of 2015

Go forth and set the world on fire” –St. Ignatius of Loyola

As I prepare for a semester abroad at the John Felice Rome Center in–you guessed it– Rome, Italy, St. Ignatius’ words have been on my mind. I think the most important word in this quote is simply “Go”. And thanks to the opportunity Loyola has given me, that’s exactly what I get to do.

I’ve been fortunate enough to take a few short trips to Europe before. Each time falling more in love with the cultures, peoples, and overall European atmosphere. Needless to say, studying abroad has always been a dream of mine and Loyola could not have made the transition from Chicago to Rome any easier. Essentially, I’m going to LUC in Rome–no worries about credits transferring, professors not speaking English, or not seeing familiar faces.

I’m already looking forward to taking afternoon passeggiatas (walks) through our neighborhood, eating authentic pasta dishes, exploring Rome’s historic center, playing in our on-campus calcio (soccer) league, meeting locals, and traveling across the country and the continent. I want to make the most of my Roman experience by immersing myself in the culture. I’ll have to get a little outside my comfort zone and jump in to explore the richness of the Italian culture.

After our study abroad group meeting on Friday afternoon it hit me that this is actually real. In a month and a half I will be flying out of the country to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of my life. At this point I’m feeling a little terrified and a lot excited. I still have a plenty to do before my plane takes off. Next semester, I could very well be writing blog posts in a coffee bar near a piazza instead of my residence hall–I don’t think I’ll mind the change of scenery.


Advice from Current Ramblers

Advice from Current Ramblers


The start of the Fall semester is always my favorite time of year – the campus is buzzing with energy as we welcome the students back after a quiet summer. This year the student workers of the Undergraduate Admission Office decided to share their application and college selection advice for prospective students:

Aly Crutchfield
Aly Crutchfield

“Always keep an open mind. Going to college is not only about figuring out what you want to do with your life, but also to discover new passions, friendships, and values.” – Aly Crutchfield, Freshman

Daeja Marzette
Daeja Marzette, Left.

Be yourself on your application. Focus on representing yourself honestly and highlighting your unique qualities rather than trying to show the admission counselors a “perfect” applicant.” – Daeja Marzette, Sophomore

Morgan Parker
Morgan Parker

“Think outside the box when writing your college admission essay. It is best to write your essay on a topic that you are completely passionate about rather than what you think admissions counselors will want to read.” – Morgan Parker, Sophomore

Melissa Vazquez

“Make sure to visit the colleges you’re interested in, especially during Open House events. It will help you get a feel for what the campus environment is really like, and to see if it’s the right fit for you. This also allows you to meet professors and ask questions regarding the classes you’re interested in taking.” – Melissa Vazquez, Sophomore

Vince Jones
Vince Jones

“Choosing Loyola to be your new home for the next four years is choosing a premier education that is always highly respected wherever you go in life and will be a strong beginning to a successful career.” – Vince Jones, Junior

Ally Ryder 2
Ally Ryder, Left.

“Choose a school that has clubs or activities you can see yourself getting involved in, or even starting on your own. College is the time to explore different fields and deepen your passion, so when deciding on where to go, choose a University where you can challenge yourself and see yourself grow.” – Ally Ryder, Junior

Sam Cordova
Sam Cordova

“Make it possible for yourself to study abroad in your four year plan. This opportunity will enhance your experience at any University and it will give you the ability to learn about yourself outside of the classroom.” – Samantha Cordova, Junior

Joe Sadofsky
Joe Sadofsky, Center.

“Be yourself, get involved, and don’t be too cool for school! Rambler on.” – Joe Sadofsky, Senior


A Summer To Do List for Prospective Students

A Summer To Do List for Prospective Students

While the start of application season is still about a month away, there is still plenty to do for rising seniors this summer before the school year begins:

  1. The first step, create an appropriate email address to use for the college application process. Keep in mind that your parents, admission counselors, and high school counselors/teachers will likely see this. Avoid using your high school email address because these email addresses are often deactivated right when you graduate and you may miss out on emails from colleges that are sent over the summer after you graduate.
  2. Create a list of schools of interest and gather suggestions from your classmates, teachers, parents, and family friends by asking about their alma maters and collegiate experiences. Spend a lot of time on their websites researching student life, study abroad, athletics, available majors and minors, or anything else you deem a significant factor in your collegiate decision-making process. Don’t forget to sign up to receive more information from the school’s on their websites. Also, follow your prospective schools on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information.
  3. After you have a list, create a calendar with all application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, honors program application due dates, campus visit dates, etc. Once the school year starts, it’s important to keep track of all admission-related dates in addition to your homework assignments and test dates.
  4. Visit as many schools as you can over the summer while you don’t have to worry about missing classes or interrupting your extra-curricular schedule. If you can’t visit campus, look on school websites for virtual tours of residence halls or campus to at least get a feel for the institution.
  5. Start working on components of your application: You can start working on college essays before even opening the application. Click here for college essay tips!
  6. You can also start creating a resume. Be sure to include all leadership positions, community service, involvement with clubs/organizations/sports, internships, research experiences, ministry youth groups, part-time jobs, or whatever it is that you’re involved with outside of the classroom!
  7. Send your test scores to schools you are definitely applying to in the fall (Loyola’s ACT Code is 1064 and the SAT Code is 1412). If you’re unhappy with your original scores, sign up for a new test date and use your time off in the summer to prepare.
  8. Start searching for scholarships. Many scholarships are looking for students with very specific majors, interests, or skill-sets or cast a broad net when searching and use as many research resources as possible (websites like scholarships.com or fastweb.com; talking to your high school counselors about local opportunities; have your parents ask their employers about any company scholarships; etc.)
  9. Make a list of possible people to send in letters of recommendation for you- consider teachers, employers, coaches, supervisors, counselors (anyone who knows you professionally or academically). While it’s a little soon to ask them for a letter now, you certainly want to ask right away in the fall so they have plenty of time to write and send in letters before the application deadline.
  10. Enjoy your summer!


Coming Home From A Summer Abroad

Coming Home From A Summer Abroad

I’m home! I’m back to my home at Loyola as well as my home in America. I spent the summer abroad in Ghana, Africa. I was in Ghana for two and a half months, both volunteering and studying abroad. I studied through a program called USAC that Loyola partners with to help students go global.

I spent the first month of my time in Ghana volunteering at an orphanage that also functions as a primary school during the day. I helped take care of the children there in the mornings/evenings and during the day I had the opportunity to help teach. It was definitely one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. I volunteered through a program called IVHQ. They are a relatively cheap organization that has program sites all over the world.

After my time at the orphanage I moved to the capital city of Ghana which is Accra. I lived in a student hostel on the campus of the University of Ghana. I took 6 summer credits while there: African Literature, African Music and Dance, and a Service Learning. For my service learning I worked with a local NGO called S.I.S.S. or Self-help Initiative Support Services. S.I.S.S. works with people who live in the slums in Accra. It puts them through a program that not only teaches them about vital things such as work ethic and motivation but each participant learns a trade that they are able to make money off of after they graduate from the program. Some of these trades include things such as bead making, batik fabric making, and catering.

I also had the opportunity to travel almost every weekend. I spent some weekends on Ghana’s beautiful beaches, visited the Cape Coast Castle where slaves were held before being shipped to the Americas, saw elephants in the northern regions and monkeys in the eastern regions. I also was able to take a weekend off of traveling toward the end of my trip and make it back to the orphanage to visit the children that I had grown so close with.

I did so many amazing things in Ghana and had so many experiences that I could not go into detail about in this post. But don’t worry! I will definitely write another blog or two describing some of my experiences in more detail in the near future. In the meantime, welcome back to school and I hope you are adjusting better than I am! I still need to get my notebooks!

Children playing at the orphanage.

Elephants in Ghana!

Onward to Senior Year!

Onward to Senior Year!

As cliche as it sounds, I truly cannot believe how fast my college years have gone by.  It seems like just yesterday I was moving into Regis Hall and making friends who are still my close friends today.  There are so many great memories I have had these past three years, but here are a few of the highlights.

1. The Chicago Architecture Tour (Boat Cruise)- This was during welcome week for students in the Honors Program.  The cruise started downtown, and went all the way down the Chicago River.  The tour guide was great and pointed out the amazing architecture as we cruised along.  My personal favorite was the Trump Tower.

2. Seth Meyers/Aziz Ansari- I had the pleasure of seeing two of my favorite comedians.. for five dollars or less!  Seth Meyers came my freshman year; he was a part of welcome week.  Aziz Ansari came this past March.  Both were hilarious- but I have to say Seth Meyers is still my favorite.  Nothing beats him on Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live!

3. Studying Abroad-  My favorite experience at Loyola thus far has got to be the opportunity I had to study in Rome, Italy.  I have always wanted to travel, and the fact that Loyola had a campus in Rome made traveling that much easier. I was able to take core classes in Rome and I was able to go there for about the same price as tuition in Chicago is. (Besides the flight and other side trips I would take)  It was by far the greatest experience of my life as I was exposed to so many different things and wonders of the world.  I’m so thankful for Loyola for providing me this opportunity, and I encourage everyone to study abroad at some point!

4. Living downtown- Nothing beats living in the heart of the Gold Coast, where I was able to live this past year.  It was amazing- I would walk outside and the city was right at my fingertips.  Michigan Avenue was two blocks away, the beach was around the corner… everything was right there.  The fact that Loyola provides student housing downtown is perfect, as I could definitely not afford to live down there in my own apartment. (pricey!)  I will definitely miss the Gold Coast next year, but I am eager to explore a different neighborhood, Lakeview.

Those are just a few of the highlights of my college career thus far.  It was hard narrowing it down to just four, as there are infinite things that I have done that have made me so thankful for choosing Loyola and the city of Chicago.  I am looking forward to starting my senior year, although sad that I only have one year left here at Loyola.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Break part two! Sydney was probably number one on my list of places to visit while studying abroad in Australia. Calling it beautiful is an understatement.

When I stepped out of the airport and got my first views of the city, I was instantly reminded of Chicago, which was really comforting to me. The crowds, skyscrapers and business are all the similar, but have a European twist.

Despite the rain, my friends and I were determined to make the best of the small amount of time before break ended.

Of course, all the major tourist areas were our first priority. We were lucky enough to catch a young tour guide that showed us around and knew all the history and fun facts behind the city and monuments.

All the action was on the harbor, they had several lookout spots that viewed the bridge, opera house, and dozens of fancy cruise ships. I went into semi-shock standing on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. We made a completely full day out of walking around and gazing at all the sights.

On Saturday, the locals were running their weekend tradition, the markets. Either you’re there featuring your own specialty, or you’re shopping around for something unique and artsy. They had everything from baked goods to Aboriginal paintings.

We filled the rest of the time trying out restaurants, different neighborhoods and reccommended night spots. I can definitely say that I will never forget the memories I have made over this break. There is something liberating and empowering about being young, living your life and seeing the world.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  -Mark Twain

Koalas and Kangaroos and Devils, Oh My!

Koalas and Kangaroos and Devils, Oh My!

Easter break gave me my first real opportunity to travel and see what Australia has to offer beyond Melbourne and Victoria.

I never in my life thought I would get to see Tasmania, but I did and it was beyond beautiful. I’ve been lucky enough to have met friends here at school that have the same travel intentions and desire to explore the world as I do.

We spent the first days of break on Hobart, which is Southern Tasmania. At first glance I was shocked to see the amount of hills, trees and green space in general. Something very different from the city life in Melbourne.

We spent the first day climbing the famous Mount Wellington, one of the highest points in Tasmania. The weather was chilly, but we got some amazing sights out of it, including a waterfall view which I had never seen before.

The second day we traveled to Richmond, Tasmania to go to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Being an animal lover, this was naturally my favorite day. I touched a koala bear, saw a tasmanian devil and best of all fed a kangaroo.

The third day, our last day, we stayed in central Hobart to explore the city. This basically meant that we spent way too much money on food and shopping. Lunch was compliments of the Hobart port, where things like fish and chips or calamari was all you could find to eat. I also collected various Tasmanian trinkets and souvenirs for friends and family back home.

There are still a few more days of break left, so check back to find out where my next Australian adventure takes me!

The Game of Footy

The Game of Footy

Footy – it’s a big deal. I finally got the opportunity to see my first match, as the season here is just starting to kick off. This match was just a scrimmage at my school in preparation for the upcoming games, but it was still great fun.

In my opinion, the game resembled something between soccer, rugby and football. I have to say I don’t know how accurate that is though, because it was a game unique to any other I had seen before.

Basically, the objective is to get the ball down-field and kick it into the goal to score. There are two teams of 18 players on the field at once. I think the thing that makes it so unique are the passing methods– drop kicking, handing off and bounce passes are all common.

Hopefully as the season goes on I can understand the rules more clearly. I might even get the chance to try my own hand at footy and add it to my list of growing firsts.