Category: Everyday Life

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.


International Law at Loyola

International Law at Loyola

I’ve considered a lot of careers in my life, from my distant dream of being an astronaut to the classic dream of becoming a princess. As one does.

I made a previous post about my history department and the workshop they offered to think about grad school or post-grad life. Today I bring you news from my Global and International Studies department, who teamed up with the Political Science department, to bring in a very prominent professor from Loyola’s law school to speak about international law. I was blown away, to be frank. Professor Gathii was inspirational, not just from his words but from his actions, too. I mean, he went to Harvard and has a million other accolades they listed off as they introduced him.

I couldn’t take a very good picture because I was focused on taking a lot of notes and really absorbing what he said. He spent a lot of time talking about different ways students could get involved and stoke their interest in international law, which was really exciting for me. Plus there was pizza, so even though I had eaten breakfast about an hour ago, I still took advantage of the opportunity. That’s college life for you.

Thanks to this talk, and although it hasn’t been long since I attended it, I think I might just be reconsidering law again. I really stress that there are countless opportunities at Loyola one should take advantage of. There’s a talk coming up soon about the environment in the Middle Ages in Europe that I wish I could attend, but it’s right when I have a class! Keeping busy has never been easier, not when I learn so many new things and get so inspired.

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.

Such a ‘Bler: Feeling Anxious and the Wellness Center

Such a ‘Bler: Feeling Anxious and the Wellness Center

In all honesty, I haven’t been feeling my best. There isn’t a particular reason or event that triggered this feeling, but sometimes that’s just how life is. I’m trying to do the best I can to not let it affect my academics and student organization activities too much.  

With that being said, I recognize the importance of discussing one’s mental health and self-care. In the fall of my freshman year, I attended the Loyola 360 retreat. As started on Loyola’s website, “it is a weekend opened to students in their first year at Loyola to gain a better understanding of the Jesuit mission and identity as well as a sense of community through the common 360 experience.” Though some parts of the retreat did not directly link to my identity as an Agnostic Atheist, it was an eye-opening experience not only about my identity but my mental health. This is because the questions asked during group activities and small discussion groups really focused on everyone’s individual identities regardless of their origin, belief or current place in life. And I really appreciated that. I received insight about the Jesuit values, but was also able to reflect and enhance my own. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this weekend was a moment of recognition. One of the discussion group leaders noticed that I was feeling anxious and asked if I was okay. This then became a deeper conversation between my discussion group leader and I, and for possibly the first time, I felt comfortable opening up about my mental health. It was then suggested that I made an appointment at the Wellness Center to see a psychiatrist.  

As of this Tuesday, I have been going for almost a semester and a half now. Being able to sit down and talk about how I’m feeling each week and actively work on strategies to counter my negative thoughts has helped me become less anxious and braver in my mental health journey. Most importantly, I do not feel alone. I appreciate that my psychiatrist asks the difficult questions but also allows me to do what is most comfortable for me. I cannot say that I am completely better, but I am far from where I was that night of the retreat.  

I know that I still have a long way to go, but it isn’t about fully getting rid of your demons but learning to face them when they do appear. I still have my days, but I now face them with a tougher and yet friendlier armor.  


Here are links to what has helped me, and I hope I was able to give you a hug too: 

Loyola Retreats: 

Loyola University Chicago Wellness Center: 




Departments and Support – for You!

Departments and Support – for You!

You may have already heard that Loyola students have advisors during their first and second years, and then a more specialized one in their major or field of study when they get there. I’m not going to contradict that, no way, it’s super great!

But yet another thing I love about Loyola is that the professors here go above and beyond just being like: oh, you’ve got a question? Go ask your advisor.

Specifically I speak with knowledge of the History and Global and International Studies departments, but I’m 10000% certain this applies to other departments because I see flyers for their events too, all the time. (I just don’t go to any other events because, well, those two are my majors.)

Recently I attended an event thrown by the head of the History department – a ‘What do I do after Graduation with a History Major?’ thing where students of all ages, from freshman (wow) to seniors like myself went to just talk about how to apply a history major to, well, the rest of the world. While academia and being eternally up to your eyeballs in history sounds exciting, it’s not really a viable life course for everyone.

I thought it was super neat because we split into two groups – law school, and grad school. There was intended to be a group about finding a job, but since there was so much interest in those two paths the lady who was there about career paths figured she could better help the other two discussions. In this way, I was able to ask the department head questions in a smaller group, and we ten or so talked about a bunch of things. Is a professor going to remember me if I took their class from four years ago? What does a good mentor do? How do you craft a good statement of purpose?

Plus, I mean, there was free pizza. I’m sure a lot of schools and universities also do the same thing, so no matter where you go, this is another thing that I totally encourage you to take advantage of. The clock is ticking for me, ticking down to graduation, and although I can sort of ignore it (although I really shouldn’t be) I know I’ve got to keep my focus and keep looking ahead.

I wasn’t really considering grad school too strongly, but who knows? After this event, I feel better equipped to take a look, and if I love the thought, then I’m certainly more knowledgeable than I was.

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!



A Series of Firsts: My First Time Back in Chicago

A Series of Firsts: My First Time Back in Chicago

View of the Lake & the IC. Taken by me, Dec. 10 2018.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I came back to start my second semester of Sophomore year, and before coming, I was excited about coming back. Getting to see my friends after a month, living with the best roommate I could have asked for (shoutout to Devashree for putting up with me), being in the Second City again. Yes, I had missed all of this and was excited to see my past professors and going to my new classes, learning something new every day. However, after I landed in Chicago the day before the semester started, I felt out of the loop: I didn’t know what to do next, I wasn’t able to say “Thank you, next!” In reality, I had forgotten how it takes time for me to get used to a new routine.

It was just like this a year ago, when I was still a First Year. At the end of my first semester, I had every single day planned out, and I knew what I had to do at what time of the day in order to stay on track with my To-Do List, and my back-up To-Do List as well. I had gotten used to wearing layers so that I wouldn’t be cold when I went out, but so that I wouldn’t be warm inside. I had figured out my work-out schedule, and I was making enough time for my extracurriculars and spending time with friends. And then, Finals Week hit me like a truck, and Winter Break was upon me. Right when I started feeling like I had gotten the hang of living in Chicago, I was on a plane back to my home, Guatemala. And I was so glad I was, as I got the chance to spend the Holiday Season with my loved ones, and with beautiful weather (cue “White Christmas” but change “White” to “Warm”). I was back home, up high in the mountains, and I didn’t want to come back down. But I did, and once again, as I started getting used to my old life, living with my parents and sister, walking around Antigua with nothing but a light jacket, and seeing my friends, I had to head back to Chi-Town.

Once back in Chicago, I realized how I had to adapt my routine to the New Year (you know what they say: New Year, New Me). And I took that very seriously. You see, that’s the thing I’ve learned about college: your life as you know it is temporary. However, it is the fact that things are fleeting that makes life exciting. I had no idea what that semester would bring to me: I attended my first Women’s March the weekend; I celebrated Chinese New Year in China Town; I went on my first ABI to East St. Louis and got to meet some of the nicest people there; I witnessed the Chicago River turn green for St. Patrick’s day; I saw Loyola’s basketball team beat the odds and get to the NCAA’s Final Four; I enjoyed the first days of Summer in Chicago; and most importantly, I made some of the closest friendships I have to this day. I had none of these things planned, and many of them definitely did not fit my detailed-to-the-hour schedule. But it was during this semester that I got to enjoy the little surprises that setbacks might bring.

Every semester is going to look very different from the rest, whether that be classes, extracurriculars, service work, or what I do in my leisure time. However, I’ve come to see the good side of this: every semester, I get the chance to start anew, to make the changes that I need to make myself feel more comfortable in Chicago and to give my time here a direction, and to enjoy the little things that come along.  I’ve come to realize that it’s important that I focus on my semester only, and not compare it to anyone else’s. This experience is mine, and I have to learn to enjoy it like I want it, not like I think others want me to.

Now, with the Polar Vortex having hit Chicago, with classes being cancelled, I feel once again a little out of place, without a routine to follow. As I write this, I have set myself the goal to take these couple of days to reflect on what I want for this semester: what I want to learn, the people I want to spend time with, the places I want to visit, and the goals I want to accomplish. Every break we get as college students, whether that be due to holiday or to inclement weather, is a chance to look back at what you’ve achieved so far, and what you’re looking to do once the storm passes.

What do you want to achieve this semester?

Cold Weather Hits Chicago

Cold Weather Hits Chicago

As many of you may know, Loyola never cancels classes. At least for the 4 years I have been here, not once did any amount of snow or low temperature stop Loyola from holding classes. However, one of the coldest air masses will hit the Midwest this week. The temperature in Chicago is predicted to fall to record and dangerous lows on Wednesday. After seeing a high of about 34 degrees today (Monday), it will shortly drop to zero and Wednesday is expected to drop to -23 degrees, this is a record compared to the year 1985, dropping to a low of -27.

The lows Tuesday and Wednesday could break records set in 1966. They’ll also feel much worse with wind gusts up to 30 mph, which will make it feel as low as negative 50 degrees, according to the weather service. But there could be as much as a 30-degree disparity from the north to the south end of the state, while lakefront communities could get a small reprieve, but that largely depends on how much ice cover there is on Lake Michigan.

Loyola faculty is monitoring the forecast over the next 24 hours, and they plan to notify the campus community of any potential class schedule changes or cancellations by 2 p.m. on Tuesday. This is a big deal for Loyola students, as this never really happens. 

The weather on Wednesday will be very dangerous, and it is important that all individuals take caution. Be sure to wear layers of clothes, cover exposed skin, be outside as less as possible, stay dry, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. These beverages interfere with the normal physiological defense against cold and can actually increase heat loss.

With a wind chill of -18°F to -35°F, frostbite can occur in 10 to 30 minutes if skin is exposed. Please be safe and stay warm!