Category: Study Abroad

Study Abroad Has Every Loyola Student Talking

Study Abroad Has Every Loyola Student Talking

You don’t realize how popular studying abroad at Loyola is until you become a student on campus. It seems like everyone’s mind is considering whether they want to study abroad. From taking the Loyola shuttle to the downtown campus, to waiting in line to pay for your curly fries in Damen, it is fairly possible you will hear the words “study abroad” once in a while.

This is due to the popularity of studying abroad at Loyola. 1 out of 3 students choose to go abroad either for a semester, a month in the summer, of two weeks during the January holiday break. The opportunities Loyola creates for its students to study in a different country attracts their attention. This leaves some students feeling like their college career wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t have an abroad experience.

This was evident in my friend group freshman year. I remember the night: second semester freshman year at De Nobili Residence Hall. I entered my friend’s dorm to see her two roommates on their laptops looking at places to study abroad and talking about when they would go together. I was astounded by this site, considering this topic hadn’t hit my mind. All I was thinking about were passing my classes and making friends.

My friend then asked me, “Where do you want to study abroad?”

I had no clue if I wanted to study abroad or even if that was an option. It seemed like a lot of discerning and planning. I left feeling confused as I returned to my dorm that night.

Questions I asked myself were: Did I want to study abroad? Is it a lot of money? How do I know which country is the right one for me? Will I be able to graduate on time?

Disclaimer: studying abroad isn’t for everyone. Some of my friends chose not to study abroad and their four years at Loyola have been memorable. AND there is no pressure to know freshman year where exactly you want to go and when. It will take time and seeking out answers to see if this is the perfect fit for you. I had a lot of time to decide if I wanted to go or not, and there was no pressure to know right away.

Rolling into the first semester of Sophomore year, I attended a Study Abroad Fair in Damen that was sponsored by the Office of International Programs. At one of the tables I met a student representative who had studied abroad in Thailand for a semester. We had a great conversation and he recommended for me to schedule an appointment at their office so we could look into the idea for me to possibly go abroad more in depth.

At my appointment in their office, located on the second floor of the Sullivan center, I met with the same student. This was a pat on the back for me because I was pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and seek out an opportunity that interested me. We looked through the Study Abroad website together which lays out all the various programs and locations.

Another student worker at the desk behind us overheard our conversation. His words are ones I will never forget: “I am so jealous of you”.

Jealous of me? How?

This other student worker shared with me his experience abroad and how he would go back in a heartbeat. After hearing both their testimonies of their experiences abroad like the culture, food and people, I was excited about what this opportunity had in store for me.

Once I have chosen my program, they directed me to follow up with my academic advisor to verify the courses and the financial aid office to consider all cost factors.

I was sold. I wanted to study abroad. And after learning that it was a possibility for me, it made yearning to go even greater.

After a few months of discerning and meeting with different offices, I had decided I would be attending school in Barcelona, Spain for a semester.

My first week in Barcelona, Spain in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.

To be continued…

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!

Let’s Take this Moment to Reflect Take Four

Let’s Take this Moment to Reflect Take Four

May 1st, is the day that high school seniors look most forward to during their time in their high school career. You’ve been pondering the idea of what is the best option for you; academically, financially, etc. and you want to be sure that you make the right choice for you. The weeks prior, you may have been visiting all the schools you already got accepted into to see the campus again, one last time, before you put down your deposit. After all, today is college decision day!

It is natural to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure if you are making the right choice. But you should know, that you are making the choice, and in your gut you know it will be the right decision. I was in your place three years ago. I had narrowed down my list from 8 schools to 3 schools. With these three schools, Loyola being one of them, I conducted a SWOT analysis. For those who don’t know, a SWOT analysis is frequently used with advertising and marketing where you analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a certain scenario. After completing this exercise, I realized that going to Loyola University Chicago would be the best university for me to attend. I have not looked back or ever regretted my decision to enroll at the school.

From my time in college, here have been some of my highlights of my journey, so far:


  • Being a part of the Interdisciplinary Honors College: Here, I learned a truly diverse style of education that incorporated Loyola’s culture of educating the entire person. From learning classic epics like The Iliad and The Aeneid to learning about the adjustment of Hmong culture in an American hospital to learning about the Augusto Pinochet regime and the advertising campaign that aided in bringing him down; I have truly developed and enhanced my worldview.
  • Work Experience: Building connections and relationships with fellow classmates and faculty members is always important. My sophomore year of college, I was fortunate enough to get a job as a Peer Advisor for First and Second Year Advising. This was the same time that I found a job as a blogger and a member of the social media team in the Undergraduate Admissions office. During my junior year, I kept my work as a blogger as I took all of you up the CTA red line to explore different neighborhoods throughout the city of Chicago. I was able to get a job as the Marketing Program Research Assistant where I helped plan events, create curriculum, and assist in special projects for Marketing faculty. This job has been truly fulfilling as I continually build connections and learn new tools and skills.
  • Declaring an Advertising/Public Relations major: During the beginning of my junior year, I declared a major in Advertising and Public Relations. This was to add on to my International Studies and Marketing minors. It is with this major that got me to recognize what I want to do when I graduate college, becoming an advertising strategist. By being the branch between right brain and left brain (account and creative), strategy covers the best of both worlds. By enhancing my worldview with relevant coursework in Marketing (international/political marketing, consumer behavior) and International Studies (encountering Latin America/Asia, People of Latin America), I will be able to provide a global perspective. This is because all people deserve to be represented equally and properly, so they too can see themselves in ads.
  • Studying Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica: During the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I joined the USAC program to study abroad in the city of Heredia, Costa Rica; a city 20 minutes away from the capital of San Jose. Here, I studied Tropical Conservation and Development as well as learned some cooking skills in Latin American Cuisine. I was able to make a ton of friends from different universities (with surprisingly no Chicago or Loyola students). I got to explore the rainforest (with a guide of course); went on a river boat exploring various ecosystems (with snakes, crocodiles, and sloths); zip-lined across the highest and longest zipline in Latin America; and went to the black sand beaches on the Atlantic side of the country at Puerto Viejo. However, my favorite experience (besides all the good food), was my welcoming and loving host family, Mama Yolanda and Papa Humberto, who made me feel like I was their own son. Mama Yolanda would accompany me for almost every meal, take me on excursions to the open air markets (and help me haggle for the very best price), and did my laundry and ironing everyday. I am so fortunate to have both of these wonderful people in my life and we are still on touch with WhatsApp and are Facebook friends as well!
  • Amazing Friends: During my time throughout university, I have been truly lucky to have an amazing group of friends that I can depend on. From my first friend in college, Norm, who reached out to me during the end of my senior year of high school. I’ll just say we bonded easily over tea and broadway musicals. It also helped that we were in the same international studies class during our freshman year. There is also my friends Fran, Barb, and Gayatri, the “brunch bunch”. I was friends with Fran and Barb because of the honors program and was introduced to their roommate Gayatri, with our mutual love for Indian food. I have also forged incredible friendships from my Loyola 360, Alternative Break Immersion in Washington DC, my other classes, Wind Ensemble, and Kapwa (Filipino Student Organization). From moments like these, I have been able to create new friendships and find inspiring mentors during my time here at Loyola.


Plans for my Senior Year of College:

  • I have become an Account Executive at Inigo Communications, a student run Advertising/Public Relations agency here at the School of Communications.
  • Besides being a Research Assistant for the Marketing Department, I will also become a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the Fundamentals of Marketing course. Both positions will be for next year.
  • I will be taking the last few courses in my major and have finished up my marketing/international studies minors by fall. I will be taking courses in Media Planning, Political Marketing, Special Topics in Advertising/Public Relations, Moral Responsibility Capstone, and Peoples of Latin America.
  • I will be all set to graduate for May 2019!

Thank you all again for an amazing two years! I hope I have provided you with all the tips for making your Loyola experience a fun one, gave you enough restaurants to explore as you go throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods, and so much more. As you make your final decision of where you want to go to college, please know that a Loyola education is like no other. By educating the entire person, you will be able to go forth and set the world on fire.

All of this, will allow you, to live Life El-evated.    

Bubble Tea? Yes Please!

Bubble Tea? Yes Please!

If you’re looking for a food fad sweeping the world, look no further than Argyle – or maybe Chinatown. It’s bubble tea! Also known as boba or milk tea, this sweet treat is a blended drink of a million different types, kinds, and sizes. It was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s and has spread globally ever since. Or at least, from the East to the West.

You can get fruit-based teas, milk teas, with tapioca pearls or without, with jelly blocks or fruit in the cup. Anything you can dream of, you can get. In Chicago, I must admit, I get it like, every week. It’s about five dollars a cup, which is about the same as my average Starbucks order, so that’s pretty nice.

But here in China? The most expensive cup at the most expensive boba stand is about three dollars. They deliver to your dorm if you want, they have punch cards upon punch cards, and in a five minute walk there are five different stands to get your boba. My favorite drink is called the ‘Panda’ – tapioca pearls, a milk cream, and oreos on top. You can customize the type of tea, the sugar amount, and the ice amount, so I usually get 100% of the normal sugar, lots of ice, and green tea.

I’m a big fan of the oreo flavor and the strawberry flavors, because traditional milk tea ‘plain’ flavor doesn’t quite cut it for me. But my roommate here is always trying to get me to try new things, so I’ve been slowly expanding my palate. Still, I’m an oreo girl through and through. For many people who perhaps didn’t drink bubble tea every week for two years, it’s often an acquired taste, earned through drinking smoothie variations on bubble tea before moving on to the milk tea-style.

When people think of Chinese food in the USA, they might think of fried rice, or General Tso’s chicken, or maybe beef and broccoli. Since I’m in an Asian-formed sorority in the States, we go out for different Asian foods all the time, including the absolutely necessary boba stop. It’s interesting because when I was last here in Beijing in 2013, bubble tea was known, but certainly not this popular. And here we are now! Since I’ve been gone for a year, I can’t speak for the situation back in Chicago, but I do know that a bubble tea location has opened up near my hometown – which is totally different, because it’s a very white town and when I was growing up, most if not all Asian restaurants were at least a twenty minute drive away.

I know I’ll be coming back from my time abroad with even more passion for this treat. Perhaps it’s not the healthiest, but Starbucks drinks here are at American prices, whereas I can get some boba for maybe $1.5. That’s a huge difference in the eyes of a college student! Maybe by the time I come back, boba will really have broken into the mainstream and be everywhere. That’s what I’m hoping for! Since the title of my blog has to do with food, I thought I’d share with you all this particular aspect of Chinese culture. And maybe now you’ll be on the lookout for boba places and give it a try, if you haven’t already!

Do I Need to Know Chinese?

Do I Need to Know Chinese?

There’s a lot of questions when it comes to choosing a college, not to mention whether or not – and where – to study abroad. One of the things that I always hear is debating the language barrier. In Rome, you can get by just in English, although it isn’t very polite to your host country.

Here in China, way less people speak English, especially not the older generations. But it’s okay! Over half of the Spring 18 TBCers came to this country with absolutely no Chinese language experience, and they’re doing fine. TBC requires you to be in a Chinese language class, no matter your level, plus they provide you with a Chinese language tutor and immediate ‘Survival Chinese’ so you’re at least armed with the rudimentary basics by the time you’re out in the world.

You learn Chinese, and fast, which is great! Even in your normal university classes, you won’t learn as much, as varied, and as fast as you do when you’re in China. Class here is almost every day, as opposed to every other day, and you always have your roommate to turn to as well. Plus, you’re in the same boat as so many other students, you can always study with them!

But besides tell you things I’ve said already, I’m also going to give you some Chinese language learning recommendations, so you can get started and know stuff before you come!

First, two apps/programs that can really get you started: Pimsleur (which is paid) and Mango (which, I don’t know about you, but my library card gets it for free. Check with your local library to see if they’ve partnered with them too!) Both of them are listening apps, so you don’t have to put in too much effort. I love Mango, personally, because you can download it offline (and it was free for me.)

Second, for character learning, try Drops and Chineasy. Drops works on recognition and different matching meaning strategies, all without using written words. So for example, learning the word ‘wo’, me, comes with a picture of a finger pointing at a person. Or ‘shi’, yes (although it is written in the character), is a checked box. Chineasy pairs the character with what it looks like or derived from. So ‘ren’, person or people, which looks like 人, appears but feet come out of the bottom strokes and a head is on the top, so you can remember that it looks like a person, and means person as well. So handy!

And of course, Duolingo. Although Duolingo has a little bit of a teaching issue, you can use apps like EdChinese and HelloChinese for learning, and then review with Duolingo (plus with more grammar).


There’s so many ways to learn! Even if you’re not coming to China, knowing another language can never hurt. What’s stopping you from starting? Don’t let language keep you from a great adventure!

Roommates? What?

Roommates? What?

So, here in Beijing, we have a special program unlike the Rome Center – you have the option of having a Chinese student of the University of International Business and Economics as your roommate!

Of course, you don’t have to, you can elect to have a fellow American student as your roommate, as long as you both have specified you want to, or you can live alone – or even live in an apartment-style dorm in a different dorm. But all those options are more expensive. This semester, only one guy lives alone, and everyone else has a Chinese roommate, or CR as we call them. Trust me, you want to live with them. Not only are they incredibly useful (drag them to the bank, the restaurants – they know the area- and so on, due to being fantastically bilingual) but the TBC screening process means that they are all incredibly nice, wonderful, delightful people and make fast friends. They’re so cool, and come from all different places across China and are interested in all different things.

There’s one this semester who is captain of the alpine ski team, another who is really into Korean culture and dance, another who you can always find cooking in the kitchen, and another who you can count on to always be studying in the lounge, and so on. At first, you might be a little wary, especially you reading this if you haven’t even been to college yet first. But I assure you, the Chinese roommate experience is so awesome!

It really helps you get immersed in the Chinese culture and university life. Unlike Rome, you’re not in a bubble. For example, WeChat games (see my last post) spread like fire between the CRs and the students, since even though there’s a language barrier some games don’t even use words, so – bonus!

Plus, if you have a roommate like mine, they’ll make sure you celebrate Chinese holidays the right way, with the right food. I’m very lucky, since we’re fully in the holiday season, since sometimes I come back from a day of classes and Thea is waiting for me with some new treat or another. If/when you come to TBC, I would highly, highly suggest getting a Chinese roommate. When else will you have this opportunity? With the CRs, we do all sorts of things – from watching Mulan and laughing at the cultural inaccuracies, to walking around the Temple of Heaven area and pretending one of them is secretly famous, and so on. In Rome, I didn’t meet a lot of Romans my age, much less be able to call them my friends. These CRs, it’s only been two months, but I’m very certain that in the future when I come back to China, I won’t miss out on visiting them and seeing them when I can.

Plus, TBC also works hard to match you with a roommate. They won’t put a very clean person and a very messy person together, or if you’re a person against smoking, they won’t put you with someone who smokes heavily (none of the CRs do this semester), just like Loyola does.

All in all, I would more than recommend getting a Chinese roommate. When you’re studying abroad, go the whole yard for new experiences, and don’t be afraid to live with someone from a completely different culture!

Technology and China Living

Technology and China Living

I wrote an article a while ago about apps you’ll need for college life, such as Venmo and GroupMe. Well, you need a whole host of other ones to really do well in China. And, pro tip, but don’t come here with a Google phone. One of my friends has hers with and it’s a huge pain!

First and most important:

WeChat, or WeiXin as they say in Chinese. It’s ubiquitous, powerful, and doesn’t just change the game – it makes its own. On the surface (and in the USA) it’s just a messenger app, like GroupMe, Viber, or WhatsApp, but it can also be used to ‘follow’ news companies with an RSS feed, and you can post ‘Moments’ just like Facebook updates. But wait, there’s more. Through WeChat, you can pay for your meals at almost every single restaurant, because you’re infinitely more likely to forget your wallet than your phone – and you don’t have to pay those pesky international cash withdrawal fees because it connects right to your card. You can pay your phone bill or order a taxi. You can rent a bike (more on that later), buy your train or movie tickets, and play games like it has a whole entire App Store (but free) inside of it. Right now, the game sweeping TBC is called ‘Tiao Yi Tiao’, or Jumpy Jump. It’s hot competition to see who can keep their jumping streak furthest without falling. It’s magic and it runs the world. Of course, it’s only so big because the Chinese government keeps a good eye on it, so you shouldn’t be spreading anti-governmental messages through it (if you’re the type of person inclined to that, which I wouldn’t advise while in China, but that’s your choice) but all in all it’s one you absolutely need while in China.

Second, ofo. Well, actually, there are a variety of apps just like ofo, and you can have one or them all, but I prefer ofo.

Why? Well, ofo is a bike-sharing app. It’s sort of like… the exact opposite of Uber. There’s probably millions of the bikes in just Beijing alone, and all you need is the app to take one. You simply scan a QR code on the bike, type in the passcode your app tells you too, and the bike unlocks – and off you go. Sometimes the bikes are not all that good, but there’s certainly another one you can take. And it’s dirt cheap – as in, I haven’t yet paid a single kuai (six-ish kuai is one USD) for all my rides, whether they’re five minutes or fifty. Plus, at the end of every ride you get a two-kuai coupon, so even if you do generate a bill of a kuai or two, you still won’t pay. They’re ridiculously convenient. I often walk to breakfast and then bike across campus to class, just because I can, or bike down to the nearest mall. It’s something that probably wouldn’t go down too well in the United States, because a huge team of people are in charge of finding wayward bikes (you can just leave them wherever you want, they require no charging stations or anything) and setting them up along streetsides so you can get to them easier. At least, I feel like people would complain in Chicago. They do take up a lot of room. Another bonus about the app is that it will tell you where the nearest ones are, so you don’t even have to look hard! Also, all ofo bikes are bright yellow. They sure stand out!


And third, Mei Tuan Wai Mai. If you thought WeChat and ofo sounded useful, well…

Mei Tuan combines literally every other useful American app into one. And by that I mean it will deliver literally anything you can dream of. Gone is the need to compare GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates, and the other food apps to see who has the restaurant – and the price – you want. No joke, today in class as part of our lesson, our teacher had me order cookies from Subway to be delivered. Just cookies. (They were amazing.) From places like DQ, Subway, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s to the local tiny restaurants that only recently moved to take WeChat pay, Mei Tuan will bring you anything you want, ever. And… Not just food.

My homework tonight is to make a list of summer clothing I’ll need for my spring break trip to Thailand, so my teacher can help me order it during class tomorrow (there’s only two students in the class, including me.) From an iPhone X to a rice cooker to just a roll of tape, Mei Tuan can bring it to you the same day. You can get larger things (like a box of water bottles or a Ferrari car) on a similar app called Taobao that doesn’t do fresh food, but if you hate Amazon’s two-day delivery …. Mei Tuan has you covered. My friend once ordered an iron and got it within the hour. Possibly the best thing? It connects to your WeChat, which connects to your card, so you don’t need to input your card over and over again.


Of course, you’ll probably want a variety of other apps, from Baidu Maps (Google Maps doesn’t work here) to Elk (a currency converter) to Didi (like Uber, but also uses the taxi fleet) but I think WeChat, ofo, and Mei Tuan are the top three. Come study abroad here and you’ll see for yourself!



Food Feature: Hangzhou Xiao Chi

Food Feature: Hangzhou Xiao Chi

Last semester I told you all about my favorite restaurant in Rome, Osteria dell’Anima, with the pear pasta I dream about sometimes. Although it seems I eat out for every meal here in China, there haven’t been many times where I eat out downtown instead of around the campus, because unlike Rome, there are restaurants taking every inch of space at UIBE’s perimeter. So let me tell you about Hangzhou Xiao Chi, which is located just three steps outside of East Gate, or as we call it, Eats Gate. I really wish the internet would cooperate and let me share pictures with you, but when I get back to Chicago you betcha I’ll upload them on my first day of work. You’ll just have to trust me right now.

Hangzhou is owned and operated by one small family from, you guessed it, Hangzhou City. They’re adorable and I love them. Just like a lot of small family-owned restaurants here in China, it’s not always easy to tell how exactly they’re all related, but they usually are. Hangzhou has two Ayis, or aunties, three Mei Nus, or daughters/younger women who help out, and then four Shu Shus, uncles, who do the cooking. The restaurant is about half kitchen and half seating area, and the seating area is six tables with small stools to sit on instead of wasting space with real chairs. It’s always packed. They serve both baozi, stuffed steamed buns, and jiaozi, dumplings, as well as about a hundred (that’s an exaggeration – perhaps fifty really) dishes, although I prefer to get their vegetable noodle soup, so then I can add anything I want, or otherwise I really enjoy their Chongqing noodles, which are flavorful, with chicken and peanuts, and spicy as all get-out.

They speak no English, but they’ll teach you the proper pronunciations of whatever food you want, and they have pictures posted of their most popular foods so you can just point. And ‘baozi’ is the easiest thing to say. You can’t visit Hangzhou Xiao Chi without getting a ‘lou’, or a plate of them. TBC students are currently heartbroken because one of the Ayis went back to Hangzhou for Spring Break and won’t be coming back until next semester so she can help her daughter study for the college entrance exam that all Chinese kids have to take if they want to go to college.

Eating at Hangzhou is like eating a home-cooked meal made with love, and the staff there can recognize all, if not most, of the TBC students by now. We go there… a lot. I’m not going to lie, before Spring Festival there was a week where I went every single day for seven days straight. I can’t help it. For ten baozi and a bowl of warm noodles, it’s less than 20 kuai, which is about three dollars. Three dollars! I’m going to cry when I get back to Chicago at the prices.

You can’t, and won’t, miss Hangzhou Xiao Chi if/when you come to TBC. Did I make you hungry? I’m pretty hungry myself. Guess I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.

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.

New Years Celebration: Year of the Dog

New Years Celebration: Year of the Dog

New Years, again? In many parts of Asia, New Years is celebrated based on the Lunar calendar rather than the traditional Gregorian calendar starting on January 1st. This year, New Years falls on February 16, 2018 and it so happens to be the year of the dog (based on the 12-year zodiac cycle). Those who are are born during the year of the dog are known to be communicative, serious, and responsible in work!


Here at Loyola University, the Vietnamese and Chinese Student Association (VSA & CSA) have put together an event to celebrate this fun and joyous holiday. Our event will take place on Tuesday, February 13 at Sr. Jean Dolores Schmidt Multipurpose Room (North and South) from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.

VSA & CSA have been planning for 3 months to bring to the Loyola community a wonderful cultural experience of New Years. We will feature cultural and study abroad presentations, a lot of Asian-based organizations, traditional games, and a prize booth. Nevertheless, it will be an event in which offers inclusiveness, educational components, and tons of fun for everyone.

In addition to all of this, VSA & CSA have worked hard to bring in traditional lion dancing for entertainment! The event will comprise of 2 performances. The first performance will open up with lion dancing. As customary, they will wake up from a slumber and dance to the sounds of the drums and symbols. To bring good luck to this event, they will perform the “Choy Cheng ” ceremony in which they will receive their lucky money. After, the students may even get to interact with them, as they are playful and social! Their second performance will be focus on-stage with many tricks as people sit and enjoy their food.

In terms of food, we have a variety of Vietnamese and Chinese options. As learned from VSA’s recent Cuisine Night event, we have ordered sufficient food to accommodate the large expected attendance and considered many vegetarian options. On top of all this, we have dessert! We will have traditional New Years cake, known as Nian Gao, cuties, fortune cookies, Vietnamese Banh Cam, and an assortment of candies. For Loyola students, this is free admission and with free food, so we hope to see many LUC students attend!

New Years is primarily a time for celebration with friends and family. It is a perfect time to get together and have fun with each other. We hope that the Year of the Dog brings you luck, happiness, and prosperity to you and success will happen throughout the year!

See YOU at our event on Tuesday, February 13 6pm at Damen MPR!