Tag: Commuter

How Do I Fit In?

How Do I Fit In?


2017 thus far, has been a roller-coaster already (and it has only been 32 days into the year!). Whether it has been the effect of the start of new classes in the semester or the new presidential transition or other things, I think it is agreeable that last month has been quite interesting.

Identity is critical at this point in time. We must have pride of who we are and the roles we play in society. Especially at Loyola University, we strive for equality in all realms, regardless of any backgrounds (faith, ethnicity, orientation, income…).


This is a link to Dr. Rooney’s message regarding this:



As you begin your new journey here at Loyola this fall semester, I want to personally tell you that you can feel comfortable here, you will have resources that can help you, and you will be able to live that “college life” free from the other things in the outside world. Ultimately, we SUPPORT you!


If you are a male, minority, low-income, commuter, or first-generation student (any or all!), this blog post can give you more insight into what to expect as you make your transition to Loyola in the future.

This my personal insight. It might not be accurately relatable, but it may give you another perspective to what others such as myself see things.

Male:  There is slightly a larger percentage of females than males. For me at least, I wouldn’t mind this! There has not been nothing substantial to discuss about this; gender is not a huge problem around LUC. We all get along well together.

Minority: According to the Freshman class (2015) statistics, 44% of the students are of color. This means that there are 56% of other students who still make up the class population. Sometimes, I do feel a little different than the others, especially since I come from a Vietnamese refugee family, but I luckily found support from Achieving College Excellence (ACE) to help support and guide me through my years at LUC.

Despite that being the case, the majority of the students do have interest in studying-abroad and/or participate in cultural events or ethnic clubs. It is visible to see that LUC students have an open-mind and sense of adventure to explore different cultures and customs.

Low-income: In all honesty, I believe that I was very fortunate to attend a private, Catholic, and non-profit school. I could have attended a community college and saved money, but because of my academic achievements and scholarships I was awarded, LUC education became affordable. Of course, there are sacrifices– I commute instead of living on campus, I bring lunch from home, I rent books or borrow from the Chicago Public Library instead of buying, etc, I take out loans, apply for federal aid assistance, and so much more.

Altogether, in the 2015 Freshman class:  97% of freshmen received need-based financial assistance &  95% of freshmen received institutional grants/scholarships.

Commuter: If this is you, I give you a high-five! I have made 2 blog posts specifically on commuting and again, I’ll say this again: You are truly a warrior and you have courage! I do not want to discourage anyone from the commute life, but Chicago weather is more unique than most cities and public transportation (CTA) is quite interesting.  Nevertheless, you have SUPPORT! We have an amazing resource for you (that I use too): Commuter and Off-Campus Student Life. They are an amazing group of people, you get free coffee and tea, food discounts ONLY for commuters, etc. Ultimately, for me, I save money by traveling instead of dorming.

First-Generation Student: This section, I feel most passionate about. As I have said previously, I come from a Vietnamese refugee family. The support I receive from them is different to the kind of support non-first-generation students get. My family may not understand what American higher-level education is like and might not have higher connections to help me in careers and such. Personally, I also have other responsibilities at home that require my help, either translating things, managing paperwork, etc.


I’ll end this with a good quote for you all that may be a little nervous about this new transition to college:

“Promise me you’ll always remember that you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” -Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh

Life Outside of Loyola

Life Outside of Loyola


For those who do not know me by now, I am a commuter student. I live in Albany Park, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away (depending on rush hour times and whether or not there is a baseball game at Wrigley Field).  Besides the academic life at Loyola and talking about all the things that Loyola has to offer, I want to direct my attention to life outside of Loyola and what things I do that are not Loyola-affiliated. 

Like I have mentioned before, the single, most distinct characteristic that separates students is whether or not you live on campus or live at home with your family. Again, this is a big factor. Commuters live their lives very different. Those who live on campus participate in a lot of LUC events and hang with their friends for dinner or for an outing by going downtown. 

I, like other students, have other responsibilities and other obligations I have to meet. My home life and academic life are split up entirely. 

My weekdays, Monday through Friday, are generally dedicated to schoolwork and any extracurriculars I am a part of. These component you should have a basic idea of already through my previous post as well as my fellow bloggers’ posts.

Weekends and Friday nights are pretty hectic.

Friday nights are spent at laundromats, washing, drying, and folding clothes for a family of 4. After, maybe go to a family member’s house and eat dinner there.

Saturday is spent going to the grocery store or supermarket to restock our fridge and make meals for the following week. We usually go to 2-3 stores because some places do not have the things we are looking for. Buying food generally takes up all of the morning. When we return home, we get started on cooking and/or I get started on my school work (which can be a lot!). By 4pm, I’m out of the house again and on my way to church for choir practice (no, I don’t singing nor am I a very good singer; I play the cello). 5:30pm mass lasts an hour or so. Some Saturdays, my choirs may have weddings or funerals or other events that I have to be at too, and when you factor in rehearsal times, my Saturday nights are quite busy.


Sunday is the busiest. 9:30am is when I have my weekly meeting for the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (a church group for kids), where we talk about what we will teach the kids this week and what events we need to take care of in the future. From 10am to 11:30am, I alongside some my friends, teach and play with the kids. 11:30am mass.

Sometimes, my cello lessons at Loyola are on the weekend too, so that means I have to commute to Loyola with my cello either Saturday afternoon or Sunday late afternoon.

Either way, it is easy to see that life outside Loyola, especially for me as a LUC student and Chicago resident, can be busy and filled with so many things to do. There is certainly never a dull moment during the week and there is never a time when I am not being unproductive or couch-potato-like.

In a way, I do enjoy this lifestyle because there is a greater purpose to my life rather than doing nothing. In addition, most of the things I do outside of school are to support my family or support a good cause- this makes me feel like my time and effort are worth something.

Life outside of Loyola can be very fun and thrilling. We live in one of the greatest cities, so take advantage of it and get involved in everything that Chicago has to offer!


What Does “Commuting” Actually Mean?

What Does “Commuting” Actually Mean?

Commuter Proud Keychain - UPDATED

The first words that pop in my mind when hearing the word “commuting” are: independence, public, tiring, and home sweet home.

For the commuting students, things can get a little more exhausting compared to the life of a student who dorms.

Distance: Depending on where you live, you may have get up early and organize your time wisely so that you get on campus on time for your classes. For me, it takes an average of about 45 minutes on the train (with rush hour times, up to 1 hour).

Belongings: Commuters must bring everything they need for the day- books, laptops, binders, notebooks, lunch, etc. Students with pre-health/science courses know what I mean. Lockers are available for semester renting, but sometimes you do not have enough time to get to the lockers, so you result to carrying everything with you wherever you go. It all depends on how you arrange your schedule.

School Finances:  Price for commuting= $0.00. Although it is quite self-explanatory, you are doing your parents a huge favor, financially. Dorming can be expensive, depending on which building you choose to dorm in and who to dorm with. Personally, although dorming may be seen as the “college life”, going home to your own bedroom and family is way better.

Food: People that do not dorm are not obligated to get a meal plan for the dining halls. Most of the commuters (that I know of) bring lunch from home. It may not be as exquisite and delicious as the food they have in the dining halls, but it can fill your stomachs enough to get by through the day until you go home.

Prioritizing Time: Commuters have a home to return to, family obligations to do, etc. Sometimes attending events or hanging out with friends around the evening and nighttime hours can be difficult. During the daytime, when I have free time, I make sure I take advantage of the things I can do here that I can’t do at home such as go to tutoring and visit a professor during office hours.

CTA: Many things happen on the CTA because a ton of people use the train to go to work downtown- no explanation needed here. My advice would be to download the CTA app so you can track down when the buses and trains arrive. Freshman year, I found myself sprinting to the train stations to catch the train in order to avoid waiting another 10 minutes for another one to come.

Being a commuter is a lot to handle. But here at Loyola, we have a fantastic Off-Campus Commuter Life office, run by the amazing Tina Garcia. Every Tuesday, commuters get free tea/coffee, and once a month, we have commuter appreciation days. Every so often, they have events such as cupcake and cookie decorating.

There’s a lot more to commuting. But this is my general concept of what commuting really means, from a true commuter perspective. Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the life of a commuter.

CAD Fall 2015


Almost a Sophomore

Almost a Sophomore

With just a little over a month left of school, I can say I am almost finished my first year of college. So much has happened here at Loyola. I have created so many memorable experiences, both good and bad.

Hopefully when the fall semester begins and I become a sophomore, I will learn from my mistakes from freshman year and do better. Academically, I now know that I must not push my personal limits on how many classes I enroll in per semester. With many classes, it is extremely hard to balance each class out alongside its homework, projects, and quizzes/exams. Also, because I am a commuter, I intend to enroll in classes that do not carry over past 3:30 or 4:00pm. (Currently I have a class that ends at 4:40 and I always find myself exhausted and tired).

Besides academics, I must remember to take care of myself. If I am not well, then the outcome of the things I do will not be so good. With that being said, I want to aim for 7-8+ hours of sleep per day, a good, full breakfast, have some time for relaxing, and some time to socialize. If I accomplish these things, I know my mind and body will be in the right place and I will be able to be more active and productive towards myself and society.

Update on My Commuter Life

Update on My Commuter Life


The first semester has almost come to a close and with that, I have learned how to adjust to commuting well (Note: this is the first time I am using public transportation to get to school). There have been some interesting moments I have encountered along the way via the CTA. You meet people of ALL kinds-those that are loud, funny, rude, kind, and strange and sometimes there are occurrences that happen. Everyday, going to and from school, is a mystery; you do not know what exactly to expect not can you be prepared for it. For me, I actually enjoy the uncertainty because it makes life more interesting/on-the-edge, as my current life is a bit “bland” in my opinion. Yes, sometimes things may be dangerous and there definitely are people to take caution in, especially anywhere public, but I know how to defend myself as I am a black belt in martial arts and have enough common sense to make the right actions and decisions.

As winter quickly approaches, I am quite pleased to not have to deal with the snow and blizzards while commuting as it is uncomfortable and difficult to get from place to place. Commuting is casual; weather is not an issue at the moment yet. (When there is snow, I surely will blog about that!). Besides weather, I have learned that timing is everything. The train WILL NOT wait for you, therefore you must catch up with it. Sometimes in the morning, when I see the train lights and the crossing bar go down on the street, I often sprint (getting my morning jog) to the train stop and well as running up and down the stairs of Belmont to transfer to the red line.

In a way, commuter life is not that difficult to deal with. Sometimes it can be fun and enjoyable!