Tag: Spring Break

Being an Out-of-State Student at LUC

Being an Out-of-State Student at LUC

In looking at colleges, you might have considered a public school what with reciprocal or in-state tuition, compared to a private school like Loyola. That was definitely the pull for me away from Loyola, but all the other things brought me back!


I’m from Minnesota. But here at Loyola, I have friends from California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and all the states in-between. We came here not because it was cheapest but because it’s where we belong, and where we’re happy. (Also, going to private school is interesting when you’ve been a public-school kid all your life.)

Of course, I do have friends from the Chicago area, or from nearer states like Wisconsin and Michigan. And though I’m not as far away as, say, New Jersey, the distance does present some obstacles- and some opportunities. If you’re hesitant about a school because of its distance, let me tell you: it will be okay.


First off, your experience is what you make of it. I call my parents once a week (and/or if something really exciting happens), but I have friends that call twice a week, three times a week, or only once in a while when they remember. Some take the train back home for breaks, or don’t go back at all. Me, I take the plane – it might not seem so, but you can definitely find cheap flights at my distance. And the school provides a U-PASS allowing for unrestricted transport on the L, so I don’t have to be shelling out for an uber each time. And there’s plenty of opportunity to go home or have people come here, whatever suits you – from Parent’s Weekend to Easter Break, it’s pretty nice.

Second, they’re well aware of travel costs. If you’re a really far-away student, over the summer you can ask to be assigned to the very last Orientation with the Honors and International students that takes place right before the rest of the school moves-in, so you don’t have to make two trips. You might not know this, but you can also request extended stay (though not infinite) in the dorms over summer break, or stay here over winter break should you please as well.


Third, being from a distance makes Chicago all the more fun to explore! Going into this year, I knew very few things about this fair city. Navy Pier, yeah, and Chinatown, the Mag Mile, and like, there are some cool towers and cool zoos. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore it regardless, but now I feel really accomplished when I can picture where the neighborhoods are on the Red Line or estimate how far away something is, or even be walking downtown and actually know where to go instead of just consulting the skies.


Of course I’ll advise taking everything into account when you’re picking a college, but this is just to say that distance, at Loyola, is not the biggest or most important factor. The deadline to decide is May 1, so think carefully!

ABI: Joppa Farm

ABI: Joppa Farm

One, we are the ramblers…Two, we love Loyola… Three, we wanna scream for more more more more!


I am back to Chicago after an amazing week at Joppa Farm, Tennessee. Let me tell you, it was not easy adjusting at first because we had no concept of time, and that was something I am not used to. We also didn’t have access to our cell phones, so no way of connecting with friends and family and checking our daily emails about mid-term grades. Another interesting experience was that we only had two showers a week! This one was the hardest but I made it through. In addition to our Loyola group at the farm, there were also groups of students from Saint Xavier University and University of Notre Dame.
During our time on the farm, we volunteered at a nursing home, a school, and did construction at people’s homes. We were privileged to meet awesome human beings with great welcoming hearts. We built a porch for one family, painted the porch and the roof and fixed a floor for another, and we used mortar to will help bind the bricks and concrete masonry units together by filling and sealing the irregular gaps between them in another home. All the families were grateful that we were helping them build a better home. Another awesome thing we did was hike the Great Smoky Mountains. It was incredible! It was a quite a trek but at the end the view from the mountain was amazing, we saw mountains, a small waterfall and nature itself.
Throughout my week at Joppa Farm, Tennessee, I learned about the four different pillars of the ABI: live simply, build community, deepen faith, and do justice. I didn’t care about not having my phone because I was living in the movement with everyone else around me instead of trying to see what my friends were doing back at home. Also, by not knowing time, it was easier for us to not think about what we had to do and worry about other things that were not necessary at the moment. And if anyone asked what we were doing later in the day, the mangers would say, “Don’t anticipate, PARTICIPATE!”. Also, the two showers a week were not bad at all, we were saving water which felt good and we were living simply! We were able to build community by interacting with everyone around us and learning more about their life experiences. We deepened our faith by doing reflections every night and thinking about the consolation and desolation of the day. Also, we prayed before we ate any of our meals and before departure to our sites. We did justice by bringing awareness of rural poverty to others.
This experience was amazing! I got close to my Ramblers friends and staff leaders, I want to thank them for allowing me to be a part of this journey!
Hiking on the Great Smoky Mountains
Spring Break Nostalgia

Spring Break Nostalgia


Spring break was last week, and for the first time ever, I made the decision to travel away from home and do something productive and meaningful during that time. With everything that has happened throughout my life, I desperately needed a break to let loose and reflect- something I rarely have time to do. For some people at Loyola, they go on community service retreat centers throughout the U.S; I went in a different direction and went to Texas for training for the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement (VEYM) (mentioned in previous posts).

I have only joined this movement for seven months, and what a journey it has been. Besides being a part of Loyola’s VSA, I did not have many opportunities to interact with other Vietnamese people. Until I joined VEYM last August, things changed. I finally found people who shared same values, people who came from similar backgrounds, and people who could completely empathize (not just simply sympathize).

To be leaders of VEYM, I had to attend training- a four day religious camping event composed of lectures, singing, and learning about each other (similar to a retreat). Pre-camp homework was tedious, but I was assigned into a group of people, and we all were able to keep in contact frequently and manage to make the homework less stressful. Some of the things we had to do include: teach a lesson, learn the morse code, learn semaphore, memorize prayers, know formations, read biblical passages, essay writing, and more.


Everyone in my team is an essential member with a personality unlike any other. We have people who are so outgoing, spirited, and energetic, and we have those who are compassionate, prepared, and so heart-felt. Despite that I came late (my flight got delayed), being the last person to meet all of them was not so intimidating as I initially assumed. Through time (a couple hours), I felt like I found myself a second family I could genuinely comfortable around.

One of my better qualities are my writing skills, and so that compensated for my shyness when they met me in-person. I may be introverted, but through these people and VEYM, I believe I can transform into a better image of myself and carry on the qualities of my team as a whole. Things will get better.

Going to Texas and attending this training session last week was memorable. Reflecting back, I wish I could have done more for the team and be more open. Either way, I have grown in faith and I am honored and blessed to have made the decision to go down this route. My journey with VEYM has only begun, and possibly, there will be other things to look forward to in the future.

I may be over my head in regards to this topic, but since this happened so recently, I still remember everything clearly.

I digress, it is good to do something meaningful and productive over spring break. It is the only full week where you have off from school during the semester. Do something that is fun. Do something that makes you happy. Do something that will make a difference. Sitting at home and “doing nothing” can be good and relaxing, however there are more things you can do with your free time such as community service, camps, visiting family, etc.

Be like these amazing people you see in this picture. Get active. Be compassionate. Be kind. Learn to work together and it won’t take long to realize that there are so many things to do during break and meet people you may consider life-long companions.

Trust me, it is worth it.




What Loyola’s Doing Over Spring Break

What Loyola’s Doing Over Spring Break


As usual, I’m going to be honest with you folks – Mexican Beach Parties made of hordes of college kids like you see in movies like 22 Jump Street do happen. Some of my friends who go to other schools around the country are part of groups that flock by the hundreds, and they take up practically the whole plane. To me, that’s a little crazy, going to a school that gives you so much tension and dislike you, for a whole week, party and drink and party some more.

I genuinely enjoy my school, and on breaks I can only think about going back. It’s more than just classes – the college life suits me, and my friends are phenomenal, and I’m passionate about what I’m involved in. And, I think, my peers here at Loyola feel the same. It’s just one week to Spring Break and I haven’t heard a whisper of colossal groups jaunting off to the Coast. I’m sure it happens, of course, but the groups aren’t big enough to be heard through the grapevine outside of those specifically invited – which is fine by me!

Here’s something. The talk of the town are programs Loyola does called ABI, or Alternative Break Immersions. Now, they’re nothing new, but the hype is definitely real every single time. I have friends going to Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Tennessee – and even sticking around Chicago to volunteer.

ABI trips are very popular because they’re learning, outside of a classroom, that integrates Jesuit values, social justice, and aiding those in need. Though they’re short, they’re transformative, so I’ve heard.


If you want, there are some blogs by those who went on the trips here!

ABI trips are incredibly popular – I’d definitely say that more people go on them than go to Mexico with their friends. (of course, people are still going to Mexico with their families, because who would pass that up? Not me.) People also go home to wherever they came from, be it Seattle, Los Angeles, or Skokie. It’s a week off of school after midterms, so there’ll be a lot of relaxation, working to refill the ol’ piggy bank, and lots of catching up on movies and shows that we’ve been missing because we’ve been studying.

So that’s where we’ll be! If you’re touring campus, sorry to say, you probably won’t see too many students, but you can always come back! Where are you going for your Spring Break?

I hope also that you’ll consider our ABI programs if you end up coming here, because the more the merrier, and here at Loyola we love to make a difference!


Joppa Farm Here I Come!

Joppa Farm Here I Come!


Spring break is only a few days away!!! I am really excited because I will be spending my spring break at Joppa Farm, located in Tennessee. I never have been to Tennessee so this will be a wonderful experience! How did I end up choosing to spend my spring break in Tennessee? Loyola’s Alternative Break Immersion (ABI) program provide opportunities for students to expand their knowledge and be involved in service and cultural immersion within a host community during university breaks. Let me tell you, I did not know about the ABI program or what it was when I first came to Loyola. So, I decided to do more research and asked friends about ABI. I finally found out what an ABI was, it is a program where students would go to a place to learn about a community they are living in and learn about the four different pillars: live simply, build community, deepen faith, and do justice. You can do an ABI during your winter break, spring break and/or summer as well! There are many places you can go such as New York, Oregon, West Virginia, Mexico, El Salvador, Jamaica and many more!
The reason I chose Joppa Farm, Tennessee as my ABI experience is because it is open to only first-year students. I really liked that because I can meet other freshman just like me and get to know them better and build relationships. Also, I decided to do this trip because in their community, there are Latino farm workers and their families and I feel like I can relate to them because I come from a Mexican family. I want them to feel comfortable talking to me in Spanish and having someone that may understand what they are going through.
Now, I just have to pack and get my things together to leave Saturday morning and get ready for a nice 9-hour trip so I will be getting to know my peers very well! I really can’t wait to see how my spring break will be! Once I come back, I’ll tell you all about my spring break trip at Joppa Farm, Tennessee!
Spring Break Part 2: Ireland

Spring Break Part 2: Ireland

Jordan and I on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.
Jordan and I on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher.

After enjoying Paris and London stop #3 on our spring break journey was County Mayo, Ireland.

My Uncle Eugene put us in the care of his sisters for the weekend, which couldn’t have been more perfect. Deirdre picked us up from the airport then drove us over to Westport, a really lovely little town with some cute shops and of course friendly Irishfolk. She pointed us in the direction of a good Irish restaurant before she went back to work. Jordan and I both had some of the best vegetable soup and brown bread ever before wandering around town. Pretty much as soon as we landed we noticed how much kinder the Irish people we met were than any other place we’d been thus far. We had some pretty long conversations about our travels with a few shopkeepers and even ended up meeting someone from Chicago. The world can be a pretty small place sometimes. Sharon, my uncle’s youngest sister, met us at 4:30 for a little adventure to the coast.

Westport actually runs right into the bay, so our drive on the way to the beach was beautiful. The beach we stopped at is right at the base of Croagh Patrick, a mountain with a church on top that is often visited by pilgrims. You can’t make up something as picturesque as this scene. We only stuck our fingers in the Atlantic and walked up a little hill to the 1st statue of St. Patrick–even with the sun shining it wasn’t an ideal sun-bathing or mountain climbing kind of day.

That morning Sharon drove us all the way out to Galway so that we could get on a tour bus that would take us to the Cliffs of Moher. We made a few stops along the way, including the Ailwee Caves and some other cliffs that weren’t swamped with tourists. We couldn’t have had better weather that afternoon, the sun was shining and the wind was calm. Jordan and I took a seat right on the edge and took it all in. The pictures I took can in no way do the views justice. We spent quite awhile walking around the edge just in awe of these magnificent Cliffs.

Jordan and the Cliffs of Moher.


Getting out of bed on Saturday morning was pretty painful because I wanted nothing more than to have that bed shipped right over to Rome, but our tour guide Deirdre had to keep us on schedule! We spent the morning visiting family and shortly after 1 we boarded the train to Dublin.

The 3 hour trainride to Dublin passed quickly and when we arrived we took one train to another that brought us out to Killbarack where our AirBnB was for the weekend. We ended up at a pub in Howth that evening, where we enjoyed another round of pub food and some Gaellic football.

We spent all of Sunday exploring as much of Dublin as we could in a day. Our first stop was a visit to the beautiful campus of Trinity College, followed by hot chocolate, and a tour of Dublin Castle. Our next stop was St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is similar to the gothic style of Notre Dame. We spent the rest of our afternoon in museums. We enjoyed our last round of pub food–which we certainly had our fill of over break, but one last shepard’s pie didn’t hurt.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


Monday morning we flew out of Dublin at 6 AM, which brought our spring break to a bitter sweet end. This was by far my favorite trip of the semester, but travelling for 10 days straight kind of wears you out, so my bunk bed back at the JFRC wasn’t an unwelcome sight afterall.

Spring Break Part 1: Paris and London

Spring Break Part 1: Paris and London

With Europe at our finger tips, the students of the John Felice Rome Center spread across the continent and beyond during our 10 day spring break. Students had the option to join JFRC staff on a study trip to the Balkans or Greece and Turkey or embark on individual journeys. I opted to map my own route. I used my European connections to my advantage, having the opportunity to stay with family friends in London and Ireland.

My friend Jordan and I spent our first weekend in Paris, where we met two friends that are studying in Madrid. We stayed in the St. Germain neighborhood which allowed us to walk to all the major sights of the city. We made our way to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees. And might’ve accidentally stopped for crepes twice–when in Paris, right? That night we made our way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The “City of Light” is magical from that high up and certainly lived up to its nickname.

Saturday we aimed to see as much of the city as we possibly could. The Louvre was our 1st stop which helped us beat the crowds and allowed us to get nice and close to the tiny portrait of Mona Lisa and other iconic artwork throughout the museum. Then we walked along the river until we reached the island of the Seine river that Notre Dame calls home. The rest of our afternoon involved a stroll though the Latin Quarter (plus macaroons), lounging in Luxembourg Gardens (plus crepes), and a visit to the Musee D’Orsay (no snacks here, but involved an impressionist feast for the eyes). Our super touristy day ended with full stomachs and happy hearts.

Sunday brought us on a journey to the Palace of Versailles. Where, after our tour of the palace, we got to soak up the sun by the lake before returning to Paris for a double crepe dinner (that brings the crepe count to 6 in 3 days). Although I could’ve stayed in Paris for the next month, it was time for us to head off to city #2 and experience London for a few days.

We kicked off our visit to London by eating lunch at a Mexican restaurant (one type of cuisine Rome just doesn’t have) then taking a lap around part of the city center. We passed by the London Tower, crossed over the Tower Bridge, stopped for tea and brownies at the Borough Market, took a bow by Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, and made it back over to the tube by way of the Millennium Bridge. Since we stayed with a family friend of mine she gave us a pub recommendation near her flat. Eating shepard’s pie and “bangers and mash” was the 1st time we felt like true Londoners.

Tuesday brought us on a walking tour of the city center past Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, and a pit stop in the British Museum. Since we packed seeing the majority of the city into one day our evening tickets to see Les Miserables gave us the perfect excuse to sit for 3 hours. After such a full day on Tuesday we decided to take things a little slower on Wednesday and took a day trip to Oxford. We wandered around the town and the campus for most of the day gaping at the beautiful architecture before enjoying yet another dinner of pub-style food.

Both of us absolutely loved our time in Paris and London, but our spring break adventure continued in Ireland that weekend.

Planning & Packing for Spring Break Abroad

Planning & Packing for Spring Break Abroad

Last year for spring break a friend and I visited her grandma in Denver, Colorado. I thought packing and planning for a week across the country was overwhelming. This year though, I’m learning how much of a breeze that trip was compared to the 3 country journey I have planned this year.

In the next 10 days my friend Jordan and I will be traveling from Paris to London to Ireland. During our weekend in Paris we’ll be staying in an “AirBnB”—a company that allows people to rent out a house or apartment for a few days—that is near the city center. We’ll be sharing the apartment with two friends who are studying abroad in Spain this semester. Our to-do list in Paris includes all of the essentials: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, and Versailles. Plus some extras: the Luxemburg Gardens, the Musee D’Orsay, and catching a glimpse of Fashion Week. Fingers crossed we find time to do it all before we fly out to London on Monday morning.

In London we will be staying with a close friend of my aunt who lives just outside the city–so we’ll become experts of “the tube”. Our London to do list is a little more easy-going than in Paris. I think most of what we see will depend on whether or not it’s free and how long the lines are. The one thing we purchased ahead of time are tickets to see Les Miserables at the Queen’s Theater. A show that I absolutely love and cannot wait to see on such a big stage. I’m also thinking that it won’t be such a bad thing to speak English again.

The 4 days we spend in Ireland are going to allow us to tour the countryside and the city of Dublin. My uncle’s family still lives in Ireland and are graciously hosting Jordan and I for 2 nights. They live in County Mayo and are helping us organize a bus trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, are taking us to Westport, and potentially a castle. I am beyond excited for this tour of the Irish countryside. Our spring break trip will be wrapped up in Dublin where we will be staying in another AirBnB just outside the city. In Dublin I’m hoping for some authentic Irish music and a bit of relaxing before we head back to Rome.

Packing for this trip has been an adventure in itself. I’ve managed to fit all of my things into the “backpackers backpack” I brought with me—with the help of a space bag. I’ll have to wear some outfits twice and deal with limited options, but I think what I’ve packed will be versatile enough for the weather—that will hopefully be staying between the 50s and 60s.

Now that we have just about everything squared away I think I’m ready to embark on this spring break adventure. There’s no doubt in my mind that this will be a trip that I take with me for a lifetime.

Viva Mexico!

Viva Mexico!

It’s been a long time since my last blog, but I’m back now! Almost two weeks ago, I was in Mexico, which was amazing. We stayed in the beautiful resort, Riu Palace Mexico, and in the future, I’ll definitely be going back.

We didn’t venture far from the hotel, choosing instead to stay close and relax. I did a little reading and napping on the beach, and not enough swimming. When we first arrived, the water was warm and calm, but by the time we left, it was freezing (granted I did take a night swim the night before our departure- of course it’d be cold).

On one of the afternoons, we walked into the town, Playa Del Carmen. We took a little detour to some nearby ruins before heading in, and wandered the shops once we were there. It was interesting to see how different the shopping environment was there versus back in the States. Because the weather allows for it, they have many open shops with workers standing outside trying to, for lack of a better word, lure customers in. They really push to get sales, which isn’t as common here (sometimes).

It was so nice to take a week away on the beach, and while there, I ran on the beach a few times. I recommend this challenge to everyone because it’s a great workout, even though I sustained a minor injury during one of my runs. I stepped on a coral rock one of the days because I ran barefoot, so for anyone who chooses to run on the beach, either wear gym shoes or be very aware of rocks, shells and anything else in the sand.

Other things I loved to do there was go exploring to see what our resort had to offer. This led my family and me to discover this nice little 24 hour room that provided coffee, snacks and treats, so if I was hungry late at night, or if I woke up super early in the morning, I knew I had an option to curb my appetite. This was extremely useful because I ended up going to this room usually two or three times a day at random times.

Even though it’s been almost two weeks since I left and already so much has happened since, I really miss it there and I think about it everyday. Though I can’t be there now, I brought back my laid back attitude from there, and every time I start feeling stressed, tired or unhappy, I just think about how I felt when I was in Mexico. So my de-stressing tip post- Spring Break is to think about a time or place that made you feel really good, both about yourself and where you were at in your life. Make this your happy place and use it.

PS: A loud enthusiastic shout-out to our friends from Mexico who made our stay even better than I thought it could be- Abraham, Anmeil and Cindy. Muchas gracias y hasta pronto mis amigos!

Spring Break

Spring Break

We may still have Winter weather but last week was our Spring Break. Unfortunately, I did not get away from the cold as many of my college peers did. It was okay though because I went back home to Michigan and got to see my family and my dog.

I had a very relaxed break and was able to catch up on my homework. That may sound like a terrible break, but I assure you, I loved it. Having a whole week to sleep in and gradually work on assignments and even get ahead in school is heaven! All of my friends who went somewhere fun like Florida are miserable this week trying to complete all of the work that I have done.

Also, just because it was cold does not mean that I didn’t appreciate the weather! I even got to go cross country skiing with my mom one day on our frozen lake.

So there is a silver lining to staying home all break; or, at least that’s what I tell myself 😉