Tag: Study Abroad

Studying Aboard at Madrid

Studying Aboard at Madrid

Saint Louis University Campus

I am so thrilled to have been accepted to the Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain! I will be spending my fall semester of 2016 in Madrid! I will learn about a different culture and live with a host family for about 4 months. This is really exiting! My friends will also be joining me, so the more the merrier. Hopefully, we get a chance to visit all over Europe. I feel like this will be such a wonderful and awesome experience, but I will be miss my friends and family. Luckily I will be able to facetime them while I am abroad. Now, that I have officially been accepted into the program I have a few additional steps to complete. I need to submit my fees and a complete my student visa. Madrid here I come! See you on August 30th.

The Process of Studying Aboard

The Process of Studying Aboard

Studying aboard is something that didn’t cross my mind when thinking about my college experience. The person who opened my eyes to studying aboard at Loyola was my academic adviser. Being a nursing major, I have a strict outline of my four year plan and the only time I can study aboard is the fall semester of 2016, so I had to look into it. My academic adviser told me to start off by making an appointment with the study aboard office to get more information about the different places I can study aboard. There are many places you can study aboard from Australia to the Middle East to Europe and many more. The location was going to be a hard decision because I could go anywhere. First, I decided to see what universities would accept my Federal and state grants and Loyola scholarships. That narrowed it down to about 9 universities. After that, I decided to see what universities offer courses aboard that will count towards my graduation requirements. That really narrowed it down to two places: The John Felice Rome Center and Saint Louis University at Madrid. Deciding between the two was tough because they both offer great programs and different experiences, but Madrid stood out to me because I would be able to live with a host family. This will really help me experience life in Madrid and get to better know the culture.
Now I just needed to talk to my parents. I had to convince them why studying aboard would be a great opportunity so I brought many brochures from the study aboard office to show them. To my surprise, they were actually open to the idea because they didn’t want to stop me from doing something I was really excited about. The next step was applying to study aboard. First, I had to do an application for Loyola and then a second application for Saint Louis University. The application for Loyola was short and simple. It asked more details about where I was going and what semester I would be abroad. However, for Saint Louis University, their application required a bit more. I needed an essay, a resume, and two letters of recommendation to submit along with my application. I recently was able to secure all of those documents and now all I have to is wait to hear back! Hopefully it will be a yes! 
Giving Thanks For LUC

Giving Thanks For LUC

I feel bad for Thanksgiving. This perfectly good holiday has become overshadowed by the upcoming Christmas season. Rather than serving as a pause and time to give thanks with our loved ones it has become the perfect long weekend to get the best deals on the perfect presents and set up the Christmas tree. I’ll admit that this year I was out shopping on Black Friday and had been listening to Christmas music since the week before, but I still think that Thanksgiving should be given the credit it deserves.

I want this holiday to receive the credit that its due, because I for one have so very much to be thankful for. My thanksgiving weekend was filled with quality family time, reuniting with high school friends, and of course good food—all of which I am insanely thankful for. But I’d like to send some thanks Loyola’s way because it too has brought me plenty to be thankful for in the last 2 ½ years.

LUC thank you for…

  1. The city. I’m grateful that you have given your students the city of Chicago to explore. You’ve never tried to keep us hidden on the Lake Shore Campus, but instead encourage us to enjoy all the exciting things our neighborhood and our city offers us. And I’m always grateful that we’ve got a UPASS to get us around, plus a campus right in the middle of downtown.
  2. Jesuit values. Before I started school at Loyola I didn’t even know what a Jesuit was, but now that I’ve seen them in action I’ve become grateful that it was upon their values our school was founded. Our mission for social justice is one that seeps into nearly every course I’ve had and is certainly a message I will carry with me far beyond my college years.
  3. Experiences abroad. I quite honestly would not have become the person I am today without having spent a semester at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. LUC thank you for encouraging your students to take a leap of faith and spend time abroad while we are in college, and thank you for making that opportunity so easily accessible to us.
  4. Caring for the environment. You were not given the title of “The Greenest University in the Midwest” on accident. The initiative you take to make our campus one that will leave a small footprint on this planet is widely appreciated by your students. Thank you for recycling bins, water bottle refill stations, and geothermal powered buildings; your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
  5. Our professors. The reason we are here is to receive a high quality education and that would not be true of this institution if your professors didn’t strive to meet that standard. I’ve seen professors teach classes of 200 and still show us how very much they care and each semester I have a professor that blows me away with their knowledge, expertise, and ability to inspire.

Thank you Loyola, for all that you do.



I’m back from a semester abroad, I’ve moved off campus, and I’m an upperclassman. Fall 2015 has been a period of adjusting to say the least.

Last spring I had probably the best semester of my college career studying at the John Felice Rome Center. So being back in Chicago has been a little more challenging than I anticipated. I absolutely love going to school in Chicago, but not being able to explore a new country every weekend is a bit of a bummer. I’m also back to taking classes for my major rather than taking courses about Italian language, literature, and culture. But I’m adjusting.

This year I signed my first apartment lease and get to live off-campus with two of my best friends. We decorated our apartment perfectly and it makes Chicago feel that much more like home. But off-campus living isn’t all bliss, now I have to begin the adjustment to adulthood as we pay bills, deal with our landlord, and leave on-campus living luxuries behind (i.e. wi-fi and dining halls).  But I’m adjusting.

I’ve finally made it to upperclassman status, which has been absolutely surreal. It feels like I was a junior in high school about two minutes ago, so how on earth did I make it to my junior year of college? Now that I’ve finally adjusted to being in college, I’m nearly finished. Which really freaks me out. I’ve finally made it through most of my CORE classes (LUC’s fancy way to structure “gen eds”) and nearly all my classes pertain to my major (and I’m still adjusting to even having a major). I’m at a point in my life where I thought I’d have things pretty well figured out. As it turns out I’m not quite there yet. But I’m adjusting.

We’re already halfway through the semester, but I’m still working on adjusting to doing college in the US again, living in a real Chicago apartment, and being half way through my college career.

I’ll let you know if I ever actually adjust.

Why Your Next Semester Should be at the JFRC

Why Your Next Semester Should be at the JFRC

They say a semester abroad will change your life. They say it will be an unforgettable experience where you learn so much about yourself and the world around you. They say your mind will be opened to new ideas, cultures, and people. Well, after my semester in Rome I would have to say that I agree with all of “them”. Spending my spring semester at the the John Felice Rome Center was the best decision I’ve made in my college career, and I think it very well could be the best one you’ll make too.

Here’s why you want to become a JFRC alum…

  1. The JFRC is as much Loyola’s campus as the Water Tower Campus, so all of your credits transfer and you don’t have to shed an ounce of your Rambler pride.
  2. Living in a building with 200 other students gives you an instant and welcoming community. Plus plenty of travel buddies to choose from.
  3. Pizza. Pasta. Gelato.
  4. No classes on Friday means you always have an extra long weekend for your European travels.
  5. The experienced Student Life Team always has your back–whether that means giving you directions in Rome or figuring out how to order Chinese food in Italian, they’ll help you out.
  6. The Eternal City will offer you (nearly) an eternity of adventures.
  7. You get to learn Italian, a bellissimo language that will help you feel more at home in Italy.
  8. You’ll learn to appreciate the way Italians live life–slow walks, fast espresso, and the most inconsistent bus system I’ve ever seen.
  9. When you get tired of planning trips for yourself, you can sign up for a pre-planned study trip led by the JFRC crew.
  10. You will be changed over the course of the semester, but all for the better.

I’ve only been gone for 2 days and I’m already wishing I was back. So do yourself a favor and give the John Felice Rome Center a chance. Oh and when you get there, have some gelato for me.

Discovering Roma: the Neighborhood of Testaccio

Discovering Roma: the Neighborhood of Testaccio

I’ve been calling Rome “home” since January, but there is still so much of this city that I have yet to explore. Before this month is over my friends and I will be checking out the lesser known neighborhoods of the city. Who knew there was more here than the Colosseum?…Only kidding.

For our Italian class we had to visit a neighborhood in the city and then give a presentation about our experience to the class (all in italiano of course). So on Wednesday morning a friend and I headed to the southern part of the city to do some exploring in the neighborhood of Testaccio. I’ve been here briefly during the Food Truck Festival I took my family to last week, but this time around we just needed to explore.

One of the first sights we saw in the neighborhood was a pyramid. After conquering Egypt the Romans had quite a love for Egyptian architecture, so though it seems out of place this Egyptian touch wasn’t a huge surprise. This pyramid is a funerary monument dedicated to a member of the College of  Septemviri, who died somewhere around 12 BC. We walked down the street a ways and found the Piazza Testaccio, a really beautiful square that was especially clean for Rome and then continued on our adventure.

The best thing we stumbled across all morning was the Mercato Testaccio. This market was very similar to the Mercato Trionfale I visited a little while ago, but I enjoyed Testaccio’s more. It was a bit smaller, calmer, and cleaner than Trionfale’s and would definitely be worth a second visit. This neighborhood would be considered on of the more “hipster” neighborhoods in Rome so many of the stalls sold goods that are pretty trendy–as in gluten free pasta and  a juice bar.

Part of our project included interviewing someone that worked in the neighborhood. We pulled up a chair at the juice bar and talked with a girl named Anna (who made us some delicious juice). Anna told us how she was born in Rome, but her father is of Sicilian descent. She’s been working at the juice bar for a few months because a friend of hers owns it, but her real passion in life is studying monkeys. She actually has a doctorate in biology and hopes to continue researching monkeys again soon. Anna is one of the nicest people I’ve met in Rome–she even offered us some travel advice as we finish out our semester abroad. I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet her again soon because that juice was really, really good.

We did a little more exploring in the neighborhood to see what is left of the stockyards that used to be very important for this area as well as Monte Testaccio. Monte Testaccio is essentially an ancient Roman dump that consists of rubble from broken oil lamps. We only caught a glimpse of this hill from the street, but I’m sure a more in depth tour would be really interesting.

I’m grateful this Italian project got us out of the JFRC’s campus and into a really cool neighborhood for the day. Next week, project or not, I’ll have to keep up these Roman neighborhood adventures.

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.

9 Loyola Myths

9 Loyola Myths


Over the past 3 years in admission, I have noticed there are A LOT of misconceptions about Loyola University Chicago. I am going to use my blog this week to set the record straight. Here are what I consider to be the top 9 Loyola myths:

  1. We are not the same school as Loyola Maryland, Loyola New Orleans or Loyola Marymount. We are all completely separate schools. The only thing we have in common other than our name are our Jesuit background and values. So no, you cannot study at another Loyola in the U.S. However, you can Study Abroad at other universities all over the world or at one of our three campuses in Rome, Beijing or Ho Chi Minh City, which are in fact run by Loyola University Chicago.
  2. You do not have to be Catholic (or even religious) to go to a Jesuit University. About half of our students identify as being Catholic and as a Catholic University, we do offer regular masses, Taize prayer, resources and mentors for our Catholic students. Loyola has the only student-run mosque in Illinois and we have an incredibly strong Hillel Community on campus. We also have several different prayer spaces in our Student Center including a Puja Prayer Room. We are a home to all faiths and encourage interfaith dialogues and for students to lead their own spiritual path with assistance from Campus Ministry which provides resources, services, and mentors on-campus. I also want to throw out that you do not need to be Catholic to attend one of our Retreats at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus, these retreats are awesome and open to everyone.
  3. We are actually in the city of Chicago (not a suburb) and are right next to Lake Michigan (not a block away, our buildings are a foot or two from the lake).
  4. We are not a commuter school. Yes, in the past, a lot of students did commute to Loyola, but not in recent years. Now all first and second year students are required to live on-campus and while upper-classmen have the option to live on or off-campus, most stay on campus or live within a block or two of campus. However, the students exempt from the housing policy still have a community and home on campus thanks to Off-Campus Student Life.
  5. Housing is not hard to find on or around campus. As mentioned above, we require that 1st and 2nd year students live on-campus and we have several upperclassmen residence halls at both the Lake Shore Campus and the Water Tower Campus. There are also hundreds of non-Loyola owned or operated apartments near campus.
  6. Our acceptance rate is not 92% or 98%. It is closer to 63%. This is one of those cases where you can’t believe everything you read on the internet so if you’re questioning something you read, call or email your admission counselor!
  7. We are not a school that lacks athletic success, spirit, or history. We are a Division One school in the Missouri Valley Conference and last year our Men’s Volleyball Team won the NCAA National Championship on our very own campus. Go Ramblers! We are also the only D1 School in Illinois to ever win a NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, which we did in 1963, but we are still proud of the win and of our contribution to NCAA history via the Game of Change.
  8. Chicago’s weather isn’t always horrible. Our fall is actually warmer than most of the Midwest thanks to the wind blowing warm air off the lake. Most of the time, we don’t see snow or really cold days until late December when students are already home for Winter Break. Yes the beginning of the spring semester is cold and has some snow, but harsh winters build character and stories you’ll be telling the rest of your life. And don’t forget how much of the year (typically March – November) brings truly amazing weather to Loyola. During these nice months you can find our students hanging out at street festivals, enjoying the great outdoors that you CAN find in the city, and by hanging out at “Loyola Beach” (really called Hartigan Beach).
  9. We are not “the wolves”. We are the Ramblers! However, Lu Wolf is indeed the name of our mascot.


30 Reasons Why We LOVE Loyola

30 Reasons Why We LOVE Loyola


With Valentine’s Day approaching and everyone talking about love, it only seemed appropriate to talk about what Loyola staff and current students have to say about their relationship with Loyola.

Here are 30 reasons staff and students love Loyola:

  1. The ability to go abroad to the Rome center. – Ellen
  2. The incorporation of social justice into academics. – Judy Kyrkos
  3. The small campus feel with access to the city. – Lexy Rux
  4. Being in Chicago. – Maggie
  5. The small class sizes; it really feels like you get one-on-one time with the professors. – Patrick
  6. Being on a beautiful campus with access to downtown. – Adam Buller
  7. Living in Mertz and the chicken tenders from Damen Dining Hall. – Katie
  8. The sense of community. – Ricky Mott
  9. The beautiful campus and social justice focus in all of my classes. – Kara
  10. The small campus feel. – Shaniqua
  11. How the core classes make us a well-rounded person. – Elise
  12. How self-aware the student body is. I’ve never encountered an impolite person on campus. – John
  13. The community feel, size of campus, friendly/welcoming environment, and small class size. – Christy Vargas
  14. How there are Vegan and gluten-free options in the dining halls. – Sarah
  15. Dynamics of taking class on the lake shore campus and downtown. It’s nice to experience the best of both worlds. – Claire
  16. Class sizes, pretty campus, and nice/passionate professors. – Carlee
  17. Diverse community. – Samantha
  18. Friendly environment on campus. – Brittney
  19. Approachable teachers who seem to enjoy their jobs and always want to help you do your best. – Gabby
  20. The view of the lake. – Shannon
  21. I feel safe on campus. – Adrian
  22. Loyola has always given me the opportunity to succeed. – Aaron Brunmeier
  23. The architecture of campus. – Brian
  24. The sense of community. – Aliyah Jervier
  25. I love that Loyola offers something for anyone and everyone who attends so that they can be a part of something and feel included. – Hiba Abbas
  26. I LOVE that every time I step outside and see our beautiful campus I get excited for my day no matter how stressful it is. – Lucy Mooney
  27. I love that Loyola has so many things to offer to their students. Whether it be information on study abroad, fairs talking about feminism, or tutoring for certain classes, Loyola does an amazing job providing us with tools for success. I think that since there are so many resources offered, any type of student can feel like this school is a perfect fit for them. – Katherine Weir
  28. Loyola fosters education both inside and outside the classroom enabling YOU to grow immensely. Upon graduating from Loyola in the spring of 2015, Loyola has taught me that the aim of my education is not the facts, but rather of values. –Joe Sadofsky
  29. How connected students are to the Loyola community. – Callie Short
  30. How Loyola shares the same values as myself. – Alyson Crutchfield

Happy Valentine’s Day from Loyola University Chicago!

Weekend Numero Uno in the Eternal City

Weekend Numero Uno in the Eternal City

With orientation still underway, the JFRC staff had us in good hands during our first Roman weekend. Massive meals, a visit to the Colosseum, and a day in Lazio’s countryside made the perfect end to week number one, and perfect start to our first week of classes.

Friday night we had the opportunity to partake in a group dinner at a local restaurant of the Balduina neighborhood (the neighborhood that houses our campus). For 25 euros we were served a 4 course meal that lasted nearly 3 hours. As enjoyable as it was, eating itself turned out to be quite exhausting—but completely worth it. In an attempt to walk off our feast, we headed for an overlook of the city. Rome is breathtaking at all times of day, but catching my first glimpse of the Vatican lit up at night was my favorite skyline feature.

On Saturday morning we had our first chance to explore the city center in the daylight with a trip to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Before we headed out, a JFRC professor gave us a lecture about the history of these two magnificent Roman ruins. My knowledge of the Roman Forum was especially lacking, so the lecture was appreciated. Touring the Colosseum was the first time it hit me that I’m in Rome. I loved trying to imagine what this massive amphitheater would have looked like in its most glorious days—covered in marble, filled with a cheering crowd, and gladiators battling lions in the arena.

The Roman Forum was the perfect place to explore ancient Roman ruins. It’s incredible to imagine what a powerful hub the area used to be. The Forum was filled with palaces, arches, a basilica, churches, gardens, and other government buildings that are now crumbling, yet still magnificent. We were there until closing and weren’t able to see the whole thing, but I hope in my time here I’ll get a chance to return and continue exploring.

Sunday morning all 235 JFRC students piled into 4 charter buses that would take us through the Lazio countryside to visit two 16th century villas. Our tour of the Villa Lante focused on its extravagant gardens and fountains. The water all flowed from a nearby natural spring and was able to move throughout the entirety of the garden without any electricity or pumps.

Our next outing was lunch at Parco dei Cimini, which included 3 courses. But perhaps more impressive than our meal were the animals that greeted and entertained us during our lunch. The path into the restaurant was lined with two hawks and two owls—two of which later joined us inside, accompanied by an animal handler of course. Halfway through lunch that same animal handler rode up on a donkey, which a few students then proceeded to ride, because when in Rome! Right?

Villa Farnese was our last stop. The inside of this massive building was covered in beautiful frescos that were all tailored to the (future) Pope Paul III who built it. My favorite room was painted with maps of the world. Of course they were a bit off from how we know the earth to look now—the biggest issue being the lack of Australia, which at the time had not yet been discovered.

Our weekend of further immersion in Italian culture has given me a glimpse at just how spectacular this semester will be.