Tag: Summer

Halfway Done with Summer

Halfway Done with Summer

[Pug for attention]

It feels as if finals were only yesterday….and I deserve 3 months of summer starting now. Time goes by too fast and we are already in the month of July. Next month, it is still surprising to me that I go back to school now as a senior. But for now, my summer has been semi-productive. It’s been nice to take a little break from school–I’ve been doing stuff around the house, helping out with youth groups and their events, and playing music for my church. I’ve also decided to go back to music school too and now, (starting this week), I began summer class to complete my pre-health class requirements.



Along with the summer season comes the wedding season. As a musician in my choir, I have played for a couple of weddings at my church so far and have enjoyed making the mass more beautiful and elegant by my music. Even just yesterday after my summer class, I biked to church to play for a 3pm wedding. I love doing things like this because I believe that music is “food for the soul.” Whenever people are down or people need to relax, it is safe to say all people find some sort of comfort through music. It is powerful because this means that music is a universal language that anyone can understand and find enjoyment in. My talent to play the piano and accompany singers or play the cello is something I take pride in. It has been hard to credit myself in anything I do, but through other people’s advice, I think it is good to acknowledge my talent and what I have to offer. Besides weddings, I play weekly for Saturday masses too and for funerals and whatnot.

In addition, my youth group had their annual 3 day camp at Camp Palos and I help prepare for it. More importantly, I was in charge of designing a faith-based “journey” (literal translation in English) that normally happens at nighttime. Here, kids get into their teams and travel into the woods to figure out clues and correctly go to each station to figure something out. The clues include deciphering Morse (written/listen),  semaphore (written/visual), pigpens, knot knots, and other stuff like reading the alphabet backwards. These kids were taught all of these things throughout the school year, so they were able to do these things during the “journey.” It was quite fun traveling in the forest trails in the dark and hearing them scream (muah hahaha).

Last week, our youth group prepared a dance for a fellow priest’s 50th year of ordination. We did an awesome job during the reception and you can find the video of our dance here:

This week, my church will be doing their annual summerfest and they have invited 4 famous singers to come out to help celebrate. My youth group will be doing a booth in which we will sell thai tea, coffee, ice cream, and a bunch of other foods that I really do not know how to translate in English haha.

More and more things to come in the future before I go back to school, but I hope this blog help put in perspective of how my summer (half of it) has been so far.


If you are NEW to the Midwest…

If you are NEW to the Midwest…


Those of you who come from afar, this blog is especially for you. The Midwest region of the United States are not just corn field and soy bean plantations- hard to believe. But in the city of Chicago and other parts close to the city, it can be an absolute adventure for you!


As I have mentioned in my other blogs, the city is amazing. Downtown on Michigan Avenue is somewhat like Times Square in New Year, but less hectic and less taxis. You’ll still get the urban vibe and see stunning views of the skyscrapers, rivers, and all the people. (Refer to my previous blog regarding Chicago).

Outside of the bustling downtown area, we have beautiful neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Rogers Park (this is where Loyola is located!), Albany Park (this is where I live), Uptown, etc. When you are here for the Fall semester, you will take the class, UNIV 101, in which you will get to actually travel to these neighborhoods as one of your assignments!

If we zoom out even more, you may have more options for fun, including Medieval Times and Six Flags! Medieval Times is a wonderful place where you get to see live jousting with knights riding on horses. All of this is watched in the comforts of a meal you will be given- medieval style! According to their official site, ” Medieval Times’ noble guests feast on garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages. A full-service bar is also available for adult guests. Vegetarian meals are available upon request.” Exciting, right?!

Six Flags is where you can feel all the adrenaline rush down your whole body. If your current area does not have Six Flags or you don’t know what it is, it is a well-known amusement park with some of the best and fastest roller-coasters. In addition, they have a great water-park with fun attractions for all ages. I love this place!

Last but not least, zoom out farther and the next place you could spend time at, is Wisconsin Dells. Upon meeting many people during my freshman orientation, I realized that a lot (A LOT) of people have never heard of what ‘Wisconsin Dells’ is. This place has a city of different water-parks. A CITY. There’s Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge, Mt. Olympus, Noah’s Greak WaterPark, etc. In their downtown area, it is ALL attractions! There’s a Riley’s Believe or Not Exhibit, game areas, places where you can get boat tours on the rivers, helicopter tours, scary mazes, etc. This place is quite fun, if you have the time and can find some buddies to go along with. It takes roughly 4(ish) hours to drive from Chicago to Wisconsin Dells, but I am sure it is worth it if you can do it!

With that being said, go enjoy your summer! You have countless options to chose from and the fun never ends! You have 2 months to do whatever you want before you head back to school, so make this summer count! 

How to Make the Best Out of Your Summer

How to Make the Best Out of Your Summer

If you are in Chicago, take advantage of the city and all the places and events that are happening especially in the summer. Don’t simply sit around inside the house all day!


There are tons of museums to go to in Chicago. There is the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Science and Industry Museum, and so much more. Especially if you are a Illinois resident, you may even get discounts to parking and admittance.

The Shedd Aquarium is a wonderful place for people who love sea critters and fishes of all kinds. There are so many types of species of fish with so many colors, patterns, abilities, and more. It is completely mesmerizing to watch them swim so gracefully and beautifully. In addition, there are tons of shows for you to see, including a dolphin show. Who wouldn’t want to see that?!

The Field Museum is a cool place for those who like to take a travel to the past and see exotic cultures and the remnants of past civilizations. I remember visiting the Field Museum many times in elementary school during field trips. In particular, I loved the Egyptian exhibit the most. I loved seeing the real mummies, going through a fake pyramid and seeing all the little knick-knack things Egyptians had.

The Adler Planetarium is an interesting place for you to see and understand everything relating to the sky. It is quite eye-opening to realize how tiny we are compared to the universe. I went here this past Monday (Memorial Day) and had a blast (haha)! Besides the planetarium, it’s location is quite breathtaking. The entire Chicago skyline can be seen beautifully from here!

The Science and Industry Museum is hands-down my most favorite museum. Though it is a bit of a drive from the central downtown area, it is worth it. It is very interactive and full of exhibits to see–maybe even in one day, you might not even get to see all of the exhibits! My favorite exhibit is the U-505 Submarine, which is an actual German vessel used in World War II. I think it is pretty cool!

Millennium Park is an awesome place to chill around. On particular days, there are events like concerts and movie nights that happen in the park too. All FREE! Just sit back and relax on the grass and enjoy the free entertainment and background view of the skyscrapers. At night, the city is lit so nicely, so try to stay into the night!

Navy Pier is another wonderful place for people of all ages! There is a children’s museum and tons of activities to do there. The actual pier just had reconstruction and now looks very modern and enjoyable to the eye. The actual Ferris Wheel was recently redone and now stands higher than before and features better gondolas for your comfort.

If you are like me and live in Chicago, and have been to a lot of the typical attractions countless times, there are other fun places to go.

Foster beach is a good place. It is place to chill out with a picnic on the grass, go kite-flying, take a swim in the lake, play volleyball on the sand, and more.

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There are a ton of other places like the Lincolnwood Mall, Village Crossing, Old Orchard, and other places that have shopping malls, movie theaters, and restaurants.

Nevertheless, your summer should be full of the things to do. Especially in the city of Chicago, you can never be bored.

Revisiting Summer

Revisiting Summer


After [spring] finals week, I always fathom about what kind of summer I am going to have, what am I going to do, am I going to be productive…the list is endless. As a native Chicagoan, you would think that I would roam the streets of the Magnificent Mile or take a typical touristy picture next to the Bean (no, it is not called the Cloud Gate…).  If not, you may think my family would plan a summer road trip to the Dakotas or fly to another country to enjoy a relaxing week, holding coconuts with little umbrellas and colored straws watching a majestic dolphin leap in the ocean sunset.

Nah. Nope.

The first half of my summer was spent at Loyola taking a Genetics course and chemistry research. It is quite nice to take a course over the summer for some reasons. Firstly, you can focus on just that one class and dedicate more study time for quizzes and exams. Secondly (speaking as an introvert), campus isn’t flooded with people walking around and it is generally more quiet and peaceful outside. However, since I am taking a summer course (and class only meets for a total of 18 days over a stretch of 6 weeks), course material is crammed and the content is heavy-filled. Especially for science courses, it is crucial to be on-top of everything because if you don’t, it will be a struggle to catch up.

On toward the more exciting parts of my summer! I’ll focus on 3 main events to keep things simple and easy.

Music. If you do not know by now, music is what I live on. I recently joined my church’s Saturday choir, Seraphim, as a musician (not as a singer because my voice is not that angelic). For a couple of masses, I played the piano, but primarily I play the cello. I’m a mere novice at this giant violin, but I’m not giving up. The sounds that get produced and beauty of the instrument itself is enough to keep me motivated and satisfied to keep playing on. In addition to choir, I still attend Old Town School of Folk Music for cello classes. In July, our class had our biannual recital which included pieces from J.S. Bach, Bartok, and Suzuki followed by ensembles and other classy arrangements. Also, in the span of the three-month long break, I was able to play cello for 5 weddings too. I always wanted to do something like this and now, I got the opportunity to do so with talented musicians and vocalists.


Marian Days. As I do every year (for the past 5 years), I go to Carthage, Missouri to attend an unforgettable and exciting religious event. This year’s theme is: Jubilee of Mercy, which coincides with what this year is called, declared by the pope.  If you want to know more about the logistics of Marian Days, here’s the link: http://blogs.luc.edu/uao/2015/10/15/40-years-of-tribulation-grace/


Here I was able to participate in many things such as during mass and at a restaurant booth, and more importantly, meet up with some good friends, who live insanely far from Chicago. Regardless, Marian Days continually grows in attendance and I hope to participate more in that event in the near future (goal- play my giant violin in the orchestra during the evening mass).



Fishing. Immediate downside is waking up early, but still, it is amazing to be up to fish and watch the sun rise over the Chicago skyline. Almost every Saturday was spent doing this. Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be in a great city and be able to experience and see so much, Little things like fishing really do get taken for granted. It doesn’t matter that you do something grand to be considered worth talking about or bringing up.


Unfortunately, summer doesn’t last forever and obviously, I’m back in school again. Junior year! (Isn’t it scary how time flies?) Throughout the year, I hope to add some more input on topics such as commuting and off-campus life in addition to anything religious related and cultural. This year, I hope to write better material and write more colloquially (to make things much more comfortable and enjoyable to read).

Anyways, I’m always here if you have any questions or simply want to get to know me better. I am friendly and am willing to help you get more acquainted with Loyola University!

Again, welcome (back) to my blog!


Summer break already?

Summer break already?


It is pretty scary to know that I’ll be entering into my third year at Loyola. Time goes by faster than you think.

Sophomore year is coming to an end. It certainly does not feel like summer break is next week, given the recent weather Chicago has been having. Some days, we’ve had winter-like weather, and the fact that we are right next to the lake, does not help with the wind gusts. But to compensate, our campus has had a plethora of bunnies which is quite pleasant to look at, nibbling at the grass, as students walk across campus.

I will be taking a course over the summer to keep myself in the ‘student’ mode and get caught up. It will be interesting to see orientations happening during my class time. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to see you prospective students and even get to talk to you one-to-one. During convocation week, you’ll see me again ,helping out the OCSL- Off-Campus Student Living group. I’ll be welcoming the commuter students, especially. 🙂 It’s always such a fun time to experience that freshman excitement all over again. It brings back a ton of memories when I was a freshman in 2014.

Over the summer, I will be volunteering at Swedish Covenant Hospital (and maybe Rush Medical Center) for a period of time. In addition, I will be taking care of my brother, Ryan, and take him to parks, playdates, and a bunch of other summer-related activities. I also plan on hanging out with friends and jamming to music with people like Dong, a talented musician (professional violinist!). I still play the cello and will continue to attend Old Town School of Folk Music over the summer. Altogether, my summer is full of things to do and I’m looking forward to all of it.

With that being said, this is my last blog post of the 2016 spring semester and I hope you guys enjoyed journeying with me into my sophomore year, here at Loyola University Chicago.

Until next time,

Farewell & have a fantastic summer!

Christopher Lam

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!



FYRE Header-632x177
I am part of a learning community at Loyola. There are a variety of learning communities that incoming freshman can join. Students that are in learning communities will have monthly meetings about their learning community. Also, students will live in the same building with their learning community peers to get to know each other.
The learning community I am a part of is First Year Research Experience (FYRE). With this community, students stay for three weeks in May to do their own research after the spring semester is over. FYRE students are placed in a groups that focus on a specific subject. The different subjects are mathematics, statistics, physics, computer science, biology and more. I was placed in the mathematics group so I have to choose a social justice topic and use mathematics to analyze the data collected for my research topic. Currently, my topic is the cost of healthcare and I will researching how has the cost of healthcare changed over the past 10 years and what populations are still struggling to gain access to it. I think this will be a great experience because I get to prepare myself to conduct and analyze research on my own. I am a nursing major and might not need research later in life but it is still a great experience to have. I can also add it to my resume and show people that I tried something new that was out of my comfort zone.
After that my three weeks of research, summer begins. To be honest, I do not know what I will do for the three months off, but I will definitely be taking advantage of my break and taking time to care for myself, others and my community.
Deposit Paid and Forms Signed: Now What?

Deposit Paid and Forms Signed: Now What?


Well done, you. So you’ve done everything the UAO asked you to do – took the placement tests, promised to keep doing good senior year (right?), turned in your money, signed away your life. Now all there’s left to do is… what?

Chances are, you’re going to go into this whole process without knowing where you’re exactly going to live, without knowing who you’ll be rooming with, without knowing how you’ll handle being away from home for a big chunk of your life for the first time. And you’ve got all summer to worry and get yourself into a frenzy about all the unknowns.

Let me give you the number one pro tip that saved my life.

Join the facebook group. Whatever your class will be, Class of 2020, 2021, 2050, join or make the facebook group. Chances are it’s already been made, but you never know. Go join it. And then, if you’re in any other groups, join or make those too – like Honors, or your LC, or even ‘Loyola Class of 2020 Students from Michigan.’ Anything like that. And then get involved in them.

Now, I’m not saying use it like a blog, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to make introductions and put your opinion out there on some questions, or do some research and help to answer some questions people with less Googling skills than you might have. Be active. Make friends. Make a group chat. Go into campus with people you already know, so that you can start with a solid base of people to branch out and hang out with, if only for that first week before you make other friends.

Now for number two: communicate with your roommate, when you get them.


Text them. Call them. Pack your stuff while Skyping with them. Meet up with them, if you can. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but if you start it off with a foundation of friendship, or even mutual respect, it’s gonna be a whole lost easier. Disliking people you live with is something you want to try to avoid all your life – it’s just not good. It helps nobody.

For a lot of things, you won’t know until you get here which of you is more likely to wash dishes or take out the trash, or if they scratch in their sleep, or if they’re the type of person that will go out every. single. night. Most people haven’t gotten the chance to learn who they are in a non-monitored living environment, so they can’t tell you honestly whether or not they’ll go to bed late or if they’ll eat in their bed, just because they can. All those sorts of things are totally unknown until you find the rhythm that works best, so you have to try to start everything off on the right foot.

Number three: when it comes time, make a packing inventory list. Make a packing list for things you’ll need for college, but don’t set it in stone – be willing to add or detract things you find you might or might not need. But write it all down, and make some sort of note when you definitively have packed it. You’ll know what you have left to pack, what you have packed, and what you have overall so that you’re not at the very last moment going crazy on whether or not you’ve packed deodorant or gotten all your school books.

And, if you have forgotten something, don’t worry. I’ll tell you in advance that a time-honored tradition of Welcome Week is a late-night Target run for everything you didn’t know you’d need.

Mertz Move IN Welcome

Number four: enjoy your time right now. Enjoy the last few weeks of your senior year, enjoy your parents cooking and your hometown. Enjoy each and every moment you spend with your friends, cause it’s gonna be a lot harder to get together when the fall rolls around again. Give your pets as much affection as your heart can handle. Lie around and watch tv. Recognize that your job is gonna be useful when you’re in college and all you want to do is go down to Molly’s Cupcakes and get some cupcakes, and you can do that because you have the funds.

Really, don’t dread it – be excited! This is whole new world and an opening to experiences you can’t even begin to imagine right now. It’s going to be great. I’m excited for you!

40 Years of Tribulation & Grace

40 Years of Tribulation & Grace


Marian Days can be considered the largest Roman Catholic gathering event in the North American continent, honoring the virgin Mary. This annual event welcomes Vietnamese Roman Catholics from around the world to the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix, located in Carthage, Missouri. This year, more than 100,000 participants attended the 4-day event.



2015 is a special year. Not only does it mark the 38th annual Marian Days, but it also marks the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Many people (such as my parents) left Vietnam as refugees and settled elsewhere such as the United States, Australia, and countries in Europe to escape from the war. Now, after 40 years, the new generations of families have flourished.


During Marian Days, elaborate pontifical masses are held (one in the morning and one at night) with a full orchestra and hundreds of con-celebrating priests. During the daytime, there are a variety of things to do on-site- attend lectures/talks, sample exotic and dynamic Vietnamese food, see cultural performances, and visit the monuments of the Stations of the Cross in a beautiful botanic garden. All of these places are within walking distance which is very convenient.



How do you cram 100,000 Vietnamese into the adorable 15,000 person-populated city? Magic. Expect road blockage, miles of tents and parked cars, and Asian love.


I have been to every Marian Days since 2010. This year marks my 6th year. I keep going back to this event because I want to learn more about my Vietnamese culture (through food, language, and music), I want to be closer to God, and I love the sense of community and togetherness. I never get tired of going to Marian Days because each year is different. You get to meet new people and go on adventures.


40 years have passed and it is remarkable to see the first and second generation Vietnamese families blossom. They have found success, happiness, and grace. These people experience a time like no other, where new beginnings meet the modern era of unprecedented forms of technology and advancements. More people pursue a higher education, representing the Vietnamese population well in prestigous fields such as medicine, law, arts, and science.

Marian Days is an unforgettable event where Vietnamese Catholics come together to eat, praise, and love. People’s faith are strengthened and Vietnamese culture takes over the little city of Carthage, Missouri for 4 days.





Alright, so I know summer is not here yet. Honestly, it does not feel like summer at all with this recent weather we’ve been having. But as a Chicago native, I shouldn’t be so surprised with the crazy weather. Anyways, in preparation for the summer, I have planned everything out day by day.
As I have mentioned before, I will take a summer course over the summer from the last week of June to the beginning week of August. In addition, I plan to continue to volunteer at the hospital on a weekly basis in the patient care unit. To lighten up my summer, my family usually sets aside a weekend in the summer to go up to Wisconsin Dells to have a little fun at the water parks. Personally, this is one the best times my intermediate family comes together and enjoy each other’s company.
Also, in the beginning of August, I plan to go on a 3-day retreat in Missouri called Marian Days. I love this retreat and have been attending it since 2011. Almost 100,000 Catholic Vietnamese from all around the world come to celebrate their faith and experience their culture on a whole new level. It simply is amazing. Everyday, there are so many activities people can do and at nighttime, the famous bands and artists play awesome music. This the only place that I know where there are at least 5 people who look exactly like me within a 10 foot radius of wherever I am…..I’m not kidding.

I am somewhere in this picture….try to find me.