Go for it and go alone

Hello again from abroad!

For those of you going to info session after in session on different study abroad options, you’ve heard this more than once: Study abroad is stepping out of your comfort zone.

If you’re like me, you may have rolled your eyes after the third time. Not because what they are saying is not true—quite the contrary—but because at the time I was a self-proclaimed traveler and felt I already knew it all.

I’ve been blessed to have traveled a decent amount in my life. I have family all over the world, and since I was a kid my parents have always encouraged the importance of traveling. I spent my first birthday in Guam, last summer studying in Portugal, and almost every year traveling somewhere, even if just to Connecticut.

With all these experiences under my belt, study abroad was exciting. I wasn’t nervous, just eager to jump right in.

That said, as I near the end of my first semester in Leuven, I understand what the comfort zone thing is, because I’ve learned the difference between being abroad and living abroad.

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Friendsgiving

There’s always been something about Thanksgiving…

More than any other holiday, it’s the one where I feel most like a kid again (I’m already in denial about my age, but that’s another story). Waking up and spending the whole day in the kitchen with my family is what I look forward to. Even though we bicker about whose turn it is to use the oven and someone always burns themselves, it’s time that I wouldn’t want to spend anywhere else.

This year is the first I won’t been home for Thanksgiving, and it feels weird. Usually by this time, I’m on a train headed to New York, wondering if I’m making apple or blueberry pie this year. I’m excited to see my dad at the train station. I’m excited to walk up my stairs and smell whatever is sitting on the kitchen counter for dinner. I’m excited to cuddle up next to my mom on the couch. I’m excited to be home. 

But this year, I’m in Belgium. Since Thanksgiving is strictly an American holiday, Christmas decorations are already going up around Leuven.

Being this far from home hasn’t stopped me from being able to celebrate Thanksgiving…

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A Jesuit student abroad

Hello again from Belgium!

juliana-jesuit-abroad-3Well, this was going to come sooner or later: a blog on the core tenants of Jesuit education.

If you’re a sophomore, junior, or senior at Loyola, you can probably recite them by heart. If you’re a first-year student or a high school student learning more about Jesuit universities and the culture that sets them apart, they might seem a little overwhelming.

Although there are many more Jesuit values, magis and cura personalis are the hallmarks of living a life built upon a Jesuit education.

Magis, which means “more,” is a personal commitment to go beyond, to seek more, and to growth—personal, social, intellectual, spiritual. Magis calls me to push myself and constantly go outside my comfort zone.

Cura Personalis, or “care for the whole person,” is another personal commitment which calls one to take care of all aspect of themselves. To be a whole person, you must dedicate care for all aspects of life: personal, social, physical, mental, and spiritual. When you can listen to all these parts of yourself, then you are able to be a man or woman for and with others.

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Real talk: Studying abroad for a year

So, as my last blog revealed, I’m studying for a year in Leuven, Belgium.

From the start of the study abroad search process, I knew I wanted to study for a year. I’ve switched schools and neighborhoods a few times in my life, so the idea of getting away for a year didn’t really freak me out. On top of that, I have been able to travel with my family before, so you could say that I’m an amateur version of Anthony Bourdain (with less grey hair).

Before I left for a year, I thought the idea of a year-long program was not only incredible, but practical. I could spend a year really getting immersed into a country’s culture while still having ample time to travel.

I saw all my friends come back from abroad and only wished they could go back, so I thought I’d avoid those feelings all together.

When I got here, my program and the city of Leuven went above and beyond my expectations.

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Photo by Hühnerauge |Flickr Creative Commons

I live in a house with 67 other students and have actually made some amazing friendships. We share meals, go out together and spend time laughing and enjoying each others’ company. Every day felt like warm and inviting. I was so excited to come home in the afternoon, because there were always people sitting outside.

It was like my first year at Loyola all over again, constantly meeting new people and always saying yes to new things.

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Halo from across the pond!

Halo from across the pond!

I’m Juliana and I’m a junior at Loyola. My major is global studies and my minor is sociology. I’m really interested in human rights, justice, conflict, and my dream job would be to working at the International Criminal Court, or really anything that keeps me moving around the world…

Which is why, as much as I love my studies and my life at Loyola, I’ve said goodbye for this year. I’m actually writing from Leuven, Belgium, where I am spending the year studying at KU Leuven.

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Baltimore, One Year Later

Think back one year ago…

It was the start of finals for the spring semester of my first year at Loyola, and the start summer was only 10 days away. As I sat there trying to study, 10 days like months. I couldn’t study.

Something felt wrong about trying to pretend nothing had happened the night before. I realized I couldn’t just sit on my perfect little campus while the world around seemed to be on the verge of a revolution… So I searched all over Facebook to find out if there was anything to do (classic college move). I found information about a student-led demonstration taking place downtown and decided that I needed to be there. Forget exams; this was more important.

I called a couple friends and we got ourselves down to Penn Station, the meeting point for the demonstration. We got there and I saw more police officers than I had ever before. Dozens of cops in bullet-proof vests lined the outside of the train station. I felt my stomach sink a little and thought “What am I getting myself into?”

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Baltimore: Capital of Social Innovation

Last week, I was lucky enough to experience Light City Baltimore, a week-long showcase of light, art, and technology.

But what many people don’t realize is that beyond the amazing performances and public art exhibits that transformed the Inner Harbor and other neighborhoods throughout the city, Light City also hosted four different conferences on Social, Health, Sustainability, and Creativity Innovation.26090982661_812f7654fb_z

I attended the Light City U Social Innovation Conference. This two-day conference jam-packed with innovators in social enterprise, education, community development, social justice, philanthropy, and policy to explore solutions to problems faced by societies throughout the world. The speakers ranged in age, gender, race, discipline, and skill, but had one important thing in common: They all are working to make Baltimore a better city.

“There is no time to be a victim, there is power in community… even children can be empowered.” —Freeman Hrabowski, Ph.D., President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The stereotype for Baltimore is disheartening: a city tarnished by crime and poverty. The Light City conferences and speakers, particularly the Social Innovation Conference, wanted to shine light on the incredible potential that is right here in our city, untapped and underutilized.

The days were filled with intense discussions about how we can build a more equitable and responsible city if we work together. 

“You can’t go around Baltimore and not see how you’re needed. You see clearly every day that your participation is necessary.” —Wes Moore, Founder & CEO of BridgeEDU and Loyola’s 2016 Commencement Speaker

There were many inspiring and eye-opening anecdotes and people who shared their work and their vision during the conference…

One of the many groups that presented was Innovation Village, a startup nest in West Baltimore. With all startups and economics centers located in East Baltimore, the depth of the gap is astonishing. This emerging tech and innovation center hopes to promote growth, development, and life in West Baltimore. The group wants to invest in its own people instead of investing in outsiders to come in.

As a college student trying to find her way in the world, one panelist really spoke to me: A social innovator, CEO of two companies, and all-around awesome guy, Aaron Hurst spoke specifically on finding success in our work.

For Hurst, as is the case for many who attended and presented at the Light City U conferences, success is not defined by money, but by something much more valuable.

To determine whether or not you are truly succeeding, Hurst talked about the need to focus on three things:

  1. Relationships: Your connections with others are vital to your ability to succeed.
  2. Doing Something Greater than Yourself: On the fast road to success, we often forget to make serving others a daily priority. Hurst says that doing good cannot be a “every so often” type of thing; it needs to a daily priority in our immediate world.
  3. Personal Growth: Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is key to growth.

Although the groups who presented at the conference spanned many sectors and fields, ranging from education to infrastructure, technology, and personal achievement, all of them had one thing in common: prioritizing investment in the people of Baltimore.

“If you view Baltimore as a collection of stats, you’re looking at it wrong. It’s a collection of opportunities… The people closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”  —Fagan Harris, President & CEO of Baltimore Corps

Baltimore, of course, has its fair share of problems. They are deep-seated and complex. But this is not unique to Baltimore. Most cities face challenges that are greater than eliminating crime and improving schools.

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As much as that is the truth, so is the fact that the people of Baltimore have the skills, the power, and the heart to solve its problems.

Baltimore isn’t a place just for others to come and fix and leave. It is a place to invest in, live in, and love.

“Baltimore is more well-positioned than any other city I’ve seen.” Andrew Yang, Founder & CEO of Venture for America, on the city’s startup community and entrepreneurial spirit

The Light City U Social Innovation Conference did not just showcase the incredible work happening today in Baltimore; it represented a catalyst for a change in the perception of Baltimore.

This is not a broken city, this is not a city that needs to be fixed. This is a city of incredible talent and beauty. Baltimore is a diamond in the rough; its people need only the chance to shine.

P.S. More about the Light City U conferences.

Would You Rather: East Coast or West Coast

This year for spring break, I decided to travel across the entire United States.

My friends and I are all East Coasters, so being as West as coast as possible was a bit of a culture shock. Aside from the weather that is as moody as your emo cousin, Seattle has a lot to offer. As a New Yorker, I stereo-typically believe that my state is the best state in the country, but I have to admit the Seattle and the West Coast are pretty awesome.

I’m back from an amazing week, and I had to share seven things I discovered about the West Coast…Pike Place Market

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A Day in the Life: Juliana

Loyola student bloggers offer a glimpse into the day in the life of a Loyola student— which, like our students, is anything but typical.

 
Like any overcommitted college student, my days start early and end late. I feel like I’m always running, whether that’s on a treadmill at the FAC or from Boulder to Knott Hall.

Still, I try to stop and smell the roses every once and while when the world slows down for a second or two.

6:30 a.m.
My alarm goes off. It’s dark outside. Is it still night? Nope. It’s just that the sun isn’t up yet. Which is a shame, because I have to be to get to the gym in time to work out before my first class.

I wake up (or try my best) to get up around 6:30 in the morning. And as much as I would like to be a morning person, some mornings are more a struggle than others attempting to roll out of bed. (My record is hitting the snooze seven times, but I eventually got up, unhappy and in a daze.)

7 a.m.

Fall on Campus

After a short walk or shuttle ride (a saving grace in the winter) from my apartment, I’m at the FAC. For me, the gym is a great way to start my day. It gives me energy and also allows me to justify a side of tater tots at lunch (OK, and maybe dinner).

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Energy, Emotion, Excitement: Wazobia 2016

Last Friday, I attended Wazobia.

The event was organized by Loyola’s African Student Association to celebrate African cultures and heritages and the belief that beauty comes in all forms.

Wazobia featured incredible food with even more incredible live performances. If you went, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You can still taste the jerk chicken, and the dancers left you speechless. If you didn’t go, you missed out on one heck of a time.

Since I know you are regretting your decision not to attend, here’s a quick recap of the night…

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