A few of our favorite things: Christmas traditions at Loyola

12301727_10153795449331563_5244460696509420787_nAs the Jesuit, Catholic institution that it is, Loyola celebrates the holiday season in a special way.

When students return from Thanksgiving break, campus has already been decorated for Christmas at Loyola. This not only puts you in the spirit, but also make campus feel merry and bright during finals and leading up to the end of the semester, when we head home to be with family for the holiday and winter break.

There are also several traditions Greyhounds look forward to every December involving generosity and giving, carols and Christmas readings, ugly sweater parties, festivals, and lights around Baltimore for the student body to enjoy during the most wonderful time of the year.

So whether its your first or your last holiday season here at Loyola, be on the lookout for a few of these seasonal favorites…

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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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Getting a great internship

Internships.

While they can seem like a vague limbo between indentured servitude and actually making a living, internships are absolutely essential for your résumé and to gain some experience in your field before joining the work force.

Some of us are lucky enough to actually find the rare opportunity of a paid internship. For the rest, there is usually little to no pay involved. At the end of the day, beggars can’t be choosers; in other words, when you have no experience on your résumé, you will take anything!screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-7-01-28-pm

Employers that don’t offer monetary pay to their interns argue that they are paying with experience and connections, which is absolutely valid.

Each job is a stepping stone to the next which will eventually lead you to that ultimate career goal.

Where do you start?

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Ignite your passion

When RA training began in August, my dad pulled up to the Student Life office with a packed trunk and my siblings to help unload. I scrambled to get my key and back to the car to make the process as quick as possible.

I was so ready for my new apartment and my new role as a resident assistant, but I knew I only had about an hour and a half to do all of this before my first-ever RA meeting.

After emotional good-byes at the car, I turned back to Campion Tower and felt ready to take on RA training, even though I didn’t really know what this meant or entailed.

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When I applied for the position, I knew RAs are meant to help students with the adjustments of college life, such as aiding smooth transitions into the residence halls, the new college workload, the social aspects of building community, and personal adjustments.

What I was interested in finding out was… what else? 

What were we going to spend two weeks being trained for?

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Finding life-changing work at Guilford Elementary

April 2015: A warm spring day, right around the time I had officially declared that I would be a student at Loyola University Maryland come the fall.

Around this time, I had received a package stating that I was eligible for federal work study, a common need for students in college. Little did I know what job I would be placed in, where I would work, or what a work study position truly entailed.

Little did I know that my work study job would change my entire career path and lead me to what I wanted to do with my life.

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What now, America?

The 2016 presidential election was unique, to say the least.

Voters have expressed deep concern with the extreme bipartisanship in Washington, the electoral college deciding the vote as opposed to the popular vote, and the media’s skewed perception of our political realities.

This election was not so much about who voters wanted to be president as it was about who voters didn’t want to be president. In theory, this was a protest election. This silent majority must be given props for supporting their candidate to the extent they did.

This election was unforeseeable for all, including Trump himself, up until the evening of the official results.

As the votes from the electoral college were tallied, Donald Trump emerged as president-elect, in spite of the fact that Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by a landslide. So while many Americans are ecstatic for what the next four years may bring, many others are protesting in cities around the country and trying to dry their tears.

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This Republican victory is such a shock to the Democratic party because of the extreme clash in values that each candidate represents, as well as the contrast in experience.

Many believe that Donald Trump has no business whatsoever in the world in politics, though others make the argument that it is time for “new blood” in the White House. But does “new blood” also mean a lack of rapport?

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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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Mercy in music

I headed up to the retreat house this past weekend for the annual Chapel Choir retreat.

As always, it was a wonderful weekend of music and love and fellowship.

This year, our theme was “Into the Heart of Mercy.” And let me tell you, I definitely received a lot of mercy this weekend, something all of us so desperately need.

Technically the reason for this retreat is so that we can have more rehearsal time for Lessons & Carols (which is not to be missed, so mark your calendar for Friday, Dec. 9, at 5 p.m., and get there early to get a seat!)…

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Spiritually, it’s a chance for the members of Chapel Choir to build a community and talk about our faith journeys and our struggles.

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Home

Home, to me, is more than a geographical coordinate or the physical structure of a house.

Home includes the people who support me every day, make me laugh, and are always cheering me on.

I have considered Naples, Fla., to be my home for the past six years: the familiar faces in my favorite Thai restaurant, the colorful sunsets over the pier, and the holidays that serve as perfect excuses for family barbecues.

I grew up in Long Island, have lived in Naples for years, and am now able to call Baltimore my home as well. I found another home within my community that I once thought only existed 1,000 miles away…  Continue reading