The Best Lessons I Learned in 2015

It’s been a tough year for me.

This time last year, my whole life was flipped upside down in an unimaginable way.

One day, you’re walking about the world, looking at everything a certain way, feeling a certain way, and expressing yourself in a certain way.

Suddenly everything is different. How you think, feel, and see the world can never go back to the way it was before. It’s scary. And it’s so hard. And it’s constantly changing, even today.

On Dec. 26, 2014, one of the best people I have ever had the privilege of knowing left us in a sudden and tragic way.

Colleen was so many wonderful things. A few weeks shy of 21 years old, she was vivacious, she was hilarious, she was kind, she was thoughtful, she was brilliant. She was one of my three best friends at Loyola. I loved her and continue to love her so much. She was one third of my sun at Loyola. And then suddenly she was gone. As a result, my whole world got dimmer.

You find ways to patch together little glimmers of light here and there, but the light you once enjoyed can never be fully restored.

This new world is the one I must live in every day now, and I am trying to live the best life I can without her.

For her.

Colleen and Rachel

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The Ultimate Guide to a Successful First Year: Part II

We live in what can seem like a stressful and competitive world. The tendency is to work hard and play harder, or to burn the candle at both ends until you’re exhausted and can’t do either. Sometimes it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do, let alone the things we want to do.

This post is part two of a post in which I share what I have found to be methods to help first-year college students like me have a productive and enjoyable experience…

(You can find Part I of my Ultimate Guide here.)

Study

Even homes is putting some hours in - but is he doing it right?

Let’s be honest: Every college student dreads studying. I can’t think of one person who doesn’t despise the hours spent in the library, taking notes and staring at pages until our eyes glaze over.

More than being prepared for a test, success in life is defined by knowledge, and you will never be able to hold an intellectual conversation without a base of appropriate information.

The most effective way to keep the information locked within your conscience is to study. Here are my top four ways to engage with information while studying…

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The Ultimate Guide to a Successful First Year: Part I

For most, the college experience is characterized by what you learn (academics and experience) and who you meet, forge relationships with, and go on to call life-long friends (social life). But beyond attending classes, studying and preparing for those classes, and making friends and having a social life, there are many other ways to fulfill a successful university experience. I am discovering more with each passing week here at Loyola: recreational opportunities, clubs, service, lectures, events on campus.

We live in what can seem like a stressful and competitive world. The tendency is to work hard and play harder, or to burn the candle at both ends until you’re exhausted and can’t do either. Sometimes it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do, let alone the things we want to do.

So I’ve started to pay attention to the following methods and behaviors to help me stay on track—and I’ve found a great improvement in my lifestyle when it comes to balancing my busy schedule, my responsibilities, and my schoolwork…

This post is part one of a two-part series in which I will share what I have found to be methods to help first-year college students like me have a productive and enjoyable experience.

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Why am I learning?

I am starting to find it fascinating how different a student’s attitude towards academics can be, depending on his or her environment, which either dictates exposure to the significance of knowledge—or simply deviates from the holy grail of education.

Mostly every college student with exposure to university standards may testify to a grand distinction between what is known as K-12 or “common” education and “university” academics.

While in most contexts, “education” and “academics” may coexist as synonyms, in the setting of the topic, the objective of which is to uncover the hidden polarity of such concepts, the two nouns are light-years apart.

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8 Tips for Surviving Midterms

Midterms weren’t meant to be fun, but they are important.

And though it may feel like a month of your life, midterms only last a week or two. So take time for studying, for eating, for sleeping, and for yourself, and you should make it through.

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Hopefully these eight tips can help my fellow students survive exams…

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The Dos and Don’ts of Family Weekend

I recently experienced my first ever Family Weekend here at Loyola—and just in time, seeing as I’m a senior.

My parents and sister traveled down from Pennsylvania for the weekend in hopes of seeing what my life is like and enjoying all Baltimore has to offer.

We had a lot of fun, so I wanted to share my Dos and Don’ts from the weekend for my fellow Greyhounds…

DO touristy things that you wouldn’t normally do on your own or with friends.

My sister and I explored the National Aquarium in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor this weekend. It was so much fun and great for just the two of us to spend a little time together.

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A Place Where I Belong

I sit in my dorm room eating sour cream and onion potato chips, wondering…

Would I be as happy as I am right now if I were at any other school?

While I don’t have magical power to determine whether I would or I wouldn’t be (which is a shame), I have a very strong feeling that it’s Loyola that has made my first few weeks as a college student so positive…

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A New Legacy Walks Breendonk

It’s official! I have been living in Leuven, Belgium, for just over a month.

The people, the biking, the weather, the language, and most importantly, THE FOOD are to die for.

katie on a bike

Loyola’s study abroad program in Leuven is really fantastic because it organizes day trips to locations all over Belgium for students.

So far, we have traveled to Brugge Dinant and, just recently, to Fort Breendonk.

The Fort has had served several purposes over time, but is most known for its prison camp status during World War II. Upon arrival on the grounds, we learned a brief history of the prison camp. As the tour of the grounds continued, the group became familiar with what had happened there…

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A Whole New World

College.

One word that has such a mammoth impact on our lives.

It shouldn’t scare you, though. It should excite you. Because while the concept of college can be “pee in your pants” terrifying, once you accept the thought of experiencing a whole new world full of exhilarating opportunities, the notion of college as a place where we go to be homesick will dissipate. And you will be OK.

I know because I just lived through it.

Though leaving home wasn’t the difficult part for me; I was ready to go. I was ready to leave the same friends I’ve known since kindergarten, and the same small town where I’ve spent my life for a while now, because I wanted to experience something different. Something new and invigorating.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t experience a moment of complete and utter panic on my first day of classes…

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You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile

One of the brighter aspects of having a class schedule that is spread throughout the day is seeing different groups of people every time I walk out my door.

As the weeks pass and we fall into the semester’s schedule, I grow more accustomed to the people I see, and I prepare my mental checklist of hellos for whichever walk I’m making.

It is interesting to see how certain times of year affect people and the moods I see them in. The Thursday before Fall Break, for example, people are more upbeat and excited than they would be if they were just coming back from a test they pulled an all-nighter to study for.

Frowns are almost as commonplace as smiles, especially now that we are in the gauntlet of tests, quizzes, and papers. People are tired. I get that. But what I want to tell everyone on my walks, regardless of how your day is going or how much sleep you got (or missed) the night before, it’s to smile.

For most of us, smiling is involuntary. We don’t think about when we do it. On the flipside, we don’t normally make an active choice to withhold a smile. And yet we know exactly what can trigger our face to lift upwards in a grin. The truth is smiling can have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life than you think. Continue reading