When the parades rolled through and finally ended on Tuesday afternoon, I watched as the chain gang came through and cleaned up the wreckage of the weeklong party. Beads, plastic bags, empty beer cans, broken chairs, all gathered together and piled up on the side of the street waiting to be picked up. It struck me that this was the moment in New Orleans when Lent started. Everyone, time to go home! Time to calm down and end the revelry.Time to drink a big glass of water, take a nap, and pick out your outfit for Ash Wednesday Mass tomorrow morning. Lent in NOLA is just as beautiful as Mardi Gras, but in such different ways that if you aren’t looking for it, you might miss it.

As a child I though Lent was just about giving things up. Chocolate, soda, meat on Fridays- these were my go-to Lenten sacrifices. This theme of “lack” is misleading, though. Lent asks all of us to open our eyes, ears, hearts, and souls, and see that there is more to life than the material things on which we place value. By removing certain distractions from our lives, like chocolate, television, and twitter, we can focus on more different things. The money you save by not going out to eat could be put in the basket at church. The time you save by not being on Facebook might be used to say a rosary or pray in the Adoration chapel.

My post- Mardi Gras haze has finally lifted. Life is back to normal, there are spots open on the street to park, I managed to get the stains out of my Perlis polo and clean the dirt off of my brown boots. My diet no longer consists of hotdogs bought on street corners or waters bummed from neighbors on the parade route. The excess and revelry of Mardi Gras is exciting, but also exhausting, and I’m using this Lent to rest up and re-evaluate. I’m going the traditional Lenten route by giving up something (fried foods), but I’m also resolving to say yes to as many opportunities as I can. One side of Lent is mourning in anticipation of Christ’s crucifixion, but I believe a bigger part of it involves rejoicing in the upcoming resurrection. This Lent, I will be finding God in new things, something the Jesuit’s have taught me to do.

The flowers are starting to bloom. The church bells have never sounded so beautiful. Crawfish are fresh and ready to be peeled. The streets are decorated with shimmering beads from Mardi Gras’ past. Welcome to Lent in New Orleans.

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This is my third year in New Orleans, and I’ve attended some pretty awesome events—Voodoo Fest, Blues Fest, even comic book conventions. I’ve walked miles going to and from Mardi Gras parades and chomped on crawfish from Tulane’s CrawFest. However, every year, one event eludes me—the Po-Boy Festival on Oak Street.

A lot of people like to describe Oak Street as a second Magazine Street—that is, it’s an uptown street with great restaurants and quirky shops. It really has its own personality. Every year, they hold a festival celebrating the po-boy (a long sandwich like a sub, but so much better). Every year, I have all-day commitments on that weekend and can’t attend. The stories I’ve heard and the pictures I’ve seen, though, make it sound like paradise. Po-Boys of every kind—stuffed with mozzarella, provolone, roast beef, fried chicken, fried shrimp…everything—out for sale. The event is also a contest, with prizes handed out for categories like Best of Fest, Best Turkey/Chicken, Best Sausage, Best Seafood, Best Pork Beef, and others. Gambit readers have named the festival the Best Food Festival for the third year in a row, according to the Po-Boy Festival’s website.

Like every good festival, the Po-Boy Festival has live music and kids’ play activities. It also features a history panel. The Oak Street Po-Boy Festival takes place in November on dates announced after the New Orleans Saints’ game schedule has been announced. If you haven’t gone yet, you should go. Maybe you’ll see me there this November!

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I’ve lived in this city for four years and I’m still a tourist. I’ve been inside the Loyola bubble since day one, despite my best efforts. I’ve done community service, worked freelance jobs around the city, eaten just about everything New Orleans has to offer, and I can navigate the streets better than most of the people who actually drive them, but I’ll always get that look when I tell people I’m a student at Loyola.

Most bars, shops and street vendors still see me as a target even if I’ve been there more than any reasonable human being should in their entire life. Its part the stigma of being a student in a city driven by tourists; that we’re not here to live, we’re here to escape. Our lives were so boring that we decided we wanted to leave them and come here for a little while. Well, it’s not always Mardi Gras and po boys. There are a lot of people in New Orleans living in places they don’t feel safe in, working jobs they don’t like, and dealing with people who decided that their lives were so boring or tiresome that they’re going to take a break for awhile.

It’s not that escaping is bad. Taking a vacation is great if you can do it, but that’s where the look that I’m so used to getting comes from. A lot of the people in this city can’t escape, yet here I am asking for another po boy because the sandwiches where I come from just aren’t as good. As long as I’m a student here I’ll always have one foot in the city and one foot in Connecticut and that’s not where I want to be anymore.

I’m done with the look. And that doesn’t mean it’s time for the city to change, it’s time for me to change. I’m graduating this year and this is where I’m going to stay and really start my life. I’m leaving the Loyola bubble behind and becoming a part of this city. It’s not that I haven’t had a great time at Loyola or that I didn’t need the four years that I’ve spent here, it’s just time for me to call New Orleans home, not Loyola.

I’ll always love Loyola for everything it’s done for me just like I love being with my family in Connecticut, but it’s time to move on. I’m tired of being a reluctant tourist in a place I’ve wanted to call home for so long. I’m ready to end the fantasy that is New Orleans from the view of a college campus and get back to real life.

If I could do anything in New Orleans, I’d start a job I’m good at and move in to a house where the rent’s not too high.

Po boy shop proximity is also a plus.

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Throughout the last year many events have brought tourists to New Orleans from the Sugar bowl to the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon. Mardi Gras events and the Super bowl are on the minds of many Americans and New Orleanians this week.

As I take a trip on the streetcar line, I meet and talk to people from all over the United States. These tourists often remind me of captivated spirit during the first few months of my freshman year. Venturing from the Chicago area to New Orleans, I was amazed by many things including certain places, monuments, and restaurants throughout the city.

New Orleans is well known for the great food and restaurants available here.

The Food Network has a plethora of shows combining tourism and great restaurants like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri. This show inspired me and my family to visit the featured restaurants.

At the top of my list ranks:

Joey K’s located on Magazine St.

The Old Coffee Pot located on St. Peter Street

Mahoney’s Po-Boy Shop located on Magazine St.

La Pines Café located in Slidell, LA

Katie’s restaurant located on Iberville St.

Surrey’s Café located on Magazine St.

Sammy’s Food Service & Deli located on Elysian Fields Ave.

Parasol’s located on Constance St .

The Joint located on Mazant St.

Every place listed here, I have enjoyed eating and trying different dishes. Guy Fieri gives great recommendations, and I will continue to visit many great restaurants in New Orleans.

What is your favorite place to eat in New Orleans? How did you find it?

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In high school, I loved art. Art history, art class- I took every chance I could to learn more about it. I wanted to know about every artist and every art form, I wanted to go to every museum. I’m lucky because in Tampa (where I’m from) we had some really great exhibits. My favorite by far was the Dali Museum in Clearwater; I got to see Dali’s best works just 30 minutes from my house.

I came to New Orleans ready to soak up everything. I knew NOLA had tons and tons of galleries waiting to be explored, plenty of street artists, and some beautiful museums. But I got distracted by a new found weakness: music. I’d always loved music, but high school me did not have the freedom (and more importantly, the driver’s license) to go see shows. I discovered some wonderful Loyola bands, New Orleans acts, and even got to see some big names at the House of Blues and the Arena. I fell in love with brass and jazz; I couldn’t get enough of washboard zydeco. I highly recommend everyone in New Orleans take advantage of all the amazing concerts going on over Mardi Gras!

But here I am. A senior. 3 months left. And I can’t stop thinking about art, my first love. Last weekend I rode my bike from campus to the Quarter and I walked around to see all the local galleries. I came across the Craig Tracy Painted Alive Bodypainting Gallery- he’s an artist who paints on peoples bodies, creating elaborate landscapes and designs, and then photographs the results. It’s stunning work! After that, I walked around Jackson Square and decided to invest in a painting. For $30, I got a beautiful picture of a New Orleans trumpet player. I’m going to hang it up on my wall where ever I end up next year so I’ll never forget NOLA.

There’s one thing I still want to see: the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). They have an amazing exhibit going on right now called “Reinventing Nature: Art from the School of Fountainebleau.” The NOMA website describes the exhibit like this: “In the nineteenth century, French artists created prints, drawings, oil sketches, photographs, and paintings of the forest that challenged traditional conceptions of landscape depiction. This exhibition reconsiders the role of those works of art in the reinvention of nature in the Forest of Fontainebleau.” I NEED to see this before I graduate! I’ve been here for almost four years, and it’s time.

What have you always wanted to do in New Orleans but haven’t gotten around to it yet?

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Lisa Martin was the first professor I met at Loyola. I remember feeling fairly nervous about meeting her because her smile was movie-star worthy, so I kept letting people go in front of me until there was no one left. She introduced herself, helped me pick an extra class, and I mentioned in passing that I wanted to work in television when I grew up.

“Television is your thing?” she replied. “You’ll want to stick with me.”

I did. I immediately requested her as an advisor and took her class in the spring. I listened to a slew of her crazy stories. I looked through all of her pictures from Saints and Hornets games online. I wondered, with the rest of my class, how she would post on Facebook at four or five in the morning about the beautiful new day and still show up to class four hours later perfectly dressed, awake, movie-star grin on her face. She taught me several lessons besides how to tell a succinct and tight story—like always plan to get to your destination early, because somehow, something will make you late; or a well-phrased, enthusiastic question can turn an interview around.

Also, she can run a mean workout session. I haven’t done one of her classes yet, but I’ve heard great things (this is also why I’m afraid of doing the class).

One time, while I was in her office, I talked to her about my anxiety regarding the job market. She gave me advice that I haven’t forgotten: she told me not to think of myself as a statistic. If I wanted to make it in a profession where only 10% of the people succeed, I should work up to being in that 10%, not let the statistic discourage me.

Professor Martin made me feel so welcome during my first year at Loyola. Though I haven’t had a class with her since, I still drop into her office sometimes to ask how things are going. I always check my watch though—one does not simply talk to Professor Martin for ten minutes. At least half an hour later, we’ll have covered human rights, current events, and several of her fantastic vacation stories. She’s just a person you want to know, because after you spend a few hours with her, you realize you’re not going to meet another person like her again.

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I have been plagued with the topic of choosing a favorite professor all week long.

So… I have decided not to choose.

Loyola is bursting with dynamic, engaged, enthusiastic, and unique professors, so I would be doing a disservice to myself by limiting my list down to one women or man as my favorite.

Each professor has given me a different yet equally important experience that has shaped my time at Loyola.

An important lesson I learned my freshman year is a student: teacher relationship is a two- way street. It is not a mistake that Loyola has a student to faculty ratio of 11:1, and I believe this reflects in my experiences with professors at Loyola.

At the end of this semester, I will have crossed the half way mark on the road to graduation finishing four semesters and encountering 20 different individuals as professors, so below is my list attempting to do justice to the colorful professors I have encountered at Loyola:

When I started at Loyola in fall 2011, I believed I would solely be a Mass Communication major. Little did I know, I would meet a professor that would expand my outlook and point of view. His teaching style and material pushed me to become a double major in Political Science. I will always highly recommend Dr. Wiseman to any Loyola student. Throughout my two courses with Dr. Wiseman, I have learned lessons about myself as a student, but more importantly I have learned lessons as an ethical and contributing individual to society.

As a Mass Communication student, I was enrolled in the Introduction to Mass Communication course my freshman year. This course was taught by two professors, Dr. Cal and Professor Andrews. These professors helped me realize different misconceptions about Mass Communication, and the challenge of group work.

Dr. Tuley’s course material inspired me to make a lifestyle change. For many years, I had been on the borderline between omnivore and vegetarian. Her class pushed me far over this hypothetical line. I realized my choice in the supermarket echoed into the dark kill floors of the slaughterhouses in America. I realized that I could make a difference. I use material every day from the two courses that I have taken with Dr. Tuley including a powerful quote by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”  She chose thought provoking material that required critical thinking skills, and I am grateful to have taken these courses and met Dr. Tuley.

I do not know enough positive adjectives to describe Dr. Bednarz. Her courses have taught me to look past the surface, and discover Truth through an honest and ethical lens. From my experience, she will go the extra mile to help any student that walks into her classroom or office. Her compassion and intelligence is inspiring, and I believe she is a beautiful woman that has a deep appreciation for diversity and a sense of giftedness in all creation.

Professor De Gifis is an enthusiastic man that pushed me to take a creative and alternate point of view when studying World Civilizations. Dr. Dittrich is an appealing professor with a great discussion component to his philosophy courses. Dr. Zemmels is an intelligent professor that showed me the simplicity (not easiness) to the realm of digital communication.

My experience with the course Palestinians and Israelis have allowed me see different issues through an international and ethical perspective. Dr. Moazami is a cultured and kindhearted man that took time to care about me as an individual and discuss current issues, historical issues, and the importance of repetition in the writing process.

Dr. Bingham’s courses have invested my attention into creative simulation projects, and she attentively takes the time to answer questions with a complete answer. During her political science courses, I have enjoyed the kinesthetic aspect of her courses, and her genuine care for her students.

This semester my list has expanded to include the critical reasoning discussions in Dr. White’s course. The intense reporting lessons learned from Professor Giusti and Dr. Poepsel. The mind blogging course about feminist philosophy taught by Dr. Mui, and the ethical, professional, and engaging internship course taught by Dr. Duhe’.

Also, Dr. Bob Thomas has already taught me a lot about myself from the first few weeks of class this semester. From crucial lessons about the ethical treatment of the environment to lifelong lessons of the importance of continued learning and keeping an open mind will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I am very thankful for the relationships I have made at Loyola, and I plan for my list to continue to grow every semester!

After all this talk about favorite professors, I was pushed to reflect on a larger question. How does the size of Loyola impact student/ professor relationships?

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I’ve gone to Catholic school for most of my life, but I’ve never felt a very strong connection to the faith until I came to Loyola.

In the second semester of my freshman year I signed up for a class called “The Bible and The Media” thinking that I could knock out a religion credit while secretly studying what I really love: Journalism. Sr. Terri Bednarz, the course’s teacher, had a different plan for me though.

Over the course of about 4 months, Sr. Bednarz dismantled everything I thought I knew about my faith and made me question myself as a Catholic. This was the only time anything like this had happened in my life and it was by far the most fulfilling religious experience of my life.

Every other religion teacher I’ve had in my life has been perfectly content with me staring at my feet in mass and being able to count the commandments on my fingers. Sr. Bednarz has me looking up passages in the Bible that have been attributed to different subjects such as climate change, gay marriage and abortion rights.

She didn’t want us just taking her word on what they meant though. The class spent the semester each picking a passage, finding it in the earliest available version of the Bible and looking through it in a historical context that is often lost in translation. We all presented our findings and discussed each passage heavily in class.

This was the first time I’d really been in a class where students not only discussed their studies and religion openly, but did so in an incredibly civil way. I can’t think of a single time Sr. Bednarz had to stop us or set us straight, if anything she could get a little more caught up and passionate in the discussions than us.

“The Bible and The Media” is clearly the religious turning point in my life that turned me from a believer to a Catholic. I follow an interpretation of the Bible that is my own, but still follows the Church. I finally feel ready to discuss my faith and live as  Catholic in the modern world.

Thanks to Sr. Bednarz I’m not apathetic, I’m not a “Jesus-freak,” I’m not a sheep, I’m a Catholic. And I can say that with confidence and pride.

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This is my second year at Loyola and I have to say I’ve never been this excited about my schedule. Now that I’m four semesters in, I am almost done with my common curriculum classes so I  have more room in my schedule for my major classes.
This might be just being a little bias, which you will realize the irony in my statement in a few seconds, but I think the School of Mass Communication has the greatest professors… Did everyone get my joke?
But in all honesty, I absolutely love every single one of the professors I have had within my major.
I have a fantastic advisor, who never fails to make fun of me for being goofy but also never fails to provide the tissues when have my mid-semester meltdown, and all the subsequent freak outs. I have professors who knew my name within the first week, if they didn’t already.
This semester I find myself to be so much more motivated because I am in small classes that I love with professors who are incredibly knowledgeable. I like that my professors are passionate about what they are teaching and they take the time to get to know there students. Their passion is contagious and it makes me excited to go to class and do the assignments they give us.
I came from a high school where everyone knew everything about every one. The teachers probably taught your aunt, your cousin, or maybe even your mom and I love that I still have kind of have that even though I’m in college. I don’t feel like I’m going to school or just going to class, I feel like I am part of a big family.
Do you  have any teachers you will always remember? What are your favorite subjects?
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I’ve taken so many great classes here at Loyola, from courses for my economics major, to random electives, but by far the best classes are those I’ve taken through the University Honors Program. I encourage any incoming freshmen to apply to the program simply because the classes they’ll be exposed to will make their college experience that much more valuable.

I walked into my first Honors class, and English course, not sure of what to expect. It was my first day of college and I was so scared! The professor looked out at the students. “How many of you are freshmen?” All of us raised our hands. “Alright. Let’s jump right in, then.” Janelle Swarz quickly became my favorite teacher, and her class my favorite 3 hours of the week. She asked a lot of us- about one novel every two weeks, including in depth class discussions and literary papers. I worked hard but it never seemed like a chore. You know how some professors just have that ability to pull amazing work out of you? She had that ability, and because of her I grew more confident in my own ability to read and write analytically.

The class was called “Capturing the Self” and we tried to do just that- capture what it meant to have a self-identity. In the first book we read, “Haroun and the Sea of Stories” by Salman Rushdie, the main character asks his story-telling father the question “What’s the point of stories that aren’t even true?” and throughout the class we attempted to answer that question. As a group, we learned that stories, even made up ones, help us make points about our values, our society, who we want to be, who we think we are. They’re a means of expression when the truth might not convey the sentiment we need it too.

I’m grateful that I was randomly placed in this class by my advisor that first semester. A great professor, a great class, and great classmates! What’s your favorite class you’ve taken so far? Do you have any classes you’re wanting to take before you graduate?

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