Loyola Week 2012 happens to fall during the week of the Presidential Election. This significant event allows the American people to choose their future. The right to vote is a right that Americans have fought many years for. This right remains a privilege to many people across the world. As an American woman, I appreciate every person that stood and continues to stand for my opportunity to cast my vote. This is a big event that will impact the future of Loyola, New Orleans, and the world. Each American citizen can participate in a small way; however, the end result will be a very significant decision. I appreciate my fellow Americans, and their decision to vote.

Appreciation of things great and small can be extended far beyond the 2012 Presidential election.

From the gift of waking up in the morning to celebrating the success of a loved one, the many events in our lives can be overshadowed by the stress of the world. Many Americans have differing opinions on the standards for great and small; however, we are called to be thankful and appreciate everything that comes from God.

Romans 8:28 says,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

This comforting promise shows that nothing is impossible for God.  He calls his followers to rejoice in the promise that if we love Him, and we do His work in this world, everything shall turn good for us in the end.

As we sit and dwell in stressful situations, remember God’s promise as He calls us to appreciate the things both Great and Small in our lives.

What do you appreciate in your life? How do you reflect your appreciation in your actions?

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What is contemplative vision formed by hope? What is it not? It’s not formed by despair, or cynicism. Stephen Colbert once said, “Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.” The word “hope” appears a lot today. It’s become part of our president’s identity. It’s the morals at the end of stories we’ve heard growing up. And, like any word, if you repeat it enough, it starts to lose its meaning. How can we strive for something that is, by nature, abstract and fleeting? But Stephen Colbert puts hope into concrete terms. Hope is saying yes, because in that affirmative response, there is expectation, which is the beginning of hope. The minute we say no—the minute we cut ourselves off from the world—we cut ourselves off from our biologically-given ability to change our communities and our surroundings. Hope is the beginning of all things.

That hope leads to something else—in this case, it leads to contemplative vision. Thinking vision. Except, to the Jesuits, contemplation is more than just thinking. It is a way of prayer and a way of life. By immersing yourself mentally and spiritually into a situation or even a line of thought, you come upon a new understanding of the world. Contemplative vision takes the source of hope and spins it into action with an indefinite ending point. It leads to perception, innovation—possibly even action. It is a constant process that can go in any direction. Many of us have had that one teacher who pushed us to take a thought one step further, that teacher who asked us, not unlike a small child does its parents, “But why is it that way?”

In light of the recent election, I’ve heard a lot of people express cynicism either while voting was happening or after the results were announced. “I can’t make a difference.” “Things will remain the same.” “History will repeat itself.” This ideal challenges us to try anyway, to expect more, and to put ourselves into action for something that we believe is right. This ideal is the prayer that I was forced to recite from 4th grade until 8th grade: I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.

There was a challenge in there. I just didn’t know it yet.

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The other day while I was walking back from a class in Miller, I took a second to read all the Jesuit Ideals. They tend to blend into the sidewalk; they’re easy to pass by without really seeing. Some of you reading this might not even know what I’m talking about- on the walkway from the library that extends to the side of Miller, the 12 Jesuit Ideals of Education are cemented into the sidewalk. These ideals represent all the things that Loyola strives to offer its students. As I’m nearing the midpoint of my final year at this school, I can look back and say that all of the ideals have touched my life in some way since I’ve lived here. But the ideal I most identify with, the ideal that inspires me and encourages me, has always been “Learning from Experience.”

When I first started at Loyola, I hesitated to put myself out there. I was so afraid of not being able to do something perfectly that I just didn’t do anything. My classes were fine, but my extracurricular were non-existent. I even shied away from friendships that might have proved trying. As I got more comfortable, I looked for different ways to get involved. I became friends with people who challenged me to see the world differently. I studied subjects I’d never been exposed to. I made lots of mistakes, but nothing that was too long lasting, and with the help of advisors, professors, and friends, I was able to overcome various hardships and come out better for it. I learned from experience, both my own and others, and now I feel ready to take on the world armed with knowledge.

In college we spend a lot of time in the classroom, but so much of what we learn comes after classes are over for the day. I feel so thankful to go to a school that not only provides me with the tools to study but also to test myself in real world situations, whether its through service learning, a tough teacher, or a friend who takes me to their religious service just to show me what its all about. The Jesuits call us to learn from experience, giving us the imperative to experience as much as possible in the hopes of growing from it. I’ve done that here, and now I’m ready to continue doing it in the post- college world.

Thanks, Loyola!

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A hidden Italian treasure: Il Posto Café is tucked away on Dryades St among a residential community. I grew up in an Italian community, and I am well trained to know the difference between authentic Italian cuisine and poorly made substitutes.

At Il Posto, many options make up the menu. Everything from bagels and yogurt to pressed panini’s and grilled cheese sandwiches.  The choice was difficult to make, but my first selection was a Milano, one of the pressed panini’s.  The Milano is comprised of sopressata, fontina tomatoes & Balsamic dressing on ciabatta. This Balsamic dressing had an emphasis on distinctive flavors and quality which put the panini over the top in my opinion. Also, I ordered a bowl of tomato basil soup.

An added bonus to this restaurant was that the chef did a wonderful job modifying the sandwich to fit my vegetarian lifestyle. New Orleans is not a city filled with vegetarians, so their willingness to modify menu options shows great customer service and an inviting atmosphere.

This meal rocked all of my senses. From the aromas in the tomato basil soup to the crisp snap of the salad, my meal ended with an empty plate but a full stomach. Oftentimes after meals, I find myself scavenging for snacks, but my stomach remained full for the entire night. After reflecting upon this meal, I was felt satisfied. I wish that after all meals I could focus on other things….

Il Posto had a flaw it would be the slow turnover time with meals, but it is worth the wait.

Next time your group of friends wants to try something new consider “the place” which literally means Il Posto in Italian.

The hours of Il Posto are:  Tuesday-Friday 7AM-9PM, Saturday 8AM-9PM and Sunday 8AM-3PM.

 

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The stereotype of the broke college student is pretty justified. I’ve never struggled with tuition, but my savings don’t exactly run deep. To make up for my lack of cash I work a couple part-time jobs and any extra spending money I pull from them gets stashed away where I can’t touch it at any bar or festival where the mood strikes me. I’m not saving it for a car or an apartment though; that’s papa’s eating money.
I’m no stranger to the nearby poboy shops and pizza chains, but if I manage to find a date — it’s white-table cloth time. That’s where Rue 127 comes in.
The queen of New Orleans cuisine, Leah Chase, personally recommended it, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
I went on a Tuesday night and was seated immediately. The restaurant itself is a small venue with original art hung on every wall. White tablecloths and small clear vases with a couple flowers decorate each table. For larger groups there’s a main dining room with a window looking into the kitchen, but if you’re trying to play it cool and romance it up they’ve got a small side hall with a couple tables set for two.
The waitress was quick to grab my date and I some drinks. I didn’t linger on their wine and cocktail menus because I knew I needed to keep my wits about me, but their beer menu was more than I could’ve hoped for. It was relatively small compared to most restaurants around the city, but the selection, just like the regular menu, was very deliberate. They had the local classic, Abita Amber, but apart from that I didn’t recognize a thing. Each beer was at a different point of the spectrum: a lager, a porter, a stout, an IPA, and I’m sure each was just as delicious as the Meantime Coffee Porter I ended up with.
I matched this dark-creamy brew with some gumbo. This was the first time I’d seen gumbo served with potato salad instead of rice (horseradish potato salad to be exact), and I have no clue why anyone would do it any other way. It was spicy, creamy and savory and had the best consistency I’ve ever found in any gumbo.
I followed it up with their rabbit pot pie cooked with leeks and radishes and topped with their homemade cornbread. I don’t know if I’ll ever think rabbits are cute again, because apparently they’re way more delicious than they are fluffy. My date picked up the roasted chicken with mac and cheese and brussel sprouts. She loved the chicken, but said the mac and cheese could’ve been cheesier. Then again, that’s how most people feel about pretty much every food.
I personally took care of the brussel sprouts. I’ve never like them before. Ever since I was too small to see over the table without a booster seat brussel sprouts have been known as some horrible stink-weed sent to ruin all food that comes in contact with it, but not these. These brussel sprouts were heaven sent. I have no clue what they were cooked in or why the melted in my mouth like they did, but I can only assume they soaked in unicorn tears: the rarest and most delicious tears.
At this point I’m completely satisfied, but it wouldn’t be a proper date without dessert. My date went with the s’mores brownie. It came out intricately plated with some of the moistest brownies I’ve ever witnessed and globs of toasted marshmallow and graham crackers. I went for the deep-fried cupcakes: crispy balls of devils food cake and frosting dipped in either crème fraiche or nutella and peanut sauce. I don’t think it’s necessary to write about how delicious something called a “deep-fried cupcake” is — so let’s leave it at that.
At about $25 a plate, this is about a once-a-month style restaurant at the most for most college students, myself included, but it’s so worth it.
I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a better date and I attribute that completely to Rue 127 because I definitely blew it. I avoided a goodnight kiss at all costs to let that sweet cupcake flavor linger just a little longer.

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New Orleans is a place known for it’s delicious food and being from here I can attest that the food choices here are unbelievable.

One of my favorite places opened in August 2011 on Freret Street: The Company Burger.

The Company Burger logo

One of the most awesome things about Company Burger is that they make their own ingredients. The pickles, the mayo, the hand-cut fries, and the battered-to-order onion rings are all made right there. The mayo bar at Company Burger is also one of the coolest things. There are eight flavors ranging from bacon to chipotle.

The menu is pretty simple, with a few unique additions available, like the fried egg. The sides offered are the company fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, or tater tots.

The Single with tater tots

The burgers only come with cheese, onions, pickles, and of course the patties ranging from 5.5-6.5 oz.

The Company Burger also offers other options including the lamb and turkey burgers, as well as the company link, a beef hot dog, or grilled cheese.

The prices range from five to eight dollars and another two for a side.

The Company Burger’s food is delicious and the atmosphere is fun and always buzzing. So, if you’re looking for great food on a college student’s budget, or even just great food, The Company Burger may be the place for you.

What are your favorite things about The Company Burger? Do you have any other favorite burger places in the city?

 

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I’m writing this blog post from a cozy little nest my friends have built in the library for finals week. I say they built it and not we built it because for the first time in my three years at Loyola, finals week is actually pretty manageable.

I’ve had papers or final projects due in every class and exams coming up, but thankfully they’ve been spread out almost perfectly so that I can write, study and most impressively; sleep.
This merciful finals schedule is no miracle, I actually helped map it out to keep myself sane.
Most professors have no desire to make you pull all-nighters so that you can scrape by using information you barely remember to write a paper on a topic you’ll despise for the rest of your life for what it did to you. Instead, they probably want you to learn something from your final assignment and maybe even get enough sleep to dream about it. As crazy as it seems while watching people suffer through finals, some students might actually want that too.
You can pull off this unlikely phenomenon, but you’ve got to start working for it at the beginning of the semester. I’m not talking about sucking up to your professor or brown nosing your way to an A, I mean actually communicating with them all year.
Every professor is required to have office hours, meaning they’re practically forced to talk to you and help you if you ask them for it, so why not take advantage of it? Show your professors that you care and that you’re putting the time they want you to into their classes and they might be willing to give you a little more time when you need it.
At the same time, you might even do better in class. Getting some personal advice and guidance for tests and projects can only help and make your life easier. Loyola is a fairly small school, giving students the opportunity to meet with their teachers personally and be an actual person in their eyes, not just a number. Nobody wants to help a number. For writing types like myself they’ve been the bane of our academic existence since elementary school. I’d personally throw any number that came to me for help off the nearest bridge to put it out of its misery, but for a fellow human? I could cut them some slack. I’m sure your professors would do the same.

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Its finals week fall 2012, and I’m losing my mind. I’m not going to tell you how to use your time effectively or what foods to eat to maximize brain power. I’m not going to harp about the benefits of sleeping 7 hours a night or exercising to reduce stress. Instead, I’m going to show you what a typical night at the library looks like for me. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

9:03pm Walk into library. Make way to the living room area, stop and chat at a table of cute boys.

9:08 Continue walking to the back of the 1st floor, sit down at a table in the “quiet” section of the floor.

9:09 Pull out computer, open Facebook.

9:10 Update status to “Studying hard in the library! Come study with me!”

9:11 Open Twitter. Tweet “About to be so productive! #finals2012 #monroelibrary”

9:12 Still on Facebook.

9:20 Bathroom break! Stop at the table of cute boys again.

9:30 Open up a word document. Type my name, the class, professor’s name, and   date in the upper left hand corner.

9:32 Stare at blank word document.

9:33 Type title of essay in bold at the top of the page.

9:34 Check Facebook. No notifications.

9:45 Type introduction paragraph of essay due tomorrow morning at 9:30am.

10:01 Table is approached by friend that I haven’t seen since lunch. Catch up for a few minutes.

10:09 Back to essay! Second paragraph done.

10:18 Check Facebook. Still no notifications.

10:19 Take an artsy picture of my books and a highlighter and post it on Instagram.

10:20 Tweet “Rocking this essay. Let’s keep the party going! #clubmonroe”

10:21 Stare at essay. Pray for inspiration.

10:24 Look up essay instructions. Realize it needs to be 5 pages long. Have a mini panic attack.

10:32 Complain to friends about how much work I have to do.

10:34 Text mom to inform her that I’m dropping out of college.

10:35 Bathroom break. Walk all the way to the second floor bathrooms just for an “adventure.”

10:37 Mom texts back “haha u so fnny my dghtr! Stdy hrd!”

10:38 Walk back to my table and check my Facebook. No notifications.

10:40 Type a little more of my essay.

10:51 Go on pinterest, search for easy summer hairstyles.

10:55 Play a few rounds of “Scramble with Friends.” Win none of them.

11:03 Essay.

11:11 Make a wish that the essay will magically finish itself.

11:12 Write a witty Tweet about the essay magically finishing itself.

11:13 Instagram a picture of a single highlighted word on a piece of looseleaf. #artsy

11:15 Ask my friend to give me a back massage.

11:16 Friend tells me to do my essay.

11:17 Go on Facebook. Stalk my little sister’s best friend from kindergarten.

12:01 Look at the time. Realize I just spent 45 minutes on FB. Have second mini freak out of the night.

12:02 ESSAY. BEAST IT OUT.

12:25 Bathroom break. Cute boys aren’t in the library anymore:(

12:28 Write some more of my essay! Silently congratulate myself on my productivity.

12:44 Zone out for a few minutes.

12:47 Facebook.

12:48 Twitter.

12:49 Instagram.

12:50 Essay.

12:51 Facebook.

12:52 Essay.

1:15 Facebook.

1:21 Check essay’s word count. Realize all I have left is the conclusion! Go on Facebook.

1:32 Try to formulate coherent sentences for conclusion. Struggling.

1:35 Ask friend to write my conclusion. Friend declines.

1:36 Text dad and inform him of my decision to drop out of school.

1:37 Realize that I just texted my dad at almost 2am, feel a slight sense of embarrassment.

1:38 Write a few more sloppy sentences for my essay.

1:40 Decide to call it a night and wake up early to finish essay tomorrow morning.

1:41 Check Facebook.

1:42 Send a goodnight tweet.

1:44 Pack up bags and head home.

While this is mostly intended as satire, I really do struggle to remove myself from social media and focus on the task at hand. How do you help yourself to stay focused?

PS- I did manage to finish my essay and get an A on it!

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Finals are coming to a close this week, and I have summer on my mind.

Summer for me has always been a time to catch up on all the books I’ve wanted to read for fun, and to see all the movies I missed while I was working hard in school. I love the time to just relax and spend time doing nothing if that is what you want to do. I also use my summers to catch up on my work-outs that I let take the backseat while focusing on finishing up the semester. Summer is a great time to get in shape because you have so much free time, and the pool is a great way to burn calorie and escape the heat.

Summer is also a great time to travel with the family, and to go visit friends who live somewhere else.

For me, summer is a time to do all the things I forget about during the school year, or I put other priorities before them. Summer is my chance to do all the things I want to do but never have the time.

What are your plans for the summer? Are you traveling to an interesting place?

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Finals week is probably the most stressful week for everyone. There are a lot of tears and the anxiety in the air is almost tangible.

The way I try to look at finals is that I have done the work all semester so I should be familiar with the material. Studying for the final should be nothing more than just a refresher on the things I have already learned.  I find that if I have that mind set when I sit down to study I actually start to feel positive about the final. I think “this isn’t so bad, I can do this.” As long as you are putting forth the effort, finals should not be a problem.

Now, for those classes where you have no clue what is going on, those are little more tricky to tackle. You just have to go into studying with a positive attitude and the thought that you can conquer anything you put your mind to. You might even find yourself saying, “I get this. I am going to rock this final.’

I really believe the key to be successful during finals is the way you approach the situation. If you come in saying you are going to fail, then when you were studying you weren’t focusing on learning the material, you were worried about failing. If you go in saying I know this and I understand, you will be able to concentrate because you are feeling positive, and you will most likely rock your finals.

Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep during finals week. You should not be staying up until 4 am or even pulling all-nighters to study the material. When you don’t sleep, you aren’t able to focus and chances are you aren’t retaining any of the material. You also don’t want to over-sleep and miss your final, or worse fall asleep in the middle.

Your mental and physical health play an important role in your performance, so take care of yourself and think positive, and you will ace all of your finals.

Do you have a particular study habit that you find helps you to retain information and be positive?

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