I have been here for one month, exploring Belgium and Europe. So far, the 14 Loyola students in our group have been to France, Normandy, Paris, the Palace of Versailles, St. Michel, Dinant, Brussels, St. Malo, Germany, Oktoberfest, Brugge, and Gent.
As awesome as my adventures in Europe have been so far, I find myself missing Loyola.
Hanging above my bed at the Loyola International House is my green Loyola University Maryland flag. Every single day I see the flag, and the thought of Loyola comes to mind…
I find myself missing the Loyola community most. There is nothing like my friends and the professors at Loyola. Everyone truly cares, watches out for you, and wants you to succeed. No matter what, everyone always has your back.
It is different only communicating with friends from Loyola through Skype, Viber, and Facebook messenger… but two days ago, I was Skyping with my friend, who is currently at Loyola in Baltimore, and she put her phone on a chair at Starbucks in the Loyola student center so that people could stop and say hi to me as they passed by on their way to class. Words can describe how much I appreciated this little slice of home!
2) Hopkins Mass
Every Sunday night here in Belgium, I think about Hopkins Mass. I Imagine myself sitting on the floor, listening to Father Rossi’s incredible homilies and being surrounded by my family. There are no words to describe the love and community among the students at this Mass, and there is nothing else like the candlelit service.
I am seriously considering Skyping in for one of the Masses.
3) Ms. Diane
I miss walking through Boulder Garden Cafe each day and talking to Ms. Diane. Ms. Diane is our second mom and is always there for the Loyola Students. Could someone please give her a big hug for me?!
4) Being able to say “Hi” to everyone
It is not the same walking around Leuven, Belgium and not knowing anyone. Being able to leave your dorm and saying hi to over 15+ people on the way to class is not like any university. I would do anything to go back to Loyola for one day and be able to walk around and say hi to everyone. It is the little things in life.
5) Being Comfortable
Every single day I am extremely uncomfortable here. Everyday is a new experience and adventure. At Loyola I knew what was ahead. However, being uncomfortable has taught me a tremendous amount about myself. I am ALWAYS outside of my comfort zone no matter what.
6) Baltimore and Uber
From the Inner Harbor to Fells Point to Hampden, Baltimore is an incredible city that offers endless things for college students to do. I miss being able to easily get to one place to the other through Uber. With just the click of a button, transportation is arranged for you or a group.
Here in Belgium, it is very different. Here everyone rides bikes—everywhere.
Transportation is very stressful, especially to other countries. On our way to Oktoberfest, for example, we had to switch trains five times!
The academics at the Catholic University Leuven contrast with what I’m used to at Loyola. Most of my classes only have one exam at the end of the course, then that is your final grade. And I miss the small class size. The smallest class I had at Loyola had eight people. Here my smallest class has 60 people; the largest has 150 students. It is a learning process for me, but I am grateful to be experiencing two different academic perspectives.
Confession: I am a Chipotle addict. (In fact, this may be an understatement. The last week in the United States, I ate at Chipotle four times: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.) I have not eaten a Chipotle burrito for a month. I made Mexican food last night because I missed it so much. Can someone send me a Chipotle burrito care package?!
Other foods I am missing, in no particular order: the bagels from Roland Park, monkey bread from Miss Shirley’s, and the mushy cookies from Insomnia cookies (they are to die for).
9) The Swipe
The Loyola “swipe” is a gift from God: I can pay for my meals, receive post office credits, access my Evergreen account, and I have a key to various buildings—all in the palm of my hand. The swipe card is an incredible invention. I miss being able to go to Boulder Cafe and just swipe for food.
Here, I have to track all the money I spend, and where I spend it. If only Belgium restaurants and cafe’s accepted the Loyola Swipe…
10) Loyola at Night or Anytime
Sitting on the porch of the Humanities building and seeing the moon above the chapel… laying on Diane Jenkins field looking up at the stars… walking across the Charles Street bridge when it’s all lit up…
Loyola University Maryland is a beautiful university at all hours of the day.
I’ll end with a note to my fellow Greyhounds back in Baltimore: Loyola is a treasure! Enjoy every single second that Loyola has to offer. Do not take anything for granted.