Familiarize yourself with public transit.
Public transportation is going to be your best friend for the next four years so learn how to use it quickly. Not only will it help get you where you need to go, it’s the key to exploring Chicago without breaking the bank on Uber rides. Loyola’s proximity to the Red Line is a blessing in and of itself, but the local bus lines are great too. Just make sure you bring your mask and a respectful attitude. CTA workers are the backbone of this city.
Go outside. Get a breath of fresh air.
It’s easy to lose track of time while doing work in your dorm or apartment, and taking a break never hurts. Or at least crack a window. Aside from just taking some time off, Rogers Park is an incredible part of the city that offers an amazing selection of activities, public art and restaurants — so do yourself a favor and explore it. Chicago hero Ferris Bueller said it best: “if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Get out of your neighborhood bubble.
As we mentioned, the CTA is the key to the beautiful and diverse neighborhoods Chicago has to offer. Visit them. When you’ve been inside McGee’s once, you’ve pretty much explored Lincoln Park. Grab gyros in Greektown, admire colorful street art in Pilsen, go thrift shopping in Logan Square.
Attend your classes and save up absences.
Regardless of scholarships, it costs a lot of money to go to Loyola (and it isn’t getting any cheaper). Go to your classes, and if they allow for a certain number of absences, save them up. You never know when you’re going to need them — and if you don’t need them, you just get to take some nice breaks later on in the semester.
Join a student organization.
Actually join one, don’t just throw your name on the mailing list and ignore the emails all year. Not only are clubs one of the best ways to further your interests, but they’re where you find some built-in friends too. You may be too anxious to go to the meetings, but trust us — just go.
Don’t stress about making friends.
Moving to college is nerve wracking. It’s a scary, exciting time to leave your cocoon and enter what’s supposed to be “the best years of your life.” Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t make friends week one or two, and don’t think you’re alone in that either. It doesn’t matter how many new friends your peers from high school are posting on Instagram — making friends can be a slow process, and you’ll get there eventually.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
College is a whole different world from high school. The things you’re worried will make you seem weird will probably make you a friend or two, so don’t feel you need to change who you are to fit in. Chances are there’s somebody else with your niche interest, hobby or habit, and they’ll be happy to find someone like them too.
Find a spot to make your own on campus.
Have you seen the episode of “Gilmore Girls” where Rory gets territorial with a random tree and calls out a student for sitting under “her tree”? Well, don’t be like her. But we’re on a beautiful campus with plenty of cute nooks and crannies. Whether it’s the shaded trees by the lake, the quad or the steps of Dumbach, find a place you love to acclimate yourself to campus.
Living in a completely new country for an entire semester can sound nerve-wracking, especially considering the global pandemic we’re still in. But, as long as the programs are deemed safe by the university and it’s partners, take the chance and go for it. There probably won’t be another time in your life you’ll be able to drop everything and move to Italy or Vietnam for a few months. Not to be that “study abroad changed my life” type, but trust us, it’s well worth it.