8 Important Things I Learned at Loyola

By Marisa Pizzulli, ’15  |  Photo by Peter Howard

My past four years at Loyola have, without a doubt, been the best of my life thus far.

When I reflect on my freshman self, I really am able to see just how much my experience at this university shaped me as an individual.

There have been quite a number of things that I have learned on my journey, but I will narrow it down to the eight that I think are the most significant. I hope that by shedding light on these, I can help future students get a head start!

1. Travel.

My decision to study abroad was one that I struggled with a lot. I knew I wanted to go to Australia the moment I learned about the program, but I did not think that it would actually happen. I was extremely nervous about leaving the life I created at Loyola behind. However, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After I applied and was accepted, I still was not sure whether I had the confidence to travel to the other side of the world. I went back and forth right up until the last deadline.

Australia was one of the most incredible experiences. Although I left with a group of people I did not know, they became some of my best friends by the time we returned home. I encourage anyone who has the ability to study abroad to absolutely take it. You will get to fully immerse yourself in a place so different from what you are used to. Those five months will change you as a person. Once I knew I was able to do something like this, it made me feel like I could truly tackle anything in my life if I approach it with the same positive attitude. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a single student who regretted their decision to study abroad!

2. Take your time.

I came into Loyola not having a clue as to what I wanted to do. It was sometimes difficult to listen to people who were already sure about their major and the career they wanted or a job they were striving for. Luckily, Loyola’s extensive core gave me the ability to not have to rush into any decision. I was able to take the required courses each semester until I realized what I wanted to do.

It was not until the beginning of my junior year that I chose to major in English. Some people would consider it late in the game, but in reality there was plenty of time left! I even decided to declare a minor the beginning of my senior year. My point is that there is no reason to feel pressured when it comes to deciding what you want to study. Being the first to know does not make a student superior. Take your time and enjoy the journey!

3. Ask for help.

When I came to Loyola as a first-year student, I was very intimidated. I felt that others were smarter than I and that I didn’t belong here. However, after each semester my confidence increased greatly.

The one thing that I regret is not speaking up as much as I could have during my first year. The professors at Loyola are always inviting and friendly. They want you to come to them for help when you need it. There is no need to feel embarrassed. You will be very surprised by how much better you feel after reaching out. Try not to spend your time stressing out about something that can easily be solved with a quick conversation. It definitely took me time to act on this—but once I did, it made all the difference.

4. Don’t fear public speaking.

Presentations are a large part of the curriculum at Loyola. I was not accustomed to speaking in front of large groups, especially not in front of a professor and my class. I would succumb to nerves and anxiety and let it get the best of me. It took me a few presentations to finally realize that there was truly nothing to be afraid of. The professor was never judgmental, and my fellow classmates were all in the same position.

Now that I am a senior, public speaking has become second nature. After four years of getting in front of the classroom, both alone and with groups, I finally feel I am able to do it without nearly as many nerves as I had in the beginning.

Don’t let this common fear get the best of you. Everyone is in the same boat, and if you remind yourself of that the whole experience will be much easier.

5. Be your own personal best.

There will always be people who you perceive as better, smarter, or stronger than yourself. It is important to focus on YOU. Don’t let intimidation bring you down or stop you from doing something that you want to do. Everyone has their own set of skills, strengths, and abilities. It is how you use them that truly matters.

Instead of worrying about how your grade compares to the person next to you, or who has a higher GPA, focus on what really matters: Are you happy with what you achieved? If you are, then be proud of all you accomplished!

The author on a trip to Australia

6. Explore the city of Baltimore.

Every student who attends this University is familiar with the term “The Loyola Bubble.” The campus is its own little world, and sometimes people do not realize all that exists outside of it. During my four years, I learned to venture outside of that bubble and explore the city of Baltimore itself. Once you drive off campus or take a bus to the Inner Harbor, you will see how there is so much more than the beautiful campus that won you over on your first visit!

Take the time to go for a walk, eat at many of the great restaurants in the harbor, and enjoy the art and scenery. I still have not visited every part of Baltimore, even after all my time here. There are so many hidden treasures throughout the city, and discovering them is part of the fun.

7. Don’t miss out on campus events.

I admit I was not that person who attended campus events very often in the beginning. I soon learned that this was a mistake. Activities such as Midnight Breakfast, barbeques, comedy shows, concerts, and trips with OPTIONS (a club that takes students on trips to Broadway shows or to Hershey Park) are all really fun things to do in your spare time. Of course there are a lot more than just those few, but you will discover the ones you enjoy the most. I think that sometimes students don’t realize that there is so much to do during the weekdays and weekends. You won’t be able to make it to every event, but when you do I promise you’ll have a good time.

8. Cherish the time you have here.

When college first started, I felt that I had all the time in the world. Graduation seemed like something that would never really arrive. I’m here to tell you that it goes fast! You do not realize it until you’re at the Graduation Fair picking up your cap and gown.

So remember on those days when you just want to sleep in and not leave your room that the time you have at Loyola is limited. Use your free time to sit on the Quad or take a walk to the Starbucks on campus. Enjoy living next to all your friends and taking that evening walk to Boulder for dinner.

College really was everything I thought it would be, because I took advantage of the time and opportunities I had.

Marisa Pizzulli, ’15, is an English major from Montclair, N.J.

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1 Comment

  • Posted by Jean Lee Cole | May 13, 2015

    So proud of you, Marisa!

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