8 Important Life Lessons I Learned at Loyola

My four years at Loyola were without a doubt the best of my life thus far. And as I neared my graduation and the end of my journey, I was able to look back at my first-year self and see just how much my experience at this university shaped me as an individual.

I wanted to share the most significant of these lessons with my fellow Greyhounds, wherever they are on their own journeys…

Students walking in front of the Alumni Memorial Chapel
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Take your time

I came to 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 specific job they were striving for.

Luckily, Loyola’s extensive core curriculum 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 that late in the game, but in reality there was plenty of time left! I even decided to declare a minor in the beginning of my senior year. There is no reason to feel pressured when it comes to deciding what you want to study or your career path. Arriving on campus with a set plan does not make a student superior. Take your time and enjoy the journey!

A student raises her hand while others look at a screen projection
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Learn to ask for help

I was really intimidated as a new student at Loyola. I felt that others were smarter than me, 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 in class as I could have during my first year.

The professors at Loyola are 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 surprised by how much better you feel after reaching out. Try not to spend your time stressing out about something that could 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.

A trolley passes in front of a historical building in Australia
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Travel

My decision to study abroad was one that I struggled with. I knew I wanted to go to Australia the moment I learned about the program, but I was extremely nervous about leaving the life I’d created at Loyola behind for a semester. Eight semesters is all we have on the Evergreen campus, and they are precious. But living and learning in Australia 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.

As it turns out, Australia was one of my most incredible life experiences. I left with a group of people I barely knew, and these same people became some of my best friends by the time we returned to Baltimore. I encourage anyone who has the chance to study abroad to seize the opportunity. 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. What’s more, 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 just approach it with an open mind and an open heart.

A student standing at a podium presenting to the class
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Don’t be afraid of public speaking

Presentations are a large part of the curriculum at Loyola. I was not accustomed to speaking in front of large groups before I went to college. 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 actually nothing to be afraid of. The professor was never judgmental, and my fellow classmates were in the same position. By my senior year, public speaking had 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.

Two students listening to the instructor and taking notes
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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.

So 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? Did you learn something you know you’ll apply to your life and career beyond college? If so, then be proud of all you accomplished!

Large red building in Baltimore along the harbor
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Explore your surroundings…

You may be familiar with the term “The Loyola Bubble.” Our campus is its own little world, and sometimes people do not realize all that exists outside of it. During my four years at Loyola, I learned to venture outside of that bubble and explore Baltimore and the many wonderful neighborhoods that make up the city. Once you drive off campus or take a bus to the Inner Harbor, you will discover 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.

A large number of students sitting at tables in a grassy field Students playing cornhole on the quad
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But don’t take for granted or miss out on what’s going on in your very own backyard

I admit I was not that person who attended campus events very often in the beginning. I soon learned that this was a mistake. From Midnight Breakfast to BBQs and comedy shows, concerts, and trips with OPTIONS (a club that takes students on trips to Broadway shows or to Hershey Park), there are fun, affordable things happening that are planned for you. Of course, there are a lot more than just those few, but you will discover the ones you enjoy the most—and meet some people you may not rub elbows with otherwise. 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.

Student sitting on bench with laptop, while other students walk on the quad in the background
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Cherish the present

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. Talk to people from class when you see them outside class. 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 holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Loyola University Maryland. As a student, she served in the Baltimore community at a local shelter and an elementary school, in addition to working in the office of academic affairs and as a committee member for OPTIONS. Originally from Montclair, N.J., today she works for Entercom, a broadcast media and entertainment company.