Daniel Kong, ’14, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago.
Q: Are you doing anything special for the holidays?
A: I’m going to my roommate’s house for Thanksgiving because his family is in the area. For Christmas, I’m going to see the Berke family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although it isn’t really a “holiday,” for Halloween I went down to a haunted house on a pier. Or at least, I should say I tried. There was too much wind, so the police came and shut it down. I still went to check it out, and the wind had small pieces of ice in it, so it sliced your skin.
Q: Oh right, what are your feelings about the Chicago winter weather?
A: I’m actually excited to see winter in full blast, because I want to experience it and say “I survived a Chi-town winter.” Anyways, we spend most of our time indoors so it doesn’t matter.
Q: What was your first impression of Loyola?
A: Loyola is super-Catholic religious. During orientation the school told us how we should have faith in God and how we should be benevolent and do great acts of charity.
On the more aesthetic side of things, the campus is waterfront on Lake Michigan, and our library has a massive glass wall that is opposite the lake. There is a public beach about a mile away from my dorm room, so when the weather was warmer, it was nice to go there.
Q: How are your classes?
A: My classes are less intense than AP classes. I’m taking Microeconomics, Business Information Systems, Psychology (where we talk about global issues) choir singing and computer science, in which we built Android apps.
The Android app class is built around doing things the textbook instructs us to do, but for our final project we design our own app. I’m going to create an app that uses QR codes to replace business cards.
Econ is my favorite class because it uses a rational way of thinking.
Q: Any classes you hate?
A: Psychology talks about societal issues, and it has a global focus. It’s super demanding though, and we have to write massive amounts of essays and the professor’s instructions aren’t that clear. But it is required if you are in the leadership community.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you?
A: I had a good shock when I realized how many AP credits I got from last year. I got 22 credits from my time at Country Day, because one of my class was worth three credits. I had over a year’s worth of credit already done.
Q: How is the Loyola campus?
A: There are two campuses; one is in downtown and the other is the main campus out in the semi-suburbs. The downtown campus is inside the Loop, a central ring of businesses that is the heart of the city.
Right beside the downtown campus are all these fancy car dealerships. Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Bentley, they all have their own dealerships and you can touch all the cars. I’m pretty sure they would let you test drive (one) too, but I haven’t tried.
The only bad thing about the downtown campus is that it takes 40 minutes via subway to go from the main one to the downtown one. The subway stop is right next to the main campus, and it’s named Loyola, so you really can’t miss it. You could take the bus, but if you get caught in traffic, it will take over an hour. Sometimes on the way to town I sleep on the train, and I have missed the station by a couple of stops.
Q: How would you rate Chicago versus your hometown Shanghai?
A: I feel like there are more cultural elements to Chicago: more history, more public art, just more culture in general. Shanghai just doesn’t have that to the same degree.
Q: Do you miss Sacramento?
A: I miss the suburban areas of Sacramento, the quietness compared to the big-city feel of Chicago. But the public transport here beats Sacramento by a mile.
Q: How about the professors? Are you being taught by TAs?
A: I haven’t even seen a TA since I got here. It has been all real professors. I can’t say having a professor is better definitively, because I haven’t had a TA teach me. But it is a plus if you are looking at Loyola.
Q: Now is the most important question: how is the food?
A: The food here is really special. But I’ve worked out like crazy trying to fight the Freshman 15, and it is working. Our dining halls are all-you-can-eat, so I really need to work hard and fight to maintain my weight. It’s super tempting and the food is delicious. It changes constantly, so you never get into a food rut.
My roommate is super skinny, so he is my goal. Since I have to wake up early every day, I guess you would say he is responsible for me keeping that amazing food from showing.
Q: How is Chicago pizza?
A: My favorite spot for a slice of Chi-town is Pete’s Pizza, a local place. It has stuffed pizza, which is your typical Chicago style. It is the crust first, then the cheese and then the sauce on top. Chicago pizza is way better than Sacramento, or New York style. But for local foods, it’s the Chicago Dog that is hands-down my favorite. It has pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, mustard. It has so many more flavors than a plain hot dog! You will never want a regular hot dog again.
Q: How’s the roommate and dorm situation?
A: My one roommate is in the ROTC, and he is very cool. Every morning he gets up at 6 a.m. and I get woken up with him, but it’s okay. I go and put in time at the gym.
The dorm room itself is nice, and it’s rather large for just two people. But some of the other people in the hall have tiny dorms. I think they were built as singles and made doubles.
Q: Have you met any students from China?
A: There aren’t that many that I know of. A lot of them are in the English as a Second Language program and I don’t have any common classes with them, so we might as well just be swimming in separate circles.
Q: Any advice for the Class of 2015?
A: When you go to college, be social! Explore wherever you are, and talk to people. Go to parties. Don’t get drunk, but do make an effort to hang out.