Kyra LaFitte, ’19, (far right) lies in a park with other members of the Chinese Club at their "family" Thanksgiving. (Photo courtesy of LaFitte)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Kyra LaFitte, ’19, enjoys Japanese, Chinese clubs at LMU

Kyra LaFitte, ’19, majors in English at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles.

Q: Why did you choose LMU?

A: I really liked its location and that it’s not terribly far from home. I also looked up the top English schools in California, and LMU was in the top 10. 

Q: What’s the most surprising thing about your freshman year?

A: How relaxed everything is there. Teachers don’t really care if you don’t show up to class; they just mark you absent, which I’d been expecting. They assign a lot of homework, but they don’t really warn us when it will be due. So it is really relaxing if you can do what you want, but you have to pay attention. The clubs are also really chill. 

Q: Has LMU lived up to your expectations? 

A: The teachers are really nice, and you can go talk to them anytime. So I’m really glad that that lived up to (my expectations) because I had heard that teachers and students could connect. I also made a lot of friends there, so that was nice. 

Q: What do you like most about LMU?

A: I really like the activities I can do on the weekends. You’re never bored when you’re on campus, and if you don’t like what is going on on campus, a bunch of clubs are always having things off campus that you can attend.

After class, Kyra LaFitte, ’19, and two friends enjoy a boba (Taiwanese tea-based drink) in Culver City. (Photo courtesy of LaFitte)

Q: What clubs did you join?

A: I’m part of the Chinese Club, the Japanese Club and a Screenwriters of Color Club. For the Chinese Club, we went off campus a lot to eat. For the Lunar New Year, we went to a Chinese restaurant. The Japanese Club collaborates a lot with the Japanese clubs at other schools. We will go to Little Tokyo (in Los Angeles) or a bonfire, stuff like that.

Q: What classes are you taking? 

A: Last semester I took Chinese I, In Search of a Way, The Literature of the Frontier and Rhetorical Art, which is required for all students. This semester I’m taking Principles of Sociology; Ancient Epics, which is my first-year seminar; Chinese II; and Genre of Fiction, which is also required for my major. 

Q: What’s your favorite class?

A: Right now it’s Genre of Fiction because my teacher is really chill. She likes to have us read books and analyze them, and then our final is doing our own original writing. It feels like she’s really helping us grow as writers. 

Q: What’s your least favorite class? 

A: Besides religion, Sociology isn’t my favorite because it’s math-based, and I’m only taking it to fulfill a flag that I need. At LMU, we’re required to fulfill certain flags (that) are outside of our majors. Sociology fulfills my math flag, and my adviser said I should take it because, as an English major, it will be hard for me to fulfill that flag. 

Q: How large are your classes?

A: My biggest is around 30 kids, and my smallest is around 10. I do (like the small class size) because I get to know the people in my classes. It feels a little bit bigger than Country Day. 

Kyra LaFitte, ’19, (third row, center) poses with LMU’s Japanese Club, LMU Nikkei, at a bowling alley. (Photo courtesy of LaFitte)

Q: What’s the workload like?  

A: It’s not that much. It’s mostly just studying for tests and writing a lot of papers. It’s less work (than Country Day), but it’s also stuff that interests me more. 

Q: What do you like least about LMU?

A: I am not super fond of the religion classes, especially the lower-division ones, because they are kind of weird. You have to take one lower-division class and one upper-division class, and they can be on anything. The one I took was called In Search of a Way. It was technically about Christianity, but it was more about the pilgrimages. It met from 3 to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. No one wants to go to a class that late, especially on a Friday. My teacher also gave too much work and wasn’t very good about spacing it out. 

Q: Have you participated in any traditions? 

A: I have thrown people into the fountain. On your birthday, your friends will swing you three times and then toss you into the fountain at midnight. They were going to throw me in on my birthday, but that was before the coronavirus. 

Q: What was your housing like? 

A: I was in a building called Whelan. It was one of the older ones. It’s a coed dorm, but all the girls live on the third floor, so I had to go up three flights of stairs every day. I didn’t mind it, but I could hear people on both sides of the walls. I had one roommate, and we got along really well. 

Q: Did you have a lot of free time? What did you do when you weren’t in class?

A: I did have a lot of free time (before moving home on March 9). When I wasn’t in class, I was usually in the coffee shop because I really liked to work there. I also liked to meet up with friends for lunch and dinner. 

Q: Was it easy to go into LA?

A: LMU is on the outskirts of LA. You can go to the beach or go to concerts. It’s like 20 to 30 minutes away from everywhere, so it’s not a long Uber drive. I took Uber or traveled with my friends because a lot of them had cars. 

At a Thanksgiving celebration at the park, Kyra LaFitte, ’19, (first row, far right) takes a photo with the Chinese Club. (Photo courtesy of LaFitte)

Q: How was the transition to college?

A: It was a little hard because my teachers expected their class to be our main focus in the first semester. So it was a little hard to balance out the work. But Country Day helped prepare me for essays really well, which made a lot of the assignments easier. 

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?   

A: I left my room key in my dorm a couple of times. 

Q: How was the transition to online learning?

A: It’s been OK. It’s a lot harder to concentrate, and some teachers aren’t always clear, but at the end of the day, my stuff gets done. 

Q: How well did LMU handle the effects of the pandemic?

A: They took the necessary precautions, but I do think they should’ve allowed more time for people to move out of the dorms, since they only gave us two weeks. Classes officially started online on March 23, though.

Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2020?   

A: Manage your time well because it can bite you in the butt later. (For choosing a college), go with what your heart says. If you are always comparing different colleges to one particular school, then you should go to that one.

Five-star or subpar? 

Quality of classes: ★★★★☆

Student/teacher interaction: ★★★☆☆

Location: ★★★★★

Food: ★★☆☆☆

Housing: ★★★☆☆

Social scene: ★★★★☆

Clubs: ★★★★★

School spirit: ★★★☆☆

—By Anna Frankel