National September 11 Memorial and Museum

by Ally O'Connor

    While in New York City last year, I had a chance to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The experience of walking around the memorial fountains and through pieces of the fallen buildings and the buildings’ footprints, hearing voice recordings of men and women aboard the four planes or in the Twin Towers, and seeing an even more personal side of the devastating event was chilling.

    The lobby of the museum reminds visitors of a more general summary of the terrorist attacks, telling the story of the four hijacked planes that flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania. The entrance also has a wall-sized image of the perfect blue Manhattan skyline just minutes before the attack, captured by an amateur photographer who was simply chronicling a beautiful day.

    Following the lobby area, the museum leads multiple stories down below ground level, to the base of the famous fountains, where visitors can see the roots of both buildings, pieces of concrete and metal that once held up the Twin Towers. Standing in the exact spots where such devastation occurred makes the museum experience even more emotional. It is heartbreaking to know that so many innocent people died where I stood.

    The two parts of the museum are built inside of the remaining concrete foundation, exactly where each of the North and South towers once stood. The North Tower footprint holds the historical exhibition, that explores the events that led up to the attacks, chronicles the the day of the attacks, and describes what occurred after the attacks. Because 9/11 took place only a little over sixteen years ago, technology was advanced enough at that time that the museum is truly able to place you back in that day. There are television screens all around with endless loops of videos of news stations and live television shows interrupting their planned programs to announce that the first plane had flown into the North Tower, and displays where I could pick up phones to listen to peoples’ last conversations or radio transmissions. Listening to flight attendants in the first plane as they came to understand the situation was terrifying. I remember one female flight attendant sounding so afraid and informing whoever was listening that they were flying very low. In this room, I also remember listening to a message that a man left his wife, letting her know that his flight had been hijacked and he was not sure if he would make it home. His voice was shockingly even in tone as he told her how much he loved her and his family, and encouraged them all to “go do good.”

    As my family and I progressed through the historical exhibition we found in-depth research on the planning of the attacks by al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. It was frightening to imagine how this group could in any way rationalize killing so many people. Something that caught my eye in this section was a video of the terrorists on one of the four flights proceeding through airport security: a circle identified the two men as they were checked and then walked away calmly to commit a heinous crime.

    The museum contained thousands of graphic images that made my stomach turn. I watched people jump from the towers above the points of impact because they had determined that there was no way out. I saw videos from the streets and heard people scream.  It is so hard to believe that it was real and that these innocent people will never get their lives back.

    One image from the North side of the museum still has not left my mind. There were walls and rooms devoted to New York City Police and Firefighters, and on one wall there was a photo taken of a set of stairs inside a tower. In the photograph, there was a line of employees rushing down the stairs, while a young firefighter was rushing up. He couldn't have been older than I am now. Next to the photo was a quote on the wall from one of the employees who made it safely out of the building, but observed this young man on his way down: “I knew that he was going up to die, and I was going down to live.” 343 Firefighters lost their lives that day, altruistically helping and saving others. I will never forget that young firefighter’s face.

    The second half of the museum, within the footprint of the South Tower is the memorial exhibition. The walls are covered with the faces of the 2,996 men and women who died as a result of this act of terror. In the middle of the exhibition, there was a dark room with a projector screen that endlessly listed the deceased. The film listed each person’s full name and showed pictures of them with their families and friends. It also included a short paragraph about each person’s age, job, interests, and other personal information. Some individuals even had short audio clips from family members talking about their loved one’s lives. It was mesmerizing to get to know these people even in the smallest way, to see their children or their hobby of skiing with old friends. They are real, but they are gone.

    The National September 11 Memorial and Museum pays tribute to all of these people in the most respectful way. It is an emotionally challenging location to visit, but well worth one’s time. In the middle of the museum and on a background of 2,996 individually colored blue tiles (representing each unique person lost and that morning’s blue sky) is a phrase by Virgil: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” These people and this day will never be forgotten—the lost will be honored forever.


Senior Year Wraps up with an Art Show

By Tessie Berghoff

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As a studio art major, I have been looking forward to and working toward my senior exhibition since I was a bright-eyed freshman. I started building on my idea especially last year when I dove into mixed media and started incorporating embroidery in my work. Countless hours of trial and error, stitching, and carpal tunnel syndrome from stitching later, I finished my series “Nostalgia.” Below is a little bit about my work and some photos.

    My work features areas of my grandmother’s home, the same home where my mom was raised, and where I spent a great deal of my childhood. In these scenes, I focus on places that hold intimate memories of a large family.

I use the mediums of acrylic paint, embroidery, and watercolor to portray the emotion associated with these rooms. Each space hosts different memories; from the dining room that held countless Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to the bedroom where each of her many grandkids spent a sick day in bed with Grams. I work with great care and reverence knowing these rooms hold the history and love of my family. Hand-embroidery reflects this reverence and serves to highlight the constructs of time and nostalgia as they relate to personal spaces and memory. The embroidery bears homage to my grandma’s history and the rich history of women everywhere. By spending hours sewing into my paintings, I have brought my grandma’s dedication to her family to life.

These works are gestures of gratitude to my grandma and all the women in my family who have taught me the values of patience, fortitude, and love. 

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PSA: the show is open until June 15 in the Dowd gallery if you want to check out my work and the work of my amazing peers.

Mentally breaking down my identity

By Giannina Ong

It's not everyday that our university, Santa Clara University, posts to Facebook boasting about you, a student, as such: "Daughter of two immigrants, one a Bronco. Baptized in the Mission Church. Captain of the Women's Tennis Team. Triple major. Hackworth fellow." 

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Over the last two years, I, as a nonfiction editor, have encouraged publishing non-normative narratives. I’ve asked my authors to be compassionate, empathetic, and reflective following in the Jesuit tradition; I’ve also asked that they display their vulnerability. Now, I turn the tables on myself; for, it is high time I become radically vulnerable myself. (TW: depression, mental health, suicide, eating disorders, etc.)

Concerning the Facebook post: I am all those things. And I am honored to be a representation of my university. But I am much more than the stereotypical, overachieving Asian-American that post’s caption makes me out to be. I feel the need to not only (1) break the mold that construes hard work for Asian-Americans as second nature—believe me, I love tennis now, but I still hate to sweat—but (2) talk about the uglier realities of being a woman of color, a student, an undergraduate, and most of all a human and citizen of the world. 

For those who study theory, I live within the tensions of my reality: specifically, the tension between wanting to succeed and highlighting hardships and inequalities. Society—and in this case, university relations—has deemed my life narrative as more inspiring by hiding these challenges and focusing on the accolades I have received. Aside from daily challenges and the structural issues of our society—which I would love to discuss with all of you in another essay, one battle I face everyday is that of mental health: dyslexia haunted my childhood; depression, suicidal ideation, and body dysmorphia my teenage years; and now, my latest battle remains unnamed, like many other mental health concerns faced by the people in our world: 

Every few weeks, I hit a wall. Sometimes literally, I will punch a wall or break a tennis racket. But typically, it’s panic attacks, intense sadness, dark moods, inability to function, etc. 

  • Because I am a woman, concerned people like to chalk these issues up to the unpredictability of hormones; yet hold me to a standard of proper femininity with no outlet for aggression. 
  • Because I have been molded into a model Asian-American, having been preached to about hard work and perseverance going hand-in-hand with privilege and opportunity from my immigrant parents, I always keep in mind that I must take advantage of everything that I have been given and to chase every dream I have down. 
  • Because I am an NCAA D1 tennis player who has always struggled to run sprints and breathe while performing athletically, I had been on prescription medication to aid the opening rather than seizing of the bronchioles in my lungs, with the adverse side effect of depression being a possibility. 
  • Because of the social justice-oriented and Jesuit education I have been blessed with, I am reminded constantly of those who have less than I do and feel the need to not complain, because I, being college-educated, am complicit in the systems of oppression.

However, this “Giannina,” an example of her “model minority,” sold to the public is a flat, paper doll version of me: highlighting my successes, my diversity, and my spirituality. She is an impossibility. 

I am flawed, complicit in a system entangled in its oppressions, and striving not only to better myself to be a better self. I find that my Catholicism is in conflict with my feminism. My loyalty to family in combination with a social justice consciousness reinforces the privileges I have and my ambition. I find that all those bullet points are just one side of a coin in which I am neglecting my own needs and especially, my mental health. There are only so many paradoxes one brain and body can hold.

Through all these ironies, I strive: some days, the negative effects arise only when I am stuck in traffic through yelling at another driver, honking my horns, being that person; other days, it's violent and consumes me. I am immobilized for days, can't get out of bed, and rarely take a shower, a total 360 from the girl who never goes to bed without clean freshly washed feet. Once again, there are two sides to every coin.

During one tennis season, I was hurting from a series of hard workouts, but did not want to stop training in fear of being left behind or looked over as “not ready” to be a starter in a match. I asked myself and the trainers, "How much pain is too much pain?" 

The mantra of "No pain, no gain" looms in every athlete's mind. This same sentiment follows me in all aspects of my life: I pushed and pushed myself until I was so efficient, so productive that my mind could write essays in my sleep (not a figure of speech). It is this same celebrated perseverance that allows me take on a load of 25-27 units a quarter and to knock out the only paper out of 5 that I had to leave until the night before it's due during finals week and then stay up straight for 36 hours in order to take a final the next day. 

The same strength of mind allows me to wake up and practice at 8:30 a.m. then knock out three 100 minute classes in a row without a lunch break then take two 90 minute meetings right after. This same brand of perseverance had me weighing just over 90 pounds my senior year of high school. 

Mental health issues affect not only the best of us, but the best in us. It is truly two-sides of the same coin. On the flip side, it's this “je n’ais se quoi” that helps me get through long three set matches when the team’s win hinges on my performance, 3 Roddick 17s—look them up—in a row, and writing essays lay out a persuasive argument over 25 pages. The difference is so subtle, perhaps even just one interaction over the course of the day, that changes whether I go to bed with ideas popping into my head or crying my eyes out, both sleepless nights.

One look I get often is along the lines of "You are crazy" when I tell them I am a triple-major. Like I did it to myself. The reality is I love everything I do; being a student is part of my identity and I am proud of it. Even W. Kamau Bell, our current artist in residence, filled his book title with identifiers: The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-up Comedian. Yet despite being willing to label himself with all these identities, we all feel safer obscuring our mental state. But then again, perhaps, Bell simply has no mental health concerns to share with us, being that he is a comedian (no offense!). 

We feel more comfortable blaming other issues, hormones or teenage—now evolved into twenty-something—angst, than embracing the word “crazy,” because it’s more than pejorative, it’s taboo. 

The “mad black woman,” the bald-Britney-wielding-an-umbrella, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, “I dumped my girlfriend because she’s crazy,” etc. These characterizations of mentally unstable figures cannot be accepted as normal people, because to us, they are just one jump, hop, and a step away from those who are mass shooters, serial killers, and what we would imagine as “psychopathic” Hannibal Lecters. 

But mental health is something that affects everyone. Even when we are of a “normal” healthy mental state, we are considered content or happy. However, we do not have vocabulary for us to communicate our mental states without sounding “crazy,” per se. In fact, even in nonfiction, we rarely get submissions that deal with mental health. Furthermore, the only non/less pejorative term I can use is “mental health,” because any other terminology would read as a call for help or a danger to society. 

At the Santa Clara Review, we have an ironic and unofficial mission statement that the pieces we publish must be "dark enough for the Review." At a history conference, I overheard a student proclaiming that "it's always the dark essays that win prizes." Mental health issues, aside from other “darker” topics, are not “dark” or depressing issues; they are overly prevalent and pressing concerns that have not been aired. The only darkness when discussing these issues are the shadows that obstruct our ability to have conversations about topics, like mental health, without sounding the alarm. 

I, for one, want to reappropriate the term “maniac”; not necessarily a reclamation of the phrase, but mania describes the chaos of knowing that at one moment I am this and the very next I am that. Mania is how I can utilize my mental state to both be the most efficient person I know, but also be overwhelmed with ideas and drown in the weight of the world. Of course, it is not a clinical, psychological usage of mania, but we need to start creating a vocabulary that allows more people to voice their concerns without fear of being hospitalized or raising the fears of their loved ones. By naming it, I am reclaiming its power over me and owning it as a part of my fluid identity. 

Yes, I have moments of mental instability and that is normal. My wish is that when we discuss who I am, I am not depicted as a unique, totem of my race, privileged woman able to conquer any task without a sweat, but a peer who is exposed to the same, similar, and silent realities as others. 

The Man Who Visits Disneyland Everyday

   By Ally O'Connor

 Over Christmas break, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Disneyland with my parents. Our family of three has been “Disney-obsessed” for as long as I can remember, taking any break in work or school to visit a Disney park. While I have met numerous other individuals with a similar love for the Disney company and its theme parks, I have never met anyone like Peter Tu.

    Tu has visited Disneyland almost every day for the past sixteen years.  Since his retirement, Disneyland has become a part of his regular daily routine. When my parents and I spotted him for the first time this trip and asked Disney cast members about Tu and his habits, we were shocked to have never noticed him in the parks before. We discovered that he typically visits Disneyland for two hours in the morning before the larger crowds arrive, and is easy to find as he skips every line and has a secret handshake with all of the Disney cast members. First, Tu claps rhythmically as he approaches a ride, then is joined in the clapping by surrounding cast members, and finally once at a ride’s entrance, Tu executes a short secret handshake with a nearby cast member that culminates in a double thumbs up and the biggest smile.

    Tu makes everyone happy and has truly become an integral part of Disneyland. Every cast member knows him by name and Tu can always be seen on his specific loop around the park. After the first morning that my parents and I both encountered and learned about Tu, we began to see him everywhere. Still shocked that we had never noticed him before, the small, fedora-wearing, elderly Asian gentleman was suddenly everywhere!

    Months after my trip, as I think back on Peter Tu, I smile knowing that he is still enjoying Disneyland. I do not know much about retirement, but I believe that he is one of the happiest retired people that I have ever seen. Tu puts a smile on the faces of those around him and takes such delight from a walk down “Main Street” or a ride on “The Jungle Cruise.” I have always been a strong supporter of Disneyland and love seeing what joy that special place can offer, and in Peter Tu’s case, I love seeing all of the smiles that a kind elderly man can give back.


By Ally O'Connor

    Following my previous post about the Broadway musical Anastasia, I thought I would review the other, and even more famous, new musical that I had a chance to see on my recent trip to New York City — Hamilton. While I loved Anastasia and found it to be a brilliant remake of an old animated film, Hamilton was on another level.

    Composed entirely of song and rap, the musical follows the life story of the American Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. To the musical’s benefit, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda chose color-conscious casting of non-white actors to play the Founding Fathers and other historical figures. In addition, I was glad to see women in the ensemble portraying men and male soldiers at different points in the story. All of Miranda’s choices in terms of character design were unexpected, intricate, and perfect. The multiracial cast of Founding Fathers rapping was far from the American reality of prim and proper men in powdered white wigs; however, as Miranda once described, Hamilton is “the story of America then, told by America now.” This more current retelling of American history draws audience members into the story because they can now more truly connect with distant historical figures like Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

    In terms of the music, there was not a single song that I disliked. Everything was off the charts, simply fantastic. To note just a few of my favorite musical numbers, I especially enjoyed “Satisfied,” “Wait for It,” “Dear Theodosia,” “Burn,” and “It’s Quiet Uptown.” Each actor had outstanding vocal capabilities and I was impressed by how clear and articulate the raps were performed.

    To conclude, Hamilton was nothing less than the best new musical I have seen in a long time, and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the extraordinary cast deserve every outstanding review and accolade that they receive. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to see such a wonderful show and would highly recommend Hamilton others.


Don’t Press Skip: Turn Out the Lights by Julien Baker

By Henry Strickland

While this record came out back in February, I keep finding myself returning to it often enough that I felt it warranted a standalone review. Faced with an almost daily deluge of new music, I think it’s worth remarking on the albums that have stuck with me for one reason or another, which is what I’ll be doing here. Enjoy! 

Turn Out the Lights is the second full-length LP from Julien Baker, the 21-year-old Memphis, TN native whose 2015 album Sprained Ankle turned heads with barebones and heart-wrenching standout tracks such as “Distant Solar Systems” and “Funeral Pyre.” Turn Out the Lights comes to us on the renowned independent label Matador Records and was mixed by the legendary Craig Silvey (credits include The National, Arcade Fire, and the Arctic Monkeys). Baker expands upon the stripped-down guitar & vocals of her debut, incorporating piano, strings, and woodwinds that further enhance the emotional potency of her songs. Her powerful vocals and evocative lyrics depict depression, loneliness, and loss in ways that are as universally accessible as they are creative. On “Happy to Be Here” Baker imagines herself as an electrician repairing the circuitry in her brain so that she can live the life she’s “supposed” to, and on “Claws in Your Back” she explains that slitting her wrists open is merely a curiosity-driven experiment in how to die.

Baker captures the intricacies, paradoxes, and perplexing beauty of the emotions and circumstances that drag us down to our lowest points, reminding us that the catharsis of crying yourself to sleep at 3am is an essential part of the human experience. 

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Favorite Tracks: Appointments, Turn Out the Lights, Shadowboxing, Sour Breath, Claws in Your Back

Entirely Subjective Numerical Rating: 8.2/10 

Recommended if You Enjoy: Waxahatchee, TORRES, Mitski, Julie Byrne 



By Ally O'Connor


   During a recent trip to New York City, I was lucky enough to see Broadway’s new hit musical, Anastasia. Based on the 1997 animated film of the same name, Anastasia follows the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, which suggests that this daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra escaped the execution of the royal Romanov family. The musical depicts Anastasia (renamed Anya at an orphanage) as a young woman suffering from amnesia who has a strong desire to discover her family and her past. During Anya’s journey, she meets two con men, Dmitry and Vlad, who hope to use her similarities to the Grand Duchess Anastasia to their monetary gain. They teach Anya to behave in a regal fashion and take her to Paris to be presented to Anastasia’s grandmother, The Dowager Empress. The musical captures Anya’s strong desire for love and belonging as she connects with The Dowager Empress and as her romantic feelings for Dmitry, the younger of the two con men, blossom.

    Before seeing the Broadway musical, I knew the 1997 animated film version of Anastasia well and was curious to see how the plot would be altered and portrayed in a theatrical style. To my pleasure, I was thrilled by the reinvention of the story. The creators not only maintained six songs from the movie, but also added sixteen new musical numbers. Further, the Broadway musical removed the animated film’s somewhat childish magical elements by replacing the demon-like Rasputin and his comedic animal sidekick with Gleb Vaganov, a general for the Bolsheviks (who had taken control of Russia) and the son of the very man who had murdered six members of Anastasia’s immediate family. Gleb’s dark character adds a more realistic and serious element to the story, which is a significant improvement from the animated film. In addition, the musical’s creators also expanded upon one insignificant character from the animated film, The Dowager Empress’s lady-in-waiting, Sophie (renamed Lily). Lily, portrayed by Caroline O’Connor, is funny, likable, and a perfect addition to the tale as she sings about her lost Russia and flirts with Vlad, the older of the two con men traveling with Anya. Moreover, Lily’s story is woven into that of the numerous other lead characters, helping to create a more complete and mature ending than in the animated film.

    Overall, I found the Broadway remake of the animated film, Anastasia, to be even better than I had expected. Christy Altomare and Derek Klena’s portrayal of Anya and Dmitry, respectively, was nothing short of fantastic. Altomare’s strong vocals and sweet character paired with the new and more dramatic score allowed for absolute perfection. I was glad to have seen something so spectacular, and would see Anastasia again in a heartbeat if I had the chance.

My Morning Routine

By Tessie Berghoff


I always see articles advertising “5 things to start your day off right” or “a morning routine that will make you super productive.” I never believed any of these articles, but I am here to tell you that I have found a wonderful morning routine. 

Every morning, I get up around 8 AM. I put on a pot of coffee and while that is brewing, I start making my banana pancakes (which are key to a great morning, so I will attach my recipe below). While I’m eating my pancakes and drinking my coffee, I pull out my journal. Let me preface this step with some context. A couple months ago I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the book, Cameron introduces “morning pages” as a transformative practice for creativity and daily life. “Morning pages” just entail writing three pages every morning on whatever comes to mind. I started doing this every morning and didn’t see the point of it, but after a couple months, it has become a sort of meditation for me every morning. Writing anything that comes to my mind for three pages allows me to get it all out before starting my day. I have noticed feeling a lot more grounded and relaxed throughout the day since I started writing. It may not seem like a big deal, but I recommend this to everyone. Just try it.

Tessie’s Banana Pancakes


1 banana

1 egg



Peanut Butter



Mash up one banana in a bowl. Mix in one egg and a dash of cinnamon. Heat up a pan and spread a little butter over it. Pour out half the mixture for one pancake and add blueberries. Make the second pancake with blueberries as well. Then spread peanut butter over each pancake on a plate. Cut up a few strawberries, put them on top of your pancakes, and enjoy!

Three New Indie Rock Tunes to Kick Off Your Week 8

 by Henry Strickland

Listen, I know that the label “Indie Rock” is about as helpful as a retail employee exactly 0.03 seconds after the store closes. But seeing as these bands really are independent and really do rock, here are three new singles from some of my favorite artists, each of which has a new album out now or in the works.



Screaming Females – “I’ll Make You Sorry”

This New Jersey-based indie rock outfit, renowned for their excellent musicianship and high-energy live performances, recently released their seventh record, All at Once. Whereas I can barely get through “Smoke on the Water” without having an emotional breakdown, front-woman Marissa Paternoster belts out ferociously powerful vocals while shredding riffs catchier than a Carly Rae Jepsen chorus (some of the highest praise I can possibly give). This is easily my favorite song on their latest album, with a punchy bass line, tight drum fills, and a killer guitar solo to boot. When it comes to good, honest, cage-free and whole-grain rock n’ roll, what more could you ask for?


Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”

This latest single comes from Barnett’s upcoming album Tell Me How You Really Feel. It marks a substantial departure from the more subdued singer/songwriter approach she took to Lotta Sea Lice, the collaborative album that she released with Kurt Vile last year. The song brings back the more abrasive, chaotic sound of Barnett’s best solo work (such as the stellar “Pedestrian at Best”), which makes sense, given that this single is an outlet for Barnett’s frustration with having to defend herself in everyday situations against men who react violently to being emasculated. Barnett has a knack for conveying potent, emotionally charged imagery through her songwriting, and the striking visual of clutching her car keys as a makeshift weapon to fend off male pursuers is no exception.


Parquet Courts – “Almost Had to Start a Fight / In and Out of Patience”

As fate would have it, we have another excellent single from a forthcoming album (Wide Awake!) which is set to come out on the same day as Barnett’s LP: May 18th. Beloved within the indie rock scene for their unique “Americana-punk” sound, Parquet Courts excels at capturing the oddities and frustrations of living in present-day America. This track continues the trend, describing the despondent nihilism we’ve turned to as a national coping mechanism for the aptly termed “chaos dimension” we live in. Until we find ourselves a government that isn’t run entirely by corporate interests, at least we’ll have some catchy tunes to help pass the time.



My Thoughts on the Survivor Finale and This Season’s Controversial Twist

By Ally O'Connor

    Just about two months ago, Survivor wrapped up its thirty-fifth season, “Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers,” and crowned former marine Ben Driebergen as the winner. For those who are not familiar with the popular reality show, Survivor abandons a group of men and women in a remote location, where they must provide food, fire, water, and shelter for themselves. In addition, Survivor contestants engage in a thrilling social game during which they must vote out one member of their “tribe” every three days. The only way to be exempt from elimination is by earning immunity either through difficult physical and mental challenges that occur once during the three-day period, or by finding the ever-elusive hidden immunity idols. At the end of the thirty-nine-day competition and adventure, those who were eliminated turn around and vote for the remaining Survivor contestant who played the best game, using the titular tactics of “outwit, outplay, and outlast.”

This past season, “Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers,” brought intense gameplay and new methods of social manipulation. I am always most excited about seasons that bring back some of my favorite players from seasons’ past, so admittedly, I was a little let down about the cast of all new individuals. Further, with little investment in any of the contestants, I found the first few episodes somewhat dull. However, as this season progressed, I was impressed by numerous players, particularly Ryan Ulrich, the twenty-three-year-old turtleneck-wearing bellhop from North Arlington, New Jersey. In many ways, Ulrich reminded me of John Cochran, who was one of my favorite winners from seasons past. Although neither man possessed great physical abilities, their social and mental game was that of the methodical and highly educated thinker—someone whom I appreciate.

    As the end of the season drew near and only four players remained, Ben Driebergen was the obvious choice for elimination. He had been a mental powerhouse throughout the entire game, acting as a double agent, creating and managing numerous alliances, spending long nights searching for hidden immunity idols, and finally, playing three idols in a row, which helped him to his final four seat. The other three remaining players — Chrissy Hofbeck, Ryan Ulrich, and Devin Pinto — fought hard to beat Ben in the final immunity challenge. Unfortunately for Ben, Chrissy was the victor, and everyone expected that there was no question that Ben was the next to go. However, with Chrissy’s win came a secret advantage, that revealed that she would pick one player to go to the final three with her. This meant that the other two castaways had to compete in a fire-making challenge to earn the final spot. As expected, Chrissy chose Ryan due to his physical shortcomings, and sent muscular outdoorsman Devin to compete against indestructible Ben.

    Ultimately, Ben won the fire-making challenge, and concomitantly, the title of “Sole Survivor,” by demolishing his two opponents with his record of fierce gameplay. However, had the game’s format been like every other season of Survivor, Chrissy, Ryan, and Devin would have unanimously voted out Ben. As a result, this issue has spurred controversy among Survivor fans. Some believe that the game was “rigged” so that Ben could win, thereby hurting the chances of the three other players, but others feel it justified as the format change will now be implemented in every new season of Survivor.

    To be candid, I was rooting for Ben at this point in the game, so to some degree my assessment might be biased. However, I feel strongly that this change in Survivor format will only make the game more interesting in future seasons. Many fierce players have been eliminated due to one small mistake that cost them the final immunity challenge, but with the new format, the two players who are not chosen for the final three will have to earn their spot, affording everyone a last chance. As for the old format, I believe that it was flawed because it gave too much power to the winner of the final immunity challenge, wherein they not only earned their own spot at final tribal council, but also chose who sat next to them, eliminating the fiercest and worthiest competitors. This new system seems much more fair.

    Overall, “Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers” was another fantastic season of Survivor that kept me on the edge of my seat. I have been watching this show since I was a little girl and cannot wait for the next season.

In Dire Need Of a Better Nonfiction Reader

Giannina Ong

During my first quarter as nonfiction editor of the Santa Clara Review, I came across an honest submission. None of that "let me tell you about some other person" bullshit. The piece began simply:  "I am a woman with big tits."


Reflecting back with the current socio-political climate in mind, I could not have been luckier to get Jenny Ferguson's piece, "They Say I’m Lucky I Haven’t Had It Worse." It's a completely unapologetic piece, but reads a bit hesitant to group herself in with other women who have "had it worse" as her title states. I loved it, because I saw myself in it. Her piece, available to read here, is full of vivid images that place you in her personal experience. Yet, there is an overwhelming tension in personal opinion and social perception.


I'm referring to the recent Aziz Ansari piece that came out. A piece that even women believe does not belong in the current #MeToo movement. A piece in which an anonymous woman wants to point out the uncomfortable points in a date she went on, but instead get slammed for complaining about "bad sex." 


Nonfiction does surface personal accounts, but like any piece of literature, nonfiction is too subjected to the reader-response criticism. That is, the meaning of the piece is not in the hands of the writer once it has been received by the reader. But then, if not through personal accounts, how can we change people's notions of right and wrong (and that which is the gray area)? 


Well, I think that is where fiction comes into play. The New Yorker's piece, "Cat Person," comes to mind. Fiction has the ability to startle and shake in ways that nonfiction can't. Not saying nonfiction isn't important, because it is. Nonfiction such as Ferguson's piece allows more women to recognize themselves in those situations and know that what they are going through is not right. Nonfiction provides a sense of relief that you are not by yourself. 


But perhaps, in this day and age, fiction is just a bit better suited for changing readers' minds. That is, until we get better readers of nonfiction. 


That being said, on my bookshelf now waiting to be read is The Power, a novel where women develop a superpower and then become the "dominant" gender, and Red Clocks, a dystopian novel that imagines the world if Roe v. Wade was overturned. Both clearly have an agenda, but I think that the fictional genre allows the reader to come to their own conclusions.


Happy reading!


Get Outside

By Tess Berghoff

I am here to tell you (and I know many people that will back me up) that we live in a beautiful place. The Bay Area is full of sites to see and hidden gems. Below are a few hikes I can recommend in order of proximity to SCU:

1. Alum Rock Park

If you are looking for a pretty easy hike with some lovely views of San Jose, this park is for you. It is less than a thirty-minute drive from campus and will be a breath of fresh air.

2. Mission Peak

A classic at Santa Clara because it is so nearby. This hike can be pretty tough, especially when it is warmer outside because there is little shade, but the view at the top is absolutely worth it. You may even spot some cows hanging out near the path.

3. Castle Rock

This hike takes a couple hours and is very doable. It even has a boulder for you climbers out there. Prep for some amazing views and a perfect weekend activity.

4. Big Basin Redwoods State Park

This beautiful place has many hikes to offer from short 2-milers to overnight backpacking treks. The Skyline to the Sea trail is a 29.5-mile hike that you can do in one or two nights. You start in the amazing redwoods, head through Berry Creek falls, and end on the coast near Santa Cruz. Big Basin is one of my favorite places in the world and we are lucky enough to be just an hour away.

5. Marin Headlands

The Headlands are a bit further north near San Francisco but have many hikes to offer. One will even give you a pretty beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Marin Headlands also has some great history to it as well.

Winter Break

By Ally O'Connor

   As I push the door open to reenter my dorm room after a month-long break from school, I find the beginning of a new quarter somewhat bittersweet. In some ways, I am glad to fall back into the swing of things. I like to be busy and I like to learn. Each day at Santa Clara, I feel fortunate to attend my top choice college, where I notice myself growing and evolving. That said, I concede that my home will always be my safe space, and that Fall quarter is my favorite because it provides the most time at home.

    After ten weeks of non-stop work and not enough sleep in the Fall quarter, it was a breath of fresh air to step back into my own room, a space that has been mine since I was just a few years old. The walls are a familiar shade of lavender and covered in paintings of dancers, posters from movies I have seen or shows I have been in myself, ticket stubs to concerts, sweet cards from my dance students, Fastpasses from my favorite rides at Disneyland, Buffs from Survivor, and photographs of smiling family and friends. These four walls depict so much of who I am. Although my dorm room is decorated, it is much sparser than my room at home, so in many ways, coming home and being in this room rejuvenated me and gave me the energy to step into Winter quarter as my best self, full of good food, smiles, and rest. Unfortunately, however, it also reminded me of what I am missing when I am away at school.

    My parents are two of my best friends in the whole world, and I am fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life. Spending time with them over Winter break — whether it be Christmas shopping, traveling, or or just sitting around the house talking — feels safe, comfortable, and warm.  For me, leaving is not always easy. I feel torn because I love school so much and enjoy all of the experiences that I have at SCU. However, even a year and a half after moving out for the first time, it is still difficult. I am very attached to my home and my family.   

    After a week or so back at school, I know that I will once again feel immersed in all of the activity, writing papers, meeting deadlines, reading submissions, attending classes, dancing when I can, and sleeping in between it all. That said, I acknowledge that it is never an easy transition. In many ways, that challenge is what makes me so lucky. I love home and I love school, so where could I go wrong? Someday I will learn to balance it all a little better, but being a quasi-grown up is still pretty new. For now, I am letting myself take my time and ease into it all.

The Reality of Returning From Abroad

By Rile O'connell

Just over a month ago, I returned from a semester abroad in Rome, Italy — three and a half months in which I saw parts of seven countries, including the homelands of both sides of my family (Italy and Ireland); studied writing, art, and Italy’s language and food history; and made improvements in my methods of self-care. I visited friends studying in other countries and was visited by members of my own family on two separate occasions. Overall, it was an unforgettable semester. That said, I couldn’t wait to return home.

I’ve always been comfortable putting myself into situations where I don’t know people, but I don’t feel that I fully considered or was advised on how different (and stressful) being “alone” in another country would be. The public transportation, the language, the customs, and the people were all new to me — and a large part of the latter were from the same American university, which made room for cliques, something I haven’t had to deal with much since high school. To top it all off, my roommate never spoke to me — another phenomenon I have never dealt with at Santa Clara, as I have always lived and surrounded myself with friends.

So I spent a lot of time on my own, which was at first overwhelming, but soon became comforting. The silence provided me with opportunities to reflect on and better take care of myself. I worked out every other day, journaled and read for my own enjoyment, was proactive with my assignments, and once I was comfortable with the metro and bus systems, explored the surrounding Roman neighborhoods without the pressure of other people. While in Dublin with a friend from high school, I took a day to myself to explore local writers’ museums and everything O’Connell-related in the city of my ancestors.

And then I came back to school to start Winter quarter of my junior year living with my best friends in the Villas, and I was ecstatic, having not seen them in seven months. SCU had reminded me of the adjustment period inherent in returning to your home country, but I ignored it. What would I need to readjust to that my friends couldn’t help with?

Well, a lot.

My first week of class gave me more assignments than the first month abroad, and I had my first in-person meeting with The Review for my job, started planning this quarter’s Bronco Slam&Jam, and am still applying for summer jobs, all while living with five other girls who not only talk to me (unlike my roommate abroad) but are continually near and with me. This was what I wanted for months: to be back on the same time zone and campus as my friends, a short distance from family, and into a familiar routine doing what I love.

But it is also very stressful. The quiet, personal time I had so frequently abroad isn’t as accessible anymore when constantly stimulated by friends, work, and going out. I’m having to learn and communicate house rules with not just one but five people. And while I don’t wish for the uncertainty of not-so-foreign countries, I, as we all do, need space and time for self-care, which I’m finding in small increments through cooking, walks around campus, to-do lists, and yoga and other guided meditations. Thankfully my roommates are not only aware of my anxiety (both existing and new) but actively helping me recognize and do what’s best for me.

The study abroad process didn’t end when I returned to America; I know I have to give myself time to readjust to a more fast-paced campus life and to living with five times the people I’m used to. And for those looking into going abroad, it doesn’t have to be “the best semester of your life,” and you don’t have to make “lifelong friends” (two things promised to me by every person I spoke to prior to going to Italy). It’s your experience, and I urge you to do what’s best for you, not just what was best for other people. And in daily life, too, everyone: take care of yourself — not just during times of transition but all the time.

Top Four Ken Follet Books

By Tess Berghoff

Historical fiction is my genre of choice, and I am here to tell you that Ken Follett is absolutely incredible. With novels ranging from 1400s England to 1950s America, he can make you feel like a peasant or living in the royal family. Each of his books are about a thousand pages, which can seem daunting, but I promise you will not want them to end. I have ranked my top four favorites of his books for you.


1. Pillars of the Earth

Follett takes you through 1400s England when they were building the magnificent cathedrals that are still mostly around today. If that doesn’t intrigue you, let me just tell you that you will get attached to these characters. I laughed, I cried, and I wanted to go back in time just to witness the building of these massive cathedrals. If you need more proof, it was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and it was rated 4.29 on Goodreads. 


2. Fall of Giants

This is the first of the Giants Trilogy and takes place during World War I. Each chapter takes the perspective of a different character living in either the United States, Germany, Russia, or the UK. The characters’ lives intertwine in a mystery of ways and it is easy to fall in love with some and despise others.


3. Winter of the World

This takes place during World War II and is the second book of the Giants Trilogy. The characters are all children of or somehow related to the characters of Fall of Giants so the story picks up quickly because you already know a background for each character.


4. Edge of Eternity

The final book of the Giants Trilogy takes place during The Cold War. I know I just chose three books in a row from the same trilogy, but basically, I am just telling you that this trilogy is really good and you should read it. Well, just go ahead and read all of his books. You will thank me later.

Top Five Destinations I Would Like to Travel (That I Have Not Seen Before)

By Ally O'Connor

Today, I was thinking about an exciting family winter break trip to New York; as a longtime dancer and performer, the ability to watch the Rockettes' precision kick-lines or a Broadway show has always been a dream. Below is a list of five other locations I would love to see someday:


1.  Mykonos, Greece: 

Admittedly, I have wanted to visit Greece since I watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding as a child. At one point in the film, Aunt Vuola describes her birthplace, Mykonos, an island known for its peoples’ creation of lamps decorated with beautiful seashells. Although my interest began with one of my favorite movies, the images I have seen of the island are breathtaking. The buildings are picturesque and the white sand beaches beside the deep blue Aegean Sea are gorgeous.


2.  New Orleans, Louisiana:

Someday, when I am over twenty-one, and able to visit the famed jazz clubs and enjoy Mardi Gras parties, I would love to visit New Orleans. From what I have seen in films, the architecture in the French Quarter is amazing. In addition to the city’s visual appeal, traditional New Orleans food, like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets, is a gigantic draw. I would also like to see the Superdome, mostly because of its historic significance in Hurricane Katrina.


3.  Bali, Indonesia:

This breathtaking island is one of the many natural wonders on my bucket list. The volcanic mountains and beaches with expansive coral reefs look like a dream come true. I love snorkeling and hope to someday explore this section of the “coral triangle” (hotspot for marine life). Additionally, the Balinese temples are beautiful representations of the culture’s religious life.


4.  Norwegian Fjords (any and all):

I would love to someday sail down the Norwegian Fjords. From a boat, riders can more easily look up at the gushing waterfalls, snow-capped mountains, and serene landscape. The images I have seen online appear almost unreal. It must be magnificent to be just a small boat floating in one of nature’s most beautiful creations.


5.  Strasbourg, France:

I have been to Paris, France before (and absolutely loved it), but have never visited Strasbourg. All of the pictures I have seen look like they have been taken out of a storybook. The ornate decor of the buildings next to the pristine river looks beautiful.

I Like Fair Trade a Latte

By Tess Berghoff

In the midst of anguish and poverty in Central America, specifically in Nicaragua and El Salvador, many of us wonder how we can help and practice solidarity with these people. Santa Clara University offered me that opportunity in the spring of 2016, when I spent a week in Nicaragua working with children relocated from the unhealthy conditions in El Limonal to Villa Catalina. Unfortunately, there is limited space in Villa Catalina, so many families still live in temporary shacks in El Limonal, where a garbage dump was cleared in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch. Twenty years later, many people still live there in extreme poverty and suffer the consequences of severe asthma due to the nearby burning garbage — when they’re not sifting through it for food scraps or things to sell.

After the hurricane, many people from Nicaragua and other countries impacted took refuge in the United States. Twenty-five hundred Nicaraguans have been living here with Temporary Protected Status for almost twenty years, yet the Trump administration recently announced that they are putting an end to the immigration protection of Nicaraguans, giving them only fourteen months to evacuate. They are now forced to leave their homes in the states and return to a place where they have nothing.

Another country going through extreme hardship is El Salvador. The twelve-year civil war in the 1980s left 35% of El Salvadorans in poverty and roughly 60,000 young people in gangs: the leading cause of violence in the country. SCU’s Casa study abroad program and the Ignatian Center immersion to San Salvador have both been cancelled due to the violence in El Salvador. But what about the people that live there and face this violence daily? What about the countless people suffering from extreme poverty?

I am saddened by the violence and suffering and am moved to help. It dawned on me how easy it would be to just drink Fair Trade coffee, which helps sustainable farming in countries like El Salvador and Nicaragua. Most students and people I know drink coffee on a regular basis to sustain our busy lives, and simply changing the beans we purchase could make a substantial impact on the lives of others. Although it may be small, spending a few more dollars on coffee might also help us with the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that often come when we can’t offer direct service to those whose lives are so much harder than ours.

Please consider visiting this website to buy Fair Trade coffee. The following link is just one of the fair trade coffee sites I found. It contains information on the countries where the coffee comes from and ways to purchase it directly:


By Ally O'Connor

  During the second week of my freshman year at Santa Clara, I was walking in the neighborhood next to campus to clear my head from hours of research for a paper. I was wearing sweatpants, a purple Santa Clara t-shirt, and no makeup. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the air still smelled like summer; it felt good to step away from my new home for a little bit. The home-to-dorm transition can be at times overwhelming.

    As I continued to walk, a stranger called out to me. I turned and saw a middle-aged man standing next to a car. He winked and asked me if I needed a ride. I immediately said that I did not, was not interested, and needed to be somewhere. I began to walk faster. When I thought I was out of his sight, I began to run back towards campus. After a little while, once I could see SCU, I exhaled and returned to a more comfortable pace. I thought it was over.

    However, seconds later, a car came screeching towards me. The same man who had spoken before yelled out the window: “Get in the car!” Without any hesitation, I screamed “No!” and sprinted away from him. My pulse was racing, my palms were sweating, and I was absolutely terrified. As I ran, I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. The man continued to drive after me and to scream with intermittent profanity that I get into his car immediately. Then, I heard him slam on his brakes to stop the car, and saw over my shoulder that he opened his door. I was so scared. Fortunately, at that same instant, a group of students turned a corner and walked in our direction. When the man saw the students, he slammed the car door shut, made a screeching u-turn and sped off in the opposite direction. Even when he had driven away, I continued to run. I finally took a breath when I was in front of the Mission on campus. I collapsed onto a bench and realized I was crying and that my whole body shaking.

    When the police arrived, the two officers treated me very kindly and asked numerous questions. What color was the car? What did he look like? Do you remember what he was wearing? I did my best to answer their inquiries and push away my nerves. After I had thoroughly explained the incident, the officers informed me that the driver’s description was familiar. Evidently, other SCU women had called in with similar stories. He explained that these cases are usually never just a single incident — sexual predators lurk around college campuses harassing and attempting to assault young women.

    Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had faced sexual harassment, and even worse, this was not the most extreme. I had my first experience of sexual harassment and assault when I was just thirteen. Now that I am almost twenty, I can describe hundreds of incidents where I was afraid for my safety, from men cat-calling on the street to much worse. All of it is wrong. All I had done that day was take a walk.

    I am not alone. Every day, women experience these inappropriate, terrifying, and violating situations. A few weeks ago, the actress Alyssa Milano used her Twitter account to invite women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to tweet the words “#MeToo.” Within twenty-four hours, the hashtag had been tweeted almost a half million times. This movement brought a terrible reality to light. Women, and many men, came forward with stories like mine — moments when they had been afraid, violated, or treated inappropriately. Unfortunately, uncovering the issue does not solve it, but bringing sexual harassment and assault to the forefront of social conversation is a step in the right direction. My story is not special, and it does not stand alone. It is just one of the few hundred times this has occurred to me, and even larger, I am only one of the millions of women who have experienced moments like these.

    So, #MeToo.