Second Visit to the Second City

I warned you about this: another post about Chicago (and some other things).

IMG_1510This time we drove down. Marisel and I were joined by two of our Au Pair friends in her trusted “Statefarm Mobil”. Yes, it has become quite the handy travel companion. With 6 hours of driving we had to stop and get Culvers in Wisconsin. On the menu: their famous cheese curds, I can highly recommend. You have to have cheese in America’s Dairyland. We arrived at our hostel at about 2 am. Luckily we were able to find a cancelation and stayed at HI Chicago again after having had a really good experience the previous time. This time, however, it was not to be. We got to our room (this time we shared it with 8 other girls) and were greeted by open suitcases and clothes all over the floor, covering half of the room. NICE! After kicking aside random shoes and unidentifiable pieces of clothing we finally got comfy in our beds ready to drift away to dreamland. Nope, not going to happen. About 3 minutes later the owners of that wonderful mess they may call organised chaos, stumbled into our room. Drunk and half naked. It didn’t take long for the other half to be uncovered. If that had been my first hosteling experience it would have been my last and an airbnb for me the next time. You’d expect to connect with people from all over the world and enjoy each other’s company, but that doesn’t work when they spend all day in bed asleep and disappear at night. I’m not quite sure that’s the most resourceful way to experience Chicago or any city for that matter. Why am I telling you this? Probably more for the sake of my own reflection and reminding myself that it’s not always going to be perfect, but it’s good nonetheless. You just have to make sure to use your time and money wisely.

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Luckily the weather was amazing. A lot of sunshine and a nice cool breeze from the lake. We started off our long weekend by walking to the Navy Pier. We walked up from our hostel along the lake front and enjoyed all the different views of the city. There is so much to see. As I told you last time, riding the ferris wheel was on my to-do list. Totally worth it. We got a great view of the city and just a little bit of adrenaline. We finished off our morning by having an early lunch before heading back to the hostel to get a quick nap and get ready for our afternoon of classes at Roosevelt University. IMG_1499This weekend was less about sightseeing and more about community and the city’s diversity. A tour of Chinatown and a visit to the National Hellenic (Greek) Museum were part of our schedule. Chinatown was fun. I’ve never seen two protective dragon statues outside a Catholic church before. It was also Marisel’s first time eating “real” Chinese food other than Panda Express.
Chop chop, the weekend must go on. We were signed up to volunteer at Cornerstone, a shelter for homeless people and even entire families. We spent about an hour sorting through people’s clothes donations, deciding whether or not they were nice enough for the free thrift shop the organisation runs. Sifting through a pile of children’s underwear isn’t particularly new to me, but it’s not exactly the same when you don’t know where they’re from. The only thing that made me feel better, was the fact that I was helping children get underwear and other clothes they would never be able to have if it wasn’t for this organisation.

To end our weekend we walked down to Buckingham Fountain. It reminded me of home. Buckingham Palace in London, England, Britain, Europe and the oblivion as to what was going to happen only 96 hours later. This has been the first time ever I actually see the value in having two nationalities. Before it was more if an identity thing (I am English and German), now it’s more of a necessity thing (I am British and European). I am no expert on politics, so the only thing I will say it that I was honestly surprised at the results, maybe even shocked. No one likes change, especially if your family is directly impacted. I am also curious to see how things will develop from here.

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What I am not shocked about, is England exiting the UEFA Euro 2016 (the European “soccer” championship… for my American friends). This has been the loneliest football championship I have ever experienced. I have to make my friends get excited. It’s not really working. It’s like getting Brits to like American football or Germans to like cricket. For reasons I can’t imagine, football, sorry soccer, isn’t a big thing here. I notice in particular when Americans ask me what the outcome of the Copa America is. Oh well, at least no one will see me go crazy over a goal when Germany plays.

Have a great weekend everyone! Especially to my American friends who are celebrating their exit from the Brits. Happy 4th July! The last time I celebrated this in the US was eight years ago. Wow, time sure does fly. Talking about time flying… can you believe that in two weeks I’ll have been here for 5 months. Probably a good time to talk about some of the differences I have encountered and gotten used to here in the states. That should make for an interesting post. 😀

Love, Sophie x