My first summer in Chicago is coming to an end, which means my first year in Chicago and my first year as a graduate student is also at a close. This year has been a roller coaster ride, filled with all sorts of obstacles and excitements, with new life experiences and opportunities I never thought I’d have. I’m using this post as a way to reflect on my first year in Illinois and also to think about what is to come next.
When I moved to Chicago, I was a newly graduated B.A. and B.S. recipient. I had never lived more than a couple of hours by car from my hometown. I was leaving a lot of things behind by moving to a big city—the comfort of the familiar, my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my job, and my professional contacts. I admit—I was scared! Something about a big city seemed daunting. Was I ever really going to find my way in Chicago?
Now, a year later, I look back at that fearful new student and think how far I’ve come! Chicago no longer seems big and scary, but an adventure that needs to be tackled! My first summer has offered me some of my favorite memories while living in the city, and has even helped me realize that I don’t know if I ever want to move away. I recently moved into a new apartment, one situated directly on the beach. That means I have constant access to the beautiful beaches and waters of Lake Michigan. I made it a goal this summer to go to the beach at least once a week. Spending time on the beach means keeping up with my fitness goals, keeping up with my reading, and spending time outdoors (which is sometimes hard to due with Chicago’s weird weather patterns).
Another major part of my summer was working on my thesis. I won’t go into too much detail, but my thesis took up a lot of my creative effort during the three and a half months off from school. If you are interested in learning more about my thesis, make sure to stay tuned for my next blog post, which is where I will divulge all of my secrets!
Chicago in the summer is great! You will notice that no one stays indoors (and again, this is because the weather is pretty much inclement for 70% of the year). There are constant street festivals in every neighborhood, such as the Hot Dog Festival, the Rogers Park Arts and Music Festival, the Food Truck Festival, and the Chicago Jazz festival to name a few. There are also tons of free events in all of the Chicago parks, whether you want to see a free blockbuster on a big inflatable screen, get some culture with Shakespeare in the Park, or take some dancing lessons in Grant Park.
Being in Chicago in the summer makes you feel alive and connected to the city. Chicago is wonderful for offering events to keep you occupied, fed, and happy. My favorite past times are grabbing a book and a towel, and heading to the beach, but you can also find me perusing the Loyola Farmers Market, or thrifting in Edgewater. Summer is a time to recharge and refuel, and to get ready for the next year of grad school!