First of all, this is the post of my travelling journey to one of the cities in the United States. The city is Chicago, which is also known as the windy city. I went to this city from May 13 – 15, 2012, by using Amtrak train from Alton to Chicago, Illinois. Lucky me, I got the discount ticket from Amtrak train because I have the ISIC card. ISIC stands for International Student Identity Card. If you have this card, you could get a lot of discounts for all travels you will do within the United States. This card is supported by UNESCO.
For the purpose of sharing what I have seen in Chicago, I wrote this post in the form of question-answers mode. This would not mean to be a very serious essay, but it is just a simple writing that is intended to share information.
Q: For what occasion you went to Chicago?
A: I went to Chicago for reporting myself to the Indonesian embassy and visiting IIE staff in Chicago. I had to report myself to Indonesian embassy because it is, as I may perceive, part of my responsibilities as an Indonesian citizen living and studying in the United States. Visiting IIE staff is also a thing that I would like to do because they have worked hard to help me, as one of the Fulbrighters, to be able to study in the United States. They make things easier for me. Therefore, it is a matter of courtesy for me to visit them in their busy work. What I found was that they were really welcoming and appreciating for my visit.
Q: Where did you stay? What was your impression about the hostel? How did you get there?
A: I stayed in Hostelling International Chicago. This hostel is meant to be for youth. I chose 10 male economy beds. When I arrived in the hostel and checked-in, I realize that this hostel is really for youth. In one room, there were ten beds, which were used by ten men. It means that we had our own bed. I slept in 319-C, which means my bed was the one that had C letter on it. My impression about the hostel was that it was nice and cozy. It had simple styles, but the service given by the hostel staff was particularly fast. If you did not know something, don’t hesitate to ask. They would help you. This was what I saw. I got to the hostel by walking. I arrived in Chicago on May 13, 2012, at 8:49 pm. I did not know the road or even how to get there, but I asked people on the street. So far, I met good people. They directed me to the hostel, 24 East Congress Parkway, from the Union Station in Chicago. I thanked these good and nice American people.
Q: What did you see in Chicago?
A: I saw different views and attractions. In the morning, which was on May 14, 2012, I went to Indonesian embassy in Chicago. The embassy is in 211 West Wacker Dr, the north side of Chicago. I did not spend times in subway or bus. If I did, I would not see the views outside. I walked around the streets from the hostel into the embassy in order to see different buildings, transportation systems, and many attractions. I went to Chicago Cultural Center, Museums, Dusable Harbor, and Navy Pier. It is a short visit anyways. At night, I went to the hostel and slept because I had to leave for Alton in the next morning.
Q: Any other information for other visitors coming to Chicago?
A: Hostelling International Chicago offers different information for the guests. I could use information that was written by the staff of the hostel. Blues and Jazz Clubs were good places to visit. For instance, Blues: Kingston Mines (21+), Buddy Guy Legends (21+), and Jazz: The Green Mill (21+). For tours, you could have the bike and boat tours. For museums, I suggested you to go to The Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Contemporary Art. Crown Fountain and Lincoln Park Zoo are also good places to see. In one day, I could almost visit these places.
Q: What makes Chicago unique for you?
A: Coming from a country with its Eastern culture, I found that Chicago is friendly and full of different attractions. People seem to be busy with their own mind when you walked on the street. Luckily, I went to Chicago when the weather was sunny, so everything that I saw looked bright and clear. Weather sometimes influences your mood, too, right? Life at noon with life at night seem to be different. However, depending on your intention to go to Chicago, you could find what you need here. People say that Chicago is a small New York city, but to me, that makes Chicago better than New York.
Q: What did you experience when you were in Chicago?
A: The nice experience that I had when I visited Chicago was when I was staying at the hostel and walking in the street. I met a nice guy whose name was Tim. He came from Holland. I did not realize that he slept beneath my bed, so we talked about different things. When I told him that I was one of Fulbright students, he said, “Congratulations!” After that, we discussed about different things, especially about the name of Holland, Netherlands, and Dutch. At the hostel, I met some other Korean, too. They were biking from New York to Chicago. I thought it was crazy, but they did this. When I was walking in the street, I did not use my cell phone. Kind of weird, right? If I needed to go to a certain place, I took a note the name of the address and asked random people. People in Chicago seem to have different styles and outlooks. I saw pretty girls, handsome boys, nice-looking women, and charming-looking men. They may be from different backgrounds because some of them have caucasian and asian looks. Beyond that, an interesting thing is that most of them were friendly. They would help if they could. Asking for direction will not take longer times, so you do not need to be worried visiting Chicago.
Q: Will there be any intention to come back to visit Chicago?
A: Probably, I will. I have not visited New York. However, Chicago seems to be a pretty city to me. I would like to spend more days in Chicago again. Whatever I saw in Chicago was actually for broadening my horizon in understanding the life styles of American people who live in Chicago. From bad to good, everything is crucial to know in order to shape balanced view in understanding how the city is. I am sure that visiting this city for only a day would not be enough to know and understand everything what is going on in Chicago. However, good or bad impression always comes at the beginning. Evaluation would come at the end after several days staying there. My evaluation is so far so good.