One last American jaunt

The Sears Tower from the front steps of the Art Institute of Chicago

The Sears Tower from the front steps of the Art Institute of Chicago

As excited as I am to move to Seoul, I know I’ll miss plenty of things from the midwest. One of those things will definitely be Chicago. Though I’m sure I’ll get a similar feeling of the hustle and bustle of the big city in Seoul, I do have a special place in my heart for Chicago. As a suburban-ite, I’ve always liked having a little bit of a rush around me, and Chicago fulfills that and then some.

My brother (from Texas) visited me in East Lansing, and since I’m unemployed, I figured I’d show him Chicago since he’d have no real reason to see Chicago anytime soon. We took a two-day whirlwind tour of the town. The trip started somewhat ominously: As soon as we left my house, my iPod — the entertainment for the 3.5-hour drive — died. Despite that, the rest of the trip went quite swimmingly.

We arrived on Wednesday in the early afternoon to my friend’s apartment which is somewhere between Lincoln Park and Lakeview. My friend had some errands to finish, so my brother and I hiked to the free Lincoln Park Zoo. It didn’t seem so far on the map, but it turned out to be about a 2.5-mile walk, which was fine since we got to see the town firsthand. To the zoo, around it and back was by far the most I’ve walked in a long time, but that’s Chicago for you.

Then later that night, my friend joined us downtown where we wandered out to dinner and then Navy Pier. Navy Pier is clearly for tourists — idiots like me and my brother — as evidenced by the kiosk selling disposable cameras and sunblock and the gratuitous twice-a-week fireworks show. It makes sense, though, since it provides a fantastic view of the skyline, especially at night.

Thursday was a long day. We started with the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the most famous art museums in the United States. My favorite exhibit, maybe because of how surprisingly interesting it was as it sat among more classical pieces of art such as “A Sunday on La Grand Jatte“, was probably the paperweight collection.

The paperweight collection at the Art Institute of Chicago

The paperweight collection at the Art Institute of Chicago

Who would’ve thought there would be so much work put into paperweights? They were so intricate and ornate, especially for hunks of glass that are supposed to sit on stacks of paper. I usually just use a stapler for that purpose.

Once we finished strolling through the Institute, we headed off to the Korean Consulate so I could drop off my paperwork for my E-2 visa. It all went very smoothly, an in-and-out job. It was especially easy because I didn’t have to do an interview since Korean immigration issued me a notice of appointment instead of a visa confirmation number. Finally getting the last of the paperwork out of the way is quite liberating. I’m almost there.

With only an afternoon left in Chicago, my brother and I did a lot of wandering, up to the north end of The Magnificent Mile back through Millennium and Grant Parks to the south end of the downtown loop, the Museum Campus. Throughout the final 2.6-mile trek, the city — with its people and towering skyscrapers — always felt alive, which isn’t something that can be said about most places.

The Chicago skyline as seen from the Adler Planetarium

The Chicago skyline as seen from the Adler Planetarium

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