Travel Diary 4: Charmed by Chicago

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Whoa, long time no blog.

What have I been up to? You know– same old, same old: keeping up grades, doing a million things at school, completing college applications (one down, many more to go!), traveling to Chicago. Wait, what?

Yes folks, I have just returned from a two day trip to the Windy City. Officially, I was there to visit both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, both of which were breathtakingly beautiful. Unofficially, I spent some QT with my pops and consumed lots of good food. Here are some iPhone pictures, all edited with the CameraBag app:

Early morning when I should’ve been on my way to school, I dropped by Starbucks and picked up very first (hot) Pumpkin Spice Latte of the year. Just as sensational as I remembered. It’s actually pretty chilly here in the mornings now, so the warmth was welcome!

Mmm, I also picked up an Iced Lemon Pound Cake, one of my favorite breakfast goodies from Starbucks! I don’t know, this one seemed a bit too sugary, but I deemed this weekend “Eat Everything, Think About Nothing” weekend, so it is all good!

Like always, I asked for a CranApple on the plane. It’s my favorite and I hardly ask for anything else. (One of the major reasons I don’t like flying in China is because they don’t have CranApple and they only have Pepsi products– no Coca Cola!)

I am so extremely proud of the fact that I studied the whole way to Chicago. Granted, it was just reading US History, which isn’t that bad…

For lunch, we stopped at Luigi Stefani’s Pizzeria at the Midway Airport in Chicago. My tummy was yearning for something hot and cheesy, so I was very pleased with this pasta (which had a super long and difficult name).

My dad stayed at a Hilton in Evanston. This was a weird little building right next to it. It had a metal man dangling outside a window. Pretty unique! I, on the other hand, stayed with a student host at Northwestern University. I really adored the school– it is absolutely gorgeous, has the cutest traditions, and the community is incredibly close-knit. Residential colleges had a night every week just for bonding time! We watched Sweeney Todd, which grossed me out more than I thought it would, but whatever, it’s Halloween season.

This is Lakefill, one of the most gorgeous spots on campus. There is a beach open only to students– no faculty, visitors, or parents allowed. There were so many things that I loved about Northwestern. I took an Intro to Social Policy class, which was extremely thought-provoking and insightful.

Another view of Lakefill! The people were all so warm and welcoming, holding spontaneous popcorn parties and offering stolen pumpkin loaves (just from the cafeteria, no worries). Everyone was so fashionable, as well. It was all peacoats and flat riding boots. Gorgeous!

Anticipating the cold, I borrowed by sister’s poofy down coat. The temperature was mostly in the 20’s when I was there– a HUGE contrast to the 90 degree weather I left behind in Houston. I came prepared:

Huge puffy coat, mocs, a sweater, scarf, AND a furry hat! The wind was brutal!

My dad and I trekked around Evanston in the morning, bravely facing the chill to try and find a Starbucks. I was easily distracted by the coziness of Seattle’s Best Coffee and settled for a Chai and some Pumpkin Spice Loaf:

The poor Chai just couldn’t compare with my beloved Tiger Spice from Coupa. It was too watered down and not creamy enough. But the Pumpkin Loaf, oh my Lord, it was so amazing. I just can’t rave about it enough. So moist and slightly spicy with a great amount of pumpkin flavor. I think I’ll hit up Borders one of these days to grab some more.

Next up, we visited the University of Chicago. It was illustrious– ivy-covered buildings, trees in the midst of changing colors, towering buildings that look straight out of Harry Potter. I was smitten.

Please ignore the lack of proper makeup and hair styling. It was cold. Just look at those buildings– breathtaking!

This particular tree was layered so beautifully: red, yellow, green. Just like a stoplight!

Again, the buildings resembled Hogwarts so very much! I was tempted to apply JUST so I could feel like Harry Potter 🙂 But actually, their liberal arts program is super impressive and the vibe was just so mellow and welcoming.

I just can’t get over the natural beauty of the campus. It has been the most traditional of campuses that I’ve seen yet.

And, it apparently hosts some very impressive guests. President Barack Obama gave a speech here on Saturday!

Winding down, we stopped by Henry Caray’s at the Midway airport. My Cheese-Filled Spinach Ravioli doesn’t look so appetizing in the picture, but I promise you– it was mouth-wateringly delicious.

Of course I took the opportunity to wear my Ugg Dakota moccasins 🙂

For din-din: Grilled Mahi Mahi with crawfish, shrimp, and scallops on top of dirty rice. Perfect chilly night for some hot, hot Cajun food (Pappadeaux’s). Love.

I love flying at night. It’s so peaceful– just the sky, the clouds, and you. I was in a very contemplative mood and the music was helping out with slow, nostalgic songs (I always have my iPod on Shuffle). All in all, I just felt very at peace with myself and with the universe. Now, I’m not a very religious person. In fact, I’m not a religious person at all– I’ve never practiced any particular religion, never gone to church. But, I do believe in God and I have had many conversations with Him these past few months which have brought me a lot of comfort and peace. And lately, I’ve felt very accepting and open and I’ve been taking on the mindset that everything happens for a reason. So, with that in mind, no matter where I end up, no matter which school I end up going to, I know there’s a reason for that and I’ll be okay regardless 🙂

And when you see such beauty like this, how can you even doubt that God exists? Feeling especially spiritual today! Anyways, I had a BLAST in Chicago. Awesome city, not so awesome weather.

Till tomorrow (hopefully!),



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