"Boy in the New Country" Part four - Exploring the New City

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Mon Nov 26, 2018

Chicago, one of the most architecturally significant cities in the world, truly lives up to its name. The sight of the tall buildings infused with a mix of small and old gives this city a totally different look. I was fortunate enough to explore the city when the college volunteered us with two buses that will take us around to do some grocery/necessities shopping. This was the first time I was going to explore the neighborhood, and believe me, it did not let me down. Roosevelt was the place I distinctly remember where we had been to do some shopping. Walgreens, Best Buy, Target, etc. were some of the places that I roamed around and got some stuff for my new home.

But one important challenge that I had to face was for the fact that I was yet to get my local number. I could not get my Walgreens card since I did not have a local number and that’s when I realized my priority was to get one as soon as possible otherwise I would be facing some tough times ahead. After getting in touch with other friends who are here in the U.S., trying to enter their family plan but finding no available lines, and comparing various options later, I found a network that was perfectly suitable for me.

From the initial days, I have heard from a lot of people that one must definitely visit the lake. The good part for me was that it was just 20 minutes walking distance from the campus. So, a couple people who I met a few days back and I started the journey towards the lake, and it definitely took me by surprise. I glanced at the waterbody and I asked my friends that this is a nice sea, now let us find the lake to which I got a reply, “this is Lake Michigan.”  Startled enough, I came to my senses and I exclaimed that this waterbody looks so much like the sea. Jumping back to reality, we all started to walk on the promenade and it reminded me of the Marine Drive back in Mumbai with the stark difference: freshwater lake versus the sea water back home. A scenic view of the lake and the downtown, we decided to head back to the dorms later and chalk out the next plans for the rest of the day.

The thing I love about this city and after hearing it from a lot of people is the transportation network. The connectivity, the ease of traveling from one place to another gave me the feeling of traveling in Mumbai (my hometown), albeit more luxuriously. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is one of the most used networks by everyone for transport, be it the bus or the metro (L). Being a train freak, the sight of the L passing through the narrow streets of downtown made me wonder how this would be planned and that to such a long time ago. While exploring the L network, I came across various lines… Green, Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, and I wondered... I think this would definitely be the colors of the rainbow… before seeing Pink, Brown, Purple. Close enough, but I was really impressed with its working.

The Ventra pass is a blessing in disguise for all the students who want to explore this beautiful city. Download the CTA app, hop on the L, get down at a random station, take a bus, explore random places… sounds like an awesome idea, right? Unfortunately for me, I had to wait a little longer to get my hands on of these passes since there was an educational hold on my application.

But all was not gloomy for me since I was given a seven day Ventra pass which enabled me to use the CTA bus and L without any hesitation. So here I was on the Green Line, making its way to the downtown slowly and steadily. Just past the Roosevelt station, I could see the high-rises, the narrow lanes of Chicago, the graffiti on the wall and not to forget the bustling life of the city underneath the L. Couple of stations more and some walking later was the Chicago River. Boats plying in and out of the lake offered a picturesque view.

After a long walk across the river, it was time to head back home, but not without capturing some amazing memories in my lens. Perhaps this is what I mean when I say this is the beginning of something new. Lot of other places to explore, a lot of cuisines to try and a lot of different experiences to encounter. Eagerly waiting to try more of this place soon.

 

 

 

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2018 - Fall - Issue 11
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