The Windy City Report

By: Rachel Stewart, Jackie Thompson, and Anna Starkey

On Thursday, November 6, three juniors, Jackie Thompson, Anna Starkey, and Rachel Stewart, set out with Anna’s mom to a mystical land called Chicago, Illinois.  Our mission: college visits.  Our time frame to complete this mission: two days.  We have since returned from the mission, and can report that it was a success.  We also can report that there are a few things we learned…

Booking reservations through discount websites does not always work out as planned.

Even though the rental car agency claims to be cheaper than the rest, it will still request a $100, previously-unmentioned down payment once you go to pick up the car.  Although the four-star hotel room for $85 a night looks like a wonderful bargain on Hotwire, it, like the rental agency, will generously remove an extra $200 from your bank account upon arrival.

Plan ahead (tentatively)

It may seem like a good idea to whip up a well-planned itinerary weeks in advance, but a simple “we can’t go to bed until we figure this out” pow-wow with your travel companions one night in the hotel room will suffice. Strangely vague plans will also give you a chance to sight-see as your traveling party speeds through the streets, trying to find their destination. Eventually, you’ll find it and have discovered the big city along the way.

Enjoy the local cuisine.

As you desperately try to get from point A to point B, you may find yourselves tempted to pop into a nearby, familiar McDonalds. Resist this urge and head into the nearest hole-in-the-wall eatery you can find. Chicago has it all—indulge in a slice of deep-dish pizza, pick up some gyros on the corner, or try out chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as it’s something new.

Self-guided college tours are the way to go.

We found ourselves in a pickle when there weren’t any tour groups left for us to join on Friday at Loyola.  Thankfully, you could go on a self-guided tour, in which you got the same materials as everyone else, including a high-quality folder, but walking directions were also included with descriptions of the buildings as you passed them.  We went this route, and it was quite splendid. Rachel took the role of tour guide, and we strolled around the campus at our own rate. We got to spend more time at the buildings we found more important, and we skipped some buildings that didn’t really pertain to our interests.  We also got lost once, and it forced us to actually talk to people! We never would have done that otherwise. Rachel enjoyed narrating the journey, and we’re glad we got to stop along the way to snap some pictures, or just stop and take in the breathtaking view of the lake.

If you find the right Urgent Care, you will also find breakfast.  

When you wake up in the morning and discover that your mother has scratched her cornea, chances are you will have to walk her to an urgent care.  If you are lucky, you will be directed to the 16th floor of an apartment building where tea, coffee, cough drops, chocolates, and allergy-free energy bars await you.

Even if your hotel has an indoor pool, that doesn’t mean you should swim in it.

After a tiring day of college visits, Jackie and Rachel just wanted to sleep.  Alas, there was Anna, blabbing about this indoor pool, saying we just had to go for a little bit.  Begrudgingly, we put on our suits and made our way down to the pool, Anna in a snazzy little one piece while Jackie and Rachel sported bikinis.  When we were about to step in, the moment of truth had arrived. How amazing was this indoor pool? Not amazing. At all. The water was sub par, not freezing, but definitely not a comfortable temperature as promised. We stood around for a while, not really doing much of anything but glaring at Anna. She then made a bargain that if we grabbed her towel for her, we could go back to the hotel room. We obliged.

Please obey the traffic lights.

When traveling around Chicago to see its many sights, you may just catch a glimpse of the locals jay-walking every which way and traversing the crosswalk before the little glowing man pops up on the street light . Please remember that these are trained professionals who face dangerous traffic every day and have earned their place as Xtreme, 2kewl4skewl, rule-breaking pedestrians. It is in everyone’s best interest to abide by any and all traffic signals.

5-and-a-half hours is not THAT long of a drive. 

If your mother happens to contract an infection in the scratch on her cornea, she will need to wear an eye patch. This device has the possibility to obstruct vision as well as driving abilities.  In that case, the daughter, a virgin to the highway, will have to take the wheel and the responsibility of getting her companions home safe.  Thanks to cruise control, good jams, good friends, and good times, the five-and-a-half hours were full of radical adventure.

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