Thursday, June 23, 2016

Seeing the Wildcats

Attempting the Titanic Pose
After some amazing breakfast at the Omni Hotel, we caught a cab to Northwestern University, home of the wildcats. We were a little bit early so we explored the beautiful campus. The campus is right next to Lake Michigan and after two days of not seeing water we just had to go there first. Right after taking pictures of the scenery, Joceline and I made the decision to play in the water. Unlike Joceline, I didn't think to take my shoes off. I thought it would be fine since I had sandals on. As soon as I stepped into the water, the sand gathered up on my sandals which wasn't pleasant. I very soon realized the water was extremely cold and there were a bunch of rocks everywhere. Joceline and I were ready to stop playing in the water after about 5 minutes and we were thankfully able to find a hose to help rinse the sand off. 

Shortly after our tour started. The tour began with a 45 minute presentation about the school itself, the majors they offer, etc. The most interesting aspect about Northwestern to me was that they actually don't have a "core" set of classes that you are required to take as part of your general courses before taking the courses specific to your major. I really thought that this was extremely unique as most colleges do require you to take a certain amount of math, science, and English courses. It also seems to be an extremely good fit for those that may not know what they want to major in. Another really cool part about Northwestern is that if you take a bunch of classes that seem like they could be a major then you can graduate with a degree in that "major" after getting it approved by the dean. After the 45 minute presentation, we broke out into smaller groups with a student tour guide to walk around the campus and ask further questions. I chose to go with a tour guide named Jim, a music cognition major from Memphis, Tennessee. I was drawn to his group when I heard him yell, "If you want to be in a group that's cool and awesome then this is the group to be in." I figured cool and awesome was the way to go, so I went to his group. He walked backwards for most of the tour and told us lots of random tidbits of information. For example, the sorority and fraternity rows are built on the opposite ends of the campus because the architect for the campus had a daughter who wanted to go to Northwestern and was interested in Greek life. He didn't want his daughter near all the fraternity boys, so he had them built on the opposite ends of the campus. He told us all about the class sizes, job opportunities, food, extracurricular activities, resources, safety, and much more. For example, Northwestern offers a free transportation service to those that do not want to walk to campus themselves late at night. A student worker will drive to the student and take them anywhere within a 3 mile radius of the campus. This makes the campus extremely accessible to students at all times and more safe. 

After the tour, we walked about ten minutes to a public transportation stop and took the L back to the middle of the city and then we proceeded to walk back to our hotel. Chicago's public transportation system reminds a lot of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transportation). The way you get into the waiting area is similar. The lines also seem to be very simple and straightforward the way BART is. I was extremely tired from the tour and playing in the water so I fell asleep on the way back to the city, which is awesome because that means the seats are comfortable enough to sleep in. I'm just kidding. I can sleep almost anywhere. 

Later, we met up with Mike's cousin, Amy, who is a Chicago native. We first went to Eataly, an Italian grocery store and food court. I ate some amazing mango and mixed berry gelato. Next, we went to the infamous rival of the West Coast's In-n-Out, Shake Shack. I recently watched a video comparing the two and was extremely excited when we went there. I actually didn't get anything because I was extremely full from the gelato and bread I ate, but after just going inside I can definitely see the allure of it. The inside was extremely quirky and had a variety of different burgers and types of desserts. The next time I'm near a Shake Shack and famished then I know where I'm going. The third place we went to was Dylan's Candy Bar. It's a two story candy shop filled with every candy you can think of. There were even 3D printers that could make you your own personalized candy. The last and best (in my opinion) place we went to was Garrett Popcorn Shops. I'm usually not a fan of either cheddar or caramel popcorn, but the two flavors together are very tasty. The sweet and salty flavors really balance each other out to create this equilibrium of mouth watering goodness. It's definitely something I'll buy again if I am in Chicago again. 

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