Hello, blogger world! It sure has been a while since I’ve written. Currently, I am sitting inside IHSP Hostel in Chicago. I arrived on Monday to spend a week exploring and hanging out before I move into University Center near the loop and start my summer internship at the marketing office of a very well renowned comedy club in the city.
Coming back to the same hostel in Wicker Park for the third time feels like coming home. I arrived at lunch time on Monday and the guy at the office welcomed me warmly by smiling and saying “You’re back!” I love the feeling of having a “home away from home” like this place.
The reason I stay in hostels is because I want to meet other students and people around my age who are also traveling. Most of these people end up being foreign, and I’m perfectly okay with that. This trip has been no exception so far.
Monday night I arrived back from seeing The Improv All-Stars comedy show at UP Comedy Club and sat in the living room to journal. As the living room kind of died down, I heard these two lads talking about European cities with what sounded like an Irish accent. I moved over to the couches to join them and looked for an in to their conversation. Finally I just said “all this talk of other European cities makes me miss my trip from last summer.” One of them asked me “Oh where all did you go?” So I told them Amsterdam, Paris, Brussels, London and Edinburgh. The question of which one I liked best was a test. Good thing I said Edinburgh- that earned me some major points with these two Irish guys. Owen (the American spelling, trust me) “adores Edinburgh.”
We ended up sitting around the couches talking about the engineering conference they had attended in the states. Then I essentially gave them a 20-30 minute music industry business lesson. They kept asking me questions about it- contracts, touring, major versus indie labels, etc. Guess I learned something from my classes after all!
Like the last trips I’ve spent here, when quiet hours start inside, we all grab some beers and head to the rooftop deck. The two lads, some of the employees, an Indian girl we met and myself hung out on the roof until around 2:30 a.m. talking and drinking. Its interesting to see how conversation just jumps from topic to topic. We all are from different places so there are so many questions to be asked and jokes to be made. The guys had all of Tuesday to hangout and then they were leaving that night. So we made plans to hangout.
Let me tell you, yesterday was an adventuring hanging out with these two Irish guys. While it is so hard to focus when they have these swoon worthy accents, I tried to be the navigator because I knew the city somewhat better than they do. We took the blue line towards The Loop so we could find our way to Navy Pier. A native also at the blue line heard their accents and started a conversation with us. She helped us kind of navigate and we got off at Clark/Lake with her and ended up at Millennium Park first. I adore the Bean and felt these guys needed to see it. Luckily, they were impressed with it and we enjoyed the park for a while. I grabbed iced coffee from Beaver’s Coffee and Donuts food truck and sat with them by the big waterfall, picture changing statue things.
We did walk through the park, down by the docks and made our way to Navy Pier since they had their hearts set on seeing that. If you’ve never walked the entire Navy Pier, let me tell you- it is a longer walk than you may realize. Being by the water and seeing the city-scape with sun shining on everything is such a beautiful, breathtaking view. The sun makes the water glisten. The birds are singing. The whole city is within your view and their are boats all around.
The most interesting part of our day was coming back to the hostel. I checked the weather and it looked like rain was about to hit. So we start trying to find our way back to the blue line. As soon as we start walking, the first raindrops fall and before long, it is pouring down sideways, thundering and lightening as we are looking for a way back. We run a little bit, seek dry shelter for a brief moment and run some more. We did this until I finally recognized The House of Blues. “If we just cross the bridge and turn right at the underpass, the blue line is there!” I told them. By the time we made it back to Clark/Lake, we were soaking wet. I called that a true bonding experience. I got caught in a Chicago thunderstorm with two Irish lads I just met.
But we made it back and hung around the hostel talking until they had to leave. I was sad to see them go. I truly is always a privilege to make friends your first night or two staying at a hostel. If you are lucky enough to find a person or two also traveling through and staying where you are, befriend them. Experiencing a new city with foreigners is so much fun. They are amazed with everything because its so different in Ireland.
I believe that staying in a hostel is the way to go for students traveling. The whole point of traveling is to experience new places and meet people. The way to make the most of that is to experience life with strangers for a night or two. That’s the way my hostel experiences usually go.
Sometimes, you’ll keep in touch with those people, add them on Facebook or swap numbers. Sometimes they will go on with their journeys and you will too. Either way, you have these memories that only you share. “Hey, remember that one time I got stuck in a thunderstorm in downtown Chicago with two random Irish lads I just met? Haha.” Or here’s another one. “Hey remember that time you told me about your making out goals at city landmarks? I envisioned you getting dragged out by security for trying to snog some poor, random lad.” Don’t ask about that one. Only Owen and Nolan will get it!
That’s what traveling is all about- experiencing life, making memories, learning and meeting new people. Stay at a hostel. Explore. Travel.