A month in. I can't believe it! It feels like I've been here both longer and shorter...if that is at all possible. Chicago is amazing! Sometimes I forget that I live here...I get caught up in the mundane, daily task of commuting to work on the El. But then I see something that reminds me, like the family I saw on the train yesterday after church. It was obviously a mother and father visiting their semi-grown up daughter. She seemed to be around my age, probably 25 or so. But the parents were so happy to be on the El! It just reminded me that I am living in a city that people come to for vacation. I don't want to forget that...I also don't want to put off experiencing all that Chicago has to offer until its too late. I mean, my office at Fourth overlooks Michigan Avenue! The view is something that people would probably pay to see. There are so many different neighborhoods, museums, stores, restaurants, parks, etc that I want to see and experience before my year is done.
It's funny. I've been realizing lately that one of the reasons I really like Chicago so far is that it reminds me of Copenhagen. The architecture and city layout are completely different--there were buildings I walked past everyday in Copenhagen that were from the 1300s. And the city was not designed to be on a grid like Chicago. But the people somewhat remind me of Danes. Maybe it is because their winter climate is similar, but I just get the feeling that Chicagoans really appreciate the summer and take full advantage of all the many parks. There was one day that I was in Lincoln Park walking between bus stops on my way from Fourth to PAWS and I just stopped and sat down on a park bench. I was surrounded by beautiful flowers and green grass. All around me were people running, walking their dogs, playing with their kids, and just enjoying the beautiful warm weather. It made me feel like I was back in the Tivoli Gardens! Granted, I don't think that it was ever 80 degrees outside when I was over there, but that's not the point. Now that the weather is getting colder people aren't outside as often. It will be interesting to see if the winter months remind me of Denmark as well. Probably because it was really the only time I've experienced living in a climate where it snows!
One of the other things that I realized recently is that although I tried really hard to not have any expectations, I had them. Everyone warned me that setting the bar too high would only make it harder to enjoy my time in Chicago, etc. But I think it is impossible to start a new chapter in your life without having a few expectations! I had expectations about my roommates, my job sites, the house we would be living in, the neighborhood, what church I would attend and Chicago as a city. For the most part, my expectations were completely off. It has taken me a little while to get used to, but I think I am glad that my expectations were not met. I am far from perfect, but I know that by August I will be a better person because I will have been put into situations that were unexpected. If you live in a world where everything is exactly what you want it to be, then where does personal growth come in? I believe that when we are put in new situations it is God challenging us to grow. When I agreed to accept the call to serve a year in Chicago, I definitely had the expectation that at the end of my time here I would have a clear picture in my minds as to how I am meant to live my life. Aka I thought that I would be able to discern graduate school plans. Based on how this past month has gone, I still have high hopes but I have accepted the fact that I probably will need more time.