Birthday Weekend @ Chicago

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It is this day of the week again, first class starts at 8:10 and the last class end at 21:40. Aaaaargh…at least finally all mid terms are done and I am half way into my second exchange. As leaves turn from green to yellow, then to red (yes, leaves here turn Scarlet Red!), and eventually fall off and touch the ground, winter is surely approaching. Sigh my favorite season is so short lived this year 😦

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Anyway, unlike my first exchange where I basically roll with my hand carry every other week, Chicago is the first time I flew. It was a tough time due to my poor management; a lot of avoidable problems complicated things. But after all I had a great great time for my last teenage birthday. I cannot complain about anything 🙂 Before and after the trip was hell though, trying to make sure I am up to date with classes…yes although I AM on exchange, student is my first occupation!

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So there I was, landed O’Hare at 7 am (Time difference and all) and caught a glimpse of the friendly first ray of sunshine in Chicago 🙂 The moment I stepped out of airport, I knew it will be a great weekend ahead. As I waited for my travel/ eating/ rooming/ gossiping / shopping / comforting/ buddy (I think the abbreviation is BFF) to arrive Union Station, I rested at *drumrolll* Starbucks (so clichè I know) and had their seasonal special, Pumpkin Spice Latte. ❤ It was not particularly good, in fact it was weird even but it is just a personal attachment I have…pumpkin. hm 🙂

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Before she arrived though, I went to the only place I know of Chicago before I came. As I walked towards my destination following my phone’s GPS, I cannot remember, not even imagine how I survived navigating my way back in Europe with just a good old paper map. One of the most fascinating part in life is to go through the toughest things without realizing how hard it really was. Until you look back and it is already over. Again, we are stronger than we think. Smarter, prettier? That I’m not sure, but definitely tougher. We often underestimate how strong we can be but it is these moments of flashbacks that remind you, there is nothing you can’t overcome.

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As I arrived Millennium Park, I was greeted by two tall, sleek buildings…no wait, they were fountains!

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Beautiful pools of water reflecting my favorite kind of sky. What a brilliant way to start off my wonderful weekend. I love how empty the park was at 9am. Then as I wandered, I caught a brief glance of what I am here for!

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THE INCREDIBLY CHUBBY AND CUTE CLOUD GATE! aww bean bean bean. I was so thrilled when I saw it because it was so much better than I thought it was. It is bigger, fatter, shinier, funnier. It was just so lovely. How can someone come up with such an art piece that integrates  nicely into its neighboring landscape, yet at the same time stand out so brilliantly?

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I walked around it for like 10 times, dragging my luggage along. Sat on the benches opposite the bean for no less than 30 minutes  just watching it. Like it will move or something. It looks different depending where I look at it from. And here below is my favorite angle of THE BEAN ❤

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Thank god I came early and it was a beautiful day. At one point, I was fascinated by this area of sunshine / shade. Is this the line that I am standing on, that as I graduate from university, I am out into the wild. As I step across this virtual line, I am no longer a teenager, I am not longer an adolescence. Whatever I decide or do will matter in the long run and I am no longer sheltered.

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It is a big wide world out there and as a twenty year old, there is a lot to think about. Where to go? How to get there? I am running out of time. But all worries aside, I believe I am stepping into a brighter future, a warm and welcoming zone. All I need is courage, determination and knowing that I am always backed up by my dearest family and friends.

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And finally, THERE SHE IS 🙂

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I don’t remember since when we got so close to a point that she bought me an iPad case that has the exact illustration as one of my favorite puzzle; how we picked out the same VS scent; dressed in complimentary colors; fascination of the Great Gatsby etc. etc. It might not seem like a natural pair at first when we were roommates, but time has proven that we belong together ❤ THANK YOU HKUST, for giving me such an awesome roommate. It is fate that we had such similar upbringing, interests (decadent interests) and ended up in the same place at the same time.

From that point on it was everything we do best:

1) EAT. CHICAGO DEEP DISH.

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We went to a famous restaurant, Giordano’s and ordered a Mushroom and Sausage deep dish pizza to go as it would take an hour to be seated!

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We were seated at some outdoor area and as we savored and indulged our pizza, we realized finishing it is impossible. Then we saw yet another homeless man…I must have seen more than 10 hobos on the streets in one day. It was striking to see how bad the economy in U.S. is. He was so thin and was searching for food in the trash.

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It somehow pulled a string in my heart and we offered our 2 slices of delicious pizza to him unanimously. To our surprise, he was so grateful and kept mumbling “you are great great people” “god bless you” and I just felt so bad because he took such a minimal gesture of ours as a big deal. I really wish him well.

2) SHOP. AURORA OUTLET, MICHIGAN AVE.

Shopping and bags

3) BEING CRAZY. NON-STOP TALKING (we finished a packet of cough drops ha ha.)

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This beach is definitely another favorite spot of mine in Chicago. I mean how often will you see a beach in the middle of the bustling city? We got to the beach at the perfect timing, it was that mash of colors again, blue, white, yellow, pink and violet. Although it was the same color scheme, it was completely different from the beaches at Côte d’Azur.

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Somehow Europe sunsets are rosier and warmer. May be it is just me being sentimental and bias though. Nonetheless, both were stunning views and it reminded me of how badly I miss the beaches at my hometown. 😦DSCN4361

Then of course, the highlight of our trip: My Birthday Dinner :’)

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The food was great, awesome atmosphere, spectacular view and incredible companionship. There is nothing else I can ask for more on my last teenage birthday. So blessed that I got to spend it with someone significant in my life. What a beautiful coincident 🙂

On the last day, we tried to have a final chat at Starbucks…but somehow fate has placed the marathon route right between us and the closet Starbucks…so we could see it but could not reach it. Sigh. Why do we always run into big groups of people?

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On the first day, there was a protest AGAIN (like in Madrid, Copenhagen and Brussels etc.) Notice that the police is on SEGWAY 😀

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Then there is the happy me being a tourist roaming around Chicago.

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The first thing I thought of upon seeing this track was… BATMAN. So at the end of the day, I seem to like Chicago more than New York. (Not because Gotham City was somehow based here) Perhaps It has wider streets and more elegant buildings? Or perhaps it really is because I went with someone special? 🙂

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Final Thoughts:

I saw these balloons at Millennium Park and when I saw the word “RECESS”, I realized just how old I have gotten. It is just such a primary school word. Remember how we would tell people we are 8 and a half years old? Remember how we would refer to ourselves as our full names? The times we would write our names, class and number on EVERYTHING we own?

When was the last time you give yourself a recess?

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