A Series of Firsts: My First Time Back in Chicago

A Series of Firsts: My First Time Back in Chicago

View of the Lake & the IC. Taken by me, Dec. 10 2018.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I came back to start my second semester of Sophomore year, and before coming, I was excited about coming back. Getting to see my friends after a month, living with the best roommate I could have asked for (shoutout to Devashree for putting up with me), being in the Second City again. Yes, I had missed all of this and was excited to see my past professors and going to my new classes, learning something new every day. However, after I landed in Chicago the day before the semester started, I felt out of the loop: I didn’t know what to do next, I wasn’t able to say “Thank you, next!” In reality, I had forgotten how it takes time for me to get used to a new routine.

It was just like this a year ago, when I was still a First Year. At the end of my first semester, I had every single day planned out, and I knew what I had to do at what time of the day in order to stay on track with my To-Do List, and my back-up To-Do List as well. I had gotten used to wearing layers so that I wouldn’t be cold when I went out, but so that I wouldn’t be warm inside. I had figured out my work-out schedule, and I was making enough time for my extracurriculars and spending time with friends. And then, Finals Week hit me like a truck, and Winter Break was upon me. Right when I started feeling like I had gotten the hang of living in Chicago, I was on a plane back to my home, Guatemala. And I was so glad I was, as I got the chance to spend the Holiday Season with my loved ones, and with beautiful weather (cue “White Christmas” but change “White” to “Warm”). I was back home, up high in the mountains, and I didn’t want to come back down. But I did, and once again, as I started getting used to my old life, living with my parents and sister, walking around Antigua with nothing but a light jacket, and seeing my friends, I had to head back to Chi-Town.

Once back in Chicago, I realized how I had to adapt my routine to the New Year (you know what they say: New Year, New Me). And I took that very seriously. You see, that’s the thing I’ve learned about college: your life as you know it is temporary. However, it is the fact that things are fleeting that makes life exciting. I had no idea what that semester would bring to me: I attended my first Women’s March the weekend; I celebrated Chinese New Year in China Town; I went on my first ABI to East St. Louis and got to meet some of the nicest people there; I witnessed the Chicago River turn green for St. Patrick’s day; I saw Loyola’s basketball team beat the odds and get to the NCAA’s Final Four; I enjoyed the first days of Summer in Chicago; and most importantly, I made some of the closest friendships I have to this day. I had none of these things planned, and many of them definitely did not fit my detailed-to-the-hour schedule. But it was during this semester that I got to enjoy the little surprises that setbacks might bring.

Every semester is going to look very different from the rest, whether that be classes, extracurriculars, service work, or what I do in my leisure time. However, I’ve come to see the good side of this: every semester, I get the chance to start anew, to make the changes that I need to make myself feel more comfortable in Chicago and to give my time here a direction, and to enjoy the little things that come along.  I’ve come to realize that it’s important that I focus on my semester only, and not compare it to anyone else’s. This experience is mine, and I have to learn to enjoy it like I want it, not like I think others want me to.

Now, with the Polar Vortex having hit Chicago, with classes being cancelled, I feel once again a little out of place, without a routine to follow. As I write this, I have set myself the goal to take these couple of days to reflect on what I want for this semester: what I want to learn, the people I want to spend time with, the places I want to visit, and the goals I want to accomplish. Every break we get as college students, whether that be due to holiday or to inclement weather, is a chance to look back at what you’ve achieved so far, and what you’re looking to do once the storm passes.

What do you want to achieve this semester?

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