Arturo E. Granados ’16 – People call it “The Windy City”; at least that’s what the tourists call it, I’ve never heard a native of Chicago refer to it that way.  In fact, that might be the biggest indicator of a tourist; if they call this place by that name.  As much as I hate to admit it though, we are pretty touristy. I find myself asking my classmates to take my picture in front of different monuments and statues, I am quite shameless and relish in the experience.  We are here for the “Chicago experience,” and by golly we are getting it.  We are taking the “L” Train to get around the city–to get to our class dinners, and most importantly, to get to our host schools.

My host school is The De La Salle Institute.  It is a Catholic school in the La Sallian tradition; meaning that the school was founded my the Christian Brothers and was primarily run by them until very recently (something like 8 years ago).  It is an all-male campus, with a sister school, Our Lady of Lourdes, located about a mile down the road.  The boys at the school have a pretty strict dress-code that consists of khaki/blue pants, a polo/shirt and tie, shaven face and dress shoes.  I have only been there twice thus far but there are so many things that I find interesting about this school.  One is the diversity.  This is the first time in my life that I have been in a classroom where the black and Latin students out-number the white.  It honestly feels very refreshing; its nice to be in an environment where I am not the only with an “accent.”

I admire the way that the educators genuinely care for the well-being of the students at the Institute.  Having students from all types of backgrounds, there are students who are not as studious as others. That being said, these educators (from the Dean of Discipline, the Academic Advisor to the individual classroom teachers) do not seem to lower their expectations of anyone; they expect them to do the best work they can do and there is a sentiment of disappointment if they fail. But it is an environment that supports students who may be failing and tries to help them to do better.

I’ve had a pretty good time so far on this trip.  Like I said, I have been indulging my inner tourist.  Yesterday a whole bunch of us went down to see the famous “Bean”.  Like the conformist millennials we are, we proceeded to take pictures of it; indulging in the way that our reflections were so clearly represented on the giant monument.  We were accompanied by a diverse group of people: Muslims in head dresses, sorority girls, Japanese girls with big white cameras, there was even a man who proposed to his woman right before we approached the bean, she was still crying and fanning herself with her newly engaged hand when we arrived.

Today we all went to China Town to eat…Chinese food.  It was a restaurant that was located more or less in the middle of the main street of China Town, the place is called Emperor’s Choice, if you ever want to drop in. After eating some of the best duck that I have ever tasted, Grant and I went strolling about searching for trinkets to bring back to our families and loved ones.  I love shopping in China Town because you never know what you will find.

All in all I am enjoying Chicago very much.  There are still some things that surprise me, like finding a dead sewer rat on the sidewalk on the way to my school, but I try to take things one step at a time.  Tomorrow I am planning to give my first lesson at De La Salle , so I’m pretty excited for that.  Hopefully I have given you a good insight of what we have done so far on our trip! You’ll hear more from us soon!