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Spontaneous move

Posted: October 7, 2014 9:07 a.m.
Updated: October 8, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Last summer, I made one of the most spontaneous decisions ever in my life. I decided to go to Chicago: a massive city in land size and population that I never visited before. Spontaneity isn’t exactly my middle name, so I was pretty nervous before I even paid for the essentials of my trip.

Chicago is a city I wanted to visit for years, and I finally had the extra funds to take a extravagant vacation. I wanted to go soon after school let out for summer, but I was a little smart about it and I used a month and a half to plan.

At that time, the crime rate in Chicago was pretty high, so I felt a little crazy traveling there alone with no prior knowledge of the city. However, I decided to take my chances.

I forced myself to book a flight and a room at the place where I planned to stay a month and a week in advance (late May) so I would not be able to change my mind. I did not tell my mother or anyone else right away who I knew would object to my trip choice. I did not want to be talked out of it or hindered in any way. I needed a vacation, I deserved a vacation and I was going to take it willingly or forcefully.

I had anxiety about going (not necessarily because I feared being caught in gunfire) after I paid for my plane ticket and room. I feared getting lost and missing out on a must-see or -do activity. I feared getting lost in the airport (going) and missing my flight and I feared not being able to figure out the public transportation system. Many nights before I left for Chicago I prayed to God to be with me or at least send someone to guide me.

July 4th came and I made it to the airport safely to fly to Chicago. I also made it onto my flight with no major problems. I saw getting on and off my plane from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta safely as a good sign. A little misfortune did occur on my way from Atlanta to Chicago …  I got airsick and was miserable the whole way. “Bad sign!” I remember thinking. Fearing that my sickness served as a sign for what was ahead made me fear losing my luggage, but fortunately that did not happen.

I stayed at a bed and breakfast and one of the perks was pick up and drop off at the airport by one or both innkeepers. After getting sick, I was thankful to not have to haul my bags onto a train or bus to get to my destination.

The innkeepers were great, my room was really nice and things only got better from there. I experienced Lake Michigan on a boat that same day with the innkeepers and some of their friends. We had a great view of the skyline and fireworks.

The next day, I toured the University of Chicago, and walked down the Magnificent Mile on North Michigan Avenue where I saw a Tina Turner impersonator and a bronze man. I checked out the Navy Pier and strolled through Millennium Park.

On day three, I went to so many places that I cannot remember them all (I do have pictures, though). The riverboat tour is definitely the most memorable thing I did that day. The boat started at the Chicago Riverwalk and drifted between some of Chicago’s most beautiful architecture. It was a great way to see the city.

Day four was my birthday and I went up to the 94th floor of John Hancock Building and then treated myself to a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. I also visited the Art Institute of Chicago and did some shopping back on North Michigan.

My last day was bittersweet and I only had time to do one thing. I decided to visit Lincoln Park Zoo, which ended up being a bit of a disappointment. Few animals were out where they could be seen and it was raining. The day was not a complete waste. Getting back to the bed and breakfast from the zoo was a bit of an adventure. I got lost and stumbled on some places that I had not seen before; some places to go back to the next time I visit.

This trip taught me that acting on impulse does not always have disastrous results. I found that I can be happy all by myself and I learned that I can be self-sufficient. Going to Chicago also taught me money management because being alone in a huge city with no family or friends around for support (if needed) forced me to keep track of my purchases to preserve my funds.

I survived in Chicago on my own and am braver because of it. I now have the guts to continue to be spontaneous and travel more places by myself.


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