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So I just came back from a wonderful week with my family, traveling through Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. It was my first time in the mid-west and I was lucky enough to experience it in such beautiful weather.

We flew into Chicago Saturday afternoon, barely dodging a thunderstorm. The night before, concertgoers of Lollapalooza (a giant music festival stationed in Grant Park of Chicago) were actually kicked out for about 2 hours due to the rain. Fortunately, the festival opened up again for Red Hot Chili Peppers to end the night. Anyways, everything was still wet and the air was humid when we got there, but I’m grateful Chicago dumped her big downpour right before our arrival. There were only a few baby drizzles left for us that week.

Right after landing, we picked up our rental car and drove north to Arlington Heights. We spent the night at my dad’s coworker’s place and there I got my first taste of local Chicago pizza and beer. If any of you are in the area and down for some amazing pizza, stop by Lou Malnati’s (apparently they also ship their pizzas anywhere in the US). Also, definitely try 312 by Goose Island Beer Co. Due to my age and lack of experience with beer, I can’t really say much more than it tastes pretty darn good. Throughout this week, I also tried Dark Horse, Bell’s, and Matilda—all locally brewed. I’m glad I got the opportunity to appreciate some quality beer before returning to Berkeley… Oh yeah, I also got to play with our host’s super adorable baby.

The cutest little thing on this trip

The next morning we began our mini road trip eastward. Our first destination was the Indiana Dunes State Park and here I got my first glimpse of a real midwestern beach. This particular beach is located on the southern-most point of Lake Michigan (in case you’re unfamiliar with American geography). Here, the sand was a beautiful white, the waves were choppy, and the dunes were super fun to climb. Also, the beach was lined with luscious trees—an unfamiliar sight coming from Socal.

Indiana Dunes State Park

Beach, trees, and factory

In Michigan, we made many stops including New Buffalo, Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Marshall, Ann Arbor and Detroit. I don’t really have much to say besides the fact that Michigan is an incredibly beautiful state. I definitely wouldn’t mind making another trip here. The only downside was visiting Detroit, which I found to be a somewhat depressing city. It definitely wasn’t as lively and welcoming as our other destinations.

New Buffalo, MI

New Buffalo, MI

Benton Harbor, MI

Funny sign that was strangely common in Michigan

Ross School of Business, where I’ll be getting my MBA (not really)

On the way back to Chicago, we stopped by South Bend, home to Notre Dame, and a couple Amish towns in Indiana.

Caught this picture while driving by

Finally we returned to Chicago where we spent the last half of our week. These days were filled with great food, amazing things to see, and lots and lots of walking. We stayed at the Drake Hotel; a beautiful building built in 1920 and filled with history. One of our first attractions in Chicago was the riverboat tour. We cruised along the river with a guide who taught us all about the beautiful architecture besides the river. The knowledge shared really gave my family a stronger sense of appreciation for the city. Further into the week, my mom and I visited the Art Institute of Chicago while my dad attended his business conference (the reason why we came here in the first place). First of all, I love art. So this museum, on top of all the wonderful architecture in the city, got me really stoked. All the Lichtenstein (there was a huuuuge collection) and impressionist works were my favorite. And there were so many other great artists… To name a few: Monet, Seurat, Cassatt, Hopper, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, and Degas.

Riverboat architecture tour

Haystacks by Monet

At the beach nearby The Drake

On our last night in Chicago, there was a free opera playing at Millennium Park. How lucky are we to have caught a first-class orchestra playing at such a nice venue? What a way to end the trip.

I really loved Chicago. The city is gorgeous and clean. There are shrubs and flowers everywhere: along roads, between medians, and hanging upon buildings. People here are nice and happy. It’s a shame that this place gets a poor reputation due to the poverty that surrounds it. Anyways, this is a definitely a place I would want to move to after college.

Anyhow, I return to school this Saturday and classes start next Thursday August, 23. So expect to hear some college related updates!

Your friend,

Alan

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One thought on “My Week in the Mid-West

  1. Thanks for sharing, Alan! Sounds like you had an awesome trip.

    Coincidentally, I was also in the Midwest over the weekend, from Thursday through Sunday, for my sister’s white coat ceremony (Congrats to her!) at the University of Oakland William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan.

    Unfortunately since I was only there for about 3 days, I didn’t get to see as much as Alan, but it was still nice visiting somewhere new. Like Alan said, Michigan is a beautiful state. What stood out most to me was the vast sea of trees extending in all directions for as far as you can see. The incredible vegetation and brick style homes give Michigan a very cozy and colonial feel. It is definitely a different environment than California. Personally, I don’t think I could ever live here because I don’t think I could handle the harsh winters and extended periods of gloomy days. But it was a great trip and once again I encourage you all to take any opportunity you have to travel, especially during summer when you don’t have the obligations of school to worry about. Traveling raises your awareness of the world by allowing you to experience and see new things, gain an appreciation for where you live, and/or maybe even entice you to consider living somewhere new.

    For Alan and I, our summers are pretty much over. But for those of you who still have a month or so left, you still have time to travel somewhere new if you haven’t already.

    It’s crazy how fast this summer went by, but like Alan said, with school starting be ready for some more college-related posts from the both of us!

    Peace and love,
    Stefano

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