I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of comments and love from you guys in my last post. I am not even kidding you when I say overwhelmed!
Thank you so so much Nic, Dzyan, Mr. Urs, Phunk Factor, Taylor, Aek, bK, bold (you bugger) and Mr Not-Very-Anonymous. :) I really, very much appreciate your comments whether on Twitter, emails or on here because it let me know that I am not talking to an empty space. :)
After an incredible time in Atlanta, meeting some of the most inspiring people I've ever met, I packed up my bag at 5.00am and headed to the airport. I spent the entire night talking to a group of people who are doing amazing things in their own right - one founded a very innovative and powerful website / platform for global engagement and the other, founded an organisation that has saved at least 200 lives of children in developing countries.
So, with only 2 hours nap, I arrived in Chicago feeling rather disoriented and freezing cold! I was picked up from the airport, drove to Evanston where I met a few other International delegates and driven to one of the organising committee's house to have a nap. I had a 2 hours sleep before I was woken up to meet with the other organising team. We then headed into the Loop (the city centre) where we were to spend 2 nights.
I spent the first 2 days in Chicago visiting the tourist spots and working with a few different local non-profit organisations. We took the loop, the 'L', river taxi and we went from a Mexican neighbourhood to a Chinese neighbourhood. It was all really interesting and because we were all International delegates, it was a really good experience overall.
Chicago is an amazing city. Other than the very unpredictable weather, I would say it would be my favourite city after San Francisco, and one of the cities I would definitely choose to live in. The skylines are like no other (its an architectural explosion), the city was beautifully lined with flowers and plants, and the lake just makes the city a whole lot more beautiful.
On the first day, we went around the city - to the Bean, Millenium Park, walked around the lake and took the river taxi - the Pilsen neighbourhood, Chinatown and then bowling.
On the second day, we went to the Hull House at the University of Illinois, Evanston where we volunteered to tutor high school students in an after-school program which was very interesting, and then we headed to a pizza place for Chicago-style pizza - which wasn't really that nice to be honest.
Chicago also holds a very special place in my heart because on the second day, we have a delegate from Europe who has been living in South America for the past year. Blonde messy hair and very much like a hippie surfer style kinda guy, he was the cutest boy amongst most, if not all, of the delegates. Brett can testify that he is indeed cute. He is a very special boy and I will explain why in the second post.
We were both probably the loudest and bubbliest of the bunch, so not surprisingly, we stood out easily amongst all the other delegates. We later found out that we actually are staying together with our lucky host! On the third day, we both headed into the city and checked out the Skydeck - tallest building in the world, walked around the planetarium, aquarium and around the area. We also went through a few parks that I don't know the name of, before we headed back into the city and was late for the opening banquet. At the dinner, I met the third housemate who became one of my closest friend and eventually, my American girlfriend. Don't drop your jaw - it's a long story.
The 5 days conference started from there and everyday, it was workshops after workshops. Each day, after the program has wrapped up, we'll head to parties after parties. I was literally drinking every single night! And I attended two frat parties, which was a VERY interesting experience. Compared to the Australians, we definitely lose hands down with drinking games and craziness, however, when it comes to alcohol, I think the Americans are pretty bad. All beers have a lot less alcohol in the U.S. and so, it throughout the 5-6 nights of drinking, I wasn't really drunk at all.
After 8 days in Chicago, I packed my bag at 3.00am, hugged my American girlfriend goodbye and was driven to the airport at 3.40am with 6 people in the car and a warm pair of hands holding mine. Apparently my American girlfriend cried like a baby after I left. I flew into LA where I was in transit for 12 hours before my flight back to Australia.
I had amazing time in Chicago, overall - it was mega difficult saying goodbye after such an amazing experience and when I was still on the high. It broke my heart quite a bit to say goodbye to some of the people that I have become so close with. Bidding farewell to all the amazing memories - the drinking games, the fun late nights, the early wake up calls, finding love, getting an American girlfriend, learning some new and highly valuable stuff from the conference and most of all, the inspiring people I met at the conference. Oh, this post has been so difficult to write - as you can tell from the lack of eloquence.
Next post will be the second part to Chicago: Finding Love. This is the reason why Chicago holds such a special place in my heart.