Monday, June 7, 2010

Traveler Spotlight

What’s your name?
I’m Jessica from Glasgow, Scotland.

What do you do there?
I’m a student, studying Math and Physics. I’d like to continue on to get my PhD if I get the grades!

So are you traveling all throughout the States?
I’m not traveling as long as some, but yes, I’m traveling for 3 weeks. I just finished my exams and I had two days and then I got on a plane and left! It was actually pretty stressful.

Yeah, sounds like you have a lot going on! Where have you visited aside from Chicago?
It’s actually been quite a strange mix. Pittsburg, which was interesting – not really a touristy city at all. And then Philadelphia, DC, Youngstown, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

Wow, that is a strange mix! How did you decide to visit those places?
Well, my Dad’s girlfriend son graduated from Carnegie Melon in Pittsburg. So they said, “Hey if you come we’ll buy your ticket!” So I decided to do it and then travel on my my own for the rest, staying on the East Coast and then I just really wanted to see Chicago and Milwaukee.

What is it like traveling on your own?
It’s been great. Everyone’s been really nice. There’s a lot more people traveling on their own that I thought there would be. Now that I’ve done it once, I wouldn’t be fazed to do it again. You gain the confidence to go up and just start talking to people. I haven’t met as many Americans here at the hostel, though. More Europeans.

What has been your favorite American city?
I really think Chicago has been the best! There’s so much going on here. The Art Institute is really interesting; we saw the Matisse exhibit. We went to Oak Park, and saw the Frank Lloyd Wright houses. We went to the Gospel Fest, and we saw the Chicago Symphony which was amazing. We also ate the Deep Dish Pizza, it’s kind of touristy but good! We also went to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Any neighborhoods that you’ve really liked?
We went down to Pilsen, and I really liked it. It’s a really interesting neighborhood and kind of hipster. I had never had real Mexican food before and I really liked it. You know a place is good when you walk in and it’s all locals. The National Museum of Mexican Art was also really interesting. Not all of it was my taste but I really think I learned a lot about Mexican culture and history.

Is there something that really surprised you about Chicago?
How livable it is. I could see myself living here very happily. There is so much going on here, so much culture, and cuisine, but at the same time it’s very livable. That’s what makes it different from New York City. It’s a slower pace of life. It’s also not as expensive as I thought it would be.

Have you ever hostelled before?
This is my first hostelling experience in America. I had stayed at one in Ireland, but it wasn’t as nice. I would definitely do it again, especially here in America. I've just had such a good experience. It really seems like the HI hostels have a certain amount of amenities and level of quality. You have locals working here telling you the ins and outs of Chicago, which is great!

So, what are you doing this summer?
I need to go work at my job and make back all the money I’ve spent on this trip! Yeah, just working, and maybe doing some internal tourism in Scotland – just overnight type things.

Is summer fun in Glasgow?
Oh yeah, there’s probably not as much going on as here in Chicago, but it’s a good vibe. If there’s a good summer day - there really aren't very many of them - then everyone is outside. Plus all my friends are back from university, and it becomes like, “Okay, it’s Wednesday night, let’s go to the pub!”

Sounds fun! Well, anything else you’d like to say about Chicago?
Just that I find everyone here very friendly, very pleasant, and I’m coming back to Chicago! This experience has been really life-changing in the sense that I’ve decided that I could really see myself pursuing further education here in America. Or even just working for a couple of years. I’m coming back!

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