Friday, August 16, 2013

Traveller's Spotlight - Raquel

I caught Raquel fresh into the hostel, on her first day!

What brings Raquel to Chicago is simple- wanting a good vacation before the stresses of her life back home resume! Raquel is from Spain, finished law school and in September she will be doing an apprenticeship studying to be a judge.

Her time in Chicago she plans on taking advantage of the walking tours organized by the hostel, exploring the city, and practicing her English. So far she has gotten a chance to explore Millennium Park, but she has enjoyed every minute of it and she can't wait for more adventures to come. She has already signed up for the afternoon walking tour of Logan Square!

Raquel has been to France and Italy on her other travels, and compared to those places, Chicago is very open minded, however very busy and always doing something. "In Spain I feel like people are used to being with family, here, people are more independent and on their own," she said.

Raquel will be staying at the hostel for a month, if you see her say HI!

Traveller Spotlight- Jinil!

Jinil is pictured here on the blue line L heading towards a
walking tour of Logan Square provided by the Hostel!
Meet Jinil!

Jinil is from Seoul, Korea, and has one more semester left in his studies of becoming a doctor!
He has been four days so far in Chicago, and has taken advantage of the Hostel's walking tours, and, his own exploration of the city.

What brought Jinil to the U.S in the first place was his clinical rotation that he did in Minnesota. After a few moths of that, Jinil had an urge to travel around America before going back to Korea to finish up school. With no family in the U.S, Jinil packed his bags after his clinical rotation and decided to go. So far, Jinil has Been to New York, Minnesota, North Carolina, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Ottawa.

In Chicago, Jinil has enjoyed the view in the Hancock, the Jazz bars, and the easy bus and train transportation."The buses in Minnesota come, like, once an hour," he laughs. Jinil has also noted cultural differences in Chicago versus other areas in the U.S. "People here are very much like 'city people'. Busy, indifferent...people in North Carolina are more intimate, they say hi to strangers on the streets," he said.

Jinil has some time left in Chicago, hopefully he can spend it loosening up the busy city folk from their everyday routine :D

Traveller Spotlight- Michelle!

Spotted taking a break in the TV room, was Michelle, a darling UK native who is on an exciting journey across the U.S.

Michelle started her adventure in Virginia, from which she has been to New York, Washington D.C, and Pittsburgh, among other places. Chicago is her sixth stop in the U.S, but it is so far Michelle's favorite. "I didn't expect to see so much culture and arts," she said. What would Michelle recommend for a first time Chicago visitor? Checking out the free entertainment that Chicago offers. "Find the free stuff. There is so much of it, I spent almost nothing on entertainment here so far."

Michelle's experience in Chicago and in the U.S so far has been great. She describes Chicago as an intriguing place with many unique subcultures that are very different from one another. San Francisco, California is another place that has made a big impression on her. American landscapes in general are fascinating to Michelle. "It's an amazing place to vacation, the culture is very busy though, not a place I would love to live in." In Michelle's experience, the Middle East or Australia are among the top places she could see herself settling down in. "It's easy to have a social life in the Middle East or Australia," she laughs.

Back 'home', Michelle has a job that she describes as being like a college student, but getting paid. She is a travelling international teacher. "I grew up living in and then teaching in a middle class area with middle class students, every day was more or less the same. Then one day I thought, there's got to be something more." So, she got out the daily paper, found a teaching job in Malaysia, and hasn't looked back. Since then she's been to Malaysia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia; other parts of Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia; and many other places she couldn't even list. "If I went through every letter of the alphabet I could probably tell you a place or country I've been to," she said. Her travelling is so extensive that it primarily only excludes the North and South poles, and South America.

Michelle is going to be spending around 11 weeks total travelling through the U.S, staying at hostels, of course. She has had a great experience so far with hostelling international, and she is planning on staying at the San Diego hostel when she finds herself there next week.

Safe travels Michelle!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Traveller Spotlight - John and Andrea

John (left) and Andrea (right) after enjoying breakfast at the
Hostel and a brief interview.
Meet John and Andrea!

On this cloudy Friday morning, I came across John and Andrea, who surprisingly enough are not travelling together, nor are they friends - they happened to meet each other that very morning and sat down to eat breakfast before I came up and started questioning them about their lives...

John, is a businessman in his home of Colombia, which he refers to as "the place you fall in love." Andrea, on the other hand, is from Italy where he works as a salesperson in a hardware and software company. There are, however, a few things these two have in common. For one, they are both in Chicago studying English. For both of them, it is their first time in Chicago, and in the U.S! They love it. All the way from the convenient and easy to use public transportation, to the friendliness and liveliness of Chicago. And lastly, they both are staying here at the hostel for 1 more month, after which they are going back to their lives and jobs in their hometowns.

For John, this U.S trip took him 3 years of planning. John is the owner of a small engineering company that handles, among other things, imports and exports, and it is crucial for him to communicate efficiently in English. John has been in the U.S since last September, staying at hostels. He first stayed 6 months in Boston, he has since then been to New York, Miami, and Texas. He has been in Chicago, and at the hostel, since March. Compared to the other places he visited in the U.S, he ranks Chicago the highest. "It has a small town feeling, even though it is such a big town, people are so friendly.Usually in big cities people don't talk to you. In Boston they don't even look at you." John's favorite thing about the hostel is the 2nd floor, and, that the hostel is so conveniently located in the loop. John is an outdoorsy guy and his favorite thing about Chicago so far is running along the lakefront, and biking. He has taken advantage of many of the bike routes, and has even bought a bike since he's been in Chicago.

Andrea has done much travelling around Europe and been to Spain, France, England, and Croatia. He arrived in Chicago just last week, but it has already made a special impression on him. "I love this town. It is incredible! Its friendly, easy...What surprised me the most is the buildings, I live in a small town [in Italy]. The tallest building there has 11 floors," he laughs. Andrea evidently loves the city, he's been up in the John Hancock observatory and seen a good view of the city and the lake, but, even after hours of nosing around the city, he's been having a hard time physically finding the lake, and has yet to find it, he says....