Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Phoenix Burns Bright in Chicago

There is much more to Chicago than high rises and bustling streets.  There are places with Ivy-covered buildings, lush plant life, and the general peace and quiet that one would not associate with Hercules, let alone Chicago.

Chicago in the morning.
Despite all the stereotypes, I found that there is a lot more depth to this city than hot dog stands and tourist traps.  This was because today, I visited the University of Chicago, in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood.  Shades of Berkeley were present here, though, it seemed to be much more pristine than I would imagine.

We made our way to the admissions office and met up with Callie Brown, the Assistant Admissions Director.  We had originally spoken to Callie a few months beforehand at an informational session at El Cerrito High School.  She gave us a special in-depth information session.

Once the clock struck 12:00, she gave the reins to Elin Meliska, a rising senior and currently a tour guide at UC. She gave us a detailed tour of the entire campus, expanding on the housing systems (the dormitories are divided by house), the various classrooms (something extremely interesting was that most of the classrooms were set up as a discussion area, not as a lecture hall), and the fun student activities (the Scav hunt, a university-wide scavenger hunt seemed very great).
An Ivy-colored hall.

With the students.
When the tour finished we joined two other students, Cullen Seaton and Lucy Peterson, for a nice lunch at Hutchinson Commons.  This was an interesting parallel, and provided the strong personal nature that was not as present at Northwestern. 

We learned not just a lot about the University of Chicago, but also about the city itself, the personal likes and dislikes of the students.  All three were wonderful people and I hope that they do read our blogs.

Hutchinson Commons only pushes the
Hogwarts point.
After that, Callie took us to the Mansueto Library and we traversed the labyrinth of automated bookcases.  It was both amazing, and terrifying.  I would not want to get lost in there.

The rain drove us straight to the bus stop, and eventually, back to the hotel.  It was surprisingly great because we made an umbrella fort.  Once we returned to the hotel, we immediately started getting ready for dinner with Callie.

ILC with Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr.
At 7:20, we set off to the Gibson Steakhouse.  We caught up with Callie along the way, and even took a picture with the Reverend Jesse Jackson!  The restaurant was very crowded, but it had a nice, homely feel to it.  We spoke to Callie about various topics, not just about the school, but about the city and her own experiences with the Bay Area.  It was very interesting and the atmosphere was much more relaxed, not to mention the filet mignon was fantastic.

Good night Callie!
Even though I the University of Chicago seemed to be a wonderful school, the visit taught me a very important lesson.  I learned that it is important to scrutinize a college—and to remember that not all of them will be the right fit for me.  That does not infringe on the quality of the education or the university, it just means that I need to keep looking.

And I will do just that.


  1. Jobel,

    There are more than 3600 colleges and universities in the US. If they were all the same they could just use the same name and they could be housed in cookie cutter designed campuses much like a MacDonald's or a Motel 6.

    Instead, most of them try to formulate their own uniqueness that sets them apart from all of the other schools.

    Finding that one school that is the perfect fit for you can be difficult. Sometimes it the locale, the weather, the politics and sometimes even the way they teach the subject matter.

    Few have the time or the resources to check out all 3600 of these schools but we do what we can with what we have. Spending four years at a school that isn't the right fit is not only a bad choice but can flavor the rest of your life in a negative way.

    Keep up with the research, Jobel, til you find some place where you can be comfortable.

  2. Jobel,

    Great blog entry! We are definitely reading and keeping up with you guys. It was great to meet you, enjoy your time at Cornell!

    Hope to see you here again!

    Elin, Lucy and Cullen