I came to Chicago in 2014 for graduate school, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I had never lived away from home (suburban GA) or even knew anybody in the Midwest. Despite all of that, I genuinely felt like Chicago was meant to be my home, at least for a little while. And I was right!
I just celebrated my 4-year Chicago anniversary!
I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since I bought that one-way ticket. And now, I’m planning on another one-way trip to San Diego! I’m working really hard on writing and wrapping up my experiments so that I will be a PhD by January 2019. Now that we’re almost to the finish line, here are some things that I’ll miss about the windy city!
As much as I hate slipping on icy sidewalks and frosty wind chills, I love snow! I still get so excited when the snow settles over the city and everything looks crispy clean. The city is so quiet and still, and it makes me feel calm during those early morning commutes.
Don’t let this photo fool you-I was freezing. My glühwein got cold as soon as it hit that adorable boot mug. Every year, my wife and I go to the Christkindlmarket and we pick out a Christmas tree ornament. She loves the market because it reminds her of Germany, where she was stationed before coming stateside. And I love the market because of all the souvenirs!
I know what you’re thinking. Out of all the things in Chicago, why would I miss the CTA? Well, I love the fact that you can get by in the city without a car and that you can minimize your carbon footprint by using public transit. Also, there is a sense of excitement when you get on a crowded train and everyone is going to the same concert (Ahem, Beyoncé) or fun event.
Fun Networking Socials
For an introvert, I’ve been to a lot of networking events. And honestly, they have all been so much fun! Chicago is filled with opportunities to network, join activist groups, volunteer with grassroots organizations (like Project Fierce Chicago!), and just get to know people in your field. I recently went to a McKinsey-sponsored event for women in STEM called Plant Nite, and I made this terrarium. If you’re wondering… Yes, all the succulents are still alive and well!
When I think back to my first few days rotating in the lab and getting adjusted to grad school coursework, I wonder, “Man, who let me in here?” I have grown so much as a scientist and scholar, and it’s wild to think that this transformation all happened within the past 4-5 years. As corny as it sounds, what I’ll miss most about Chicago is my lab and the connections I’ve made with other neuroscientists. I hope that wherever my PhD takes me next, that I’ll bond with my coworkers and supervisors just as much, if not more, than I already have now.
Just a few more months to go!