From Poland to Peru
The past week was a whirlwind of socializing. It can be summed up in a few words - daytime trips to IKEA, and nightime events that involved visiting multiple bars and clubs. It was good to meet some of my new classmates, one of whom was the (in)famous Wakechick. Good times, but I'm taking the weekend to chill. Some folks were surprised by my decision to move here in mid-July because it was so early - a good month and a half before LEAD was scheduled to begin. But in hindsight it was a good decision. I was able to get comfortable with my neighborhood and using the 'L', work on setting up the apartment once my stuff showed up, and now have a bit of free time to meet others. It seems like the people that are now showing up are going through the pains of moving and settling in, and are not coming out and socializing much just yet.
A few nights ago, I went out with some students and partners. It was a birthday celebration for one of the partners, and the group decided to hit a Polish nightclub. There is a significant Polish population in Chicago, and I was curious enough to go a few miles out of my way to check out the nightclub. It was pretty far - about 5 miles west of my neighborhood and about 9 miles from the center of downtown. That may not seem far based on Bay Area standards, where you have to drive everywhere unless you live in SF. But here in Chicago, where most clubs and bars are accessible via 20 minutes on the train or 10 minutes in a cab, the club was a haul. It was great - a $5 cover charge got me a few good hours of music and dancing, despite the chimney effect. I encountered this a great deal on my trip to Europe - smelling like smoke whenever I came back from any public venue. In that sense, with the loud Europop and mix music, a DJ speaking in a foreign language, and a haze of cigarette smoke, Jedynka felt just like Europe. I didn't understand any of the Polski being spoken, but remembered enough of my phrases in Czech to figure out that 'Jedynka' translated to 'One'. The Slavic languages that I encountered during my trip to Europe were similar enough so that a basic knowledge in one helped with the others. The group was a small but fun crowd - the number of people willing to come out to an event drops off fast when its far from downtown or Lincoln Park/Lakeview.
This next week I have to figure out my class schedule and pack for Peru - I leave in less than a week! I'm really looking forward to spending a week hiking to Machu Picchu with 15 or so of my classmates. No music, no alcohol, just a small group of us climbing a mountain. Not that I haven't enjoyed the past week of going out, but it will be nice to have a change of pace and spend some more time getting to know people. By the end of the hike, when we're all exhausted and gnarly from not having access to a shower, I will likely know them better than I ever imagined I would...