Rediscovering Chicago with new friends

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(Left to right) Paige Fishman, Samantha Meade and Avni Prasad enjoy an afternoon at Millennium Park. Photo by Ben Goldsmith.

As a lifelong Chicago resident, I was unenthusiastic about the impending field trips downtown.

I was uncomfortable with the idea of a chaperoned walk around my home city. I was not excited for the architectural cruise — which I had taken the past two summers — nor was I looking forward to taking selfies in the reflective Bean and pretending to be a tourist just 10 minutes from my house. I thought I would rather be home napping or seeing my family.

But I was wrong.

On the architectural cruise, I soaked in my new friends’ amusement as they gazed at the Willis Tower and learned about the Great Chicago Fire. My negative attitude faded. I decided not to fixate on the tour guide’s trivia since I already knew that Chicago means “stinky onion.” Instead, I reminisced about previous times in the city and focused on finding joy in my friends’ excitement.

While students from all over the world admired the postcard cityscape for the first time, I saw my home. On the boat, we talked and laughed with one another, sharing stories about our own unique home lives. I felt proud and excited to share my city with the people whom I had previously only connected with in 1835 Hinman and Fisk Hall.

My vision of filing my nails on the boat dissolved. I was surrounded by my friends — taking selfies, bonding and making memories with them. I was exhausted from meeting deadlines all week and late-night dance parties in the dorm each night, and the other cherubs’ enthusiasm became my own.

Acting as a docent to new friends from all over the world allowed me to see my city in a new light. The friendships that I formed while exploring my home and living in a college dorm will last a lifetime. Now I’ve really “Bean there, done that.”