So, this past Friday, I was able to go to my aforementioned visa appointment due to having received my contract in good enough time. Though I will admit that I probably stressed out a little too much about the whole contract thing, it was a stressful thing for me, especially because I know of other assistants who are still waiting on their contracts. I am so thankful that is not me. So, on Friday, I took the day off work, and I drove up to Chicago with my mamma for my visa appointment. I did not want this day to be only about the visa appointment, even though that was the main goal. It was sunny and beautiful, and maybe just a little too warm, but warm. Thankful for that beautiful weather.
Even though I’ve been to Chicago a handful of times before, I realized that I haven’t really seen too much of Chicago itself. So, I decided to do a bit of the tourist thing with my mom. We did it on the cheap though, because well, I always have a tight budget and travel cheaply, and traveling cheaply can actually make for some good stories.
We got to Chicago quite early so that we could benefit from the parking garage early bird special, which was half of the normal price. Because of that we had some time to walk around and look at some of the tourist hot spots. Well, first there was coffee because like the ridiculous addict I am, I could not not stop by a local coffee company. So, we stopped by Intelligentsia. Coffee was pretty good, and it was a cute little place. However, I didn’t have a chance to take a picture or really soak in the environment because I was all sorts of awkward trying to make sure that I had the day planned out, and well, it was morning rush hour. So, everyone was getting their morning coffee. Still a good stop though. I would definitely go back there and try to enjoy the environment if I was ever in that neck of the woods again.
Afterwards, we visited Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean!), and took touristy selfies because why not? haha. It was a really cool thing to look at. We took a few pictures and then found a bench to finish enjoying our coffees.
Afterwards we walked a bit through Millennium Park, through some gardens, and eventually made our way to the Buckingham fountain, which is a massive fountain, one of the biggest I think I’ve ever seen. Also took some pictures of some pretty flowers and cool sculptures.
I normally don’t like being a tourist because I’m more of a world traveler type, meaning I usually try to get to know the real city and the locals and their customs, but unfortunately, less than 12 hours doesn’t allow for that stuff. So, I decided to embrace the tourist thing.
After Buckingham fountain, we headed over to Crown fountain, which is quite unique, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like two large pillars that have water that runs down their sides and pools together in the middle between the two, almost creating a rather large and controlled puddle. We just sat there soaking in the sun and the breeze, people watching. One of my favorite things. People are the most interesting.
Sitting there made me realize how much I miss living in a big city. There’s so much life and culture in a big city, something my heart really longs for. Even though I’m slightly disappointed that the city I was placed in is quite small as far as cities go (about 52,000 people), I’m excited to be back in a French city. It will be overwhelming and stressful for the first few weeks, but I feel that good things will occur there. I have a really great feeling about my time in France. I think there will be so many opportunities for me there, and I’m extremely excited to see what those will be. Sitting there, I also realized though how much I’m going to miss everyone here at home. It’s kind of a bittersweet journey I’m about to embark on. Yesterday marked six weeks before I leave. Only six weeks remain. That’s so hard to believe. It seemed like just yesterday I found out that I was going to be going back to France.
Anyways, back to Chicago. We walked around a little bit more, found a restroom, and after sitting some more, finally I could not handle the nervousness anymore. So, I decided to go on up to my appointment. Unfortunately, my mom could not come with me, so I went by myself. I didn’t have a problem with that, but it would’ve been nice to have someone to talk to for the hour and a half that I had to wait until they called my name. My appointment was set for 11 am. They didn’t call my name until about 12:20. I was a little peeved that they were so far behind, but I wasn’t the only assistant waiting. There were so many others that were waiting. So, I felt slightly more at ease, but the stress of waiting was worsened by the fact that I had to pee the entire time I was waiting. Curse my awful coffee addiction.
After those terrible circumstances, we headed over to Pizzeria Uno to grab lunch and so that I could finally use the restroom (There aren’t any public restrooms in the French consulate. The worst torture at the time). There’s nothing like Chicago deep dish, and this place was a really small and cute pizza place. I liked it a lot.
Since we were running short on time, we only had time to go see a couple more places on our list, a used bookstore called Afterwords and a cute candy store called Dylan’s Candy Bar. I’ve decided that my ”travel thing” is visiting used bookstores in the cities that I go to. Of course, I was in heaven, and we spent at least half an hour if not longer in there. I bought 5 books, and at that point, I had to stop myself because I really couldn’t afford to buy anymore books. Also, I don’t really need anymore books, and I just made my “which books am I going to bring with me to France” crises a little worse. Yes, that is an actual problem that I know I will have once I start packing for France. The candy store was really adorable too. So many types of candy. It was a little overwhelming. It also had a lollipop tree, which was, unfortunately, not made with real lollipops.
After that, we sat by another, smaller fountain (they are everywhere) just for about 10 to 15 minutes and then we headed back to our car. So, a short day of travel, but a good day of travel. It was good to see actual parts of Chicago, even if we didn’t see a lot and even if they were mostly touristy things. So, we left for home around 4ish. On a sidenote, my GPS was getting quite confused on leaving Chicago, so we ended up lost in Chinatown for a good 10 minutes. It’s quite interesting to know that Chinatown is actually situated a little ways south of the actual downtown Chicago area. I actually did not envision that being so, a little interesting fact to know.
So, a short but sweet visit to Chicago. Hopefully my visa will show up in the mail sometime this week. I’ve heard from other assistants that the Chicago consulate is quite quick. I hope that’s the case for me.
As for other small updates, I’ve been preparing for my trip, and it is so stressful. There is so much to do. I’ve been in contact with my contact person at the main school I’ll been working at, and he has been extremely helpful. However, there is still so much to do. I have some leads on some housing, but I won’t actually know anything until I get closer to the actual date. There are a few places that are essentially like university-type studio apartments but for young workers instead. It’s a little bit more expensive than I was planning on spending, but the price includes rent, utilities, wifi, furniture, bed linens, a toilet, shower, sink, fridge, a small stove, and a kitchen sink. So, I think it kind of evens out. It won’t be a full kitchen, but it’s better than nothing. It won’t be glorious living, but I don’t need much just for me. I also hope that I can get into the apartment complex that is closest to the city center because if I can, then my walk to school will only be about 5 minutes. Let’s hope and pray that I can get into that one.
I’ve also been getting along great with the other assistants placed in Laval, and I think we will be a nice little expat family. It’s nice to know that I will have some friends once I get there.
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to find a foster home for my fuzzy friend while I’m gone, trying to get my student loan situation figured out, and making sure that everything else is in order. It’s overwhelming, but I’m trying not to stress about it too much. Moving to a foreign country is crazy. It’s crazy awesome, but still super crazy!
Well until next time… à plus mes amis!