Monday, May 29, 2017


If you look up attractions in Chicago, the list is literally endless. I don't understand how one city could possibly have so much, but it does. I wonder if you could even explore every nook and cranny of Chicago in a lifetime. However, I narrowed down my list of top attractions to these seven:

Crown fountain
1. Millennium Park: Besides just the iconic Bean, the park has other beautiful landmarks. It has the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the BP Bridge, the Crown Fountain, a theater, and galleries, just to name a few things. You could probably spend a whole day just exploring the unique things found here. From what I know, there is absolutely nothing like this anywhere around here and every inch of this park seems precious.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion
2. Skydeck: I truly believe my life would be incomplete without visiting Skydeck. I had seen a video of it and I remember putting it on my bucket list. There's a glass floor 103 stories high that people can walk on. That says enough for itself. Not to mention, I'm afraid of heights so this experience will be even more exhilarating for me. Maybe I'll come out of it immune to acrophobia.

MSI from outside. Even better from the inside
3. Museum of Science and Industry: I admit I almost started fangirling a little when I looked at their website. Their exhibitions include many huge Lego-built sculptures, advanced robots, a near-exact replica of the U-505 submarine, the Fairy Castle (a gorgeous miniature mansion), and a mirror maze just to name a few. This is a must-see museum for me.

An exhibition in Museum of Surgical Sciences
that honestly wants to make me see more
4. International Museum of Surgical Sciences: The museum claims to be the only museum in North America that is devoted to surgery. I found this very interesting, and school never focuses much on the history of surgery. I honestly have always wondered exactly how surgeries were done before without the technologies provided today. The pricing is pretty good here (better than the planetarium) and we'll come out knowing things we would never know about otherwise. 

Interactive climbing wall at Navy Pier
5. Navy Pier: This pier seems to be a very ramped up version of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. It includes the Centennial Wheel, a huge Ferris wheel, Crystal Gardens, a one-acre botanical garden, and best of all, interactive climbing walls. Where can you find interactive climbing walls? It looks like an ideal place to have an adventure.

An exhibition in the Planetarium
6. Adler Planetarium: The planetarium looks beautiful inside and out. It has many shows, such as Planet Nine and Destination Solar System, that are very popular attractions. It also has its own public observatory that I would definitely like to take a look from. Though there are many planetariums around here, there isn't one any where near as grand as this one.

Buckingham Fountain at night. 
Looks beautiful
7. Buckingham Fountain: This is one of the largest fountains in the world. It has huge 20 minute water displays every hour and its center water jet sprays water 150 feet into the air.

7 Wonders of Chicago

It was a surprising difficult task to pick out seven places I want to visit during my stay in Chicago this summer. There is just so much in the city - it was almost impossible to make a choice. Eventually, I caved in to my weakness for pretty scenery and lovely architectures, and below are my picks for where I want to go in Chicago this summer! 
  • The Renaissance Society - Founded in 1915, it is one of the nation's oldest museums dedicated to contemporary art, which is quite ironic. The Renaissance Society generally features around four exhibition per year, with frequent events like concerts, mini performances, poetry readings, and much more. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch one of these events when I visit (particularly one of the poetry readings) because that will be one unforgettable experience for sure.
Inside the Renaissance Society
  • Rockefeller Chapel - Don't get me started on this one! The Rockefeller Chapel has to be probably the place I'm most excited to visit. You don't even have to be religious to appreciate this work of art. The architecture of this chapel is simply amazing - and not only on the outside. The interior of the chapel is breathtaking as well, adorned by intricate woodcarvings. There is no way I'll miss visiting a place as beautiful as this. 
    Interior of the Rockefeller Chapel
    Rockefeller Chapel in the evening
  • Gerald Ratner Athletics Center - A completely vibe than the chapel, but somewhere I want to visit equally as much, is the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, named after Gerald Ratner, a UChicago alumnus. This super fancy athletic center is designed by César Pelli, who is also the architect of the tallest twin building in the world, the Petronas Towers! Basically, this is just me wanting to visit an extremely nice athletic facility that also happens to have unique architecture.
    Gerald Ratner Athletics Center
  • Promontory Point - All these buildings and city structures - it's time for me to include some nature in this list! (Though, perhaps, not completely "natural" nature.) Promontory Point is actually a man-made peninsula, but of course, that doesn't make its view and scenery any less beautiful. I'd imagine this would be the perfect place to unwind and relax. (Fun fact: apparently, they used to occasionally ticket swimmers, but finally they have opened an official swimming area.)
    Man-made peninsula
  • Joe and Rika Mansueto Library - If any of you believed I could actually complete my Chicago visit without at least going to one library, I am very sorry to disappoint you. There's is no way a bookworm like me can resist the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. The newest library in the university of Chicago, it is designed as a glass dome. Super awesome! I really want to try reading there. 
The elliptical glass dome of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library
Museum of Science and Industry
  • Museum of Science and Industry - Any science and industry museum that is situated right in front of a body of water is my cup of tea. At the Museum of Science and Industry, there are 75 major halls and over 2000 exhibits - I can't even go to all of them in one day! The museum seems to be quite a popular tourist attraction, so I'm sure it'll be crowded, but I think it is definitely worth a visit.
  • Statue of The Republic in Jackson Park - It is designated as a Chicago Landmark. Although it stands 24 feet tall, it is actually a smaller replica of another statue. Chicago historians refer to her as the "Golden Lady." I'm not sure what, but there's just something about this statue that calls out to me, and I really want to see it in person. 
    I thought this was a golden version of the Statue of Liberty at first...
That concludes my list of seven places I want to visit in Chicago this summer! There are so many more interesting and worthwhile places, I hope I get to visit more than just these seven that I mentioned here and share the experience with everyone. 

The Places Where I'll be Spending my Free Time This Summer

There are many things that I’m looking forward to doing in Chicago, so when Don asked us to come up with a list of 7 activities, I had more trouble narrowing down my options than researching them. Here they are, in no particular order.

Museum of Contemporary Art
A work of art by Takashi Murakami
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) has 4 stories of art as well as a 34,000 square foot sculpture garden. This museum is high on my list of things to do for a couple of reasons. First, the building had a redesign in 1996, and its spiral staircase is magnificent and something I would love to photograph. Next, it features some of my favorite artists, including an installation in the sculpture garden by Sol Lewitt, whose work is really appealing to me. Finally, the museum will host an exhibition by Takashi Murakami, someone whose art I want to see in person, during the time that I’ll be in Chicago.
The central stairwell of the MCA
Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is a very large museum that interests me because it showcases a wide variety of art. Unlike the MCA, the Art Institute exhibits more historical works, and also has a broader depth of the mediums that it showcases. This museum has a dedicated section for Architecture and Design, as well as a photography collection. The museum is huge and filled with art, and I’m sure I’ll leave feeling very inspired. 
The exterior of the Art Institute
Willis Tower Skydeck Observatory
One of the glass floors of The Ledge
The Willis Tower is 110 stories tall, and is the tallest building in America. On the 103rd floor, there is a collection of glass floors that extend out from the building collectively known as The Ledge. The main reason I want to visit this particular building is because I want to view the city from above, and see everything in context. Rooftopping is something that I enjoy but won’t be doing in Chicago, so this experience would provide me with a similar thrill and vantage point to take pictures from. 
Willis Tower from a distance
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo is not only a decently-sized zoo with around 35 acres of land and over 1,000 total animals, it has free (!) admission. I’m intrigued by its Regenstein Birds of Prey exhibit, mostly because it houses the cinereous vulture, which is one of the largest species of birds of prey in the world. Additionally, polar bears rank highly on my list of favorite animals, and there is a whole exhibit within the zoo called the Walter Family Arctic Tundra that is designed specifically to host polar them.
The entrance of Lincoln Park Zoo  
Harold Washington Library
The Harold Washington Library is the main branch of Chicago’s Public Library System. There are 9 stories that are used for traditional library functions such as housing books and resources. The most attractive part of this library to me is its Winter Garden on the 9th floor. The Winter Garden is a large space covered by a glass ceiling. From what I’ve seen in pictures, the natural light in the room is beautiful. The library seems very grand and majestic, and its Winter Garden is a  location that I’d like to photograph. 
Inside the Winter Garden
Leaders 1354
Leaders 1354 is a Chicago-based clothing brand and retail store. Its vision of selling items that appeal to and promote the concept of the conscious consumer is something that I can identify with. It is of my opinion that purchases should be made with sufficient research and that decisions should be well-educated, and this label/store embodies that. Also, their stock overlaps somewhat with my fashion tastes, which is another bonus. The store looks like a nice place to go to when I want to add a couple of pieces to my wardrobe or shoe selection. 
The interior of the Leaders store
Adler Planetarium
The Doane Observatory
This planetarium is the oldest in America. It has three theaters, museum space, and an actual public observatory. I like learning about the universe that we live in, and this museum looks like the best place in Chicago to do that. Planetarium shows are always really entertaining experiences that I actually learn from, so I’m definitely looking forward to attending one of those. Something else that I’d like to do at the Adler Planetarium is visit the Doane Observatory, which offers views of the moon, stars, planets, and even other galaxies. Space and the universe are concepts that I don’t really understand, yet frequently think about it, and I think that spending some time here would help expand my perspective on those topics. 
The Planetarium, viewed from outside

While I was writing this blog post, I realized just how many things there are for me to do (in addition to coursework) during my 3 or so weeks in Chicago. These days, I feel that whenever I do something ILC-related, I end up getting more excited for this summer, and this post was no different. July can't come soon enough.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Chicago Adventures!

I hope to have many adventures while in Chicago this summer, and there are many choice places that I hope to visit during my time there. For ideas of places to visit I asked my mom who visited Chicago a few years ago and loved it, and also took advice on places to see from UChicago ILCers from last year. From that I drew a list of things I would like to do.

The Art Institute of Chicago seems like a common must visit while in Chicago. The painting American Gothic by Grant Wood is there, and so are the 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms. There's also a lot of impressionist work which is my favorite painting style, so I'd love to spend a day there and enjoy the art.
Impressionist paintings at AIC
Of course I can't go to Chicago and not visit Millennium Park. I'll have to go and take the typical picture in front of Cloud Gate or the Bean. It's a standard piece of Chicago tourism that I would love to get the chance to experience.

One of the things I want to do is more of something I want to eat. While I'm in Chicago I absolutely must have some Chicago Style deep dish pizza. My favorite food is pizza, and my favorite pizza style is deep dish, but I've never had authentic Chicago deep dish. I'm definitely looking forward to having some!

One of the places that Alice told me to check out at the dinner, was the Museum of Industry and Science, Chicago. After looking at the website, this museum looks really interesting and is apparently within walking distance of UChicago. I'm especially excited to take a look at the Henry Crown Space Center, as they have the real Apollo 8 module and Aurora 7 capsule! The Whispering Gallery also seems quite intriguing, as the use of sound reflection is just perfect so you can hear someone whispering all the way across the room.

View from the Observation Deck
I'm hoping to be able to get a stellar view of Chicago and Lake Michigan from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck of the John Hancock Tower. It lies right above the Magnificent Mile and has -as you can tell has outstanding sights.

Another place I want to visit is Navy Pier. With the food and attractions, it seems like a great place to have fun. I want to go on the Centennial Wheel and get views from high up. I want to walk along the boardwalk and take in some classic tourist experiences during my time there.

As a lover of Astronomy, I want to go visit Adler Planetarium. I love science museums like Adler with the planetarium shows, interesting exhibits, and of course museum stores. Adler planetarium is also supposed to have amazing views of the Chicago skyline. It's also the first planetarium built in the USA. 
View from Adler Planetarium!
Overall I want to have an amazing time in Chicago and visit some wonderful sights.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Public Comments? Public Comments.

My day at the School Board meeting started out with a derp moment. Sounds like a typical thing I would do. Don was taking roll by cohort name and I half way raised my hand for Vanderbilt before I realized what I was doing. Joceline, who was next to me, laughed and said, "Same, I did that for Cornell too." We both laughed really loud and I missed raising my hand when Don called out Chicago's name. DERP. Oh well. 

Listening intently
After Don gave out some instructions, we went inside the cafeteria for the meeting. It was cold so we used the Chicago banner kind of like a blanket to keep our legs warm and huddled a little. A1 creativity. 

After some introductory things, there was a part in the agenda called "Public Comments" before we went on. I didn't know beforehand how much I would enjoy it. Along with some other concerns people had, many were there to fight against the movement of the Serra Adult School. The stories of the adults were so moving, I almost cried to one of them. The time to speak was limited to one minute, and after ten more seconds, the School Board members cut off the mic. I understood the need for a time constraint, but completely cutting off the mic was very unprofessional to me. Then, I noticed that one of the women who needed a translator wasn't given extra time. For the other woman, the Board members paused the timer, but for this one, I'm guessing they forgot to. They had her conclude her remarks the same time as English speakers, and I found that quite unfair. 

Lindsayyy speaking
One woman stood up and spoke strongly against the disrespect. She pointed out how outrageous it was that the public was being given a mere one minute to speak about the problems of their daily lives, and then being cut off after a few seconds past one minute. She said that if the School Board really wanted time to discuss everything, they should have their own separate meeting, but allow the public to actually have a voice in this public meeting. And best of all, she walked away right when the timer said 0:00, giving no chance to anyone to tell her to conclude her remarks. My jaw just dropped. If there's a way to get your point across, it was the way she did it. I wish I got to talk to her and ask for her name, because I had just found myself a new role model. 

It was then our turn to get up and announce ourselves. The chaperones and cohort speakers made their great speeches. I especially loved Robson's line "1200 words for a $12,000 scholarship." After all the flawless speeches (You go Lindsay!) we went outside for a huge photo-shoot. 

Probably the best picture I have of my family
Sadly it was windy so there was a lot of hair going all over the place. The pictures must have been hard for poor Don who had to deal with the many random hands raising to fix hair over and over again. The Chicago squad found a balcony to take pictures from, and we tried out multiple poses in hope that at least one will make a great banner photo. After a while, it was getting cold and pretty much everyone had left so my family finally decided it was probably time for us to leave too. I left wondering what our Chicago photos ended up looking like, but even more, I left wondering how much fun I'd have in Chicago with these people. 
Squad once again
At least Bianche and I tried something different, even if it didn't work out as expected

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Cold Evening of Photography and Conversation

Last night was the WCCUSD District School Board meeting. The ILC was honored for what the program has achieved, but our achievements were overshadowed on the night by the furious Serra Adult School protesters. Based on what I gathered from the 30 or so minute-long public comments that preceded the recognition of our program, the School Board has decided to move some classes away from the actual campus to accommodate a Mandarin immersion program. A lot of people involved with the Serra programs had shown up, and many felt very passionate about the decision. There was a lot of anger and frustration directed to the Board, so it seemed that they were relieved when it was finally our turn to talk to them.
Ms. Sciacca introducing us.

Relieved as they were, the School Board appreciated the calmer nature of the ILC speeches. First, they gave Don 3 minutes to express what the ILC program has accomplished and how much money the ILC alumni has earned in scholarship money. Then, the chaperones introduced their respective cohorts, and a member from each cohort spoke. Lindsay spoke for us (UChicago cohort), and articulated the unique benefits of the ILC very well. I was standing between Jahnvi and Cecilia, and both were holding an end of the UChicago banner, leaving me not knowing what to do with my hands. I ended up kind of gripping the top bar with my fingertips, but the whole experience of standing with our backs to everyone and semi-holding the flag was pretty awkward to me and I was glad when we finished up.

After the ILC’s part in the meeting had concluded, we all went outside to take photos. First, Don took a couple of individual and family photos. Then, at his instruction, all of the ILCers, parents, and chaperones took formation around a bench that he had erected prior to the meeting. There were only 3 male ILCers, so we got to sit on the ground in front of everyone else. It was really windy and people kept blinking and pushing their hair out of their face (I was guilty of this), so Don had to take many, many photos. 
One of many cohort photos taken on the night.
When the group photos were finished, we (the UChicago cohort) decided to retake the banner photo for our blog site. We went onto an elevated platform about a story off the ground and tried out 3 or so different poses. After a couple shots of each pose were taken, the remaining ILCers joined us and we took some more pictures. Most people went home after these photos, leaving Zunarah, Noor, and I.

Zunarah was a student representative of the School Board, so she didn’t go home until the actual meeting ended. As for Noor and I, our parents were talking to Don, so the three of us hung out for a while until Don and our parents were done talking. Our conversation went all over the place, ranging from ILC-related topics like the application process for our respective summer sessions to more personal subjects such as our opinions of certain classes at our schools. It was fun to chill with them, and the talking helped take my mind off of the temperature.

The District School Board meeting was a decent experience. On the one hand, I had to sit through over half an hour of people expressing their negative emotions, but on the other hand I got to see not only the rest of my cohort and chaperone again, but also members of the other cohorts. The time for us to fly to Chicago is only getting closer, and I can’t wait for it to come.
Always great to see these guys.