Summer in Chicago – A reflection for a Work and Travel participant
By: Marina Fedotova, Work & Travel participant 2012
Marina worked at a popular restaurant in Chicago during the Summer 2012 season. Read what Marina learned while in the “Second City,” hometown to CCI Greenheart!
Sometimes visiting foreign countries, you can just say – “Oh, I’ve been here”. But sometimes you can leave a piece of your heart in a place. Chicago is definitely one of those cities! I had enough luck to get my job offer in this fabulous town. I worked as a hostess at the pub and restaurant located in downtown Chicago, by the Magnificent Mile. My responsibilities included welcoming and seating guests, taking reservations, taking to-go orders over the phone, answering questions about the restaurant, providing excellent customer service, and helping out in other areas where needed. Also, I worked as a bus girl for a couple days (running the food, cleaning, and setting tables) and when the restaurant got really busy, I helped with taking orders and grabbing some drinks for customers. That’s what people call here – TEAM WORK. It doesn’t matter whose section or which table is it. It’s giving somebody help for just appreciation. Working in a foreign restaurant gives you the great experience to improve your English, communicate with natives, learn a new culture, make new friends, and meet interesting people. I met people from the around the world: Canada, France, England, Germany, China, Argentina, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and even from my own country – Russia. And with everybody I talked to, I had so much fun!!
Riding a bike helps me to explore Chicago. It also helps me to know the city and street names very fast. The only problem is riding a bike in the pouring rain. LOL. Even then, I had so much fun! You never know what the weather in Chicago will be like the next day, but that’s what LIFE is all about! You may unpredictably find yourself in the pouring rain without an umbrella or meet a nice stranger at the lunchtime in the park. It’s so great to live, not just to exist! Life in America has taught me that much.
Chicago is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world. Here you can easily find amazing “must see” places! If you want to keep off the beaten track, you have to visit some of the neighborhoods of Chicago. I can boldly say that Pilsen is my favorite! Undoubtedly, you can feel the atmospheric heart of Mexican culture and art.
Another one of the most interesting neighborhoods is Ukrainian Village, where you can find a lot of orthodox and catholic churches and tasty Ukrainian food. Their food is very similar to Russian cuisine and as a Russian, I really enjoyed sitting in the small cozy restaurant and talking with Ukrainians.
The most interesting thing about Lake Michigan is that it changes color all the time, reflecting whatever mood it is in. It is incredible! The city of Chicago has been known by many nicknames, but it is most widely recognized as the “Windy City” because of the lake.
To admire the Chicago skyline, you should go to Willis (nee Sears) Tower. Glass balconies put you 1,353 feet and 103 floors over the Windy City. At first, it’s kind of scary to find out that you are towering over hundreds of drivers and pedestrians on the streets of Chicago, but the feeling is exhilarating. The view is awesome, amazing, and magical.
The adoration and attendance of sporting events in America feels like an unique, native and cultural experience. Everybody here, without exception, likes some kind of sport whether it’s baseball or soccer. I found that most people love the baseball team “Cubs” and I was lucky enough to attend one baseball game “Chicago Cubs vs Houston Astros.’’ In my country we don’t have baseball at all. And for me it was very complicated at first to figure out what they’re doing on the field, but it was so much fun! It looked like people have been ardent fans for this team for years…
Chicago looks amazing in the day time, but you have to go for a walk at night to get a true feel of the city. Of course, it’s not Manhattan with all of the advertisements on skyscrapers, but it has an awesome view as well. This city really makes you feel alive and brings out the best in everyone.
Chicago has taught me a lot! Living in this big city made me more independent, self-confident, and positive. It changed my view of life and attitude toward people, in the best way. I want to express my sincerest thanks to CCI Greenheart and the US Government for this tremendous opportunity and great experience!