What’s the Deal with IIT Potato?

Maybe you’ve seen this:

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Or comments like these:

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Or this:

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Or even this:

iit potato comments 3Maybe you feel out of the loop, like you missed an important meeting where potatoes became more significant than other root vegetables. Maybe you’re confused about how all this potato business even started.

For the sake of the IIT community, I decided to ask the creator (remaining anonymous to keep incoming students guessing) how IIT Potato came to be:

cam iit potato

It may not make a lot of sense. But what at IIT really does? We are a student body like none other. We love the internet. We love having fun. We love inside jokes. Most importantly, we love potatoes.

Like IITPotato? Make it official! Click here to like the Facebook page.

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14 Bridgeport Spots That Every IIT Student Has to Visit

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Some but not all of my favorite spots in Bridgeport. 80% sure there will be a part 2.

1. Rocky’s Sports Bar and Grill

There are no sure things in life… except that every IIT student ends up at Rocky’s at least once during their college career. Whether it’s for a Blackhawks game, a friend’s 21st birthday celebration, or a tip-matching night for an IIT student org, Rocky’s is always a great time.

2. Maxwell Street Depot

It’s also guaranteed that you will eat at Maxwell Street (affectionately called “Ghetto Dog”) after midnight at some point as an IIT student. Open 24/7, Maxwell Street has been serving hot dogs, burgers, and polishes to generations of IIT party people.

3. Jackalope Coffee and Tea

If you’re looking for an off campus study spot, Jackalope is the place to go. A+ coffee, sandwiches, and donuts, free wifi, and cool art to look at while you’re procrastinating on your lab report.

4. Cermak Produce

Cermak is the best grocery store ever. Cheaper than Jewel, great produce and meat selection, and a lot of Mexican and Chinese products.

5. Unique Thrift

IIT students love thrifting and Unique at 31st street has got the goods for cheap! My best finds: two vintage Coach purses and a rabbit fur coat. My goofiest finds: an all jean jumpsuit and a porcelain bust of an old man. Every Monday is 50% off!

6. Buffalo Wings and Rings

Wings and Rings is Bridgeport’s version of Buffalo Wild Wings. A popular spot for watching sports during the week and maxing out on delicious meat dishes with your buddies.

7. Ferro’s

Ferro’s has the best Italian beef and Italian ice. Pretty much all there is to know. Visit at the beginning of the school year because it’s closed during the winter.

8. US Cellular Field

What other schools are in walking distance to an MLB stadium? Be on the lookout for free/discounted tickets from IIT’s Office of Campus Life.

9. Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar

This is the place to take your out of town friends to show them how cool your life in Chicago is. A liquor store in the front, and a bar with a patio in the back, Maria’s has a great vibe and a huge drink selection. I hate the term hipster, but Maria’s is a hipster mecca.

10. Augustine’s Authentic Spiritual Goods

Augustine’s is one of my favorite occult stores in Chicago. Spiritual items abound: candles, incense, literature, herbs, oils, charms… you name it, you’ll probably find it.

11. Bridgeport Coffee Company

Bridgeport Coffee is another IIT favorite. Not only is it a great place to study, but the quality of their coffee is amazing. They sell bags of coffee too!

12. Zaytune’s

Best Mediterranean food. Done.

13. Carbon Live Fire Grill

I heard the other day that Carbon was ranked to have the best Mexican food in the city (a huge thing to say about a Mexican restaurant in Chicago). I don’t know if that’s true, but Carbon is definitely my favorite restaurant in Bridgeport. The best thing about Carbon: they deliver to campus.

14. Co-Prosperity Sphere

Co-Prosperity Sphere is way more than just a gallery. It’s basically a giant room that hosts events, live music, and art exhibits. The space can be rented out, so if you want to throw the greatest party ever, look no further.

 

 

Emily Warman

3rd year CS Undergrad

How College is Different From High School (as experienced by an IIT student)

As a high school student in the suburbs of Atlanta, I knew college would be a different experience. I thought I knew what to expect, but I have been so surprised by what’s actually different.

1. You are never in a car.

Like many suburban teens, much of my time outside of school was spent in cars of all sizes and conditions. My high school had over 800 parking spaces for 1300 juniors and seniors and there was still a lottery to get a spot. We drove everywhere—to downtown Atlanta, to hiking trails, to concerts, even to friends’ houses a block away.

In Chicago, months will go by without sitting in a heated front seat. You will bike, walk, board, rollerblade, even Segway more than you drive if you live on campus without a car. The CTA will become your best friend (train approaching in 1 minute as you’re walking up to the platform) and worst enemy (doors closing as you’re walking up to the platform).

2. You can go out every night of the week… but you won’t want to.

I remember begging my mom to let me go to weeknight concerts downtown (always failed) and sneaking out of my house just to walk around the block with friends on a school night. I was so excited to move out of the house and finally get to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to!

Lol… I did whatever I wanted and it was awful. Imagine eating only your favorite junk food for a week. Day 1: Best day of your life. Day 7: begging for broccoli. Replace junk food with going out and broccoli with sleep and suddenly, the party paradox makes sense. Once the initial allure of no parents, no rules wore off, I found a better balance between sleeping, school, and going out.

3. Studying becomes a lot more fun

When I studied in high school, I always worked alone. I often finished my homework during class or my lunch hour. My friends weren’t in the same classes as me and many of them weren’t really into school.

At IIT, the way I studied changed. Everyone I met was excited about school and into their major. Most students take the same intro classes (like Chem, Physics, and Calc), so it’s easy to work with your friends. Goofing off in the library between homework problems and ordering late night pizza before a big exam are some of my favorite memories of freshman year.

4. Class isn’t easier or harder… just different.

High school is difficult in a dotting your I’s and crossing your t’s kind of way. Your classes require you to turn in many small assignments complete and on time. Some people are great at this. Some people are not. My high school career was filled with educational debauchery (highlights include answering A for 25 out of 25 questions on a spanish quiz, memorizing the entire Bill of Rights at lunch, and writing a 5 page paper titled “George Washington is a Baller”). Although I miss these exploits, I am glad that there are fewer assignments in college so you actually have the effort available to take school more seriously.

College is difficult in a more conventional sense. The classes tackle big subject matter, but your brain is ready for it after 12 years of education. The biggest difference for me was that doing all of my homework and studying the day before the exams sometimes isn’t enough to master the material. Tests are almost never multiple choice, so you really have to know what’s up.

5. The people you meet are so different from you, but you have so much in common with them.

In high school, my social side and intellectual side were separate. My friends and I talked about everything but school. I didn’t even talk to my parents about school. When I asked my mom for a check for 5 AP exams at the end of my senior year, she replied, “I didn’t know you were taking any!”

At IIT, we are all from different backgrounds, but we have STEM education in common. You can tell corny math jokes and people will get them. Your friends will be able to talk with you about the work of at least 1 famous architect (even the engineers know Mies). Don’t get people here started about anything related to computers.

Being smart is cool at IIT, because smart people get to work at cool companies like Google and GE and NASA. The people I’ve met at IIT not only allow me to express 100% of my being, but also encourage me to be the smartest and hardest working version of myself.

^ I think this difference is my favorite one.

 

Emily Warman, 3rd Year CS Undergrad

On Being Female at IIT

I never thought that I would study engineering. I can actually remember telling friends in high school that engineering would be the last thing I would major in. Fast forward two years later and here I am, studying mechanical engineering at Illinois Tech.

I also never thought that I would have more than the obvious to say about being female. I never felt that gender made a difference in the friends that I had, the decisions I made, or the decisions other people made about me. I only began to think about gender when I began my engineering degree at IIT.

As you may know, IIT’s student body is roughly 70% male and 30% female. Guys hear this and worry about finding cute girls. Girls hear this and get excited to have their choice of guys. Maybe others think differently when they encounter a skewed gender balance like this, but those thoughts are what first came to my mind.

What I’ve learned as an IIT student is that gender is much more than a biological binary only relevant to your love life. Although gender equality has been legally ensured for over 40 years, women are still dealing with a fading legacy of discrimination. We are not barred from pursuing anything, but we often are not exposed to fields (tech particularly) with fewer women.

Because IIT is a tech school, the women here go against the grain. I know that by the time I get to my last year here, there will be very few girls left in my mechanical classes. I haven’t had any female teachers for major classes. I really hope that the company I work for after graduation has female engineers on the team. As my education and career continue, I am more and more likely to be the only woman in the room. It takes a little extra strength and courage to be the odd (wo)man out, but I’ve never felt alone thus far.

For this, I have IIT to thank. The women who study here are smart, studious, and unafraid of following their passions. There are so many female student leaders on campus. Our SGA president has been female for as long as most can remember. The executive boards of most student organizations have a majority of female members. Our three sororities on campus are very active in Greek Council, the governing body of Greek life at IIT. Our female student athletes kick butt on and off the field. If you meet a girl from IIT, it’s likely that she’s doing big things. It’s easy to make friends with girls here; we’re always excited to talk to new girls and we want you to be our lab partner. We all have school in common, a strong connection that leads to lasting friendships.

One of my favorite organizations on campus is the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). They have bi-weekly meetings to talk about leadership and engineering with other women. It’s a supportive environment, a great place to meet girls with similar interests, and a lot of fun. If you’re a national member, there’s a national conference that you can attend yearly. It’s a great place to network with other female students and women in industry. SWE also posts career opportunities for women in engineering and computer science on their website.

I do think about being female as an IIT student, more than I ever have before. However, as a woman pursuing a career in engineering (a 20% female field), I think that IIT is giving me so much. I am building strong friendships with women I have a lot in common with. I’m finding ways to feel supported by connecting with girls outside of my classes. I see my female classmates scoring amazing jobs and internships in tech and then excelling on the job. I feel focused here and I feel like everyone, staff or student, male or female, wants me to succeed. If anything, being female at IIT is empowering, fun, and a positive experience.

 

So to anyone who is concerned about the gender ratio at IIT:

Girls—There’s less of us, but you’re making an amazing choice for your future. You will never feel alone here.

Girl-Seekers—There may not be quantity, but there’s definitely quality. How many people can say that their girlfriend is beautiful, sweet… and an engineer? If you’re still worried: It’s Chicago! If you can’t find who you’re looking for somewhere in this city, you may not find her anywhere.

Things That I Didn’t Know About IIT (that everyone should)

1. So many energy projects

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Assembling the Wind Turbine by Stuart Field

Seriously, so many. IIT operates three advanced wind turbines for research purposes. There’s a Smart Electric Vehicle Charging Station on campus with nine electric vehicle charging stations. IIT’s Galvin Center and the US Department of Energy developed the first functional smart microgrid in the country through a $13 million partnership—and it’s on our campus. The university also sponsors a ton of research on clean coal technologies and electric vehicles.

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IIT’s WISER Facilities

IIT’s commitment to energy is making a huge impact locally and globally. The school just received a $3 million dollar grant from the USDA to implement microgrid technology at the University of the British Virgin Islands. IIT leads a similar project in Korea. The university also works with the City of Chicago to expand the use of solar power in the city.

 

Check out:

iitmicrogrid.net

iit.edu/wiser

 

2. Tech Park

You could think of Tech Park as a farm for technology companies. Startup ventures rent state-of-the art labs and office space in IIT buildings. The startups eventually blossom into companies that employ hundreds of people (and they love hiring IIT students and grads). Tech Park currently hosts around two dozen companies and has helped to launch 30 startups since its inception.

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One of the many research facilities in Tech Park

Check out:

http://www.universitytechnologypark.com/

 

3. We’re a part of the NCAA Division III

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Newly turfed Stuart Field– check out that skyline in the background!

IIT transitioned from the NAIA to NCAA Division III in 2012. The D3 jump has led (and will lead) to a lot of facility improvements and the addition of new sports teams. This year, we added a women’s lacrosse team and updated Stuart Field to turf.

 

4. Greek Life

Yes, IIT has Greek life! Chapters on campus include Alpha Sigma Alpha, Alpha Sigma Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Kappa Phi Delta, Omega Delta, Pi Kappa Phi, Phi Kappa Sigma, Triangle, and Zeta Pi Omega—3 sororities and 6 fraternities. IIT is the only university in Chicago with sorority houses, deftly circumventing a Chicago brothel law preventing too many women from living under one roof. Something especially unique about IIT’s Greek life: all houses surround a big, grassy quad on campus, which creates a special sense of community between the chapters.

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A map of the quad, located just south of the MTCC

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The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi hanging out on the porch during the first warm day of 2014

Greek Week

Greek Week is one of those great things about IIT that you don’t hear about on a campus tour. During one week at the end of each spring semester, all 10 Greek chapters at IIT compete in daily competitions that test athletic prowess, brainpower, creativity, and teamwork. The diverse line-up of events gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to their chapter’s success.

The community takes Greek Week pretty seriously. Each chapter chooses a theme for the week and dresses up in costume for most of the events. Chapters also make impressive banners of their theme for the front of their houses. Banners are often huge projects that sometimes involve laser cutting, lighting elements, and carpentry. (Would you expect anything else from engineering and architecture students?) The events are scored by faculty and student judges and a winner is determined at the end of the week.

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The proximity of the houses makes Greek Week especially fun. Unlike most schools that have Greek rows off campus, all of IIT’s houses surround a big, grassy quad at the heart of campus. Because everyone is so close together, events are highly attended and the festivities often continue after their official end. The quad is alive all week; music is always playing out of huge speakers that houses bring outside. People toss Frisbees and footballs, enjoying the warm weather and company.

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Greek Week is kind of like that show “Who’s Line is it Anyways?” Although there’s a winner at the end of the week, the points don’t really matter. The best part of Greek Week is that it’s an excuse to get together. It’s a great time to meet people, celebrate your chapter, be silly, and just have fun.

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Spotlight On… TEDxIIT

On Saturday, April 5, the 4th annual TEDxIIT conference was held in the IIT Tower Auditorium. Per usual, the event was extremely successful.

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“The IIT community loves TED. This year, over two hundred people wanted a ticket! Unfortunately per TED rules, we are only allowed to have a hundred people in the auditorium itself. If you didn’t get a seat in the auditorium, we encouraged you to join the ‘overflow section’ in the Tower lobby,” said President Isabelle Romero. Isabelle and a huge team of student volunteers put together this year’s TEDxIIT event, aptly titled “Infinite Impact.”

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The team definitely prepared for an infinite impact. Planning for this year’s event began right after the 2013 TEDxIIT last spring. Team members were responsible for securing volunteers and sponsors, handling registration, and advertising the event. Most importantly, they had to find the speakers. The team selected each very deliberately, targeting IIT students, alumni, faculty, and community members at the cutting edge of their fields. According to the TEDxIIT website,

“Speakers are from all areas including: Design, Entertainment, Technology, Smart Grid Innovation, Renewable Energy, Diversity, Interdisciplinary/Entrepreneurship Education, Eco-architectural Design, Biomedical Engineering, Music, Food, Social Development, Neuroscience, and more. No religious or political ideas.”

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       This year’s conference featured twelve speakers from six countries. All were from different professional and educational backgrounds, allowing everyone to offer a unique point of view. The mix of speakers not only made the event more interesting, but also aptly represented the diversity of the IIT community.

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       Planning for TEDxIIT 2015 will not begin until next fall. Incoming freshman, you have a chance to be a part of this amazing event! For more information about TEDxIIT (including speaker bios, talks, and photos), you can visit tedxiit.com.

 

Check out some talks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_R2Uct5q0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbJJuJcASGE

Tired of winter? So are we…

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With all of this talk of more cold weather ahead, our students are turning their attention to the day they will once again reap the benefits of a Chicago summer. First-year mechanical engineering student, Kevin Hupp, reflects on the warmer days to come:

One advantage of attending IIT is that we are very close to downtown Chicago, and the city provides many things to do both day and at night.  A less advertised, and closer attraction to IIT is Lake Michigan and the 31st St. Beach – JUST ONE MILE FROM IIT!

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As a lifelong resident of the Chicagoland area, visiting Lake Michigan has always been a part of my summer time activities, and nothing has changed that in my time here at IIT.  Throughout the first few weeks of the fall semester, while the Chicago August weather has recently been reaching record highs, Lake Michigan becomes an oasis with a balmy wind and ice cold water.

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As the weather begins to cool off, jogging and biking along the lake is perfect break from studying.  Also as an added bonus, the lake front trails are almost exactly a mile from campus, so no need to worry about keeping track of the distance on your way to or from.  Need a bike?  Even if you don’t have a bike with you on campus, the cost of renting a Divvy bike from either of the two stations located on IIT’s campus is only $7 for a whole day.  As you travel up the trails along the lakefront you might pass sights such as the Burnham Harbor, four popular Chicago museums, Navy Pier, North Avenue Beach, and maybe even the Lincoln Park Zoo if your legs will take you that far.

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When the weather starts to get cold here in Chicago, the activity by the lake comes to a temporary halt.  The occasional fitness crazed individual may be seen making a jog to the lake front, but for the most part, the residents here at IIT stay in the comfort of their heated residence halls and enjoy indoor activities. As we enter March, the countdown has begun to the dog days of summer and the mass exodus of Chicagoans to summertime on Lake Michigan (cue Kanye’s “Homecoming”).

Kevin Hupp ’17

Work at the Museum of Science and Industry this semester!

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is the largest science museum in the western hemisphere, holding more than 35,000 artifacts and almost 14 acres of interactive exhibit space. MSI is contained in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and opened in 1933 under philanthropist Julius Rosenwald’s vision to create a hands-on industry museum in the United States. The museum recently celebrated its 80th birthday and continues to achieve its mission to “inspire the inventive genius in everyone” along with the help of some IIT students.

Photo courtesy of msi.org

Each semester, 12 Illinois Tech students have a chance to volunteer at the museum as part of a unique partnership between the university and the museum. Over the course of the volunteership, the students learn up to three interactive and hands-on demonstrations that they present to the general public at the museum. They get to work on their presentation and public speaking skills while working under the close mentorship of lead interns at the museum. The demonstrations that students present cover a fun variety of topics including Newtonian physics, sound, and magnetism. During the volunteership, students also get to explore and learn about one of the most well-known science museums in the country and meet people from all over the world. After completing their volunteer sessions at the museum, students are eligible to apply for a full-time paid internship at the museum over the summer.

During the internship, eight students learn and present a variety of live science demonstrations to museum guests on a daily basis. Over the course of the internship last summer, the Illinois Tech interns learned seven different programs and facilitated them with over 30,000 guests throughout the duration of the 12-week internship.

Interns work alongside a team of other year-round, full-time facilitators at the museum who help them learn demonstrations and improve communication skills. The year-round facilitators assist the IIT interns by observing their demonstrations and offering constructive criticism and feedback in regard content, style, and delivery.

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The programs that summer interns have learned and presented in previous summers include demonstrations from across all realms of science, from astronomy to biology. One show, “Happy Brrthday,” is an interactive mock birthday party for a famous scientist or inventor that features several experiments with liquid nitrogen and culminates in making liquid nitrogen ice cream for the audience. Another program, “Bangs, Flashes, and Fire,” MSI’s most highly-attended show, involves a series of explosive chemistry experiments where the audience learns about matter, combustion, and chemical reactions.

"Bangs, Flashes, and Fire" exibit

“Bangs, Flashes, and Fire” exibit

The MSI-IIT internship partnership is now entering its 7th year and is an exclusive partnership between the museum and Illinois Institute of Technology. This partnership began with a common trustee between IIT and MSI, and the program aims to foster communication skills in students while making science education accessible to the community through the delivery of several fun and interactive live science demonstrations at MSI.

The MSI-IIT Internship program has been one of the best parts of my experience at Illinois Tech. I volunteered at the museum during the fall of 2012, and I was selected as an intern for the summer of 2013. Now, I serve as a lead intern for the museum and help train new volunteers and interns as a part of the program.

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Volunteering and interning with the museum has helped me with so many things; my public speaking skills have improved, and I’ve learned a lot of fun scientific information that I’ve been able to share with the public. As a physics education major at IIT, this internship is the perfect combination of science and education for me, but it’s also helpful for students in any major. Regardless of one’s intended career path, they’ll need to be able to communicate their work to others outside their field, and the MSI-IIT Internship program allows students to practice doing just that. Volunteering and interning at the museum also helps student gain more self-confidence; a big part of presenting to the general public is learning how to improvise and trust yourself to do well, which translates into other areas.

The MSI Internship Program has become a highly competitive opportunity for IIT students over recent years. In order to become eligible for the volunteership and internship, students need to attend an information session taking place next week during the lunch hour on February 10th, 11th, and 12th. For more information, check out the Facebook event for the sessions here: https://www.facebook.com/events/275629295932291

Study Abroad: You Should Do It

Blog post by: Amy Czarkowski, 4th year Architecture undergraduate student

I recently went to Paris to study abroad. I’m an architecture student in my fourth year, and for the Fall 2013 semester I packed my bags (clothes, archie supplies, and the bare essentials) and hopped on the nine hour flight from Chicago to Paris, France.

Was I scared? Yes.

Did I know French? No.

But was the experience one I would never trade in a million years? Yes.

Not only did I learn about how another part of the world lives, but I also changed as a person. I grew more worldly and got more of a backbone. I learned that my awkwardness isn’t as crippling in meeting new people as I thought. And even though I didn’t know the language of many people who I talked to, I still held conversations (with lots of dramatic arm movements). And when I ran into people around Paris who needed help finding their way around? I could help! I got stopped numerous times by people who spoke English (and some who didn’t) and was able to point them in the direction that they wanted to go.

I really became a part of the atmosphere and population of Paris in my four months studying there and living in a Parisian apartment on the hill of the Sacre Coeur in the North of Paris.

I also was able to practice my languages! I speak Spanish, and our week-long class trip to Barcelona helped me polish up on what I had forgotten. I also learned many French words, even though when I first went I only knew how to say ‘cheese omelette’ ‘butterfly’ ‘hello’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m very sorry, but I don’t speak French.’ I ended up being able to order food without hassle (though watch out for the McDonald’s there. 13 bucks for a meal.) And really, don’t worry if you don’t know the language. In my experience, as long as you try, people will always help you. English is a very widely known language, but that doesn’t mean that you can just default to it. You’ll be met with annoyance if you do so. Try to speak the language of the place that you are going to, and you’ll get really far and people will always be open to helping you.

I didn’t only see Paris, either. We went on class trips to Barcelona and Amsterdam and I also went solo to Mannheim and London. Doing those two trips by myself took a lot of planning and finding my own hostels and getting the bravery up in order to hop a train alone, but they were truly life-changing and amazing. I gave my all to make the best and the most of those four months, even battling my way through hangovers and horrible throat colds. I saw so much architecture and culture and so many interesting people; people from all over Europe speaking all kinds of different languages and dressing in so many different ways. And when you end up meeting another American in your journeys, it’s amazing to be able to talk about Chicago and IIT.

I met lots of new people in my travels, ate SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD, and got closer with the rest of my 18-person architecture studio who I was traveling with. I have memories that I never ever want to lose, and probably never will. Some parts were difficult, but that’s the price you have to pay in order to have an amazing experience that will change your life. The world is an amazing place, and it can’t be seen only through pictures and video. You’ll never know what is out there until you pack your bags and go!

And don’t worry. Chicago will still be here when you get back.