Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back with open arms

Back when I started this blog, I had just recently begun my sophomore winter quarter at university in Chicago. It was cold outside. I was still troubled and lonely after a bad breakup a few months before. I needed an outlet for my feelings and a way to express myself in a constructive way. This website proved my refuge from the gloomy Chicago winter and all the cabin fever-induced depression that goes along with it.

This winter, however, I'm returning to Chicago after a long break from the Windy City. It is still cold outside, but for some reason the brisk chill is a welcome change from a semi-warm California winter. I'm glad to be in a place that is familiar and yet still sort of foreign to me.

After three months in southern California and three months in England, I'm finally back to school for my junior year and it almost feels as though the year is actually just starting. And for the first time since freshman year, I'm excited about it.

Landing in Chicago for once felt exciting. Sitting next to my dad, I was not freaking out about trying to catch the bus on time so I could make it to the dining halls before they closed for the night. I was not hoping that my friends would be around to search for my classes with me. I was just living in a calmer, more controlled moment.

I think this was the first time in at least a year that I've even looked at a snowy street and thought how quaint it seemed. When you're walking through mountains of the stuff, it starts to lose its appeal. Your legs start to grow numb and you forget about that moment when you first saw that gorgeous white blanketing all the surfaces of the campus. The white quickly turns to murky brown and it's no longer so beautiful.

Well winter has just started, and though I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date - I'm happy jumping right back into it. The cold makes me happy, the warmth of hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket and socks is something I look forward to. I can't wait to run through the cold air in the evenings, trying to make it out of the chill and back to my dorm as quickly as possible.

These are things you wouldn't normally anticipate, but coming back to Chicago after a long absence, for some reason I'm full of high expectations.

When I was away in London, I thought I would have all the perks I could ever want. Admittedly, I really enjoyed my time in the city. In fact, I loved it. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

But my school didn't have all that I was looking for. I could go to theater in the city, but the West End is expensive. Cooking for myself was a luxury in some respects, but stressed me out on weeknights. Having only essays to do throughout the quarter seemed like a plus, but it ended up destroying my work ethic for the rest of term.

At my home institution, we have on campus productions almost every weekend. I have a dining hall plan which is limiting and annoying, but at least it reduces the stress of having to make food on nights when homework should be the focus. And after two full years at this school, I know how the grading works to some extent. I can handle the essays and the tests, or a combination of the two.

To put it bluntly: I'm glad to be back.

It's weird to think of it this way, but arriving back in Chicago has reminded me of the great rush I felt at coming to college for the first time a few years ago. Except now, I know what school I'm going to. I know what I'm in for. I know I'm ready.

The assurance has added a whole new aspect to the anticipation.

So let the quarter begin. I'm ready to take it on, hard work and all. I may not have London at my doorstep in the same way I was blessed with just a month ago, but I have something else that's great - something I can count on.

I welcome you with open arms, Chicago. I hope you will welcome me back too.

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