I’ve heard Chicago described as a melting pot. Of course when people refer to cities as melting pots, they’re only referring to the diversity of a group of people. However, it’s more than a melting pot of people. It’s a mix of music, cultures, architecture, art, fashion, food, and yes, of course, people. Simply walking down the block you can identify all of these different things. I’ve lived in the Chicagoland Area for most of my life, but this is my first time living in the actual city. In my first two weeks, I’ve experienced more than I have ever before.
As in any major city, fashion is always one of the biggest topics. When you think of Chicago, you imagine all of these beautiful, expensive people in these beautifully expensive clothes. While I have experienced that, I’ve also experienced a lot of other interesting fashions. I’ve seen young people walk down the streets in their pajamas, in full winter dress, or even their summer clothes with a long puffy coat. I understand it’s cold in Chicago but it doesn’t get really cold till December or so, so why are people always wearing a coat? I’ve also seen a lot of baggy jeans and boxers from adolescent males. I never understood why that was, and still is, as fad for men and the occasional woman.
Chicago has been known all over the world for it’s jazz music. Some people would even go as far as saying that Chicago is the home of jazz. However, Chicago is home to much more than just jazz music. Chicago is home to festivals like Lollapalooza, Spring Awakening, and Pitchfork and home to many famous artists like Kanye West, Nat King Cole, Buddy Guy, and many more. Sometimes when people are asked to describe what kind of music they have in the city of Chicago, they give you a concrete answer like “Oh, there’s a lot of hip hop” or “I’ve heard only the jazz music is good.’ I don’t know how people give such a generic, on-the-surface answer. Chicago is so much more than that and that’s where the idea of Chicago is a melting pot of not only people, but music as well.
Being a student at Columbia College Chicago, I obviously care about the arts and Chicago is one of the best places to learn about art. We have galleries and museums at our disposal 24/7. There’s the Art Institute of Chicago where you can view works by artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse. You can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art where there have been exhibits like David Bowie Is or an exhibit by Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys. The diversity in Chicago’s art scene is, in a word, incredible. In just one visit to any museum, you can see all different works from impressionism to abstraction to contemporary. This, personally, is one of the greatest things I’ve experienced in Chicago thus far.
Another great diversity in Chicago is the diversity of cultures. You’re able to walk down the street and hear a multitude of different languages; ranging from Spanish to French to German. I can pass someone on the street wearing a hijab or traditional middle east fashions. You can travel to neighborhoods and experience different cultures. You can go down to Chinatown and see the Chinese culture in practice or to the Little Village and enjoy the traditional Mexican experience. The simple and blunt point is this; Chicago, in the truest sense, is a melting pot in the sense it is meant to be understood.
Let’s talk food. Everyone loves food and everyone will be happy living in the city because you can find any kind of food you want. Personally, I love a good trip to Chinatown to chow down on some stir fry chicken. If you love fresh organic food, you can find that. If you love Chinese food, you can find that. If you love Mexican food, you can find that, too! To be blunt, you can find anything food related you want. One of my favorite spots for a quick coffee stop is the French Market right below Ogilvie Transportation Center. There, you can find fresh and organic foods from oranges to apples to lettuce, find your favorite greek yogurt, and there’s even protein bars. What I love the most about the French Market is the pattiserie that’s right in the center. They bake fresh croissant every morning along with brewing fresh coffee. Who doesn’t love a good cup of joe and a croissant? I almost live off of those things.
One of the best things about living in the city is the great architecture. The city has all kinds of buildings ranging from small to large, old to new, and just downright amazing. In the city of Chicago we have buildings such as the Trump Tower, the Willis Tower, and the John Hancock building. We also have such great monuments like the Buckingham Fountain and the Millennium Park Pavilion. One of my favorite buildings, however, is none of these. My favorite building just so happens to be the Carbine and Carbon building on Michigan Avenue. I love it’s classical architecture with the concept of early skyscrapers. I’m also in love with the strips of gold and the golden peaks. It brings the building into the modern century but it doesn’t overtake the gothic architecture.
As you can tell, I’m passionate about my new city. I’m excited to see where my journey as a student will lead me and I’m excited to experience more of the Chicago melting pot. The art, music, architecture, food, and all of those other things mean nothing if you don’t experience them yourself. Take on the city and see all it has to offer! I know I will!