Bringing the warm weather back to Chi City
(well, for about 12 hours anyways)
After 3 weeks of non-stop travel to 9 cities in 4 different countries, I'm back in Chicago and apparently brought some of the South American warmth back with me as you can see in the pictures below! The night we arrived it was around 30 degrees which I had entirely underestimated and underprepared for, but the following day the temperature shot up to 70 which made for some awesome pictures. Within the same day, the temperature dropped significantly again, yes, this is spring in Chicago...
Coming back to the US was bittersweet, more bitter though... both in terms of the weather and about actually being back. Honestly, I identified more with the ways of life that I experienced both in South America and Western Europe. Things like taking life slower, and therefore savoring it. Using public space as a place to gather and be social. Saying hello to people. Walking more, and not being dependent on cars. Not being so dramatic and stressed out all the time. Eating real food that made you feel good just by eating it. Kissing people on the cheek when you meet them (I thought this totally broke the ice with everyone I met). It being okay to breastfeed or show affection in public... Since when are we that judgmental and critical that we are completely bothered by a woman feeding her kid, or by people loving each other??? What are wrong with these things, and is it just maintaining our level of political correctness that we do not accept these things in our society?
Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for being born and raised here, and no country is perfect... But the trip just made me realize again just how huge the world is, and how much more is out there than there is in here. I want to understand more of humanity, I want to see smell eat breath and LIVE other types of humanity. Needless to say the trip was eye opening, rejuvenating, and more needed than I realized. With all of the craziness going on in our country right now, the trip was not only good for the soul, but also for the mind to gain wider perspective of the realities in other societies that are effecting millions of other people. What I thought was an isolated catastrophe in the Western World, I came to learn did not even come close to the overall situation of say, Argentina. Moreover that every country has problems of its own and their issues are as real to them as our are to us. Unemployment is through the roof in Spain. Italy is dealing with some of the heaviest waves of refugees in Europe, and in its entire history. The Argentine peso's value has dropped 4 TIMES as much as when I was last there, and their X-president who is facing a $3.5 billion dollar fraud case played out an equally aggressive and unprecedented transition of power...
So perhaps we don't have to be at an apocalyptic level of terrified, angry, and hostile, because in comparison to somewhat's going on out there we still have it really good. But politics and global crisis aside, being exposed to foreign cultures and immersed in Spanish and Italian allowed me to think of the world differently, or as the theory of Linguistic Relativity suggests, actually cognitively experience it differently. Through experiences like kayaking in the mountains with no one in sight, to being in one of the most inclusive, accepting and pluralistic regions of the world Catalonia, I came back with a glow that I think will take a while to fade. I experienced other ways of living, ways that I now am certain I want to revisit. I feel very differently now than I did when I left. I feel less fearful of the future and more confident about my present. I feel less holding me back, but am not deterred by all of the obsticals that I will surely have to face in order to progress. I am fueled with ambition to start doing work outside of the US, starting by solidifying the foundation here.
All in all there was way too much to be talked about in one post, so I'm going to cover each country that I visited as I get through editing them. I will be posting bi-weekly about Chile, Argentina, Spain (Catalonia), and Italy with TONS of pictures! Until then I'll leave you with shots of sweet home Chicago and some of my key takeaways from this experience.
- I felt more comfortable and free in most of these places
- Connection is essential to our human experience, existence, and happiness
- Take life a little bit slower, enjoy the essence of existing
- It's unarguable positive to take breaks from social media and from the news
- Recognize that the other is just as important as thyself
- Travel and discovery are now an absolute priority
- The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's just a different shade
- Other social norms are fascinating and can drastically impact your perception of your own
- US holidays are entirely commercialized and have lost some of their meaning
- My camera is on its last legs... After 7,000 pictures in 21 days, plus the tens (or hundreds?) of thousands I've already taken with it... yeahh it's time
- I want to combine my Spanish, business, and photography to help others gain higher opportunity
- And the last one REALLY blew my mind. When I came home my mentor told me about how her husband got Italian dual citizenship and insisted that we search Ancestry.com. I was sure nothing would come up because I was told my whole life that we didn't know where our elders came from. Turns out they had records on records of them, and that the conditions are such that if I can round up every birth, death, and marriage certificate of all of my Italian forefathers, that I could potentially be an EU citizen which means able to live or work in Europe
I hope you enjoy the pictures and I hope you try to travel soon! Even if it's not convenient, even if it's difficult or scary to travel, even if it costs a lot, even if your parents or spouses don't want you to... In my humble opinion, screw all of that because what you discover about others, yourself, humanity, and the possibilities of life are far more valuable than whatever it costed you to go to discover for yourself.