A Trip to Chicago

Sometimes I feel like I live, eat, breathe, and sleep medical school and NUHS. Somehow, that doesn't leave balance for any personal time, unless one makes it so. I'm a firm believer in Vitamin R (rest, relaxation and rejuvenation...thanks Dr. Louise Edwards) and decided after the engorged schedule of this trimester and a slight lull just before finals, I would take a little time out and have an inexpensive break on a Friday night.

So, this week I will write about a trip to Chicago's Loop, or the section of downtown Chicago encircled by an elevated railway, or the El.

Friday's classes ended and I was on the train with a good friend riding to downtown Chicago! I decided it was time to visit the Christkindlmarket (funny spelling, it's German) held annually on the Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza (who gets the reference here?). The market is set up as a traditional German and Eastern European winter market with music, food halls, ornaments, trinkets, and even Santa Claus (the European Claus who will actually bring you coal if you are naughty instead of just an idle threat). The plaza is filled with people of all ages and you pretty much stand "elbow to elbow" as you wait in line for the food, to check the vendors, or scrounge in to hear the band a bit better. I'm not normally a crowd kinda guy yet this has been one of my favorite experiences here in Chicago and I go check out the market every year.

After a couple of hours of music, Glühwein (heated spiced wine) and the crowds, we were ready for a break, so we took a stroll around Chicago's Loop to take in a bit of the atmosphere. After some leisurely walking, I ended up at Monk's Pub and the place seemed to be full of the "after 5 Friday crowd", but a great vibe overall! We grabbed a quick bite and a drink, and then took a walk back to the train station for the ride back to Lombard (a quick 40 minutes or so).

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The trip was a wonderful time and having a good friend to share the experience with was icing on the cake (in moderation, of course)! The trip was so good, in fact, that I forgot to take a pic of me at the market or with the German accordion players (which I fully intended to do). So, you get a quick pic of me while writing my blog this week. Notice the disheveled hair and forced smile indicative of a 3rd year ND student nearing the end of 7th Trimester. 

I hope you enjoyed my narrative this week. Not much to say about school, just a little trip into the city to "catch my breath" before finals weeks. I'm thankful (yet again) for good friends who can keep me laughing on a train ride during rush hour and multiple times getting lost in the Chicago Loop and their understanding when I said, "If we run into the El, then we know to turn around and go back to the center." 

With that, I plan to take a nice break over the holidays, spend some time with family, catch up on my personal reading list, maybe do some hiking in the Pisgah National Forest back home, and catch up with friends. When I return to school after the holiday break, I will be entering Student Clinic as an Intern, advancing beyond "Observer" status. This means that I will have real patients for the first time! I'll be sure to share the experience along the way.

I hope each of you has a safe and fulfilled holiday season. Personally from me, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until next January, get plenty of Vitamin R and we will catch back up!