By Marta Odaini, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar

Marta is a Work and Travel participant from Moldova who is very passionate for programs focused on helping those infected with HIV/AIDS and preventive teaching for teenagers. She is hoping to volunteer for environmental awareness in Chicago this summer.

All my life it’s a big journey.  Every new place that I visit, every new person that I meet it’s a new discovery, a worth exploring micro-universe.

This summer adventure brought me to Chicago. Before I came here, I have read a lot of things about the climate, architecture, history, and other information that I thought it would be useful here. But when I met this wonderful city, I realized that there is no better way to know a place than to explore it by yourself.

There is no city guide that will tell you all the surprising things you can discover by just getting lost in the small, pretty neighborhoods or either in the noisy downtown. Chicago is full of contrasts that made me fell in love with it: the giant skyscrapers that are surrounded by green alleys and parks; a lot of busy people in expensive suites who are always in a rush, which alternates with the carefree couples who went out for a jog or just to take a deep breath of fresh air on Lake Michigan.

When I wake up in the morning and see the skyline – the greenery of the Millennium Park, the height of the Willis Tower,  the shiny sand of the Oak Street Beach- I feel a certain energy through my blood, a taste of happiness and delight.

I adore the days when it takes me on dates- unexpected, unplanned dates when we get lost into each other, when I need no map, because I don’t care where it takes me.  I enjoy every piece of it, every moment. It happened a lot of times when I would just go for a walk and I find something special. Last time I got into a Jazz Concert at the Millennium Park.

Sometimes it likes to take me to nice, quiet places where I can enjoy a book.

Sometimes it takes me downtown for shopping.

The nights are even more special. The big skyscrapers open their sparkling eyes, the fountains flow with golden water, and the city is drowning in golden lights.

Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen. One thing is sure– Chicago has changed me. I have become a part of this city, and this city has become a part of me.