By Nicoleta Ionela Brinza, Work and Travel participant 2013

Nicoleta worked at a popular restaurant in the Chicago area during the Summer 2013 season. She shares her experiences on CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program in a series of blog posts. This is the second blog post on her adventures. 

I started my experience in Chicago by walking around and admiring the huge buildings. I must admit that in Europe, we don’t have such big constructions. I remember my first day in Chicago – I went to Union Station then to the Art Institute, crossed the street and went to the port, near Navy Pier. All I had at that time was a Nikon Camera. I took so many pictures that my battery eventually died.  I couldn’t believe what a terrific view Lake Michigan had to offer. I got the impression that I was sailing. That infinite blue water, those white birds, the sound of the cars, and the people who were having fun on the boats; may have been only an audio-visual picture, but for me, it was more than that. My eyes saw a quiet show. I turned around and I saw the city: big buildings and a blue sky, which exists only in the USA. I swear! In Europe, we don’t have these kinds of clouds. I could write pages and pages or a novel about my impressions of Chicago, but I should stay on topic. All that matters is that if you go see Chicago for yourself, immortalize the moment, feel it, and then tell your friends about it.

Willis Tower, making steps on air

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Chicago offered me the best view. Going up into Willis Tower (the tallest building in North America) was absolutely spectacular. It may have been scary going to the 103rd floor, but it was really worth it! If you visit this city and you don’t go to the top of the Willis Tower, then you will be missing the best part of Chicago.

Millennium Park, Chicago

What can I say about Millennium Park? I’m speechless. Being in this big green park gives you the feeling that you won’t want to go back home.

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Buckingham Fountain, Chicago

I wanted to admire the beautiful, big fountain, so I stayed there during the day and at night. It was so colorful, like paradise. Two friends and I listened to music while we were there and danced nearby. I recorded it! Telling you about those moments, I feel like I am there right now, reliving my experience.

Michigan Avenue

I know the street of Michigan Avenue by heart. I walked there a lot. I went shopping so many times. Let me tell you a secret: they have good prices. You should try shopping at Best Buy or Macy’s. It is worth it!

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is one of my favorite places in Chicago. I was on a cruise (Mystic Blue) at nighttime, and the view of Chicago from the lake was absolutely gorgeous! I can’t forget that special evening when many students and I danced on the cruise. Some American women taught us a few funny dance moves.

On the same day, but earlier, I visited The Art Institute. After visiting The Art Institute, I became very proud of one of our sculptors – Constantin Brancusi. I saw one of his pieces of art exposed there, and that was pretty nice. All of the galleries fascinated me. At The Art Institute, I bought one of the things that I love very much: a silver ring with a black stone. Now, I wear it all the time, and every time I look at my hand, I remember Chicago. I also bought so many bookmarks. Now, when my friends from Romania are reading a book, they can imagine the beautiful city, and hope to visit it one day.

In this city, there are a lot of beautiful sites. All you have to do is be ambitious enough to get there. The belief that Chicago is dangerous was erased from my mind. It is not dangerous! Chicago is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Chicago is relaxing, impressive, and quiet; but also noisy, modern, and very clean. I don’t think that there is another city that is cleaner than this one.