Traveling is one of my favorite things. As a military brat, I’ve moved around a lot and even though it sucked as a kid, I now appreciate the experiences I had. If you remember from my 20 by 20 list, one of my goals was to travel more and during this past week, I did just that!

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to visit all 50 states (and Washington, DC). So far, I’ve been to California, DC (yes, I know it’s not a state yet), Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York (upstate and the city), North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. During this past week, I visited my friends’ hometowns, Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 16 down, 35 left to go!

Even since I was in middle school I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago, something about it just spoke to me. From watching various movies set in the city (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Home Alone series, the Barbershop series, Sixteen Candles, The Break-Up, etc.) to listening to Acid Rap, I loved hearing about Chicago and its culture. When I moved into my freshman dorm, my neighbors across the hall both happened to be from Chicago. Kaylen and Samya have both become some of my closest friends so I decided to go home with them for a few days during winter break to experience “Chicaglo.”

Kaylen, a marketing major and Chinese and film double minor, has been an asset to my life during this past year and a half. Just reading what she’s studying at Howard kind of makes you go “whoa,” right? I don’t know if it’s the spirit of Chicago that’s inside of her or the power of $OB Money Gang. Either way, she inspires me to work hard to achieve my goals. She constantly reminds me that I should always be working hard to reach my goals and should really be aiming to exceed my goals. Throughout our friendship, Kaylen has taught me soooo much so far and is like the older sister I never had. She encourages me to get out of my comfort zone so that I can grow and become the person of my dreams. Kaylen is also probably one of the most fun friends I’ve ever had, she’s down for anything and doesn’t care about what anyone says about her. A true inspiration.

Samya, a political science major and sociology minor, has really been like a sister to me. We met on Twitter before we even stepped foot on campus. Through Groupme and social media, we bonded over music, TV shows, and films. From Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book to Game of Thrones and now Law & Order: SVU (I can’t believe she’s just now starting either lol), she’s the first person I think of when I want to watch something a little nerdy or murderous or when I want to analyze lyrics. She, like Kaylen, inspires me because she’s literally a genius. She attends Howard on a full scholarship and is going to be an amazing lawyer, like the best combination of Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating (minus the murder).

From the day I met these two, they’ve always spoken about Chicago with such love and it only made me want to visit even more. Right before Thanksgiving break, my friends and I made plans to all be on the same flight during winter break so we could travel together and they could help me explore their cities and see how they live outside of Howard. I, of course, was really excited to learn more about my friends and their lives because it was almost like taking our friendship to the next level lol. By meeting their parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, and more, I became more than just a college friend. I know that sounds kind of sappy but that’s how I felt lol *black girl shrug emoji*. While I was in Chicago, I explored downtown and did all the normal touristy things and spent time with my friends. It was so much fun just hanging out with my friends, driving around town (we don’t usually drive in DC), exploring, and not feeling super stressed since the semester had just ended and we were finally free. We visited Navy Pier at took a look at the skyline, which is suuuuuuper gorgeous (you can see how beautiful it looks in the lead photo), and went to see the skyline again the next day in sunlight. Y’all know I’m from Southwest Georgia so when we were visiting Navy Pier, I nearly died. It was so freezing and it lowkey made me rethink why I visited lol. Cold weather and I are not friends but we did get more acquainted during this past week. Although I’m still not a fan, I know that I just have to suck it up and deal with it if I ever decide to move out to the Midwest.

After a weekend in Chicago, Ariel and I headed out to Wisconsin (her home state) for more Midwest fun. Ariel, a sports medicine major and chemistry minor, is our very own Cristina Yang. Ariel and I met on Groupme during our senior year of high school and we’ve been friends ever since. I even helped her on move-in day freshman year. Throughout freshman year we were pretty much inseparable and even though we’re both in two completely different schools and have always lived on different floors in our dorms, we always make the effort to continue our friendship and not let anything come between us. She’s the Molly to my Issa, literally.

While in Wisconsin, we had a nice little vacation and caught up on our sleep and a few of our favorite shows. During this fall semester, Ariel, Samya, and I took a philosophy class together so we all worked on our final paper for that class and officially became free for the break. We also enjoyed time with her cousins and her grandparents, which was great. On my final day in the Midwest, we rode back to Chicago with Ariel’s mom (who is from Chicago) for my flight but first, we took the time to go to the Bean and visit the huge Christmas tree in the middle of downtown.

Now I’m back home in Albany and I honestly miss Chicago (and my friends so much). Something about the city lit my heart up and got me excited for my future. I took the time to look up speech pathology clinical fellowships in Chicago and I found a few that I plan to apply to for after graduation. Chicago turned out the be the dream city that I always saw it as when I was a kid. I love the city aspect and I love all the greatness that has come from it. Kanye, Oprah, Michael Jordan, Shonda Rhimes, Chance the Rapper, the Obamas, and so many more are from Chicago and have gone on to accomplish great things, both in the city and internationally. Chicago has so much history and culture that I want to experience and I can’t wait to visit again. Next time, I’ll definitely visit in the summer! What has been one place you’ve always wanted to visit and have you had the chance to? If not, try to visit in the new year!

Check out my very first vlog below!


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