As an out-of-state student, I was incredibly excited to start my J-Term class, The Great Libraries of Chicago. Luckily, one of my friends was enrolled in the class as well, and is very familiar with the city. She and I have taken advantage of the occasional free time we get between touring libraries and the earlier trains to explore the city.
After touring the enormous library at the University of Chicago, we were graced with a lunch break, where we bolted out to the food trucks and each had pulled pork on top of mac and cheese (which was actually incredibly delicious). Then we explored the campus a little more and made our way to the UChicago Chapel, where we accidentally crashed an organ concert.
I cannot describe how amazing it was to sit there and listen to the organ music (which was the most I had listened to in my entire life, despite only really catching the tail end). I can honestly say that I have gained a great appreciation for the instrument for the short time I listened to it, watching the organist’s dance across the foot pedals and the richness of the music. I went up to the organist afterward and we talked a little bit and I told him how much I enjoyed the show (which seemed to make his day, and he invited me to come back anytime).
Another day my friend and I took an earlier train and visited the Fine Arts Building before seeing the library at Columbia College. We went into the bookstore, which housed a store cat. I love cats, so I freaked out when I saw it walking amongst the books. It was very unamused by my affection (as most cats often are with human affection) and it only allowed me to pet it on the top of its head and around its face. I never learned its name, but I like to think we had a connection.
I’ve had such an amazing time thus far touring the libraries in and around Chicago, but the extra wandering has only enriched the experience. I highly recommend taking time between anything you’ve planned for a day in Chicago to wander around the city a little bit too, because it has so much to offer.