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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Emerson chapter.

When thinking back to my decision to write this, spring break had just ended, and I was on the plane headed back to school. After a week spent in my home city of Chicago, the warm, deep dish pizza from Giordano’s, the crisp, caramel and cheddar Garrett’s popcorn mix, and the  hovering skyscrapers reflecting the downtown area instantly made me feel at home, even if I was living out of a suitcase in my own house. Being back in Chicago, I now had the opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the city I had lived in for 18 years of my life. However, spending so much time surrounded by the city of Boston everytime I walked out the door of LB, I found myself constantly comparing the experience back home to the home I had become accustomed to in Boston. 

For the first few days of break, I’ll have to admit that I spent most of my time catching up on sleep. Making a schedule with 8 a.m. classes every day, anything more than six hours of sleep was catching up. It was nice staying up late and knowing I could wake up at noon the next day. Once I woke up, I made sure to hit up all of the local restaurants that I had been craving while away at college. 

Being able to dig my teeth into a warm, dripping, Italian beef sandwich from Chicago’s fast food chain Portillo’s was an experience like no other, and I had forgotten how tasty it really was. The same goes for every other restaurant in my neighborhood. The food in Chicago carried a flavor that was not available at any Boston restaurant. Saltier? Spicier? Sweeter? I don’t have an answer, but being at home, the food immediately took me back to my years before becoming a college student in Boston.

Living on the South Side of Chicago, which is predominantly made up of Irish Catholics, with spring break falling so close to St. Patrick’s Day, my neighborhood had already begun to prepare. With the Southside Irish parade falling on the weekend after school started up again, I would be unable to attend. However, this did not stop me from joining in on the festivities around me, including making a loaf of Irish soda bread with my dad, listening to “South Side Irish,” and going to the local Irish Imports store to look at the South Side sweatshirts. 

With a large Irish population in Boston, I was comforted by the fact that the city would not be lacking in the celebration either. Being at home in my neighborhood instantly reminded me of the small-town feeling I missed. While I loved the feeling of walking out my building door and being right in downtown Boston, it was an entirely different world living in a neighborhood that gave me both the small town experience as well as the bustling city, which was only a 15-minute train ride away. My neighborhood gave me a sense of community with small, family-run businesses dominating the area and the entire neighborhood as their customers. While walking down the street or driving to the grocery store, you were guaranteed an encounter with someone you knew. However, downtown Chicago always comforted me, making me feel like there were endless opportunities to explore.

I spent one day downtown while my mom was at work. I had forgotten what it felt like to take the Metra commuter rail. It was pretty empty as I had just missed the morning rush, and I was able to sit back and relax while listening to music. Within just a little bit of time, the train was entering into LaSalle Street station. I got off the train and walked around the Loop. 

The Loop is the main business area of downtown Chicago filled with shops, office buildings, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and more. Being down here, everywhere I turned, there was something I could be doing. I decided to walk around for a little bit. When lunchtime came, I met my mom at her work building and went to the sandwich shop in it. Even the sandwich shop inside of the building knew how to make the most basic turkey sandwich burst with flavor. Then, I walked around some more and obviously could not pass up shopping when approaching Urban Outfitters or City Target. 

Shopping in the Loop, I immediately was taken back to shopping on Newbury. The same feeling of walking down the street and being able to hit so many different stores on Newbury was available in the Loop. This reminded me of why I chose an urban campus and the feeling I always loved of everything I needed surrounding me and allowing me to always have something to do. 

After a long day spent in the city, I decided to go back downtown the next day, but instead, I met up with my friend from Emerson who also lives in Chicago. We met up in Chinatown, and the commute there reminded me of taking the T around Boston, however it is called the L in Chicago. Like Boston, it was very simple to take and got me from point A to point B quickly. 

Immediately getting off of the L, I was greeted by a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline— one of my favorite views. Spending the day in Chinatown, I soon realized how different it was from the Chinatown that neighbored the Emerson campus back in Boston. Here, Chinese towers and architecture seemed to define the area more, while I was constantly reminded of being in the city by the skyline that seemed to follow us everywhere. However, the sweet filled buns and other bakery items available in the Chinatown in Boston made its way into my Chinatown experience at home as well. 

The days spent in Chicago flew by, but with it, I was reminded of why I loved my hometown and being so close to the downtown area, but also reminded of why I chose Boston. I have always loved being surrounded by a busy area. Being in Boston allows me to always have something to do. Whether it be a walk along the Esplanade, breakfast in Beacon Hill, shopping on Newbury, or a late night snack in Chinatown, Boston fulfilled every day at school and often occupied me as to fend away the homesickness. Although my time was cut short this year, I plan to spend this summer exploring all that Chicago has to offer and more of Boston next year. Living in a city, you can always count on something new to explore, and that is my goal for this year— to do just that.

Emerson contributor