Κυριακή, 18 Μαρτίου 2012

Celebrating by the Irish way...

Today, Saturday March 17th, is National Day for the Irish nation.It's called...
"Saint Patrick's Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick") is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick (c. AD 387–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.[1] It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland),[2] the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church. Saint Patrick's Day was made an official feast day in the early seventeenth century, and has gradually become a celebration of Irish culture in general.[3]"

Well, everything was green!! People were wearing green clothes combined with green jewelry or having dyed hair or painted faces with the same color!! I was in Chicago down town to watch the parade on S.Columbus Dr. Everywhere I was looking at, there were shamrocks panels hanged, while I was listening to the traditional Irish music (e.g. riverdance) or looking at the river, which was green too!!! (They dye the river..!) In addition to, there were stands full of green stuff like hats, necklaces, shamrocks, just in case somebody wanted to buy, and stands outside of restaurants where "spinach" pizza was served (green food!) TIP: If someone, not Irish, wanted to participate in this anniversary, like me, he/she has to wear something green in order not to get pinched!!! It could be anything, from a hair-tie to a plastic bracelet or from a hat to a total "green" look..

WHY GREEN??? GREEN is a color, but can be used for many things/meanings like tranquality, serenity, peace, ecology etc. But for Irish people is their "history", "life-color", "benchmark". Therefore, I was wearing a bracelet that Valentina made for me... 

So, I couldn't believe how many people would gather for this celebration, though they concerned me about it few days ago.. THOUSANDS of people were out!! Why not??? Apart from the fact that a big proportion of Americans is from Ireland, it was a sunny day, and it would be pitty if they didn't enjoy it! And to be honest, it was hot, 26 degrees Celsius !!! (It's getting hot in here.. tourou tourou)

Τετάρτη, 14 Μαρτίου 2012

My Swedish - American Experience

That's my first weekend-off in Chicago and I am trying to get more "familiar" with the city. So, I started browsing on internet what places must be seen, like museums, parks, galleries etc. There are so many options, but I chose to visit and explore the "Andersonville" which is one of the swedish colonies since 19th century. Andersonville is located close to Michigan Lake, and it's very easy to go there by public transportation.
Anyhow, my destination was the Swedish - American Museum [5211 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60640-- www.swedishamerican museum.org/]. This museum is an honor to Swedish immigrants, who came to the U.S.A in the 19th century because of a growing population, the practice of subdividing farms among the sons of each family, severe droughts that caused lack of food, social and political discontent, the desire for religious freedom, and the wish to escape compulsory military service (these are the "push" factors of immigration). On the other side, the main "pull" was the availability of low cost, high quality farm land in the upper Midwest (the area from Illinois to Montana), and high paying jobs in mechanical industries and factories in Chicago, Minneapolis, Worcester and many smaller cities. The American environment also provided low taxes and no established state church or monarchy. Push factors inside Sweden included population growth and crop failures. Most migration was of the chain form, with early settlers giving reports and recommendations (and travel money) to relatives and friends in Sweden.
Swedish migration peaked 1870-1900. By 1890 the U.S. census reported a Swedish-American population of nearly 800,000. Most immigrants became classic pioneers, clearing and cultivating the prairies of the Great Plains, while others remained in the cities, particularly Chicago. Single young women usually went straight from agricultural work in the Swedish countryside to jobs as housemaids. Many established Swedish Americans visited the old country in the later 19th century, their narratives illustrating the difference in customs and manners. Some made the journey with the intention of spending their declining years in Sweden, but changed their minds when faced with what they thought an arrogant aristocracy, a coarse and degraded laboring class, and a lack of respect for women. ---> (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_emigration_to_the_United_States)
The exhibition is divided in two sections: 1) The Swedish Emigration (2nd floor) & 2)  The Brunk Children's Museum of Immigration (3rd floor). When I got on the 3rd floor, I was amazed by the space management where there were small cottages and a large Viking's ship, made suitable for the dimensions of the children. So the kids could experience the swedish culture from within by playing! 

After my visit to the museum, I was walking on N. Clark St., when I found a restaurant, which is called "SVEA Restaurant". It's small inside, but it's so friendly and warm. I entered and I tasted a swedish plate. It was delicious!!! Yummieeee!!!!!

Many of you would wonder  "Why didn't you go in a greek community?" Well, since I have the chance staying in the U.S.A  for a year, it's a great opportunity to meet people. To looking for a greek community would be "vanity"! I wanted to learn something new!!! :) 

Πέμπτη, 8 Μαρτίου 2012

My first walk in downtown Chicago!!

Today, March 7th 2012, it was my first walk in downtown Chicago. As I 'm living in Glenview (north suburb of Chicago) I had to take the train (METRA line) for going down there. I got off at the Union Station and I was walking on W Jackson Blvd (West Jackson Boulevard) where you can see everything like skyscrappers, large-long roads, many stores (Walgreen-Pharmacy, Bakery stores, multi-departement stores), old buildings (many of them function as banks departements or colleges). At this point I have to inform you that the centre of Chicago is called "Loop", which means circle, because if someone takes a look above him, he/she will see the railtracks that shape a circle!! Isn't that a little strange for a non-American??
As I was going to S Michigan Ave (South Michigan Avenue), I saw the Michigan Lake and the Millenium Park, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Wherever I was looking at, there was grass, and the lake was just in front of me. So I took the road besides the lake and people were sitting or jogging around. It was so refreshing and impressing, at the same time, to experience all these! I still can't believe where I am, but I know I will do soon..

Later, I went back to S Michigan Ave and I was keeping walking. I walked across the river that exists, and I moved into a different "scenic" where the SHOPPING is alive!!! Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the "5th Avenue" of Chicago!!! Every store that anybody can think is there. I will refer some of them such as Macy's, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Cartier, Burberry, GAP, ZARA, Guess and the list is continued... In this side of the centre, there is the Water Tower PLace, which is one of the highest buildings!

However, it was about time to return since it was getting darker... And here, the 1st attempt to explore Chicago came to an end..!! I hope that you enjoyed and someday to come here by yourselves!!! ;)

What's impressive???

1) The Art Institute of Chicago and the walk at the park behind it. I was amazed when I saw geese on the grass!!! General, the whole scenic with the park, the bare trees and the lake so close to the centre was an indescribable experience!

2) The view of a "familiar" store ZARA made me happy, because everything was so strange and unknown to me...!! I know it's silly , but I smiled when I saw it!

3) The Water Tower Place is so huge!!! My neck was in pain...!!! :P

Τετάρτη, 7 Μαρτίου 2012

"Η χαρά βρίσκεται στις σχέσεις αγάπης, στο «μαζί», όχι στο «εγώ» αλλά στο «εμείς». Είναι ωραίο να τρως μόνος σου ένα καλό γεύμα, όταν όμως το μοιράζεσαι με πέντε ή έξι ανθρώπους που αγαπάς, είναι κάτι υπέροχο. Είναι ωραίο να πηγαίνεις στο πάρκο μόνος σου και να κοιτάζεις τα δέντρα, αλλά πόσο πιο συναρπαστικό είναι να έχεις μαζί σου κάποιον που να σου λέει: «Κοίτα αυτά τα κόκκινα», ενώ εσύ κοιτάζεις τα μπλε κι έτσι να μη χάνεις ούτε τα μπλε ούτε τα κόκκινα! Μη χάνεις αυτό το αίσθημα της συντροφιάς, γιατί είναι δικό σου και μπορείς να το νιώσεις."

"The joy is in love relationships in "together", not the "I" but "we". It's nice to eat yourself a good meal, but when you share it with five or six people you love, is something wondeerful. It's nice to go to park yourself and look at the trees, but how much more exciting is to have someone with you, who can tell you : "Look at these red", while you stare at the blue, so not t lose eithe11 r the blue or red! Do not lose that sense of company,because it's yours and you can feel it! "

Δευτέρα, 5 Μαρτίου 2012

Notes of a Diary...

There have already been passed four days after my arrival in the United States of America..

The flight was pretty amazing, since you literally fly above the clouds..!!! What a pretty picture?!?!?!?! Aaaahhhh??? Don't you think??

Apart from the whole papers' procedure that I have been through at Heathrow Airport and Chicago's one, I enjoyed my trip by eating well, watching movies, sleeping (as I could, reading books and solving puzzle words.. When I arrived in Chicago's Airport, my host family welcame me with warmth!

As I mentioned above, this is my fourth day, and I am still in the procedure of adjustement. I can't wait to start the courses, meeting the other au pairs, making new friends, ....and exploring the city by myself..!!! It 's more exciting (however, a walk in a mall can be quite frustrating.. :P )!!!

Sunday March 4th, 2012 / 20:07 (Chicago time)- 04:07 (Athens time)