12 January 2015

The city of big shoulders and the deep dish pizza

Eric Xu is an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney Business School. He is currently in the United States as part of the Los Angeles Placement Program, offered by the Business School in partnership with the United States Studies Centre.

The last few days before my departure were hectic, but sitting here at 4am in a hotel room in Chicago, listening to the city starting to sputter to life makes it all worth it - in a weird jetlagged way.

Here’s the first of Eric’s not so wise words: Get started early. I literally booked my flights a week before I left and it was a frantic scrabble right up to the flight. In the week before I left, there were three days of training which went over the essentials that we needed to know. First, we were shown some excel wizardry, and then we went over the more manageable stuff, like setting goals and getting motivated to give a killer presentation.

I’m travelling for a bit before the program starts, so my first stop was Shanghai. It was actually the first time travelling by myself - normally I go with friends or family, but I feel like I took a big step of independence this time. Actually, I took a lot of them at a run because I almost missed my flight and I did that half run/half jog thing that you do when you have to go places fast but you want to look cool at the same time. I eventually started running in earnest because they were asking for an “Eric Zooo” to hurry up and get on the plane. That was the first time that happened to me too - a day for firsts it seems. Remember that first piece of advice? Yeah.

I don’t have all too much to say about Shanghai, but it was mainly eating and being sick. I’ve got this great ability to get a cold, start to get over it, then get a fever instead. So I had to change my Chicago flight to a day after my intended one, but I got to the airport early this time. Remember advice numero uno.

As soon as I got out of Chicago’s airport, I headed out to get a deep dish pizza with one of my roommates in LA, Dan. It was so good, oh so cheesy, but so very filling. The best way to describe it is like a big pizza pie, and then more. We’re still trying to get used to the tipping and tax being separate things to the price, and I’m pretty sure we’ve offended a couple of waiters already.

Dan and I getting overly excited by the deep dish pizza goodness

Chicago has this cold and serene beauty that is occasionally hard to remember whilst you’re being buffeted down the street, but look up once in a while and take in the amazing architecture that dominates the skyline. A girl told us it was so cloudy because vampires lived here, but then again we convinced that same girl that drop bears existed, so…

The John Hancock building

Starting to work and study here this month is a really exciting and unnerving prospect. I guess it hasn’t really sunk in properly yet, as there’s so much to see and do before we even get to LA. At the moment all I can think of is where to get a Pizookie and Chicago hotdog. You can see we have our priorities sorted.

This blog was originally published on the United States Studies Centre blog.

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