Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Week in Chicago

A lot has happened during the last four years of my life. I left my home in Le Sueur, MN for the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN, where I graduated in 2015. I studied abroad in Kolkata, India, co-directed a youth program in El Paso, Texas, interned at an NGO in Washington, D.C., and studied the Bangla language in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Now I am excited to be embarking on a different kind of adventure this year.. as a Benedictine Women's Service Corps member, living with the Benedictine sisters at St. Scholastica monastery in Chicago and working as a volunteer in the surrounding community.

It's been a little over a week since I arrived in Chicago, and I'm still getting my bearings. I've met almost all of the sisters at St. Scholastica, and of those that I've met, I remember at least 60% of their names. Which is pretty good considering there are 39 of them and one of me!

Last week consisted mostly of getting settled in to my room and seeing the neighborhood. I have my own room on the fourth floor of the monastery with a (huge!) closet and a little living space attached. There are four or five other sisters that live on the fourth floor with me.

My room at St. Scholastica

the bathroom I share with the sisters on the 4th floor

Beautiful sitting space

During my first few days, I got to explore the city a little bit. On the day I arrived in Chicago, Sister Belinda (my main contact person at St. Scholastica) took me sailing with some of her friends. I was excited because the weather was perfect and this was my first time ever on a sailboat!

Sailing on Lake Michigan!

a view of the city from the water

Late last week Sister Belinda also arranged for one of the old bikes at the monastery to be repaired for me. It is a 1971 bright green Schwinn that the guys at the repair shop called "the green machine" because it is huge and heavy as lead, not to mention entirely perfect for my purposes. Sister Belinda also gave me a venture card and showed me how to use the L. So I did a little exploring on my own in downtown Chicago. The highlight of the day was visiting the Loyola University Museum of Art, which included a (slightly bizarre) Andy Warhol exhibit and a copy of the St. John's Bible!

Andy Warhol exhibit at the LUMA (a room full of floating silver balloons and an inflatable Buddha)

This is just a little introduction to my life in Chicago. Tomorrow I begin one of my first days as a teacher/tutor for the Holy Spirit Life Learning Center's English as a Second Language program. More to come on that as it unfolds.