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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Chicago: Zoe on ACTIVATE

Zoe Johnson ’20 has a Self-Designed major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and is completing the summer ACTIVATE program in the Loop.

Zoe Johnson ’20 has a Self-Designed major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and is completing the summer ACTIVATE program in the Loop.

I was nervous before starting this eight-week experience because this was going to be my first time living on my own in a new place–other than living in a dorm during my first two years of college.  And I was about to spend the summer in the third largest city in the U.S.

During my time studying down in Chicago this summer, I have experienced many new things. My navigation skills of the city have improved, and I have learned the colors of the “L” lines, which are the train routes. I had no knowledge of any of this before this summer. I am proud to say the I only got on the wrong train and CTA bus (both going the opposite direction) two times in my first week! Now I am a pro at commuting to my internship, as well as getting to State Street and Michigan Avenue (which are both important because this involves shopping.) Someone even asked me for directions, so I must look like I know my way around.

Here are a few of my favorite things I did this summer:

-Walking around the lakefront to see the beautiful sunsets.

-Going to Grant Park (so close to the Flats) for small concerts each weekend.

-Waking up to a great view of the city each day.

-Trying a new deep-dish pizza place every other week.

Living at The Flats is very different compared to a dorm room. There is no cafeteria or POD to grab lunch or dinner. Learning how to cook and do some meal prep for the week is challenging and definitely a step toward adulting, which takes time to learn. Thankfully, the city has plenty of restaurants that I tried if I didn’t feel like cooking.

One of my favorite parts of this experience are the weekly workshops with Professor Tanzer. Each week we met as a group; sometimes Professor Tanzer brought in a guest speaker, and other times we took field trips in the city. All of the guest speakers provided us with helpful information regarding our career plans. From visiting a new art gallery in an old warehouse building to getting a tour at the LinkedIn office, these past few months have been full of seeing new places and making great connections with the guest speakers. Each week was focused on a different aspect of career building and how to best prepare ourselves for life after college.

As the program is coming to an end, I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience, for all the new connections I made, and for everything I learned–not only at my internship, but in the workshops as well. I am excited to be able to spend a full semester in Chicago next spring because these eight weeks went by so fast.