For the past eight years, I have dreamt of becoming a fashion designer. I would spend my time sketching and envisioning my own line. During my freshman year of high school, I started researching colleges.
Naturally, my search began with the most prestigious, including FIT and Parsons, but most of them did not guarantee housing. After continuing my online search, I found the school of my dreams! Columbia College Chicago, which is located in Chicago, guaranteed housing for all students and had an excellent fashion program. I became enthralled with images of shopping in boutiques, listening to poetry in cafes and frolicking through parks.
I needed to visit this school. One morning in July, my family and I departed to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Having never been to Chicago, my heart raced with anticipation.
After the rigorous inspections in security, we boarded the plane. The seats were small but there was neither turbulence nor children’s cries. Following the forty-five minute wait for our luggage, we hailed a taxi to take us to our hotel.
We booked a room at The Hilton Chicago because it offered a Columbia College visitor discount. When we arrived we were amazed by its grandeur. The Hilton occupies an entire block of Chicago.
It boasts marble floors, a grand ballroom with a pianist, elevators with televisions, and an indoor track. It is so luxurious that the Queen of England once stayed there. Unfortunately, we arrived too early for check-in, so we secured our luggage with the bellman and left for lunch.
Prior to our visit, we researched restaurant menus, because I am a vegetarian. We decided to try Miller’s Pub first. The food and atmosphere was nice and the prices were inexpensive for a city.
Tired from the early flight, we thought a trolley tour would be relaxing. The trolley drives around the city’s famous landmarks. What we didn’t foresee was extreme weather.
During our first tour we were plagued by heat. Suffering from dehydration we hopped off to cool down on the city’s windy streets. Through our second tour, it began to pour, and since we were sitting on the open-air deck, we endured the worst.
After our escapade, we checked in to our room, dried off, and went to an Italian eatery called Rosebud’s for dinner. The food was an excellent treat to cap off an adventurous day. The following morning, we ate breakfast at a delightfully yummy restaurant called Yolk. We stuffed ourselves to capacity and set out for the college tour.
The school owns several brightly colored buildings throughout Printer’s Row. However, the fashion building was under construction. I toured classrooms and saw student work, but was unable to talk to students or professors. We then journeyed to the main dorm building. We were able to view one of the apartment styled rooms but were not permitted to view a basic dorm room.
I asked the guide multiple questions, and although he was currently a Columbia student and resident, I received vague replies. Lastly, the tour included a meeting with the admissions counselor. The school brags about their thorough core curriculum, though when I inquired about the details I discovered the highest-level math class was Calculus II and they offered elementary levels in foreign language. I planned on taking AP Calculus and AP Spanish before I graduated high school.
The intellect of the school was extremely important to me. I have always believed that knowledge comes first, art second. Disappointed, we left the school. Our last night was spent at Navy Pier where we saw a Chinese acrobat show and fireworks. The next morning, we departed for the airport, leaving behind a city full of great people, delicious food and culture, as well as broken dreams.
The trip served as a wake-up call. Throughout my whole meager sixteen years of life, I have struggled between my two personas, the intellectual and the artist. I finally knew where my priorities lay. I am typing this essay a month later. I currently envision myself on a New England campus majoring in writing, though still frolicking in parks and reading poetry in cafes. I feel more secure with my new decision. I don’t feel torn between two worlds as I once did.
Someday I’ll be involved in fashion, but there is more awaiting me. Despite the trip being disappointing, I don’t regret it. I became enlightened about my true identity. Besides, isn’t the saying something like, ‘Being self-aware is the first step to greatness’?
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