During the spring of my junior year, I experienced a trip of a lifetime. Every three years, the music program at our high school goes on a trip to a location voted on by everyone involved. The group’s task was to choose a place that would be cost-friendly, while still offering a vast array of cultural and fun-filled events. The destination of Chicago not only fulfilled these requirements, it exceeded them.
Suitcase packed and weary-eyed, I entered our school at 6 a.m. The plan was to be in Chicago by evening. With less than a week of vacation, the tour planner wanted to make sure no time was wasted. As the last of the travelers sauntered in, it was finally time to embark on our journey to the windy city.
Boredom struck shortly after leaving. Coach buses may be extremely comfortable, but there is not much to do while on the road. Because this was a school event, the movie selection was limited to family or Disney movies, neither of which I find entertaining. Thankfully, our tour included a stop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While there, we participated in clinics for each of our three music groups. It was rewarding to perform for college professors. After a quick lunch on campus, we continued our journey. While in Chicago, we performed at Daley Plaza and the Field Museum. The rest of the trip was filled with a variety of activities and live performances for our viewing pleasure.
For me, the highlight of the Chicago trip was the presentation of Wicked. Although I have not typically been a huge fan of either plays or musicals, I was pleasantly surprised with the wonderful screenplay along with the captivating effects of Wicked. The musical entertained and enlightened me with the truth behind the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. After the show, I enthusiastically checked out the gift shop, hopeful to get a jumpstart on my Christmas shopping. Regretfully, I found plain t-shirts overpriced at $35 which squashed any hopes of buying souvenirs for my family.
Another unique opportunity I had during the trip was attending the opera “The Barber of Seville.” The Lyric Opera of Chicago is so well acoustically designed that the performers did not even use microphones, and we could hear them perfectly from the back! Although the constant singing in Italian did not appeal to me, it was my first opera, and I enjoyed most of it. (In fact, I only fell asleep for a little bit.)
Other attractions included the Blue Man Group and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Blue Man Group is hard to describe, but the show captured my attention the whole time due in part to the fact that we had front row seats and wore plastic ponchos to prevent banana purÃ©e and paint from getting on us. The Art Institute was intriguing as well. It provided me with an abundance of information regarding artifacts from ancient worlds, something that not even history class has been able to do.
While our days were packed with activities and entertainment, nighttime provide a nice diversion from this hectic pace. We spent countless hours lounging around and playing cards late into the night, and establishing lifelong friendships.
Our bus ride home offered us a chance to reflect on all of the sites we were able to experience while in Chicago. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to leave my small town for a week to benefit from the sights and sounds of a large city. It is a trip I will always remember.
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