10 Things I Learnt in Chicago

As you probably know if you read my stuff regularly, I’m a massive sucker for retrospect and personal growth.  There are so many events and choices that I’ve made in my life that have changed the course of my life significantly, be that through what I’ve learnt from them or the through the direction they took me in.  Therefore, I wanted to start a new “10 Things” series, and kick it off with 10 things I learnt in Chicago…

Background: Why was I in Chicago?

My University decided to send 50 students to the University of Chicago to work with 25 students there and create and pitch group projects/solutions to help promote inclusion in Chicago.  It was an absolute longshot that I’d get a place because obviously a chance to go abroad to Chicago (With flights and accommodation paid for as 25 of our places were funded) was a very sought after one, but somehow, I did.

It was essentially 6 days in Chicago: 2 free days and 4 intense 9-5 days in which we visited local businesses and learnt about the city of Chicago, helping us to come up with a solution.  I’ve literally never done anything like this, especially alone (I didn’t know anyone going into it) and I can honestly say that it was an unforgettable experience.

10 things I learnt…

1) My ankles are not as strong as I think

I’ve written before about my achilles tendonopathy but honestly, for the last couple of years I’ve very rarely had flare ups and so I often forget about it.  However, with all the walking and standing we were doing this week I was so greatly reminded that my ankles are incredibly weak… But hey, at least I pushed them to their limits.

2) I need to have more faith in myself

The fact I flew to and back from Chicago entirely on my own proves to me that I can do more than I think.  Yes, I love having people around and I don’t think there will ever be a day where I don’t run to my parents in times of stress, but it showed me that I can do more alone than I thought.  To some it probably seems like nothing, but this was such a big step for me.

3) I have a weird accent???

From the first day I was getting accent compliments from Americans and assumed it was because I had a British accent… However, they weren’t really saying to any of the other Brits.  Then at a checkout a man told me that usually he can tell immediately, but he couldn’t tell I was British (??? I am very conscious of how British I sound).  I was then told by one of the American students that I “sound like an American putting on a British accent” and there’s something about my accent in particular… Is my whole life a lie?!  Did I learn to talk weirdly?!  Brb having an identity crisis

4) Airports are really not that fun

I used to love airports: Duty free, endless restaurants, that “holiday vibe”… you know the feels.  However, when you arrive to them 3 hours early because everybody told you that it would take you 3 hours to check in but it took you a grand total of 25 minutes, then you find yourself incredibly acquainted with the airport… They lose their wonder very quickly.

5) I am chattier than I think

I’ve always thought of myself as a very quiet person; it makes sense, I always have been a quiet person and I haven’t really noticed enough growth in that area to think any differently.  However, the more I heard people that I’ve never met before describe me as “chatty”, the more I realised that I’ve really grown from the girl I used to be without even realising… it’s weird, but exciting.


Seriously.  It was the bane of my existence.  WHY CAN’T THE TAX JUST BE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?!  It’s like the worst surprise ever I hate it.

7) Therapy isn’t restricted to traditional methods

During the program we had various “immersion visits” in which we visited local businesses all over Chicago and learnt their stories.  On one of the days I visited a centre for dance therapy, which, if I’m being honest, I didn’t even know was a thing.  However, the more I learnt about it, the more I realised that there are so many valid other forms, and I want to spend the rest of the year researching into them more.

8) I do more than I think I do

As this was an “International leadership program”, most of the people who were accepted were insanely amazing people… I’m talking heads of societies, people working on community projects, people were top of their courses, and then… me.  I walked in their feeling simultaneously in awe and inferior.  I felt like I was so undeserving in comparison to everyone else, but then I realised that being around these people didn’t mean I was below them, it meant that I was considered to be of similar level to them.  I need to stop focusing on what I haven’t done, and start focusing on what I have.  Because I have done more than I think this year.  And I am deserving.

9) My body does not cope well with excessive amounts of sugar

I had a sugar-induced headache for the first time in my life from drinking a Snapple and eating a Hersheys bar.  A drink and a chocolate bar!  Granted, the drink had a whopping 44g of sugar in it… But still, these two things were enough to physically ruin me… I am apparently a weakling who cannot handle sugar.

10) Doughnut holes are little balls of goodness.

Why aren’t doughnut holes a common thing in the UK?!  They are SO GOOD.  I don’t even know how to describe them… They’re more cakey than a doughnut but less cakey than a cake?  Whatever they are, they’re beautiful.  Either a Dunkin’ doughnuts needs to appear on the end of my road, or someone needs to tell me where to get doughnut holes in the UK.

And there you have it, 10 things I learnt in Chicago.  I want to do more posts like this because I love looking back on how I’ve learnt and grown from things, so please let me know what you thought of this!

Lots of love,

Jas xx



8 thoughts on “10 Things I Learnt in Chicago

  1. CherishingFLo says:

    Its so interesting to hear you talk about your experience with America and things over here. Your accent is KIND of unique but I wouldn’t have said you sound American doin a British accent. You sound, however, like you’ve been introduced to other cultures other than America. I’m American but a lot of my adopted family is Caribbean. Because of that sometimes the accent or certain words and ways of talking rubs off on me. And people start asking me where I’m from. So maybe it’s something similar? Lol donut holes used to be an everyday occurrence for me but I’m not as into sweets as I used to be. It sounds like you learned a LOT from the trip to Chicago! I haven’t been to Chicago in a few years but I did love it last time I went! And I’ve always hated airports 😂


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