Flying over the city of Chicago and looking at the skyline from a bird’s eye view is one of my favorite sights in the world. As I write this blog post, I am 10,000 feet above the city that I call home, ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.
It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I truly understood where I came from and that I even had a unique cultural background. Since starting college, I’ve noticed that 1) people within a 50-100 mile radius of Chicago will say that they are from Chicago, and 2) when I tell people that I am actually from Chicago, they assume that I can see the Sears Tower from my bedroom window or that I eat Giordano’s pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. While that would be kind of awesome, this is not the case. Chicago is much more than the 8 block radius from the center of the city, and, sorry, but you can find pizza that’s a lot better than Giordano’s. There are over 77 neighborhoods that 2.5 million Chicagoans call home, each with unique traits. For example, there is a neighborhood where you can find fantastic Greek cuisine, while another neighborhood is home to a Polish cultural center. All of these neighborhoods have their own cultural identity, and my neighborhood is no exception.
My neighborhood, located on the south side of the city, is home to a large Irish-American Catholic community. Irish culture is rich throughout the neighborhood, including the presence of an Irish style castle, the largest number of Irish style pubs in the city, and one of the biggest neighborhood parades outside of Dublin that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. I grew up taking Irish dance classes and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as one of the main holidays of the year. There is even a song called “South Side Irish” that, on the day of the parade, plays as often as “It’s A Small World” at Disney World. Needless to say, I have been lucky to experience a rich ethnic culture right in my own backyard, but the opportunity to experience that rich ethnic culture in its original country is going to be incredible.
If you haven’t caught on by now, I will be spending the summer in Dublin, Ireland through a Kelley School of Business study abroad program. This program is a bit different than a traditional study abroad program – I will be taking classes, but I also have an internship. As an intern for the Bank of Ireland in their Governance Risk and Communication department, I will not only be placed in a professional working environment, but I will be placed in that environment in a foreign country. That prospect may be intimidating to some, but I could not be any more excited. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their backgrounds and cultures, and participating in this program will allow me to do just that. I cannot wait to see how the Irish traditions compare with my culture at home, and I know these next two months will be unforgettable.