Last time I was in Chicago, USA. It was my first time not only in this city, but also on this country. I’m from Poland, so, it was very exciting for me and provided a lot of new experiences. In many cases, it was like something completely new, like conquering “The New World”. This was also an opportunity to verify some of my expectations. In this post, I would like to share some of my observations, some opinion. For readers from the USA may be a little strange, but… it will show you some important differences. If somebody thinks, that world is always and everywhere similar, that people are always similar, makes a big mistake. Ok, let’s see, what can I tell about that trip.
It was my first time in such long flight – about nine hours to the USA, and about eight hours back. The worst thing was jetlag. Traveling to the USA was not a big problem. I woke up in several nights, but during day, I was ok. After back to Poland… it was real nightmare. I was like a zombie for about four, five days: you think you sleep well, without problems (after methionine of course), but no, it’s not true. It’s like a sinusoid: one hour is great, in next you only want to sleep. I must also say, that traveling by Dreamliner was great experience: it’s big, but comfortable plane. I don’t flight often, so must mention about it. What about Chicago, what about the USA? It’s not for one post, so, there you can find only my first experiences. The most important: everything is huge!
Terrible weather but beautiful places
Chicago weather is completely unpredictable – day is sunny, and after 10 minutes we have a storm… As someone said us, weather in Chicago is like four seasons every day, and it’s true. But it isn’t a problem, because there is a lot of amazing places. I was in Millennium Park twice, I visited Willis Tower (Sears Tower) with Skydeck. There are also a lot of fantastic museums: Field Museum with dinosaurs, Science and Industry Museum with real, Second World War U-Boot (yep! They captured it in 1944 near Africa!), Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. You can visit each of these places individually, but you can also buy a Chicago City Pass – one ticket for five different places. This ticket expires in 9 days, so you have a lot of time to visit each place.
Another interesting place is Lakefront Path. It’s path through Michigan lake, for walking, running or cycling. Road quality is very high, so, using road bike is not a problem. I ran Lakefront almost every day and it was great experience – big city on one side, silent, beautiful lake on second. On one weekend I also decided to rent a road bike and try cycling here. First minutes were difficult, but after that, I felt like a fish in sea. Very fast ride, a lot of cornering, and great competitor near me: it was great time! There is also a Nav Pier, good place to rest, to drink a beer with
Everything is huge
Before I go to the USA, I didn’t know much about food in this country. I only suspected, that it isn’t so healthy – because of many information about fat people from the USA, maybe because of bad quality fast foods and ready-to-eat food in supermarkets (only use microwave, etc.). The truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, some people in the USA are fat, it’s especially visible on places for “normal people”. In city center, in center of business and office work, it’s not visible. I think it’s because many people from city just take care of themselves: they chose better food and do some sports. But daily food is completely different than daily food in Poland. Everything is so big but… very good! Really, I can say, that “fast foods” here are very nice. And I love these chocolate cookies so much.
Examples: burritos for breakfast. What?! It’s crazy, burrito for breakfast? Yep, it’s normal and very tasty, because this burrito is different that fast foods burritos in Poland – these from the USA have more and better ingredients, for example corn, rice, eggs. You don’t have to use any sauces, so, it’s ok. Different topic are burgers. Damn, it’s the best part of the USA, or maybe just Chicago – I don’t know burgers from other cities, so can’t compare anything. Very big, but also, very good. I tried few different burgers and each of them was really delicious. I can say, that looking for something similar in Poland will be only waste of time. Maybe if you try to do this in your home, but not on restaurants. Other thing, pizzas: also, so good, and deep-dish pizza from Chicago is amazing!
Not only advantages
Ok, but after paragraphs above you can say: there are only fast-foods! It’s not true. I used for example Whole Foods Market with a looooot of organic, clean, tasty and healthy food. Do you want to eat salad? Do you want fresh vegetables and fruits? No problem! The only problem for me were the portions sizes in the restaurants. There were huge, as almost everything in the USA. If I made such huge dinner in about 2 pm, I resigned from dinner, I wasn’t hungry and didn’t have power to eat more. And maybe it’s the problem of fat people? Huge portions instead of many, but small meals? I don’t know, because there a lot of details: food quality, time of eat, our activity and much more. Can say only one thing: food in the USA can be really good. All depends of your choices.
One bad thing: in first days here, water was so ugly – water in many places, include restaurants. It’s because a large amount in chlorine. In my city (about 80 thousands of people), I can drink water directly from tap, without using any filter and it’s so tasty. I still think that standard water in Chicago is not good, but after few days it changed to be just ok, normal. But to be fair I must note one important thing: water in the USA restaurants is free and it’s standard, also with refills. It should be also on Poland and rest of Europe – I know, that many restaurants have the highest margin especially on water, but it’s so stupid. In the USA it’s simpler and much more pleasant for clients.
Therapy for mind?
Important thing are prices. They are very similar to polish prices, for example you must pay about $13 for cheeseburger or $25 for pizza. In Poland, prices are very similar… but in polish zloty. According to current dollar exchange rate, it means, that prices in the USA are almost four times higher than prices in Poland. Yep, four times – if you earn salary in Poland, in polish zloty with polish rates, prices on the USA can be real madness. Of course, not for everyone, but trip to the USA will be much more expensive than many European countries. On other side, for the USA citizens, a lot of things in Poland may be very cheap (expectably, food). It’s difficult to compare and looking for reasons – both places are completely different, with different governments and economy. You just should remember about that before trip.
Also, not everything has higher prices. For example, visit the USA it’s a good opportunity to buy Apple devices, because better prices (differences in about 10-15%). Can’t recommend buying other devices, because differences are much smaller, there are also issues with international guarantee on many companies. There are also a lot of discounts in clothes markets, so you can buy many high-popular brands products for great price. If you plan short visit with a lot of shopping, it will be great time and very good option. Can note one additional thing: let’s compare prices of new cars on Poland and the USA. For example, you can buy good car in US for about $20,000. In Poland you must spend about 100,000 zl. If salaries are similar in amounts (without including rate differences), it will be much simpler to do in US, right? Yes. It’s the reason, why so many idiots in Poland says “Apple is so expensive”, “Starbucks are only for childs”. Noooo. In US it’s just normal, many people use Apple devices, many people drink in Starbucks, because it’s… just coffee.
People on the USA are amazing. It was the biggest shock for me. They are so happy, they are busy, but they want to do important things and they believe in success. They don’t have so many complexes like people on Poland. They are also indifferent for many things: they probably saw a lot and have their own problems so… they don’t evaluate others during walking, they don’t complain every minute, they just do what should do. It’s amazing and so different from the Polish mentality. I know that probably because of difficult Poland history: lost country, then Second World War, then Soviet occupation, now so stupid government, but… Returning back to Poland wasn’t nice. Now I know, that it can be better, we can be better people, we can stop complain, we should believe in our capabilities and we should do everything with real passion. But with such environment, it’s so difficult.
Other examples: fisherman on the Michigan pier, cashiers on shops, runners and cyclist on Lakefront Trail – they all were happy and nice for others. They ask about feelings from visit the USA and Chicago, can recommend many interesting places, and infect by positive energy. Now I know, why people are so proud on many US movies, why they crap their hands on many catastrophic movies: they are just fine, they are normal. It’s normal state, it’s not unnormal or strange. Polish mentality is often stupid and “sick”, it can ruin so many things only because of stubbornness, closed mind and egocentrism. And we always afraid, we afraid of risk, of investments. Americans are much more open. Of course, they can lose something in that way, but risk is a part of life, it’s ok.
It was amazing trip and a lot of new experiences. I think, it can change a way of thinking, and it changed me a lot: now I am much more open for new things, also much more open to new possibilities. The USA is not only advantages of course, there are a lot of bad things, a lot of problems, but… do you know any ideal country? I don’t, and I don’t want to search for something like this: it doesn’t exist. Now I am thinking what should, what can I change in my life, to make it even better – the USA gave me a lot of ideas. Also, if it will be possible, I will travel to the USA again: it’s great place and something like a therapy for mind devastated by part of polish mentality.