After calming down I decide, instead of going back to the hotel and wasting the whole day I'll tour by myself. I drive around a little just to get a feel of downtown then drive back to my hotel. There is a train stop really close to their and parking in Chicago is an arm and a leg for an hour. Parking near my hotel is two dollars. Easy decision. After freaking out over the parking situation, realizing I had shown up right as the train was coming and that I had no idea how to buy a ticket for the train, I figured out I had paid for the wrong parking spot. (I didn't realize how wrong until later.) This just spikes my stress even higher and I end up internally panicking over whether or not my car would be towed. Like I said, I don't do well in unknown situations. There was nothing I could do until I came back. The train schedule is really specific and it would be a waste just to turn around. I'd deal with whatever happened when I came back.
Thankfully I could suppress the panic while walking around downtown. I make a direct line to the school, which is close to the train stop. I get to the front door and immediately I am giddy. This is the first time my dream is tangible. I want it so bad. After locating it I decide I really need to eat. This didn't turn out to be as easy as I had thought. Did you know Chicago shuts down about mid-afternoon on the weekend? Me either. I ended up finding a Wendy's so at least I got to eat. Also my thighs greatly appreciated the chance to warm up. It is bitter cold in Chicago in the middle of winter especially after a cold snap. Note to self: Invest in warmer pants.
From there I decide to walk to the other school I am applying to. It's actually not very far from the train station either, which is nice. I finally break down and call mom about the possible towing of the car. She scoffed at me; I felt better. See, I've found that anxiety and depression often stem from being caught up in your head for too long. My solution to this is to just talk to someone else and have them sort it out for me. I can tell myself that something won't happen but that's little more than me trying to comfort myself. Having someone else say it makes it more tangible. After calming down a little I make it right near the school but I'm so cold that I have to duck into a nearby building, which happens to be an indoor mall. Me being from the suburbs of Missouri, I'm not used to this; so many building crammed into a skyscraper rather than spread out. It's going to take some getting used to. And turns out? It's right across from my school. So if I ever get hungry all I have to do is cross the street. Very nice.
I get into the school and would you know it? Instead of having the entire school closed down as it's a weekend, one of the doors was propped open. I have no idea but I took it as an invitation to kind of snoop. I didn't stay long, just enough to get a feel for the place. It's small which is expected of a graduate school but my Alma Matter is huge so again, not used to it. I really hope I get into one of these schools; just going to a school like this will be an experience.
The end of my adventure was pretty uneventful. Taking the train ride back I nearly sabotaged myself by listening to my music meaning I couldn't hear the stops being announced. Thankfully I lucked out and heard only mine. Even better luck my car wasn't towed, nor was there a ticket. I felt considerably better. Dinner was Wild Wings and a beer and now I am lounging in my hotel room wondering what tomorrow will bring.
Conclusion: Chicago is huge. It's going to take me months to explore everything. I walked around for three hours and only managed to see a tiny fraction. I am kind of looking forward to it. Also, the trains are confusing. There are so many line and so many passes. I'm not sure what I should do. Thankfully I can ask my friend tomorrow. I hope I get some place out in the suburbs commuting every day wouldn't bother me; the train ride each way would be great study time and I can always use the walk. I think I could really love living in Chicago.
Observations: The trains riding over head are so loud they hurt my ears but the rattling on the tracks is so hard it makes me vibrate which is fun. Chicago is just a beautiful now as it was the last two times I was here. I get excited at so many random places. Seagulls. Really? Another note to self: Invest in touchscreen gloves and better walking boots.