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Chicago state of mind

Mel Flanagan | Monday, October 8, 2012

Growing up on Long Island, there was never any doubt in my mind that New York City was the greatest city in the country. It has everything an individual could possibly expect from a city – from amazing restaurants and shopping areas to diehard sport traditions, and, of course, ridiculously high prices. I remember visiting Boston and Philadelphia in middle school and feeling superior to all the residents because my city was larger and more cosmopolitan than their cities. To be honest, I never really even spent that much time in New York City, even though I only live about thirty minutes away from Manhattan. I’m more of an outdoors person and crowds overwhelm me, so New York’s tightly packed buildings and busy streets are not exactly up my alley.

But once I came to Notre Dame, I acted as if New York City was my second home. I enjoyed telling people I was from New York because I automatically assumed that unless they were from Paris or Sydney, my hometown was probably more entertaining than theirs. Even with the wealth of Notre Dame students from the Chicago area, it never occurred to me that Chicago might rival New York. Maybe San Francisco or Washington, D.C., but never a random city in the middle of the Midwest.

But over the past few years, I’ve visited Chicago several times, and each time I leave liking the city more and more. Yes, it’s smaller than New York, but that only makes it easier to navigate. Prices, while still high, are much lower than New York’s, and Chicago natives are almost as infatuated with their athletic teams as Notre Dame students are with our football team. The city is cleaner overall, and Lake Michigan offers a nicer view than New York Harbor. I always assumed that if I lived in a city after graduation it would be New York, but as I think about post-Notre Dame life more frequently, I think I might rather spend a few years as a young professional in Chicago.

This past weekend only cemented those feelings. Chicago and its inhabitants welcomed Notre Dame students and fans alike with open arms, and I can’t think of a better weekend I’ve had in several months. The bars were lively, the food was tasty and the Notre Dame network was huge and comforting. Even though I’ll always be a New Yorker at heart, I’m starting to think a Chicago state of mind might be just what I need to start my life after Notre Dame.

Contact Mel Flanagan at mflanag3@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.