It’s been one week since our Dutch visitor Noëmi has been with us, and she has seen and done a lot. Her first few days here, she got the lay of the land and spent a lot of time on campus, meeting my English department colleagues, getting to know the college, and eating ice cream.
For the second half of her first week, I had a few different types of adventures planned. We were going to Chicago for my evening class at UIC, but we had the entire morning and afternoon to do whatever we liked; so we made it count.
After Noëmi observed a history class taught by my award-winning colleague David (he was teaching a lesson on the American Revolution), she and I hit to road into the city. We parked at my parents’ place (they were at the theater so weren’t around to say hello, but we’re going to have dinner with them on Tuesday) and took in the view before wandering the city.
We ate lunch at Macy’s on State Street and then rode the escalator down from the 8th floor to take it all in. I was slightly disappointed that Noëmi didn’t get to experience the department store as it looks when it’s decorated for Christmas, but she got the sights and smells, and get got herself some Frango mints.
Noëmi in Macy’s
We walked across the street to the Daley Plaza’s farmer’s market, which was just starting to pack up. They’d dyed the fountain a bright blue in support of the Cubs making the playoffs (and winning the division last night! Go Cubs!), and Noëmi got some good pictures of the unnatural looking water. We stopped for a picture before moving on to Millennium Park.
Noëmi gets a quick picture under the Picasso
At Millennium Park, we explored the Pritzker Pavilion, the BP Bridge (both designed by Frank Gehry), and, of course, the Bean (a.k.a. Cloud Gate). It was windy and chilly, but the trees were turning and the brisk weather made for great walking.
“Everything is so big!”
Cleaning the Bean
We finished at the park and walked across the street to warm up, first inside Graham Cracker Comics, where Noëmi got a trade paperback copy of The Walking Dead volume one (oh, did I mention that she’s a huge fan of The Walking Dead? SHE’S A HUGE FAN OF THE WALKING DEAD!), and then we sat for a bit in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel lobby for some sparkling water and comfy chairs.
Although we’d seen a lot already, we had more to do that day. My class, Adolescence in the Schools, was starting at 5 p.m., so we drove over to UIC’s campus. Our topic for the week was gender identity, and Noëmi was able to participate a lot in our discussion, especially during the last thirty minutes of class when we got into small groups to work on what we would include in our ideal sex ed. curriculum. She was surprised that we were even talking about it — that it was even controversial — because in the Netherlands, it’s not a hot-button topic and quite normalized. Very different from our federally mandated “abstinence only until marriage” curriculum.
She had a great time, though, and we left class talking about the U.S. school system, gender, and how hungry we were.
We stopped by Wishbone to have some dinner, and Noëmi got to try some Southern-style food without having to travel outside of Chicago. We also watched a couple innings of the Cubs game, and I did my best to explain the sport to her. I did a pretty good job: I used a lot of hand gestures and even got up to mime batting when I explained the strike zone. I think she was impressed.
Dinner at Wishbone: Noëmi’s pulled pork and my Southern fried catfish
We guessed the weight of this pumpkin for a chance to win a Wishbone dinner. I have a good feeling about our chances…
On Friday we had a much quieter day, going to MCC for the job fair, picking up some materials from the school advising office for Noëmi to take back with her to Summa College, and meeting a couple new friends.
Hey, new friends. You’re not very talkative.
We wandered around the Woodstock Square, and I told Noëmi that we’d have to watch Groundhog Day at some point so she could get the full experience.
That evening, we met up with Lindsay, who coordinated the Dutch scholars’ visit, and her friend Kylie, who is a former student of mine and an amazing young woman, at Duke’s in downtown Crystal Lake. We ate some dinner, drank some beer, and laughed hard about Subarus and Vape Life. It was great.
Saturday was another day out in the world beyond Camp Crystal Lake: specifically, Sonny Acres. For the last seven years or so, the Power family has gone to a pumpkin farm in October, mostly to watch Sadie ride the rides, and also to check out any Halloween costume shops and drink some apple cider. Last year we deviated from the norm by going to Goebert’s Farm in Barrington, and while it was a good time, it just wasn’t the same as ole’ Sonny Acres; so this year we returned to our regular haunt.
When Trevor, Noëmi, and I arrived, Sadie was already in action, getting her Halloween game-face on:
A little more to sharpen the fangs…
A couple of little bites…
Et voila — a mini vampire who wants the Cubs to win the World Series!
We wandered around for a couple of hours doing our usual stuff. I introduced Noëmi to apple cider (yes), to the caramel apple (yes and yes), and to rubber Halloween masks (no…okay, yes).
In line for cider with Neill and Fran
Trevor dons a mask
We see what’s on the grill
The best part of the afternoon, though, was seeing a Tabitha look-alike. We decided that this little guy is probably Tabitha’s younger brother:
The afternoon was also remarkable for taking what was probably our best selfie, that some jerk hot dog photo-bombed. But since we’ve gotten so good at these, I figured I’d share them all with you:
Hot dog creeper
And that was our last few days! We spent this morning watching Manchester United lose to Chelsea (BOOOOO, CHELSEA!!!!!), but Noëmi wore Trevor’s Memphis Depay jersey to represent the Netherlands.
Depay in the house!
I baked up some quick banana bread, which we scarfed down immediately, and now we’re about to go to see some American stores (I’m going to show her Walmart, where they sell weapons, because…AMERICUH), and then home to decorate the house for Halloween. I’ll also spend some time today practicing my Dutch phrases, which Noëmi is teaching me in preparation for my visit to see her in May. This is what I’ve learned so far:
- I am Laura – Ik ben Laura
- How are you? – Hoe gaat het?
- Good – Goed
- I’m from America – Ik kom uit Amerika
- I’m a teacher – Ik ben een docent
Stop by next week for more about Noëmi’s continued adventures, and more amazing phrases!