America For The First Time

A couple of months ago I visited America for the first time in my life (in fact, I wrote this very first line while still there), at the age of 33.

I got very little time to plan anything, I was sent to Chicago, Illinois by my employer to attend the ClueCon, a VoIP software conference, so very relevant to my employer. With such short notice, not only I did not have much time to prepare anything, but also I was extra busy at work trying to learn as much as I could about the topic so I could make the most of the conference.

In the days before the trip, there were two sentences constantly in my mind:

One, I heard in the intro to the song “Pick a part that’s new” by Stereophonics, where Kelly Jones said something like:

This song is about going to New York and realising you’ve seen most of it in the cinema

The other one was just the beginning of the song “You’re turning into John Wayne”, by Twin Atlantic:

I’ve never been to America, it’s time the I learn the truth
Chicago from the top of the Chicago 360 building

Chicago was huge, both horizontally and vertically, the latter being the most impressive, for sure. I imagine this is how you can tell who is a tourist, he is looking up.

I got to my room at 7pm, but my body said it was 2am. Funny, this jet-lag thing. I was there for 9 days yet I never fully recovered.

Here are some of my superficial observations:

  • People are beautiful
  • There were a lot of cops in the street
  • The noise levels are almost painful. Everything is noisier, even insects!
  • The cops were looking at the phones a lot (Do they get updates like that or were they simply bored? I did not stop to ask, I hope you understand)
  • People are beautiful (yup, again)
  • A lot of people speak Spanish, many signs are also written in Spanish
  • I could understand almost everything that was being said around me (English and Spanish)
  • I could address anyone out there, I could have conversations! (Oh Switzerland, when will we get there?)
  • Food was cheap (For Swiss standards)
  • I really wanted to meet people now
  • Everything was open until late (9 or 10 pm)
  • Everybody talks to you like you are awesome
  • Public facing workers always tell you their name when they talk to you. I wonder if anybody remembers. I tried to, but failed.
  • Cold brew coffee is everywhere, that was exciting, but drinking it was disappointing every time. I won’t miss the American coffee in any form.
  • There is no first floor. The ground floor is the first floor.
  • The toilets… why America, why?

After the days I spent there, which included the great conference and some holidays, I concluded that I loved the place. Chicago was so welcoming, with the great food, the very friendly people, all speaking languages I could understand, the incredible architecture, etc.

I’d love to go back some day.

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