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Photograph: CC/Flickr/Allen McGregor

A native Angeleno's first impressions of Chicago

Written by
Vanessa Soto

Transitions can be tough, and moving from Los Angeles to Chicago for a month is no small jump. I came out here from the West Coast in April, and I’m doing my best to acclimate to Chicago life; I took my first shot of Malort, I bought a hat, I have a Ventra card. Now that the dust has settled, here are some of the culture shocks I’ve encountered so far in the Midwest.

The weather: Springtime in Chicago does a great impression of winter in LA, with the exception that overcast days aren’t an empty threat here. When it gets cloudy, it actually rains. I’ve seen more lightning in two weeks in Chicago than I have in three years in LA, and I now have a much deeper understanding of the phrase “windchill factor.” Even crazier to me than the weather is the fact that no one in Chicago talks about the weather (or at least not to me). Let the weather in LA veer from 75 and sunny in any direction and everyone is talking about it; Chicago has a huge storm and no one says a word.

The food: Midwestern food is heavy, you guys. As thrilled as I am to be able to have Shake Shack without waiting in line for hours, I have never felt as compelled to work some salads into my diet as I have since landing in Chicago. I’ve seen five-egg omelettes on breakfast menus, eaten sandwiches slathered in sauce and cheese and don’t even get me started on the focaccia at Eataly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happily devouring it, but I'm very grateful for all the walking I’m doing here.

The drivers: The most surprising thing about walking around in a city with tons of pedestrians is how little the drivers making turns seem to care about the people crossing the street. Maybe it’s because so few people walk in LA, but anyone crossing the street usually gets some space to do that without being skimmed by a car. Chicago drivers get a little too close for comfort.

The public transportation: Navigating a city with great public transportation is a dream. The only thing I hate more than driving is looking for parking, so being able to get pretty much anywhere I need to go by walking or hopping on a bus or train is seriously amazing. I’m sure when the Metro expansion is done in 2057 LA’s public transportation will be just as good, but for now Chicago wins hands down.

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