Indiana Dunes State Park

In the International Summer Institute (ISI) Northwestern University, there is an interesting activity called “learn-by-doing.” Basically, the idea of this activity is to gather students with similar interest and let them learn English by doing activities and projects together. There are several available types of learn-by-doing activities, such as photography, social media, improv, traveling, food and shopping, coffee culture, etc. The ISI staffs assigned me to my first “learn-by-doing” preference, photography.

Learn-by-doing activity is very fluid, the students get to decide in which direction the activities and projects would go. After several meetings in my group, we decided to work on some projects. One of them is providing documentation service for every other learn-by-doing group, so we take pictures of other learn-by-doing groups’ activities.

Last week, one of my friends in photography group asked me to cover him for Traveling group’s activity documentation, as he had something more important came up. I said “yes” almost instantly, because the Travelling group was going to go to Indiana, a state located northeast of Illinois. Specifically, they were going to go to Indiana Sand Dunes for hiking. I was excited because not only I would get to visit another state in the US, but I would also get the chance to do one of my favorite outdoor activities, hiking.

Just a day after I was asked to replace my friend, I travelled to Indiana by car. There were five of us; one of my friends from South Korea drove the car. When we were on the interstate highway, we were fascinated with the fact that motorbikes are allowed on highway in the US!


Twenty seconds after completing the 3 Sand Dune Challenge

When we got to Indiana Sand Dunes, we decided to take route 8 and challenge ourselves by taking the 3 Dune Challenge. Taking this challenge means we had to hike the three tallest dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park. The third sand dune was the most challenging as it was the highest sand dune. Fortunately, there was a stair besides the tallest sand dune, so when I felt tired on my halfway through the top, I went to the stair and walked to the top easily. Only two of us who successfully made it to the top without using the stair, and they were very proud.

At the top of the third sand dune, we were rewarded with the views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. We really wanted to stay for a while longer and enjoy the natural environment, but we really had to rush back to Evanston as we had to attend a dinner party there. We were very tired after hiking the sand dunes, three of us including me slept almost all the way back to Evanston. It was a good thing that our friend who drove the car didn’t fell asleep!

The Art Institute

Some people consider Chicago as one of the coldest cities in America. Others say that it is the windiest. However, Chicago is widely known as one of America’s center for creative industry and arts. Indeed, there is a selection of art and photo galleries in Chicago, and you will never run short of events such as movie screenings, theatre shows, or music gigs. Nevertheless, one of the most renowned is The Art Institute of Chicago, which is located on 111 South Michigan Avenue. Boasting a collection of approximately 300.000 artworks, this museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Chicago.

We visited The Art Institute of Chicago in a Thursday evening. The reason we selected that particular day is because the Museum has Free Night every Tuesday, which means that the museum was open for all Illinois residents free of charge from 5.00 PM to 8.00 PM. This is a very useful tip for those who already have an Illinois State ID or who want to visit Chicago with a local friend. Be advised though, for the extended queuing time because Chicagoans are flocking towards the museum (obviously). Serious art aficionados might find this annoying because it would be too crowded for those who want to enjoy these artworks in peace.

Some the most impressive artworks in The Art Institute of Chicago are the paintings. You can see the works of famous painters such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Edward Degas, among others. There are also sculptures and other artifacts if paintings are not your cup of tea. The museum is truly a haven for those aspiring artists, students of art history, or the common art lover.

There are literally halls and corridors filled with works of renowned painters and sculptors that are familiar to us—usually we see them on popular media such as movies and television shows—and they are meticulously arranged in a certain way. The artworks are divided between their respective genres, such as Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and American collection. They also have an extensive collection on Asian art with a section on Southeast Asian art, including some artifacts from Burma and Indonesia. For those who are visiting Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago is a must-have in your travel itinerary. The Institute is enjoyable not only for art geeks and for those who aspire to be a painter or sculptor, but also for those who possess a love for art.