I picked up my iPhone to see 39 WhatsApp messages, 3 missed calls, and a voicemail. In this moment, I had an epiphany: in the previous 2 hours, I got to experience being a real person. In our busy, “connected” lives, we often forget the pre-smartphone times when simpler was better. We become slaves to our mobile masters. But that night, I made actual connections with my classmates, as a few of us MSL students put away our phones for an adventure at the rock climbing gym.
I had had many experiences climbing at gyms and outdoor locations in California, so I was excited to reacquaint myself with the sport in Chicago. The gym was beautiful with 3-story top ropes and a bouldering area, much nicer (yet more expensive) than the gym I’d been going to in California. The real fun, though, is sharing the experience with other people. Did you know that people socialize with each other when their phones are put away?
When you climb enough, you get to see familiar faces. Last week, I ran into a climbing friend from California who was coincidentally doing a different degree here in Chicago. This week, we MSL students ran into our good friend, the MSL program assistant, who, by the way, is awesome at climbing. We then began to conquer one climbing hold at a time.
The two other MSL students I brought were inexperienced. Kass found satisfaction in breaking mental blocks, telling herself to keep pushing upward when her instincts told her to go back down. By the end, she was smiling ear to ear, surprised that she liked it as much as she did. We watched Vishal climb the 3-story wall, debating whether he was afraid of heights. To come back down, climbers need to let go of the climbing holds and put their faith in the rope. Well, yup, he was in fact afraid, as he spent minutes shaking and squirming trying to let go. But eventually, he mustered up the courage to come down!
Experiencing Life in Chicago
If you’re concerned about whether your hobbies exist in Chicago, don’t be. There are a lot of hidden gems you’ll get to discover. Just as I’ve introduced my classmates to my pastime, I’m excited to try out their activities: painting, dancing, EATING. I love the bonds I’m forming with my classmates, and I thank the MSL program for that. I encourage any future students to explore both in and out of the classroom. And if you’re really adventurous, try climbing!