08/04/2015

Hello!

Happy August! I hope everyone is doing well.  Today is one of those rare days where I don’t really have any plans which is making me pretty antsy but I figured this would be a good time to get a good blog post in…plus I have some potential plans I am thinking of putting together depending on how long this takes.  There are definitely some highlights from the summer that I’ve missed writing about in here so I want to make sure I include them.  It’s funny that I thought this summer I would be so much less busy than last semester.  It’s definitely been very different but I haven’t had nearly as much free time as I anticipated, which I like a lot.

I’ll start off by talking about last weekend.  I decided last minute that I wanted to do the Big 10 10k that was happening in Chicago.  This has been going on for a few years now and I had heard it was a ton of fun.  It’s a 10k put on by all the universities in the big 10 conference so along with Purdue, schools like University of Michigan, Indiana University, Penn State, University of Illinois…basically it’s a time to show off school pride along with a bunch of Midwestern pride.  I convinced my friend Marc to run it with me and my friend Corey to come in watch so it was pretty funny that I showed up to the race with a guy that had just graduated from Notre Dame and a guy that goes to Lafayette College (neither of which are part of the big 10).  The race started at 7 meaning we had to wake up at 4:30 which now seems to be a pretty reoccurring weekend thing unfortunately.  The race started right by Soldier Field, right by the lake and it was crazy how many runners came out for it.  It was so cool to see people with so much school pride and there were a ton of reunions going on.  It was also really cool to see people running together from different schools written across their shirts.  Everyone was really friendly and just enjoying each other’s company.  The course was pretty similar to my half marathon’s course the week before, staying right by the lake.  Since I ran the race with Marc, it took it a lot easier than last week’s race which was perfectly fine with me.  Although after the race had finished and we had gotten all our free stuff, I still had some pent of energy so I convinced Marc and Corey to rent bikes and ride them while I ran some more along the lake front.  Luckily they’ve been dealing with me all summer so they weren’t surprised at all.

After I got another little run in we went over to Jeff’s apartment.  Jeff is a fulltime at Exxon in my group, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 2012 and he’s originally from Philly and had a few friends in town so he was hosting a post-race brunch.  Having Jeff in my group has really helped a lot because he remembers what it’s like starting out and he’s been really helpful with suggesting places to go and things to do.  It was really cool being able to see his apartment (which was beautiful) and meet his girlfriend and other friends.  Another fulltime Bobby was there too.  It’s weird calling his a fulltime because he just started 2 weeks ago and had just been an intern the year before, he actually sat at the desk I’m at now. So we were there for a bit and then Bobby joined us at North Avenue Beach.  I’ve been there once before and I forget if I’ve described it but it’s really a huge beach in Chicago full of young people. We mainly went because we really needed some kind of way to shower so that ended up being Lake Michigan.  It was a perfect beach day though, super hot but it made the icy cold water tolerable to we had a really nice afternoon hanging out at the beach.  I would lay out until I was super sweaty and then hop into the lake where I’d get numb from cold and it was perfect.  Overall the day was pretty exhausting but very satisfying.

So I’m going to skip back a few weeks to one really fun intern event that I didn’t get a chance to talk about and that was whirlyball.  I still remember hearing about it when I got my offer from Exxon way back last September and I’m going to try my best to describe it.  It’s a little like lacrosse, the sticks and balls are similar but it’s in bumper cars on a basketball court with basketball type hoops.  It’s just so ridiculous looking and even more ridiculous to play but we had a blast.  You start getting the hang of how to throw and catch the balls and how to try and drive a bumper car at the same time.  I made the painful mistake a few times of being so focused on trying to catch the ball that I just slammed into a wall.  It was definitely a unique way to spend the afternoon.  Afterwards we got taken out to dinner to a tapas style restaurant where we got all kinds of small dishes to share and we had our own private room which was pretty neat.

Even during the week, I usually have something going on after work, so it’s pretty typical for me to leave the apartment at 6 in the morning and not get home until 9:30 or 10.  It really helps having absolutely nothing in my apartment so there’s really nothing to do there.  These past couple of weeks, intern volleyball games have been taking up a lot of our weeknights.  We have this sand volleyball court at the refinery, well technically just outside of it, and we’ve had some really fun games there.  Me and the interns are part of a refinery volleyball league so we have a few games a week.  It’s supposed to be all the interns but a lot of them aren’t really into volleyball so it usually end up being me and 3 other interns, Corey, Sean and Vishesh but we have a really good time and we’ve improved a lot.  Besides volleyball, I usually end up planning something whether it’s a movie night, a dinner out or random events like farmer’s markets.  The other day, a few of us went out to the movies and it made me realize how badly I missed being able to watch TV on a couch instead from a laptop from our dining room table or on my air mattress.  This movie theater was amazing, the seats so big and comfy and they reclined so you could put your feet up! I was so happy I couldn’t stop talking about it the next day, it wouldn’t have mattered if the movie was good or not but it just so happened that it was really good.

Okay well I’ll have to write about this past weekend another time because I have my huge final presentation tomorrow and I have to find someone who has an iron because my good pants are a wrinkly mess.  I hope everyone is doing well and I miss you all!

Advertisements

07/26/15

Hello!

I hope everyone is doing well! So this is a really exciting post, my mom and Elia were just in Chicago and I have so much to write about! I have to give lots of credit to Elia for making sure to take plenty of pictures. thinking of captions, giving me ideas of what to write about (and what not to write about ;)).

I drove into the city Friday and met up with them at their hotel.  They picked a perfect place, about a mile north of Millennium Park, right in the middle of the city.  It was actually in the really nice area that my friends and I made the mistake of going to one night when we wanted to see what the bars were like and we were told pretty quickly that the college bars were a few more blocks north.  Anyways, I met up with them around 8 that night and they hadn’t eaten so we decided to check out what my mom had heard was a a”rooftop lounge.”  As we took the elevator up to the top floor, this faint house music started getting louder and louder until all of the sudden, the elevator doors open and we’re steeping out into this very high end club.  The music is so loud we have to yell to hear each other and everywhere I look women are in super tight dresses with high heels and the men are dressed just as formally.  I can’t even begin to described how out of place we looked and even though I doubt many people were paying attention or cared, I couldn’t get back into the elevator fast enough and get back to the ground floor where my sweater, jeans and flip flops were maybe not preferable but definitely acceptable.  Anyways, we had a nice dinner in the restaurant on the bottom floor of our hotel (my second dinner of the night) and we even split a bottle of Prosecco (Elia and my mom did most of the splitting).

Saturday morning I got up early and got a short run in by the lake.  Even heading out at 7, I was amazed how many people were out jogging, swimming and biking.  I know I keep talking about it but it’s those morning that make me want to live in Chicago or a city like it.  After my run, we headed to the Rock n Roll Half Marathon Expo, this is where I picked up my race number, timing chip and race shirt.  Oh, I think I should highlight the fact that this was Elia’s first time experiencing the efficient and convenient service that is Uber.  It went really well but if you want more details, you can contact her about it. So back to the Expo, there were a hundred or so companies that were selling all kinds of running accessories and food.  The best part about this was that the food places like Power Bar and Dunkin Donuts were giving out free samples which I definitely took advantage of and Elia discovered she was a fan of Power Bar gummies. We had a really good time just wandering around, actually I was thinking about it and if there was a kind of permanent mall that was just like that, with running clothing and really good food, I would be there every weekend and be spending way too much money.

After the Expo, we headed to the Field Museum, it’s this massive Natural History Museum in Chicago.  We saw an imax movie, got some lunch, hunted down a weirdly hard to find lion exhibit, went through some old Egyptian tombs and went through a soil exhibit where we got “shrunk” down smaller than a penny.  The museum was really impressive and we didn’t see close to everything that they had but I figured I should probably get off my feet for my race in the morning.  We ended up splitting up, I went back to the hotel and my mom and Elia went to do the aquarium and a few other little things.  I got back to the hotel and for the next couple hours I enjoyed the comforts of a real bed, a real TV and the massive window next to me where I could look 19 floors down on the streets of Chicago.  I made sure I got to bed really early that night, the race started at 6:30 in the morning and I had to give myself plenty of time to wake up, eat and get there.

Sunday morning I got up at 4:30 and pretty much just threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth (I think), grabbed my bag and went to the race.  The start line was only a mile from the hotel so I stopped in a 7/11 to grab and granola bar and banana and walked to the race.  I figured I’d be one of the only ones walking around close to 5 but I was wrong.  The hotel is in this really nice area with lots of restaurants and bars and it turns out that at 5 in the morning, that some of the people who looked really classy and put together about 7 hours before, were still around but they were looking a little less classy and put together.  So I’m wandering down the street in my shorts, race shirt and race bib, listening to pump up music and eating my breakfast and there are groups of people stumbling slowly down the sidewalks, trying to catch cab drivers and yelling after each other.  It was pretty entertaining.  A few more blocks later I got to the race, which was much more my scene,  The race started right by the lake and since I had some time I made my way down to the edge of the lake just as the sun was coming up.  Most people were about a block away getting ready for the race so it was really quiet and really beautiful.  I had this random roller skater who came by take my picture so you can see what I’m talking about.

Getting ready for the race, I started getting pretty nervous about the race conditions.  We had been warned leading up to the race that we would need to be careful and stay hydrated but just walking around at 6 in the morning, I was already getting a layer of sweat on my body.  There were something like 15,000 runners on the whole course so they had around 30 different corrals that started a minute apart.  Luckily, I got into the 3rd corral by submitting a past race time so this helped a lot.  A few minutes before the race, I got into my corral and this part is always a little weird for me when I’m running by myself because no one is really talking and you can’t tell if people just want to focus on the race or just aren’t sure what to say but it always helps me if I talk a little.  Luckily, this woman next to me mentioned she liked my necklace and we started talking.  She’s been out of school for 2 years now and works in Chicago.  Her and her boyfriend were running the race, but he was going to a faster time so he was in the first corral.  We talked about how much we like Chicago and what I was doing there and little things like that which helped calm me down before the start.  As we were about to take off we wished each other luck and I figured that was probably the only time I’d see her but SPOILER ALERT, I ran a race in Chicago yesterday that I’ll write about in my next post and we ran into each other at the post-race festivities and I got to meet her boyfriend and she met my friends.

Anyways, the race started and I started running and my first mile I was right where I wanted to be, about a 7:13 minute mile or so but by mile 3, I knew this race felt way different than my previous runs.  The combination of heat, humidity and the sun beating down was pretty unbearable.  Starting at mile 3, I was dumping cups of water on myself at every water station.  One thing that was really nice was having my mom and Elia posted up cheering for me at a few parts of the course but besides that, I can’t say there were too many highlights for the actual race.  I remember thinking the last few miles, as I was struggling to run, that it reminded me of what it was like running before I actually enjoyed it and was good at it.  It was quite a struggle finishing in 1:40:07 and as relieved as I was just to finish, I can’t pretend like it didn’t leave kind of a bad taste in my mouth not breaking 1:40.  After the race was over, things got so much better though.  My mom and Elia were there and my friend Marc came too and made a poster.  We got complimentary beers after the race and so I got one and made sure I took 2 sips before handing it off to say I’ve had post-race beer.  After recovering in the shade, stretching and hanging out a bit we went back to the hotel to check out and so I could shower.  Afterwards, my mom, Elia, Marc and myself headed to brunch where we all got mimosas which are much more my type of post-race alcoholic beverage.

By then it was just about time for my mom and Elia to leave so we said by to them and then Marc and I met up with his friend Erin who was in the city.  We had heard about this food festival a little north of us so we decided to check it out.  It was a lot smaller than Taste of Chicago, it took up two blocks but I loved being there because it wasn’t full of tourists, it was all locals from the neighborhood.  I loved pretending like I could just be an actual Chicago resident just wandering around on a Sunday.  Although maybe that’s what everyone there was doing and I just couldn’t tell, who knows?  Afterwards, I said bye to Marc and Erin, they were heading to a concert and I was heading back to my apartment since I had errands to run, it was getting pretty late aand I would have to be up at 5:30 for work the next morning.

Overall it was an awesome weekend.  I loved being able to hangout with my mom and Elia in the city.  Plus, a bonus of hanging out with moms is that I didn’t have to worry about getting carded all weekend, which is always exciting.  But seriously, I know I’m really lucky to be able to have family (and friends) come to visit.  I’ll have to do another post soon because I’ve done a lot since then but I miss you all and I can’t wait to be home in a few weeks!

before the race
before the race
Elia is a big fan
Elia is a big fan

1512860_1115435598473120_5036069785818069799_n 10253784_1115993405084006_4061330844105965734_n 11230902_1115993418417338_3237138762274772692_n 11694824_1115993388417341_6725928983506013732_n 11694847_1115435645139782_895794698230245675_n 11694999_1115435735139773_7109659661450759124_n 11705286_1119374151412598_823999082096939389_n

Elia gets credit for this setup
Elia gets credit for this setup

11745488_1115931625090184_735037485774233177_n 11745766_1119374141412599_2280161545628174540_n 11750666_1115435625139784_4885839081160696281_n 11755188_1115435718473108_8613810642359636126_n 11755736_1115993438417336_6874094520649068704_n 11781735_1119374171412596_991965529217974797_n 11800303_1119374121412601_8355410448533228274_n

07/05/2015 (part 2)

Hello!

So this past week the Desmonds had their week down at the beach and this is the first year I haven’t been able to go for some of it. It was kind of strange missing out on a family event like this because I’ve been really lucky in the past with either being home or being able to come home for other things. I took it as a sign that I’m growing up because I know it’s going to get harder and harder being able to come home for things if I work outside of Delaware. I still got the facetime in a few times which was great and my Aunt Sharon designed these awesome Desmond Family Beach Trip beach bags and I have one waiting for me when I get home! It’s kind of crazy transitioning from a semester in China to moving out here. While I was in China, if I started to miss home I just focused on when I’d be back in the US but now that I’m back in the US, I realized how far I still am from family. Not that I’m not really enjoying myself, this past semester and summer so far have been amazing but it’s a lot of transition and adjusting the places/things that are outside my comfort zone. I’ve also noticed that working away from home is different from going to school away from home. At school my schedule is all over the place and I’m usually busy from early in the morning til late at night but here, sometimes I don’t have anything planned after work or I’ll have a few hours on Sunday and I’ll think about how it’d be nice to be hanging out at home.

But all this is leading up to how awesome it was having my family here this past weekend!  They landed on Thursday while I was still at work which made the rest of my day drag on because I was really excited to get back into the city and show them around.  Thursday night we went on an architecture tour of Chicago on a big boat.  The Chicago River goes right through the heart of downtown and so we spent an hour and a half on the river with a guide pointing out different buildings and explaining their histories and little stories associated with them, like the skyscraper with cement blocks going down every corner because it’s creator didn’t want to have to deal with the politics/disagreements of who got corner offices.  The best part about the tour is that it started at 7:30 so the sun was setting while we were on the river, making all these cool reflections off the glass of the buildings and by the time it ended, we got to see the skyline all lit up.

Friday morning we had a three hour “leisurely bike tour” which is a great way to describe it.  I loved it though because we wound our way through all these neighborhoods that I would never normally go through and our guide would tell little things about all the neighborhoods including Oprah’s apartment and Hugh Hefner’s old place.  It was also a gorgeous morning and the tour ended going down the Lakefront trail which is my favorite part about Chicago so far so that was a highlight.

After the tour we got lunch and headed to “The Bean” because if you go to Chicago you have to see The Bean and take a picture in its reflection.  It’s right next to Millennium park too so we wandered through there for awhile. The place was packed full of people of course so even though I would have loved to show them that area on a random Saturday at 7am, they got the idea.  That evening we went to see the Chicago Blue Man Group.  I couldn’t even describe to you what the show was like besides that it was really funny, entertaining, there was a lot of music and they’re extremely creative.  After the show we got dinner and just relaxed at our hotel because we were pretty exhausted from having been on our feet the whole day.  It felt so nice just to be able to relax with family again though, even if it was in Illinois there was definitely a familiar feeling to it.

Saturday morning we all headed out around 8.  There are bike stations all over Chicago that you can rent bikes for the day and dock them at another bike station so  Daniel, my mom and my dad did that.  My mom and Daniel did there own thing while my dad accompanied my for my long run.  While my past long runs have been pretty laid back and I’ve kept up conversation with my fellow bike riders for most of the time, this one was pretty much all business which is exactly what I wanted because I wanted to push myself a bit more.  My dad even started ringing the bike bell to let people know when we were passing them which I took as a kind of encouragement to go faster (which I think he knows).  So that run took a lot out of me but afterwards we headed to the Lincoln Zoo, it;s right next to the beach and it’s free.  I was actually really impressed by it.  The animals weren’t doing anything too exciting but it’s full on windy paths and it’s really open.  We spent a few hours there and as we were leaving, we started seeing the Fourth of July Madness I had heard so much about.  There were floods of people making there way over to the beach and cars were doing some pretty crazy things.  Luckily we got back to our hotel without too many problems.  After that it was time for my family to head out so I walked them to the subway they were taking back.

It was sad saying bye to them, it felt like such a short visit, but my mom will be back in two weeks and I’ll have a week and a half at home at the end of summer.  I loved being able to show them around Chicago and being able to show them exactly what I talk about when I mention going to concerts in Millennium Park or “taking the L.”   It was definitely my favorite weekend in Chicago and I feel super lucky that I got to spend it with my family.  Especially because one of my roommates is visiting home in New Jersey and the other has family she is staying with in Chicago so it could have been a very lonely weekend!

Well I hope everyone had a great weekend as well! Miss you all!

architecture tour
architecture tour
Our bean picture!
Our bean picture!
architecture tour
architecture tour

10501778_1108478215835525_1313137491430690393_n

architecture tour
architecture tour
architecture tour
architecture tour

11412237_1108478175835529_6847569262110167709_n 11695475_1108478239168856_5785965006302361638_n

07/05/2015

Hi everyone!

I can’t believe it’s July already, summer always flies by but it doesn’t seem possible that I only have 5 weeks left in my internship left.  I’ll back up to two weeks ago.  There were some really bad storms that week and a few tornadoes actually touched down pretty close to us.  One of the tornadoes landed in Coal City, a small town about 10 minutes from the refinery. Our office administrator’s husband is actually the mayor of the town and about 30 other Exxon employees are from the town.  Small pockets of the town had gotten hit and there was a lot of damage so Exxon encouraged all the interns to go into the town on Friday with the HR manager and help with the volunteer clean up effort.  I thought this was a great idea and it was really cool that Exxon encouraged us to do it.  The only thing that felt kind of funny was that we were still getting paid for a full day’s work so we weren’t technically volunteering I guess.

We all met at Exxon that morning at 8am which felt great because I usually get to work between 6:30 and 7 so we even stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way because we had so much time.  Then I felt kind of guilty because when we got to Exxon’s parking lot they had bagels and donuts for us too.  Anyways, we headed out to Coal City and got there around 9.  This was first time seeing damage from a natural disaster up close and it was very intense.  I didn’t realize how much destruction there was and it was amazing how one house could have it’s whole garage caved in and windows blown out and the house across the street would look untouched.  I also got exposed to how complicated clean up efforts can be, especially with volunteers.  To make a long story short, we parked at a middle school, got shuttled to a high school to fill out paperwork and got shuttled back to a neighborhood right next to the middle school we parked at and that whole process took about 3 hours. Eventually to got to work though and it was absolutely overwhelming.  It’s just so difficult to know where to start because there was soggy debris everywhere.  I would feel like a cleared an area but then turn around to look back at it and it would look untouched.  I can only imagine what the people who live in those houses were actually going through. It was really sad to think about how the broken pieces of things I was picking up were in someone’s house just a few days before.  On a brighter note it nice getting to know the residents and other people helping the clean up effort.  It was incredible to see how many volunteers had come out to help.  The residents of the houses were so grateful and would say how lucky the town was that there were no major injuries.

That afternoon took a lot out of us so we just relaxed that night before heading to the city Saturday afternoon.  A group of 5 of us interns headed to a beach on Lake Michigan called North Avenue Beach.  I didn’t know it before we got there but it’s known as the party beach and the crowd is almost exclusively 30 and under.  It kind of looked like a frat party had moved onto the beach which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but we found a quiet spot where I could lay on the sand in the sun. This was the first time I’ve done this all summer and so I was in a really happy place. We stayed there for awhile and my roommate Niki set up a slack line (kind of like a tightrope) between two poles so I tried that out and it turns out I’m terrible and even getting on it.  It would definitely take more practice but it was more fun watching Niki do it and setting up a slack line is a great way to meet new friends.

After we got our fill at the beach we headed to this mini Greek festival in an Orthodox Greek Church’s courtyard.  We had read about it online and had looking forward to it all day. By the time we found it we were starving so when we saw that there was just one station with food that was about 60 people deep we were just about to give up.  Luckily, Niki and Alex (our friend who lives in the city) volunteered to wait in the line if Abby and I got them snacks at the 7/11 around the corner so we ended up with an interesting dinner combination of some really good authentic Greek food along with pretzel chips, goldfish and dry cereal.  By the time we got back to Alex’s apartment right in the middle of downtown, where Niki, Abby and I were going to spend the night, it was close to 8 and I was exhausted.  My friends decided to check out some of the nightlife a little farther north but I decided to call it a night.  I don’t remember if I wrote about this but the first time we spent the night at Alex’s, Abby, Niki and I shared a twin mattress which worked for the night but I didn’t really want to do again so I brought along my air mattress (perks of sleeping on an air mattress all summer!).  This ended up being perfect although Alex’s dorm room looked pretty comical with his twin bed, the twin mattress and my twin air mattress.

Sunday morning I woke up before everyone else, per usual, and went out to get breakfast.  I wanted to get a long run in along the lake and Abby volunteered to rent a bike and ride with me.  This worked out perfectly, I loved having company and someone to talk to and of course, the Lakefront Trail was full of people getting early runs and bike rides in.  Afterwards we all headed to Boys’ Town for the Pride Parade.  As soon as we left Alex’s apartment it was obvious the parade was going on even though it was about 5 miles north of us.  Everyone was wearing crazy rainbow colored outfits so we actually stood out wearing normal clothes. The subways were packed full of people going to the parade and as soon as we got the Boys Town it was just nuts.  People were everywhere and random streets were blocked off so we spent awhile trying to figure out how exactly to see the parade but eventually we got there and it was very very cool.  While we were trying to get there I was kind of disappointed because it seemed like a lot of people were just kind of using the parade as an excuse to party out in the open and leave their trash all over the streets but once we actually got to the parade you could see “Pride” part of the parade.  It was amazing how many floats there were sponsored by every company you could even imagine and some of the floats were really impressive.  It was also how amazing it went on, the parade was already going by by the time we got there but we still stood there for about 45 minutes as a constant flow of floats came through.  A lot of floats were throwing out free stuff to the crowd which is a good way to get people cheering, no matter what it is.  I actually caught a bag of Doritos and looking back, it seems silly but at the time this was super exciting.  I had two taller people next to me that both went for the bag too but I came down with it.  I knew all those years of travel basketball would pay off (kidding)!  I was so excited that I ate the bag of Doritos and I don’t even like Doritos.  Everyone was just in a really good mood and the atmosphere was incredible.  After the parade we headed back to our apartment.  Luckily our friend Vishesh was in the city with his girlfriend so we got a ride back with him so I didn’t have to take my folded up air mattress on the train.

Well that’s about it for last weekend and as you guys probably know, my family was here this weekend and I had a great time with them, I’ll start writing that post now!

11403029_1108478609168819_616346649162703568_n

the beach!
the beach!
self-explanatory
self-explanatory
Indian celebration going down the street in Chicago, just an example of so many things going on in the city
Indian celebration going down the street in Chicago, just an example of so many things going on in the city
Niki on the slackline
Niki on the slackline
tornado damage
tornado damage
tornado damage
tornado damage

06/27/2015

Hello!
So I’ll start this post with last Thursday because I can’t really think of anything too exciting that happened between Monday and Wednesday. I knew my roommates and I really wanted frozen yogurt and there is a really good place in this town called Naperville about 20 minutes away so I figured we would go there, get dinner and then get dessert. We have this phone app, groupMe, we use so we can have a big group text between all the interns so I threw a message in there to see if anyone else was interested and it turns out we got all the interns to come join us! We all drove in together and went to this restaurant, Flat Top, that was just awesome. They give everyone big bowls and you go up to this buffet area full of rice, breans and vegetables. You fill up your bowl however you want, pick between like 20 different sauces and then they stir fry your food right in front of you. Have stir fry again after having it so much in China was great but it still wasn’t nearly as good as some of the dishes I would have other there. After dinner we walked over to the frozen yogurt place which is really what I’d been waiting for a few days now. It turns out everyone passed on the frozen yogurt except my roommates and me which we were just fine with but it was funny that the originially the whole point of coming ot Naperville was for the frozen yogurt. After that we all wandered down to a riverwalk that runs along the downtown. We just hungout there for awhile and talked. It was great for everyone just to unwind a bit outside and just enjoy each other’s company.
Friday after work everyone was kind of doing there own thing because we had a big day coming up on Saturday (as you’ll read about soon) so I went back to Naperville and met up with my Purdue/China buddy Ben. We got to see a bunch of live music and but probably the biggest highlight was that I ran into my roommate! Her boyfriend had just flown in and I didn’t realize they headed into Naperville too. I felt like such a local running into someone I knew 20 minutes from my apartment. But I even held in my excitement long enough to create an only slightly obnoxious scene by scaring her while she was in a gelato shop (her boyfriend was so confused).
So I don’t know if I’ve posted anything about this in here but I’m training for a marathon in Indianapolis in November and Saturday I decided to do a long run. I was kind of dreading doing 13 or so miles all on my own because no one here is running quite that far. Also, I haven’t quite figured out trails I can take without getting very lost. So I asked my friend Marc (the one from my high school Notre Dame summer camp) to ride his bike while I ran. He lives in the town right next to me so I drove to his house and then we headed out. His town is called Plainfield and that name made so much more sense as soon as we got about 3 miles out and then farmlands stretched as far as you could see and everything was really quiet, it was kind of creepy. After our run I talked to his dad a bit because he’s done half and full marathons and he told me about some other places I can run that have more hills for training so I can’t wait to check those out.

By the time I got back home and showered it was time to hop on the party bus. This is one of the events set up by Exxon Mobil. We got driven into the city with Ira, the intern coordinator and his wife, Carol. We went right into the middle of the city for a segway tour. I was really skeptical of the whole segway idea because I’ve seen the huge tour groups and they are really pretty obnoxious. They take up the whole sidewalk and usually create a lot of confusion. Even the first couple of minutes of the tour I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Then about 20 minutes in something just clicked. I got way more comfortable and had such a good time. It’s really a great way to see a big part of the city in a really short time. I mean you could do the same thing on a bike but that would be nearly as unique an experience. We spent about 3 hours doing a segway tour and hitting some major tourist spots in Chicago. After the tour we went to this place called Zedd for dinner. It’s one of those places where the servers bring around all kinds of meat and cut off pieces for you. It’s one of those really nice places that my friends and I would not want to pay for but it was fantastic. I’m not a huge meat person but everything I tried, chicken, lamb, and salmon was delicious. They also had this really good unlimited salad bar that of course I took advantage of.
After dinner we went to this place called Eataly. It’s this huge Italian marketplace with two floors full of really authentic Italian food so we went there to get gelato. By the way, this whole time we’re being chauffered by a party bus from place to place which is not a bad way to get around Chicago. The original plan after dessert was to see fireworks at Navy Pier but unfortunately it was raining so Ira came up with a new plan. We went to Second City, a really famous comedy club here in Chicago and we saw one of the smaller shows. The show was hilarious, I really enjoyed it but it was from 11pm to 1am and 11pm is usually past my bedtime so I was struggling a little bit to keep up. The show was really entertaining and so staying up wasn’t a problem until we still had the bus ride out of the city. By the time we got home around 2am everyone was wiped out. Even Ira who’s in his 60’s but seems to have unlimited energy. Overall the day was pretty unreal though, we got pretty spoiled, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see Chicago like that again but I’m so grateful Exxon has stuff like this set up for us.

Sunday everyone was really slow getting up. No one was really up for doing anything big but I knew I didn’t want to sit around all afternoon so I headed into Chicago for an arts festival we had seen from the segway tour the day before. I actually loved being able to go and venture out on my own again. The art fair was huge and set up in a big square and in every corner of the square there was a place with food trucks and live music. I loved wandering around at my own pace and looking at all kinds of cool art that maybe I’ll be able to afford one day.  I even ran into an Exxon engineer, Isaac, and his girlfriend!  Isaac lives in the city and he was just an intern 2 summers ago so he remembered all the crazy stuff we would do with Ira so we were talking for awhile.  It was awesome just running into someone I knew in a city with millions of people that I’ve just been living in for 5 weeks!
I’ll end this post with last Sunday but we did some neat stuff this week and we have big plans for this weekend that I can’t wait to write about!

party bus!
party bus!
the fancy meat restaurant
the fancy meat restaurant
Ira keeping up with the interns
Ira keeping up with the interns
party bus!
party bus!
a scenic stop on the segway
a scenic stop on the segway
group segway picture
group segway picture
naperville river walk
naperville river walk

06/14/2015

Good morning!
So I just posted my first blog post but I’m going to get on this one right away because there’s a lot to cover between last weekend and today. So last monday was one of the interns birthdays so we all went to a hibachi restaurant close to our apartment. I was so impressed that every single intern made it out for dinner, even though it was after work and on a Monday. It’s a really fun group of interns because everyone likes staying busy and coming up with fun/creative/adventurous stuff to do. After dinner we surprised the birthday boy with sparklers since they’re legal in Illinois and we lit them up together and sang happy birthday.
Tuesday I experienced “Cruise Night” in downtown Plainfield. There’s this historic old Main Street full of mom and pop stores and every Tuesday in the summer it shuts down and these people from all over bring their fancy, vintage classic cars and park them along the road. There are hundreds of them and their owners just set up in lawn chairs next to them and chat with each other and people looking at their cars. All the shops along the road are open too so we spent the evening looking at cars and going into the little shops. I’m not even a car person at all adn I enjoyed it. I wish I had taken pictures but I completely forgot so the cool ones I’m going to include are actually online but I swear I was there and it looked just like that. It was nice having a relaxing night on Tuesday because Wednesday was a big night. We went into Chicago on a Wednesday for a concert. On a Wednesday!
We left as soon as work was over and headed right into the city for a Hosier concert. His really big song is “Take Me to Church” but he has a bunch of other songs and some that are actually much better. Unfortunately our trips into the city keep coinciding with big Blackhawks games so traffic has been pretty terrible. It probably took about 2 hours once we got parking when the drive is only actually like 40 minutes but we made it. The concert was outdoors in Millenium Park in the heart of Chicago. We had lawn seats and it was perfect. We got there early and set up blankets right by the front of the lawn so when the concert started we had a great view. THe entire set was amazing. I forgot how much I loved live music and I had been listening to Hosier all week in order to get ready for the concert so hearing a song live after hearing the youtube version way to many times was so much fun. Once the concert was over we headed back out to Romeoville but google maps gave us an alternate route home in order to avoid the messier parts of the highway traffic wise but it ended up taking us to this really sketchy area of Chicago. We were driving down this street at like 11 at night when all the sudden like 5 cop cars come out of nowhere and this guy is laying on the ground getting arrested. The copsw ere blocking the street and had us turn around which we were happy to do and we decided to just get on the trafficky highway. We ended up getting back by midnight which was pretty good and it was definitely worth it. It was awesome getting to see such a good concert in the middle of a work week, it really felt like we were treating ourselves.
Thursday I took it easy. The first part of the week but awesome but I felt like I had never stopped moving, it was pretty exhausting so I really needed a night just to relax, go grocery shopping, do laundry, and other errands I had been putting off for too long. I just realized I’ve barely talked about work but I really do work 8 hours a day as well. I feel like I’m starting to settle in but I’m always amazed at how much there is too learn. I’ll go from feeling like I’m getting the hang of things to feeling completely lost. The other day I was going over my project with an operator and he asked me a question about my project plan and I just had no idea what he was talking about, just no idea to what part of the plan of the project he was referencing too. It was a little embarassing but my mentor was in the room so she came over and discussed it with us and now I understand a part of my project that I didn’t even realize I had misunderstood (turns out I can use hard piping AND hoses). So work definitely keeps me busy and can be challenging but we always have so much to look forward to and I work with really great people.
After work on Friday we headed into the city again for the Blues Fest. It’s the biggest outdoor festival in Chicago and it’s known the have the best Blues Artist. I don’t know anything about Blues music but my friend Ben goes every year so we met up with him and just walked around and enjoyed the music. Unfortunately the weather was pretty terrible. It was about 50 degrees, cloudy and a little rainy which we were not prepared for physically or mentally so we didn’t last that long. We went to a great restaurant though and walked around the city which was a lot of fun. One of the interns, Amanda, has a friend Alex who is living in the city for the summer and both of them had come to the Hosier concert on Wednesday. When Alex found out we were going into the city for the weekend he offered to let us crash at his apartment so we didn’t have to worry about booking a hotel and hostel. We jumped on his offer because his apartment is right where the Blues Fest was and we’d save a ton of money so brough blankets and pillows. I was hoping his floor would be carpeted but unfortunately it was hardwood but we did find a spare twin size mattress we decided to split. When I say we I mean myself, my roommate Niki and my field hockey friend Abby. So, yes, the three of us split a twin size mattress. Well that was the plan but I woke up and about 75% of my body was on the floor anyways.
I ended up waking up at 5:45 that morning fully awake which would be perfect if it was a workday instead of a Saturday. It reminded why I don’t like sleepovers, I’m always the first one awake and don’t know what to do until my friends wake up. This morning, though, I realized I had the whole city to explore so I grabbed my stuff and headed out. His apartment is in the South Loop which is right by Lake Michigan and Millinium Park, a really nice part of Chicago. NOthing was open so I stopped at a 7/11 to pick up snacks for breakfast which was funny because I was thinking of all the times I had done the same thing in China. Along the Lake is a trail called Lakeview that really popular for runners, walkers and bikers so I spent the next couple of hours just wondering by the lake and facetiming my family. It was fun being able to explore on my own again and being able to have time to catch up with my family after such a crazy week for them and for me. I headed out for a run later in the morning and the trails that runs along Lake Michigan is definitely one of my favorites. There are lots of people but it’s not too full and there’s always a nice breeze coming off the lake.
Later in the day, Abby, Niki, Alex and I met up with some more intern friends that came into the city. We wandered around with them and made our way back to the Blues Fest which was about 40 degrees warmer than the night before and just relaxed, enjoyed the music and played cornhole which apparently is called “bags” around here. It was a great day and it was great being able to wake up in the city and take full advantage of the day. We got back around dinnertime Saturday (last night) and me, Niki and Marc decided to watch The Shining. I had never seen it and scary movies don’t usually do much for me but I woke up in the middle of the night having some freaky dreams and had to watch an episode of Friends on Netflix before going back to bed. Anyways, that fully catches you up to this lazy but incredibly enjoyable Sunday morning I’m having blogging, listening to music and drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee.
Hope you’re having a great weekend!
Oh I feel I should also include that since I had to get a new laptop I don’t have Microsoft Word, I have WordPad, essentially the same thing without spell check so I’m sorry because there will be even more spelling/grammatical errors than usual!

Birthday dinner with all the interns!
Birthday dinner with all the interns!
a "Bean" picture!
a “Bean” picture!
Hosier Concert venue (picture was taken Saturday morning)
Hosier Concert venue (picture was taken Saturday morning)
Hosier Concert!
Hosier Concert!
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
Hosier Concert!
Hosier Concert!
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
a lovely sunset from our porch
a lovely sunset from our porch
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
Me, Niki and Abby
Me, Niki and Abby
Ben at me at the Blues Fest, we took this picture for our China friends
Ben at me at the Blues Fest, we took this picture for our China friends
birthday dinner!
birthday dinner!
my morning in Chicago
my morning in Chicago
Cruise Night!
Cruise Night!

First Week in Chicago!

Hello!
So I’ve decided (after some encouragement from my Uncle Pat) that I’ll keep up with my blogging while I’m interning in Chicago this summer!  So these post are going to be very different from the China ones but I’m excited to be able to keep track of what I’m doing and share my adventures with you guys!
Now I’ve been working at Exxon for two weeks even though it but it’s amazing how much I feel like a learn every single day.  Even though I’m working in an office this summer just like a did last summer, working in an office in a refinery is way different.  I’ve gone out into the different oil units a few times and honestly, most people would probably not recognize me.  I have big coveralls (with my name embroidered on them!), a hard hat, safety glasses, safety goggles, gloves, steel toed boots, ear plugs and a meter reader that measures the amount of hydrogen sulfide in the air.  Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic byproduct of making gasoline and one of my projects this summer has to do with the way they dispose of it.  I signed a bunch of documents saying I wouldn’t disclose anything so I won’t get into detail but they’re giving me a lot of responsibility right away which I hear is pretty typical of what they expect from new hires.  It’s also a little scary knwoing that things at the plant don’t always run the way they’re suppsoed to.  It seems like such a huge company would kind of have everything down and running smoothly but problems happen all the time, Exxon is just really good at having people that can solve them quickly and know what to do.  This also makes it super hard to schedule meetings with people because our projects are pretty important but any emergency in one of the oil units takes priority.  Luckily we’re interns with only one or two projects so our time is really flexible and if we have downtime, other engineers in teh office will offer to take us out into the refinery with them to show us the places they’re responsible for and give us some background on how it works.  I’ve gotten the super basic stuff down about the refinery but it’s amazing how many processes go into taking the crude oil and turning it into gas cars and can use and all sorts of other things.  Also, a side note, our supervisor doesn’t even let us go out into the refinery without an escort from one of the engineers in our office which is totally fine with me!
There are 12 of us interns at the plant but only two other interns in my building and we actually all share an office.  One’s a Mechanical Engineer like me and the other is a Material Science Engineer.  We get along really well and it’s nice having company and figuring stuff out together the first couple of weeks.  The other interns are really cool too. I have two roommates, Kristen and Niki, and they both go to Stevens in New Jersey.  There’s actually 7 of us that are from either Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware (okay I’m the only one from Delaware).  One of the other interns, Abby, plays D1 field hockey at Bucknell, a school in Pennsylvania and her wrist is hurt right now but as soon as it heals we’re planning on playing!  I’m really looking forward to it although I’m sure I’ll embarass myself since I haven’t picked up a field hockey stick since high school.
So I wanted to be at Exxon’s Joliet site over Houston or Baton Rouge mostly because I have a lot of friends around the Midwest over the summer but what I wasn’t expecting was meeting up with Marc, one of my best friends from a summer camp I went to at Notre Dame the summer before my junior year of high school.  He just graduated from Notre Dame and lives around the Chicago area.  The couple times I went to Notre Dame I made sure I saw him and last year his girlfriend was looking at coming to Purdue for grad school so I got to meet up with them again.  It turns out he only lives 15 minutes away from me right now!  All the interns know him really well because he’s pretty  much acted as our tour guide for the first two weeks, showing us places to eat, get groceries and some cool stores and downtown areas.  It’s been awesome getting to hangout with him again and it’s funny because even though it’s been 5 years since we’ve seen each other for more than a few hours it doesn’t feel like that at all.
The first weekend was mostly moving in and running a ton of errands but it was really nice starting on Tuesday because Monday was Memorial Day.  Monday we ended up playing a big game of pickup soccer with Marc and his friends at a local high school and that night all the interns went out to a restaurant to watch the Chicago Blackhawks play because the hockey semifinals were on and even though I’d never watched a hockey game before I’ve been getting plenty of hockey watching in the last few weeks since the Blackhawks made it to the finals.  Really, though, there are only like 3 big hockey fans in the group but the rest of us are happy for an excuse to all go out together.
Our first week was kind of a blur full of meetings and welcome lunches and just trying to keep up with all the information being thrown at us and keep track of everyone’s names.  That friday, my roommates and I had everyone over for an end of the week celebration and it was one of the funniest parties I’ve ever hosted.  The apartment came unfurnished so the only thing we have is a table and three chairs. When everyone came over there weren’t enough chairs for everyone so we all ended up sitting around on the floor in a big circle and two pople brought guitars and it turns out we have a super musically talented group (myself not included) so we spent the night playing music and having big sing alongs.  It was definitely not something that I picture most engineers doing but it’s a really fun group.  Saturday night we went into the city and met up with my Purdue friend Ben to watch another hockey game.  Ben went on the China trip too so I was super excited to meet up with him again.  Unfortunately it was pouring like crazy so we didn’t get to walk around the city but we found a fun sports bar and the blackhawks won!  Ben got along great with all the interns too and I loved being able to reminisce with him about China since I know I’ve been talking to everyone else way too much about it and he felt the same way.
Nothing too exciting happened at work this week but I did remember how exhausting it is working a full day and having a half hour drive to work now I realize how lucky I was last summer to be 3 minutes from the experimental station.  We usually work 7-3:30 so waking up can be rough but it’s nice getting done so early.  This weekend was much more exciting.  Friday night I convinced two of the other interns to go to a WNBA game with me to see the Chicago Sky play the Indiana Fever.  I was so excited to see Elena play and she definitely didn’t dissapoint, scoring 31 points and helping the Sky win pretty easily over the Fever.  It was great seeing Elena play again.  It’s amazing that I used to watch her play basketball for Ursuline when I was in middle school, then got to watch her play for UD when I was in highschool and now I get to watch her dominate in the WNBA.  I still remember how humble and genuine she seemed when I had her as a camp counselor back in middle school and how patient she was with running through drills.  It’s funny how watching her can feel so familiar and make me feel like I’m at home.
Saturday a big group of us interns headed to Matthiessen State Park, about an hour west of us.  We had heard from one of our coworkers that it was a pretty low key place with pretty waterfalls and hiking trails.  We spent a few hours tehre just exploring and taking lots of breaks to just sit around and talk and take pictures.  It was a great time and it’s awesome how much we enjoy eat eachother’s company.  That night, Ira, a full-time Exxon employee who also oversees the intern program, had all of us over his house for dinner.  His wife made this amazing meal for all of us and between appetizers, dinner, dessert and the bonfire we made in his backyard we ended up staying til midnight.  Ira and his wife always host this dinner and a bunch of other intern activities (like a segway tour of Chicago we have next week!) and always make it their jobs to make sure we’re having a good time and are settling in well.
The next day I went to a White Sox game with Ben and his mom’s side of the family.  They go every year and this year a few of his cousins couldn’t make it so they had extra tickets.  It was a lot of fun, the seats were just like the ones we usually get at the Phillies games, way up at the time but right behind home plate with a great view of the stadium.  Ben’s family came to visit him while we were in China so I already knew his mom and dad and I get along with them really well (his mom like Kashi bars and his dad runs half-marathons).  Also, I had someone to reminisce with about China so that was awesome.  It seems like there’s always something reminding me of an experience or custom in China.  I’m selfconscious about whether I’m talking about it too much but my intern friends say they don’t mind although maybe we’re just not close enough yet for them to tell me the truth…I’m only kidding, I’m sure they’d tell me.  Anyways, it was a great afternoon, it had been awhile since I’d been in a ball park and it was nice hanging out with a big family again even though it couldn’t be my own (miss you guys!).
So that wraps up my first week or so, I’m finishing up writing about it a week late and I’ve done A LOT since then but I’ll save that for another post.
I hope you guys enjoy this!

991 992

Team Interns!
Team Interns!

995

At the basketball game with Abby and Corey
At the basketball game with Abby and Corey

999

Back to Elena
Back to Elena

1020 1023 1024 1027 1030 1034 1038 1051

Ira's house
Ira’s house
Ira's house
Ira’s house
One of our first meals with a table (only took a week!)
One of our first meals with a table (only took a week!)

11231797_10152855875357681_2472509392103475140_n

Me with all my Personal Protective Equipment
Me with all my Personal Protective Equipment
Ira's house
Ira’s house
Ira's house
Ira’s house
Ira's house
Ira’s house
our first day of work!
our first day of work!

IMG_0825 IMG_0888