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Urban Opportunities, or Why I Love Chicago

Everyone has heard folks say cities have more opportunities than suburbs or rural areas. Well, until I moved to Chicago 1.5 years ago, I didn’t really know what this meant. I always assumed it referred mostly to jobs, and maybe something about exposure to arts and culture.

But now that I’ve experienced these opportunities, I may never go back. My favorite analogy to describe the phenomenon takes us back to our high school days. In high school, we had a breadth of experiences — classes across a variety of disciplines, sports, choir, band, art programs, foreign languages — you name it and it was available. But when we graduated high school (or college, if you had time to participate in the collegiate equivalents), we left all of this behind. In the rural South where I grew up, once you join the workforce, people tend to forget their hobbies and passions outside of work, leading to the stereotypical reliving of “glory days” on the high school football team, marching band, drama club, whatever. People act as if life is all downhill post-graduation (high school or college). This saddens me.

So let’s circle back to these mythical urban opportunities. What I’m coming to discover as I explore more of Chicago is that its like you never left high school.

  • Want to keep playing sports? The Chicago Park District has tons of adult sports leagues and Chicago Social picks up where they leave off.
  • Interested in furthering your musical skills? The legendary Old Town School of Folk Music has classes for dancing, singing, and nearly all instruments; even the rusty old trumpet in my closet is being put to use again, after a decade untouched.
  • Just wanting to get out from behind the desk, out of the house, and do something healthy? There’s 60-something gyms in the downtown Chicago, many with dance/zumba classes, martial arts programs, and other alternative workouts to complement the traditional gym experience; I started learning Muay Thai Kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu at 24 years old — its never too late.
  • Rather watch than play? Chicago is one of four U.S. cities to have teams from the five major American professional team sports (football, basketball, hockey, soccer, and two baseball teams), and is often called the Best Sports City by Sporting News.
  • Or maybe you really do want to experience world-class arts and culture; there’s museums, aquariums, planetariums, numerous Broadway-style theaters, Opera houses, symphony orchestras, conservatories, zoos, and the list goes on.
  • And if none of these tickle your fancy, you’re sure to find a Meetup near you that will, whether its chocolate tasting, joining a reading group, networking with entrepreneurs, learning new technologies, or playing board games.

I’m a curious kid at heart, so what more could I ask for? I like to think that it’ll keep me young, but that’s a theory for another day.

What other opportunities have you discovered living in a city?

Posted in Ramblin' Thoughts.

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