“Put on a little lipstick…”

“… you’ll feel better,” it says on a little placard in our bathroom. And that’s exactly what happened.

Last week was a rough one. A lot of work, a lot of things happened, worrying about friends, moving, getting settled into the new quarter which is even more fast-paced than the last one. I tought that wasn’t possible but Q1 already feels like a walk in the park in hindsight. I’m beginning to realize there will be very little sleep for most of the coming months.

I still feel a little anxious about my beat and don’t think I am quite on top of things yet. Both religion and immigration encompass such a variety of groups and issues that it’s hard to get your foot on the ground.

But also, I moved last weekend, and that changed so much. I live at a wonderful apartment now, and I already feel more at home here after a couple days than I did the whole last three months. Much of this is thanks to my roommate Joellen. I couldn’t describe her in a few words, but she’s great.

There are all these wonderful little decorative things around the apartment, which also has a beautiful dining room and a back deck where we can sit outside (Joellen has plants there, something I could never come close to accomplishing. Kein grüner Daumen hier.)

We’re in the route toward O’Hare International Airport, so there are lots of planes flying overhead – which means lots of plane watching for me. I love seeing airplanes. I always wonder where they’re headed, who’s on board and what these people want to do, who they are flying to see. It’s not that loud either, it almost feels comforting. I also have churchbells on Sundays and right now, raindrops against my window and wind howling outside.

My room is smells like vanilla candles. It has a great walk-in closet with room for all my shoes.

Oh, and the kitchen would make my mom proud. Joellen even has a waffle maker! I’ll be sending out sunday brunch invites.

Three courses of homemade food. I'll be so much healthier here!

Three courses of homemade food. I'll be so much healthier here!

To calm myself after this whirlwind week I made a therapeutic German potato salad – Binsch family recipe!! It was great. Yes, it’s about the only thing I can manage in the kitchen, but that I can do well!

Sonja came over later and took care of dessert, baking cookie bars. Which means I had a three course meal tonight.

As I left the newsroom earlier today and walked toward the train, I wandered into the Barnes & Nobles bookstore at Jackson and State. I was just looking for a map of Chicago’s neighborhoods. But books get me.

New and old reading material.

New and old reading material.

Every time. I can’t walk away. I spent an hour at the store just looking around and ended up buying four new books to read. Only four because I’m trying to find two more on Amazon (thanks to the iPhone I took pictures of them so I would remember the titles).

I could have stayed much longer but then I wouldn’t have been able to carry my new treasures home. It started raining slightly when I was on the train. As I walked the little bit from the train station home (and this really feels like home now), I was carrying my new books, thinking about tomorrow… and a plane crossed the sky over my head. It flew pretty low and the lights showed up brightly against the dark evening sky. That moment made me so happy that I almost cried.

Getting There

The To-Do-List has become significantly shorter this week. Pizza for everyone!

I only realized just how much organizing goes into spending a year in the US when I was already in the middle of it. A million forms are necessary for college applications, financial aid and scholarships, visa application – and almost the same amount of paperwork on this side of the Ocean for the University bureaucracy.

But I’m finally getting there! I have my visa appointment lined up to get a student visa, I have an apartment in Chicago and I’ve started writing my Bachelor’s thesis. Now all that’s left is finishing the thesis, graduating, moving, sending the deposit for my new apartment, buying a new laptop, selling the one I have, booking a flight and getting health insurance for a year abroad. That should be easy.