Greetings from Chicago!
I have been in Chicago these past few days and I have been surprised to find that it is a great city! I came to Chicago to give a talk at the university but when I told people I was coming here, the reaction wasn't good - ranging from "don't go walking by yourself" to "why would you go there?". I always noticed how many young people there were in Chicago airport compared to other airport hubs like Denver or LAX, and there are an awful lot of young people in Chicago everywhere. Chicago people tell me that the city and area around the university used to have a lot of crime, but that these areas have been cleaned up a lot in the last few years. The area around the university seems like a nice old suburb with lots of trees and old houses and churches. Plenty of people walking around by themselves. The city is great with lots of things to do and my friends here have been taking me around to all sorts of good restaurants, shops, to see a band, and to the theatre. The city is very pretty looking (especially at night) and it is on the edge of one of the great lakes. It is a really huge lake so it actually looks like a strangely calm ocean. They even import sand so it has a long beach and people sun-bake in the summer! There are lots of bike-paths and parks around the city for miles and miles. A lot of people here go sailing on the weekends. The people are very friendly, and strangers smile and make conversation - unusual for a big bustling city. I will definitely be coming back to Chicago soon!