This was an interesting weekend, anyway you look at it. I did take a few hours to walk around the streets of my old alma mater — University of Illinois at Chicago, UIC. Well, I was a bit shocked at my own feelings about all of this; for this reason this particular post might be a little sentimental :-).
I graduated UIC about 12 or 13 years ago and have not been back to campus since then. Actually, I have moved away from Chicago about 11 years ago so I had no way to visit on top of having no reason to. Yesterday I just happened to have a few hours downtown Chicago and I decided to see what’s up on campus. Walking around, I was thinking to myself that I am not the only one who changed. The cities change, yes. But generally the cities change slow enough and the changes are not really noticed since the difference of the size of the city versus the percent of it that had changed. Let’s take the City of Philadelphia as an example.
In the last 11 years there is a slight change to the Philly skyline with a few new skyscrapers and a new South Street bridge: the changes are major but if you look at the overall size of Philly you will realize that this change is no more than 1%, perhaps only 0.01%. What I saw at UIC was different. Taylor Street projects are completely gone and replaced with very nice houses and many new restaurants. The entire area around the stadium on Halsted Street changed completely as well. The University itself did not much change but the surrounding area improvements make it seem like the place is completely different.
I could not but remember all the good times I’ve had there as a 17-year-old undergraduate student, clueless about the inner workings of the world and the people in it. I am a different person now. Perhaps the changes in me are similar to the changes in the UIC area, in some way. UIC had some problematic areas, take Taylor Street projects for example. Well, that’s completely gone now. Some people, many people who knew UIC back 15 years ago, remember the projects and the bad element they brought to campus. Same for the people who remember some of my own rough edges that time had polished or worn off completely. With time, places like UIC only improve as the city grows and expands. Yes, sometimes, with time, things actually get worse; but is that not also true for some people? I hope the changes in me, similarly to the changes to UIC, are all towards positive and will all “stick”. One could only hope :-).
I’ve spent my flight back home thinking about what I have improved over the last 11 years and what areas still need to be cleaned up, mopped, and polished.
Well, enough of the brooding! Let’s see some pictures, shall we?
Ah, my old Chemistry building :-)
Mechanical Engineering building. I’ve spent quite some time here. Wrote my first modeling code here and hacked Chicago Stock Exchange from here. Whew! Never got caught :-)
UIC Forum. Never been inside. The building looks new. Is it?
This all is definitely new.
The Thinker :-)
Ah, how nice! Bike rentals :-)
Nice outside seating with the view of the city and flowers. Love it!
Coffee shops and juice bar. Perfect for university city, don’t you think?
Green streets. Lovely.
Gorgeous! I think faculty live here.
This is 5-minute walk to the main campus. Gorgeous!
Back of my old Chem-E building.
And my Comp Sci building.
Hillel. Still there, still looking the same.
Tuscany… Ah, I’ve been to sooooo many business functions here… Back then there logo was not rusting onto the awning :-) But, hey, times change.
Beautiful new buildings along Taylor street.
New banks and such.
The old projects now grow green grass :-)
Like here, for example. Ready for new property.
Ah, there’s one remaining building. People used to sell crack over here. Even asked me a few times if I need pot or coke, but that was 15 years ago… All locked up now :-)
Covered in fresh paint and looking new :-)
And is new. Gorgeous!
Medical campus, too, looks renewed somehow from what I remember it.
This statue was here for a while, I suppose. I, however, have never seen it before until just now. I think, with time, I have trained my eye to notice more and more around me.
The views of campus buildings through the greenery.
And the city skyline.
And flowers everywhere. Love it!
Even the nasty sore of a building looks good through the trees, doesn’t it?
My old Liberal Arts building.
And the “Welcome to UIC” signage.
This building on the left… I dreamt so many good dreams there while napping in the class :-)
Ah, the concrete quad.
Student Center building is looking better, too. The insides are cleaner from when I was around and the bookstore is now on the main floor.
This was my building. Spent countless hours here, hacking.
This stairway into the parking garage… Ah, the memories.. Ah, the memories… But, that is another story alltogether :-)
It was good to take some time to remember all the great things I have experienced here. If I had to live my life again I think I would live it exactly the same way as I had :-).
Cheers, y’all. Hope to see you in Chicago again soon :)