Issue 24: Some Cities I’ve Lived In

Hey all!
Hope your summer is wrapping up well! I just got back from New York last Saturday, and I have more than a month until school starts. I’ll be spending my time with family and friends, preparing for coding interviews, catching up on sleep, and getting back on track on sending this newsletter regularly!
In the past year, I’ve traveled to a lot of places, from Chicago to the Philippines to Taiwan to China to DC to Florida to NYC. Just wanted to share a few surface-level thoughts on some cities I’ve stayed in:

Chicago suburbs, Illinois — Where I was born, raised and even went to college at. It’s home. The suburbs can get pretty boring, having to drive everywhere just to buy things or run an errand. With your friends, you sit around and order pizza and play video games, maybe do something active and play tennis. My family will often go to Mass and buy Chinese groceries at Chicago’s Chinatown, which interestingly enough, unlike many Chinatowns around the U.S. and many neighborhoods in Chicago, is growing, rather than getting gentrified (see article below). Evanston is a lot more bougie than most Chicago suburbs, but that’s the North Shore for you. I do love being near the city of Chicago though.

Zhongli, Taiwan — This is where my grandma lives. It’s a small city, about an hour outside of Taipei. I’ll take walks with my grandma, where we’ll walk through a park where old men play Chinese chess, old women do tai chi and kids are playing basketball 24/7. We’ll walk to a street market and buy fresh fish and vegetables. We’ll pass by flashing signs and lights and huge department stores, and we’ll go into one of those stores to cool off in the air conditioning. On the way home, we’ll stop by a small shop to buy dried tofu.

Beijing, China — I studied abroad here last fall, and I loved my time there, despite the pollution, censorship and other problems. I think I was fascinated by how fast the pace of life was. Every day, something new was being built. Every day, there was something new to explore, whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall restaurant/bar or a historical garden. Every day, there was something new to eat — and it was cheap and delicious, too. 800-year-old landmarks are surrounded by buildings that were just built yesterday.

New York, New York — I stayed here over the summer. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here, meeting up with other friends who were interning, exploring different neighborhoods (especially Flushing! loved buying Chinese food and groceries there) and trying out delicious foods like ramen and jerk chicken. Not my city though. I think after the first few weeks of adjusting to the MTA and bus system, seeing the sites and getting over the excitement of being in NYC, I got jaded by how crowded and expensive everything was. Also people were less friendly, in my opinion, but that’s probably because I’m from the Midwest. But still, since it’s such a big city there’s much more to do. Historically and even now, people were constantly moving there because they saw opportunity.

Anyway here are the three stories of the week:

  • Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City by Nikole Hannah-Jones. How one school became a battleground over which children benefit from a separate and unequal system.
  • Here’s why Chicago’s Chinatown is booming, even as others across the U.S. fade by Marwa Eltagouri. “At a time when traditional urban Chinatowns in Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia are fading due to gentrification and changing cultural landscapes, Chicago’s Chinatown is growing larger — becoming what experts say could be a model for Chinatown survival in the U.S. In Chicago, where several neighborhoods are no longer defined by the immigrant or ethnic groups that once occupied them, Chinatown is an exception, having anchored the area centered around Cermak Road and Wentworth Avenue since 1912.”
  • When Home Is Between Different Countries And Genders by Meredith Talusan and Bishakh. “I moved to the U.S. from the Philippines when I was 15, where I had been raised as a boy. About a decade later, I started to live as a woman and eventually transitioned. I think of migration and transition as two examples of the same process — moving from one home, one reality, to another.”

Send me comments, questions, concerns and stories to feature in this newsletter! Have a great rest of the week!

-rc