Many people talk about how Shimer has changed their way of looking at the world, or at books, or how they have conversations with people. It's not just Shimer though. Being in Chicago has changed my way of thinking and how I choose to involve myself in the world.
The part of Florida I grew up in is comparable to the lifestyle in the suburbs of Chicago. There aren't any tall buildings and there are parking lots everywhere. People commute to work half an hour each way and never seem to live very close to their offices. The difference here is that there's really not a city that all these people are driving to or away from. Sure, there's Fort Lauderdale, which I live in the Greater Area of, and there's Miami and Boca Raton, but it's not the same as Chicago. There isn't the feeling of a “Big City.” Florida sprawls out in every direction, and even in the crowded streets of Miami there's room to breath.
Perhaps it is because of this that I never took advantage of anything Florida had to offer. I've always referred to it as a tourist trap or the winter home for snow birds. Living in Chicago changed this perspective. When I'm up at school I make a conscious effort to go out and see what there is to see. Every trip becomes an adventure. Different playhouses, different parks and museums, different places to eat and street art to see. I feel the need to absorb as much of the culture as I can.
Now my life here imitates that. I've realized that this state has so much to offer. I go to the museums and historical sites, I visit the Everglades more regularly and drive to the “Big Cities” to watch shows or eat at hidden restaurants. Chicago has made me appreciate Florida more, culture more.
I've heard that colleges should be able to stand on their own, independent of their surroundings when it comes to deciding on where to go.
Shimer does that. It has had many different campuses over the years and people still flock to it. However, I do think the environment should be weighed in as a deciding factor. College is four years long and regardless of how much work there is to do, no one spends all four years hidden away in their dorm room. Chicago has changed my life for the better and it is another wonderful thing about going to Shimer.