Hostel Vibes

Sunset from the Cancer Survivors’ Garden in Grant Park

Saturday, December 29, 2018

From Wednesday to Thursday I spent my first night in Chicago. This is yet another reminder that I’m not as familiar with the city as I once thought. Given that there have been several times I’ve told people that I’m basically from Chicago (since it’s often an easier association than Oak Lawn), you’d think I’d have slept at least one night in the city before this week.

I spent the night at the HI (Hosteling International) Chicago. And while the hostel has private rooms, I stayed in one of the dorm-style rooms with four other women.

Two of the women who were in the room and I introduced ourselves when I got back from the prayer walk on Wednesday evening.

One woman was from Dallas. She was in town for just that night because she had a residency interview with one of the local hospitals.

The other roommate I talked with was from Malaysia. She was in town for only a couple days. She had arrived in New York a few days before some friends she’s going to be with to celebrate the New Year.

While I was in one of the common areas, I met another woman who was visitingfrom Boston to see her dad—and she herself was born in Chicago.

Along with these women, I interacted with several other guests in passing during the evening and morning that I stayed at the Hostel. And while I will likely never meet any of these people again, there was an underlying sense of solidarity in the ways that we shared these spaces.

By sharing the room I slept in with strangers from around the world, I’m reminded of the value in our shared humanity.

We all have stories.

We all have people and things we care about.

We all have goals.

We all are pursuing purpose in our lives.

And we’re all loved by God and made in God’s image.

Another thing also stands out to me about the hostel and the space that it creates and occupies. The hostel atmosphere is rather unique in that it becomes a shared space for so many different people—all of them traveling to Chicago for as many different reasons. Not only does the hostel open up a space for diversity, but having a space like this hostel in the city also reflects the diversity that already exists in Chicago: diversity in people, opportunities, businesses, and on and on.

I think it’s unlikely that a hostel would have much success in my hometown suburb of Oak Lawn. Of course, that’s okay because Oak Lawn is not Chicago. But it’s wonderful that Chicago can provide these spaces full of opportunities to recognize our difference and to remember how much we still hold in common.

Author avatar
Elise Fetzer

Elise is a senior Intercultural Studies major at Olivet Nazarene University from Oak Lawn, IL. She is serving with LoopNaz as part of her cross-cultural field studies coursework.