Break from school was a chance for travel

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, October 24, 2013

Column: A Happy Medium, by Erin Murtaugh

This weekend was very exciting for me. It was Minnesota Education Association break, which meant no school on Thursday or Friday. Friday also happened to be my 18th birthday. Not only was it my 18th birthday, but I was also in Chicago over the weekend.

My MEA break started out early Thursday morning as my dad, sister and I packed up the car for our little weekend road trip. The first stop we made was to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design for a tour of the campus. The campus was beautiful. Many of the classrooms had a view of the Milwaukee River.

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The building was historic looking on the outside, but very modern and industrial on the inside. Across the street, brand new student housing was being built. As amazing as the campus was, I really don’t think the school is for me. Their photography program is very fine arts focused, which is not what I am particularly looking for and the school was probably just a little too small for me, too.

The rest of the day was spent at the Milwaukee Art Museum and relaxing. We spent the night in Racine, Wis., which is about halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago. After getting a late dinner at Denny’s, we settled in for the night.

The next morning, we took off at about 11 a.m. to get to Chicago. I was extremely excited for this day because not only was it my birthday, but we were also going to tour Columbia College, which was very high on my college list. The only colleges I had toured before were MIAD and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, so I had a little taste of what other campuses were like.

As we drove into downtown Chicago, I would see buildings with Columbia on them all over the city. We found a place to park after looking for a spot for a while and headed toward the admissions building. It was quite cold that day, so we stopped for Starbucks. The admissions tour center was filled with eager potential students, ready to tour the campus. We divided into groups by what majors we were most interested in.

Once the tour got started, I knew I was in love with the school. Columbia’s campus is spread throughout Chicago’s South Loop over about a mile radius. The city itself is beautiful and having a campus right in the middle of it all makes it even more amazing. The dorms are huge and provide plenty of living space and privacy. Each dorm building has its own special thing, such as a pool, large fitness center, graffiti room or a student center. The photography program is much broader and it is also nationally ranked. I am almost certain this school is for me.

That evening, we went to Hard Rock Cafe, where I was serenaded by a school group in an incomprehensible language and ate a burger almost as big as me … (well, not quite). The next morning, we checked out the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier. We also rode in a taxi back to our hotel, which was a neat experience. Sunday morning arrived, and we were ready to head back home, but first we stopped at Willis Tower. An hour and a half of waiting and 103 floors later makes for a view of Chicago I’ll never forget.

I love traveling and getting to see what will probably be where I will go to college made my birthday and MEA break complete.


Albert Lea resident Erin Murtaugh is a senior at Albert Lea High School.