“Windy City”? Not Even in the Top 10!

By Snezana Stojilkovic; Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Skyline from North Avenue Beach
Chicago Skyline from North Avenue Beach. Photo: Bohao Zhao


How well do you know Chicago? Do you know how many people live in this “city of neighborhoods”? Where does that “windy” part coming from?  Is it because the city is very cold? How the streets got their names? Yes, Lincoln Park is named after the US president Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Park also, but who were Kinzie, La Salle, or Van Buren? What about Wrigley field? Well, let’s find out!

I have no doubts that any time you walk out through the door during the winter experiencing the wind coming off Lake Michigan you think how the nickname justified is: “the Windy City”. The truth is that people cannot come to agreement how and when windy became description for Chicago. It is obvious that the city is cold and windy, but that’s not the only reason, especially considering that Chicago is not the windiest place in the USA, not even in the top 10. Surprised?

Let’s go back to the 19th century, when Chicagoans traveled across the East coast promoting the city as ideal place for investing. In 1893, couple of American cities competed for hosting the World’s Colombian Exposition. The choice narrowed to New York and Chicago, but Chicago ultimately won the contest. The big rivalry between these two cities existed even then, and New Yorkers didn’t like losing. The editor of New York Sun (publication that were operating between 1833 and 1955) Charles A. Dana claimed that the politicians in Chicago were “full of hot air” (the meaning of idiom is full of nonsense) and he allegedly wrote: “that nonsensical claims of that windy city. Its people could not hold a world’s fair even if they won it”.

The problem is that the article have never been found, and many researches dismiss that story as a myth. One judge from New York Barry Popik, now a consultant for the Oxford English Dictionary, spent hours and hours looking into old newspapers (New York Sun) searching for any article that contains word ‘windy’. He said he found none! He looked further and he found another article from 1887. Published in Louisville Currier-Journal calling Chicago “windy”. Many historians support the statement that the term was coined in the early 1880’s.

Even if Charles A. Dana might not be the person who coined the term, he was definitely one who popularized it since he didn’t hold Chicago and its citizenry in high regards, and he often wrote about it.

People like simple things, and the explanation that has to do something with bad politicians make perfect sense! That’s why many people give credit to Charles A. Dana and accept this urban legend as the only truth.

Windy or hot, the city is absolutely beautiful, the third largest in the USA. We get to another confusing thing: the size of population that live here. It really depends on what do you consider to be Chicago. Is it just the inner city, or does it include suburbs, or even larger metropolitan area? So, how big is the city?
First of all, there are 77 Community Areas: the last two Edgewater was separated from Uptown in 1980, and O’Hare area was formed in 1956. The latest data shows that 2,731 million people live in the city, but the larger area called Chicagoland is home to around 10 million people. Now, I want you to imagine how it started: in 1833 only 200 people moved to this territory. If you think about, it wasn’t that long ago, and yet Chicago managed to become the fourth most essential business center on the planet in the Master Card Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index. Impressive, isn’t it?

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Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Photo: Chad Zuber / Shutterstock.com

 

I guess that many of you landed to O’Hare airport on your way here. I did to.  The history of the airport area is quite interesting: First visitors were German immigrants, who settled down and named the area “Orchard Place”. When World War II started, the War Department bought the place and open an aircraft factory Douglas. When the war was over, the city bought the place and renamed it again, this time simply Orchard Field airport. I was always wondering what the symbol ORD stands for, and that’s where the identification letters coming from. Few years later, in 1949, it was suggested that the name should be changed in honor of Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare, a young navy pilot who died during the war. He was the first one who got the Medal of Honor for combating enemy planes, actually 9 Japanese bombers in 1942. You can read more about that flight and fight here.

The first commercial flight happened in 1955. And just for the records, O’Hare International Airport is the forth busiest airport in the world by number of passengers; New York is at distant 15th place. Ha, not bad for a “windy” city?

One more significant thing happened at this place: the worst airline accident in the US history. In 1979 all passengers and crew on board American Airlines Flight 191 were killed when DC-10 crashed soon after taking off. The reason for crash? One engine on the left wing separated and flipped over the wing inducing damage to the plane. The number of passengers is something I couldn’t clarify: different sources, different numbers.

You got plenty of information today, hope didn’t know many. The next article is about city’s neighborhoods. You would get the answers on questions asked above, and much more!

 

Interesting facts:

  • Edward O’Hare’s father was a lawyer and a close associate of Al Capone. He presented strong evidence against him during the trial, and was killed couple of years later.
  • A replica of O’Hare’s firefighter is exposed in Terminal 2. Check it out next time you travel somewhere!
  • Every 90 seconds an airplane takeoff or land to the O’Hare International Airport
  • This airport has the cleanest bathrooms of the world’s busiest airports, according to the Association of international agents.

Are Americans rude, oblivious or busy?

By Snezana Stojilkovic; Chicago, Illinois

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I use public transportation almost every day, and I was surprised by the fact that Americans rarely give up their seats for older people. We were taught that we are supposed to threat elderly with respect: whenever you are in the bus and see an older gentleman or lady your obligation is to offer them a seat. That’s the rule also if you see a young mom with kids, or a pregnant lady with visible belly. Here sometimes I have feeling that people in the train are completely oblivious to their surroundings, deep in their thoughts or just staring in their iPhones. That’s what happened the other day in the train. One young girl literally had to yell at people: “Hey, don’t you see a pregnant lady here?” until some guy stood up. Then she said her friend loud enough so we could hear that it was her second time that day she had to react.

Strong sense of community

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I witnessed so many times when people approach police officers and thanking them for all work they do and all risk they take every day in order to protect citizens.

Honestly, I cannot imagine that picture in my county. Serbs really don’t like the police since it is widely accepted that that is one of the most corrupted part of the system, and people do not put a lot of trust in police officers.

I also saw couple of times in restaurants that some people would pay for the meal when they see people in uniform. Bravo, Chicagoans! 

 

Wedding is an event that has to be planned well ahead! Plus, as a guest you might have to pay for your drink(s)

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When friend of mine told me last year that she was invited to a wedding and she was super exited because it was an open bar I didn’t understand what she meant. I mean, I knew the meaning of “open bar” policy, but the wedding and this term in the same sentence was confusing. Then, she explained to me that the couple who was getting married (or their parents) were responsible for paying drinks for their guests. I was surprised. Does that mean that sometimes you have to pay for it when you go to the wedding? She smiled and said yes, that’s very common in the USA.

Since I am writing about weddings, I must say that this is such a big thing in the USA, so big that many people want to avoid stress that comes with amazing an event to hire professional help: wedding consultant. Not only that, browse the internet, you will find many websites created to help couples to find what they need for the most important day of their life, everything from florist, music, photographers, dresses, etc. According to the www.enlightenme.com the wedding planning industry is a huge business with an estimated $42 billion (yes, billion) in sales of wedding relating products!

I understand that a wedding IS a big thing for any couple, but I would say that things go easier in my country although it does require time to prepare all details. In small cities people know each other and usually word of mouth is the best way to go: just ask your friends and you would get recommendations for everything you might need! And, your friends will offer their help as well.

 

Street dogs are nowhere to be seen!

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I cannot stress enough how big problem this is my country, in almost every city. There is no enough shelters for street animals, and people can very often encounter group of very dangerous dogs on street in busy neighborhoods. The problem is even bigger in villages. So many hurt and wounded kids, and the authorities do very little (or nothing) to prevent these issues. The local officials know that is going to cost a lot of money in compensations after citizens sue the city, but they would still spend money that way then investing in permanent solutions. Do not think now that organizations for animals are not interested in helping: their voices are heard, but completely ignored. Ordinary citizens are not even allowed to protect themselves, the laws are very strict in case you hurt the animal, witch lead to the very undesirable position.

I have never seen ONE dog walking on the street, not in Chicago, not in other states I visited, unless they are with their owners. And that is the only way it should be.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this mini series of articles where I tried to describe the biggest differences between the USA and my home country Serbia. Of course, there are many more, but I will leave it for now. Maybe a couple more things that I do not have to explain:

  • The gas is extremely cheap. That’s why Americans drive big cars.
  • The language is very relaxed: addressing older group of people with Hi, folks, guys, people or something similar is unacceptable in my country.
  • The lack of geographical knowledge is very often a cause for mocking Americans calling them stupid. They usually divide Europe on East (former Soviet Union countries, where they believe my country belongs) and West (London, Pairs and Italy). Many of them believe Paris is a country! The rest for them is very blur, something over there 🙂
  • In my country people that walk a lot always have a bench nearby so they can rest. Here you can find one only in parks, even then the number is not significant.

The American Customer Service vs. Hospitality

By Snezana Stojilkovic; Chicago, Illinois

I talked last time about some distinctions between my home country and the country I am living in now. It seems that those differences are countless. Some of them I love, some I don’t understand, and some of them I think I would never be able to accept. That makes my life much more interesting: adjusting to the new environment is a process, and I am enjoying learning and observing all these small things that are so different. For example:

 

The “wild west” culture

I am reluctantly admitting this to you now, but sometimes I am afraid for my safety. Although I live in very safe neighborhood, how safe can one be in Chicago, with such a high level of all sort of criminal activities? Every day, EVERY DAY we hear stories of someone being killed. That is not even news anymore. The breaking news would be if one day passed without counting victims in Chicago. The fact that anyone can buy and carry weapon is horrifying. You can never know where some attacker can show up and start shooting randomly.

Check this story out: a 13 year old boy tried to buy alcohol, porn, lottery and cigarettes without success, since he was a minor. But, he had no problem buying a gun. It took him less than 10 minutes to walk away with deadly weapon in his hands. No questions asked. Something is very wrong, don’t you think?

Customer service is incredible!

It’s very easy to be a great customer when you know what kind of support you can get from any business! Amazing. I will give you an example: I contacted Uber support team at least 5 times so far and I always got an answer in less than an hour. The last time they responded in three minutes, while I was in the car trying to solve the problem I had with my trip (my driver canceled the ride accidentally, but he accepted to give me a ride. I wanted to be sure that he would be paid for his work). I couldn’t believe! And be positive that that is a standard here. (Okay, Comcast is an exception 🙂 )

It is less likely that that kind of service you would get in my country. Sad, but true. What a nightmare it was for me to cancel my mobile plan I had it there from here. I had to call so many times four different agencies in order to find which one is responsible for my contract. Plus, the ladies were very rude on the phone. And, that is standard in my country.

What can I say – the big market, tough competition – establishments are fighting for every single customer here. They need you back. And they will do almost impossible to make you happy. If they don’t – they lose the business. Plain and simple.

 

Maternity paid leave is a luxury

The United States of America can be proud of so many great things, and I don’t even have an intention of naming some of them, but when it comes to a safety net: if fails, big time. The current law (Family and Medical Leave Act signed into law in 1993) says that women have a 12 weeks UNPAID leave to care of new born and recover from the childbirth. And that’s not all. There are some restriction to this law: the size of company the women work for, the number of hours spent working for the same employee in the past year and so on. Some states tried and extended benefits new moms should get, but it is far from good.

Even my country is in very poor financial situation, it still provides full year of PAID maternity leave. Not only that, but pregnant women can take leave while they are expecting and they can still receive certain amount of money each month. That relieves the pressure from women and they can concentrate on their kid(s) more. And all European countries have far better health care system for their citizens than the US.

I remember one former co-worker when she worked as a house keeper in a hotel literally until she was due. She had to be on her knees cleaning and using all sort of chemicals every day, multiple times. Couple of days after she had her child, she had to come back and work, although still visible recovering. Her husband visited her every day with the baby so she could breast-feed her. It was sad that she didn’t have a choice to stay with the baby for a while. Those first months are the most precious, but her leaving her job would probably mean no income for her family.

And, honestly, I don’t understand how business can take a risk and bring a lady with hormonal misbalance to work with customers or perform some other tasks.

Put this note on a side, this topic is very hot in the USA nowadays and politicians (especially presidential candidates) finally speak up about such a big problem. It remains to be seen what will happen, but I strongly believe that every mother has a right to choose to stay at home with a baby without fear for surviving, and without fear of losing her job while doing the most important job in the world: taking care of a child!

 

The level of consumerism is extremely high

People waiting in line hours outside of the Michigan Avenue Apple Store in downtown Chicago, Illinois.
People waiting in line hours outside of the Michigan Avenue Apple Store in downtown Chicago, Illinois. Photo: jessicakirsh / Shutterstock.com

Com’ on, are you really going to sleep outside of the store just because you want to buy a new iPhone?

No way, even if they promise me one for free I wouldn’t spend time waiting. I can find it tomorrow or the next day, or I can buy something else.

 

Lunch time. Burger? No, thank you.

On traditional Serbian lunch table you will always find: homemade soup first, and then COOKED meal with meat (chicken or pork usually). Salad is a must. We consider sandwiches as quick snack, in between lunch and dinner, sometimes it can be served as breakfast, but NEVER as lunch.

 

And, again something that is self-explanatory:

 

  • We do not have cheerleaders in high schools
  • Rape on campuses is a huge problem in the USA
  • Only Americans understand and like baseball
  • The country is so big so it is no surprise that there are many cities with the same names in different states. How many Springfield towns have you heard of or visited so far?
  • Electricity is so cheap here, no kidding!

The Financial Aspects of Managing a Business: The Importance of Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is an essential function all small business owners should know how to do in order to properly manage the business’s finances. Another essential component of bookkeeping skills is interpersonal communications. You often have to talk to clients, vendors, banks, and other such people as part of bookkeeping tasks. Depending upon your specific needs, the types of bookkeeping and interpersonal communication skills you require could vary.

Obtaining the skills needed to be a proficient bookkeeper can help you focus on growing your small business and stop worrying about where the money is being spent. Bookkeeping skills will allow you to:

  • Monitor Sales
  • Manage Accounts Receivables
  • Generate Reports
  • Pay Bills
  • Manage Accounts Payable
  • Prepare the General Ledger
  • Reconcile Bank and Credit Card Accounts
  • Prepare and Submit Invoices
  • Complete Month End Closing Entries
  • Prepare Quarterly and Year End Financial Statements

Being able to perform your own bookkeeping services will provide your business with vital information to help you understand how well your business is doing. In addition, your tax accountant will be able to prepare your taxes easier, since you will be able to provide them with all of the data they require to prepare and file your taxes. Further, the more accurate information you keep will enable you to grow your business and achieve higher profitability.

To further develop essential business skills to start your own small business or to enhance your current business skills, contact Computer Systems Institute now by calling 1-888-652-2494 to learn more about our skill-building programs.

Intensive English Program

Which Helps Your Learn English More: CNN or HBO?

In recent years, one popular trend for people to enhance and continue to expand their English after completing ESL programs at Computer Systems Institute was to rely upon closed captioning available with certain media channels like CNN and HBO. In addition, both of these TV broadcasters enhanced the learning experience by offering mobile device access, as well as specific programming to assist people in expanding their vocabulary of the English language.
Learn English

HBO currently offers “mobisodes,” which are short episodes viewable on mobile phones. However, the only drawback to HBO’s offering is that it focuses specifically on Hispanic-speaking people and only teaches key English phrases.

On the other hand, CNN’s options are much more diverse and offer access to five different programs that focus on key English areas, including travel, legal, news, money and finance, and business. People watch subtitled videos, and then learn English vocabulary using a digital assistant. Each program also includes access to a pronunciation assistant and practice training.

Of the two options, CNN’s program is better, as it incorporates a diverse range of languages, not just Hispanic languages. Further, CNN’s program provides access to a wide array of features and options, like helping you learn English, not simply key phrases.

To enroll in ESL and career programs available at Computer Systems Institute, call us now at 1-888-652-2494 for more information. We offer a wide array of programs and options to help you succeed.

How Practicing English Communication Skills Factors into Success in College Courses

 

College students need to learn English now more than ever. Students are increasingly struggling to master basic English communication skills; the consequences of this are numerous and widespread, for students, businesses, and the nation at large.

There are many reasons college students need to hone their English communication skills. English is the accepted language in all of the top universities in the world. What’s more, one’s English skills will be put to the test, not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace.

English may be the second most widely spoken language in the world, but it’s the premier language of international business, computer science, and medicine. Students who hone their communication skills will benefit greatly from sharpening their English communication skills.

For students wanting to excel in college, being able to read and write effectively in English is fundamental.

Practicing English Communication Skills leads to success in college courses infographic
 

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How the Study of Consumer Psychology Can Impacts Sales and Marketing Messages

Consumer psychology plays an important role in marketing by allowing marketing and sales managers to modify business practices to improve the consumer buying experience and increase sales. Any time you are creating a new marketing and sales strategy, you need to carefully evaluate how psychological factors should be incorporated into branding, whether you are selling products and services online or from a physical store.

  1. Motivation – What motivates consumers? Consumer behavior is complex, and each person will be motivated by different marketing messages.
  2. Experience – How much familiarity does the consumer have with the products or services you are selling? If they are not familiar, take the time to educate them about how your product or service will better benefit them.
  3. Beliefs – What do consumers believe about your products or services? Is the information you provide true and accurate, or could it leave them with feelings of resentment because you withheld information?
  4. Attitudes – The attitudes of consumers help influence their buying decisions, and what information they provide when sharing their customer experiences with their family and friends, as well as the rating and comments they leave on customer review sites about your business.
  5. Perception – Are they looking for a bargain, high quality, outstanding customer service, or a combination of these factors? How consumers perceive your products or services is often correlated to your marketing strategy and branding.

In addition to psychological factors, there are other factors that govern consumers’ buying habits, like how well you communicate with your customers. Effectively communicating with consumers by using a marketing message that mirrors the tone of the target market can improve your marketing and sales strategic efforts. To learn more about our skill building programs, contact Computer Systems Institute now by calliMarketing-Messagesng 1-888-652-2494.

 

Be Successful in an Office Environment by Improving Your Administrative Skills

Administrative assistants have to be able to effectively deal with a variety of situations in an office environment. Most admin positions require a diverse set of skills in order to be successful at the job and open up new opportunities for advancement. Improving your admin skills can easily be accomplished by completing skill building programs in areas you are not yet proficient.

Specific skill areas essential to administrative assistant positions include:

  • Communication Skills: Admins communicate with a wide range of employees, vendors, and clientele.
  • Writing Skills: Admins prepare written communications and emails on a regular basis.
  • Time Management: Admins have to properly manage their time to ensure tasks are complete when promised.
  • Planning Skills: Admins have to know how to develop processes and procedures for the office environment.
  • Technology Skills: Admins have to know how to use a variety of computer applications to perform their job duties.
  • Problem Solving Skills: Admins are tasked with scheduling, resolving conflicts, and developing new processes and procedures to improve operations.
  • Organization Skills: Admins have to be well organized in order to keep tasks moving along and still have time to provide administrative assistant tasks.
  • Management Skills: Admins may be required to oversee the management of office staff, supervisors, or other personnel.
  • Office Oversight Skills: Some admins are tasked with equipment and office supply management, and ensuring the office is properly stocked and everything is working correctly.

An administrative assistant must be able to successfully perform a variety functions in order to be successful. For more information about improving your administrative skills at Computer Systems Institute call 1-888-652-2494 to schedule an appointment with a representative.

Communication-Skills

How Improving Literature Comprehension Skills Prepares Students for College

 

Learning how to read and comprehension of what you read are two different skills you need to develop to prepare for college level courses. Reading involves the ability to sound out words and learn their correct spellings, proper usage, and sentence structures. Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the written text and define the meanings of the words, while gaining insight as to the author’s writing style and instructional methods.

By improving reading comprehension skills you are setting yourself up for academic success as many college courses contain a high emphasis on utilizing text books to gain further knowledge for the specified class.

Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension

  • Pre-Read the Text – Take the time to read chapter titles, subtitles, the introductory paragraph at the beginning of the chapter, the first sentence of subsequent paragraphs, and the last paragraph of the chapter. By pre-reading the text in this manner, it will give you a better idea of the concepts to be learned.
  • Review Important Concepts – Most student texts have key learning objectives for each chapter, as well as questions at the end of each section. Take the time to read these after completing your initial pre-reading.
  • Read the Text and Take Notes – As you read through the entire section, take notes and write down any words you do not understand. After reading, review your notes and look up the meanings to the unknown words.
  • Post-Reading – Read over each learning objective and question in the chapter, and verify you are able to answer these. If you are unable to fully comprehend specific areas, this will help you to realize what sections still require further review.

Most importantly, remember it takes time to fully develop reading comprehension skills, and requires continued patience and practice. For assistance in developing reading comprehension there are English programs for international students available from Computer System Institute. Call 1-888-652-2494 now to learn more about our ESL programs.

Portrait of happy teenage boy clenching fist while holding exam paper with A+ grade on university campus. Horizontal shot.
Portrait of happy teenage boy clenching fist while holding exam paper with A+ grade on university campus. Horizontal shot.

Utilizing Communication Skills to Improve Leadership Skills

An essential part of developing your leadership skills is improving your interpersonal communication skills. Communication is much more than just being able to speak. It requires building better interpersonal relationships by also being able to listen and comprehend what others say.

Communication and Listening Techniques

Listening requires pausing, and taking a moment to pay attention to what someone is telling you. While they are speaking, it is important to clear your mind and focus on what is being said. Avoid thinking about what your response should be while they are talking. Use the communication techniques of clarification and reflection to verify you properly understand what they said.

Clarification is asking the other person a question if you do not fully understand what was said. For instance, “What did you mean, when you said …? ” or, “I do not fully understand what you said. Could you please repeat it?” are common clarifying questions.

Reflection is a technique where you mirror or paraphrase what was just said in the form of a question. It lets the speaker know you are trying to understand what they are saying. Using reflective questions will help you better understand the meaning of spoken language.

In cases where you are the speaker, you can also use these techniques to ask other people questions to ensure they understood what you told them. Remember to pay attention to nonverbal cues, too, such as hand gestures, and maintain direct eye contact with the speaker and/or listener.

Communication and Encouragement

Use encouragement to make people feel like you are approachable. A kind word, praise for a job well done, or even a friendly and welcoming tone in your voice will help people feel more at ease. As a result, people will not hesitate to come to you when they have questions or need further clarification about something you have communicated, either verbally or through an email message.

By developing effective communication skills, your leadership skills will also improve. If you are looking for English training to further your communication skills, contact Computer Systems Institute today by calling 1-888-652-2494 to learn more about our available programs.

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