Life-Long Learning at The University of Chicago

When I go on vacation, the last place I usually think to go is a university.  Why go back to school when I worked so hard for five years to get my bachelor’s degree and escape it?  Visiting a college campus hadn’t even crossed my mind when it came to temporarily relocating to Chicago, but after suggestions from co-workers and roommates, I decide to give it a shot.  Making my way south to The University of Chicago, I find I’m in for more than I bargained for.  Walking through the campus of gothic architecture and buildings, I find this is no ordinary campus.  Not only is it much bigger than the campus of the school I attended, Mesa State College (currently Colorado Mesa University), but it takes academic learning to another level with its elaborate design and architecture.

The Oriental Institute

Persian Winged Bull

A winged bull figured from Persepolis.


A Lassmus, a figurine from ancient Mesopotamia.

My original plan was to only visit The Oriental Institute, a museum dedicated to showcasing artifacts and history of various Middle Eastern countries.  Observing displays of jewelry, pottery, and other elements of everyday life from countries including ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia (present-day Iran), Nubia, and Persia (also present-day Iran) I’m taken through parts of the world I know very little about.  I’m fascinated to discover part of a façade from the Khorsabad throne room excavated by archaeologists of the institute that is comprised of human figures and human-headed winged bulls, also known as a Lamassu.  Another figure that captures my attention is column capital from Persepolis, an ancient palace and administrative center of Persia.  This is no ordinary column since it’s composed of a Man-Bull with dangling earrings, a crown (which signifies he’s most likely a minor deity), and feathers.  I’m beginning to think this is where the interest in unique style contrasts and combinations began.

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

Stained Glass from the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

Interior of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

 Beyond the Oriental Institute, I find the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel nearby.  Completed in 1928, this chapel’s Gothic architecture within the 265 foot long and 102 foot wide structure is what catches my attention.  Appalachian oak wood carvings that adorn the interior entertain me as I slowly walk through and take in the elaborate designs.  The floral stained glass brings my attention to the organ and pulpit, where the lectern has been carved with eagles.  Glancing back up at the windows, I’m intrigued to learn later that their designs are those of symbols of many meanings including humanity, creativity, and the cosmos.  It’s incredible to think how many symbols and elements can adorn the windows with a variety of concepts and ideas.

University of Chicago Campus

University of Chicago Campus

Exiting the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, I decide to take the time to wander through the University of Chicago Campus.  It might not sound like such an interesting idea, but seeing all of the ornate architecture, I find it’s necessary to satisfy my curiosity.  The campus of this 125-year-old university is nothing short of spectacular.  Walking through the gardens and past brick and stone towers and buildings, I’m taken back to my college days as a group of students walks past me, perhaps for a late orientation.  I begin to recall how I awkwardly stumbled through the social life of college, wishing now I had done things differently, but I’m reminded it’s never too late to start.  I’m finding education can happen anywhere at any time and that you never stop being a student.  Learning never ends, as the university’s Latin motto suggests: rescat scientia; vita excolatur  “Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.”

Although I could stay much longer wandering through and finding more buildings throughout the University of Chicago, I know my long commute home on public transportation will not allow me to stay as long as I wish.  It’s towering and elaborate architecture has become a reminder of life-long learning and how it will continue just when you think you’ve got everything figured out.  Thinking back to my college days, I occasionally wonder how my alma mater, now Colorado Mesa University, has changed and what it will look like next.  College campuses may not be a main tourist attraction, but the wonders of University of Chicago should be on your list in order to rekindle college memories and inspire life-long learning.

Hours and Location

The University of Chicago Campus: 5801 S. Ellis Ave.

The Oriental Institute: 1155 E. 58th Street, Open Tuesday 10am-5pm, Wednesday 10am-8pm, Thursday thru Sunday 10am-5pm, Admission is free.

Rockefeller Memorial Chapel: 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave.

This post is part of Weekend Travel Inspiration hosted by Reflections Enroute and The Weekly Postcard hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond and City Tripping hosted by Mummy Travels and Wandermum.

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  1. Monika

    I wouldn’t have thought to take a trip to a university either. Now I’ll have to check some of them out the next time I travel somewhere.


  2. Shybiker

    I used to have the same attitude (why go back?) but have visited some larger schools and enjoyed it. This place sounds special.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      This campus definitely was special and I hope you get to visit sometime. Where were the other campuses you visited and enjoyed?

  3. Madame Ostrich

    Wow, that campus looks amazing! I’ve never thought to visit campuses, but as a blogger it might be a fantastic idea because of the tremendous scenery!


    • brooklyntvlasich

      I never thought it would be that impressive either, but I’m glad I listened to others’ advice and checked it out!

  4. You’re right, after graduating going back to school doesn’t seem like the most fun plan, but it looks like The University of Chicago was a beautiful place to visit! I absolutely love old churches, so I would love to stop and take in the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. It looks breathtaking!

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m glad I could inspire you to visit the University of Chicago someday! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Holly

    I really love visiting old universities – I love the universities in Toronto and in Hamilton. I would definitely visit the University of Chicago when I go there!

  6. Ruth

    I think going back to campus is a good idea. Several universities have world class museums open to the public. Other are full of architectural masterpieces. And, there are others like the Pepperdine University at Malibu from where the views of the sea are spectacular.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’ll definitely keep Pepperdine in mind if I’m in that area. I never thought about how many universities have great museums and other sites for the public to visit, but after visiting Chicago and Pittsburgh I see there’s lots of great opportunities!

  7. RobRob @TravelLatte(.net)

    We really enjoyed your post! We never thought of universities as vacation destinations either, but that changed after school visits with our then soon-to-be-freshman. We didn’t remember school looking so great when we were students, but now – those are some beautiful buildings and awesome memories! Thanks for sharing your visit! #wkendtravelinspiration

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting and connecting on Weekend Travel Inspiration! I’m glad you enjoyed my post and see how beautiful college campuses can be–mine wasn’t that way when I attended school either!

  8. Rhonda Sachs Albom

    Wow, looks stunning! Universities, who would have thought? New Zealand universities are very new, so wouldn’t be the best places to visit, but maybe next time we’re out of the country…

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I was pleasantly surprised myself. It makes me think I should return to my old college and see if it’s changed any!

  9. galanda23

    I love visiting University campuses. Some of them are quite outstanding and really worth the time. I’ve never been to the University of Chicago though. It looks great! Thanks for joining us for #TheWeeklhPostcard.

    • brooklyntvlasich

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! I’m always happy to be a part of the Weekly Postcard!

  10. Jennifer (Dr. J)

    I love touring college campuses! They have such great energy…Thanks for sharing…

  11. malaysianmeanders

    That chapel is beautiful and certainly much better than the one at my old uni campus. The museum would be a draw, too.

  12. Cathy (Mummytravels)

    How fascinating- I had no idea there was a campus like this to discover in Chicago. The Oriental Institute would definitely be high on my list when I (hopefully) visit – the city has tempted me for a while! I lived in a university town rather than having a campus so it’s very different feeling but still lovely to explore. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • brooklyntvlasich

      I’m thrilled I could inspire you with the University of Chicago campus! If you get the chance to explore Chicago, I would love to hear your thoughts on your visit.

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