Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Year as a Foreigner

My application to Northwestern was a spur of the moment decision made later than the normal time.  When the acceptance letter came, I was told the dorm rooms were full, but if I would agree to live in the “Foreign Student Home,”  I could come to school in the fall.

“Foreign Student Home. Sounds like an adventure. Yes!”, I smiled.  So I unpacked my bags at the Victorian mansion on Orrington Street eager to meet my new exotic friends. Here were the others who showed up that day:  several girls on music scholarships, most from Chicago, some of them black(!); the rest like me, the dormitory overflow.  Not a foreigner among us.

My roommate Joy was a tiny blond girl from the southwest suburbs.  She played the piano like a dream.  All the music girls were talented.  The practicing and the jam sessions went way into the night.

On Friday and Saturday nights Joy played piano at a bar on the “wet” side of Howard Street.  That was the dividing line between Evanston (dry) and Chicago.  We soon found out the hard way (being kicked out of bars in Skokie), that the Howard Street place was the only one that would seat our little integrated group.

Looking back on that fabulous year, I guess that the black and white friendships developed on Orrington Street were a pretty foreign adventure at that.



  1. Very good blog. So foreign meant Black? Was that term used elsewhere that you are aware of?

  2. Wish there was a "like" button to push for this blog :).

  3. A really good blog, Joan. Where I grew up in Palos Heights, blacks were definitely looked upon as "foreigners", and still are.