Week 7:
Hyde Park, My Home

Massey Fellow in Development & Civic Empowerment

The Obama Foundation | Chicago, Illinois

March 5, 2019

Being in Chicago has been an extremely rewarding and reflective experience for me. I’m learning to be alone, and devote time to things I love, like cooking and reading, without feeling the pressure of academics. I have free reign over my schedule and am learning to yield my personal time to valuable experiences and productive spurts. I’m comfortable in an office setting, which is something I previously believed I would dislike. And even though I’ve spent plenty of time without my family, it never gets easier, and that has been reaffirmed this month.

This is the entryway of the museum of the DuSable African American History museum in Hyde Park.

In a new city, it’s easy to isolate and hide from the outside, especially when the outside is cold and gray. I knew that I didn’t want to live alone, I wanted to continue my roommate lifestyle. And that has been so positive for me, and each night I get to cook and chat with three people that I found through the internet, and have been a significant support system for me.


Hyde Park feels like it’s own small city within a city. You can stay in the area and it has everything you need. The danger, of course, is the ease with which I can stay here, and not explore all of Chicago. But because the University is nearby, there is always something to do. I love trivia nights, even if the UChicago teams are intimidating. The coffee shops are great weekend productivity bubbles for me, and all of the different restaurants are a treat. I’ve so glad I decided to live in the area, instead of commuting an hour each day.

This is the Robie House near the UChicago campus.

There are so many Cornell comforts that I appreciate more now. I no longer eat breakfast in the company of my Cornell Breakfast Club, and my mornings feel a bit slower because of it. Home is no longer just five minutes away from any spot on campus, I can’t forget anything when I leave for the day. My professors aren’t nearby to offer me readings and advice, two things I feel would be wonderfully useful at this point in my experience. Now, the Hilltop Cafe sounds too good to be true, and I would be happy to wait in the Sunday pancake line right now. I miss my roommates, Ellie, Ethan, and Mason, all of whom care for me in different and wonderful ways. I have so many connections and memories at Cornell, and writing this, I now feel like the senior nearing graduation. I am nostalgic and grateful.

The windows within the Robie House are designs by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Cooking and baking have been so helpful to me these past two months. It is relaxing and healing to create tasty meals, even after a long day. It never feels burdensome or annoying. In this way, I feel very connected to my dad. He is always creative in the kitchen, trying new recipes and working to perfect a pizza dough recipe. I sincerely owe all of my culinary talents to him and Rachel Ray. My dad has encouraged me to cook, to learn how to feed myself, not just PB&Js but yummy meals. This talent has helped me make friends with my roommates and has provided me with my own productive form of self-care.


My family is coming to visit next week. I am so looking forward to eating good food and sharing all of my time with them.

Elizabeth Mombello '19

Elizabeth is a sociology and Spanish major from Overland Park, Kansas.