Chicagoan Overseas Still Using Lake Michigan to Orient Self

BERLIN — When Chicagoans need to figure out directions, we often use the location of Lake Michigan to reorient ourselves. Despite being across an ocean and hundreds of miles inland, John Serio, a Chicago native visiting Berlin, continued to use the body of water to figure out where he was throughout his European vacation.

“We really wanted to see the Brandenburg Gate because I’m really into doric columns,” said Zoe Lopez, Serio’s traveling companion and a TikTok architecture influencer, “and John just starts spinning around. I asked him what he was looking for and he was just staring kind of southwest. He said ‘I think North Ave. Beach is right over there, so we should go this way.’ It was weird, but I got my pic with the dorics, so whatever.”


According to Lopez, Serio spent much of the trip finding Lake Michigan somewhere to his west in order to locate museums, hotels, attractions and even to give a taxi instructions to find a gelato place in Rome.

“This guy kept looking out the window, never takin’ his eyes off a one point, telling me where a to turn,” said Edoardo Abate, the taxi driver who picked up the couple. “I asked him how he got so good at directions and he just a said ‘Chicago’s built on a grid, the whole world is built on a grid when you think about it.’ Ok, buddy, whatever you a say!”

“Studies show Chicagoans attune to the location of the lake, like a homing pigeon does its roost,” said Dr. Jane Kowlinzi, 43, a researcher of Chicago Brains for DePaul University. “We’ve discovered that a Chicagoan away from the city thinks about the lake multiple times per day, where it is, what it smells and tastes like, how it might be feeling.” 


“You could drop them in the middle of the Amazon and they’d be back on Lake Shore Drive in a month. Unless they die. Knowing where Lake Michigan is at all times isn’t going to save you from a jaguar attack.”

As of press time, Serio and Lopez had returned from their trip and reported having a good time. Lopez said it was nice to never get lost while they were traveling, and by the end of the trip she was used to Serio’s habit of laying out a prayer mat and praying in the direction of Lake Michigan before bed.

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