I was born and raised in a small town in southern New Jersey. It is two miles wide, and everyone knows everyone. What was it like, for me, a small towner, to make the choice to move to a big city like Chicago? The choice was the easy part, but transitioning into big city life was daunting. I had never lived more than 2 hours away from my hometown, my family, and I had never lived anywhere where using a car wasn’t the easiest form of transportation. So why Chicago, then? Why should I change my way of living and move halfway across the country? Well, the answer was simple: my dream.
Columbia College Chicago not only has one of the top filmmaking programs in the country, but also is strategically located in the heart of Chicago’s beautiful downtown (the South Loop). When I first visited Chicago, I instantly feel in love with its beauty. Chicago, unlike any other large city I’ve visited in North America, had a sense of spirit. In comparison to the likes of New York City, Chicago feels smaller. The buildings aren’t as tall and aren’t as smushed up against one another. Chicago feels like it breathes, where as New York feels like it is choking. Not to mention, Chicago is clean! It looks clean and it smells like fresh air.
All of this was important to me when making my decision to come to graduate school here. I needed a place that didn’t make me feel claustrophobic. My fear of big cities comes from the oppressive nature of New York City. I was concerned that Chicago would make me feel the same way, but it really hasn’t.
I also considered transportation. Due to budget, I wasn’t able to live in the South Loop. I had to look at apartments 30-40 minutes away from campus by train. Was I willing to travel up to an hour each way in order to get to class and work? The answer, simply, was yes. The Chicago Transportation Authority is a wonderful thing. There are trains accessible throughout the entire city, and they are reliable, timely, and safe (also clean!). If you can’t make it to a train, the buses work just as well, and can take you everywhere else the train can’t. I had never used public transportation in my life until I moved to Chicago (aside from one disastrous time on the New York City Subway). The system was incredibly easy to figure out, and riding the train turned out to be relaxing, and not scary as I had imagined it to be.
I currently live in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, which acts more like a suburb than anything else. I like being able to feel like I’m getting away from city life and relaxing on the outskirts, whether it is after class or on the weekends.
There are also many exploring opportunities around the city that I have taken advantage of. Chicago is known for their food, and as a self proclaimed foody, I like to try everything I possibly can.
Chicago has so much to offer, which trumped any of the daunting thoughts I had about moving here. It is a very livable city, and I feel safe and comfortable here.