Chicago 101

Chicago 101


The Fall semester begins Tuesday, September 8. It’s still roughly a month and a half away. But to the new members of the Columbia College Chicago family, it may feel so much shorter—especially if you’re doing what I did and moving into the city a month early.

Nine out of the 11 members of my cohort traveled from other states to attend graduate school here. Adjusting to any new place can rough; adjusting to a city the size of Chicago can be downright overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Below are three tips to help you settle in quicker once you’re all moved in.

When I say “lifesaver,” I mean LIFESAVER.

1) Purchase a Ventra Card

Once the semester starts, you’re going to be given a U-Pass—the blessing that is the student version of the public transportation fare card. Approximately $100 of the money you’re paying in all that tuition and fees money no one ever really breaks down funds this card. It will give you unlimited access to the Metro train and bus during the entire time Fall and Spring semesters are in session. But, if you’re arriving in the city before school starts and plan on traveling, you should go ahead and buy a Ventra Card. Even if you have a car and think you plan on driving everywhere—trust me, you’ll see how much parking costs and then head to your nearest Ventra retailer.

2) Be a Tourist

I’ve now lived here two years and only visited the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time LAST WEEK. Do not be like me. See the city. Experience the city, preferably before school starts because once it does you will NOT have time. If you’re not sure what to see or do, have on one of those double-decker bus tours—they’ll drive by plenty of options.


3. Connect with Columbia

You may be thinking that you don’t want your social networking timelines spammed with a lot of Columbia College Chicago things that you aren’t even sure you want to be a part of yet anyway. But trust me. It will come in handy. All sorts of events and random Columbia College Chicago-related news can be discovered this way. Although your cohort size may be small, do not be fooled. Columbia College Chicago is huge! A great place to start is by following:

  • @KWKimColumbia – this is Columbia College Chicago’s President Dr. Kim’s Twitter handle. Check out who he follows for some other great Columbia College Chicago handles
  • @ColumEvents – this Twitter handle posts about events listed on the college’s events calendar
  • @DCWCCC – this is the Twitter handle for Columbia College Chicago’s Department of Creative Writing. A great communications resource for the department, this handle can link you to the professional Twitters of DCW faculty and staff, as well as keep you updated on literary news, scholarships, and submission opportunities.

These are just a few tips that were either helpful to me as I transitioned to both Chicago and Columbia or things I wish I’d known. Feel free to discover and share your own tips too!