Columbia, Chicago, & Crutches

Columbia, Chicago, & Crutches


My stylish crutches resting in front of 623 S Wabash Ave

Murphy’s law says Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I’m a first year Book and Paper MFA student that just relocated to Chicago in early September from Ohio and I’m here to share a Murphy’s law experience.

For months leading up to our move, my boyfriend and I often heard friends and strangers tell their crazy tales of stressful moves. I’m a bit of planner and a bit more of a worrier so I started early working on contingency plans for, well, just about everything that could go wrong. I dedicated myself to making our transition as smooth as possible. This included, but was not limited to, creating a make shift repair during a rain storm using a garbage bag and duct tape on the previously dented roof of our moving truck.

As we packed up the moving truck I recorded an impressive 61 flights of stairs on my fitness tracker in one day. It was all going smooth and finally after weeks of anticipation and very little sleep it was the morning of our move. We were on a tight timeline and our goal was to start the 5 hour drive at 6am in order to meet movers at our new place. Then, at 5:50am, Murphy’s law set in while I was taking out one last bag of trash. I fell down the last 3 steps exiting our apartment building twisting and landing on my right ankle and immediately hearing a pop. As sat on the ground stunned before the pain set, in it was clear a trip to the ER was in order. Luckily my ankle was not broken, it was only severely sprained. I could see the humor even then, after so many flights of stairs those last steps were the things I wasn’t expecting. As the nurse fitted me for the Aircast and crutches I’d be on for the next two weeks, I realized my new life in Chicago was about to get more complicated.

Navigating a brand new city and campus on crutches was a daunting thought. I immediately began to research my transportation options and scheme about just how exactly I was going to get around the buildings on campus. I watched copious videos about how exactly to walk using crutches and made futile attempts to make them more comfortable. After 10 days, I can assure you that life on crutches isn’t easy but it has been smoother than I expected. Here are few tips to help navigate accessible transportation and the campus.


Take an elevator to the train!

Chicago Transit Authority

The CTA has a very helpful Accessible CTA Services website where you can find information about which train stations have elevators. There is also a Station Accessibility Status website where you can check elevator and escalator working and non-working status alerts that might effect your commute. Once you are on a train or bus, people are generally willing to give up their seat, but if there are no free seats don’t be afraid to ask.

Overall my best advice is to allow for extra time to navigate the train stations until you are familiar with where the elevators are located. The elevators are not always the cleanest but they make life much easier. Fair warning, most of the elevator floors are linoleum and get very slippery when wet. If you’re on crutches or your balance is impaired, use caution on rainy days.

Columbia College Chicago Campus

I have to admit I haven’t had any issues getting around buildings or into classrooms. Columbia’s campus is spread over a few blocks and does require some walking between buildings. There is always the option of a Taxi or a ride sharing service to get around campus. Everyone has been very accommodating by opening doors and letting me on elevators first. Professors have even rearranged the seating to allow for easier access to my crutches. While I haven’t been able to go to all buildings on campus I’d again encourage you to leave extra time to plan for elevator locations. There is also a Services for Students with Disabilities Office that can help.

Don’t let Murphy’s Law get you down, one day even the craziest plot twists will make for a funny story!