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Living in Chicago

Graduate Student Living in Chicago, by Emma Fieser

Living in Chicago as a graduate student has been an incredible experience. The city's unique blend of culture, vibrant neighborhoods, and academic opportunities can make your time here as a grad student quite special. What's surprising to many is just how affordable it can be to live here with some budgeting. With the TA stipend or Fellowships offered by the Philosophy department and UIC, I've been able to comfortably cover my cost of living, which includes rent, groceries, and even the occasional night out. Chicago's diverse food scene and countless free or low-cost events mean that there's always something to do. It's the perfect balance of academia and urban living, making my graduate journey not only intellectually fulfilling but also enjoyable in every sense.

There are many resources available that can help ease newcomers into city living. Housing in Chicago, particularly in the neighborhoods around the campus, can be on the expensive side. However, with the income from the TA stipend, it's entirely manageable, especially if you're willing to consider having roommates. Many of us in the department choose to share living spaces, which not only makes the rent more affordable but also creates a sense of community and camaraderie. Living with fellow graduate students has its perks – whether it's sharing tips on the best local deals or just having someone to chat with about academic challenges and triumphs. If you are interested in looking for housing and/or roommates, there are several places online for you to explore as well. The university has a page dedicated to students looking for housing. There are also several groups on Facebook such as UIC Housing, Rooms, Apartments, Sublets, and UIC Housing, Sublets & Roommates, that are a great place to look for housing in the area.

The university's provision of health insurance, CampusCare is a tremendous asset for graduate students. It offers easy access to affordable healthcare right (including vision and dental care) on campus, ensuring that your basic healthcare needs can be met. What's especially convenient is that the university allows students to opt-out of this insurance if they have their own coverage.

Public transportation in Chicago is very manageable and easy to use. It's not only incredibly cost-effective but also exceptionally convenient. The university offers a travel pass that provides unlimited access to buses and trains across the city, making it a breeze to get around. Whether it's commuting to campus, exploring different neighborhoods, or just venturing out for leisure, this pass has us covered.

Chicago's food scene is undeniably a bit on the pricey side, but the incredible variety and quality of dining options make it worth every penny. The city is a culinary paradise with restaurants offering cuisine from all corners of the world. There are plenty of websites and resources, such as the Chicago Eater, that can guide you to cost-effective yet delicious dining spots. These recommendations from fellow food enthusiasts help stretch your dining budget without compromising on taste. Exploring Chicago's food culture is an adventure, and with a little research, it's possible to savor the city's culinary delights without breaking the bank.

There is a lot to do in Chicago. While some activities may come with a price tag, being a student and resident in Chicago has perks. Many attractions offer special rates for students, making it much more affordable to explore the city's cultural and entertainment scene. Additionally, the cultural institutions in Chicago frequently host free days at museums, providing the opportunity to soak in art, history, and science without spending a dime. The university also provides discounts to certain places, which you can investigate here.

Feel free to ask the department administrator, Ian Buckley, for contact information for the acting Graduate Admissions Liaison, who can answer any questions about the department and living in the city as seen from a grad student's perspective.