Living in Chicago
How to thrive on a graduate student salary, by Emily Lacy
One of the exciting features of UIC is its location in the heart of Chicago. You might wonder whether it is feasible to live in Chicago on a graduate salary. I’m happy to say that it is! I currently live on the graduate salary and enjoy Chicago life without difficulty. Most students find it doable and manage to take advantage of the fun things that a bustling city like Chicago has to offer. TA contracts cover the months of September through May, and summer TA positions are often available as well. With a little budgeting, I’ve lived here comfortably and enjoyed the city for a few years now. Compared to most other major metropolitan cities, Chicago is fairly affordable. Rent can be affordable if you share the cost, and the university has a message board to help locate other students seeking housing. Some of our graduate students room together near campus. Each year a graduate student acts as a liaison for incoming students, so that person can help you navigate your housing search and answer other questions you may have about living in Chicago.
There are some other student amenities that help make living here affordable. Our student fees provide a pass for unlimited rides on the trains and buses during the school year. Chicago’s public transit is easy to navigate and fairly reliable, and it is a good city for bike riding as well. Many students and faculty in our department choose to bike to campus, and for occasional bike riding, there is a bike share program in the city. Our fees also provide us with CampusCare health care at an affordable price (including dental and vision care). During the year our fees cover access to the campus gym, which has two different locations (and they’re nice!).
The philosophy department provides students shared offices and a nice department lounge and library, so there is never a problem finding a quiet place to work. Some of the city’s historical buildings can make beautiful study spaces as well.
With a Chicago Public Library card, anyone can borrow a museum pass, and student discounts can help with museum prices as well. There are often free events around the city like open studio and gallery nights, live music, parades, and festivals. During the summer the city doubles up on free activities like movies and performances in the parks. There is no shortage of opportunities to experience Chicago’s culture and history! Here are some links to event calendars, from Time Out Chicago and Chicago Reader.
Feel free to ask the department administrator, Kei Hotoda, 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.