Things To Do

Living in Chicago offers an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in art, theater, dance, music, food, sports and more. No doubt you’ll discover your own favorite places, restaurants and activities, but here are some apps, websites and recommendations to get you started.

Free Weekly Cultural Events

As part of Chicago Semester, you have an opportunity to enjoy an artistic offering each week –at no additional cost to you. Whether it’s marveling at the Joffrey Ballet, relishing the music of the Chicago Symphony or watching a compelling drama at one of the city’s many storefront theaters, you’ll have the time of your life.

Apps
Choose Chicago: Neighborhood by neighborhood, zero in on events, restaurants, theaters, museums and more.
My Chi Parks: Check out arts and cultural events happening year-round in Chicago’s 580 parks.
Favorite Activities & Places to Visit
Staff Picks

"

I encourage CS students to attend church services from different traditions, including at Chicago Temple, where I work and am a member. Like the rest of the CS staff, I have a favorite food spot. Mine is Exchequer in the Loop, named “Best Pizza in Town” by CBS Chicago, although there are plenty of competitors for that title.

"

– Erik Nussbaum, MM

Faculty

Staff Picks

"

I love exploring theater and performing arts in the city, especially Goodman Theatre and the Green Mill. Check out the Chicago Reader for listings of events searchable by price, type, location and date. I’m also a foodie and love going to Chinatown for the best dim sum I’ve had outside of Hong Kong, at MingHin Cuisine. Be sure to go with a hungry group of six to eight people!

"

– Hannah Kiefer

Coordinator of Internship Placements & Alumni Engagement

Staff Picks

"

I love to enjoy the many great free things to do outside in Chicago, like the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ series. I also love to hunt for the best coffee and donuts in Chicago. You can’t go wrong with the Dark Matter Coffee and Do-Rite Donuts at Star Lounge Cafe!

"

– Kendra Wright, MSW, LSW

Director of the Social Work Program & Strategic Program Initiatives

Staff Picks

"

I have a couple great spots to enjoy three of the best parts of Chicago: music, theatre and food! Check out Buddy Guy’s Legends in the Loop. They have free acoustic dinner music every night, free lunch music on weekends and the jazz patio is free from 5-8 p.m. on Sundays. I also love catching an improv show at the iO Theatre in Lincoln Park.

"

– Lisa Hensey, PhD

Student Teaching Program Director

Staff Picks

"

I love the outdoors, so I recommend walking (or biking) the lakefront path and The 606 trail. I also enjoy spending an evening at one of Chicago’s great parks for movies or a concert, and going to Northerly Island for awesome views of the skyline and lake.

"

– Mackenzi Huyser, PhD

Executive Director

Staff Picks

"

I enjoy summers in the city the most! I especially love weekend neighborhood festivals that get me outdoors and into different neighborhoods. Checking out the different farmers markets around the city is also a favorite activity of mine.

"

– Michelle McClure, DNP, FNP-BC

Nursing Program Director

Staff Picks

"

I love to attend concerts at Chicago’s various venues and music festivals. It’s a great way to explore the many neighborhoods! A couple of my favorite venues are the Aragon Ballroom and Thalia Hall.  I’m a big fan of the outdoors and yoga, so I really enjoy the outdoor yoga classes offered every summer in Wicker Park. I’m also always down for pizza. My current favorite places (they are subject to change) are Roots Handmade Pizza, Piece Brewery and Pizzeria, and Chicago Pizza Oven and Grinder.

"

– Sara Van Gorp

Coordinator of Recruitment, Marketing, and College Relations

Expenses

Tuition & Room and Board

Chicago Semester is committed to making your Chicago experience as affordable as possible. You’re still considered a student at your home campus, so you pay regular tuition to your home institution. Most students, with a few exceptions, do not pay room and board to their home institutions. Instead, rent and utilities are paid directly to one of Chicago Semester’s partner housing sites. Our housing costs are highly affordable compared to market rates in Chicago and on college campuses. You will also budget for and prepare your own meals, rather than participating in – and paying for – a meal plan. As a result, the total amount of money you spend during your Chicago Semester experience depends on your individual budget and personal preferences.

Monthly Expenses
Rent and Utilities
$575-675 per month
Cost per person
Food
$200 (estimated)
Includes food eaten inside and outside your home
Entertainment
$20-300 (estimated)
Range Based on Student Preference
Miscellaneous
$50 (estimated)
Total Monthly
$820-1200
(estimated)
Total Semester Living Expenses
$3,200
(estimated)
Budget Planning Tips

It’s never too early to begin budgeting for your Chicago Semester Experience. Here are some factors to consider:

  • How much do you plan to cook/eat out? – Your internship schedule along with your class homework may impact how often you cook in the evenings. No doubt you’ll also want to sample different restaurants around the city.
  • What activities interest you? While there are plenty of free activities, many museums, concerts, festivals, sporting events and other special events charge varying admission fees.
  • How often do you shop? From large department stores to eclectic neighborhood shops, Chicago has a lot to offer, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  • How often do you do laundry? Laundry costs $1.25 to $1.75 per load to wash and the same to dry, depending on which housing site you choose.
  • Would you like to purchase a gym membership? Chicago Semester partners with Moody Bible Institute, where you can purchase a gym membership for $40 for the fall or spring semester – a real steal in Chicago. Summer program students can shop around for the best deals on local gym memberships.
  • How often will you use Uber/Lyft? You’ll receive a Upass at the beginning of the semester, which provides free transportation on any bus or train in the city. However, there may be times when you prefer to take an Uber or Lyft.

Housing

During your experience in Chicago, you have the opportunity to live in our housing partner site at an exclusive affordable rate, Canterbury Court Apartments. Canterbury is located in a vibrant, easily accessible neighborhood. Once you’re accepted into the program, simply complete your housing application and roommate questionnaire, indicating if you would like to live in Chicago Semester housing or if you have arranged your own housing in Chicago. We’ll take care of the rest.

Canterbury Court Apartments

Location: In Chicago’s upscale Gold Coast neighborhood, steps from restaurants, stores, arts and entertainment venues, and museums. You’re just a short walk from Lake Michigan and the CTA Red Line.

Amenities: Fully furnished (including essential bedroom and living room furniture). Rent includes Wi-Fi and all utilities except air conditioning. Optional A/C is available for $160 per room per month. Laundry on-site. Optional gym membership ($40 fee for the spring or fall semester).

Rent: $575 per month per person for the fall and spring semesters, $675 per month per person for the summer program.

Roommates: 1 to 2 roommates from Chicago Semester. You may choose your roommate or opt to be matched by Chicago Semester.

Frequently Asked Housing Questions

Can I live with family in the city?

Yes, you can live with family or friends who live within the city limits. We often encourage students to live in Chicago Semester housing to help further build their Chicago community.

Can I find my own housing?

Yes, you can. However, we highly encourage students to live in Chicago Semester housing to build community with their classmates and take advantage of our support system.

Is there parking near CS housing?

Yes, there is parking available, usually for a fee, near CS housing to allow for an easy move-in/move-out process.  

How do I pay rent?

Check with your home institution on the preferred method for paying your Chicago Semester housing expenses. In most cases, you pay rent directly to the housing site either by check, money order, traveler’s check or cash.

What additional items should I bring?

  • Linens (e.g., towels, twin-size sheets, blankets, pillows)
  • Kitchenware (e.g., pans, cookie sheet, plates, utensils)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Mini refrigerator (optional)
  • Containers for extra storage (or purchase as needed once you arrive)

Questions?

Ask Sara Van Gorp,
our Coordinator of Recruitment, Marketing, and College Relations

Whether you want to learn more about internships or anything else, from courses and the application process to housing and life in Chicago, Sara is here to help!

Read Sara's Bio
Say Hi

Transportation

You’ll quickly become a pro at navigating Chicago by foot, bus and train. As part of your tuition, you’ll receive a UPass which provides unlimited access to CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) trains and buses throughout the city. CS housing is close to train and bus routes, so you can easily commute to your internship, explore neighborhoods and get to the CS headquarters office downtown. We recommend that you leave your car at home and rely on public transportation. Chicago parking is challenging and expensive, even for seasoned city dwellers.

Getting Around
With these apps at your fingertips, exploring the Windy City is a breeze. (Fun fact: Legend has it Chicago’s nickname comes both from the strong gusts sweeping in off Lake Michigan and the hot air coming from its politicians.)
Ventra: Use this app to register your Upass. This allows you to add different passes (one day, three day, etc.) to your account for family and friends to use – no need to buy a separate Ventra card. You can also use the Ventra app to buy Metra tickets to travel to and from the suburbs, as well as track real-time arrivals and departures.
Google Maps: If you haven’t spent time in a large city, you may not be familiar with Google Maps’ transit function. It will notify you which public transportation route to take to get where you’re going, and when buses and trains are arriving.
Transit Stop: This app tracks when buses and trains are arriving at specific stations and stops. Check this app in advance to avoid long waits for buses and trains.
Uber/Lyft: Out late? Stuck in the rain while your bus is delayed? As an alternative to riding the CTA in certain circumstances, use the Uber or Lyft app to request a car to pick you up at your location and drop you off at your destination. Safety features allow you to send your pin location to someone so they can track you as you ride. The “Split Fare” and “Pool” functions, where you share your ride with other passengers, make Uber and Lyft more affordable options.
Divvy: Divvy, a bicycle sharing system, is another great way to get around the city, whether you’re looking for a fun activity to do with family and friends or eager for some exercise. Just find a divvy bike station, pay for your ride, and go. When your ride is over, return the bike to the nearest Divvy station.
Workshop: Navigating Chicago Made Easy
During orientation week, you will participate in a workshop on navigating Chicago and the CTA. Chicago Semester Staff will help you learn Chicago’s grid system, share the ins and outs of public transportation, and teach you how to map a route to your internship. We are also available to escort you to the Chicago Semester Office on your first day of orientation.
Frequently Asked Transportation Questions
What’s the difference between CTA, Pace, Metra, and Amtrak transit options? What will my UPass cover?
CTA: (Chicago Transit Authority) runs buses (routes 1-206), and elevated and subway trains, serving the city and nearby suburbs. Most routes run daily through late evening, every 10 to 20 minutes. You get unlimited rides with your student Ventra UPass while enrolled in the CS program.
PACE: (suburban bus system) runs buses throughout the suburbs (routes 208 and above). Major routes run daily through mid-evening, every 30 to 60 minutes. Fares are separate from your UPass, but you can use your card to pay/ride when you add additional fare in the Ventra app. Pace connects with CTA and Metra in dozens of locations.
Metra: (metropolitan rail) runs 12 commuter/suburban train lines from several downtown Chicago terminals to Chicagoland suburbs and cities. Most routes run daily and rush hour service is frequent; otherwise trains generally operate every 1 to 2 hours. Fares are separate from your UPass, but youcan buy Metra tickets in the Ventra app.
Amtrak: (national rail) operates trains on longer distance routes, including from Chicago to the East and West coasts, and to nearby Midwestern cities. Popular Amtrak destinations for CS students include Holland (MI), Indianapolis, Milwaukee and St. Louis. Tickets must be purchased on the Amtrak website and are not covered by or affiliated with the UPass.