So you’ve rolled into Chicago (or you’re about to in the near future). You’re probably wondering, what do I do with all my time? Classes don’t start until mid-September, summer is at its finest (this 70 degree weather is MAGICAL), and you’re starting to explore the city—what’s next? Here’s a list of things that I wish I had done before starting my MAPH year.
10 Things You Really Rather Ought to Do Before Classes Start:
1. Get a CTA card. Unless you’ve devised a teleportation device, you will use transit. Often. Even if you have a bike. Even if you have a car. Parking downtown is a nightmare, and sometimes it just makes more sense to take the train (like if you say want to go to the bar and have more than one drink per hour). Got your card? Now hop on the 6 and head downtown! And don’t forget: the Metra Electric isn’t covered by your card, although it is very fast and sitting on the second floor of a train is always a delight.
2. Get a public library card. There are lots and lots of locations, and if you’re already exploring downtown Chicago, Harold Washington is right there on State Street. There may come a time when you haven’t purchased or borrowed a book for class in time, and the UChicago library will have no copies available, and you will need an alternate source. » Read the rest of this entry «
How do you spend an entire weekend entertaining the people who spawned you?? … Have them take you out to fancy dinners, of course! What else are parents for?! (Oh, you know, besides emotional support, practical advice and general life-promoting things…) Here at MAPHCentral, we’ve compiled a few things we think parents and family will go gaga over – when they’re not going gaga over YOU IN YOUR FANCY CAP AND GOWN WITH THE ULTRA-PRACTICAL WING-BAT SLEEVES! » Read the rest of this entry «
This is it—you’re in the final stretch! Your thesis is due on Friday. To some of you I know that still sounds like a death sentence. You don’t feel ready at all to give up working on this thing that has been such a huge part of your life for the past months. It isn’t ready! This past weekend you thought of something that should really be an entire section of your thesis, but at this point you only have time to shoehorn it in the last few sentences, or just ignore it. You can think of about seventeen ways in which it could be so much better. Well guess what. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, because my preceptor said it to me—when it comes to the thesis, done is better than good. Perfect is the enemy of the great. Or, as my mother would tell me, it is time to put your thesis in a lockbox and send it to Jesus. Take your pick, I have lots of folksy advice for you guys. » Read the rest of this entry «
In town for Campus Days with time to fill? Don’t trust Yelp (We totally get it.) to guide you to a good meal and tasty beverages? Never fear. We in the MAPH office spend a lot of time in Hyde Park and we have plenty of suggestions (read: ironclad opinions) for where to go and what to do, whether you are on campus or roaming around the neighborhood. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good one.
First things first, just wander around. The campus is rarely prettier than it is in the spring; if the weather is good, a leisurely stroll through the arches and across the quads really can’t be beat. If walking around aimlessly is not your thing, or if you have exhausted your aimless walking possibilities and you want a specific destination, we are partial to the Oriental Institute. The collection is fantastic (and really, really old), the building is beautiful, and admission is free (although the museum suggests a donation).
Also worth checking out is the Mansueto Library,a giant glass and steel ellipsoid on 57th Street that contains fancy robots that brings you books by request from deep inside the earth. It’s really cool.
Go to the lake. More specifically, go to Promontory Point. (It’s a short walk from campus and well worth it.) Or go to the DuSable Museum. Or browse in one of the excellent bookstores that Hyde Park is home to: Powell’s, tons of used books at great prices (1501 E 57th St, Chicago, IL); 57th St Books, a great general interest bookstore in which to wile away the hours (1301 E 57th St Chicago, IL 60637); The SeminaryCo-op, one of the best books stores in the whole wide world (5751 South Woodlawn Avenue).
Z&H (1323 E. 57th St) has tasty, tasty sandwiches and good coffee. Bonjour Bakery (1550 East Hyde Park Blvd) makes a mean croque monsieur and really good croissants. Rajun Cajun (1459 E. 53rd St) Despite its misleading name, this place has tasty Indian food. Oh, the samosas! Valois (1518 E. 53rd St) is a classic cafeteria and a Hyde Park institution.
Robust (63rd and Woodlawn), The Sip (5301 S Hyde Park Blvd), the aforementioned Z&H, and Café 57 (1520 E. 57th St) all serve pretty good coffee (Z&H is the best, in our opinion.)
There are a couple of good bars in Hyde Park (they are dive-y in a pleasant way). The Cove (1750 E 55th St) has a fun jukebox and darts and foosball. Jimmy’s (Woodlawn Tap) (1172 E 55th St) is just a few blocks from campus and has cheap burgers and fries. It’s a classic college-town bar.
If you want still more suggestions, just email us. We will be happy to point you in the best direction.
As I’m sure many of our current Hyde Park denizens are aware, 53rd Street has been undergoing drastic and exciting renovations! Here are some highlights from the changes that will happen, and in some cases have already happened, on 53rd Street.
You know how we have been telling you all since Colloquium to use this year to think about your professional life, as well as your academic life? Well, this time we really mean it. Now that the bulk of Winter Quarter is behind you, it is time to seriously consider—and more than consider, actually take action on—your post-MAPH plans. You will hear a lot of moaning and groaning from us over the next few months begging and pleading with you to come talk to us about resumes, cover letters and all other things “job-application-y.” These are all things that you should do. And while a great burden will befall you come June 15th, MAPH tries to alleviate some of this stress by offering paid (yes, you read that right: PAID) summer internships. » Read the rest of this entry «
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been so happy to meet the few of you who have trickled on into MAPHCentral to introduce yourselves. If you’re already in Hyde Park, stop on by to say hello! (We’re lonely, too, you know.) You can find us in Classics 117 and someone is usually here from 9:30-3:30, Monday – Friday.
For the few of you who have already packed up your lives and moved to Hyde Park, we thought it might be nice to give you a crash course in Chicago living and to give you a few ideas for occupying yourselves during what can certainly feel like a period of limbo. Some of you might have moved to Chicago a few weeks early to get settled into your apartment and traverse the city. Well, now that you’ve hung your curtains (aka, thumb-tacked bed sheets above your windows), it’s time to get out there and explore! A leisurely pre-MAPH summer can feel a little purgatorial, but it’s more likely a well-deserved break/good time to rest up before the year actually begins – and boredom can be a great motivating factor for doing some things you might not otherwise!
For Chicago exploring and general galavanting, check out timeoutchicago.com – they have some great (cheap) events and things are mostly organized by day, so you can almost always find something to do. This is the first of many MAPHtastic posts to come, but if you’re already in Chicago (or just freakishly obsessive about finding awesome things to do when you do arrive) we suggest exploring all of the archived treasures from previous years! Start with posts from August 2011 for some ideas on what kinds of things to do in the summer, and explore from there! We are particularly fond of the post about the Milwaukee Ave Coffee Shops – great places to chill out with some non-required reading or a crossword puzzle. Plus, The Wormhole has a DeLorean and how kitsch-ily cool is that? If you accidentally activate the Flux Capacitor and travel to 2015, track yourself down and shake your own hand: you now have a Master’s Degree! There are also plenty of other things to do along that strip once you start to feel over-caffeinated. If you’re more of a free-spirited galavanter (that’s a word, right?), just hop on the 6 Bus and head to the Loop, where you’ll have access to almost all of the El trains in the city.
Also – did you know that Chicago has beaches?! And nice ones at that. In fact, one of the best beaches in the city is in your own backyard. Head on over to Promontory Point on Lake Shore Drive between 55th and 57th Streets to soak up all the UV rays you can before those dark winter clouds start to settle over Chicago.
As more people arrive, we will be coordinating some events for early-arrivers sometime before the program starts – probably sometime towards the end of August. In the meantime, feel free to drop by Classics and say hi, give us book recommendations, tell us your moving nightmare story, and pick our brains about other ways to fill up your days! We know you might feel bored, but exploring Chicago now will make it easier for you venture out during your MAPH year, once Hyde Park starts to feel like:
It is somehow always the case that one can have time or money but never both at the same time. So now that you do not have to read 1000 pages every week what are you going to do in Chicago that doesn’t cost much money? Well the lakefront, the parks and biking are all great options, but below are a few more you might have missed.
Museum free days
Most of the museums in Chicago have free or discounted days or offer student discounts
You can still use your Artspass, check the link for the discounts and partner institutions.
The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents on June 7, 8, 11.
Field Museum check back here for discount days. They list them throughout the summer.
Adler Planetarium has discount days on June 7th and 8th perfect if your family is arriving early for convocation.
The Shedd Aquarium has Illinois resident discount days on June 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. If you bank with Bank of America you get discounts on July 7-8 and Aug. 4-5 by showing your bank card.
Students get into the Art Institute of Chicago for $12 any day and the first and second Wednesday of every month are free for Illinois residents.
On Navy Pier there is actually a free Stained Glass Museum which has great works and is not as populated as the rest of the pier. You could stay for the free fireworks if you are braving a day on the tourist-y pier.
Also did you know that if you have a Chicago Public Librarycard you can check out museum passes from any branch? Just make sure you get to the library early. The passes go quickly. The library also has lectures, readings and performances so check their calendar.
Very soon your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, lovers, etc. will be descending on Chicago like a swarm of buzzards, ready to spend the last weekend of your MAPH career asking you about job searches, moving plans, and your love life. Even those of you who are secretly (or outwardly) excited to have your parents here in a few days might just be clamoring for them to leave by the end of the weekend, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Chicago is a bustling city and it’s going to be even more bustling this weekend with the huge annual Blues Festival and the CPAC conference (which is why we were bugging you to book hotels so early).
So, our advice is to start thinking now about how to entertain your guests this weekend during the actually extensive downtime between convocation events. Oh, and right off the bat, if you haven’t made reservations for dinner Friday or Saturday yet, DO IT NOW. We put some restaurant recommendations in the Convocation timeline post, but come see us if you’re still deciding.
In the meantime, here are some helpful ideas for actual places to go and things to do (not restaurants) around town with your folks this weekend:
1. Chicago Blues Festival: The festival runs from June 8th-10th in Grant Park and is phenomenal for so many reasons. First, it’s FREE. You can wander into Grant Park pretty much anytime between 10:00AM and 9:00PM any day of the festival, pop-a-squat on a plot of grass and listen to some high quality blues music. Or, if you do feel like spending some money, you can buy some food tickets to get Robinson’s Ribs (Remember that delicious food we served you during the Opening BBQ last summer? Yeah. That was Robinson’s.), complete with corn on the cob and mac and cheese. Yum. Or, go classy and bring a blanket and a little cooler with a bottle of wine, some brie, and some baguette for your very own “outdoor mini-Social Hour” with your folks. They’ll be so impressed.
2. Green City Market: Hands down one of the best farmer’s markets in the area. It runs on Saturdays from 7:00AM-1:00PM and it located at the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1790 N. Clark if you want to map it). Seriously the best thing about the market is the location because there are so many other great things to do in the Lincoln Park area. Go to the market and grab a crepe or some pizza bread, maybe some fresh, local strawberries (just out as of last week) then sit and listen to the little jazz band that plays in the late morning. Then, you can wander over to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the little shops that line Armitage in Lincoln Park (Francesca’s, Paper Source, Art Effect, just to name a few). Oh, and if you’re stopping at Art Effect on Armitage, you HAVE to go to Annette’s right across the way. They have peanut better cup cookie dough ice cream. Yes, it’s all one flavor.
3. The Lichtenstein Exhibit at the Art Institute: You really can’t beat the Art Institute in terms of impressing your parents. It’s in the heart of downtown Chicago, right by Millennium Park and the building alone is worth a 15-minute ogle. Add the fact that they currently have an amazing Roy Lichtenstein retrospective up right now and you can get in for free with your UChicago ID. Your parents will marvel at their little cultured, frugal child. And, if you want the icing on the cake, hit the Chicago Architecture Foundation gift shop afterwards (right across the street on Michigan Ave.) for some early holiday shopping. Yes, I think about Christmas all the time.
4. Old Town Art Fair: This is one of the better summer art shows that comes through Chicago. First, it’s pretty huge (as in over 260 artists). Second, it’s in one of the cute, ritzy, old Chicago neighborhoods so it’s fun just to wander and look at the architecture, even if you’re not shopping for art. The main entrance is at the intersection of Lincoln and Wisconsin and it runs both Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend.
Hopefully these suggestions will give you a jump start on plans this weekend. Don’t forget that Chicago is also home to a ton of amazing museums and a fantastic theater scene, so we’re always happy to give you more ideas if you need them!
There’s nothing like a preschool classroom at Circle Time. You’re lucky if you can maintain your bright smile and upbeat tone while still being heard above the din. I look around at the children who, expected to sit cross-legged, are all in strange and impossible contortions that allow them to poke their friends, check out the kids playing outside, or grab for the blocks all while still, technically, keeping their feet on their designated dot. I raise my voice and hope to get their attention, starting in on the first verse of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” animatedly working my fingers to the motions in an attempt to encourage them all to join me. A few small voices pipe in, then a few more, louder this time. “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…”
And then, from the corner…Deshon. “So you fancy huh, so you fancy huh, so you fancy, huh?!?!” he sings, bobbing his little 3-year-old shoulders to his own beat. All I can do is sigh, and smile.
Let me begin by saying that I am terribly grateful and horribly under-qualified to be bequeathed the honor of a post on the MAPHtastic blog. So often Maren and the mentors serve to inspire me, entertain me and, on rare occasions, dry my tears of despondency through the words they offer here, and its quite the intimidating task to follow their pens (or keystrokes?). That said, I’ll do my best to inspire, encourage… most likely just entertain… in the words that follow.
The MAPH program’s focus, obviously, is on offering a stellar intensive Masters education to a group of students with vastly broad interests. This is a massive undertaking in itself, especially considering the bureaucracy institutions such as universities can often be. Assisting students in navigating this minefield, and encouraging and supporting them in their passions and interests all the while, is a huge job. This year, however, the MAPH program has renewed their efforts to include another aspect of student life into the fold of MAPH-supported initiatives…that of service.
The mentors and administrators have included service opportunities and community projects alongside the social and academic events on the MAPH calendar, offering students the chance to mobilize outside of the classroom. The benefits to participating in such activities are too numerous to all be addressed here, but I believe there’s one benefit that’s overlooked and very much underappreciated by those of us who are often overwhelmed with the enormity of work enrollment in the MAPH program tends to bring, and that is the beauty of connecting the often abstract and speculative work you do in a graduate school environment with the concrete, unadorned reality of the world.