Category Archives: Chicago info

Welcome, MAPH class of 2016!

Hi new MAPHers,

Welcome to the MAPHtastic blog, your source of information about all things MAPH! We are your three program Mentors, Michael, Jess, and Clancey, and we will be updating this blog throughout the year with event information, advice on making the most of your year at UChicago, suggestions for things to do around the city, and occasional fun links. We will also be posting periodically on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All three of us graduated from the program back in June, and are really looking forward to working in the MAPH office this year as a resource for all of you. We are here to help you navigate the exciting, hectic year you are about to embark upon, plan fun social events and offer advice on anything and everything from choosing electives to choosing lunch. Feel free to stop by and say hi whenever you get to Chicago! We will be here through the summer in the Classics Building 117, and you can email us at,, or

We can’t wait to meet all of you, and in the meantime here’s a little about us.

Where are you from?
Clancey: Born and bred in the Midwest. Originally from East Lansing, MI.
Michael: I grew up on a farm in Bristol, TN and lived for several years in Athens, Georgia.
County Durham, in the north-east of England, UK.

 What’s your favorite Hyde Park breakfast spot?
Z&H! Try the Fleegle on a croissant (nutella and banana) and an almond milk latte.  It’s a decent place to study if you don’t mind a little noise, and the staff are super friendly!
Clancey: My kitchen: espresso with sugar and an egg bagel sandwich with scrambled eggs, avocado, tomato, cucumber, (very) sharp cheddar cheese and red pepper jelly.
Omelets and coffee at Salonica on Blackstone and 57th, every time.

What are you currently reading?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and I just finished rereading Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.
Jess: Dreiser’s Sister Carrie for the MAPH summer reading group, and also whatever I find in the free books section outside Powell’s.
Michael: Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and Intention by G.E.M. Anscombe.

What did you do before MAPH?
Jess: I lived in Hong Kong for a year and a half between undergrad and joining MAPH where I worked as an English teacher, before taking the trans-Siberian railway and a lot of different megabuses home.
Clancey: In the summer in between MAPH and undergrad, I traveled abroad and worked as a barista.

Ask me about…
Thrift stores and $1 milkshake Wednesdays.
Clancey: Tupperware and bad puns.
Michael: Classical music and opera in Chicago.

What’s your favorite bookstore?
In Hyde Park, definitely Powell’s. I’m also a big fan of Myopic Books in Wicker Park, and, a bit further afield, Brick lane Bookshop in Shoreditch, London.

What are you doing this summer?

Your program mentors.

Your program mentors.

Michael: Hanging out at the Lake, starting way too many books and finishing far too few, going on excursions to other neighborhoods, running, practicing Ravel’s Tzigane on the violin, and making many pots of New England Coffee in the MAPH office.
Running, cycling, exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and going to free events in Millennium Park, with occasional road trips around the Midwest.
Clancey: Reading, traveling around the Midwest, cooking lots of summer squash and trying to convince preceptor Matt Hauske to go bowling.

What was your most recent museum trip?
Art Institute of Chicago.  Definitely one of my favorite (if not my #1 fave) museums in Chicago!  Students get in free with a student ID.  The current exhibit “Charles Ray: Sculpture, 1997-2014” (open through October 4th) is absolutely amazing and warrants a visit in itself.  Since the Art Institute is right next to Millennium Park (where the Bean is!) and a short walk from Grant Park and the river, it makes for a great first outing in Chicago.

What do you wish you’d known last September?
There’s no reason to be so nervous. I entered MAPH with high levels of anxiety and nervous energy, much of which remained with me long into winter quarter. I spent a good deal of time worrying and less time enjoying the things that make me happy.
Jess: Trader Joe’s exists.

Lastly, do you have any Chicago winter survival tips?
Jess: Layers, hats and coffee from the MAPH office are all pretty much essentials.
Michael: Take some time to exercise!  Winter can keep you cooped up, inactive and listless.  Visit the Ratner or do some yoga at home.  Also, to make up for the lack of sunlight consider getting a UV lamp or just eating plenty of vitamin-D rich foods like salmon, mushrooms, and eggs.
Clancey: Winter is beautiful. Enjoy the snow and, whenever possible, walk everywhere.

Where everybody knows your caffeine

Spring Quarter is upon us!

In your last quarter of Maph, I recommend leaving Hyde Park and continuing to explore the city. Certainly, this can be hard to do. There are rainy days, thesis books, etc. But there are great places to study and work all over this amazing city.img-thing

Below are some great coffee shops and study spots. It is really worth it to get up early, hop on some public transport, and get a break from Hyde Park. Looking back, I wish I did this more last year. Although I am very much a coffee-minded person, these places also have great food, tea, etc.

For a Cozy Spot:

Ipsento– Guys, this place is incredible. They have the most phenomenal specialty and seasonal drinks (I recommend the chai), plus sandwiches named after authors. My Maph comrades and I went here a few times last year and it remains one of my favorite places!

( Right off the blue line)

1421256346Café Mustache – this coffee shop is close to my heart. I am not much of a latter drinker, but they have amazing lattes. This place just has a great vibe, too. It is cozy and weird and as such feels very Maphy, but with the adv Continue reading

Campus Days: If You Get Here Early

If you get to Chicago before Campus Days, or have some time here afterwards, below are some suggested spots and activities!

Within Hyde Park


Osaka Garden inside Jackson Park

Although this weekend your focus will likely be on the University, Hyde Park as a whole has a lot to offer. To enjoy some time outside, I strongly recommend Promontory Point, the east end of 55th Street. Promontory Point provides a beautiful view of downtown and of the lake. Further south is another beautiful park, Jackson Park. Jackson Park was created as part of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and still contains a lovely Japanese garden from the Fair.

Hyde Park also has several bookstores worth browsing. We have the Seminary Co-op (which is also next to one of Continue reading

9 Winter Life Hacks


Winter is here. Ned Stark warned us and now that it has arrived, we must face the cold, cold truth.

Although the Chicago winter is tough, it doesn’t have to be entirely horrible. Below I have compiled Maph Central’s V.I.I. (Very Important Items) for the winter as well as some more general tips for the cold weather. Chicagoans, feel free to post additional advice in  the comments!


We will all become The Winter Soldier

Very Important Items:

Sarah: Scarves! “In Chicago it’s not the actual temperature that gets you, but the wind-chill. A scarf makes all the difference.”

Maren: Fleece-lined tights (or fleece-lined anything) and Glogg Winter Drink.

Kerri: Puffy Jacket. It may not look as cool as your wool peacoat, but it is time to embrace the sleeping-bag look.  Continue reading

Chicago Theatre Recommendations

Chicago is a fantastic theater town.  There are many big theaters, but there are great small theaters performing in church basements and storefronts. This is where real Chicago theater lives- in the performances where you could reach out and touch the actors. There are over 200 theaters producing great innovative work for almost every taste.  Most of them are listed at the League of Chicago Theatres.

Here is my basic quick guide to Chicago theaters and tips for seeing theater on the cheap.

Reviews appear in the Sun TimesTribuneChicago Reader and TimeOut ChicagoTimeout even has their “17 theatre shows to see this fall” article for some quick recommendations.

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Two Dos, Two Don’ts: Ta Da

Things To Do

The Personal Edition


Last week we posted a more practical To Do List, with things like IDs and immunization forms. Hopefully we can intersperse those activities with some of the more enjoyable aspects of living in Chicago. Read below for ideas of how to spend the last couple of weeks of summer and hopefully relax a bit before we dive into Colloquium on the 14th!

1. Read about Chicago! This is a great time to find out about events here and to pick a news source for the year. Check out Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, or New City. There are also the long-standing Chicago newspapers, The Tribune and Sun-Times.

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Chicagoland of the Free

In a past post we covered Chicago Transit- here is another chance to put it to use, with  free or inexpensive summer activities here in Chicago. Go forth and explore without breaking the bank!


Botanical Garden’s Employee of the Month


Chicago Botanic Garden:

Admission to the garden is free daily, though parking costs $25 dollars. So it is completely free if you bike. They also host concerts and other evening events. Continue reading

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A Guide to the North Side

As lovely as Hyde Park is, it’s useful and fun to get out into other Chicago neighborhoods throughout the year. We recommend trying a few during the summer after you move out here to see where your home-away-from-home in Chicago might be! To get you started, the office staff has thrown together a starter guide about a few of our favorite neighborhoods around town…

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One of the easiest and most reliable ways to get around Hyde Park is a bicycle. Even Chicago as a whole is pretty bike-friendly, with the beautiful path from Hyde Park up and along the lake to North Side neighborhoods like Lincoln Park. It is a beautiful ride and surprisingly fast, since there are no cars to wait or watch out for. Even just within Hyde Park, a bike can be a quick and easy way to get to campus, grab groceries, etc.


So, where are these so-called bicycles and where do I put my hands on those handle bars?

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The Transporter…. aka CTA

Chicago is a vast city with incredible neighborhoods, sites, and food. All year, we’ll encourage you to take advantage of this city and explore its many neighborhoods, from Lincoln Park to Logan Square to Chinatown (and beyond!).


Wicker Park Coffee Shop.

This post will help you navigate public transport in Chicago. Even if you have a car, public transit will help you get wherever you are going. (For those of you who already live here, feel free to post any tips or helpful info we may have missed down in the comments section). And your devoted Mentors can also offer directions, transport advice, and even correct some Google Map directions to and from Hyde Park! Feel free to email us or pop into the office for additional info.

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