Category Archives: Chicago info

MAPH City Farm visit – Prepare to get muddy!


Last year’s MAPH cohort at the City Farm

City Farm is an urban farm located in between the Loop and Lincoln Park, and is a start-of-year MAPH tradition of sorts. On Wednesday 9th September (four days before our opening BBQ and film screening!) we’ll visit the farm and volunteer for a couple of hours, hanging out with their chickens and weeding vegetables. In previous years we’ve found this is a great way to explore Chicago’s public transit for the first time, get out of Hyde Park, meet fellow MAPHers and do something active and helpful for the Chicago community. The visit to the City Farm is free and all new MAPHers are welcome. This will be the first of several MAPH service events throughout the year – for instance, in the past we’ve done trips to the Chicago Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity Build Days, which have proved to be great opportunities to get out the library and do something constructive within the community with fellow MAPHers and mentors.

On Wednesday 9th, we’ll meet in the MAPH Lounge at the Classics Building on campus before venturing up to the farm on public transport, so this is a great chance to start on the CTA and show off your new Ventra card (by the way, if you don’t have one already the best places to buy these are probably CVS or Walgreens!). After working in the garden (in comfortable clothes and shoes, sunscreen, and maybe a straw hat?), we’ll take the Red Line back down to Hyde Park together.

Below are some tips from City Farm themselves on what to expect from the day:


Green-fingered MAPHers on the City Farm (not pictured – green fingers)

Farming is hard work! Come prepared to get dirty and sweaty. You may expect to do things like:

  • Weeding (lots of weeding)
  • Tilling the soil
  • Hauling & spreading resources like compost, mulch, or straw
  • Picking up garbage (it is an Urban Farm after all!)
  • Washing equipment
  • Transplanting seedlings or thinning sprouts in the beds

What to Bring

It is super important to be prepared for the weather on the farm. In Chicago, the weather can be unpredictable! Make sure to check the weather the morning of your visit, but be prepared for a sudden change in temperature. It happens.

  • Boots are recommended (even in the summer!)
  • Headgear and/or sunscreen if you need them
  • A water bottle
  • Work gloves (we have extras of these if needed)
  • Rain gear (when appropriate)

What City Farm Provide


Weeding on the farm

We want your visit to be memorable, informative, and inspiring. Our farmers will give you a tour of our operation, including hoop houses, compost, wash/processing area, etc. before putting you to work. We’ll also talk about our mission and impact in Chicago. We’ll encourage you to taste the food that we’re growing. Plus, we’ll provide a snack.

Shoot an email to Jess at if you think you can make it, just so we can get an idea of numbers. We’ll meet outside the Classics building at 11am before embarking on an adventure on the 55 bus, Red Line and through downtown Chicago. We hope to see you there!

Your Mentors

I Just Got To Chicago! …What Do I Do? (Part 2/2)

Hey, MAPHers!  We here at MAPH Central are gearing up for the year ahead and can’t believe Colloquium is less than three weeks away!  It’s time to get excited and also to get prepared for the quarter to begin: it’s going to be a whirlwind!  Here’s your second installment of things to do once you get to Chicago:

Get a Bike


Despite the winter cold, for much of the year Hyde Park is an extremely bike-friendly neighborhood! Having a bike can cut down commutes within Hyde Park to just a few minutes and is a great way of beating rush-hour traffic. It’s also a great way to get to the Loop for free. Using the Lakefront Trail you can get from Promontory Point to Navy Pier in under an hour, and without crossing a single road. Bikes can be used to navigate the rest of the city, too: CTA buses have bike racks, and bikes are allowed on CTA trains during non-peak hours.

Cheap secondhand bikes can be found on Marketplace, Craigslist or at Blackstone Bicycle Works, a youth education program based at the Experimental Station just a few blocks south of campus. Blackstone is a bike shop dedicated to promoting ecological practices and empowering youth, teaching useful skills to young people from Chicago’s south side.

Chicago has a bike sharing system, Divvy, which offers a $55 student membership. You can also purchase a bike to use for just one trip. Be forewarned, though: if you don’t return the bike to another Divvy station within 30 minutes (which can be a tough deadline to meet – almost impossible if you are biking to the Loop) you will accrue overtime fees, which can add up. The bikes are also a bit bulkier than one you might purchase. All things considered, if you plan on biking regularly, purchasing a bike would be the better option.

Continue reading

I Just Got To Chicago! …What Do I Do? (Part 1/2)

Dear MAPHers,

Welcome to Chicago! Now’s the time that some of you are arriving in the city and beginning to settle in. Below, we’ve complied a short list of the top things to do when you arrive here, before Colloquium begins. You can read part 1 of 2 here, and check back here next week to find the second installment!

Your Mentors,
Jess, Michael and Clancey

  1. Get your University ID Card

Your ID card is an invaluable resource for your time at UChicago. It’ll get you into the campus libraries, allow you to check out books, allow you to access the university gym and the university pub (with a membership), use Student Health & Counseling Services, copy, print, scan or fax at various locations on campus (including the Regenstein library), borrow equipment for free from the TECHB@R, and ride the 170, 171, and 172 CTA buses and the UGoDaytime and UGoNightRide shuttles for free.

The good news is that you can get your ID card right now! You can collect yours at the Identification and Privileges Office, located in the lobby of Joseph Regenstein Library – just take a sharp left immediately before the electronic barrier that leads to the main part of the library. They’ll make your ID card for you for free; the whole process takes only a couple of minutes. All you need with you is a government-issued photo ID. The office is open weekdays until 6pm and Saturdays until 1pm.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading