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How to Do MAPH on a Budget: Part 2

MAPHletes! You are sprinting towards mid-quarter and keeping up a great pace! You’re starting to feel a bit of chill in the air, and it can be easy to just hole up in the Regenstein and study. (Note: studying is good and generally encouraged.) But while it’s still livable outside you might also want to explore more of Hyde Park and clear your mind. What better way to do so than with free stuff? To point you in that direction, here’s the second installment of Morgan Podraza’s “How to Do MAPH on a Budget.”  Enjoy!

10 Free Things to Do in Hyde Park:

blogpicAIf you live in Hyde Park, it’s going to be difficult to get out of Hyde Park during MAPH. For me, I was always thinking things like: “but that hour that I spend traveling back-and-forth could be spent in an attempt to understand what Lauren Berlant means by a slow death.” Don’t worry! There are plenty of great things to do in HP between paragraphs of LB.

The Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood Ave.)

This museum is located on campus and collaborates with scholars to “establish itself as a driving force for creative thinking through the arts at the University of Chicago.” The exhibits include Asian art, contemporary art, something referred to as “old master” European art, and modern art/ design.

The Oriental Institute (1155 E. 58th Street)


This museum is located on campus between the Quad and the Booth school. Not only does the Oriental Institute have amazing artifacts of the ancient Near East, including a statue of King Tut, but the museum also offers free programs and events throughout the year. An orientation week event, for example, is “Bulls and Buns:” get some of Anne Sather’s famous cinnamon rolls while you check out collections from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Israel!

Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive)

The Museum of Science and Industry is a great building with an interesting history, but it is also HUGE. The bottom level has an entire WWII German U-505 submarine. While the museum can be expensive to visit most days, there are a bunch of FREE DAYS. Just bring your student ID, and you can spend the entire day learning about everything from robots to humpback whales.

Promontory Point


Promontory Point (known also as The Point) has an incredible view of the city and is a lovely place to lay in the sun, or under the trees, and relax. The Point also has a few fire pits, which are the perfect places to eat s’mores and enjoy the company of other MAPHers, but you will need to either get there early to reserve a pit or potentially hang out with some other Pointers.


57th Street Beach (57th street and Lake Shore Drive)

As a New Mexican, I was so excited to live next to an actual body of water with an actual beach. 57th Street Beach is a lovely beach and a short walk from Promontory Point. Bring something cold to drink and a book to read (perhaps Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1) for a warm day in the sand.  (Editor’s note: our warm days might be behind us… But the Point and beach are looking beautiful in their autumnal dressings!)

Osaka Japanese Garden (6401 S. Stony Island Ave.)

blogpic3The Osaka Japanese Garden is a zen-like refuge from the fast-pace of Chicago and MAPH. While the Garden closed for renovations this past spring, I believe that it should be re-opened this upcoming spring.



The Arts Incubator (301 E. Garfield Blvd.)

The Arts Incubator fosters the relationship between public life and art through arts education, community events, exhibitions, performances, and talks. One of the weekly events that I enjoyed was Committed Knitters, where you can bring your coffee and current knitting project to meet other knitters and learn new techniques!

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 East 60th Street)

blogpic4The Logan Center is that crazy grey, glass building that stands across the Midway—my favorite building on campus. There is always something free to enjoy in the Logan Center: the Cabaret Series happens every other week and includes everything from string quartets to slam poets; every Sunday you can listen to music from the Sunday Song Styles performances in the café; and there are always exhibitions of contemporary art throughout the building.

The Experimental Station (6100 S. Blackstone Ave.)

The Experimental Station is located south of the Midway and hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events, including music, theater, art exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. It is also the home of the 61st Street Farmers Market, which happens every Saturday from 9AM-2PM throughout the year (even in the winter!).

University of Chicago Events

blogpicTake advantage of all of the amazing, free events that the University of Chicago offers students! There are so many events to enjoy on campus: the student circus, yoga classes, tea & pipes at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, lectures by world-renowned faculty, the Blessing of the Animals, Pet Love (the University brings therapy dogs onto campus, and you just pet them!), and more. To keep track of all the events and happenings, download the University of Chicago app.

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

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

GTFO (of the Library)!

Thesis day in the animal kingdom. So like us....

Thesis Day in the animal kingdom. So like us….

This weekend, there are two things happening (memorial day, amazing weather) and one thing emphatically not happening (your thesis). The three day weekend right after the thesis deadline is a pretty sweet deal. Also, on the day I turned in my thesis, I found $40 in a parking lot. I’m just saying, good things can happen this weekend.

The MAPH office has been looking forward to the three-day weekend for a while, and we’ve put together out thoughts on the best way to spend it – read on for suggestions!

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What I Talk about when I Talk about Winter Quarter


You’ve mastered survival of the polar vortex, you’re well on your way to producing a real live thesis proposal and awkward prom-date-style asking an adviser, and you’ve got a cheering squad of MAPH staff to support you as Winter Quarter kicks in.

That said, Winter Quarter can really SUCK. It’s dark, cold, and you’re being asked to do an INSANE amount of reading/papers/job stuff/general being human type things. While it’s easy to feel like you have time for absolutely nothing besides thesis and school, it is essential this quarter to stay healthy and balanced. 

1. Talk!

It can be incredibly helpful to talk to someone who is not also immersed in thesising. Looking for a way to get something off your chest, or not sure if it would be useful to talk to someone on a regular basis? Student Counseling offers a Let’s Talk program, which offers walk-in meetings with a counselor. Student Counseling also has resources for academic struggles like procrastination or developing speed-reading skills.

And as always, if you feel like you need to see another human, are looking for someone to complain with, or just want to say hi, come by the MAPH office anytime.

2. Cozy up! (But in a new place)3743579869_db4ed34dbe_z

At this point in the year, leaving Hyde Park (or even leaving the library!) can feel like a mini-vacation. Last year I set myself the goal of getting out of Hyde Park once a week, even if it was just to study in a new place. And while it may sound silly, those trips to distant coffee shops felt INCREDIBLE. It was like I realized that there was a great big world out there that wasn’t all thinking about (and possibly criticizing) my academic work. Also, Chicago is full of awesome places – it’s so worth your time to go check them out.

Some quick recommendations from Keri for coffee (at this point last year, I was consuming on average 6 caffeinated beverages a day, so I was starting to get picky): The Bourgeouis Pig  (tip: they have a limit on Wifi, so bring your reading), Filter or The Wormhole (nerdy!) in Wicker Park, and for those who can’t leave Hyde Park, Bridgeport Coffee has a location in the Hyde Park Art Center

3. Sunshine (from the indoors!)Why-is-it-still-winter-in-Sweden

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, although I’m not totally sure if I have it. Regardless, staying inside all the time in the dark makes me sad, but there’s no way I’m getting outside for a jog when it’s -5 out. Luckily, there are ways to get sunshine (and a healthy dose of Mother Nature) while staying indoors:

Garfield Park Conservatory – conveniently, MAPH is taking a trip to this lush and verdant (and free) place on 2/7

Lincoln Park Conservatory – this slightly smaller conservatory is right next to the zoo (and is also free)

-and of course, the giant space dome / egg library that is Mansueto – less plants, more work, but very sunny regardless

4. Bring balance to the force (or to your own life)

You may have already discovered this, but it’s pretty much impossible to do all the reading for classes AND work on your thesis AND sleep AND be an actual human AND maintain friendships AND look for a job. And that is OKAY. It is more important to maintain your mental (and physical!) health than to finish all the readings. Do enough of your work to participate well in class, and then TAKE A BREAK.

While you’re at it, put a ban on guilt: set a (reasonable) to-do list, and once it’s done, allow yourself a guilt-free work-free break. Exercise, knit, spend time with friends, meditate, go to Tea & Pipes, watch TV, read a book that is actually not useful in any way toward your academic work, do whatever you need to in order to give your brain time off from school.


You got this.

10 Things You Really Rather Ought to Do Before Classes Start

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. Continue reading

[You] Want to Ride [A] Bicycle


Those of you who have already arrived in Chicago have probably noticed a preponderance of bikers. While there are plenty of other transportation methods available, many Chicagoans find that the easiest and fastest way to get around the city is on two wheels.  Here are some resources that I’ve found useful while living here: Continue reading