Photographing the City: Discover Chicago 

All freshmen have the opportunity to become immersed in Chicago’s culture and landscape in their first quarter of DePaul through the Discover (or Explore) Chicago courses. 

For my course, I took “Photographing the City,” and these are my key takeaways from my experience: 

1. Be outgoing

The Discover course begins one week before regular class begins, meaning your peers in this class are one of the first groups of people you will be meeting.  It is a great opportunity to build relationships before the real hustle-and-bustle of classes begins.  I was able to meet a variety of people all at once. This is a great way to expand your circle early in your college career.

2. Take advantage of the immersive component

My class specifically was centered around photographing different neighborhoods of the city.  As an out-of-state student that didn’t know just how expansive Chicago is, this class put me ahead of the curve quickly.  I traveled to neighborhoods like Little India and Pilsen.  These neighborhoods are popular and great to explore but usually aren’t the first places newcomers go.  I am now an expert at navigating the city, often helping my friends who grew up here get around!

3. Take a class in a topic that interests you

I have always been interested in photography, but never really took the opportunity to dive deeper into the subject.  When signing up for courses, there were a lot of great options and I was thrilled to see a photography course.  I learned so much about Chicago and DePaul, while also learning about something that interested me.

4. Build connections with your professor and Chicago Quarter Mentor

Because I was interested in photography and knew that I was going to pursue that further, I made sure to make a good impression of myself to the professor.  You should do the same with all of your professors.  If you have a strong relationship with them, they will be more than happy to help with anything you may need down the line.  Each Discover/Explore course also has a teacher’s assistant, known as the Chicago Quarter Mentor.  3 years later, I still keep in contact with my mentor.  He gave me so much insight into life at DePaul, living in Chicago, photography, and any other life advice I could think of.

5. Have fun!

As I enter into my last quarter and reflect on my first quarter, starting with the Discover course, I realize just how fast it did go by.  I have been able to grow and change throughout my time here at DePaul and it is bittersweet thinking back to my first course, the people that I was with, how we all have now changed.  Soak in every class because you will be done with them faster than you think! 


Learn more about Explore and Discover Chicago!