Worried about moving to Chicago?

Adjusting to a new city can be difficult, especially a big one like Chicago! It can be tricky at first to make a big place feel smaller, but adjusting to the city as a resident is a start.

Oftentimes people back home will ask me, “So what do you do in Chicago anyway?” And my answer is pretty simple. Everything you do where you live, but in Chicago. I’m not at the bean everyday like most people might think. In fact, I would prefer not to visit the bean again in my lifetime. I have a mirror at home! I still have to do laundry, go to the grocery store, and make my bed. It’s just like your life, only I do my laundry in a vibrant city teeming with life all around me, and I can walk or take public transportation wherever I want. It’s like where you live, but a little more walkable and a lot more fun. The atmosphere and energy in the city is unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else, which is why I am so happy to call this city my home.

Chicago winters are the real Chicago. Summer in Chicago always feels like a dream because it is – we just escaped a cold snowy icy winter and are ready to enjoy the beauty of the city without a coat on. Summer in Chicago is magical. But winter in Chicago is the real Chicago, and people wouldn’t stay here if they didn’t secretly love it. Or at least bare it. So buy a coat, some gloves, and some extra gloves, because you’ll probably lose the first pair. Winter boots are good too, but unless the sidewalks aren’t plowed, you will see me in a pair of everyday shoes.

Chicago winters are full of amazing things. Ice skating at Maggie Daley, ice in the lake, standing under the heat lamps on the L platform. Each part of it is unique to Chicago, not to mention how breathtakingly beautiful the city looks covered in a blanket of snow. But there’s more to this city than just its weather.

Looking to feel more like a local? These are some of the things I learned when I adjusted to life in Chicago.

Food is one of the first things that comes to mind when it comes to Chicago culture. I hate to break it to you, but I only eat deep dish when out-of-towners are here. Otherwise, it’s regular food for me. A Chicago dog is a classic, but you won’t catch me at the Portillo’s off the Grand stop. I’ll grab a glizzy when I’m cheering on the cubs or at a local spot, but the fact of the matter is I’m not eating hot dogs and deep dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner like my friends back home think I might. I honestly do a lot of home cooking, but I enjoy venturing out to spots I’ve never been to before to try new things. I recommend trying the cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather’s and then trying them again the next weekend, because trust me, you’ll never get tired of them.

Chicago as a tourist is different from Chicago as a local. As a tourist, you stay downtown, visit the Bean, and eat out downtown every night. As a local, most of our time is spent in the neighborhoods that are more residential than the Loop or River North. Think of where the tall buildings are. Most people don’t live there. It’s funny because I like to say that living in the Loop is like living in the middle of nowhere because after 8pm everyone goes home and it’s a ghost town. So if you’re trying to decide between the Loop or Lincoln Park, I say Lincoln Park all the way. Most DePaul students live there, there is a stronger community, it’s safer, and most activities on campus happen there. It’s a great place to eat out, visit the lake or the parks, and you are surrounded by neighbors and DePaul students. People are always out and about, so you still have that city feel. Overall, Lincoln Park is a great place to live and you can’t go wrong with it.

The best part about Chicago is that when you stay true to yourself, that’s when the city embraces you the most. Here, it’s come as you are and you don’t have to change to fit in. Everyone is unique and here to do their own thing. So if you’re ever feeling worried about wearing the right thing or acting the right way, don’t! Here, you can be exactly who you are. Walk down the street eating lunch off a ceramic plate? Yup. Ride your bike blasting music out of your phone? Sure. Dressing up like it’s New York fashion week going to class? I wouldn’t bat an eye. Staying cozy in sweats and a tee? You do you. Chicago is such a vibrant and amazing city, and you bring yourself here only makes this place more authentic and beautiful.

~ Gracie

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