I have come across thousands of ESL students in the United States and many of them are usually eager to tell me the places they have visited or the cities where they plan to study. Most of the time, I encounter students heading to San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Washington DC or Los Angeles. Fair play. These are all great cities.
But why not study English in the Windy City? That is right, students coming the United States to study should highly consider Chicago. But Chicago is so cold!!!!!!!!!!! It is true. Chicago is a bitterly cold city bombarded by an unforgiving wind, but only for about three or four months out of the year. Other than that, Chicago is a great place to live, work, start a business, study English or study at one of the many accredited universities or colleges throughout the city. Here are five reasons to study in Chicago.
1) The cost of living: Chicago has all the amenities, thrills, sky scrapers, transportation systems and culture as any big city in the United States, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. For a BIG CITY, the cost of living in Chicago is pretty inexpensive! How inexpensive is Chicago compared to other major cities? It is possible to rent a decent one bedroom apartment for $800 or $900 in a good neighborhood. If you want to live in the trendier neighborhoods like Lincoln Park or Lakeview, it will cost you between $1000 to $1400 for a nice one-bedroom flat. However, this is a steal compared to a city like Washington DC where a one bedroom apartment in Dupont Circle rents out for at least $2000!!! In addition, utility rates in Chicago are reasonable, car insurance is inexpensive and eating out won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
2) Public transportation: If you are coming to the United States to study English or study at a university, chances are that you will not have a car. However, living without a car in Chicago is never a problem. This is even true during the coldest and snowiest days of winter. Chicago has a great bus system called the CTA, a decent subway system called ‘The L’ and another train system called ‘MetraRail’, which provides frequent service from downtown Chicago to the outer suburbs. Personally, I often use MetraRail and it is always a pleasant experience.
3) Food: I have lived and traveled in a lot of places that had exceptional food, but Chicago beats them all. In my opinion, Chicago just has the right mix of cuisine, fast food, American diners, ethnic restaurants and markets that makes it the best city for food in the United States. Everything in this city tastes delicious. Any kind of food or restaurant that you can image exist in Chicago. Deep dish pizza, polish sausages, Mexican taquerias, an abundance of Asian cuisines, Middle Eastern restaurants and an amazing local fast food scene certifies Chicago as the destination for food in America. On top of that, there are loads of cheap restaurants throughout the city and outer suburbs.
4) Nightlife: Ok! Ok, the nightlife scene in Chicago may not rival New York, but what city really does? If you love the nightclubs and to stay up into the wee hours of the night, Chicago has got you covered! In addition to the abundance of night clubs and lounges downtown, Chicago is littered with great neighborhood bars. If you like beer, Chicago has one of the best beer scenes in the United States with an array of local, micro-brewed beer from the Chicago area, Wisconsin and Indiana.
5) Attractions; Chicago has tons of attractions that are just as good or better than what exist in any other large city. There are plenty of museums, shows, concerts and events to keep you busy on the weekends for at least a few years. Many of the museums offer free admission on certain days of the month. If you enjoy art, I highly recommend the Art Institute of Chicago. This is the best art museum I have ever visited in my life. In addition to an endless selection of museums, shows and events, Chicago has some great beaches. What?!!! Yes, Chicago sits next to Lake Michigan, which is the size of a sea! In the summertime, you can spend your days BBQing, swimming and playing volleyball.
I SHOULD ALSO MENTION THE PEOPLE OF CHICAGO! Compared to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the people living in Chicago are nice, friendly, down to earth and always helpful. It is the people here that give this city its charm, culture, identity and sincerity.
Don’t worry about the Chicago winters. Honestly, they are not that bad. Besides, sometimes the snow can be beautiful and a new experience for those of you from warm weather climates. So take my advice and study in Chicago.