Chicago is an amazing city where skyscrapers tower over beautiful beaches and buskers make waiting for the train a treat. The people of Chicago are the friendliest you could ever meet (you will eventually get over your Irish suspicion and accept their niceness for the sake of niceness) and there is always something to do. If you want city life, beach life, fun in the sun and one crazy summer, then Chicago is the place for you.
Once a gangster’s hang-out synonymous with infamous names such as Al Capone and Bonny and Clyde, the ‘windy city’ today has a squeaky-clean reputation as boasting an eclectic mix of architecture, world-class theatre, art exhibitions, and super-enthusiastic sportsmanship.
It was in Chicago where the world’s first skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, was erected in 1885. But the Windy City offers a lot more than architecture alone: it is a bustling city, it is home to many great museums and it has some of the best Blues clubs.
It is also a great city to live in, especially the northern part of the city has a great lively atmosphere and even nice beaches.
Climate: Chicago has an extreme climate with very hot summers and bitterly cold winters, its lakeside setting only slightly moderating the temperatures and adding some humidity to the atmosphere. Chicago has distinct seasons, with a short spring, when temperatures are moderate and nights frosty. Summers are hot, sunny and humid, from June to the end of September, and are prone to thunderstorms.
Transportation: Chicago has the largest public transportation system in the country and getting around the city is fast, easy and inexpensive, with an extensive network of rapid transit trains and buses. The train system has both underground lines and elevated tracks above the city and is known as the El; most visitors only use the El, but buses also cover every part of the city including the suburbs, albeit less regularly. Most train lines run 24 hours a day, with Overnight or Night Owl services taking over between midnight and 5am, though only on some lines. The Metra commuter trains link the city to the outer suburbs, including Lake Michigan, Hyde Park and McCormick Place. Fares for the bus, subway and the El are standard, and a variety of visitor passes are available offering more economical travel.
During the summer months, a free trolley system operates in the downtown area, connecting Chicago's top cultural attractions, shopping areas and visitor destinations. Taxis are easy to find, and the metered rates are reasonable for short journeys. Although traffic is not as bad as in other major cities (outside rush hour), parking is expensive and difficult to find.
The best places to look for summer jobs would be Navy Pier (Chicago's tourist hotspot) and the city centre. Check the jobs section of Craig's list when you get there as most places do walk in interviews and advertise online a few days before going to print. In this area the Irish have one major advantage because in this area- they love the Irish, so turn on the charm and embrace your Irish accent.
Nightlife: Three words- Big City Tap, Belmont's finest haunt, this is where the majority of the J1 population reside. If you like dancing, head to Rush and Division, where you'll find hard-core "Irish" clubs like Shenanigans, however, be warned, these places tend to be strict on I.D. Addison (home of the Chicago Cubs stadium) is great for bars and if the Cubs are playing a home game there's always a great buzz around!
Shopping: If you a keen shopper then Water Tower in the city is where you'll find Abercrombie and Fitch, American Apparel and the likes. If you're willing to go further afield, take the train to Gurnee Mills, where you can find discounts on loads of big brands.
Sports: Go and see a baseball game, firstly decide whether you are a Cubs or Socs fan (this may cause rows), get dressed up (go all out, maybe even paint faces!) and go to a game. The stadiums are amazing and the songs are cheesy but it is a great experience.
John Hancock Signature Lounge: Sip a Long Island Ice Tea while gazing out the window of the 96th floor of one of Chicago's tallest buildings. It will cost about $15 dollars each, but it's worth it to see the views of Navy Pier, the coast and the entirety of this outstanding city. Go at twilight and watch the city transpire into a sea of twinkling lights.
*** Don’t miss out on Chicago’s Summer Festivals **
Chicago Blues Festival: - June The Chicago Blues Festival is one of the biggest outdoor, free blues events in the world and is a must for all blues lovers. It features over 70 international, national and local Chicago artists spread over five stages and at night the festivities continue in blues clubs around the city. For more information contact the Chicago Office of Special Events on +1 312 744 3315.
Taste of Chicago: -July The Taste has been an annual summer festival for 20 years, featuring 10 days of Chicago-style food and entertainment. Samples from over 70 restaurants are available for tasting, with fare ranging from pizzas and burgers, to the city’s classic prime rib steaks, and haute cuisine from some of the city’s top restaurants. Various activities and events take place throughout the festival, including cooking demonstrations by top chefs, Ferris wheel rides, street performers, and face painting, and live music is staged around the park. The 4th of July is celebrated by a fireworks display accompanied by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Chicago Air and Water Show:- August The oldest and biggest exhibition of its kind in the country, the Air and Water Show displays daredevil acrobatics both in the air and water. It can be viewed from many lakeside locations, but the main hub is above and beyond North Avenue Beach. Both civilian and military demonstrations take place and electrifying stunts are performed, the highlight being the US Navy Blue Angels' jet formation. Venue: North Avenue Beach;
Chicago Jazz Festival: In Grant Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, hundreds of thousands of people gather to picnic on the grass and to listen to the chilled-out music. A popular annual event, the festival offers a pleasing selection of old favourites and new talent on the jazz scene. For more information phone +1 312 744 3315 or email the Chicago Office of Tourism on [email protected]
The above tips provided by Go4Less are intended as a guide only. Go4Less accepts no responsibility for any jobs or housing accepted by students through these resources.