Home to deep- dish piz­zas, Oprah Win­frey and some of the best uni­ver­si­ties in the world, Chicago is an ideal city for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

India Today - - ASPIRE - By Mridu Rai

The third largest city in the United States af­ter New York and Los An­ge­les, the sheer size of Chicago may seem daunt­ing at first but this im­pres­sion soon changes as one gets fa­mil­iar with life in the city. Not only does Chicago have much to of­fer in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in terms of aca­demics but life out­side univer­sity cam­puses is so rich that you’ll never run out of things to do here. “I came to Chicago two years ago and I still keep dis­cov­er­ing new things to do. The Jazz Fes­ti­val is com­ing up next month and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. There’s never a dull mo­ment here,” says Swarna Prabha, 27, a med­i­cal res­i­dent study­ing in Chicago.

With ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes which are con­stantly ranked among the top national uni­ver­si­ties, Chicago has al­ways been an im­por­tant seat of higher ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. Some of the renowned uni­ver­si­ties in­clude North­west­ern Univer­sity, Univer­sity of Chicago, Illi­nois In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and the Univer­sity of Illi­nois. In the 2012 Global Cities In­dex, Chicago was ranked sev­enth. The city also boasts of more than 30 For­tune 500 com- pa­nies while play­ing host to about 100 cor­po­rate head­quar­ters. This makes it an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional cen­tre for trade and com­merce.

As the birth­place of house mu­sic, the art and cul­ture scene in Chicago is as vivid as it can get. From the world fa­mous Oprah Win­frey Show, the Chicago Sym­phony Orches­tra to Jof­frey Ballet and Sec­ond City theatre, any cul­tural afi­cionado would be lured by the city’s bustling land­scape. In­ter­est­ingly, the Sec­ond City which was the first on- go­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tional theatre troupe in the United States, is one of the best known com­edy en­ter­prise in the world with names like Joan Rivers, Bill Mur­ray Tina Fey and Steve Carell all no­table alumni.

Chicago’s other claim to fame is its trade­mark deep- dish pizza more widely known in other parts of the world as ‘ Chicago Pizza’. The city’s mouth- wa­ter­ingly cheesy of­fer­ing was in­vented in 1943 at the fa­mous pizze­ria Uno’s. With a thicker crust, more cheese and a huge layer of top­pings, you haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced Chicago un­less you’ve tasted one of th­ese won­ders. How­ever, the city’s love af- fair with food doesn’t end there and the tra­di­tional Chicago- style hot dog is an­other of its de­li­cious must- try quick bites. Apart from th­ese, there are sev­eral other stu­dent- friendly eat­ing op­tions in Chicago from street food to fine din­ing.

When it comes to com­mut­ing around the city, Chicago has a very good trans­port sys­tem. For stu­dents, tak­ing the pub­lic trans­port is al­ways the best op­tion as it is cheaper and more ac­ces­si­ble. The Chicago Tran­sit Au­thor­ity ( CTA) runs a net­work of trains and buses and also has a spe­cial pass called the U- pass for col­lege stu­dents which al­lows un­lim­ited rides for stu­dents on any CTA bus or train dur­ing a sin­gle aca­demic ses­sion. This pass needs to be re­newed ev­ery se­mes­ter.

The only damp­ener to the ex­cel­lent stu­dent life in Chicago would prob­a­bly be its weather, es­pe­cially the win­ters when tem­per­a­tures can dip well be­low zero. A wardrobe of good thick coats and boots then are es­sen­tial if you’re com­ing to study here. The sum­mer, on the other hand, can be hot and hu­mid. But sun­bathing or vol­ley­ball by the beach can more than make up for the sum­mer heat.

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