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Thursday, 14 February 2008

Chicago City Guide

1. Weather
Temperature - Winter: 10-35 F; Spring: 40-70 F; Summer: 70-100 F(feels hotter than the Philippines as the air is very dry), Fall: 40-70 F. The problem with Chicago is that the temperature can swing wildly (as much as a 30 degree drop or climb) in a given day. As a local said, "If you don't like the weather in Chicago, just wait a few minutes." So, check the forecasts regularly.

Clothes - Winter- The key is to layer your clothes and to ensure that your extremities are protected from frostbite. Thermals should be very snug, sweater, corduroy trousers (warmer than khakis or jeans and inexpensive if bought in the Philippines), Polartech or down parka/woolen overcoat, woolen socks, snow boots, scarf, gloves/mittens and ear muffs/hat that extends over the ears. It is also important to use a lip balm and hand and skin lotion to stop your skin from chaffing; Spring - undershirt, long-sleeved shirt,sweater or jacket,cotton or woolen trousers; Summer - oxford shirt, khakis and loafers for casual business attire, and knitted polos,shorts/khakis and sneakers/sandals for leisure; Fall - undershirt, long-sleeved shirt or long-sleeved polos, sweater and/or jackets, Khakis or corduroys.

2. Cost of Living

Local Phone Call - none mentioned

Long Distance Call to Manila - Via phone card, 20 cents a minute

Postage Within US - 41 cents

Postage to Philippines - 90 cents

Bus Fare - $1.75/Transfer 25 cents http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/fares.html#d

Train Fare - (Subway) $2.00/Transfer 25 cents http://www.transitchicago.com/maps/fares.html#d


3. Racial Mix
Students - Univeristy of Chicago: a large graduate student population (almost 2/3 of entire student body) made up of many international students (mainly Latin Americans, Chinese and Indians -- fewer Filipinos but there is a Fil-American student group called Samahan)

Locals -The international community in Chicago is small as the city in the Midwest, but the locals come from various immigrant populations. There are strongly rooted hispanic, Polish, German, Swedish, Chinese, Italian and Indian neighborhoods. Perhaps due to their facility with English, Filipinos tend to be more dispersed, however, one can often find an unusually high concentration of Filipinos in churches, hospitals, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, discount chains and outlet malls. The social and economic division in Chicago is between the north and south sides. The northern population is mostly white and affluent. The southern population is mostly black and less affluent. The nice thing about Chicago though is that significant exceptions abound (e.g., Hyde Park in the southside has a quaint college-town feel due to the UofC). Finally, like most major US metropolitan areas, the affluent populations (also mostly whites) have left the inner city to live in the suburbs.

4. Getting Around
Bus - Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) http://www.transitchicago.com/

Train - CTA and the Metra (http://www.metrarail.com/)

Walking - Yes. Most of the City's parks, beaches, museums, shops and restaurants are within walking distance from the train and bus stations. Moreover, Chicago has a joggers/bike trail right beside Lake Michigan that stretches to almost the entire length the city.

Car a Necessity? - No, if you live in the city. However, a car would definitely be very useful when you do your groceries during winter, especially if you have young child.

Others - Both the UofC and Loyola have free shuttle service to students from their respective campuses (UofC in the South and Loyola in the North) to the Downtown area (the "Loop").

5. Filipino Supplies
Filipino Restaurants - Manhattan - Elvie's on 13th St. and First Avenue, Pistahan on 14th St. and First Avenue, Cendrillon in Mercer St. in SoHo (very beautiful but does not cater to the student budget) ; Flushing, Queens - Krystal's, Ihawan , and Rene's on Roosevelt Avenue.

Filipino Stores - Unimart at 5845 N. Clark St. offers most everything you'd need from the RP plus it offers a good selection of fish and prepared foods. It also has a PNB and a video/karaoke rental store. Most big chain groceries (e.g., Dominick's and Jewel) have international food sections, but basically limited to Chinese, Thai, Indian, Mexican and Jewish food. Chinatown has the usual, roasted-duck-hanging-from-the-window stores. Devon avenue has a lot of indian and pakistani stores. The good find though are Mexican groceries that carry a surprisingly familiar range of fatty meats and offal and usually have a much more diverse internaitonal food section.

Balikbayan Box - Johnny Air Cargo, Forex, FRS Express,

Phone Cards - TeleOption (800 720 7138), Direct Line Philippines (866 357 0338) Travel Agents -

6. Student-Friendly Neighborhoods - Depends on the university campus, Univ of Chicago and Northwestern have good on campus housing. Yuppies live in Linclon Park, Lakeview, Wrigleyville.

7. Roman Catholic Church / Other Places of Worship - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago has over 300 Roman Catholic churches, it is one of the most religiously diverse cities and home to the Council for Parliament of the World's Religions and various interfaith organizations

Contributor: Neal Deles, Loyola University

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