Monday, February 3, 2014

Hidden Gems of UIC and Chicago

By: ChingWa Chan, Guest Contributor and AANAPISI Scholarship Recipient

ChingWa Chan is a recent graduate student with a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Certificate in Entrepreneurship. She grew up in Hong Kong and moved to Chicago when she was 10 years old. She was able to get in touch with UIC's AANAPISI Scholarship when she applied for a scholarship to study abroad in Barcelona this past summer.

As a recent graduate from UIC, I was often asked “Why did you pick UIC?” during my job interviews. I never really thought about it until recently.

Four years ago, I applied to only two colleges - University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and UIC and got accepted to both. Each application costs about $40, but I knew I would be going to UIC regardless. (I applied to U of I anyway because my mom keeps bragging about how her friends’ kids got into U of I.) My initial reason to attend UIC was to be close to my family after being away from them for 7 years.

In the past two years, I started to see hidden gems of UIC and Chicago:

1) Diversity  
This is the biggest thing that I really love about UIC. I would be in a 30-people class in Stevenson Hall, sitting on one end of the row, looking to my left, everyone would be of different nationality. This actually happened last semester, after being in UIC for four years, I finally saw the beauty of diversity. I was born in Hong Kong, traveled to Korea and different parts of China, studied abroad in Barcelona. I just can’t wait to see more of the world in just one little city.

2) Unique Neighborhoods
Since we have such a big diversity here at UIC - there are a lot of different neighborhoods around us that each one of us belong to. My favorites have always been Pilsen and Wicker Park. Pilsen is just a mile or so south of Halsted. Art galleries, cheap apartments, Simone’s Bar, Nuevo Leon (for those of you who love Mexican food). People are genuinely very nice to you all the time. One time, I was biking by the Buckingham Fountain and met a family from Holland and got their contact information just to keep in touch in the future. There is never a day that you will be bored in this community as long as you are willing to give yourself to the city.

3) The Care You Get from Advisors
I heard from my friends from U of I that it takes them on average 2 weeks of wait to see their advisors. I can’t really speak for LAS and all the other colleges, but for the Business College, you get so close to the advisors and you can just walk into their office without making an appointment sometimes.

4) Spark In the Park
Every fall semester, UIC would invite some big name artist to perform for us UIC peeps. One of them is LUPE FIASCOOOOO. I think the great artist Lupe Fiasco put it best when describing my city: “What if I told you my city was the best, my city was a threat to the rest …” (Lupe is from Chicago too, for those of you who don’t already know.)

5) The People You Meet
Every day you always meet someone new regardless of how long you have been there. Every day I feel like it’s the first day of school. In classes with 300 people, and you go to class 3 times a week for 16 weeks, you can’t even meet all of them in one semester! Even when you’re about to graduate and in a small class with 10 people, you probably don’t know 50% of them.

6) Commute
UIC is a commuter school with about 85% commuters. They cater to the commuters with a commuter center where they have a kitchen, lounge, nap area, and game room. It’s a great way for students to save money, and a great way for people to meet other people on the public transportation. I enjoyed seeing the same people routinely at the same bus stop every MWF. Sometimes you might wonder, where are they going? What do they do for living? Would it be weird if I start talking to them randomly? By the end of the semester, if there’s a boy/girl you like and you see them routinely, ask them out! It’s been a whole semester of you two just exchanging eye contacts. IT’S TIME. Plus, you can use the hours of commuting to think about what you really want to do with your life. Use this time wisely, because you will realize that time flies.

1 comment:

  1. Great points! I definitely agree on the diversity aspect -- I went college touring with my younger brother a few months ago, and it was only after visiting some other colleges that I realized that I had been taking UIC's diversity factor for granted! A little late for me to be grateful but it was definitely a powerful moment in reflection..