What should you do as a freshman in Chicago? DePaul upperclassmen and grads answer.


Amber Stoutenborough

On Aug. 27, DePaul students took a visit to the carousel and Ferris wheel at Navy Pier.

Moving to Chicago can be a daunting experience for some DePaul freshmen. For me, it was my first time living outside of a suburban environment. I didn’t know anybody in the city, and admittedly spent far too much time in the dorms and around the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Don’t make the same mistake I did – especially with most of us spending far too much time inside these last two years.

If you’re looking to have fun exploring the city, these DePaul upperclassmen and recent graduates shared some of their favorite ways to do so.

Allie Vidales – Class of 2023

“I explored a lot with my friends as a freshman and went to a few festivals; we went to the Día de la Independencia festival in Little Village and the Chinese New Year festival in Chinatown. I think I would have liked to have ventured out to even more places. There are a lot of phenomenal restaurants in Chicago, and I think just getting away from the DePaul food scene – like, everybody goes to Homeslice – is good for everyone. The great thing about Chicago is you can try global cuisine; there are restaurants from every nationality here if you know where to look. In Albany Park, for example, there are Iranian places, there’s a really great Ecuadorian restaurant that I went to, and there’s a Turkish market.”

“Recently, though, I’ve actually been going to a lot of concerts. There are a lot of small venues that sell tickets for $20 or under. You can see some really great artists for super cheap and you don’t always have to be 21 to get in. Don’t just look on big sites like Ticketmaster, but look on the venue sites themselves to see who’s performing for cheaper. But definitely venture out. Be safe, but try new things and take advantage of where you are.”

Julianne Urrea – Graduate Student

“If you’re moving here for the first time, I would definitely indulge in the restaurant scene and try new types of foods while exploring the different Chicago neighborhoods. Going to see at least one of the seven professional sports teams in Chicago is another exciting way to enjoy the city as well, especially during the summer months. The art exhibits and museums are also a fun aspect of Chicago and there are certain days where Illinois residents get free admission, so definitely take advantage of that.” 

“I wish I had the chance to go to more concerts and explore more of the neighborhoods – Covid made that difficult. After you see the typical tourist destinations, it can be fun to explore the underrated parts of the city. Chicago is full of hidden gems, and I regret not discovering more of them before the pandemic. There are also so many venues and artists that come to the city regularly and Covid made me instantly regret not going to more shows. There are indoor and outdoor concerts as well as music festivals like Lollapalooza, North Coast, and Lake Shake that bring a variety of musical talent for every genre of music taste.”

Robin van Bree – Graduate Student

“It’s fun to go to museums (Art Institute, Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, American Writers Museum, Chicago Sports Museum, etc.). Hang out with your second-best friend group; they’re the ones that like you more anyway! I’d recommend going to DePaul events, legitimately. They’re free, you can talk with students, and it’s a great way to find people.” 

“One of the best parts about living in Chicago is how walkable it is. There are probably at least three shops in your area that you can show up in within a few minutes, and actually have fun at. Use the transit, too. You don’t have to drive everywhere in this city. Walk, take the train, and learn the buses!” 

Connect with Erik Uebelacker: @UebeMMA | [email protected]