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8 Things You May Not Know About Chicago

When you move to a new city, you learn very quickly the do’s and don’ts about the locals.  I moved to Chicago 4 years ago and have been all over the place. Here are a few of my best, random tips when moving to the Windy City.

#1 – We’re nicer than you think!

Chicago is NOT like other big cities in the sense that you expect everyone to be extremely rude. Chicago is amazing because although everyone is in a hurry, most people will stop and help you if you are lost and need directions. Just don’t be scared to ask! Look for a friendly face (that isn’t wearing headphones)!

#2 – Networking, Networking, Networking

LA is for TV/film production, New York is for fashion and Wall Street, so why is Chicago so important? Business. Networking. Connections.. The biggest thing I have learned here as a beginner in the career world is that Chicago is the BEST for networking in whatever business field you may be in. Find groups that you can get involved with or even go to a few bars in the Central Business District (Cochon Volant is a great one!) and you will definitely meet some interesting people.

#3 – Help the Homeless in a Smart Way

If you don’t have a completely cold, dead heart, you will feel bad for all of those in need around Chicago because they are very upfront with it and will even get in your personal bubble sometimes to ask for money. You don’t have to feel uncomfortable about it! Nicely tell them that you don’t have any change and keep walking. If you do want to help, carry 10 ones in your purse and limit yourself to only giving that much out for the week. Chicago has tons of homeless shelters and places you can donate your time if you want to give more. I suggest never giving too much to one individual because in big cities like Chicago, they don’t always need the money quite as bad as they say they do (sometimes!).

#4 – CTA (most the time) is your friend!

The CTA here is our public transportation system which may be your primary way of getting around. Most people in the city do use the CTA almost exclusively. I, myself, use either the CTA or Uber basically all the time. The CTA bus system is pretty good but I usually suggest this when you aren’t traveling super far. It’s a little slower than the train but equally as accessible depending on where you live. The train system here is amazing! The “red line” essentially takes you as far north and south as Chicago goes. The “blue line” runs west. These are your two biggest train lines because they hit most of the city. The other ones.. well I can’t tell you much about the other ones.

#5 – You have a car? Parking is NOT (and never will be) your friend!

Seriously, only bring a car here if you HAVE to. Like super, super have to. Having a car here, in my opinion, is a nightmare. I live downtown so just to have a car in my building is about $300 a month for the parking space. This -plus the insane parking rates (standard is about $20-$40) all over the city whenever you drive somewhere- just isn’t worth it! If I need to take a car, I use Uber. The traffic is usually so annoying and I don’t want to hassle with it. That’s why I take CTA. If you must have a car here, good luck and I wish you the best.

#6 – We have the BEST food!

Pizza? Yes we have the best. Forget all the big names you hear all the time. Pequod’s is the only place you can go if you actually want the best. Burgers? Yes we have mastered that as well. Au Cheval is the place you should go if you like the double patty with thick cut bacon kinda burger. Plan to spend about an hour in line. Lastly if you want all of the very best foods under one roof, head to Portillo’s right after you give yourself a pretty hefty insulin shot. This place is not a joke and neither is their cake shake.

#7 – Safety needs to be a priority at all times

It’s very surprising how vulnerable you can be in a city where no one is paying attention to you. As soon as you let your guard down, something could happen and I speak from my own bad experiences. Do not walk anywhere at night by yourself. Get the 3 minute Uber ride, it’s worth it. If you carry a backpack and you’re going through a huge crowd, spin that bad boy right around and wear it in front of you. Cell phones are a dangerous thing to be on while strolling down the street. Press play and put it away. There have been several occasions when I was approached by a man that I got a bad feeling from, and I immediately go into bitch mode. I feel bad afterwards but I do not play that game. I simply look passed them, shake my head no, and keep it movin’.

#8 – ENJOY YOUR TIME HERE!

Chicago is a wonderful place to live if you utilize all that it has to offer. This is something I should take my own advice on too. It’s easy to get caught up with random things and work or whatever. But don’t lose sight of everything this city can do for you because I promise it can help you if you let it.

Leave a comment below of anything I missed and I will be sure to include it in my next post about Chicago! Thanks so much for reading.

Until next time,

Sydney

February 10, 2017

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