It’s summer time in the city! Finally. Like most of Chicago’s three million residents, you probably couldn’t wait for cold temperatures to end, the snow to melt, and yes, the spring semester to finally, finally end.
Hopefully, you have used your time wisely, because we would not be business students if we did not keep busy during the summer as well. Working internships, working on and off campus, and yes, being back in school! The 8-week long summer session started this Monday, June 15, and many students are already back on campus. They are using their summer sensibly to get some prerequisites out of the way, taking additional classes, or are getting ready to graduate by the end of this summer. The campus looks beautiful this time of year, and you will not run into too many other students on your way to the next class, thus making summer classes a possibly less stressful alternative to a packed fall schedule.
Though, summer classes can be tough; being held multiple times a week with an accelerated curriculum (I speak from experience), hopefully there will be time for some of the great features the city holds in store for you.
Since most graduate students are still on a budget, even though working, here some great things to do outside and for free/cheap. A popular, free time activity in Chicago during the summer is most certainly the many street festivals happening every weekend in different neighborhoods.
The Randolph Street Festival (weekend of 6/20), offers great concerts in the evening with a variety of delicious food along the entire street. Ok, the food is not free, but it is still worth going. Check out the schedule here: http://tasterandolph.com/.
In order to complete the street festival calendar, make sure to check out The Taste of Chicago, which is a must for all foodies, serving dishes from around the world. Following this fest are many more street festivals involving food from all over the globe; Taste of Lakeview, River North, Lincoln Avenue and Greektown: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/taste_of_chicago.html. It seems Chicagoans take their neighborhood and its local restaurant scene very seriously, and like to showcase the amenities of their community at least once a year.
In favor of continuing the “outdoors and free” thought, there are more than 240 movies shown in Chicago’s Parks during the summer. You can easily find a park close to you and catch up on all the many movies you have not seen this year and last, because you were studying around the clock for exams, attended every group meeting possible, and always handed in your homework on time. Pack a picnic basket, grab some friends, and find out which movie is playing in the parks around you: http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/events/movies/
A fun thing to do whenever it is not raining: Take a trip to the beach. In the winter, one can forget that Chicago even has these, but there are beautiful beaches here. And not just one, but a myriad of them. Grab your friends and just go there to hang out and play some volleyball (North Avenue Beach comes highly recommended for that activity). But before you go, check here for any restrictions upon water quality and safety for swimmers: http://www.cpdbeaches.com/home.cfm
Once you have meandered your way through the great outdoor schedule, unfortunately Chicago usually calls for a plan B, indoors.
Luckily, there are many options in the city; all major museums are free of charge at least once a day per month. The Art Institute, Field Museum, and the Museum of Science and Industry are some great choices and your curiosity shall be boundless.
In case you have visitors in town this summer, the Architecture boat tour is still a must, but in case your visitors are graduate students like yourself, the Chicago water taxi can be an inexpensive alternative with the same great views of the Chicago skyline, but with a smaller price tag.
Another good place to take your visitors to is the Lincoln Park Zoo, which can be visited for free all year long, but maybe this summer, is just the right time to go again, or to go for the first time. Currently they are teaching their snow monkeys how to use a computer touch screen; it seems definitely worth a visit!
Whatever this summer has in store for you, make sure to spend time outside as the weather allows and enjoy some time off before the fall semester (and with it, darkness and cold) is back before you know it!