May 30, 2003

Students in Hyde Park for summertime consider activities in Chicagoland

While University students traverse the globe and explore resume-boosting internships around the country this summer, some have decided to make Chicago their home for the hot months ahead.

As finals week passes and the pressures of schoolwork melt away, students staying in Chicago say they look forward to using free time to explore the city--as well as parts of the community not on the daily route between dorm, class, and cafeteria.

"During the school year, I don't have time to do anything on campus because I have a job and still do homework," said Ashley Hansen, a second-year in the College. "I'm looking forward to staying in Hyde Park and keeping it relatively low key, maybe take occasional trips to downtown, and hanging out with my friends."

Most students described Hyde Park as much calmer and less populated during the summer months but were still enthusiastic about the chance to relax.

"It almost seems empty," said Jon Davis, also a second-year in the College. "Usually when you walk around campus, you see people who you don't really know but who are just on the same schedule as you. There aren't any of those types of people during the summer."

Still, Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, keeps students in Hyde Park from both Cook County and the rest of the country because of the wide range of activities and events available in the city at large.

For music lovers, Chicago plays host to a variety of summer music festivals, including a Folk and Roots festival, the Chicago DanceFestival, and, toward the end of summer, the famous Chicago JazzFest. These events provide several free live concerts and performances in addition to sponsoring hundreds of shows at local venues.

Grant Park is also home to weekly nighttime performances from the Grant Part Orchestra and a number of visiting artists who will be performing mainly classical and opera pieces. According to many students, a popular pastime has been to take a blanket, bottle of wine, and a candle to the park to enjoy a peaceful night of cultured entertainment.

In a city that loves its food, Chicago also puts its pallet on display in the summer when it conducts a number of food-tasting festivals. The most renown of these culinary events is the Taste of Chicago--running from June 27 to July 6--where patrons can purchase tickets to exchange for small portions of food from nearly a hundred restaurants in the Chicagoland area. While snacking on Chicago's delicacies, participants are treated to short concerts from several well-known acts, such as Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, and Elvis Costello.

Students spending their first summer in Chicago are excited about the chance to immerse themselves in an authentic urban culture.

"I've never really lived in the U.S., so I want to get to know the city really well," said Hansen, who grew up in Taipei and now calls London home. "I want to go to the Taste. I want to go to the JazzFest. I want to experience life in the city."

Others, having already spent some time in Chicago, were skeptical of some of the highly publicized events. According to George Singer, a third-year in the College, the Taste of Chicago was expensive and not especially noteworthy. "It was an experience--but not something that I want to go do again," he said.

Singer, like a number of students, participated in the summer quarter's academic schedule that is supervised through the Graham School. A pre-med, Singer studied organic chemistry--an infamously difficult class according to most students--last summer when he felt he would have more time to focus on course.

"The classes were much more intensive, but they weren't harder," Singer said. "The learning environment was far more relaxed, as well as more informative. People weren't rushing from class to class so they could sit down and concentrate on o-chem and just o-chem."

Joining regular undergraduates this summer will be roughly 200 high school students who will be taking classes through the University's summer program. However, social interaction between College and high school students is limited, according to University students, some of whom said that their presence was essentially not noticed last year.

Many students who are not taking classes have accepted jobs and internships in a diverse range of fields across the Chicagoland region in both the private and non-profit sectors. Raphael Satter, a second-year in the College, will be an interpreter for the Kovler Center, a charity organization that gives legal and psychological aid to victims of torture, translating French, Spanish, and Arabic to help counselors and attorneys.

"Volunteering will be a very rewarding experience, as well as a chance to sharpen my language skills," said Satter, adding that he will also be working at the library and doing research for a professor to help make money for the coming year.