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Chicago is a fantastic city, and the University of Chicago can only be as fantastic as you make it. It's not an easy place to go to school, but if you're willing to put a lot of work into it, it's an incredibly rewarding place. There are a variety of reactions to people hearing that I go to the University of Chicago: 1. "UIC?" (NO!) 2. confused look 3. impressed look. People who know the school and can differentiate it from the U of I know its superb academic reputation, but it's a pretty well-kept secret to a lot of people. Once discovered, it's full of bizarre quirky people and places. My favorite spots on campus with my favorite people are the student-run coffee shops, of which we have many; sitting and relaxing or sitting and stressing with a cup of tea and a friend and a couch is a daily experience and one that I relish. The administration is largely unseen as far as I'm concerned. One can be involved in the running of the university as one wants, and I'm content to make my own way. School pride is self-deprecating at best. We have only one t-shirt with a positive slogan on it. And yet the kids keep coming back. Almost everyone considers transferring at some point, or several points, and many take time off (I'm sure at a higher rate than at other schools), but the overwhelming majority graduate and from what I've heard, though I have yet to do it, feel completely satisfied by their experience here.
I think U Chicago is just the right size. It's not too small where you know everyone, but it's not too large that you might get lost. Well, people in California don't really know of the school. So when I was first telling people that I was going to attend the school, most of them just warned me about the weather and said bring a heavy coat. Out here, however, people often mistake U of C for UIC and it can be very annoying. Not there this anything wrong with UIC but it's just not the school that I go to. People who understand that I mean University of Chicago usually assume that I must be smart and probably think I might be stuck up. On campus, I tend to be in the library a lot unless I'm running to class or different meetings. I also spend time in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs building and also the University Community Service Center. Since we are div. III, there's not an overwhelming amount of school spirit on campus. However, there are people that faithfully attend athletic events and I would say they exhibit the most school pride. U Chicago tends to pride itself on being uncommon or unusual. One thing that is unusual is the quarter system and the rigorous, infamous core curriculum. One time that I'll always remember is O Week or the freshman orientation week, because that is the only time when you'll just be on campus with absolutely nothing to do! And even then we had required meetings we had to go to!
One thing I would change about the University of Chicago is the discourse that goes on about race. I think that there are gross perceptions about certain races, particularly African Americans that circulate around this school by people who are not educated in that subject. Many times it seems to make a joke about a certain neighborhood and warn people to avoid that place, but we should really take pause and ask ourselves and those who say such things why they say them. I wish that the University would get to the root of the extensive race issues that are underneath the surface of its pristine lawns and neo-gothic buildings. Race is an issue that this University must deal with at one point or another and whether we like it or not we contribute to the problem, by not making it more of an issue to those in charge.
I'm absolutely supremely happy at the University of Chicago, and I was not at all sure I would fit in when I decided to attend, and I do not fit the stereotypes. As long as you're smart and you enjoy learning, you'll fit in here. It's not all awkward nerds or intense studying. The U of C is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The size of the school is perfect--large enough so that you're always meeting new people but small enough so that you always see people you know. The administration tries really hard to involve students and react to our concerns. There's not a lot of school spirit, and some students definitely "love to hate" the school, but everyone I know likes the school and is pretty happy. Hyde Park can get old, but the downtown Chicago is a short bus/train ride away, so it's hard to complain too much.
UChicago runs on coffee. There are caffeine shops in literally the basement of every building (or the occasional second floor) and this is where the "life of the mind" UChicago is so proud of really flourishes. It's also where people catch up on their reading or their sleep while snagging some sugar-rich snack. As for the school's rep, it's really kind of funny: those who know about it, respect it, but half my family still thinks I attend UIC-University of Illinois at Chicago. They're always so impressed when I start quoting Marx...who you will read, along with Weber, Smith, Durkheim, Freud, Nietzsche, and other "greats". And the scary part is, you'll understand them. And probably agree, in some cases. This school enables you never to lose an argument again. Ever. Except possibly against other graduates ;^)
The educational lectures made outside of class as public events with big-name speakers are the best thing. I think everything is way to rushed here we need breaks just some down time to catch our breath--so I'd change the pace. When I tell people I go to UofC they act like I accomplished something wonderful. I spend most of my time in the library, reynolds club, and the dining halls. WE HAVE NO COLLEGE TOWN! The biggest recent controversy would have to have been when Amadou (May God have mercy on him) was shot and killed while walking from teh library to his dorm. No, not a lot of pride. I don't feel like very many people love this school, but most people come to like it. It grows on you. I would have to say the fact that UChicago doesn't believe in grade inflation is pretty unsual and strange. The days after Amadou's death and O-week. The most frequent complain I hear is that no matter how hard we try and study and push ourselves to do well our grades don't reflect our effort.
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