Well, the one thing I can say about Bridgeport is that it is "in transition" which is Chicagoese for gentrifying but still rough around the edges. It buts up to some tougher areas and has gone through various periods of ups and downs. It was a strongly Irish-Catholic neighborhood in the 50s and 60s (home to current Mayor Daley), then took a bit of a tumble with the rest of the area, then started to come back in recent years due to the gentrification of the surrounding UIC area. The nice thing about UIC is that it is right off the blue line, so your friend could expand their search to other neighborhoods that are more solidly gentrified... if that is an area of concern for your friend. Neighborhoods like Bucktown and Wicker Park have been "transitioning" for a few years, so there are more safer areas there. Some areas of Logan Square as well... particualrly the ones closest to the boulevards and to Bucktown/Wicker Park. All of these are accessible by blue line and would be about a 20 minute commute via train.
Ultimately, I find that the Chicago Crime Database (CCD) will give a fairly nice idea of crime surrounding a possible apartment. So, when your friend finds the address of a place they like, run it by the database and see what the crime stats are. This is a renter's market - for the most part you don't have to worry about snatching up an apartment the very first second you lay eyes on it (unlike, say Boston or New York). So, one could take a look at the apartment, take a look at the neighborhood (if possible, visit during the day and then drive by at night) and then run the address through the database. It's about as secure as one can get to finding a place that addresses their safety needs.
I'm pretty positive it is included in the fees/tuition. It's not something that you will pay separately from other expenses. I have to check on this myself. Did you acceptance come through the Graduate College?
Which school will let you do what you want to do? I ask because I have talked to some students that have chosen an "institution" over the ability to do the work that they really wanted to do and they have found significant limitations in doing that - namely faculty and institutional support has been less than desirable. From the conversations that I have had with many professors, applicants and others as of late, most have emphasized that the best place is the one in which there is faculty (at the very least one professor) that is really excited about the direction you want to take with your research and your interests and is excited about possible mentor pairings. It becomes, in some ways, much more important than considerations of name ranking because you need at least one ally at your university that really gets what you want to do. Now, if you have found that at both schools, excellent! Then it really is a matter of weighing numerous considerations. Though, if I may be so bold, I have spoken with a fair share of professors who have shown, through their career trajectories, that there is no such thing as a "set future." Certain schools may give you a more sturdy rock from which to leap, but in the end, all students have to make that very big leap into their careers. Name value is not the only source of preparation - opportunities and solid relationships with professors are also important considerations. As is quality of life.... which makes this whole process more bearable!
tsk... UIC isn't the loveliest of campuses. Kind of utilitarian, actually. But I, too, love the location.
From Union Station, the commute is very easy. Metra now lets you take bikes on their trains, so on nice days, that is an option if you like to bike. Otherwise, there are tons of buses heading over that way - the ride would be less than 10 minutes. You can do a trip planner online from the train station to your UIC building: http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/
And you're prolly eligible for a U-Pass, so the bus pass would be $95 for the whole semester.
Anyways, Oak Park is very nice. I am not as familiar with Oak Park as I am the city, but it is a very easy commute on the Blue Line. And rents are cheaper than in Chicago, so that is always good. There are a few really good companies in Oak Park that will help you find apartments free of charge to you..
If you are interested in Chicago, many of the neighborhoods along the Blue Line are, for the most part, a bit more affordable than the neighborhoods along other lines. And the commute is quite easy and quick by train. I am in Logan Square, and UIC via train is about 20-25 minutes. Some nice blue line neighborhoods to consider: Logan Square, Bucktown, Wicker Park, UK Village/East Village (bus/train). Of course, there are also neighborhoods to the south and west on the blue line as well, such as Pilsen.
You shoud check with the IIT's housing office. I bet they maintain a list of students looking for roommates. They probably also have a list of cheaper apartments that their students generally prefer to rent.
Illinois Institute of Technology
3303 South State
Chicago, IL 60616
Phone: (312) 567-5075
Fax: (312) 567-5926
And you can track down roommates here: http://chicago.craigslist.org/roo/
What do you hope to do as a career? The two disciplines do blend in some ways, but I would think that your future work preferences would play a large role in what path your education should take. I found myself in your shoes 2 years ago, and then again when applying for PhD programs. I can say that if you would like to consider applying for PhD programs in Public Health at some point, having the MPH will probably be better than the MSW. And actually, that is also fairly true if you would like to consider a social work PhD. I love the idea of the dual MSW/MPH program. I wish I would have pursued that option from the start. If you want to do health policy work, you would be well-served by either an MSW or an MPH, particularly if your university has a research center that does health policy research.
For instance, you can live anywhere on the Red Line. Let's see... just as an example: The red line from Belmont (Lakeview neighborhood) to the RED LINE Roosevelt stop is 17 minutes. You could then grab the green line at the GREEN LINE Roosevelt stop (about a half block walk away from the RED LINE stop) and that would be a 8 minute ride. So, even if you lived in Lakeview, via trains it would be about a 25-30 min commute. If you moved further north up the red line, you would tack on more time. It sounds confusing, but it is actually very easy once you actually see it.
As far as neighborhoods, I think it depends on what you are looking for in a nieghborhood and how much space you want to be living in. There are the different rental ranges for some of the more popular neighborhoods. If you are concerned about the issue of safety, I would feel comfortable saying that the neighborhoods on this list are the ones most newcomers to the city will move to. http://www.apartmentpeople.com/ranges.asp As people become more familiar with Chicago, they tend to venture into some of the other neighborhoods. But you would probably be satisfied with one of the neighborhoods on the list.
Do you care about being close to bars and restaurants, or do you want something quieter? Do you want to be closer to a gay and lesbian neighborhood, or would you prefer to be farther away? Do you want an area with a larger amount of racial/ehtnic diversity, or are you looking for people very much like you? Do you want to be around families or college people?
In fact, since you are an international student, you could consider giving Apartment People a call. Tell them that you would like to find a space for $xxx and that you will be attending IIT and so you would like it to be easily accessible to the train.
Feel free to post more questions if you have them. I'm happy to help.
That's actually a pretty good point, GoIllini. I like Pilsen, but anyone choosing to move there should do it with the caveat that there are still crime issues there. Some streets are better than others. Best to check the crime stats in the 1/4 mile radius of your new apartment before signing a lease.
This is also info from the Chicago Police Department. Gives a general idea of crime stats in certain areas... particularly page 20.
http://egov.cityofchicago.org/webportal ... L/04AR.pdf
When you find a place that looks interesting, do a trip planner to see how long the commute will be via public transportation. http://tripsweb.rtachicago.com/
If you are thinking of Pilsen or Little Italy, you'll practically be living under the shadows of the downtown highrises in some parts. So, the commute would be minimal...via train 3-8 min on Blue Line. Via bus...hmmm.. maybe 15-25 min. If you are pushing out further west, then I would think you'd be looking at 10-25 min downtown via train (depending on how far west you go) and bus would be longer.. maybe 25-45 min. From Logan Square, I am about 15 min to Jackson on the Blue line, which gets me right near the heart of downtown, and not a bad walk from Columbia College. Errr, should I choose to walk there.