Newcomers to the area are often pleasantly surprised by Chicago's beauty, especially along Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline. From the Evanston campus, it's about 30 minutes on public transportation to the Loop, Chicago's traditional business district. The system of elevated trains (commonly known as "the EL" that encircles the district extends into Evanston, connecting you to some of the finest museums, libraries, art galleries, concert halls, theaters, and sports centers in the nation.

Chicago is definitely a music lover's town. Clubs throughout the city provide the best of the current music scene -- especially in folk music, electric blues, jazz, and gospel music. The city is home to the internationally acclaimed Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera, and such nationally renowned performing groups as the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Second City.

Chicago's world-class museums include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Lincoln Park Zoo. Conservatories at Garfield Park and Lincoln Park offer a spectacular year-round look at tropical and flowering plants. Also home to the Chicago School of Architecture, the city showcases the masterpieces of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mies van der Rohe.

Chicago's taverns and night spots feature outstanding entertainment, and an endless array of ethnic restaurants beckons the adventuresome and homesick alike with cuisines of every description: Thai, Japanese, French, Vietnamese, German, Indian, Ethiopian, Greek, Moroccan, Szechuan, Mexican, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, Armenian, and Jamaican, to mention a few. Outdoor festivals give a holiday atmosphere to the summer months, drawing students to sample the music of the Jazz Festival and the food of Taste of Chicago. An afternoon at Wrigley Field with the Cubs, at the new Comiskey Park with the Sox, or at Soldier Field with the Bears -- or an evening enjoying a Bulls game -- are all great ways to unwind.