Newly Admitted International Student: Living in Chicago

Living in Chicago

Welcome to Chicago! Chicago is a vibrant city of 2.7 million people, and you will want to explore the distinct qualities and diversity of its 77 neighborhoods. As is the case for most modern, urban US cities, Chicago presents amazing benefits along with new challenges. Joining the SAIC community offers you the opportunity to experience the advantages of city life in the United States with the support of our many resources.

Connect with Residence Life for information about living on campus. This is a great way to get connected to your new community.

Check out the Chicago Neighborhoods Map and learn more about the locations, history, and resources available in Chicago’s neighborhoods.


Chicago’s climate is characterized by four distinct seasons. Chicago’s position on Lake Michigan combined with the flat landscape make Chicago’s weather unpredictable and at times extreme. Summer is often warm and may be humid, with the hottest temperatures occurring in July and August. The coldest days usually occur in January and February when the temperature can drop below 0F (-20C). Snow, ice, and strong winds are common during a Chicago winter. Fall and spring weather can be rainy and changeable but usually includes many sunny and moderate days. You will need appropriate clothes for these four distinct seasons (e.g., coats, boots, hats, gloves, etc.).

Chicago Winter Survival Guide

Clothing: Typical winter clothes should include gloves or mittens, a heavy winter coat, a thick scarf, a hat or earmuffs, thick socks, and snow boots. Layers are important. Temperature varies in Chicago on a day by day basis so the best advice is to check weather each day and be prepared. If you are moving to Chicago from a warm climate, it is advisable to wait until you move to Chicago to buy winter clothing or purchase your winter clothing online rather than in your local stores.

Public Transportation: Public transportation can be slower in the winter months due to snow, ice, or sleet.  When you are taking public transportation, plan accordingly so you can arrive to class on time. You can check the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus and train schedule anytime of the year on the CTA’s website. There are also several apps that can help you track busses and trains so that you know when they are arriving.

Biking: If you plan on biking during the winter months, check weather conditions before doing so. It can be very challenging to bike during the winter months in Chicago because of the cold temperatures, as well as ice and snow on the ground, however, there is an active winter biking community here in Chicago. When riding a bicycle in the winter, be careful of icy pavement and slow your pace.

Ice: Be careful of ice! After living in Chicago for a winter, you will hear about something called black ice. It isn’t black, it is transparent, and blends in with asphalt and pavements where it is most commonly found. Almost everyone who has lived in Chicago has a story about falling on the ice. When walking on ice, it is suggested that you walk like a penguin, as humorously illustrated here.


The United States has a long tradition of religious and spiritual tolerance. With so many ethnic groups represented in Chicago, the city boasts a rich diversity of religions and religious expression. Please visit here for a small sampling of the many places of worship in Chicago.

SAIC Campus Prayer/Meditation Room: MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., room B-1-04 

The SAIC Campus Prayer/Meditation Room is a nondenominational space intended for all members of the SAIC community to use for quiet reflection, meditation, or prayer.

Get involved SAIC

An excellent way to meet others with your similar interests is to join a student group or organization.


U.S. style grocery stores near the SAIC campus


Some grocery stores offer delivery services for a fee.

International Groceries

In addition to U.S. style grocery stores, Chicago has many grocery stores that stock foods from around the world. Below are just a few of many grocery stores specializing in global cuisine.

  • Al Khyam Bakery & Grocery—Middle Eastern. 4738 N Kedzie Ave.
  • Armitage Produce—Puerto Rican. 3334 W. Armitage Ave.
  • Carniceria Guanajuato—Mexican. 3140 N. California Ave.
  • Carnicerias Guanajuato—Mexican. 1436 N. Ashland Ave.
  • H Mart—Korean/East Asian. Features a small food court. 711 W Jackson Blvd.
  • Joong Boo Market—Korean/Asian. Well known for their dumplings and food court. 3333 N. Kimball Ave.
  • J.P. Graziano Grocery Co.—Italian. 901 W. Randolph St.
  • Kurowski Sausage Shop–Polish/Eastern European. 2976 N. Milwaukee Ave.
  • La Unica Cuban Food Mart—Cuban and Latin American. 1515 W. Devon Ave.
  • Lebanese Meat Market–Lebanese/Middle Eastern. Specifically a butcher, not a grocery store. 4657 N Kedzie Ave.
  • Makola African Supermarket—African/Caribbean. 1019 W. Wilson Ave #1017.
  • Middle East Bakery & Grocery—Middle Eastern. 1512 W. Foster Ave
  • Park to Shop Supermarket—Chinese. 2121 S. Archer Ave.
  • Patel Brothers—Indian and South Asian. 2610 W. Devon Ave.
  • Richwell Market—Chinese. 1835 S. Canal St.
  • Rico Fresh Market—Mexican. 3552 W. Armitage Ave.
  • Tai Nam Food Market—Vietnamese/Thai/Southeast Asian. 4925 N. Broadway.
  • Talard Thai Asian Market—Thai/Southeast Asian. Stocks a selection of homemade Thai desserts/dishes and a food court. 5353 N. Broadway.
  • Viet Hoa Plaza—Thai and Southeast Asian. 1051 W. Argyle St.


Additional links for International Students