All posts tagged university life

  • Tips for Carnegie Mellon University

    carnegie mellon

    Situated near Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University was originally ‘’Carnegie Technical Schools’’, founded by Scottish American industrialist Andrew Carnegie back in 1900.

    In 1912, the school became the Carnegie Institute of Technology and eventually merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become Carnegie Mellon University. 90% of new students choose to live on campus and once you get there, there are various ways to get around the area.



    1. Living on campus

    As a first year student, you’ll be required to live on campus and will be guaranteed housing for at least four years. Housing services at Carnegie Mellon will help you find accommodation on campus and there are many benefits to college residential living. The pros of living on-site include 24 hour support, secure, comfortable accommodation, easy access to all the college amenities, and all-inclusive living.

    You can choose to live in a residence hall right on campus, in an apartment 5 minutes away or even a full house. A university shuttle bus will take you all around campus and back to your accommodation after classes. You should apply for housing by May 31st of the year you’re starting.


    2. Off-campus

    August and September mark the start of the academic year so it can be difficult to find accommodation off campus as there is a lot more competition for housing. It may be worth arriving early to stay in a guesthouse or hostel while you conduct your search.


    3. Homestay

    There are plenty of options for homestays in Pittsburgh that you’ll find on Living in a homestay can be a great option to save money and help you learn the ways and customs of an American family. If English isn’t your native language, then you’ll get great practice too!


    Getting around

    1. Bus

    If you’re eligible, you can get a Carnegie Mellon ID card, which you can use to go on any Port Authority Transit bus for free. The buses will take you in and out of campus and plenty of them stop in the Oakland area in front of Carnegie Mellon’s campus. You’ll find details of schedules and stops on the Port Authority’s website.

    The Carnegie Mellon University Police run a shuttle service on campus with two routes operating throughout the academic year. You can find more info about the current shuttle routes here.


    2. Bike

    The people of Pittsburgh love to bike it, and so should you, with plenty of secure bike racks, bike trails, and handy lockers available on campus to make use of. There are plenty of events, workshops, and meet-ups that take place for bike-lovers throughout the year. Check out for regular events, and register your bike with the Campus Police department for free.


    3. Car-sharing

    Save on the cost of fuel and repair bills by registering to carpool as part of the Carnegie members’ carpool matching system. You can register as a driver, shared driver, or passenger, so if you’re interested, you can contact Commute Information here.


    Where to eat

    1. On campus 

    There are over 34 locations on campus where you can grab a bite to eat with flexible hours so you can find food any time of the day. You’ll find everything from bagels and burritos to a stir fry or pizza, with plenty of choice for vegans and vegetarians and anyone with special dietary requirements.


    2. Cheap eats

    You’ll find lots of places to eat nearby the university and many of the diners offer great deals on meals. Go to Pamela’s for the pancakes and Deluca’s for the breakfast burritos. You’ll get a cheap burger at Hello Bistro and if you like Johnny Cash and pub food, you should try The Squirrel Café.  Have a look on Urbanspoon for more options.


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  • University of Illinois at Chicago

    UIC east campus

    With 15 colleges, 28,000 students, a hospital, and health sciences system, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a really impressive state-funded public research university. UIC operates the largest medical school in the US, educating the majority of doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists in the country.

    The student body is diverse and sport is a huge part of the university, with 20 men and women’s Division 1 sports. The research university receives billions in Federal funding; for example, in 2014, the university had a $2 billion operating budget.

    If you go to the University of Illinois at Chicago, you’ll get to experience all the delights the windy city has to offer.



    1. Living on campus

    If you live on campus in one of the residence halls you’ll be minutes from lectures, student centers and recreation halls. The university also offers special interest living where students with shared interests, both academic and non-academic, can live together.

    Each special interest area has a peer-mentor to guide students in their life and career goals. While living on campus, you get free laundry facilities, discount cinema tickets, 24 hours security, study rooms, and lounges for socializing.


     2. Off-campus housing

    You might find it cheaper to live off campus and share accommodation with roommates. UIC has an off-campus housing directory where you can search for rentals in one of the residential neighborhoods nearby.

    The Chicago metropolitan area is well served by public transport so you’ll have no trouble getting to campus easily. Renting an apartment will give you more freedom and the chance to immerse yourself in the city’s culture.


    3. Homestay

    A homestay provides a unique opportunity to live with an American family near to the university. If you’re not a native English speaker, this is a good way to brush up on your language skills and learn about American culture up close. The host families will provide you with a private room, bathroom, and meals for a monthly fee. Search for Chicago homestays here.


    Getting around

    1. Intercampus Bus

    The intercampus bus runs every day and makes it really easy to get to and from the east to west side of the campus. Intercampus buses are accessible and paratransit service options are also available seven days a week.

    At night, when the intercampus buses aren’t running, you can use Red Car, which will take you around campus from 11pm-7am.


    2. Getting to UIC

    UIC spans over 244 acres and is serviced by local public transport. CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) trains and buses will take you to campus and you can use the smartphone app to find out exactly when and where they are going.

    When you start at UIC, you’ll be invited to attend a Commuter Connection Day to help you ease into life at the university, meet other students, and hear all about the transport options available to you.

    Here are some helpful tips on getting around the city of Chicago.


    3. Biking

    Recognized as bike-friendly by the League of American Bicyclists, the campus is easy to navigate on a bicycle. If you don’t own a bicycle, you can join Divvy, Chicago’s bike sharing system of over 4,000 bikes in 470 locations. You can join as a member for a year or get a 24 hour pass and pick up a bike at one of the stations dotted around the city or on campus.


    Food at UIC

    1. UIC Eats

    With Greektown and Little Italy lying very close to campus, there is no lack of choice when it comes to finding nice places to eat. In Greektown, you can get a lunch special with a large slice of pizza and soda for $4 at Primos Chicago Pizza Pasta or grab a generous portion of noodles at Chinese Yum Yum. Davanti Enoteci is a nice little Italian restaurant, serving small plates of authentic Italian dishes.


    2. On campus dining

    UIC has a wide variety of restaurants and cafés serving students on campus. To save money, you can purchase one of their meal plans if you’re going to spend a lot of time eating on campus. As well as all-you-care-to-eat dining locations, there is a Wendy’s, Baskin Robbins, Port Center Café, Subway, and plenty more places you’ll recognize.


    3. Grocery shopping

    For reasonably priced groceries and all the basic necessities, take the shuttle bus to Jewel on Roosevelt and Ashland or call into the Dominick’s across the road for a wider selection and more upmarket options.  For organic food, try the Whole Foods Market in University Village.

    Remember, it’s cheaper to shop for fresh food and cook your meals from scratch, and it will be healthier too!

    Good luck, and enjoy your time as a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago!

  • Georgia Institute of Technology: Tips

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    Consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the US and the world, Georgia Institute of Technology is also listed as the smartest public college in the US. Around 20% of students are from overseas and their ”Women in Engineering” program has encouraged many more female students to enrol in recent years.

    Georgia Tech alumni are known as ‘Yellow Jackets’ and Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, is counted among them along with the fictitious George P. Burdell, who was officially enrolled in 1927 as a practical joke and has since served in the military, gotten married, and featured on Mad Magazine’s Board of Directors. He is now a campus icon.



    1. On campus

    Once you’re enrolled in Georgia Tech, you’ll have the choice to live in one of the residence halls on campus. The rooms are two, three, and four-person rooms and will give you the chance to get to know your fellow students.

    You’ll have easy access to all the facilities on campus, such as the library and computers, and you can enjoy all the social events taking place nearby. It’s one of the best ways to completely immerse yourself in student life and all your meals will be catered for.


    2. Rent an apartment

    Georgia Tech is located in Midtown, Downtown Atlanta, and with plenty of bus and railways routes, renting an apartment off-campus can be a convenient, cheaper, and more exciting option than living on campus, especially if you’ve finished your freshman year.

    The most popular areas for renting off campus accommodation are Midtown, Westside, and Atlantic Static, which are all within easy reach of the tech. If you’re searching for an apartment, check if there is furniture included, as apartments in the US often come with little or no furniture. You can search the Off-Campus Housing Directory for available rentals.


    2. Homestay

    An even cheaper option than renting an apartment is to stay in a private residence in the area with a family. They’ll cook you a set number of meals per day, and utilities and laundry facilities will be included in the monthly price. It’s also a great way to get to know the locals and visit places that you otherwise might miss.

    If English isn’t your first language, then living in a homestay will hugely benefit your language skills. Try searching for suitable host families near Georgia Tech.


    Getting around

    1. Campus Transit

    Georgia Tech is well served by the Campus Transit service that can be used for free by students, alumni, staff, and parents. Stinger buses serve different parts of campus Monday to Friday and are available all year round, except Institute holidays. Click here for a map.

    The Tech Trolley will pick you up from the midtown MARTA station and you can find full timetables and maps here.


    2. The MARTA

    Atlanta is well served by the Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) buses and trains which cover most areas. The easiest way to plan your trip is to make use of the Trip Planner function on the MARTA website.


    3. By car

    If you don’t want to invest in a car that you’ll eventually have to sell, you might want to use Zipcar instead. When you join Zipcar, you’ll get access to cars all around campus, so you simply pick one up and leave it at a designated point on campus when you’re done!


    Food on a budget

    1. Campus dining

    Georgia Tech offers tons of options for campus dining, including award-winning restaurants, food trucks, and shops selling everything from pizzas to fresh, local cuisine.

    As a first year student, you have the option to choose from a variety of Freshman Meal Plans which will give you access to the community restaurants and a set number of meals per week. They aren’t always the cheapest, but offer a convenient way to access healthy food without having to cook.


    2. Best places to eat

    You won’t be at a loss to find good places to eat near Georgia Tech. The city of Atlanta is in love with Southern food, so you’ll find no shortage of places serving authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken, such as Eats on Ponce de Leon Ave.

    For cheap yet tasty Mexican food, try Tacqueria Del Sol, or if your parents come to visit, you might like to try something a little bit more upscale and immerse yourself in the five-course tasting menu at Restaurant Eugene on Peachtree Rd.


    3. Grocery shopping

    The West Side Market on campus sells groceries including fresh vegetables, meat, and other items during the week.  Alternatively, you can take a 30 min walk or 8 min bus-ride to Kroger on Ponce De Leon where you’ll also find an excellent sushi bar.

    You can also shop at one of the Publix Supermarkets, where staff are known to be friendly and will help you find what you’re looking for. The Stinger Buses run a shuttle service to and from the Publix grocery store on weekends and will drop you back on campus.


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