Commuter Tips and Tricks

This year, I became a commuter student, taking the hour and forty minute commute in from the suburbs each morning via the Metra to Ogilvie Transportation Center, and Ogilvie to DePaul. I had always taken the El or the bus from my apartments to campus, but now having a true commuter life had me thinking about ways to make my travel more efficient.

Here is a list of tips and tricks for commuting that may prove useful to you:

  • Chicago is laid out as a grid system. This is a perfect way to always know where you are in the city. Chicago’s streets count down going west, east, north, and south until they hit zero. The zero mark on both sides is at the intersection of State (0 W/E) and Madison (o N/S). Heading west of State Street, the numbers count up (i.e. 800 W, 1200 W), and heading east of State street, the numbers count up (i.e. 8oo E, 1600 E). Heading north and south, the numbers also count up (i.e. 400 N, 1200 S). If you are heading north to south or east to west, the numbers will count down to zero, and vice versa. Here is a helpful graph.
  • Have a map or GPS device with you in case you are lost and cannot figure out where you are. You can always ask for directions from helpful passerby, but it is always a good idea to plan your route through Google maps or another navigation system before embarking. That way, you know just where you are and where to go so you won’t be late or wander too far. It is always helpful to memorize notable landmarks on your walk to help you remember where to turn and cross in the future. If you do get lost, stop and consult your map or ask someone (i.e. CTA worker, passerby, a worker in a store) for help.
  • Keep your valuables in an inside pocket, especially on buses and trains. Never put anything valuable in an outside pocket reachable by someone. A few people who had gotten their phones taken kept them in an outside pocket on their backpack and never knew anyone had unzipped their bag at all.
  • Don’t stand in front of the doors on a bus or train. Chicagoans are always in a rush, and can be pushy and impatient if something is in their way on public transportation. If the train or bus is not very full and you aren’t getting off any time soon, either stand to the side or take a seat instead of hanging out in front of the doors. If you can’t help it and the train/bus is packed, don’t freak out! You’re fineno one expects you to ride on top of the vehicle. Simply step out of the train or bus to let people off and get back on before new passengers come in. If you have a little space, you can also move away from the door, or if you are on the El, you can move to the other side of the train to let people off.
  • Respect the rules of your transportation for a smooth commute. Talking very loudly on your phone, listening to music or watching a video without headphones, and taking up extra seats with your bags when you should offer them to a standing passenger is frowned upon and can make other peoples’ commutes irritating. Eating foods with strong aromas can be nauseating to some, too, so try and eat when you get off the train. A rule that many forget is that the quiet car on the Metra is supposed to be quiet during rush hour, as many people like to sleep on the way home. It’s a good place to go if you’re tired or want a quiet seat to yourself.
  • When in doubt, bring layers. These unbearably humid days of summer have left me wanting to wear light, breezy clothing, but the air conditioned buildings and train cars beg me to bring a light cardigan or jacket. This can help you for unexpected drops in temperature, and you can always take off your jacket if you get too hot.
  • Always carry an umbrella. This speaks for itself.
  • If a train car is empty during rush hour, there is a reason for it. I learned this the hard way. When a Red Line train is packed full and there is a car with no one in it, there is a reason. Just don’t go in there, trust me. Find another car.
  • Shortening your Metra commute. If you are coming in on a Metra line that passes the Clybourn stop, it will save you some time to get off at Clybourn and take a bus or an Uber to campus rather than heading into the Loop and doubling back on the El. This is especially helpful for days you are running late or days when you just don’t feel like dealing with the swarm of people in the Loop at rush hour.
  • Make the most out of your sit time. If you have to sit for a long time before your Metra commute, Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station have great places to eat and read. Check out our article here to see the options available to you.
  • Bring a good book or something to do on the train. If you are traveling far, a book can be a great way to pass the time. So can a screen and Netflix, as long as you wear headphones. If you would rather close your eyes after a long day, that’s okay, too.
  • Carry a cellphone charger with you (and a laptop charger, if applicable). If you are spending long hours commuting and studying away from home, chances are your battery life will suffer. Remember to bring chargers with you in case you need them.
  • Take time to look at what’s around on your walk. This way, you will know where to stop if you need food, and you will find interesting places to kill time. Not only that, but you will also you get familiar with your area, which is always a bonus.

Feeding Your Brain and Stomach

Studying on an empty stomach can be an awful experience. In addition to the embarrassing sound of your famished stomach gurgling within a quiet space, your diligence decreases if you are unable to focus properly and produce your best work.

Some students simply don’t have the time to squeeze in getting a bite to eat after they have a headache from all that studying—as a former undergraduate student at DePaul I know I did not. However, a simple solution to combat hunger and the subsequent study fatigue is finding a place to eat that has just the right amount of ambiance, serves good food, and is located in an accessible location in order to complete coursework in between classes or on the way home. In this article, you will find a few recommendations on where to find these little gems for a student budget.

Lincoln Park Campus

  • The first recommendation is the obvious: the Lincoln Park Student Center. As an undergraduate student, I spent countless hours in this building located in the center of campus seeking out a place to do my work with a plate of food (or a snack) in front of me to fuel my efforts. Inside the Student Center, there are various places to pour over your books and a meal, such as the Inner Dining Area (surrounded by campus food options), the Blue Demon Lounge on the second floor, the lounge on the first floor, Brownstone’s, or even the third floor, which is much quieter. You can visit the Dining Services page to find out about their food options.

No one wants to eat cafeteria food all the time, though, so let’s venture out around Lincoln Park campus in search of great food! A few blocks south of Fullerton is Armitage Avenue. This street is a gold mine, with treasures lining the street just steps away from the Armitage Brown Line station.

  • Chicago Bagel Authority is just one of these locations, which serves steamed bagel sandwiches with a variety of meats, spreads, and cheeses to their customers. It is located south of campus, just a few steps west of the Armitage Brown Line station.
  • Le Pain Quotidien, west of CBA, is another great choice if you wish to sit in their cafe area, as this Belgian eatery serves a variety of treats and freshly baked items alongside a host of caffeinated beverages.
  • A few steps east from the Brown Line station is David’s Tea, and although this is a teashop rather than a restaurant, you can pick up a treat from Le Pain Quotidien (or your own snack) and bring it with you to eat at the counter with your tea inside David’s. Space is very limited at David’s however, so make sure to visit at a time when the streets aren’t as busy.

Closer to DePaul is Webster Avenue, just a short walk south from the Quad. These places may fill you up:

  • East on Webster Avenue and right across the street from the Vincent DePaul church is Snarf’s, another great sandwich shop to eat at with salads and ice cream, as well. I am fairly certain the Snarf’s staff got sick of me with how much I studied there my senior year of my undergraduate experience. There is a lot of seating available, and a quieter back room for you to sit in and do your work.
  • If you are in want of a treat, a couple blocks west from Snarf’s down the street is Sweet Mandy B’s, a very famous sweets shop with a whole host of sugary goodness for your enjoyment. My advice? Get a treat to go and take it to Trebes Park across the street, where you can sit and study on benches under the shade of the trees and enjoy the fall air.
  • A few steps west of Sweet Mandy B’s is Floriole, which is a French cafe and bakery that also serves sandwiches and salads. This unique cafe sources from local producers, so you can support your local farmers!

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can try some food options that are a little bit of a walk east from campus down Fullerton toward the lake.

  • If you are in the mood to feel inspired by your surroundings, then the Bourgeois Pig is for you! Located a few blocks east of the Fullerton Red Line station, this cafe is a must visit. With an interior that feels quaint, homey, and vintage, doing work there will be like doing work in your living room. They have a variety of caffinated beverages and food items to get you through your study session.
  • You might not think of a pub as a place to study, but the Red Lion Pub on North Lincoln Avenue is not your average pub. The interior design of this building makes you feel as if you are in a Medieval tavern in Britain with iron chandeliers hanging above and stained glass windows overlooking tables. This place has spaced out seating and caters to book lovers, so you won’t have to worry about getting a bath from someone’s pint while you try and read Chaucer.
  • Although this is further of a walk north from campus (you can always take the Brown Line north to Wellington), Panes Bread Cafe is truly worth it. Besides the allure of well-priced, freshly baked bread and pastries, there are also a host of sandwiches, salads, omelettes, pastas, and pizzas for you to try.

Loop Campus

Here is where you get to eat at some really unique places! The Loop campus is in the heart of the city, so you can find some really interesting eateries around this area outside of all the Chipotle and McDonald’s you could ever want.

  • The Art Institute is very close to the Loop campus (about a few blocks east), but did you know there are a variety of dining options? You can sit in the North Garden and have lunch, eat a meal in the Modern Wing, or head to the self-service Museum Cafe for a quick meal. Sounds fun, right? You can get in free if you show your DePaul ID!
  • Of course, there is always the Barnes and Noble Cafe at the DePaul Center (which is located east of the Jackson Red Line stop and south from the Adams/Wabash Brown Line stop) yet it can be hard to grab a table. There are other places to sit within the DePaul Center, and different eateries within (like Thai food) that you can check out. Don’t forget that the Loop Student Center is also located here on the 11th floor with various food options.
  • Located on South Wabash Avenue (which is a couple blocks south of the Loop campus), Eleven City Diner is a cozy place to grab a good, wholesome meal and a cup of coffee while you get your work done. There are booths available for you to sit at and plenty of space to have your books open around you.
  • If you are looking for a hearty Italian sub, Fontano’s Subs is for you! With subs, hot sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more, Fontano’s is sure to have something for everyone, and it is a short walk east from the DePaul Center for those cold winter days.
  • Whether you are in the mood for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, Goddess and the Baker is here to help. East of the Loop campus on South Wabash Avenue, this elegant cafe has healthy, wholesome, and sweet options to fill you up while you work. The bright, clean interior also makes for a nice space to work in.
  • A fan favorite on Yelp, Hero Coffee Bar is a great place to work and eat with great coffee and delicious sandwiches. It is a very short walk south from the Loop campus, which gives you plenty of time to get there and grab a table. The light from the glass storefront windows filters in very beautifully among the tables, which is perfect for an afternoon study session.

Ogilvie Transportation Center

If you are a commuter, there are great places to eat and read while you wait for your train:

  • On the first floor of Ogilvie Transportation Center is the food court, with choices like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway, but also options like the Great Steak and Potato Company, Jaffa Bagels, and Indian Swaad. On the second floor is Corner Bakery Cafe, with plenty of seating and even more to choose from on their menu.
  • The Metra Market is Ogilvie Transportation Center’s hidden gem. Not every commuter knows about this market underneath the Metra tracks, but everyone should! Accessible from either Canal or Clinton street, the Metra Market has everything from a pharmacy to a shoe repair stall in case you break a heel or wear out that sole. Vending machines line the terminal, and the Ovie Bar and Grill gives you a chance to have a drink and wind down before taking you train. Le Pain Quotidien and Roti Mediterranean Grill are also located in the Metra Market, giving you two great options to dine and study at while waiting for your train. However, the most enchanting locations of them all is the Chicago French Market, located under track number eight. This charming European style market boasts the most impressive and unique eateries from Vietnamese to Indian, Belgian to to Japanese, and, of course, French. Here you can buy breakfast, lunch, or dinner from around the world! The market sells cheese, bread, beer, chocolate, pastries, meats, vegetables, fruits, and much more. There is a seating area for you to eat at within the market, and plenty to try.

Union Station

If you are commuting out of Union Station, here are some places to eat and study, whether in the restaurant or carrying your food to a bench:

  • On the Mezzanine level, you can find Gold Coast Dogs, Starbuck’s, Robinson’s Ribs, Au Bon Pain, Chicago’s Finest, Uno’s Pizza, Kelly’s Cajun Grill, The Junction Pub, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe, Corner Bakery, and McDonald’s.
  • In the Annex, you can find another Dunkin’ Donuts and Baba’s Village Restaurant, which serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine.


With your DePaul ID, you can get a student discount on food, tickets, and other neat things. Visit this page for more information on the eateries!

Fun Fall Events

MALS/IDS is lucky to have graduate students from all walks of life who enjoy a myriad of events. Whether you are a seasoned Chicago native or a brand new face to the city, we have compiled a list of fun events around campus and/or the Chicago area that (hopefully!) has something for everyone to enjoy.

  • DePaul Welcome Week is hosting a few events the first week of the upcoming quarter. From Sept. 3-15, these DWW events are meant to get you situated around campus, learn about DePaul student life, and have fun! All you need is your student ID to attend.
    • Taste of DePaul (Sept. 3 from 4pm to 8pm on the LPC Quad) – Try foods from the Lincoln Park area!
    • After Taste: The Lip Sync Battle (Sept. 3 from 7pm to 11pm in the LPC Student Center Room 120AB) – After you’ve eaten, attend for musical battles, prizes, and more (free) food.
    • Trolleys to Target (Sept. 4 from 12pm to 5pm at the LPC Student Center) – Take a trolley service to Target for anything you might have forgotten to bring with you.
    • DePaul Does Labor Day (Sept. 5 from 11am to 3pm – meet in the LPC Student Center) – Explore Millenium Park, the zoo, the beach, and the “Bean!”
    • Fall 2016 LPC Involvement Fair (Sept. 9 from 1pm to 4pm on the LPC Quad) – Learn about on campus organizations in the LPC.
    • The Second City (Sept. 10 from 7pm to 10pm at the Merle Reskin Theatre) – Come see the famous improv comedy show where SNL stars such as John Belushi, Rachel Dratch, Chris Farley, and Tina Fey started out. It’s free!
    • Fall 2016 Loop Involvement Fair (Sept. 15 from 1pm to 4pm at the DePaul Center 11th Floor) – Learn about on campus organizations in the Loop campus.
  • Community Fest (Sept. 8 – 3:30pm to 6pm in the LPC Student Center Room 120AB): Community Fest is a welcome back celebration focused on the engagement and inclusion of multicultural and identity-based student organizations, the Center for Identity, Inclusion & Social Change and it is an intentional way for cultural student organizations to build stronger collaborative and relationships amongst their organizations and the DePaul Community.
  • Here is a wonderful list of events happening in the Chicago Area this month, as well as in September.
  • The DePaul Art Museum is excited to host SPECTRALINA (Aug. 18 from 6pm to 8pm), an audio-visual performance project by musician Dan Bitney of the band Tortoise and visual artist Selina Trepp. The performance combines image and sound to create a “visual music” in which each medium bears equal force. Free and open to everyone! (RSVP required.)

2016-17 Fall Graduate Open House

Save the date for the graduate open house! This quarterly event is meant to inform and assist those who are interested in graduate school at DePaul. Here is all the information you need to attend the 2016-17 fall quarter graduate open house:

DPU Graduate Open House
Thursday, October 13, 2016
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Lincoln Park Student Center
Room 120
2250 N Sheffield Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

In order to register for this event, please visit the event page!


Just In Time Job Fair


Registration is now open.

Walk-ins are welcome with DePaul ID.

DePaul University’s Just in Time Job Fair is designed exclusively for DePaul recent graduates, students and alumni. Recruiters from a wide variety of industries will be seeking qualified job, internship, and post-graduate service volunteer candidates of all majors and experience levels at this event.

This fair is deliberately held following commencement weekend, in the hopes to connect DePaul candidates to immediate opportunities!

Please note that this fair is NOT open to the general public. You must be a DePaul student or alumnus to attend.

Professional dress is strongly recommended.

Contact Information

Amal Saleh

Job Fair & Events Manager

Email Address

Career Fair Details
Dates: Tuesday, June 14th 2016 10:00 am – 2:00 pm CDT
Location: 2250 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL 60614, USA


Who We Are: Kelly Ferrell

Kelly FerrellKelly Ferrell, MALS 2016

I have gone through many personal transitions throughout my MALS program.  I will be retiring from federal government service after more than 13 years, and seeking job opportunities in the private sector.  My MALS degree, which started out as a quest for personal fulfillment and development, has now become an integral part in securing future employment.  I will be much more competitive in the private sector with a DePaul MALS degree.

I can honestly say I am a different person than I was almost a decade ago when I entered the MALS program, idealistic and young.  I am very appreciative of the opportunity to grow as a person through the MALS program.  I enjoy learning about a variety of topics and this program has allowed me to do just that.  My transcript demonstrates a variety of interdisciplinary courses and an understanding of historic and social contexts that have shaped and changed our modern world.  My business and leadership courses have taught me the values and leadership and management styles necessary to create and sustain ethical organizations.  I have faced personal and professional challenges over the years, and the MALS program has been a creative and challenging outlet of expression.

My grandma got her pilot’s license and attended law school while raising six children.  She became an attorney, a judge, and retired as a Commissioner.  She is 93 years old; she tap dances and exercises regularly.  Her secret to a long life is to always keep moving and never stop learning.  I will undoubtedly miss the academic stimulation of the MALS program, but I am prepared to confidently enter a new career path as DePaul MALS graduate.

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Who We Are: Kevin Moffat

Kevin Moffat, IDS, 2016

Kevin Moffat came to DePaul as an in-service educator wanting to expand his skills with a self-customized program that drew from a variety of fields including leadership and business.  In his original learning goal, Kevin wrote “The main focus of this goal was to think critically about my profession, and how I could incorporate my roots in education to sales and business management.”

DePaul’s MALS and IDS helped Kevin achieve this unique blend of fields to study.  Per Kevin, “I had a wonderful experience at DePaul, and have been fortunate enough to learn from great Professors. The insight I obtained through my courses has created a foundation for what I want my career to be in the future.”

As for those avenues of study applying to the real world, Kevin writes, “I can definitively say that working in an interdisciplinary program has given me a direction. Business, leadership, and education skills will always have relevance in the workplace at any level. Not every career path needs to be ‘black and white.’ This graduate program allowed me to see that, and truly become an engineer of innovation.”

Start your self-constructed educational journey today by contacting the DePaul MALS/IDS program.

Moffat Digication

Kevin Moffat’s portfolio homepage demonstrates how easy it is to make a bold statement in Digication. DePaul MALS / IDS requires a portfolio to be maintained for graduation; in addition, it is a great piece to add to a career portfolio.