Tag Archives: Drexel University

Some Good News: Moving to Philly

Just thought I’d announce here that I was recently accepted into the architecture program at Drexel University in Philly! It’s unsure exactly when I’ll be moving out there, as much of that depends on my housing and financial situation over the summer (I’ve been unemployed since mid-March, and I’m in pretty dire financial straits at the moment), but I’m guessing early September at the latest. Worst-case scenario is that I’ll have to put all my stuff into storage for a while, find a temporary place to live in Philly, crash there until I find a job and a permanent place to live, and then come back to Chicago to retrieve my stuff.

Cheesteak on my Mind

As I mentioned in a previous posting, I lost my job a couple weeks ago. My job search since then has been going rather badly, having scored exactly one interview out of at least a dozen or so resumes I’ve sent out so far. The interview went well, but the job in question qoes something like this:

1) Idiot buys expensive house near O’Hare Airport
2) Idiot is shocked to discover that jet airplanes make noise
3) Idiot, naturally, sues the City of Chicago
4) Judge decress that the city must pay to soundproof Idiot’s home
5) City hires architecture firm to oversee soundproofing of Idiot’s home, as well as the homes of several hundered other similar idiots. This is where yours truly would come in.

Needless to say, it doesn’t sound like a very exciting position, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.

In my previous posting I also mentioned that with things in Chicago going so badly, I’m giving some consideration to leaving the city once again, possibly to Boston, Philadelphia, or the NYC area. After looking at a lot of information and doing a lot of soul-searching, right now I seem rather torn between sticking it out in Chicago or moving to Philly sometime this fall.

Reasons to stay in Chicago:

  • I’ve grown very attached to Chicago over the past eight years of living here.
  • Chicago is a very healthy and beautiful city
  • Most of my closest friends live here
  • Chicago has a very good architectural community
  • I wouldn’t have to move all my crap 1000 miles again

Reasons to move to Philly:

  • Drexel University’s co-op program will let me work full-time and still get my degree by taking evening classes
  • Philly, unlike NYC or Boston, has plenty of affordable housing
  • Philly is very close to NYC and Washington, and within a few hours of Boston.
  • Several of my close friends in Chicago have family in Philly and visit regularly.
  • Despite my housing fiasco last summer in Boston, part of me is still itching to broaden my horizons a bit by spending time in another city.

I applied to Drexel today just to see if they’re crazy enough to accept me, so I should have an answer within a few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a few questions I have for any Philadelphia residents or experts:

1) Most importantly, any idea what Philly’s job market is like for architects? In what esteem is Drexel’s co-op program held within Philly’s architectural community?

2) I know there’s a couple people here with connections to Drexel. What are your general impressions of the university? Strengths / weaknesses? Be candid.

3) I’d be looking to get a one-bedroom apartment for less than $750 a month, close to public transit (preferably MFL, subway-surface or regional rail), but also someplace where parking wouldn’t be a hassle. From the rental listings I’ve seen, it doesn’t look like I’d have much trouble finding a place. I’d most likely end up in Northeast or maybe South Jersey just because it would be a somewhat shorter trip to NYC, but I’m open to any other suggestions.

4) This may be a bit of a stretch, but how hard would it be to work in New York City and still take evening classes at Drexel? The commute would be a bitch at the very least, but I’m exploring all my options here.

5) How healthy is Philly’s underground nightlife/arts/music scene? It can’t possibly be as sterile as Boston’s, but I’d still like to take advantage of such things without trekking all the way up to New York.

Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions… FYI, I probably wouldn’t be moving until October at the earliest, so the SubTalk field trip to Chicago wouldn’t be in danger.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

Chicago, Boston… Philly?

As I have alluded to here once already, I’m finding it damn near impossible to find a place to live in Boston for September 1st. Facing the prospect of finding myself without a place to live, I’m forced to consider some rather drastic actions. First, a little background:

Back in Chicago, I had my own large studio apartment in Lincoln Park, half a block away from the lakefront in a reasonably well-maintained building in a very desireable neighborhood. I was paying $530 a month in rent, a good deal for that particular neighborhood but about average for Chicago in general. And I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, kiss anybody’s ass, or otherwise compete with 50 other people to get it.

Here in Boston, I’m paying $650 a month for a single bedroom in a filthy, roach-infested apartment building in Brookline where the landlord has performed no maintenance whatsoever. He’s converting the living room into a fifth bedroom and jacking up the rent by $700 this September, so we’re all moving out. I still haven’t found a new place yet, and prospective roommates act like they’re doing me a personal favor by even returning my phone call. And if you have the slightest blemish on your credit report, forget about it. (Apparently all 3 million people in Boston have perfect credit.) Boston has its charm, but no city is worth the hell you have to go through just to find a place to live around here.

Right now I’m in the midst of starting school at the Boston Architectural Center (I’m a transfer student from the University of Illinois at Chicago). I came to the BAC because their program is set up so that students work full-time during the day at architecture firms and take their classes in the evening. It’s one of only very few schools of architecture in the US that follow that format, and it allows me to do what I was trying to do unsucessfully for five years in Chicago, that is, go to school and be able to pay the rent at the same time.

Problem is, Boston is so ridiculously overpriced that I’m already making plans to pack my backs and head back home to Chicago. I plan on turning in my two-weeks notice at work on the 25th if I don’t have a signed lease in my hand by then. Since Boston apparently wants to become an overpriced yuppie theme park instead of a real city, I sure as hell won’t get in their way. I figure it’s Boston’s loss, not mine. I have friends I can stay with in Chicago until I’m able to find an inexpensive apartment there and get back on my feet again. (With a close-knit community of friends like that in Chicago, I’m amazed that I was even able to bring myself to say goodbye to them in the first place.)

Once I’m in Chicago, I’ll probably take some evening classes at the City Colleges and try once again to get admitted into the Illinois Institute of Technology (really my first choice of school, but I didn’t get admitted on my first try). If that doesn’t work, then I may be willing to try my luck in Philadelphia…

I was just doing a little research on other architecture schools in the US, and it turns out the school of architecture at Drexel University in Philly has a very similar format as the Boston Architectural Center. A few things I’m curious about: How is the cost of living in Philly and how hard is it to get an apartment? What neighborhoods would you reccomend if I wanted to be convenient to Drexel as well as Center City via rapid transit? (I don’t have a car and have no desire to get one.) How long does it take to get to NYC from Philly by train and about how much does it cost each way? I’m sure the housing situation can’t be nearly as bad as Boston’s, and Philly is also much closer to New York (another big plus — I have many friends in NYC including some people here on SubTalk). I’ve never been to Philly before, I don’t know a thing about the city, and I don’t know a single person there. But I’ve always been a bit curious to check it out, and from what I know about Philly, it seems like a very real, down-to-earth city not unlike my hometown of Chicago.

Any thoughts? (You’re welcome to contact me via private e-mail if you wish.) Sorry if I seem to be coming down a bit hard on Boston here, but I’m just about at my wit’s end.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)