If you’re not aware, or only vaguely aware, Chicago has a nigh-legendary train and bus system that can get commuters from just about anywhere in the city to another. Full-time students receive an all-access pass to use these trains and buses as they please (the cost is a part of your student fees: technology, services, UPass, and health).
I am possibly the most directionally challenged individual you will meet. I don’t know why it is, but I seem to be in a perpetual state of disorientation. It’s so bad that you can often find me walking around in circles through the Shimer floor trying to remember where the room my next class is. This is a pretty big problem for someone who lives in Chicago. Never mind the fact that the streets are set up like a grid; I am hopelessly lost without some guidance. It’s a good thing then that I can go online to GoogleMaps, type in my current address and where I want to go, and just like that I can select the transit route I want to take (usually on longer trips it’s a choice between taking a train and a bus, two buses, or two different trains). Stops for the buses have signs that tell you which direction you’d be going, what stops are on the route, and the operating hours of that bus. Train platforms have stops and maps while the train cars themselves have stops, maps, and an automated conductor to tell you what other trains you can transfer to at each stop.
“But James, I don’t have a computer” you say to me with frustration.
If you are considering attending Shimer, then I strongly suggest you get a laptop. It doesn’t have to be a fancy laptop with bells and whistles and cassette players… Wait, wrong decade, never mind. You just need something that will allow you to do word processing (writing papers), checking e-mails (how else are you going to know when Shimer is doing fun stuff?), and it must be able to open Adobe files with something like Adobe Reader. Many students have opted for cheaper, but equally efficient netbooks (minature laptops). You could also build your own computer, like I did around this time last year, but that means having a desktop which is not portable (ergo not coffee shop-friendly).
“But, but, but James! I can’t just go out and buy a laptop! Money doesn’t grow on trees, y’know,” you astutely point out to me.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot or do not wish to purchase a laptop/netbook, it is NOT the end of the world (or your chance for success at Shimer). Now I get to do a plug for the department I work in at Shimer. As of the Fall of 2012, Shimer has a computer lab with five fully-functional desktop computers for academic and recreational use. The Shimer lab computers are equipped with Microsoft Office, Google Chrome internet browser, and drivers to hook up to our new printing kiosks. In the event that the wireless decides to play hooky, these computers are wirelessly connected to the Internet and can be switched over to an ethernet (wired) connection by any one of the IT-Operations department personnel within a few minutes.
Both these computers and the kiosks are new additions to the Shimer floor. We’ve done away with chipping cuneiform onto stone tablets and moved into the 21st Century at warp speed. Students can print from the computer lab to one of two kiosks (on in the Student Life Center and another in the Library). If this wasn’t already a pretty convenient thing, you have the ability to install the necessary drivers (background software) on your own computer so that you can send your document to the printer from wherever you have access to the Internet.
Hypothetical: you don’t have a personal computer of any kind, it’s 23:45 which means the Shimer computer lab is closed, and you have a paper to write and turn in tomorrow morning at your 10:00 class. No problem! Seriously, this is not a problem.
Because we share resources with IIT, we have access to their computer labs which include 11 computers in the dormitory McCormick Street Village (MSV, for those living on campus or with a friend living on campus that’s willing to sign you in as a guest), the Night Owl Lab, and the McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) lab (8 computers). The computers in MSV and the Night Owl Lab are accessible at those awful hours when you’re down to crunch-time and need to finish that paper.
There, I have now successfully assured you that you can get around this beautiful city, type and print your papers regardless of whether you have a computer, and I got to promote my department.
I hope you all are having a wonderful day and I hope to see you at Shimer someday in the future.
Until then, live long and prosper, Qapla’, make it so, may the Force be with you, so say we all, and you can’t stop the signal!