Illinois, United StatesRanked among top 10 universities in US
University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign is a public research university, started in 1859. Because of its glorious history and excellent opportunity, it is widely regarded as the best public university in the States. That was the good news. The bad news is that it’s awfully hard to get into UIUC, and next to impossible for Indians, unless they have fantastic profiles. No no no, it’s not racism. It’s just that, well, people tend to have better profiles than the average Indian.
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As you probably figured out, UIUC is located in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, in the state of Illinois. While there isn’t too much to say about the immediate location, UIUC is fortuitously just about 3 hours or so away from Chicago, which is a common weekend ‘retreat’ back to civilization for students.
The beautiful UIUC campus is built on a sprawling 1468 acre stretch of land. Known for its landscape and architecture, the campus is described my many as a ‘work of art’. In fact, this is one of very few universities the world over to have its very own airport. YES! It has an airport!
The infrastructure from the inside is splendid as well. The library is one of the world’s largest public academic collections, holding over 12 million volumes. The laboratories and research centers are top grade, as you would no doubt expect from one of the biggest colleges in the world. There are numerous hangouts within the campus, such as Espresso Royale, Quad, and Union, where you often find students chilling in between lectures.
Living off-campus is normally more convenient for graduation students, for both financial and privacy reasons, even though Urbana-Champaign has a history of not-so-friendly landlords. Fourth Street, Wright Street, Green Street, and Mattis Avenue are some of the popular student residence locations, where your rent can vary from about $500 to $1000 per person per month.
Urbana-Champaign is infamous for its frankly awful and unpredictable weather. Winters are biting cold and summers can get pretty hot. Most students carry an umbrella or a raincoat around at most times, since it can rain any time of the year. The twin cities receive ample amount of snowfall in winters, and students walking into class semi-frozen isn’t an uncommon sight.
If a professor is teaching at UIUC, it’s probably because he’s that good. While there’s absolutely no questioning the ability and class of the faculty at such massive institutions, students sometimes question their dedication to teaching. But at UIUC, most professors are pretty friendly and more-than-willing to help out, even in non- office hours.
The research facilities at the institute are world class as well, and a lot of emphasis is given to research work. Which probably explains why it’s so hard for Indians to get in in the first place.
Being a public university, UIUC isn’t too expensive - $29,000 per year would seem like pocket change a few years down the line. While getting direct financial aid is near-impossible, other grants like Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships are sometimes more obtainable, but they certainly shouldn't be taken for granted.
Some of the best possible job profiles (and the fantastic salaries that come with them) are always on offer at UIUC. If you’re graduating from here, you’re pretty bloody good; companies recognize that and reward you accordingly. In short, you’re more or less sorted once you’re here.
Now, with good colleges come good students. Well, most of the time anyway. Fortunately, UIUC has a pretty decent, multicultural crowd. You can expect to see a number of pretty girls, and ‘intellectually attractive’ guys. Either way, you can be sure to have some luck, owing to the very simple fact that there isn’t much choice once you step out of the college campus.
In spite of the college being situated in what can more or less be called a village, both Urbana and Champaign have their respective ‘downtowns’ where students often hang out. Students can be found partying/clubbing in areas like Daniel Street, Downtown Champaign and Green Street. Station 211, Radio Maria, Mandarin Wok, Murphy’s Pub and High Dive are some of the more frequented joints in the region. For all you desperate-for-home-food Indians, there’s a nice little place called Bombay Grill as well.
In spite of the pathetic weather, UIUC is consistently ranked in the top ten for almost every single program under the sun. In a nutshell, if you make it, you should probably take it.
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