I didn’t know quite what to expect when I signed up for an in-person class through the University of Chicago editing certificate program. Would it be more similar to college classes or professional conferences I had attended? The Introduction to Acquisitions Editing class that I attended in Chicago was the perfect mixture of both: It was engaging 100 percent of the time; the class was small enough that I felt comfortable asking questions and talking; my classmates were mature professionals; the subject matter was something I was truly interested in; the instructor’s insights into the publishing industry were illuminating and practical.
But the actual classroom hours were just part of the overall experience of traveling to Chicago for a class. Along the way, I picked up some tips that I’ll put to use next time I attend an in-person class at the Gleacher Center. They may be of use to you, too, if you’re going to attend professional development certificate classes through the University of Chicago.
1. Don’t miss your train.
No comment…. If you think there’s a possibility you’ll miss your train or flight, don’t book the last one out of town so you have the option of hopping on the next one. That way you’ll make it to Chicago in time to check into your hotel or Airbnb and get to class the next morning. Again, this is *totally* hypothetical and not something that actually happened to me.
2. Bring food with you.
When I’m traveling alone, I don’t particularly want to leave my luggage alone in my seat. Somehow, I managed to avoid that situation by partially dehydrating myself for the first half of the trip and bringing food with me so I didn’t have to pay for (what I’m guessing is overpriced) train food. I was glad that I had thought to bring a sandwich, two Lunchables, a bag of Butterfinger bites, a bottle of kombucha, and two bottles of water with me for the six-plus hour train ride. It’s also not a bad idea to bring food to eat in Chicago, too, if you want to save money on a meal or two.
3. Show up early.
I underestimated how long I’d have to wait for coffee at a coffee shop that was between my Airbnb and the Gleacher Center, so I was the last to arrive at the class. I walked in two minutes early — and that was about thirteen minutes too late, especially for the first day. Next time, I’m going to plan more carefully and aim to be in the classroom 15 minutes before class starts.
4. Eat the free food in the classroom.
One very important reason to show up early for class is that the classrooms come with free food. Yes, free food! Obviously, I didn’t know this the first day of class, but on Saturday, I didn’t stop before class to get coffee or breakfast; I just ate in the classroom. The Gleacher Center provides pastries, bagels (and a toaster!), and fruit, as well as coffee, water, and orange juice, and I took full advantage of it.
5. Don’t dress up too much.
I had no idea what to expect in terms of dress code for the editing certificate classes, so I wore a dress and a blazer. As in, I bought a blazer specifically for the class because I didn’t already have one. No one else was so dressed up; even the instructor took off her blazer for most of the day. I was glad that I had thought to bring a sweater so I could tone it down and not be stuck in a blazer all day. Business casual is definitely acceptable in these classes (at least the editing ones), and that’s what I’m going to stick with in my next class.
6. Wear comfortable shoes.
Whether you’re going business casual or slightly more professional, wear shoes you can actually walk in. I got blisters on my feet after walking a little too far to lunch the first day (Portillo’s hot dogs were calling) and then didn’t want to walk to anything the rest of my time in Chicago. My feet have learned their lesson.
7. Plan where to eat before you get there.
Part of the reason I ruined my feet the first day of class was because I hadn’t planned where I was going to eat lunch the first day, so I panicked and walked to a restaurant I knew, even though it was 15 minutes away. This trip to Chicago is the third time in the past six months that I’ve gone to a city without determining where I should eat near the conference or class site, and after every trip, I’ve vowed to do better next time.
Ideally, before I leave for a class or conference, I should look up restaurants near the building I’ll be in and actually plan where to eat so I’m not standing outside for 15 minutes searching for restaurants that are within my price range. In the Introduction to Acquisitions Editing class, we got over an hour to go out and grab lunch, so there was plenty of time to sit down somewhere or grab a quick lunch and eat outside and walk around. (P.S. If you have any recommendations for lunch and dinner spots around River North, especially near the Gleacher Center, let me know in the comments!) I may also just grab food from Whole Foods next time, as there’s one a few minutes from the Gleacher Center and it’s probably cheaper than eating out for lunch.
8. Stay near the Gleacher Center.
If you can swing it, booking an Airbnb or hotel near the Gleacher Center is really helpful. As an introvert, being around people all day—especially in an interactive classroom setting—exhausts me, so being able to quickly retreat to my Airbnb when class ended was great. Staying within a 10-minute walk of the center meant that I was better rested for class each day and didn’t have to worry about the logistics of traveling to and from the class. However, I know that I can’t afford to stay so close to the Gleacher Center for future classes, but if you have the means and can find a cheap Airbnb or hotel nearby, it’s a time-saver.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to attend an in-person editing class at the Gleacher Center. The class itself was informative and worthwhile, and the chance to travel to a different city for a few days was invigorating. I’m excited to put these lessons to use when I return to Chicago for an Intermediate Manuscript Editing class later this fall.