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The Midwest

The Midwest

“Like a Rolling Stone” – Bob Dylan (1941, Minnesota)

Learn more about the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Big cities

Chicago

State: Illinois

Population estimate: 2.7 million

What it’s known for: The Cloud Gate 

This instagram-worthy sculpture, aka “The Bean,” can be found in beautiful Millennium Park.

Locals love: Winter Garden at Harold Washington Library

The ninth floor of this city library houses a gorgeous garden, featuring classical architecture and breathtaking views. It also has Wi-Fi, making it the prettiest study spot.

Indianapolis

State: Indiana

Population estimate: 830.000

What it’s known for: The Indy 500

Professional race car drivers fill the city during the annual 805-kilometer car race held in the nearby city of Speedway.

Locals love: The Cultural Trail

You can join the locals as they bike and walk on this 13-kilometer trail through downtown, passing the city’s most famous artwork, delicious restaurants, and beautiful architecture.

Columbus

State: Ohio

Population estimate: 787.000

What it’s known for: Ohio State Country

This university ranks as one of the top five biggest universities in the U.S. 

Locals love: South Fourth Street

One of the hippest areas in Downtown Columbus, be sure to stop by the popular 16-Bit Bar+Arcade.

Milwaukee

State: Wisconsin

Population estimate: 595.000

What it’s known for: The Major League Brewers

Milwaukeeans are known for being die-hard baseball fans. The team name also speaks to the city’s love of beer.

Locals love: Milwaukee Public Market

Make sure to spend a day in this two-story indoor food market where independent vendors sell delicious and unique foods.

Detroit

State: Michigan

Population estimate: 714.000

What it’s known for: The Ford Museum

Credited with being the automotive heart of the U.S., you can visit the Ford Museum to discover Detroit’s history as home to one of the country’s first car manufacturers.

Locals love: Eastern Market

Shop for fresh produce, foods from all over the world, and even antiques in this public market

Road Trip Worthy

Cleveland, Ohio

Until recently, Cleveland wasn’t a popular destination for tourists. That all has changed, with more and more people recognizing the city’s diverse attractions and unique history. 

 

When looking for outdoor activities, you can spend the day at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Metroparks, or the Cleveland Zoo. If you’re there at a time of year that makes you want to spend time indoors, take a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

 

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the West Side Market, which has over 100 stalls serving food from all over the world. If you’re looking for history and culture, explore West 25th Street, where you can admire Victorian-era homes and pop into charming cafes. 

 

Don’t forget to stop by Hingetown, an eclectic district where you can visit Transformer Station, a 1920s transportation hub turned art gallery. Be sure to also visit Gordon Square, Cleveland’s arts district.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

The Midwest is landlocked, but who says you can’t visit the beach? Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri will satisfy your need for some time on the beach. The number of water sports you can do there are endless—water skiing, tubing, parasailing, boat rides, fishing, and more.

 

If you’re looking for things to do on land, visit the nearby Ha Ha Tonka State Park to explore the more than 24 kilometers of trails or the ruins of an early 20th-century stone mansion for a bit of history. The park also offers hiking and mountain biking. 

 

If you’re feeling up to a shopping spree, check out the Osage Beach Outlet Marketplace. There you’ll find your favorite brands at great discounted prices. To end your trip, visit Bagnell Dam Strip for world-class barbecue, candy stores, ice cream parlors, and gift shops. 

 

Don’t think that the Lake of the Ozarks is just for the summertime; you can experience beautiful fall leaves and charming snow-covered streets in the fall and winter.

Mackinac Island, Michigan

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway filled with history and fudge, Michigan’s Mackinac Island is the place to go. Once an important center of commerce for the Great Lakes fur trade, the island is now a go-to summer destination for Michiganders and tourists. The island has had extensive historical preservation and restoration, and the entire island is considered a National Historic Landmark.

 

A unique feature of the island is that cars aren’t allowed on it; instead, the town is filled with horses and carriages. If riding in carriages isn’t your style, you can take a scenic bike ride around the island—it’s only 13 miles to go around the whole island!  On your bike ride, make sure to stop at the Victorian Grand Hotel to enjoy the white columned architecture and maybe a cup of tea. 

 

If you get tired of the downtown, then you can explore miles of hiking trails in Mackinac Island State Park, which takes up 80 percent of the island.

St. Louis, Missouri

Located alongside the Mississippi River, St. Louis is known for its baseball, blues music, and of course for its iconic archway. While watching a baseball game and riding up the Gateway Arch are highly recommended, there’s a lot more to the city than just the tourist attractions. You’ll find locals hanging out at The Loop—a square with 145 restaurants, galleries, and shops. You can eat your way through the top restaurants and visit the Walk of Fame to learn about celebrated St. Louisans.  

 

A little known fact is that St. Louis has more free tourist attractions than any other U.S. city outside Washington DC. Make a day (or week) out of visiting the art museum, history museum, science center and the zoo without spending a dollar! 

 

One attraction that isn’t free but is still totally worth the admission (with a discount on Fridays and Saturdays) is the City Museum. Built in 1997, in an abandoned shoe factory and warehouse, the museum has a labyrinth of interactive swings and tunnels with city views.

Lollapalooza - Chicago, Illinois

Lollapalooza is a four-day music festival that takes place in Chicago’s Grant Park. Originally created in 1991 as a farewell tour by the rock band Jane’s Addiction, the festival took on a life of its own and has become an annual summer destination. The festival presents eight stages with more than 170 bands from all over the world that represent a variety of genres including alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop, and electronic music.

 

Just as MTV is no longer just about music, music festivals go beyond just the performances. The official website describes “sweet photogenic spots” and “interactive areas,” meaning your Lolla experience can live forever on Instagram.

 

For a truly exclusive experience, you also have the option to buy VIP and Platinum tickets, which will give you access to private sections and some of the best views.

Cleveland, Ohio

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Mackinac Island, Michigan

St. Louis, Missouri

Lollapalooza – Chicago, Illinois

Words & Expressions to Know ​

  • Dontcha know: A form of “don’t you know,” the phrase is mostly just used for emphasis.
    • “There’s a snowstorm coming, dontcha know.”

  • Expressway: Highway, freeway, or interstate. 
    • “I’m going to hop on the expressway to go to Costco.”

  • Jeet: Short for “did you eat?”
    • Jeet this morning?”
 

Regional Cooking

Midwestern cuisine is known for being hearty and simple. The region’s diet was largely influenced by Central, Northern, and Eastern European immigrants, as well as ingredients native to the region. Commonly referred to as the “breadbasket of America,” the Midwest is where most of the country’s wheat, corn, and wild rice comes from. Dairy is particularly important to the regional cuisine—especially cheese. In addition to grains and cheese, Midwestern dishes also feature beef and pork.

A few popular dishes that you can’t miss are:

  • Cincinnati Chili: This signature chili comes from Ohio and is rarely seen anywhere else in the country. Although most chili recipes call for beans and is served with rice or cornbread, Cincinnati Chili is unique. Ohio’s chili doesn’t have beans, but instead is spiced with cinnamon, served on top of spaghetti, and covered in cheddar cheese. 
 
  • “Hotdish”: Hotdish is a common dish served in Midwestern homes. This dish can be any type of casserole, which is a quick and comforting meal cooked in a special type of pan. A classic hotdish recipe is Tater Tot Casserole, which is made with ground beef, cheddar cheese, onions, and of course Tater Tots.

Cincinnati Chili

Hotdish

Attractions

The Cloud Gate – Chicago, Illinois

The Cloud Gate is easily the most photographed monument in Chicago. The sculpture is commonly referred to as “The Bean” because of its shape, but it received its official name, Cloud Gate, because 80 percent of its surface reflects the sky. After you take a selfie with this iconic sculpture, there is still more to do around Millennium Park. 

Splash around in the interactive Crown Fountain, which has a black granite reflecting pool and two glass towers that play digital videos. Afterwards, escape from the city into Lurie Garden. If you’re in the mood to exercise, walk from Millennium Park to Maggie Daley Park on the BP Pedestrian Bridge. There you’ll find park-goers rollerblading through the 40-kilometer skating ribbon, as well as two 122-meter rock-climbing walls. 

 

The Gateway Arch – St. Louis, Missouri 

One of St. Louis’ signature symbols is the Gateway Arch. Standing at 192 meters, you’ll have to bend your head to try to see the top as you get closer and closer. It’s located on the Mississippi River, meaning the photo opportunities are endless. 

Once you’ve taken pictures from the outside, you can visit the museum at the bottom of the Gateway. There you can learn the history of its construction, as well as St. Louis’ role in westward expansion. Of course, a trip to the Gateway wouldn’t be complete without taking a tram ride to the top. Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to see almost 48 kilometers in each direction.

Mount Rushmore – Keystone, South Dakota

It’s hard to think of a more American destination than Mount Rushmore. Found in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the heads of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved into a granite mountainside.

Besides seeing the majestic presidential sculpture, there are plenty of other things to do in and around the Black Hills. You can drive through Bear Country to see wild bears in their natural habitat. Or, if you’re a thrill seeker, go ziplining at Rush Mountain Adventure Park. 

Climate

Because the Midwest doesn’t have oceans to regulate its temperatures, the weather can vary dramatically depending on the season. The region sees four clear seasons with changing leaves in the fall, cold winters, colorful springs, and humid summers. Snow is common during the winter months, with Minnesota seeing a yearly average of 137 centimeters.

Living in the Midwest means having a wardrobe that can change as quickly as the temperatures do. That means shorts and sleeveless shirts in the summer, layers in the fall, and tons of accessories in the winter: gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and thick clothes.

Because of the colder than usual temperatures in the winter months, Midwesterners are famous for being big fans of winter sports, such as ice hockey, skiing, and snowboarding. As the weather gets warmer, common activities in many Midwest parks include biking, hiking, canoeing and swimming. 

Our Preferred Universities

We would like to present a list of our favorite universities located in the Southeast.  We have taken into consideration factors such as the quality of the education, the ratio of students/teachers, % of international students on campus, work on campus opportunities, etc..

University of Nebraska System

Most significant Rankings: #129 in National Universities, #95 in Best Value Schools, #44 Best College Athletics in America, #51 Best Colleges for Education in America, #63 Best Colleges for Accounting & Finance in America

Number of students: 20.954

Statistics after graduation: The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $46.400/ year. 96% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages: The University of Nebraska is a hidden gem in the Midwest! The public institution is known for its strong academic standing combined with affordability. It is also one of the nation’s fastest growing universities for research. Students come together on campus from all walks of life to find the community to be friendly and supportive.

University of Wisconsin, Stout Bowman Clock Tower

University of Wisconsin - Stout

Most significant Rankings: #80 in Regional Universities Midwest, #53 in Best Colleges for Information Technology in America, #94 in Best Colleges for Design in America, #100 in Engineering Programs (no doctorate)

Number of students: 8.116

Statistics after graduation: The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $45.100/ year. 97% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages: University of Wisconsin Stout is the officially designated Polytechnic University of the state of Wisconsin making it an innovative engineering institution with 4 specialized engineering programs. With any field you decide to study, UW-Stout makes a commitment to helping you graduate as an experienced and non-dispensable addition to the workforce. The numbers speak for themselves with 87 percent of graduates working within their field of study and 100% placement success.

University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

Most significant Rankings: #38 in Regional Universities Midwest, #5 in Top Public Schools, #123 in Best Colleges for Chemistry in America

Number of students: 10.022

Statistics after graduation:The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $46.200/ year. 97% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages:
The University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire has earned its reputation as a top public school that pushes its students to exceed. The school’s Physics and Astronomy departments have been nationally recognized as one of the best at placing bachelor’s degree earners in the STEM workforce. The business department earned the highly esteemed ACCSB International accreditation, which fewer than 5% of business schools in the world carry. UW-Eau Claire was also awarded for having the top undergraduate research programs in the country and every year they strive to improve.

University of Toledo

Most significant Rankings: #9 in Top Public Universities in Ohio,  #106 in Best College Athletics, #167 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Number of students: 16.194

Statistics after graduation: The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $43.800/ year. 93% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages:
University of Toledo is a public university that was established in 1872. The school has a long history of commitment to education and to upholding their core values which are: Compassion, Professionalism and Respect. Along with these values, the university proudly publicizes their main goal which is to improve the human condition. This speaks volumes to the type of learning and growth experience one can gain from a university who sees education as a tool to help others!

Depaul university, Chicago, Illinois

DePaul University

Most significant Rankings: #119 in National Universities, #54 in Best Value Schools, Best College Locations in America, #11 in Best Colleges for Information Technology in America.

Number of students: 22.437

Statistics after graduation: The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $53,300/ year. 92% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages: DePaul University has five campuses located either in or near the exciting city of Chicago, Illinois. The two main campuses, the Loop and Lincoln Park, are located directly downtown. The great location of all the campuses provides for a true exploratory learning experience. DePaul is also a very diverse university. They believe the blend of backgrounds and perspectives allows their students to learn from each other through a discussion and project-oriented approach in the classes.

Washington University, St Louis, Missouri

Washington University

Most significant Rankings: #19 in National Universities, #1 in Best Colleges for Architecture in America, #2 in Best Colleges for Design in America, #4 in Best Colleges for Business

Number of students: 7.675

Statistics after graduation: The median earnings 6 years after graduation is $70.100/ year. 94% of the students are employed 2 years after graduation.

Insights and Advantages: Washington University is a beautiful private institution that focuses on the student experience. The university attracts students who are driven, curious and self-motivated because they know at WashU they will be provided with an atmosphere that supports and encourages these traits. With five divisions, Architecture, Art, Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, more than 90 areas of study, and more than 1.500 courses, students  have the ability to explore every area of interest. Students create their own path of study, and in some cases are even able to create their own major, which furthers exemplifies the university’s support for the student’s success.