Springfield is the state capital of Illinois and has a population of about 116,500.  Springfield is located in central Illinois.  St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois are two major cities in the vicinity.  St. Louis is located about 100 miles (160 km) southwest and Chicago is located about 200 miles (320 km) northeast.

The city lies on a mostly flat plain with many corn, bean, and wheat fields surrounding.  A large man-made lake called Lake Springfield provides the city with recreation and drinking water.

Springfield is home to past president Abraham Lincoln, who led the nation through the Civil War and ended slavery.  He is considered a hero by many and Springfield offers many Lincoln tourists sites such as his home, tomb, and the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  Other attractions include Washington Park, the state capital, and every August Springfield hosts the Illinois State Fair.

The horseshoe sandwich, which is an open-faced sandwich not well-known outside of central Illinois, originated in Springfield.  It consists of thick, toasted bread, choice of meat, fries on top, and covered in a special cheese sauce.  You can order this at most area restaurants.

To learn more about the city of Springfield, visit Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau website.


The climate in Springfield is variable, generally characterized by hot summers and cold winters.   It is advisable to listen to weather reports and warnings. Weather information is generally available on most local radio and television stations and online.

Springfield has four distinct seasons:

  • Summer begins in late June and continues through September with hot and humid weather and temperatures ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 37 degrees Celsius).
  • Fall arrives in late September. Cooler temperatures (30 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit / 1 to 21 degrees Celsius), rain, and sometimes snow are characteristic of this season.
  • Winter is at its worst in December to March with snow, ice, and cold temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. You can expect anywhere from only trace amounts of snow to 1”- 6” of snow on the ground.
  • Spring arrives in late March and generally lasts until late May or June. Rain, winds and mild temperatures are characteristics of spring.

Tornadoes are the most common natural disaster in this region. A tornado is an intense storm that forms a funnel cloud, which can cause severe damage in a short amount of time. The UIS Police Department will send out emails during severe weather and local television and radio stations will be interrupted to alert people. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur.  During a tornado watch, you should stay close to a safe place and should not be driving if possible. A tornado warning means that an actual tornado has been spotted and a loud siren will be activated to warn people. You should seek shelter immediately. UIS Housing will provide you with directions on where to go during a tornado. If you live off-campus, talk to your landlord or the owner about safe zones.

Note:  Do not be alarmed if you hear the siren on the first Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m.  This is only a test.



SMTD (Springfield Mass Transit District) is a bus service with 18 fixed routes and 5 night service routes throughout the Springfield area. SMTD offers routes to and from the UIS campus. You may stop by the Office of International Student Services for a current bus map. You may also view their website for routes, services, and other information.

10 Simple Steps for Riding the City Busses

1) Locate the bus stops on campus

They are:

  • Outside the Public Affairs Center (PAC Teardrop)
  • UIS Bookstore

2) Look at the bus route schedule and see what time a bus comes to those points

They come by every 30 minutes between 6 am and 6 pm. Busses do not run on Sunday.

3) Arrive at the bus stop a few minutes early

Wait for the bus near the corner, or designated bus stop. Do NOT wait in the middle of the block. You must be at the bus stop sign or the bus will not stop.

4) Have exact change

The drivers do not make change. The cost for one ride is $1.25.

5) Get on the bus

6) Put your money into the little glass box

7) Take a seat

The seats up front are reserved for handicapped people and elderly.

8) When you want to get off, press the yellow rubber strip which is located next to the windows

The bus will then stop at the NEXT bus stop. They do not stop in the middle of the block. They stop where there is an SMTD bus stop sign. If you do not know where to get off, talk to the driver when you get on. Tell him/her where you want to get off, and sit close by so s/he can tell you when you have reached your stop.

9) If you need to transfer to a second bus to reach your destination:

When you get on the first bus, pay $1.25. Then, say, “I need a transfer”.

You will get a small piece of paper, which is a transfer paper. Transferring a bus is free.  Go to the downtown bus hub and look for the next bus.  Get on the bus and give the driver the transfer paper.

To return to campus, reverse the process.

Some buses go out one way, but return via a different route. Make sure you know this before you get off the bus so that you know where to catch the bus to return to campus.

You can transfer from one bus to another if the routes cross.

UIS is served by Route 11 and 15.

The buses are marked with large numbers on the front, back, and sides.

10) If you have questions call 522‐5531

Be prepared to tell: where you are, where you want to go, the time you want to arrive.

You can obtain a bus pass at the Cashier’s Office (USFSCO) or Bookstore. It will cost $20.00 and will serve for 20 rides. You will not need to always have correct change if you have a bus pass. They will punch the pass one time for each ride.

If you ever get on a bus and you don’t think you’ve got on the correct one: Stay on it. They ALL return to downtown. You can then get off and decide the right one. If you get off anywhere else, you may get lost.

If you do get lost or confused and it is Monday‐Friday, 8:30‐5, call the Office of International Student Services (217‐206‐6678) and we will walk you through this.

Buses do not run on the following holidays:

New Years Day – January 1
Memorial Day – the last Monday in May
Independence Day – July 4
Labor Day – the first Monday in September
Thanksgiving Day – the last Thursday in November
Christmas Day – December 25


If you call a taxicab, they will pick you up wherever you are and take you directly to where you want to go.  A taxi is more convenient than the bus, but much more expensive, and it is customary to tip 15% of the fare.

Please see below for a list of taxi companies serving Springfield.

  • Quality Cab: (217) 523-4055
  • Lincoln Yellow Cab: (217) 523-4545
  • Springfield Yellow Cab Inc: (217) 544-1111
  • Gracious Cab Service: (217) 685-9900

Gracious Cab provides low cab rates for UIS students:

  • Campus to Amtrak Station and other downtown sites:  $10 for one person, $15 for two people, $20 for three to seven people
  • Campus to Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport:  $15 for one person, $20 for two people, $30 for three to seven people
  • $50 for 15-passenger van carrying 10 to 15 people


Campus Recreation offers the use of free bicycles to students.  “Star Bikes” can be checked out for five days at a time at the front desk of TRAC to run errands, get to class, or just for fun.  Locks and helmets are provided at no charge.


If you are able to own a car, then you must apply for an Illinois driver’s licenseBefore you can drive, you are required by law to purchase automobile insurance and you must also purchase license plates.  Please see the following websites for more information:

Illinois Secretary of State Document Requirement

Cyber Drive Illinois- Driver’s License Information

ISS Driver’s License Information

The Office of International Student Services has Rules of the Road books available for you to use to prepare for getting your driver’s license.  Please stop by our office to get one.


Shopping in the United States

Usually, prices marked on merchandise are fixed and you cannot negotiate for a lower price.  You may, however, bargain for a lower price for cars, major appliances, and at garage sales.

When you have finished shopping, a cashier will total the amount of your purchase and add the sales tax.  Many stores have installed “self-scan” electronic devices which allow you to ring up your own purchases.  It is also important to note that some stores have “speedy check-out” lanes.  This means that a particular lane is for customers with 15 items or less (or another amount determined by the store).  Sometimes people want to run into a store and just buy, for example, a loaf of bread and milk.  The store allows them to use a specific lane for quick exchanges instead of waiting behind people with a full cart of items.  It should be indicated by a sign above the cashier whether it is a “speedy check-out” lane and it is considered impolite to use this lane if you have more than the specified number of items.

It is important to keep the receipt for your purchase because if an item is poor quality or if you change your mind, you may need your receipt to return it to the store.

Methods of Payment

There are a few different options for making payments, which are probably similar to your home country.  The most familiar method of payment is cash. Another convenient method of payment is by using a debit card or personal check from your bank.  Make sure to have adequate funds in the bank to cover any check you may write.  Usually, you cannot use your debit card when you do not have sufficient funds, but you should still keep track of your debits and credits and always know your balance.  You may also apply for credit cards at stores, which sometimes offers discounts.  Credit cards are convenient, but late fees and interest rates can really add up and it can be easy to find yourself in debt.  The best advice is:  If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

The Sunday issue of the State Journal Register offers many ads and coupons.  Coupons offer a discount off the regular price of certain products.  Some coupons are only good at certain stores and other coupons are good at any store which carries the product.  Store brand products are usually cheaper than name brand products and are of the same quality.

Major Shopping Areas

There are several major shopping areas in Springfield. White Oaks Mall,  located on Veterans Parkway is our largest retail shopping facility with over 100 stores and restaurants.

Parkway Pointe anchored by Target and Wal-Mart, is another shopping area off Veterans Parkway that offers a variety of specialty shops, restaurants and a movie theater.

There is also a Super Wal-Mart located just a couple miles north of campus.

Also, near campus, is Capital City Shopping Center, which has a Shopko as well as several shopping and dining opportunities and a movie theatre.  This area is located about 3 miles from UIS on South Dirksen and Stevenson Drive.

For a listing of stores in Springfield, visit the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau website.

Used Items

In the summer months it is popular for people to hold sales in their garage or yard to get rid of items they no longer need.  People sell used clothing, furniture, and household items at these sales for very low prices and it is acceptable to bargain. Such sales are often advertised in the classified advertisements section of The State Journal Register.


There are many different places of worship in the Springfield area that welcome your attendance and participation in their programs.  Please view the following link for a listing of area churches of multiple denominations.



There is a lot to do in Springfield and the surrounding area.  Visit the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau website for a complete listing of art galleries, historic sites, museums, nightlife, outdoor activities, and more.

Also, there is a weekly magazine called the Illinois Times available for free, which lists all the events for that week.


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