There is no other city in the world like Chicago. It's big-city life meets Midwest, and the result is fantastic. The city is teeming with things to do. On any given day, you can check out the museums, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the downtown shopping, cultural neighborhoods, Lake Michigan, movies, concerts, Broadway productions, and free local events. The best part is that getting downtown is incredibly easy. One quick bus or train ride and you're at one of the major cities of the United States. While there are other schools in the area, like Northwestern and DePaul, chances are you won’t see many of the students except downtown at night. However, you will see a ton of people between the ages of 21 and 25. It’s a vibrant youth culture that you have more than enough access to.
As for Hyde Park itself, it's definitely city living. You have to be aware of your surroundings. There is some crime, but the University Police and city police do their best to keep everything under control. The University is very safety-conscious, so there are multiple programs in place that help you get from point A to point B without any concerns. However, along with the crime, you also get a ton of local flavor. Hyde Park has a lot of local restaurants and some street fairs that can keep you entertained if you don't feel like making the trip downtown. It's kind of like the city of Chicago is the University's "Uptown." How many places can say that?