Incoming Study Abroad student from UK

I am an incoming study abroad student to UIUC and will be studying for the whole of the next academic year (both terms). My major is Civil Engineering, I am studying in the UK at a top institution. </p>

<p>I have some questions regarding course choice and housing.
Course choice:</p>

<p>I need to select a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester. I think I am not allowed to choose economics courses as my uni says so. I wish to choose a wide range of courses as I feel that this broad-based education is something special about the US. I prefer to keep my course load low because I need to accustomise myself to a new country.
Which disciplines that you feel UIUC is well known for? </p>

Basically have 4 options:
Independent off-campus (does this mean renting an apartment?)
Living+learning community
Please could you detail the key differences in terms of atmosphere, cost, and proximity to campus?</p>

<p>Thanks in advance</p>