Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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The Ultimate Freshman To-Do List

Explore Chicago – and not just the downtown area

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about having Chicago a few miles away is that you will go into the city often. But in between classes and extracurriculars, students often find they have little time to actually make the trip down to the city. The train ride is long, and to make the trip worth it, you really have to spend the entire day there. But make a point to visit at least once a quarter. Plan a trip with friends. Make sure you visit all the touristy spots downtown – Mag Mile, Millennium Park, Willis Tower, Navy Pier and John Hancock Center.

Once you’ve got those places covered, visit the neighborhoods. Explore outside the Loop and downtown area. I have a friend who loves going around Chicago, and one time he took me to Pilsen, where I had the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life. I spent the night at Wicker Park once and saw the most beautiful view of the skyline from a rooftop deck. Make it a goal to take each line on the El at least once. Take the CTA buses, where you’ll find the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. Research the neighborhoods that make up Chicago, and find out the best places to eat and visit in each one. It’s really the only way to make the most out of living so close to the city.

Swim in the lake

Get this done in the fall. The weather is going to get cold real fast, and the lake may stay chilly until you leave for summer vacation. Invite a few people from your dorm to take a trip down to the beach the first few weeks of school. This isn’t exactly South Beach, but few people get the luxury of going to a school so close to the beach. Enjoy it while you can, because once the temperatures start dropping, the lake and the beach will stay a frozen tundra for months.

And along with that, go out onto the Lakefill. It can be quite a hike sometimes, but make it a point to sit on the rocks every now and then. My friends and I had a picnic on the Lakefill during our freshman year, and it’s still one of my best memories at NU. Bonus points for getting up early and watching the sunrise. I have yet to do it, but I’ve heard it’s quite a beautiful experience.

Familiarize yourself with the shuttle system

While that half-mile walk to the other end of campus may not seem like a long trek now, it will seem like an epic journey once the temperatures drop and you can’t walk a few feet without sliding on ice. Do yourself a favor and get to know the shuttle system. The Evanston and Campus loops run at night, making that walk to the frats in your mini skirt and heels a lot easier and safer. The Intercampus Shuttle takes you to Chicago, but if you’re lucky, it can also save you the walk to Tech right before math class during the winter.

The bus stops and the website have the times listed, but if you take advantage of it often enough, you’ll start to memorize the schedules (the Campus Loop, for one, runs on the same times every hour).

Try something you never thought you would do

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
The Ultimate Freshman To-Do List