It’s a crossover! Northwestern and UChicago students answer your questions about the student experience

Anita Li and Gregory Caesar



In this special episode, Daily Northwestern reporter Anita Li travels into unknown territory –– the University of Chicago. Along with The Chicago Maroon’s Chief Podcast Editor Gregory Caesar, they talk about school stereotypes, libraries and grapes.

ANITA LI: This podcast contains explicit language.


ANITA LI: This is Anita Li from the Daily Northwestern. I am currently stuck in a 4 by-5 room. I don’t know where I am. Send help.

GREGORY CAESAR: Anita, you’re at UChicago. We’re doing a podcast.

ANITA LI: What, who are you?



GREGORY CAESAR: Caesar, from The Maroon.

ANITA LI: Oh, right. Wait, what’s the podcast about?

GREGORY CAESAR: Questions from students from both campuses? We’re getting to know each other.

ANITA LI: Okay, yeah! Let’s start.

GREGORY CAESAR: Wait, did you connect to the Wi-Fi?

ANITA LI: What is it?


ANITA LI: You mean eduroam?


ANITA LI: Okay. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long podcast. Let’s get started. The questions were all submitted anonymously through our Instagram. Shout-out to you if you did that. These are just student opinions. They just reflect a really small sliver of life at Northwestern or UChicago and they’re definitely not the opinions of The Daily Northwestern or—


ANITA LI: Should we introduce ourselves for real?

GREGORY CAESAR: Yeah, sure. So I’m Greg. I’m a second-year, I work for The Maroon and I’m happy to be here.

ANITA LI: I’m Anita. I’m also a sophomore. I work for The Daily Northwestern. Greg, what are you studying?

GREGORY CAESAR: I’m studying computer science and data science.

ANITA LI: I’m studying journalism. We’re basically the same person.

GREGORY CAESAR: Yeah, basically the same.

ANITA LI: Greg, if you could be any form of a potato, what would you be?

GREGORY CAESAR: I think a baked potato. Because I’m hard on the outside, but soft when you get to know me. What about you?

ANITA LI: I would be a gnocchi, I think ‘cause I’m bubbly and fun, and also gnocchi is the most boba-shaped potato form. And that’s just awesome.

GREGORY CAESAR: We have a boba machine in the Reg (Joseph Regenstein Library), which is our busiest and probably largest library.

ANITA LI: Basically the Main for all y’all Northwestern kids listening. Second question. Why didn’t we go to the other person’s school? Greg, why didn’t you go to Northwestern?

GREGORY CAESAR: I felt like I was a better fit for UChicago, at least from what (I’d) heard. Obviously, when you get here, it’s different from what you imagined it as. The mystique wears off. I was drawn to the admissions propaganda, the essay, and the “learning for the sake of learning” and all of that stuff.

GREGORY CAESAR: Why didn’t you apply to UChicago?

ANITA LI: They don’t have journalism! I think I relate to what you said about the mystique wearing off though. Like literally I remember screaming, crying, throwing up to get into Northwestern, and then literally I remember walking out of econ midterms just being like, why the f–k was I so pressed to get into the school?

GREGORY CAESAR: No, I relate to that so much. I still remember after I submitted my application I was like, “If I get in, I will never ask for anything again in my life.” The day I got in, that was the happiest I’ve ever been. And here we are like two years later, like, f–king crying after my CS midterm.


ANITA LI: Northwestern, unlike UChicago, has different schools. Weinberg is our School of Arts and Sciences. We have Medill, our School of Journalism. We have our School of Communication. Then we have McCormick, our School of Engineering. Then we have SESP, our School of Education and Social Policy. And then we have Bienen, which is our School of Music. So, [the] first question that you guys asked is, “What is the UChicago stereotype?” and Weinberg freshman Jeremy Chung has an answer.

JEREMY CHUNG: The one time that I was there around some UChicago students, I heard them trying to practice their Spanish, and I was like, “Damn, those guys are massive, massive nerds.”

GREGORY CAESAR: Massive nerds. I’d say that’s fairly accurate. I could totally see that happening, like, on the quad. I think we take things pretty seriously.

ANITA LI: Jeremy also has another message for us. I think this is something he wanted a certain someone to hear.

JEREMY CHUNG: I have a friend at UChicago and he’s not a bad guy at all. Shout out to Jeremy Lu. You made the wrong choice. I know you’re a smart guy, but for someone with such a large brain, you made a really dumb decision.

ANITA LI: Jeremy Lu, I hope you’re listening to this.

GREGORY CAESAR: He probably isn’t.

ANITA LI: Okay Greg, what about you?

GREGORY CAESAR: First of all, shoutout to Leon Gold for helping me out with this. The first response is from Vikram (Mehta) and it’s to “What do UChicago students think of Northwesterners?”

VIKRAM MEHTA: Evanston actually has a much better downtown area. I think the people are generally lacking in intelligence, but despite that distinct lack of intelligence, they made a much better choice than all of us and we all kind of got f–ked. The nature of delusion is that delusion is a nondiscriminatory kind of a quality. You can be really quite smart and still be delusional.

ANITA LI: That’s so funny. I don’t know what kind of downtown Evanston they’re referring to. Our downtown is like, mid at best. Vikram, that was a great comeback. I think we could have been sworn enemies for a point there, but I think you brought it back. Thank you.

ANITA LI: Greg, you’re a CS major, right? Fun fact about Northwestern is that our CS majors actually belong in two schools. They can choose if they want to do the CS major through Weinberg, our School of Arts and Sciences, or through McCormick, our School of Engineering. Let’s unpack: what is the hygiene situation of CS majors at UChicago?

GREGORY CAESAR: So, at least the stereotype is that they don’t shower very often. I don’t know if you guys have Sidechat, but it’s like Yik Yak, and some of the posts on there are pretty concerning. “I haven’t showered in like five days.” “I haven’t done my laundry in like a month,” — probably a CS major. And fun fact, our like, data science/CS library, which is Crerar, smells pretty bad.

ANITA LI: But, for the record, Greg, do you shower?

GREGORY CAESAR: Yes. I do shower.

ANITA LI: Let’s see what Northwestern students said. This answer is coming from Zoryah Gray. She is a second-year in Weinberg. She is a CS major.

ANITA LI: Do your CS majors shower?

ZORYAH GRAY: It depends. Weinberg CS majors do shower, McCormick CS majors don’t. The frequency in which I run into CS McCormick students outside of a class is little to none. They’re like an endangered animal. I don’t know where they are.

GREGORY CAESAR: She just described us all.

ANITA LI: Greg, what’s your relationship with your mental health?

GREGORY CAESAR: It feels like there’s no respite sometimes. I’m personally a pretty big fan of the quarter system. I like having the opportunity to take all these classes and we end up taking more than those on the semester system, per my understanding. That said, there are obvious trade offs. I think with a quarter as short as ours, you sort of necessarily have to sacrifice depth, which I don’t like. How’s it like at Northwestern?

ANITA LI: I think we have pretty different experiences just because I’m studying journalism, you’re studying CS. I feel like with journalism, it feels a lot more like our classes are pretty chill. Like, we only take one journalism class a quarter, and all the other ones are other requirements or other areas of study. But I think there’s a lot of extracurricular stuff. Definitely always the constant pressure of having stuff and even when you’re feeling free, you feel like you should be doing something.

ANITA LI: Our question for you guys was, “How does it feel to not have a social life?”

GREGORY CAESAR: First of all, shout out to Charlie Ortega Martinez, awesome guy, who helped me out with this. And yes, I did outsource these recordings, because I was going through it last week. Okay, so, first one is from Alex (Porter).

ALEXANDRIA PORTER: My name is Alex. I’m a second-year at UChicago.

CHARLIE ORTEGA MARTINEZ: How does it feel to not have a social life?

ALEXANDRIA PORTER: Actually, I would say that I do have a social life. Honestly, like, compared to high school, my social life is a lot bigger here, which may sound sad, but it’s true, I guess. The only thing I would say is that, like, the demands of UChicago definitely hamper the amount of time or the feasibility of having a well-developed social life. So I think it takes a lot more effort to have one.

ANITA LI: First of all, Alex, no, that’s a slay. I’m so proud of you that you were able to find your community here and grow and sprout into the awesome butterfly that you are. Second of all, that’s super valid. I don’t know if you felt this Greg, like in college, you have to make much more of an actual effort to connect with people.

GREGORY CAESAR: You do have to make more of an effort. Especially like—I grew up in the same sort of community, K through 12. So you had all of these cliques form. And then in college, it’s like, there’s just so many people and it’s kind of overwhelming, but I think for me, what’s been helpful is finding people in RSOs, which you probably don’t know – clubs, or recognized student organizations.

GREGORY CAESAR: So this is a response to the question “Why do you look so sad?” And it’s from Melody Dias. She’s a second-year.

CHARLIE ORTEGA MARTINEZ: Why do you look so sad?

MELODY DIAS: Well, there’s quite a few reasons. The first being that I have a six page paper that was due two days ago that I haven’t started, that’s worth 20 percent of my grade. And I have another paper due that’s three pages that’s due in two days from now. Maybe three. All of the classes are difficult and summer is expensive. And the one job that I got just asked me to fill out 10 new forms in order to get the minimum wage payment that I need. So that and the combination of finals week coming up is a lovely little — yeah, it’s a little sad. Okay.

ANITA LI: Aww, I’m so sorry. Fam, that sucks. I literally just turned in a discussion post late last night. I was sipping boba, giving not a care in the world, typing up my thing, hours past when it was due.


ANITA LI: One of y’all asked, “Are you actually happier than UChicago students?” and we have two responses here. The first one is from Kate Wojciechowski. Kate Wojciechowski is a McCormick freshman.

KATE WOJCIECHOWSKI: I think I’m pretty happy. I was honestly thinking about it, so far this quarter, I haven’t even cried yet. So that’s pretty good. Last quarter, maybe that wasn’t the situation, but I would say I’m pretty happy. Even though school is stressful, there’s a good balance, so it all works out.

ANITA LI: And then we have a response from Zoryah Gray, who we heard from earlier.

ZORYAH GRAY: Is anyone really happy? We’re all just lying to ourselves. What are you talking about? What is happiness? It’s getting sleep, and I don’t get that that much.

GREGORY CAESAR: Wise words. I resonate with that.


ANITA LI: We’re gonna talk about social justice issues now. So, one of you guys asked us, “How is [the] fossil fuel divestment campaign at Northwestern going, what are we doing in terms of trying to shift our universities investments away from fossil fuel companies?” I have a response from Anusha Kumar, who is a freshman in SESP. That’s our School of Education and Social Policy.

ANITA LI: We have a student organization, Fossil Free (NU), which is focusing on social justice work, both surrounding the environment in general and also specifically towards fossil fuel divestment. Fossil Free NU is a horizontally organized organization, so they don’t have a traditional hierarchical leadership structure. But, Anusha has been involved in a couple of projects.

ANUSHA KUMAR: As of the end of last school year, the 2021-2022 school year, Fossil Free (NU) was able to meet with the Investment Office.

ANITA LI: And Northwestern announced in June 2022 that it will focus on investing in companies that produce less greenhouse gas in the future, and try to divest from companies that are pursuing poor greenhouse gas emission practices.

ANUSHA KUMAR: That has not happened yet because they’re still working towards that. The commitment has been made, but there really has been no steps after that taken to ensure that that commitment is happening in a very sustainable way. [CQ] So part of Fossil Free (NU)’s goals right now is to make sure that they are following through with their promise.

ANITA LI: So, we got a lot of questions from Northwestern students about campus safety. And I think before we dive into it, it’s important to recognize that a lot of the stigma or reputation surrounding UChicago, or more generally Hyde Park, or even more broadly, the South Side of Chicago, is based on a lot of racism, generations of disinvestment or systemic prejudices. I think it’s important to recognize that people live their lives here.


ANITA LI: What fruit do you guys get (in the dining halls)?

GREGORY CAESAR: Blueberries are somewhat of a luxury, but we have them occasionally. And then we have pineapples. Cantaloupe, honeydew and blackberries and raspberries sometimes.

ANITA LI: You guys don’t get grapes?

GREGORY CAESAR: Ooh, they’re rare.

ANITA LI: WHAT? Grapes are rare? That’s crazy. When there’s like any kind of berry, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries at any dining hall, it’s a bloodbath.


ANITA LI: Final question, someone asked, “Do UChicago students go to the libraries to pick up guys or girls?”

GREGORY CAESAR: Okay, so Melody also responded to this one. Let’s hear what she has to say.

MELODY DIAS: I can definitely say that people have attempted to pick me up at a library. This has happened at every single library and depending on which one you’re at, the pick up lines will get either worse or horribly worse. The Regenstein is where that mostly occurs, especially on the A level, and you’ll get asked questions about the stacks. It’s a very common joke that people f–k in the stacks.

ANITA LI: Melody, you’re a baddie. I don’t think we are having sex in our libraries.

GREGORY CAESAR: I’ve never personally seen it. I’m not surprised to hear that just because of how central libraries are to social life on campus. People go there all the time, people sleep in the library. The Reg is just where everything happens. Everything. That is just the heart of campus. People take libraries seriously here. We have at least five and they all have their distinct cultures. Mansueto (Joe and Rika Mansueto Library) is the Divergent one, the dome. That one’s pretty intense, it’s no noise at all.

ANITA LI: What would happen if I walked in Mansueto and just started blasting music?

GREGORY CAESAR: People would stare at you. Wait, there was this thing that happened a few weeks ago, somebody didn’t realize that their headphones were unplugged and they started playing hentai. I wish I were making this up. It was all over Sidechat. It was wild.

ANITA LI: That’s crazy.

GREGORY CAESAR: What do you think of UChicago’s campus?

ANITA LI: I think I can’t evaluate the same because right now the newness, the novelty of UChicago is still with me, whereas I see Northwestern as the place where I’ve shed blood, sweat and tears. So I think the baggage is different. For those of you who don’t know, UChicago’s campus is basically like if Deering Library had 70 babies. Everything’s like dark academia, vines, wooden doors. Is this a medieval prison or is this a library? I don’t know. It’s pretty, I’ll give them that. They have their own version of Weber Arch called Hull Gate, and I kind of s–t on it before, I was like, okay, they’re just trying to be us, but it’s kind of pretty. But I think it’s just a shame that UChicago kids are too depressed to appreciate the beauty of their campus.

GREGORY CAESAR: I’ve never been to Northwestern. I’ve seen pictures of it on Google Maps and things like that. My sense is that it’s very decentralized, right?

ANITA LI: Yeah, we don’t have a quad.

GREGORY CAESAR: Do you wish you did?

ANITA LI: Not really? I can’t think of any quad activities that I would have done. Like, it’s snowing half the year, it’s windy the other half. So I’m like, “What would I use a quad for?”

GREGORY CAESAR: I mean, for us, it’s just chilling, hanging out. People play music, people sunbathe.

ANITA LI: I guess we can use our lake for that when the weather gets nice. People hang hammocks on the trees and like chill and stuff like that.

GREGORY CAESAR: Do you have an actual beach?

ANITA LI: We have two. Okay guys, we’re gonna wrap this up now. Greg, it’s been a good time. What’s one thing you like about Northwestern?

GREGORY CAESAR: There’s a lot to like, I think. It seems like you guys have more balance than us. And I admire that. Especially because you somehow manage to work just as hard as us — at least that’s what it seems like. I know you guys have, like, a football stadium. That’s impressive.

ANITA LI: Thank you, Greg. If I had to choose one thing I liked about UChicago probably it’s that you guys have f–king ice cream, and milkshakes for $1 on Wednesdays, that’s pretty lit. I think that would definitely encourage me to come hang out here more often.

ANITA LI: Well, for whoever ‘s still listening at this point, thank you.

ANITA LI: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Anita Li. This episode was reported by me and Gregory Caesar from the Chicago Maroon. This episode was produced by me. Thanks to Leon Gold and Charlie Ortega Martinez for contributing reporting, and the staff of the Maroon for their support. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Mika Ellison, the digital managing editors are Ava Mandoli and Erica Schmitt, and the editor-in-chief is Alex Perry. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more.


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