Justin T.: Community at Northwestern

The night before the inauguration, faculty, staff and students gathered in the Barber Theatre lobby and held a camera light vigil as part of the national effort to promote inclusivity.

As a tour guide, I field many questions about what it’s like here as a student on campus. I think one thing that I don’t get to stress enough, though, is the community that you get being a Wildcat. It’s incredible to be able to walk down Sheridan Road and see many faces who you don’t know and then also many faces who you do know. You feel community walking to class. Maybe you’re like me and are two minutes late from Norris because the Dunkin line was a little bit long but you needed your coffee. Then, walking to class, you see someone you know. In that moment even though your life is pretty frantic, everything is okay. You hug, you jump for joy, you high-five… you something. But that something, at least for me, really brightens my day and is a typical example of a Wildcat-to-Wildcat interaction.

As a senior, I’ve continued to notice these little moments where Wildcats are there for one another. I saw it when my friend and peer Allie Woodson did a reading of her self-written play, “These Days” in Shanley Pavilion. The theater was packed to the brim. At the end, we all gave Allie a standing ovation and you could tell how much the experience meant to her. I saw it when the Cubs won the World Series. While I’m not from Chicago, the excitement that my friends from the area felt was contagious. The celebration that I was able to share with my peers was amazing.

My Wildcat community has become more and more important to me. Personally, I’ve struggled this year with how frequently I disagree with our new President. I’m grateful for how this community continues to lift me up. The morning after the election, I felt the community in my acting class. Usually, the black box theater where we have our class is filled with noise and excitement. That morning though it was eerily quiet. Our professor walked in and the conversation that proceeded was cathartic. These moments of collective emotion are what make this community so special. You might not agree with your peers on every issue, but the empathy that Wildcats are able to show to each other is something truly unique.

The moment that solidified what this community meant to me was through a theatre project called The Ghostlight Project. This was a project that theatres across the country participated in. While it took place the night before the inauguration, it was not a project of protest. This was a project where you, as a theatre, could reaffirm your support to people of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities, religions, etc. by adding light into the world. As a co-chair of The Waa-Mu Show, we were approached by the Wirtz Center and the Theatre Department to participate in the project here on campus. Students, faculty, and staff gathered in the lobby of the Barber Theatre. Many of us had had a long day, many of us had many other things to do that evening. But, together, we gathered. We sang, we laughed. We all turned on lights at the same time and it was a sight I will never forget.

The Northwestern community is strong and resilient. We stand together for each other through it all. Being a Wildcat is a special part of my identity that I share with many other students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Having that one thing in common allows for a special community to be created here on campus. It’s something that, through the highs and lows, has made me love my Northwestern experience.

Sam E.: Evanston, Chicago and All the Opportunities Within!

Fountain Square, Downtown Evanston

Before arriving in Evanston for my freshman year, I was a little…ok….more like a lot worried about this little town called Evanston. Growing up in Washington, D.C., life in the city was all I knew. My tour guide made it abundantly clear that Northwestern offered plenty of ways to spend one’s time, but I was pretty sure that could never compare to the amount of opportunities Washington, D.C. could provide. Sure, campus was beautiful when I visited, but I hadn’t a clue what to expect from the areas outside of campus. And sure, Chicago is a great city, but how am I going to be able to get there and isn’t it far away?

My concerns couldn’t have been any further from the truth. Evanston is a great town in many ways, but what I really look for when I’m defining great cities is the quality of food options and the access to fun opportunities. My favorite restaurant is Todoroki, a Japanese restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat option. Although I typically eat until I cannot breathe and I’ve begun growing gills from the amount of fish I’ve eaten, Todoroki is still one of the greatest eating experiences in Evanston. Once a year, Todoroki hosts a sushi-eating competition among fraternity members at Northwestern. The winner is blessed with the ultimate prize: free all-you-can-eat sushi for an entire year. I’ve yet to win, but I’m still trying. One day, the free all-you-can-eat will be mine!

You don’t have to go far to get an authentic taste of Chicago either. Evanston offers two of Chicago’s most famous deep-dish style pizza restaurants: Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s! At first, I was skeptical. I’d never tried Chicago-style pizza and had heard from my New York friends that pizza from Chicago just doesn’t compare to regular pizza, constantly exclaiming “It isn’t even pizza!” Hopefully, none of those friends see this blog post because I must say that the pies being served at Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s are delicious. If you’re worried about late-night food options, fear not. Evanston is also home to Cheesie’s, a restaurant that offers some of the wildest grilled cheese sandwiches the world has ever seen. I strongly suggest trying the Tenderizer which comes with fried chicken and bacon among a few other delicious ingredients.

Finally, Chicago, one of the world’s finest cities, is easily within reach. The Chicago Transit Authority can get you to the city within an hour, the intercampus shuttle can take you to Northwestern’s downtown Chicago campus for free, or Uber and Lyft occasionally offer discounts to Northwestern students. Once you’re in the city, the list of things to do is endless. You could visit Millennium Park to take in the beauty of downtown Chicago. You could visit the Art Institute of Chicago for free by showing your WildCard! Ever heard of Wrigley Field? Once a year, Wrigley hosts Northwestern students for a day at the historic ballpark.

Simply put, Evanston and Chicago offer plenty of opportunities outside of campus, so no need to worry my fellow urban folk, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Take Notes: How to Have the Best Birthday Weekend Ever at NU!

To make the most of your birthday at NU, you have to take the train downtown and explore the amazing city that is Chicago!

Being from the East Coast, I never would have expected that the warmest birthday of my life thus far would have been in Chicago. Nevertheless, when its 61 degrees in January, you don’t waste it. I took it as my own personal birthday gift from Mother Nature and set out to have the best weekend possible. And it was.

Friday was my actual 20th birthday, making 2017 my golden year (yay for turning 20 on the 20th). I started out the day by taking a short walk from my cozy campus home in the sorority quad to my favorite coffee shop in Evanston, where I enjoyed a free beverage and crammed for my French test later that day. And while some may think about how much it sucks to have an exam on your birthday, it was actually pretty great. My tiny French class consists mostly of students I’ve learned the language with since my first quarter at Northwestern. Over the past year, we have become a little classroom family. So when I strolled in last Friday to tackle the test, I had the extra support of ten others wishing me the best.

After conquering class, I took another short walk into downtown Evanston to my favorite trendy consignment store, where the employees’ hospitality reminded me why I love living in the Midwest. With their help, I left with a few unique new presents to myself, ready to take on the evening.

The first lesson to having the best birthday is clear: spend the majority of the day alone enjoying your city. However, two of my best friends from my peer advising group soon showed me why spending part of the day with friends is also pretty awesome. Being the new intern at Second City, my girl Liz swept us away into the city where we enjoyed a comedy show unlike any other. There’s no greater feeling than being in Chicago with the people you love most, laughing until you can’t breathe.

On Saturday, what started as a walk on a warm January day (seriously) turned out to be an unexpected journey. As I passed the L stop on Davis St. I realized that I was not yet ready for my birthday adventures to end. Naturally, I bought a day pass for the Purple Line and rode into the city. That day, it was so clear that no matter if its your birthday or not, we receive priceless gifts more often than we know. As cheesy as that is, I couldn’t deny it. The Chicago wind and sun, thousands of women’s rights signs, and a train ride are the best presents I could have gotten.

Guest Blog: My Botswana Adventure

Me channeling my inner Zebra (Botswana’s national animal) during Botswana’s 50th anniversary.

Having just returned from summer vacation, I have been thinking a lot about the past 7 months here in Botswana. There have been so many ups and downs but what stands out the most to me is just how much I’ve grown to truly appreciate this country’s culture and history. Botswana’s history is one filled with love and inclusivity, a narrative that is so often untold about African nations. Instead of war and poverty, Botswana was a country that was able to rise above the racial tension that existed at the time and forge ahead to create a truly mixed nation.

Botswana was declared an independent nation on September 30th, 1966. Prior to this, it was called Bechuanaland, its name given by the British while they were in control. Unlike South Africa which was under the Apartheid system imposed by the Afrikaners, Bechuanaland was largely left alone. After negotiations with the British crown in London in 1895, Khama III, with two other chieftains, were able to attain sovereignty for this British protectorate in exchange for some land to build some railways (see: Cecil Rhodes and the Cape to Cairo railway).

Things ran more or less smoothly until Sir Seretse Khama, Khama III’s grandson, fell in love with Ruth Williams while studying in Oxford. Seretse was black and Motswana; Ruth was white and British. Under increasing pressure from South Africa (remember, Apartheid) and his own people, Seretse and Ruth continued to fight for their love and eventual marriage. At one point, South Africa even banned Seretse from its borders. Eventually, however, his own country began to accept the relationship and in 1965, after the introduction of a new self-government, Seretse took his place as Bechuanaland’s first prime minister, with Ruth by his side. In 1966, as the British began dismantling many of their overseas colonies, Bechuanaland became independent, renamed itself Botswana, and elected Seretse Khama as its first president.

Botswana’s flag represents this history: a blue background to symbolize rain, Botswana’s life blood, the center black stripe represents its majority population while the two white stripes are a nod to the racial harmony and diversity that Botswana adopts.

In 1967, a year after independence, the first diamond was discovered in Botswana. This discovery would allow Botswana to become one of the fastest growing new democracies on the African continent. Many argue that this discovery was timely for another reason: had diamonds been discovered prior to independence, no one knows whether the British would have let go so easily.

– Kevin Nigarura (WCAS ’16)

Sam S: Unsolicited Advice – Step Foot into Every Single Building on Campus

Photo Credit: Mari Uchida Photography


Over my past four (yikes!) years at Northwestern, I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in exciting projects, gathering a wide range of experiences while meeting extremely passionate and hard-working peers. However, as I look back, I realize that I’ve made one extreme error: I’ve only sought out opportunity in one corner of Northwestern’s vast campus.

As a Theatre major, I’ll find myself composing music for Seesaw Theatre (a group that creates multi-sensory, accessible theatre for audiences with developmental differences) one day and dancing in my friend’s tap cabaret the next. And while I look back on these memories with great fondness, it’s safe to say that I have spent the entirety of my college career in the same three buildings.

A few weeks ago, the stark realization that I’ll soon be out in the real world (help please) hit me like a big, preprofessional ton of bricks. I decided it would be wise to have an updated resume, so I took a trip to the other end of campus in order to visit Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA). Over the next hour, I met with a special advisor who works with students in the arts, and we combed through my resume, cleaning and updating along the way.

My trip to the NCA was immensely helpful: the moment I stepped into the room, I was taken care of and given personalized and insightful advice, yet for some reason, I hadn’t thought to take advantage of this opportunity until halfway through my final year. And after leaving the NCA, my mind flew to all of the programs that have existed on campus, programs that have quite literally been calling my name only to be ignored by me.

Northwestern is teeming with accessible opportunities for students, and if you ask any Wildcat, they’ll be all too familiar with an abundance of emails from not only the NCA, but also Northwestern’s Office of External Programs, Internships, & Career Services, and countless offices for research, studying abroad, and more. All of these offices are literally throwing opportunity (and often free pizza) at students, but for some reason, we tend to ignore these emails because we are self-starters and like to seek out opportunity ourselves. We become robots and, as if some primitive instinct has kicked in, delete the email thinking it’s junk.

So incoming Wildcats, take heed: get up and out! You should literally step foot into every single building on campus, because each one is filled with exciting opportunities that you won’t know even existed until you are close enough to touch them. It seems very flashy and exciting to join in with your peers to work on your own projects (and you should definitely do this!), but take it from me, don’t discount the amazing programs that already exist at Northwestern. Whether it’s grants from the Office of Undergraduate Research or attending a job fair on campus, every corner of campus holds something new and exciting in store. We spend so much time worrying about what will happen when we walk into the room that we usually forget to walk into the room in the first place. But what I’ve begun to learn is that walking into the room is the hardest part, and once you get that out of the way, things have a way of working themselves out.

Tomas: A Chilean’s Take on Those Chilly Chicago Winters

Let’s get straight to the point. Winter in Chicago is not a season that you are supposed to enjoy. The bitter cold and the wind will try to freeze you every morning on your way to class and snow will make you feel as a national geographic explorer on your way to Econ 201. However, as I have discovered in the past year and a half, Northwestern tackles winter like no other place that I’ve lived.

The energy of college students is definitely not dampened by Mother Nature. If anything, it makes us more proactive in organizing social gathering of all types throughout the winter. Also, from January to March, there are countless events including musical and theater performances available to us on campus. By attending some of these events last year, I realized the world-class level of our performance groups on campus.

If you are into sports, and honestly even if you are not into them, going to a Wildcat basketball game is always fun. Hundreds of students go to Welsh-Ryan to see our team play and the experience is always a highlight of my week (plus, they almost always give away free swag!).

For foodies like me, winter is the perfect excuse for some restaurant exploration in Evanston. There are so many options that a whole quarter is almost not enough time to visit every single one. Planning ahead is essential though, because on Friday nights many restaurants tend to get crowded with Northwestern students and getting a table can be hard.

Winter itself opens up a few other options that are normally not available the rest of the year such as ice skating. If you are a pro, or a rookie like me, the ice rink that opens up on the Norris East Lawn is a good option in order to see your friends hopelessly crash on the ice.

Although winter might not be my favorite season, spending it here at Northwestern is definitely a better experience than what most people get.