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.

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

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.

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