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!

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