When I was looking at colleges, I wanted a school that had a vibrant campus and wasn’t in the center of a major city. However, I also wanted to be close enough to a big city so I could partake in the events and culture that are part of urban life. Twelve miles from downtown Chicago, Northwestern met those criteria and ended up being the perfect school for me.
We have three ways we can get into the city using public transportation from campus: 1) a free Northwestern shuttle, 2) the “L”, or 3) the Metra, so there’s no reason not to head downtown once every week or so. Even during the winter, I usually go downtown once every two weeks.
This past weekend, my dad was in town and we took the L downtown. We went to the Art Institute (where Northwestern students get in for free), to the Berghoff Restaurant (a Chicago classic), and to a show at Second City. Last month, I went downtown to participate in a 24-hour theatre festival with students from different colleges in and around the Chicago area. And for my birthday, my friends and I created a dessert tour around the city – definitely the best way to celebrate turning 20.
Last quarter I was downtown every Friday when I took a theatre practicum class at Broadway in Chicago’s office. Every Friday morning, the students in my class and I would take the L downtown together. We would usually pick up coffee or breakfast from the cafes and bakeries we were continuously discovering and then head to the office together. After class, some weeks I would head back to campus for various meetings or commitments, while other weeks I would head to the Art Institute, go to an event, or simply go shopping.
I’ve traveled downtown with other classes as well – field trips don’t end after high school! The Introduction to Shakespeare class always goes downtown to see a show at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and my class saw The Tempest which included magic tricks created by the magicians Penn & Teller; it was one of the coolest productions I’ve ever seen. The show sold out months in advance, and none of us would have been able to see it if Northwestern had not purchased tickets for the class.
I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a bustling city every day for class and I love the community that is found on Northwestern’s campus, but I think we’re so lucky to go to college close to such a big city. I love being able to head downtown for theatre, class, or just for fun, and with the public transportation options available and Northwestern’s shuttle, there’s no reason not to go into the city. When you can see the skyline of a city like Chicago from campus, the opportunities for adventures are endless.