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10 Tips to Survive Northwestern

Northwestern is a beautiful, exciting place, but sometimes things can get a little hectic. With the quarter system and crazy artic weather, students can get a little overwhelmed. Here are 10 tips to make sure you have the best possible Northwestern experience!

1. Invest in  Heavy Duty Winter Gear

A long parka and a pair of snow boots  are the best tools a Northwestern student can have. It’s the students from Chicago or Minnesota who think that the same North Face fleece they wore all of high school will be fine. But remember, you aren’t inside a building all day. Invest in some warm gear for your walks to class and around campus, that way you’ll be able to look around and enjoy how beautiful a campus covered in white really is.

2. Get out of the NU Bubble

(Photo Credit: Alyssa Raiola)

Force yourself to leave campus and explore Evanston and Chicago. Evanston has tons of great restaurants and shops that have discounts with your WildCard. It may seem like a drag to take the L into the city when you just want to lie around and watch Netflix all day, but I promise that you’ll be glad you did. Plus, you have to try the deep dish pizza that everyone raves about at least once, right?

3. Take a Random Class

Last year when I was an undecided Weinberg student, my freshman seminar professor suggested I try taking a class in the journalism school. What seemed crazy at the time became the best decision I made in my academic career. I am now an extremely proud inter-school transfer in the Medill School of Journalism. Because of the quarter system, we get to take more classes than the average college student. Give yourself a class to do something you would have never tried before- you may surprise yourself.

4. Join something that YOU Love

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One of the most overwhelming parts of Wildcat Welcome week, the NU freshman orientation program, is the activities fair. When it comes to student groups, don’t push yourself too much. I know, everyone seems to be in like 5 clubs and president of all of them, but I promise, you’ll be better off joining a few things you genuinely enjoy (not the ones you think it’s “cool” to join).

 5. Brace yourself before using Caesar

Cesar is the system we use to register for classes. It leads to a lot of frustration for NU students as it isn’t the most user-friendly. Try talking to friends and professors to see what classes you may be interested in before trying to register. Make sure you leave time to deal with Caesar glitches so you’re not scrambling last minute for a class before other students take the ones you want.

 6. Never Trust the Shuttles

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On your campus tour you probably heard about the famous shuttle system that gets students to and from class in the cold temperatures. Unfortunately, the shuttle system never seems to work quite the way we imagine it would. For the fall and spring quarters, invest in a bike. Although people on the sidewalks won’t be your biggest fan, your trip across campus will be 5 minutes. And for the winter, well, see tip 1 and hope that you live close to your classes.

 7. Learn to Love Hot Cookie Bar

One day a week the dining halls will have a delicious creation of slightly under-baked cookies to enjoy after your meal- it’s definitely one of the best parts of the dining hall. Many students will move off campus later in their Northwestern career, so learn to appreciate the dining halls while you still have them. Not everyone will be the biggest fan of our food but we are lucky to have so many options right on campus.

8.  Wear Purple- When It’s Appropriate

During Welcome Week each freshman will get a ridiculous amount of free t-shirts. When you’re at the football games or at the gym, go crazy with your purple pride, but make sure you don’t fall into the habit of wearing these shirts exclusively. A “Class of 20xx” shirt and a lanyard around your neck is the surefire sign of a freshman.

 9. Don’t Try to Recreate High School

One of my biggest mistakes coming into freshman year was trying to look for the friends that would be each friend I had in high school. Remember that our student body is made up of students from all over the world, so there is no way your friends will be the same as the ones back home. Instead of looking for the same type of friends, spend time with who makes you happiest.

10. Remember that You’re Here for a Reason

One best and worst parts of being at Northwestern is being surrounded by so many other talented students. Every freshman goes through the “everyone is smarter than me” phase. Remember to keep yourself in check. You were accepted here for a reason, and your contribution to Northwestern is just as important as the next student’s.

How do you survive NU?

photos via Alyssa Raiola unless otherwise noted







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