As the weather warms and my final semester in college inches toward its end, I find myself reminiscing about my favorite parts of my college town. My experience is slightly different than some because I’ve spent alternating weekends here for most of my life before college to visit my dad. But, I didn’t truly get to experience it until going to college at Illinois State. While I may be sticking around for a bit post-graduation, I wanted to express my gratitude for this town through the eyes of a college student while I still can.
Something I knew I would appreciate long before I was a student here is Uptown. I used to get so excited as a kid when my dad took me to get Emack and Bolio’s and walk around Uptown Circle. Emack’s may now be called Theo’s, but the sentiment is still exactly the same all these years later. Whether it’s to attend the corn festival in August, rock out at a concert at The Coffeehouse, just to grab a bite, go vintage shopping at Butter Twice and Again, or have a drink at Maggie Miley’s, walking to Uptown is always first on my list for activities to do on a free day or night out. And the red and white string lights that ISU decorates the Uptown trees with around homecoming time are the icing on an already beautiful cake. I often tell people that Uptown makes me feel like I’m truly experiencing college. Of course, college is about classes, but having this cute little slice of Normal available just off campus really makes it so much better.
To get to Uptown or across town, see Constitution Trail. It’s a walking/biking trail that runs all throughout Normal. I personally love taking walks to ISU’s campus via the trail on sunny days. My girlfriend and I will often take Pokémon Go walks here as well, gotta catch ‘em all! The quad is lovely for walks as well. It’s an arboretum, so that means it’s filled with all different types of trees! (Meaning, lots of shade!) Many students will lay in hammocks on the quad. I have yet to try that out, but it looks so relaxing! My personal favorite spot is just off the quad on the fourth floor of Milner Library. There’s a little nook in the corner of that floor, inset into the floor like a conversation pit and facing floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook campus. It’s so peaceful.
Whether you’re here to learn more about Normal as a prospective student or just want to hear my take on the town as a proud redbird yourself, I hope that this article gives you a proper glimpse into my experiences here. No matter where I end up, this town will always hold a special place in my heart.