1. Wednesday’s are for Pub II
Drinking in college is something a lot of students like to partake in. Some even go as far as to avoid having classes on Friday so they can participate in “Thirsty Thursday.” If you go to Illinois State, you know that the real fun starts on Pub Wednesday. A bar in Downtown Normal named Pub II, or The Pub for short, has a DJ and some wicked good drink specials on Wednesdays that attract a substantial college crowd. Pub II is, without a doubt, the place to be on Wednesday nights.
2. Breakfast at three a.m. is normal
Merry Ann’s Diner is an absolute gem at ISU. Everyone loves breakfast food, but not everyone loves waking up early in the morning to enjoy a big old plate of bacon and eggs. Luckily, at Merry Ann’s, you don’t have to wake up early—this Diner is open 24/7 and never stops serving breakfast food. So whether you’re showing your parents around town and want to grab a bite to eat or you’re craving some grub late-night grub, always make sure to swing by Merry Ann’s.
3. Emack and Bolio’s aren’t just names; they’re heavenly tasting ice cream
Emack and Bolio’s is a fun, nostalgia-inducing ice cream shop with a boatload of flavors. Originally from Boston, this location in the heart of ISU’s student housing communities has become the flagship store for the company. Even offering vegan options, the shop can serve people of all tastes the perfect treat all the way up until Midnight. Emack and Bolio’s is the spot to be when it gets hot, so come in and grab a Beantown Buzz when it’s nice out.
4. March Madness is about dancing, not dribbling
While the Redbirds aren’t necessarily the biggest threat in the NCAA tournament (with only 3 wins since the tournament’s creation), you’ll find ISU students dancing up a storm during basketball season nonetheless. The fraternities and sororities at ISU team up for March Madness to support Chi Omega’s Philanthropy event, which directly helps the Make-a-Wish foundation. The other Greek organizations prepare a dance routine and have a dance off. It’s all for fun and bragging rights, of course, as all proceeds go to Make-a-Wish—the event brings in around 30,000 annually! Sure, you might be embarrassed about Dancing to Lady Gaga with the guys you pledged with, but you can do so knowing it’s for a good cause.
5. You’ve taken pictures by the Love Bench
Somewhere on the grounds of the University lies a modest bench with the words “To Those Who Fell in Love at ISU” engraved in its seat, and it is the prime destination for Instagram pictures on campus with your BFF or significant other. Couples who have met and fell in love at ISU regularly make the trek back to the bench for wedding photos. The bench is also incredibly popular around graduation time, as friends meet there to take one last picture before going their separate ways.
6. If you need it, you can get it at CVS
It may seem silly, but CVS becomes a go-to shopping destination for a ton of students at Illinois State. Why? Simply put, CVS has a lot of random things, and its proximity to campus allows many students who might not have a car on campus a place to get the necessities. The CVS addiction starts fairly simple—just a prescription here and there when needed. Eventually, this turns into multiple late-night runs because the bulb burnt out on your porch, or you need a little milk for your morning cereal. CVS is love; CVS is life.
7. Dunkin’ Donuts is your coffeehouse of choice
With the recent inclusion of an establishment near campus, Dunkin’ Donuts has cornered the market on ISU students’ caffeine addiction. The store is just a three-minute drive away, but you can also take public transportation there as well. The average college student doesn’t typically have a lot of cash, so the 3-6 pm happy hour with dollar drinks can be a life saver. Plus, we all know just how damn good those donuts are.
8. Watterson Chicken Days are a must
Underclassmen at ISU frequent The Watterson Dining Commons because most students get hooked up with a meal plan in their early years on campus. It’s convenient, it’s all-you-can-eat, it’s right there on campus, and best of all, there are chicken tenders. You’ve all seen the viral video where the little kid said chicken nuggets are like family right? Chicken Tenders from the Watt are more than family. They’re everything. The best part about Chicken Tender Days (or maybe the worst)? You never have to look up when they are coming, just wait for the line of students to wrap all the way out the door and for the savory smell of delicious fried tenders floating throughout the quad.
9. Illinois State Homecoming is a Pretty Fun Time
Few events bring together campus and community like Homecoming. The ISU Homecoming kicks off with a family-friendly parade and then begins the daylong event of tailgating. The tailgates are always popular with the students, as they take pictures with their friends, laugh, drink and share a day free of any worries.
10 You’ve walked down Willow Street
If you’ve ever taken a stroll down Willow Street, you’re either A. rushing/pledging or B. Going to a party. Willow Street is home to all of the ISU fraternities and sororities. Regardless of your thoughts on Greek Life, attending a party or two on Willow is a simply a must and part of the college experience at ISU. One thing to note: you better know somebody there, because it’s not just an urban legend—the gatekeepers at fraternity houses take their jobs incredibly seriously.
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