Being new to the DeKalb area, it is almost certain that you will be wanting to find certain things that are either necessities or that will make like more enjoyable. Below you will find some helpful information on some of the things you will want to find.
Shopping and Restaurants
The DeKalb area has many different restaurants that you may enjoy visiting. Some of these are located very near to the campus, others in Downtown Dekalb and others are a short distance away by car near the major retail establishments. There is a limited selection of restaurants with international foods.
Almost anything you need to shop for is available locally, and if it is not available here, you can most likely have it shipped to your place of residence in very little time. Walmart and Target are the two biggest retail stores in the area and carry anything from food to clothing to medicine. Another place you will want to get familiar with is Aldi food store. This store has a reasonably good selection of food and the prices are generally the best in the area for food. These stores along with many others and a variety of restaurants are accessible by taking the NIU Huskies bus # 7.
International Grocery Stores
We have found that spices are very important to internationals. If you want the food you make to taste like it does in your home country, you will definitely be wanting to purchase spices that are not normally found in U.S. grocery stores.
There are some great stores with international groceries and spices that are located a half hour away from campus, but there are some good options for purchasing spices locally as well. We recommend the following:
Gurukrupa Indian Grocery is the best one-stop shop for Indian international students and has almost all the items required for Indian cuisine. It is located at 1005 W Lincoln Hwy in Dekalb very close to the campus. The International Grocery Store is about a 7-minute walk from the NIU Holmes student center. It is a small store with a good selection of difficult to find spices. We are told that if they get enough requests for special spices, they will add it to their selection. The store is located at 817 W Lincoln Highway, right next door to McDonald’s.
Ruby’s Asian Market is a small Asian food store located on 1406 Sycamore Rd. just beyond the Jewel food store. Their web address is http://rubysasianmarket.com If you don’t find what you are looking for, they may be willing to order it for you.
If neither one of these places has the groceries you are looking for, we recommend purchasing them online and having them shipped to your residence. A good option for doing this is Penzeys. You might want to do a search for spices from your region by using words like “Indian”, “Asian”, etc… Their web address is https://www.penzeys.com/shop/spices/
Transportation around DeKalb
Getting around the Dekalb area is fairly easy with the Northern Illinois Husky bus system or the DeKalb County TransVac buses that service both DeKalb and Sycamore. Students will mostly use the Husky buses which are free to university students. TransVac prices are very inexpensive. Below are the links needed for more information:
Northern Illinois University Information
Transportation to Chicago
Transportation to and from Chicago from DeKalb is not very easily accomplished. Because of this, we recommend that you take advantage of Network of Nations outings. Network of Nations usually has one outing to Chicago per year. Below are possible options for getting there.
The closest train station to get to Chicago is approximately 30 minutes away in the town of Elburn, and there is no simple way to get a ride there. Husky Bus Service does offer a shuttle to the Elburn Metra station, but the shuttle is only available later in the day, and it’s only available on Fridays and Sundays. This works fine if you plan on staying in Chicago Friday through Sunday, but it is otherwise very limited in its usefulness. After taking the Husky Bus shuttle to Elburn, tickets much be purchased to Chicago. The service you will be using is called the Westline.
Greyhound Bus Service
Greyhound bus service from DeKalb to Chicago is possible but not very convenient. Greyhound takes 2 hours to travel to Chicago, and a return trip from Chicago is not really possible on the same day. Current departure times from DeKalb are 9:20 AM and 3:05 PM. Return trips from Chicago are only available at 6:25 AM and 3:30 PM.
The cost for one way tickets are between $11 and $20 depending on the time of the year and the day of travel. This means a round trip will cost between $22 and $40. Tickets can be purchased online or at the NIU Holmes Student Center. Hours of operation at the student center vary, so purchasing online would be simplest.
Renting a car may be the best option for getting out of town. Hertz Rent a Car does a great job working with internationals. You will need a driver’s license from your own country and a credit card. (The debit cards issued by TCF Bank are not accepted.) If you are age 20 to 24 years of age, there is an additional daily fee for rental. It is possible to have this fee waived by becoming a member of the AAA Auto Club. You should contact Hertz to confirm this.
Hertz 2020 Sycamore Rd. DeKalb, IL (815) 787-7501
Transportation to O’Hare
A possible option for travel to O’Hare airport is the Van Galder bus line in Rockford. You would need to find transportation to Rockford, IL to take advantage of this option. Rockford is about a 45-minute drive from NIU.
We at Network of Nations hope you find everything you need!