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School Secrets: 5 things to know about Northeastern

Posted by Alex Pearlman  November 26, 2011 09:15 AM

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northeastern university quad.jpgBy Melissa Werthmann

Originally a commuter school, Northeastern University has evolved since its founding in 1898 into one of the most-applied-to private universities in the U.S. thanks to its expanding research, global opportunities, famous co-op program, and undefeated football team.

Alright, so the football team got cut two years ago, but the Huskies on Huntington Avenue have plenty more to offer (I should know; I’m a student myself). Here are five of Northeastern’s quirky “secrets.”

Not everyone at NU is taking classes. No, that doesn’t mean they’re just sitting on campus, dreaming about higher education and eating Easy Mac. Northeastern’s co-op program allows students to rotate six months in class with six months on an internship. It’s pretty easy to tell which part of the rotation students are on: If they’re struggling to stay awake while wearing an old sweatshirt and smelling of last night’s bad decisions, they’re in class; if they’re struggling to stay awake while wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase (which might only contain Capri Sun and Nutella), they’re on co-op.

The life of a student on co-op is usually a great one -- none of the stress of homework, tests, or research papers, possibly spending a semester elsewhere in the States or abroad, and sometimes even making money instead of putting up a kidney as collateral for a student loan -- but getting there involves slaying an evil monster of cover letters, interviews, and, for the ladies, panty hose. It can also be pretty depressing when the people you used to rage with are now “too tired” from their days of cubicles and corporate lunches to do anything on Friday night.

Because of co-op, it takes NU students a little longer to get their degrees. But rather than using the term “super senior,” the Huskies decided to create a mystical year known as the “middler,” which is pretty much the unicorn of Northeastern life: You know in your heart it exists, but you’re not sure where it came from or if you’ve ever actually seen one. Middlers technically get squeezed in between sophomores and juniors, but given the daunting task of sorting out transfer credits, co-op, summer classes, study abroad, and so on, most students don’t really know (or care) when they reach that status.

You can pay for sex at Chicken Lou’s. Turn off Huntington Avenue onto Forsyth Street, and you won’t have to walk far to find this popular eatery. Chicken Lou’s offers breakfast and lunch options, most of which are submerged in grease and fried to perfection. A lot of them have code names, too. Want a sausage, egg and cheese? Ask for “sex” (yes, it’s legal to pay for it here).

Although it’s not the healthiest choice, Chicken Lou’s is always packed, not only because of the cheap and delicious food, but also because of the friendly atmosphere and good service. The most popular menu item is probably the TKO: chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, and honey mustard (made in-house!), all packed into a fresh sub. So delicious, it might be worth the coronary.

Matthews Arena used to house dinosaurs. Ok, Northeastern’s hockey arena isn’t that old, but it did survive the Great Depression. Opened in 1910 (yup, it’s over 100 years old!), Matthews Arena is the oldest hockey arena in the world. It was the original home of the Boston Bruins and used to host the Beanpot, and since it can be converted into a basketball court, it also served as a secondary home for the Boston Celtics. Matthews is now the spot for Northeastern’s home hockey games, broomball games, and open skates. Oh, yeah, Russell Brand recently paid a visit, too.

Northeastern started the first underground homeless shelter. This NU secret is straight out of a James Bond movie: Turns out, there are tunnels built underground that connect classrooms, the library, the student center, and the bookstore. Although it does take a little longer to get from point A to point B, students love the fact that they don’t have to deal with rain or snow. And let’s be honest, walking through an underground tunnel will make anyone feel cool -- even the homeless woman police found sleeping in one of the tunnels last January. If only she had had a Marauder’s Map.

Packs of Huskies strip for parents. One of Northeastern’s most popular events is the annual Underwear Run -- conveniently held at the same time as Parents' Weekend (oh, the irony) -- during which students strip down to their underoos and sprint down Huntington Avenue (including a lap around the Pru, which might give anyone at the high-end stores and restaurants quite a scare). Originally started by the cross-country team, the Underwear Run has become a rite of passage for NU students and a tradition that'll last longer than the resulting frostbite. Coordinators have even thought about turning the run into a clothing drive in the future.

Northeastern students, what's your favorite thing about NU?

Stay tuned for 'School Secrets' from the rest of Boston's institutions of higher education.

Photo by wallyg (Flickr)

About Melissa -- I'm a journalism student at Northeastern University, originally from New Jersey. I love hiking, kayaking, and cereal, and I am a vegetarian. I'm afraid of nothing, except butterflies. I love Disney movies, and I hope to one day meet Betty White.

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