ISU campus flowers

Living in Bloomington-Normal

Opportunity all around

Normal is a small college town with big opportunities. It is built to feel like home, but has all the amenities of a big city including a vibrant downtown with various entertainment venues, amazing shopping centers and booming businesses.

Normal is located in the center of Illinois, just two hours from the big city of Chicago—one of America’s most popular cities. It is ranked as the No. 10 Best College Town and the No.3 Best Small City for Job-Seeking College Grads by AIER. With several large companies headquartered in the area, students will have access to several internship and employment opportunities. 

Major Employers in Illinois:

  1. Caterpillar
  2. Deloitte
  3. Discover
  4. Dover
  5. Exelon
  6. Hyatt Hotels
  7. JLL
  8. John Deere
  9. LKQ Corporation
  10. Mondelez International
  11. Motorola
  12. R.R. Donnelley & Sons
  13. State Farm
  14. Tenneco

Experience Midwestern charm in Normal

When you live here, you can expect to experience all the charm of a traditional Midwestern town with an extraordinary quality of life. The town is known as a biker-friendly community where you can experience annual bike races or spend time recreationally exploring more than 30 miles of the Constitution Trail. If you don’t own a bike, don’t worry. The city provides a free, local bus service so you can easily explore Bloomington-Normal with the rest of the community. 

The Bloomington-Normal area has been recognized for its entertainment and art venues as well as its restaurants. During your free time, you can go watch a live performance at one of the arts studios, attend an art festival or go uptown to dine at one of the many restaurants available to you.


Enjoy shopping in locally-owned antique shops or visit a shopping center to find major US department stores. For everything else on your shopping list, visit the downtown Bloomington-Normal area to find anything from the perfect outfit to some relaxing spas or accessory stores.

Eating out

Bloomington-Normal offers a variety of dining experiences. You can eat at a locally-owned restaurant, a popular US chain or try something new in the downtown area. If you like to cook, you can find fresh produce at the farmers’ market to complete your home-cooked meals.


AIER ranked Bloomington-Normal the No. 2 Best College Town for Arts and Entertainment for its performing arts theatres and several art studios. If you are looking for entertainment, this town is bustling with it. Check out a play, attend an art festival or watch a dance performance.

Weather and dress

Expect to experience all four seasons in Illinois. You should pack for both the cold winters and the hot summers. Temperatures can range from 28 °C in the summer to -10 °C in the winter. If you don’t have the appropriate attire, you can shop for it once you arrive. Students at Illinois State typically dress casually. Jeans and sneakers are the norm, so pack whatever makes you feel comfortable.

Prince Marfo from Ghana
"In addition to the supportive academic environment, I also found a wonderful international community that helped me feel connected and comfortable on campus. " Prince Marfo from Ghana