Most international students who come to Illinois State fly into Chicago from their home country. Chicago is about 200 km and 2 hours (by car) from Illinois State. You may arrive at either O'Hare or Midway International Airports. You will either need to take a connecting flight to the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, or take a bus. There are charter buses that run from both airports to the Illinois State campus. Do not take a taxi from Chicago. Your ride will be very expensive.
The Office of International Studies and Programs assists new students in planning their arrival to Illinois State. They can arrange for someone to meet you at the local airport or train station and even temporary housing with a host family when you first arrive in the U.S.
Please note: there is also a Bloomington, Indiana and people often confuse the cities. Be sure when you make your travel arrangements that you are headed to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.
Illinois State's campus is safe, extremely compact, and very convenient. You don't need a car on our campus. You can get nearly anywhere you need to go on foot in just a few minutes.
If you want a bicycle when you come to campus, you can buy one new or used at local stores or from other students. The Illinois State campus is easily navigated by bike and a 14 miles hard-surface trail connects the campus to the Bloomington-Normal community.
In an effort to reduce campus congestion and promote healthier lifestyles among students, faculty, and staff, Illinois State provides a free bike borrowing service called "Reggie Ride." As there are a limited number of bikes, they are available to rent on a first come, first serve basis. Bikes are available in a variety of sizes. All bikes are equipped with a bike lock. Bicycle helmets are not provided but are recommended. Bikers must follow all state and local bicycle laws.
Parking on campus is quite limited. Students at Illinois State may apply to have a car or motorcycle on campus, but students who have them and live on campus sometimes must park far away from where they live. For off-campus students, parking is available a short walk from most academic buildings. Learn more about campus parking and transportation.
State law requires every automobile and motorcycle to be licensed and insured. If you buy a car here, you must get a State of Illinois driver's license. You may be required to pass a written test, eye exam, and road test (in your own car). The Illinois Secretary of State handles driver licensing and vehicle registration.
Students can ride buses on campus and beyond for free. The Redbird Express campus shuttle goes all over campus, Monday through Friday, from 7:30am to 7:00pm, during the Fall and Spring semesters, on all regular scheduled class days. NiteRide will take you off campus and back until the early morning hours. Learn more about the student transportation system. The city bus system operates far beyond the Illinois State campus. Buses will connect you from campus to local shopping, nightlife and attactions, and the local airport.
There are many services around town that will help you get away from campus for the weekend or longer. It is especially easy to get to Chicago from Illinois State on a charter bus. For a small fee (typically around $60 USD round-trip), you can ride the bus from the Bone Student Center to the Chicago area and back.
From the Amtrak passenger train station in Uptown Normal located just two blocks from the University, you can travel to destinations throughout the United States. The Central Illinois Regional Airport is just minutes from campus with direct flights to dozens of U.S. cities.