Living in a college town always brings with it a unique set of challenges when it comes time to look for an apartment. The primary one is that the window where there are lots of available apartments is only a couple of months wide. May and June are definitely the best months to look for a place to live.
Northwestern University is certainly the beating heart at the center of Evanston. As a result, landlords here are quite friendly to students. If you don't have employment or previous rental references, an academic reference can also help you get an apartment. Ask a professor if they would mind providing you with a reference when you try to get your first off-campus apartment.
Evanston is very well connected by transit to the greater Chicagoland area, and has excellent internal public transportation. It sits on the purple line of the elevated train, and also has access to the Metra system. Couple that with the additional bus service, and you can quickly see how many residents get along just fine without cars in Evanston.
The Northwestern Campus is beautiful, and tours are available if you wish to take in the sights, which include numerous outdoor works of art and spectacular architecture. For smaller, local shopping, head to Dempster Street. Downtown is home to a number of funky coffee shops that are usually filled with Northwestern Students. Just south of the University you will find a number of great bars, including the Celtic Knot Public House.