Quote of the week: “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward
Studying abroad is something that I have always wanted to do. The thrill of being somewhere new, experiencing a culture and city has its way of growing and challenging a person, especially when you are used to being close to home. Having grown up in small towns all my life and even attending Hope in Holland Michigan, a small town itself, Denver is a huge change. Most of Colorado was pretty flat with fields stretching either side. But then there was a curve that everyone drove around and it was drastically different. The expanse of the city was so much bigger than I expected it to be. It was dark so all you could see were the lights from the houses and buildings that stretched on for miles, and the shock of the expanse started to set in.
Everyone experiences a culture shock when they travel or move to a new place, the sights and sounds are different, the people and what they normally do is not what one is accustomed to. But each place we travel to is an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to learn more about another culture, another city, another person. And sometimes even more about yourself throughout your time. Every piece of knowledge helps you to thrive and grow in more ways than one could ever imagine.
During our orientation we did what is called a “turf tour” with a non-profit organization located in Denver called Dry Bones. They work with youth and young adults experiencing houselessness providing emotional, physical and spiritual support. Two of the staff members brought us around downtown Denver and pointed out things that are not as noticeable unless someone points them out as things that are outputting for those without homes. Things such as “construction” fences that are simply there to keep people off of the land, rocks that are cemented to the ground under bridges to make it impossible to sleep or find a comfortable place to rest, and a few other things as well. They also talked about the treatment those without houses receive late at night if they are in a place that is not allowed. No one wants to be somewhere late at night and then told, you need to move on from this place, but it happens more often than one might think. These are very different experiences than the small-town Michigan that I am used to, but it is extremely important to learn about these things and realize the impact that we make with our words and actions.
While we were downtown, we learned that public restrooms are not a thing in Denver. In some places you have to show a security guard a receipt for them to let you use the bathroom. This is something that happens because of the homeless which is sad to think about.
In all seriousness though, there were a lot of fun things too. We had the opportunity to go to the Denver Nuggets game on Friday night as a group which was really fun, and they won the game which is always a plus. I have never been to any sort of professional athletic event, so it was fun to have that experience, and crazy to see how many people were there.
I also had the chance to go to Red Rocks Amphitheatre with my dad before he flew back to Michigan as well as a second time with a few other girls in the program. One of the things I am really excited about are the outdoor activities that are available all throughout and around Denver.
Even within the first few days of being in Denver there have been a lot of new and learning experiences that I look forward to having more of. The learning opportunities that arise in any situation are countless if you look hard enough for them. I cannot wait to share more of my experiences with you all.
Thanks for reading, until next time,
Aurora Franzon 2024