A Texan’s Experience in the Mitten State

I constantly receive questions about how and why I ended up in Michigan all the way from Texas. People always ask how I am adjusting to the winter, how I heard about Hope or what made it stand out.

Hope is a special place with kind people. There is no perfect college, but there are some non-negotiables when it came to picking a college. I wanted a small school with a vibrant community. I wanted a place where I could be pushed to grow. I wanted a school that could fulfill my academic goals, spiritual needs, and lifelong friends.

I always knew I wanted to go far away from home for college. Why not? If you have the opportunity to go somewhere completely different for a few years, take it. Don’t get me wrong, there are wonderful reasons to stay near home — home cooked meals and free laundry can come in handy, but If I could go back in time and look back at my college decision process, I’d still pick Hope College.

The first time I visited Hope was right about now in my senior year and I quickly learned that winter in the Midwest means heaps of snow, frosty temperatures, and many excuses for hot cocoa. With that being said, here are some other lessons I’ve learned being 1,200 miles from home — outside of the importance of warm layers.

  1. Homesickness is a real thing

Unfortunately, homesickness is a real thing. Whether you miss the tacos like I do or you miss your pets, you are bound to feel homesick. However, you shouldn’t be afraid of it. Change can be hard and scary, but there is so much growth that comes from it. The first time I got homesick, I thought I was the only one feeling this way. This is not true – it’s normal. So many of my friends struggled with it in our first semester. It’s important to acknowledge those tough feelings and talk through them. I remember talking about homesickness with one of my professors and after I let those confusing feelings out, I felt much more at peace being at Hope.

  1. Get ready for the layers

The feeling when you walk into a warm building after being outside for an extended period of time is indescribable. I love being right on Lake Michigan – even in the winter when you can walk out and see the frozen waves. I used to think anything below 50 degrees was cold, but like I said earlier, there’s nothing a few layers can’t fix.  Be prepared to layer up and down multiple times a day — in every season! It may be a hassle at first, but you’ll get used to it. I actually enjoyed the process of buying all of my winter attire and everyone was so willing to help. Who knew there are so many options and features in parkas and snow boots?

  1. You will find a community

I was incredibly nervous coming into Hope because I didn’t know anyone here. I was nervous about the shorter breaks and what I would find myself doing since I wouldn’t be able to go home. I was nervous about finding a church that I connected with. I was nervous about getting to the grocery store and the list goes on and on. If this sounds anything like you, you will find a community and be more than okay.  It may take some time, but you’ll have more than one offer of where to go to Thanksgiving dinner. People will text you to check in on you. I receive texts from staff and professors asking if I need anything because they know I may need the extra encouragement. As I spend more time here, Holland has felt more and more like home. You will be taken care of.

If you’re looking at Hope from a Texas or a few thousand miles away, I strongly recommend a Fly-In weekend! Getting to be on campus and catch a glimpse of what your life could look like, despite being so far from home, is such an important step in this process. Hope College is worth it and it may be the school that stands out makes you feel like home despite the distance. It’s normal to have worries, fears, and uncertainties. It’s healthy. Hope College has challenged me in so many ways. Like I said, if I could go back to my college decision process, I would pick Hope College over and over again.

 

Hope College Nursing

By: Noemi Rocha

As a kid, I would equate nursing school with a trade school. I always pictured the hospital beds and learning the necessary technical skills, but not much else. My Hope experience has been completely different than I imagined and incredibly worthwhile.

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know I wanted to be a nurse until my senior year of high school. I came to Hope believing I wanted to do nursing, but then there were days where I thought I had changed my mind. However, the approach and effort Hope takes to create wonderful and capable nursing students is what made me stay. I still remember sitting in Anatomy Lab and holding a human heart for the first time. I had this moment where I paused and was just amazed at the intrinsic design the human body has. Every part has an important function.

My first two years at Hope had a nursing focus, but I felt like any other student. I took prerequisite courses for the nursing program, but for the most part, I was taking a lot of different courses as well. I believe this time to explore different topics is imperative to shaping who you are and how you perform in a career. In my freshman year, I was part of the, Phelps Scholars Program, a living-learning community, that focuses on exploring different cultures and ideas and I loved it. This community gave me a greater understanding of cultural competency and as a nursing student, we’ve explored the concept of cultural competency in previous courses. Although the Phelps Scholars Program wasn’t centered on nursing at all, I still found a way to apply my learning to my future career.

I’m currently in my junior year and in my Psychiatric Mental Health Theory and Practicum Rotation. All of the nursing rotations are a half semester and include many different hospitals with different specialties. The group is about 7 – 8 students to one professor and the real-world learning truly begins. Each clinical will visit the hospital for 8 hours on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. I’ve been able to gain both the necessary experience and confidence throughout this first clinical, which is necessary to be a good nurse. Recently, I had a moment where I truly realized that the patients we are working with are real. I knew that going in, but I don’t think I understood the gravity of what it actually meant. It’s an honor to be able to enter into their life for a moment and provide the best care we can.

My one piece of advice for a new nursing student – or any student looking to come to Hope –  would be to continue learning. Nobody is ever completely knowledgeable on every topic. Trust me, the knowledge of how to be an effective nurse will come with time, but what you spend your time on outside of the classroom is also important. At Hope, I have the opportunity to attend lectures that a variety of groups & organizations offer, typically on topics that are flooding the media. The intent is never to choose a side, but to listen to different sides, understand new perspectives and continue to learn and question ideas. Never stop listening. It is how we understand people. When we can understand a person, we can provide care. Similarly, if a patient feels heard by the nurse, they are more willing to trust the nurse and become completely honest. A patient that is honest will receive better care than one who is not.

My perspective of what a nurse does has completely changed from how I used to think about it. Yes, it’s important to learn and know the technical side, but there is so much more than that. I have gained so much respect for nurses and I cannot wait to become one myself. The nursing program at Hope is challenging, but it equips students to jump into the field once they are finished with their four years. I will be ready and so will you.