One of my biggest concerns when moving to the United States for college had to do with living in Holland, Michigan. As an individual from the largest city in Africa with over 20 million people, I was a bit worried about the change of pace and context that I would encounter during college. This difference, though sometimes significant, has been something that I have come to enjoy. I have actually, in moments when I have left Holland for breaks, found myself looking forward to the distinct pace it provides. Here’s a few reasons why:
- I now enjoy, at least to some degree, the change of seasons that comes with Holland. Though there are moments when I would trade a million dollars for a glimpse of the summer sun, having this sort of seasonal weather is a part of college that I have come to enjoy. In my home city, Lagos, the temperature never drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and we have only dry and rainy seasons. It has, therefore, been exciting to live through the fall, spring, summer and winter while enjoying the different activities that come with them.
- In larger cities or college towns, it is a bit too easy to disappear into anonymity. Though this is something I enjoy and look forward to, I have grown to appreciate the kind smiles that are exchanged when one is in Holland. I appreciate the ways in which strangers stop at the coffee shop to ask about my day or tell me how they went to Hope a couple of years ago. I now enjoy the ways in which one can build lasting relationships with one’s neighbors as opposed to the constant fast paced nature of big cities.
- Hope College and Downtown Holland are so mixed into each other and this benefits college students in incredible ways. With downtown being physically right next to campus, I was able to take my brother to dinner for his birthday a couple of weeks ago. A lot of students are also able to get part-time jobs that they balance with their classes and some students even live in the apartments above some of the stores. This relationship that Hope College has cultivated with the city and local community allows students to lean into all sorts of deals, discounts and opportunities which might not otherwise be available.
- The beach being a 10-minute drive from campus is a fact that I cannot but emphasize. Lake Michigan’s beautiful body of water allows Hope students to catch some pretty amazing sunsets. This proximity from campus to the beach also allows students to live in Holland warmth during summer research and work.