Campus in a Summer State of Mind

hope hat and water bottle in foreground, shadow of big red lighthouse in background

When your parents first drop you off at Hope, it is hard to imagine that you might not want to go back to “home sweet home” next summer. Holland is an enjoyable city to be in from Fall to Spring, but summertime is prime time for this beach town. Locals will tell you that Hope students are truly missing out when they pack their bags for summer, only to return when classes start up for fall.

Finding Friends

What is stopping people from staying around in the summer? Most often it is the misconception that campus is dead. That is farthest from the truth. Hope has a variety of activities and programs that keep the campus full of life all summer long. Events and Conferences host dozens of camps that bring in new groups from all over the country weekly. And, while it’s definitely not the same vibe as during the school year, there are plenty of Hope students who stick around campus in the summer that it’s no trouble finding friends to hang out with. I used to be skeptical about staying in Holland over a break until one Easter I wasn’t able to make it home. Turns out, there were so many others that I would not have gotten to know and love if I had not stayed on campus.

Working on Campus

Student workers for physical plant driving a utility vehicle. Nearly every office on campus hires students to help them out during the summer. You learn so much and gain respect for the way that our staff and faculty spend all summer bettering the campus so that everything runs smoothly when students return in the fall.  Student workers help with everything from landscaping with Physical Plant, researching with their professors, giving campus tours with the Admissions office, and more! All of these options are valuable experiences and opportunities that are still relaxed enough to give you plenty of play time outside of the office.

Living in a Beach Town

The Holland area is a vacation destination for thousands of people every summer which makes staying here over the summer the perfect balance between work and vacation. I have been to the beach and out for ice cream nearly every day and it never gets old. If you are down for an adventure, there are plenty of day trip options to nearby state parks or other beach towns like Saugatuck or Grand Haven. Or relax by taking advantage of the Pine Grove, beach volleyball courts, or strolling beautiful downtown Holland. With all this to do, my friends and I haven’t had a dull moment on campus this summer.

Staying at Hope in the summer is experiencing the same friendly and loving community except with a summer state of mind. Most of the same resources you use during the academic year such as the Bultman Student Center, the Dow, and the library are still available. Plus staff and faculty love to see students around in the summer, and often times, they are even more willing to meet with you if you need advising or just a chat. You are guaranteed to meet new people and have fun experiences you would not have during the school year. Turns out, in college, staying at school over the summer is actually really fun!

Life in Holland as told from my #Instagram


Whether it’s Big Ol’ Red (aka Holland State Park), Tunnel Beach, Laketown Dunes, The Bowl, or some random beach front you found on a drive, everyone has their favorite beach and it’s a must no matter what time of year. Even in the depths of winter, my friends and I will bundle up in coats and blankets, trek out to some Lake Michigan beachfront, and watch the stars for probably longer than we should.


Riley Trails is cherished around these parts for class field trips, long walks with your ~campus crush~, a place to escape the rush of school, or (my personal fave) an impromptu photo shoot with a couple friends. On a warm, sunny day, there’s really nothing that can beat a good jog up, down, and all around Riley Trails.


Some will say Lemonjellos. Other’s (ME) will say JPs. And still, others will say 205. No matter what your style, vibe, or latte of choice, Holland has got a spot for you. Yes, we may be a town known for churches on every corner. But, this popularity is closely rivaled by our coffee shops on every other corner. Also, pro tip, if you don’t know what to order, try my go-to: an almond milk latte with vanilla, it tastes like how a good book would taste… if you can imagine that.


The Pine Grove is truly the most beloved place on campus. One, I mean come on just look at it, how could you not love this place? But two, this is the heart of campus. On a warm day, the Pine Grove is littered with hammocks, slacklines, picnic blankets, spike-ball courts, and of course, frisbees. The PG is perfect for actually doing homework, pretending to do homework, and just general merriment.


You might say, “but Ariana, what IS Tulip Time“. What is Tulip Time? WHAT IS TULIP TIME?! Only the best time of the year, of course! Right around final exams and graduation a carnival appears in our very own streets to supply Hope students with the proper caloric energy they need to end the year: elephant ears, corn dogs, frozen lemonade, and literally deep-fried-anything-you-can-imagine. Ahhh, the glow of food trucks, the click-clack of wooden clogs on concrete, the omnipresent smell of tulips, there’s nothing else like it.


Hang out around these parts enough and you’ll start to heart it a lot: “What makes Hope special is the community.” BUT IT’S SO TRUE! My favorite place in all of Holland is just wherever my friends happen to be at that moment. If it’s homework at the Bultman Student Center, hitting that free weight room in the Dow, or simply snuggled into our beds, being with my people is being home.

Featured Photographers: Addie Vanderzwaag, Riley Schmitz, Mackenzie Mitchell, Sydney Enloe, Eddie Ip

Featured Models: Riley Schmitz, Jubilee Jackson, Hailey Houck, Sydney Enloe, Anna Stafford,

From Windy City to Tulip City

By: Eddie Cervantes

Growing up in Chicago, there was always something to do whether it was in my neighborhood, downtown, or even in a neighborhood on the other side of the city.  Transportation was never an issue, it allowed us to get from one side of the city to the other without ever switching a bus or train.

However, there are some cons of living in the city.  The worst thing about Chicago is the traffic.  It seems that when there is traffic everyone forgets how to drive and their hands are stuck to their horn.  People are always on guard and a simple look could be taken the wrong way.  It’s great to live somewhere where there is always something going on, but for young adults there is also a curfew which can limit your options or ability to get somewhere in order to get home in time. 

When I was choosing a college, I wanted to attend a place that was far enough from a city that I would get a smaller and more connected community, though also able to travel somewhere when I missed the “big city life.”  Holland, Michigan became the perfect location that had the balance I was looking for.

Holland, MI is a small town compared to Chicago.  Yet, it doesn’t feel like a small town with all the activity and events happening all the time. In Chicago, there is nothing that beats a bike ride to Lake Michigan in the morning and seeing the sunrise.  Since Holland is across Lake Michigan, I can’t experience the same sunrise, but riding to the lake for breath-taking sunsets gives me the exact feeling.

Hope’s campus is a block away from Downtown Holland, so when there isn’t as much happening on campus, there is always something to do downtown.  The variety of coffee shops, restaurants, and local shops make it a great (but financially dangerous) way to spend your day. If you want to get a little further off campus than downtown, Holland also has a farmers market, movie theatres, bowling alleys, hiking trails – and so much more to explore.

Hope is also in a great location that if you are missing a bit of the big city life, you have three awesome places you can go and make it a day trip.  Chicago and Detroit are only about a two & a half hours away which allows anyone to be able to enjoy a day in the city and be back for a late night doughnut run. Grand Rapids is only about 40 minutes away and though smaller than Detroit & Chicago, a place that still has plenty to do.  Grand Rapids is a booming city full of young adults, which most events targeted for people our age! Whether it is ArtPrize, ice skating in Rosa Parks Circle, sporting events, going to a concert or other potential events in Grand Rapids – there is always something new and exciting happening there.

Though there are definite aspects of Chicago life that I miss, I’ve found in my two years at Hope there are still so many events & things to do on and around campus. It’s rarely of a question of “What am I going to do with my weekend?” rather, “How am I going to fit everything I want to do into my weekend?”



A Michigan Winter

It’s been a while since I have written a blog, but when I do decide to write, there have been multiple consistent themes. Soccer, school, family, etc. However, there is one theme, not as heavily touched on as others, that has always worked its way into my writing one way or another: Michigan winters. From the moment I even considered coming to Hope, I have heard, “Look out for the winters!”, or “Do you ski? They get plenty of the white stuff!”, or my personal favorite, “Why would you do that to yourself?” No, I do not ski, by trade I am the farthest thing from an outdoorsman, yet here I am, almost two years into my time living in Western Michigan, as an advocate for the Winter.

It can be dreary, it can be cold (it usually is actually), and yes, the skeptics are right, Western Michigan does see quite a bit of snow. But when you talk to the locals, above all else, Winter here is beautiful. After all, winter means Christmas, hot chocolate, and Hope Basketball… What’s not to love?

Now today in particular, was a winter day well spent. It started at Engedi for 9 a.m. church service, followed by brunch with my closest friends, a walk on Lake Michigan (the frozen water, not the beach), and will conclude (hopefully) with a Steelers playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Yes, today – today was a good day.

Short and sweet from me tonight, but here’s the deal. Enjoy where you’re at. Even if where you’re at is Holland, Michigan, in the middle of January. Tomorrow has enough worries of its own after all, so take a deep breath and live today. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. If you do it right, you might even find yourself enjoying it. Crazy stuff, I know.

Worried about coming to Hope due to the harsh winters? Don’t be. I can confidently state there’s no other place I’d rather be. And that’s coming from a kid who formerly hated the cold, snow, slush, wind, and anything else that Winter could throw at me. Living in a snow globe isn’t too bad after all, here’s some proof:

And yes, that is the lake. No, none of those good-looking dudes are me, those are my friends.

That’s all from me for now, keep it real, stay warm, smile, and I’ll be in touch soon. Go Steelers!

With Love,

Playing Favorites: Downtown Holland

Holland is a small town with a lot of cool things. From windmills and wooden shoes to independent restaurants and small businesses, anyone can find something they enjoy. I’m going to play favorites and pick a few of the things Holland has to offer that I enjoy.


Holland has a lot of parks, 22 to be exact. Plus, Windmill Island is in walking distance and the beach is just a short drive away. Plenty of beautiful spots to get some fresh air and soak up the sunshine while it’s still here are just a few minutes away.

Hops at 84 East

Located right downtown on 8th Street, Hops is my favorite place to go for pizza. They have gluten free and vegan pizza options which is perfect if you or someone you love going out to eat with has allergies. Plus, this local business gives back to the community. For every community pizza that’s ordered they give a dollar to a local charity. Eating pizza for a good cause? The perfect win win situation


This is my dog, Teddy, AKA the reason I need to see dogs around Holland cause I miss him.
This is my dog, Teddy, AKA the reason I need to see dogs around Holland cause I miss him.

You can’t walk downtown without seeing at least one dog. As a huge dog person, this is the best way for me to get my dog fixed compared to the alternative of getting on the Harbor Humane Society’s website and imagining the day I can adopt one of the cuties on there.

*Fun Fact: Nine times out of ten, Decadent Dogs will have at least one furry friend in the store working with their owner which is another great option for some canine love.


Not that the sidewalks themselves are super special (although the snowmelt system beneath them downtown is pretty neat), but the I love fact that I can walk out my door and be downtown or at a park in a matter of minutes. Coming from a suburb where I had to drive to get anywhere, Holland’s walkability is definitely a favorite feature.

Farmer’s Market

yellow flower
The farmer’s market and a pretty flower from said market. Great place for a study break.

Every Wednesday and Saturday fresh produce, bread, pumpkins, flowers, plants, etc., can be found at the market. Plus, people bring their dogs. It doesn’t get much better than good food, cute dogs, and pretty flowers all in one spot.

Just a few of my favorite things in this lovely little town called Holland.

Thanks for reading,

Stuck on Summer

Hello, Readers!

I hope your summer was amazing and you’re starting to get back into the swing of the new school year routine. It’s hard to do just coming off of summer, but once you’re there, it’s a good place to be!

If you’re a new reader, let me tell you a little about myself:

  • I’m a senior (WHAT?) hailing from Sterling Heights, Michigan – about 45 minutes north of Detroit.
  • I’m an English Creative Writing major with a Business minor and no, I have no idea what I want to do with that after I graduate (because I know you were going to ask – everyone does). I’m sure I’ll reflect on this in later posts, so no worries. 🙂
  • I love to run, go on walks, play soccer, read, write, be involved on Hope’s campus, take naps and play with puppies. I sincerely wish I could play with puppies more often than I actually do.

Just coming into this new, fresh semester, many people tend to ask the question “How was your summer?!” quite enthusiastically. Well, to calm all of your curiosity, I’ll tell you a little bit about my summer and what I did.

In short, this summer was a dream. I stayed in Holland in a little house on 14th Street with my friends where I learned the joys of having my own room, and the dread of paying rent. Having just come back from studying abroad in Ireland the previous semester, I had a lot to process and digest. Similarly, going into my senior year, I had many things to figure out (spoiler: I haven’t figured anything out). And what better way to process, digest, and figure things out than to work a great summer job? That’s right, friends, I worked on Hope College’s Grounds Crew.

People always give me a funny look when I say that I worked Grounds and loved it (I guess working outside when it’s raining isn’t for everyone??), but I never lie when I say that – it was the highlight of my summer.

While working there, I got to plant and water flowers, as well as weed and prune bushes. I made awesome friends and even got to go to the beach almost every week after work. Working Grounds Crew was one of the things that made my summer so great, and in addition to weekend activities that included camping, the Holland Farmers Market and even more beach days, my summer was perfect.

I learned about so much about myself and the world this summer and I my goal is to share what I learned with you throughout my posts this semester!

Enjoy the last dregs of summer heat, Readers, until next time!

These are the people I got the chance to work with this summer - Grounds Crew was the best!
These are the people I got the chance to work with this summer – Grounds Crew was the best!

I Finally Got My Driver’s License

The day I was leaving for Spring Break I took my final driving test. Not like in Europe it had two parts in the U.S.. During the first part, I had to park the car in three different positions at the parking slot between the cones. In order to move on to the next part, which is the actual driving in the city, I had to pass this one first.

The first part of the driving skills test: parking between the cones.
The first part of the driving skills test: parking between the cones.

So, I succeeded the first part of the test, so I went for the next one which was just driving in Holland for about 30 minutes. But what was surprising to me were two tasks that I had to do during the driving.

The first one was to turn up and down the volume of the radio. I did not understand the government official as well when he said it for the first time. I was driving in some neighborhood and suddenly, he asked me to turn the volume up and then down, so I did and he said “good”.

Then, couple minutes later, he asked me to do the second task, which was turning the fan on and off. I was surprised because it was just common sense, so I did it again. But I am assuming that not everyone can turn on and off the fan and drive smoothly. Nevertheless, I made it, so I got the driver’s license. 

The Best (And Partially Hidden) Allergy-Friendly Places in Holland

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I’m a food connoisseur – not just because I’m a college student – but also because I’m a, well, hungry college student.

I lived my first two years in the downtown strip of Holland, running triathalons between JP’s, Jimmy John’s and Lemonjello’s- but this third year, I discovered there’s so much more to explore.

Especially with gluten, egg and milk allergies, the options can feel pretty slim at times. Here’s a list of Holland’s hidden gems with allergy-friendly menus:

Hops at 84 East

Can anyone say, “Vegan, Gluten-free pizza with extra pepperoni?”

Simpatico Coffee

Yeah, I’ll take a gluten free chocolate chip coconut muffin, a vegan berry cookie, an almond milk chai and a strawberry mint smoothie.

Thai Palace

Everything here is gluten-free, basically. And just say, “hold the egg,” if applicable.

SaBai Laotian Cafe

Like Thai, rice noodles are a gf’s bff. There’s even less egg here.

Baja Grill

You might call it Qdoba or Chipotle… but this is delicious x10. Super fresh, super yummy. And you get a free fountain drink when you show your ID.

Anna’s House

The options are great, the fresh-squeezed orange juice is even better. I hear the milkshakes are good, too. And the pancakes. And scrambles. You can’t really go wrong here.

The next time someone asks you out to dinner (especially toward my allergy-related friends), take a deep breath (without being afraid of your allergy). There’s plenty of food to go around.

Pre-Dance Marathon Froyo #FTK

Dance Marathon is coming up this Friday. Last year, I participated as dancer for the full 24 hours. This year, I will be a “moraler” for an eight hour shift on Friday night.

Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt shop downtown Holland, has been running a competition this year to see who can earn the most money in receipts for Dance Marathon. Part of the purchase goes to the fundraiser and the winner gets $500 donated to their team page at the end.

Some friends and I from last year's Dance Marathon!
Some friends and I from last year’s Dance Marathon!

The store set up a bracket with teams facing each other a few weeks ago. Now, the week of Dance Marathon, there are only two teams left for the final round. One of those teams is my sorority.

While we really want to win, we know that at the heart of this competition is the kids. No matter what sorority comes out on the winning side, we know that it all goes to the same place, to benefit the lives of the children suffering from diseases they cannot control.

If you’re in town this weekend, go check out Orange Leaf to help raise money. I’m not going to tell you to put your receipt in my sororities bucket, but at least put it somewhere so that the funding counts.

I really admire what the Holland community has been doing to support Dance Marathon. This week is also called Blitz Week, where various Holland chain restaurants donate a portion of  your sale to Dance Marathon.

It’s so cool to see the community coming together for such a good cause.

Thanks for reading,

Michigan: Winter / Spring / Winter

Last week, I saw some students were throwing a football in the Pine Grove. It was sunny, the snow had melted, and there was a cool breeze. They were wearing shorts.

Columbia is full of snow.
Columbia is basically just snow right now.

Today, some guys ran from Durfee to a pile of snow outside of Phelps Dining Hall. It was 20 degrees out. They jumped on their backs and quickly got up, squealing. They were only wearing shorts.

streetlight + tree
It’s really cold outside. I took this picture as fast as possible.

Such is life in Holland, Michigan. For those out of state who may be unfamiliar, Michigan gets the best of every type of weather, multiple times a year. The weather is unpredictable.

It started snowing last night, and it’s supposed to snow until Saturday. Holland is experiencing a genuine blizzard.

At first, everyone loves the snow! If you read a recent post of mine, you’ll know that I love a good hike in the winter. But in day-to-day life, it’s hard to walk around campus when you forget to wear boots. My Adidas are getting pretty nasty.

We love the beauty of the snow, but we don’t love the practical reality of snow. There is a metaphor in there somewhere. We love dreams, ideas, the future, etc., but the day to day grind tests us.

Love the snow. Love wet socks. Love Michigan.