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?”



Senior Struggle #6: It’s OK to Want an End

As I get ready to graduate, I have to keep this saying in mind!

Hello, readers! I hope your week is going well so far! We have five weeks of school left, and those weeks are flying by! The time passing quickly is sad as I realize that my final year of college is coming to a close, but at the same time, I’m happy that it will be done soon and I will be able to start a new chapter of my life.

Throughout this second semester, I’ve felt that it hasn’t been okay to feel that I wanted college to be over. College is supposed to be the best four years of your life, right? While these years have been amazing, I feel like there is a reason that college is only four years: because at this point, I’m supposed to grow up. I’ve outgrown communal living where I have to share a bathroom (even though I’m living with my best friends), I’ve outgrown classwork, even though I know I’m learning a lot in my classes, and I’ve especially outgrown the feeling that I have to do everything and be busy to be the best version of myself.

I’m ready for independence. Hope has prepared me well to use the skills I’ve learned in class for internships and jobs. I’m ready to live into things I’m passionate about and I’m ready to say no to things that are a source of stress. I’m ready for my own space; I’m ready to find out who my close friends are, and I’m ready for a new chapter of my life to begin.

For a long time I thought that this readiness wasn’t normal and that I was being selfish because I wanted to move on from college. I would suppress these feelings and try to be sentimental when people asked me if I was ready to graduate. “No way!” I’d say, “I want to stay here forever!” But that wasn’t true!

Although Hope has given me skills and memories that I’m thankful for, I don’t think this feeling of wanting to move on is bad for me. It’s one I’ve definitely had to come to terms with, but I think every senior has been or is going through the struggle of feeling like they want to stay and go at the same time. What’s important is knowing what these feelings mean for you individually, and how they affect you.

Whether you’re a freshman or a senior and these last weeks come and go, enjoy the time you have left at Hope, but also be at peace with what you’re feeling. Until next time!

Break for Winter Break

Happy Monday, Readers! I hope you all have transitioned back into school and homework smoothly after coming back from Winter Break. We’re in the final stretch now until Spring Break – hooray!

I’ve decided to take a break from writing on a Senior Struggle this week to tell you about my Winter Break – it really was an amazing few days filled with friends and outdoor activities!

For Winter Break, my housemates and I decided to visit Minnesota, where one of our housemates is from. We decided to visit her house because we had all been to each other’s houses before except for hers and wanted to see where she was from before graduation rolled around and we were out of time and weekends. So we packed up the car and drove ten hours to Minnesota, passing through Indiana, Illinois, and (what felt like) the huge state of Wisconsin.

Once we arrived at her house, we headed straight for her families cabin even farther north of where she’s from. It was so good to get away and play endless board games, read, play with their dogs, and just relax. It was even better because there was limited cell phone service, so we were forced to unplug for a short time – it was amazing! One of the activities we did was snowshoeing across the lake her cabin is on. I had never been snowshoeing, so the experience was new and exciting.

After spending a few days there, we came back to her house to spend some time with her family. We explored the nearby city of Minneapolis and saw what the city had to offer. One of the highlights of her hometown tour was Minnehaha Falls – a usually frozen over waterfall just shooting off of Minnehaha Creek. Because of the warm weather, the waterfall wasn’t frozen over, but that made it even more beautiful!

After her hometown tour, it was time to head back to Holland. Ten hours and many snacks later, we arrived back at Hope ready to take on the coming weeks. It was a restful and relaxing break and I hope yours was just as adventurous as mine!

Until next time!

Happy Monday, Readers! I hope you all have transitioned back into school and homework nicely after coming back from Winter Break. We’re on the final stretch now until Spring Break – woohoo!

Senior Struggle #3: Saying Goodbye to my Email Signature

Happy Monday, readers! Miraculously, after writing last week’s blog, I feel a lot better about being busy this semester. I feel like writing that blog post put a lot of things in perspective for me and I’m at terms with my workload for the semester. My new goal is to get most of my homework done during the weekends so that my weeks are a little less hectic. All it took was some rehashing to figure out how to do that!

The new thought that has been on my mind since I last wrote is the fact that I am scared out of my mind to leave this safe little bubble of Hope I’ve called home for the past four years. Thinking back on it, Hope has been my safe haven. It has given me an education, put amazing people in my life, and most importantly fostered my faith for the past four years. Everything has been made easily accessible to me and has been extremely convenient. It’s been easy to get involved, see friends when I need to, and go to church without straying too far from campus. The way I tend to think about this convenient bubble is in terms of my email signature. It looks like this:

Hope College, Class of 2017

English Major and Management Minor
Career Development Office, Career Advisor
Student Blogger, Hope College Admissions
Hope College Student Ambassador
Hope College Student Congress Representative
Nykerk Cup Executive Board Member, Treasurer

Adaptability | Positivity | Empathy | Developer | Futuristic

How I feel about my email signature…

To me, my email signature shows that I’m accomplished here at Hope and how easy it was to make those accomplishments happen. Once I graduate though, that signature will disappear and that thought is extremely scary to me. All my accomplishments will be gone! I will have to start from scratch building up my email signature with involvements and activities. How will I even begin to do that if I’m not within the comfortable bubble of Hope? How will I find activities to be involved in and make a new normal for myself?

One way to alleviate some of this stress about graduating and creating a new normal is by preparing for life after graduation. For me, that means to start thinking about it. A way that I’m going to start this conversation is by attending the event series “Life After College” which is put on by the Career Development Center, Campus Ministries, and the Senior Seminar program. Every week the series will be covering a different topic that seniors will have to face after graduation. This week on Wednesday from 3 p.m.–5 p.m., or Thursday from 7 p.m.–9 p.m. in the first floor rotunda of Martha Miller the topic that will be covered is finding a church. As a faith-driven person, that topic is very important to me and something I want to invest in. Other topics range from faith in the workplace to friends and fiancé’s after college – whatever the topic I know I need to start thinking about it!

Hopefully you all have started thinking about what life holds for you after graduation, but if you’re like me and haven’t even started, just know that Hope has amazing resources like the Career Development Center to help you start that conversation.

Until next time!

Finally Home

I am back to my sweet Michigan home! Four months was a long time to be away, but I’m finally back in my house, my room, and my life. It was missed. The journey on Saturday was long, as my six-hour flight into Toronto, Canada, was followed up by a three-hour drive back to Detroit, Michigan, but it was worth it, as a couple best friends were there to surprise me upon my return. There were a couple of thoughts running through my mind as I stepped through the door of my house, most of them inquisitive as I saw the differences between home and Ireland.

Here are some items I didn’t realize that I missed while I was in Ireland:

  1. The water pressure. Odd as it may seem, I didn’t realize how intense the water pressure is in the U.S. compared to Ireland. As I took a shower hours after my return, I wasn’t sure what to think. On one hand, I love having a nice intense shower, but on the other, I know that high water pressure has a tendency to waste water. It was a very conflicting shower.
  2. The smell of home. The unsavory mosh of smells in a city is no comparison to the fresh smell of home and fresh sheets and spaghetti on the stove. Home smells good.
  3. Birds chirping. The only noises I heard in Dublin were cars rushing past and conversations on the sidewalk. The early sounds of a spring morning were missed dearly, and I only noticed that I was missing them when I woke up yesterday morning to them.
  4. The community in which I surround myself. I am incredibly attached to my family and friends back at Hope and didn’t know just how much I missed them until I reached American soil. My heart is still aching for them as I haven’t seen many of them yet. This semester has been anything but comfortable, and it will be good to see friends that make me feel comfortable with who I am.

These were just my initial reactions to coming back home. In coming posts, I’ll talk about the program that I went through in Ireland (IES) and some things I learned while there.

Until next time!

The Final Countdown

It is my last few days in Ireland and I can hardly believe it. I come home Saturday and will get to see my family and friends for the first time in four long months. There are so many emotions and feelings swirling around in my head that I’m going to take some time to sort through them if you don’t mind.

I want to stay here…

These past four months have been incredible! Admittedly, I was unsure if I would like being away from Michigan for so long when I got here in January, but the Lord provides and turned my heart for the better. I’ve made such a connection with Dublin City and now think of it as my home away from home. I’m going to miss the little bakery I get a sandwich from every Thursday afternoon and the walk down Grafton Street at night… there are so many things that I’ll miss.

But Ireland, in general, has been nothing but wonderful to me, and I’ve seen some of the most amazing sites my eyes have ever beheld while here (let’s think back to the Cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, and Giant’s Causeway). I will miss being able to see these sights by just hopping on a train that costs ten euros.

I’ve also learned more about myself than I have anywhere else. I am more confident in who I am and in whom I find my identity, and I want that growth to continue and the changes I’ve implemented in myself to stick. I’m scared they won’t when I go back home. For these reasons, I want to stay here forever…or at least, a few more months. I want the relationships I’ve made with people to continue and thrive in the country of their origin and I don’t want the life I’m living (and currently loving) to change.

…but I want to go home.

As I gushed about previously, Ireland has given me wonderful, enriching experiences. But that isn’t to say that those great experiences haven’t been sprinkled with low points, a few hiccups. Namely, homesickness.

I don’t think I realized how much of a blessing my home, in every essence of the word, is. Home for me is my family, friends, and original surroundings. My family loves and accepts me for who I am – they are the greatest examples of God’s love personified I can think of. That was wholly missed here while I was struggling to put a finger on who I really was, quirks and all. This goes for my friends at Hope, too. They love me deeply and show me grace every single day. I had gotten used to being loved well by people and that was something different that I struggled with.

It was less noticeable at the beginning of the semester, but the past few weeks there would be triggers that made me think, I miss that. I want to go home. The carpet of my living room at home compared to the hardwood floors here. The friendly Hope community compared to the chilliness of Dublin city strangers. My mom’s cooking compared to my buttered noodles every night. (I’ve seriously been eating buttered noodles for dinner for three weeks straight, but that’s another story.) All small things that have been making that twinge of homesickness turn into a spark of excitement to go home.

It’s only four days now until I board that plane. There’s still so much to do – goodbyes to be said, last scones to be eaten, and clothes to be packed. But the next time you’ll hear from me, I’ll be back on American soil – exciting!

(Just so you all know, this is what I’ll be listening to on the plane home. It’s a patriotic song for Ireland, and it already has the power to make me cry whenever I hear it.)

Expect some debriefs about my trip upon my return on what it’s like to be home, why the IES Program was the best, and some of my favorite adventures I had.

Until next time!

An Unknown Winter Paradise Called Jizerské Hory.

As you most likely noticed, I am a second language speaker. Specifically, I am from the Czech Republic and my native language is Czech. The Czech Republic is small country in the middle of Europe (not Eastern) with a population slightly above 10 million people. If one looks at the north side of the Czech Republic, one would see city called Liberec. Liberec is my hometown and the reason of this post. Despite it has population only of 102,000 people, Liberec is the 5th biggest city in the whole country. Yes, we are very small country and that is why every world recognition is even more valuable.

Liberec has a nickname “ the city of sport” because it has endless sporting opportunities ranging from skiing to beach volleyball. The opportunities are not only thing that makes from the Liberec the city of sport. For such a small city we have an excellent facilities and one of the facility got recognized by the New York Times.

The New York Times article about Jizerské Hory named named "Bohemia’s Secret Spot for Cross-Country Skiing"
The New York Times article about Jizerské Hory named “Bohemia’s Secret Spot for Cross-Country Skiing”

The Secret Spot that the article talks about is in the mountains called Jizerské Hory, only fifteen to twenty minutes by car from the downtown of Liberec. Actually, every year in Jizerské Hory a traditional 50 kilometers (31.0686 miles) cross country race called Jizerská Padesátka is run. Padesátka means 50. This place is not only a paradise for all cross country enthusiasts, but in the summer people ride bikes or they are having walks with their families.

Jizerské Hory is a fabulous, but not as well known place. I would encourage everyone to visit it or at least google these words below in Google Images to see the beauty of these mountains.


From the East to the West: What the Across-State Transition Is Really Like

Sometimes you don’t know there are better places for you other than the one you grew up in until you’re thrust into them.

I’d never lived anywhere but the suburbs of Detroit, whether it be Birmingham or Troy, MI. These places were comfortable to me. I’d been on vacations, but those places never felt like home to me. When I began living in a place other than my hometown, I was shocked at how well I fit into the culture and even more shocked at how I never realized that I didn’t fit into my hometown culture.

Here are a few similarities and differences that I noticed between my hometown and Holland.

Similar: There are malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, and small downtown areas.

Different: Once you get a little past Holland, all of that disappears and you’re left with farmland. At home, you won’t find a field for miles.

Similar: Both are very populated with families and people.

Different: In Holland, people tend to have younger families, with younger parents having kids earlier. In addition, people here seem to be more relaxed than on the East side. Road rage is definitely not as strong on the West.

Similar: Lots of churches can be seen in both cities.

Different: In Holland and at Hope, there’s a huge emphasis on faith. Yes, there are a lot of churches at home, but I just find that it filters into every aspect of life around here.

Similar: There are people that love you in both places.

Different: My family is back home and I’m here. Sometimes it’s a little rough seeing them all at home together and feeling like I’m missing out. However, I’m getting an experience they will never have here at Hope!

Similar: Certain trends and statements, ie. Music, Facebook memes, the Superbowl.

Different: Fashion statements. Chacos and socks? A sundress for every sunny day? An entire Patagonia (informally known as Patagucci here at Hope) wardrobe? Yes, those are actual trends for young people on the West side.

There are a lot of similarities and differences between my hometown and Hope. One thing I know for sure is that I’ve made Hope my Home, at least for the time being. I’ve come to realize that Holland’s laid back, easy-going and friendly attitude is one that suits me well.

Thanks for reading,

Christmas in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, we have very certain way of celebrating Christmas and it has been a tradition over multiple generations. Basically, most of the not all traditions happen during December 24th. In Czech we call this day “Štědrý Den”, which in the translation means “Generous Day”.

Continuing on, Czechs have a tradition or a superstition of “Zlatý Prasátko” (Golden Pig). This superstition, which started in Middle Ages, affects the lunch of a lot of the Czechs. If people will not eat any meat the whole day then they are going to “see” a Golden Pig. This is what the tradition says, that is why a lot of Czech eat meal named Staročeský Kuba which is mainly made of groats (grain) and mushrooms.

Also many people put ornaments and lights on the Christmas tree, but it differs from families because some of them do it way before December 24th. After the lunch, based on the weather, many people go outside for a walk or they bring fruit to animals in the forest. Another popular option of spending afternoon is watching Vanoční Pohádky (Christmas Fairy Tales). Then comes the evening and the the biggest event of the day, the dinner or as Czechs call it Štědrovečerní večeře (hostina). The dinner traditionally starts with fish soup and as a main course people eat carp with a potato salad. If people do not eat fish then they have a wine sausage.

After the dinner people open the presents, which are under Christmas tree. They sing Koledy (Christmas Songs) and spend time with their family. In Czech Republic presents do not give Santa Claus, but we have Ježíšek (the Baby Jesus).

In the link below, is by far the most famous Czech Christmas Commercial. It does not capture the Golden Pig Tradition in funny way, but it also illustrates one of the Czechs personality characteristics, which is being cheap. Like the men in the commercial who is trying to steal a Christmas tree from the forest instead buying it.

Staročeský Kuba
Staročeský Kuba
Carp and potato salad is the tradition December 24th dinner.
Carp and potato salad is the tradition December 24th dinner.
If one does not eat fish, then one has a wine sausage for dinner on December 24th.
If one does not eat fish, then one has a wine sausage for dinner on December 24th.

Making the Most of Any Break

Thanksgiving break! The last deep breath of the semester, before the last two weeks of school and exams. We go home and spend time with family, relaxing and eating higher amounts of food than normal. We’re on the tail-end of Thanksgiving break, but take heart! We have winter break to look forward to.

Hayley visited me for the tree lighting ceremony.
My sister took an early break to visit me! We experienced the tree lighting ceremony together on Monday.

Sometimes break is awesome! Or, sometimes we sit around the house, looking for things to do BESIDES homework. Instead of picking our noses, here are some simple, relaxing ideas for enjoying the break.

  1. Grab coffee! Find an old friend, someone you need to catch up with, and enjoy a latte together. Share your experiences over the past few months, and ask about theirs!
  2. Make something! What better way to relax than sitting in a comfy chair with a pencil and paper? No one is an artistic genius, but whether you like to paint, draw, write, play an instrument or whistle, doing something creative enriches your life, and you don’t always have time for it during school.

    Asylum Lake is beautiful.
    Nothing is better than a hike around Asylum Lake!
  3. Go outside! Whether you live near the woods, the ski hill, or the park, make sure to get out in nature during break. Life exists outside of your house! Remind yourself of the beauty of creation.
  4. Sleep in! You gotta treat yourself, since you only have so much time until 8:30 a.m. classes pick up again. Stay up late, sleep in until lunchtime. It’s the college way.
  5. Play games! Especially conversational games like Apples to Apples, Awkward Family Photos, and Cards Against Humanity. Grab the people around you and a box of your favorite cards, and get to laughing. Let your guard down and enjoy each other.

Here’s to a great break!