I can’t wrap my head around the idea that Holland feels small to some people. To me, as someone who grew up in a small Upper Peninsula town, it feels almost limitless. It has so much that my hometown doesn’t have, such as a freeway (seriously, there are no freeways in the Upper Peninsula). This means that even though I’m still in the same state, it feels like I’m in a whole new world sometimes. Needless to say, I’ve had to adjust a lot to life in Holland. Here are some of the changes that took me by surprise. 

One Way Streets

I’m convinced that there are more one way streets in Holland than the rest of the United States combined. I’m sure there’s a reason for why there are so many, but that doesn’t stop it from being confusing, especially for someone new to the area. Navigating Holland can be tricky at first, but it gets easier. I’m as bad with directions as they come, but I still found myself learning where all the one ways are so they can’t surprise me anymore. 

Walkable Downtown

Many people cite Holland’s downtown area as one of their favorite things about going to Hope, and it’s easy to see why. It has a lot to see and do, but it’s nearby and you don’t need a car to go anywhere (so you can avoid the one-ways). A downtown like Holland’s wasn’t something I had experienced before coming to Hope. Since I quite literally live in the middle of the woods, I’m used to taking a 10-20 minute drive to go anywhere. This newfound ability to walk to pretty much any kind of store I could dream of was a little intimidating to begin with, but I’ve managed to adjust. Now I look forward to weekend downtown outings with friends, and I don’t even need to drive to get there. 

So Many Squirrels, so Few Deer

Hope’s squirrels are nothing short of iconic. Since they’re so beloved, I knew that I’d be encountering them quite a bit while living in Holland. However, a month after beginning college, I had a startling realization: I hadn’t seen any deer in a month. While I wouldn’t expect deer to want to hang around a college campus, it wasn’t something that I had anticipated changing. If you’ve ever been to the Upper Peninsula, you know that deer are everywhere. I’ve seen deer in my yard, on the roads, and even trying to walk inside my high school. So even though Holland is far from lacking in wildlife, Holland’s absence of deer was still an unexpected culture shock. 

Even though there have been plenty of culture shocks, Holland has slowly become familiar to me. Now when I’m at Hope, I feel less away from home and more at my home away from home. If Holland feels intimidating to you now, just know that it won’t always be that way. Even if Holland is the complete opposite from what you’re used to, it will become comfortable eventually. 

Published by Mackenzie Niswonger

Class of 2026 Hometown: Gladstone, MI Majors: Computer Science and Philosophy

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