Two weeks ago, I went to Chicago with a couple of my friends. I have not been to Chicago before, so I did not know what to expect. I have visited cities like Los Angeles, Denver, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Minneapolis, so I was preparing myself for a “typical” American city. I was totally wrong. Chicago has its own culture, uniqueness, and style, compared to rest of the big cities in the United States.

I will not speak about what we did, and where we went because I think that would be boring. It is too narrative from my point of view. I will use more creative way of describing Chicago by picking three symbols, which represent Chicago´s culture, uniqueness, and style the best.

I picked Millennium Park, Trump Tower and Navy Pier.

Why Millennium Park?

Because Millennium Park represents the diversity and different cultures in Chicago. The diversity of different art pieces and architecture styles in Millennium Park greatly illustrate Chicago´s diversity and different cultures. In Chicago, there are communities from all over the world. The Spanish community is the biggest one, but Eastern Europeans, Middle Eastern, and people from Asia have relatively big communities as well. The significant difference between Chicago and other big american cities is that in Chicago the different nations are living the life like they would be in their respective home countries. They are not just people who moved to the United States and they are losing their natural cultural values. They are not “Americanized.”


Why Trump Tower?

Trump Tower symbolizes Chicago’s power as a town. Chicago is a hometown of Blackhawks (hockey), Cubs (baseball), White Sox (baseball), Bears (American football) and Bulls (basketball). Some teams are doing better than others, like the Blackhawks who won the Stanley Cup last year and who are predicted to be one of the top teams in NHL this year as well. The White Sox are not as good in their league compared to the Blackhawks, but the point is the support and power of people that create Chicago. People are extremely proud of their teams and the city. In the addition of the sport teams, Chicago has a huge economic power as well. O’Hare is one of the busiest airports in the World. Also, worldly know companies like State Farm, Boeing, United Airlines and another 35 gigantic firms have headquarters in Chicago, which proves the humongous Chicago’s economic power.


Why Navy Pier?

At Navy Pier people get to understand Chicago’s nickname: The Windy City. Even the skyscrapers do not stop the strong wind that is coming from Lake Michigan, so there is no surprise of this simple, but exact nickname.


With that being said, Chicago is a city that I would love to live in and I would encourage everyone to visit it! This city is worth your time.


The Must-Do’s of Fall Break

Fall Break – the first return home of the year for most students, smacked right in the beginning of the pumpkin-spiced season we all call fall.

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What does one do on this Fall Break? Here are a few must’s.

Go apple/pumpkin picking. 

This is clearly at the top of everyone’s to-do lists over break. Who doesn’t love donuts and cider from the farm they grew up going to?

Catch up on some Netflix. Maybe a season or three.

All I can say is I’m not exaggerating. I know people who have gone through entire seasons in just three short days. It’s nothing to worry about; all the exams and meetings from the past couple weeks haven’t allowed for adequate down time.

If you’re not a TV watcher, finally read those books you’ve been meaning to get to. 

This is, unashamedly, me. I can’t watch more than three quarters of a 40-minute Netflix episode at a time. I can, however, read for hours at a time when I’m given it.

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Bake. Pumpkin bread, preferably. 

There’s nothing better than warm baked goods in the fall. We all know that anything pumpkin flavored is in season right now. I checked this one off my list with some pumpkin pecan bread.

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Get a hair cut. Everyone does it. I did it last year. 

I don’t know what it is about the fall in college the makes people want to chop off all their hair. It’s adorable, but I can’t figure out where the drive comes from. Maybe all the change in weather, leaf colors, and environment leads to it.

Family time, this includes pets.

You haven’t seen your dog or your mom in almost two months. Admit you’re deprived, that you didn’t love her as much as she deserved before you left, and remember how they run for you every time you come home.

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Enjoying some good home-cooked meals. Phelps just doesn’t cut it sometimes. 

Phelps is a great place to eat in terms of variety at each meal, but sometimes it isn’t what you’re used to eating, and the repetition can get a little boring. At this point, you’ve had to start getting creative with quesadillas in the panini maker and you’ve sampled every cereal there is. You’re ready for mom’s cooking again.

Visit that one restaurant that Holland doesn’t have. Chipotle, I’m talking to you. 

This is just my personal space to rant about how Holland doesn’t have a Chipotle. I have to drive all the way to Grand Rapids just to get a fresh, hand-made burrito? Outrageous. Okay, so there might be other more local restaurants and diners that you were thinking of, but for some reason Chipotle is always what comes to mind when I’m going home. Burritos are important.

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I hope everyone on campus or off campus had a great and relaxing Fall Break! It’s good to bed back at Hope, though. Feel free to add more Fall Break must’s if you’d like in the comments. I’m open to suggestions.

Thanks for reading,


8 for 8

Readers, this Fall Break was amazing – filled with family, friends, and birthday fun (October 1 was my birthday)! However, probably the biggest highlight of break for me wasn’t the birthday carrot cake my mom got me or that I got to see my Golden Retriever, it was that I cut my hair.

I really started to feel God weigh my hair on my heart at the beginning of this semester. Let me give you all a little background on the life of my hair: I was three years old the last time it was just below my ears, and my summer “haircut” every year consisted of getting 1/4th of an inch cut off for dead ends. I’ve always had long hair and I’ve always loved it. Truthfully, the thought of cutting it all off was terrifying until recently. Because, if there was one feature I could always rely on, it was my hair. My face may have sprouted a zillion pimples and my eyebrows might not have been combed down from the previous night’s sleep, but my hair always looked good. Even if I just rolled out of bed, I was blessed with good hair. Long good hair. And I was scared to lose that.

And so my hair became my security blanket. Unfortunately, because it was my security blanket, I grew an unhealthy attachment to it. It turned into something I put a lot of time into – time I should’ve spent doing other things. My hair became my beauty standard for myself. Every day I would look in the mirror and know that I had at least my hair to keep me looking good in candid photos, should any be taken. I’ve come to realize that’s how I wanted people to know me, and I was totally living into that. I don’t want people to know me for my faith or my passions or my smile, but my hair. How materialistic is that?

And so I decided to chop. More accurately, donate. I realized when the summer came to a close, I was so tired of worshiping my empty beauty standard, and decided to worship a God that was more fulfilling. He provides and filled me right up with His enduring word. I lost the attachment to my hair and haven’t given it a second thought since. I looked up hair donation agencies and decided to give my hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. My 8-inch pony tail that I donated will join 8 others in making a wig for a cancer patient – 8 for 8 – and gives it to them absolutely free.

It’s going to take some getting used to, but my new short hair has given someone with no hair hope, and that’s the best feeling.

Until next time readers!

Questions about what I wrote or want to talk about what I did? Check the bio and lets talk 🙂

Relaxing Break in Ludington

I think it’s safe so say that Fall is in full-swing now with this cool weather and the leaves changing colors on trees! With Fall comes one huge perk besides apple cider and donuts: FALL BREAK! Every year it seems as though this break comes at the absolute perfect time—right when people need a few days to relax and escape from the stress of classes. Each year I’ve gone to different places such as Wheaton, IL, Kalamazoo, MI, Vernon Hills, IL and now Ludington, MI. All of these little trips are thanks to generous friends and roommates who take me in and show their towns off to me. I’m so thankful for them because if it wasn’t for them, I’d be moping around campus without anyone around!

Anyway, this break my housemate Anna brought me up north to Ludington where we had absolutely zero plans, which was the best plan ever! Friday evening we drove up and had a solid heart-to-heart talk about life (love those moments when you can talk about literally anything with a close friend). We arrived around dinnertime so we ended up having a nice dinner with Anna’s parents and watched “The Princess Bride.” I’ve never watched the whole movie, so I was obligated to finish this classic. We were pretty wiped-out from the week so we called it a night right after the movie ended. The next two days we lounged around A LOT. I think we watched a total of about six movies over the course of the trip—a little excessive but it was perfect. It was so hard to be motivated to do anything when it was raining and pretty windy outside. There was a point where the weather was pretty decent and we went on a little walk to the pier and took some fun pictures. Regardless of the fact that it was in the 40s, the view of the beach was definitely worth it. On Monday we were planning to head back to Holland so we could get some homework done on Tuesday before classes started up again, but before we did we took a walk downtown. It was interesting to view downtown during chillier months because there were hardly any people around since Ludington is more of a summer town for tourists. From what I hear, Ludington is absolutely beautiful in the warmer months so I guess that means I’m destined to take another trip up there to experience it for myself! Hopefully we can pay another visit in the near future!

Fall Break always seems so short, but I guess after two days off we need to get back into the swing of everything and conquer a short week of classes. Now that it’s just about the weekend again, it will help us adjust completely and get into the mindset of studying late at night again. All I have to say is that I’m already looking forward to our next break!

Hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy the weather and try going apple picking or some other fun Fall activity! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @hopeleslie15.

The Fall Break Fridge Frenzy, featuring Fantastic Food

A few weeks ago while speaking with my mom on the phone, she asked me what type of cake I’d like to have for my 20th birthday (count it down, everyone– my birthday is in fourteen days!). I pondered it for a moment– Chocolate? Vanilla? Pumpkin Spice (it is Fall, right)? But I had only one flavor on my mind.

“You know, mom,” I began, “Could I just skip a cake for this year?”

“Sure, if that’s what you’d like,” she replied. “But you know your friends can always eat it if you don’t want it.”

“True,” I said. “But I’m thinking of something else. Could I skip the cake and have the Sesame Ginger Quinoa salad you made for me during last summer instead?”

FOOD. The one thing that seems to accompany every event, action, and situation I encounter in college.

Last night, my Entrepreneurship class Sales Pitch Practice was accompanied with cookies. I have coffee dates with my besties to catch up and talk about life. Snack breaks while completing long hours of homework. Three meals per day.

Here’s the problem I face, however: Food can be expensive. Or repetitive. Or straight-up-not-the-type-of-food-I-want-to-eat.

Don’t get me wrong, here. Phelps Dining Hall food is not that bad, regardless of what you may have heard. Cook Dining Hall food, primarily for upperclassmen, is good too. The gluten free chicken fingers from the Kletz are prime.

Sometimes, though, I’d love to have an unlimited supply of sushi and pumpkin spice lattes and the opportunity to open my fridge and actually see food (I’m currently sitting with a carton of milk, a container of lemon-lime Jell-O and a cheese stick, which feels less than acceptable to me.)

So, one can only imagine my excitement when I arrived home for Fall Break last Friday night at 1am to find a fridge overflowing with food of all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Never in my life had leftover pizza looked and sounded so good to me. I was so excited, in fact, that I slammed the doors shut and embraced my fridge, thanking it for being stocked full of so many delicious items.

A Fridge Full of Food
So much food, so little time to eat it all.

I was in love. I spend the weekend eating all of my favorites that I can’t always find at school– steak, asparagus, and chocolate brownie hot fudge cake for my Dad’s birthday– chowing on an endless supply of yogurt, fresh raspberries, microwave popcorn, and vanilla ice cream.

The saddest part of leaving home (other than saying goodbye to my dog… and my family) is thinking of all the food I was leaving back in the fridge. Unfortunately, the 7-hour drive isn’t cut out for bringing back cold items, and flying to and from Hope doesn’t exactly create an opportunity for space for food.

Not to sound desperate or anything, but, THANKSGIVING, PLEASE COME SOONER.


What was the best part about your Fall Break? Let me know by tagging me in your tweet @hopesophie17. Shoot me an email at or comment below with any questions you may have. Have a great rest of your week!



A Longboard, a Backpack, And a 62 Mile Adventure

Now that I am back at school, everyone is asking, “What did you do on Fall Break?” I answer with the simple answer, “I longboarded 62 miles over break with a backpack and some Bros.”

Here are my friends that I went longboarding with over Fall Break
Here are my friends that I went longboarding with over Fall Break.


And that I did.

DAY 1: We started in the Beautiful town of Holland, Michigan. We left straight from Hope on a rainy Saturday. The weather eventually got better…it starting hailing. Myself, I preferred the hail over the rain because the hail didn’t make me wet. We stopped in Saugatuck for lunch at a Coffee Shop called “Common Grounds.” Then we headed on our way to South Haven. We made it there by 5pm and stopped by the infamous Subway. I don’t know which I appreciated more, the food or the dry building. Before the trip, we planned  to camp at places so we brought our hammocks and sleeping bags…well we were wet. Outside it was wet….SO, lucky one of the people on the trip knew someone in South Haven, so we camped out in a dry condo instead. We did 31 miles that day and rested for the next 31 miles ahead of us.

DAY 2: We awoke. Some to sore muscles and others to small pains…but we were ready for day 2. It was time to “Push.” We left South Haven and made our way to St. Josephs. The weather was much different than the previous day. It was sunny and nice, but rather windy, with the wind against us the whole time. We rode along the hilly Blue Star Highway which was along the shore the whole time. We stopped every once in while and refueled Around 5pm, we reached St. Joseph and thus made it to our final destination: one of the guys on the trip’s house. We made it. We had another 31 miles under our belt.

The adventure came to an end the next day as the mother of the house that we stayed at offered to drive us back home to Holland. After the accomplishment of 62 miles and the soreness to prove it, we weren’t going to say “No.”

What a trip. What a break. 62 miles altogether. It was fun. Everything was not always ideal, but that is what made this adventure….adventuresome.

The Obligatory Fall Break Post

Hello everyone!

In case you didn’t know, Hope students didn’t have classes the last two days, giving us what we call fall break! I went home on Friday and returned this afternoon.

This was my first weekend home, so I was super excited. Yet I had my fears, what if I didn’t want to come back to Hope? What if home was so amazing that I never wanted to return to campus? So yeah, I was really excited and a little bit scared to go home for the first time since coming here.

I had an amazing weekend baking, going to a family-friend’s halloween birthday party, pumpkin picking, dinner out with family, catching up with a few of my friends at home, cuddling with my pets, and of course enjoying home-cooked meals. I love taking pictures, so here are some from my fall break!

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My fear continued to pester me as I soaked up home, and I grew worried that when I came back I’d become incredibly homesick. I tried to push it away, but there was no doubt that it was a possibility.

However, when my mom and I dragged my bags up from home and into my dorm room, I felt fine. I still feel fine, and I know this is where I’m meant to be. Hope isn’t necessarily home, the place where my family lives, but it is home, where I live. Yes, fall break was great and I love being there, but Hope is amazing for different reasons: it forces me to grow, has an amazing community, and awesome support. There’s no place I’d rather be.

Have a great rest of the week,

Brooke (contact me: or @hopebrooke18)


A Fun Fall Break!

Hello all 🙂

I was fortunate enough to go home to Iowa over fall break, which started last Friday and ended on Wednesday morning.

My first activity at home was going to my sister Priscilla’s high school football game on Friday night. She had told me earlier that there is a superstar player on the team. I was reluctant to trust her, but after he scored SIX touchdowns and helped the team to win 77-0, I had to believe it.

Priscilla and I at the Ugandan party

On Saturday night, I went with Priscilla, my brother Elijah, and my parents to a celebration for Uganda’s 51st independence day which was on October 9. My parents grew up in Uganda and lived there until 1991, so Ugandan culture is a big part of our lives. We spent the night in Ankeny, a suburb of Des Moines, talking and dancing with about 40 other Ugandans. Even though my family has lived in Iowa for only two years, I already feel like I have found a family in our Ugandan community.

On Sunday, I was blessed to participate in a volunteer activity with my church. Each year since 2009, we have set aside one day to bag 100,000 meals as a congregation for people in Zimbabwe, a country hit hard by poverty and AIDS. In Zimbabwe, there are 1,000,000 AIDS orphans under the age of 18, and 68% of the general population earns $1 a day. Using 1 John 3:18 as a guide, my church decided to show our love to the people there by feeding them.

Dear children, let us not love with our words or speech but with actions and in truth- 1 John 3:18

The meals we packaged contained rice with vitamins and spices. We poured the ingredients into little plastic bags and had to make sure that each bag weighed the same amount. After filling and weighing 36 bags, they went into a large cardboard box. Over the course of an hour, the group I was in filled six large boxes. Since each plastic bag held six meals, and a large box held 36 bags, my group made over 1,200 meals! All 100,000 meals will be shipped to an orphanage for children and adults who have lost parents to AIDS and/or have AIDS next month, along with clothes and books.

Break is always a great time to catch up with family and friends. I’m so glad I got to do that, and help out some people in Zimbabwe!


The Final Stretch Until Fall Break! (part 2)

Good morning to you all! Here’s my mid-week/almost end of the week update! It truly has been one of those hectic weeks you have in college. Papers are due, presentations are due, and there are a plethora of exams you need to take. But hey, Fall Break is TOMORROW, so I should just stop complaining, right? Pretty soon, I’ll have 5 days of relaxation and sleep…

Well not in my case. My bestie Amanda and I are going to be busy this Fall Break with work and studying. My mom is opening a new coffee shop! GRAND OPENING is SATURDAY! This is something we do every break. I remember last year during Winter Break, we planted ourselves in the library everyday doing work just to stay on track. That’s what you get with being a science major right? Well, anyways, here, take a peek at what I have done this week, and what’s in store for me for the rest of the day and tomorrow!

MONDAY was my last day being at Holland Hospital for my psychiatric mental health nursing clinical. I can’t believe it has been 8 weeks. Time really flies when you’re at school. Remember, live each day as if it were your last, and take advantage of the time you do have!

TUESDAY: Instead of being at the hospital for our clinical, we had a four-hour lecture in preparation for our exam THURSDAY (TODAY!) It was great to wrap things up!

WEDNESDAY: So, yesterday was probably one of my better days. I got a bunch done, and I felt good about it! So, I worked out in the morning, worked, had four hours of class, then I went for a 5.35 mile run. SCORE! Talk about a great stress-reliever.


But seriously though, after that run, I felt like I could do anything. After, I ate and worked some more being a TA. After, I studied for my psych exam for a while which is TODAY. I am ready to tackle that sucker.

THURSDAY (TODAY!): Right now, I am working some more (yeah, I work Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday), then I am going to have lunch, then it’s off to my EXAM! I’ll probably do more work after because I have some grading to do. Oh bother.

FRIDAY (TOMORROW!): FALL BREAK. But before leaving, I have my pathophysiology exam. It’s going to be tough, but with studying, and having faith, I will survive like I did last time.

I know, there is so much room for complaining, and I take advantage of it. But hey, I’m just a college student with college problems, like exams back-to-back! Ultimately, this is what I really want to do in life, so I am working very hard to achieve my goal! If you have any nursing questions, or questions in general about college, SEND ME A MESSAGE! I’d love to converse with you about upper education!

If you haven’t already, follow me on the Twitter. CLICK HERE! It’s another great way to see what college life is like!


I absolutely love fall, it is by far the best season! This past weekend I was able to enjoy some wonderful fall weather with my family during break. Here is basically the break down of my wonderFALL break


I drove to Wheaton and visited my friend from high school at Wheaton College. [Hope is way better, my sister went to Wheaton and my parents like hope more too =)]. After visiting her, I drove to my sister’s new apartment in Wheaton. I helped my dad assemble some of her new furniture, and my dad and I had some quality bonding time together.

Friday evening:

We ate at my favorite restaurant in Naperville called Jin 28, and they have the BEST sushi! Then we ate ice cream and walked around downtown. Once we arrived back at her apartment we watched House together, which is my favorite T.V. show. All four of slept in her bedroom apartment for the evening.

Bike Trail in Springfield

Sunday evening:

My friends from high school came home to surprise me. We basically just caught each other up on life and enjoyed Sonic together. It was so great to see them again!


Both of these days I had lunch with some friends and worked on homework. I basically slept a lot and caught up on some much needed sleep. I went on a walk in the park with my PE teacher from high school and gained some wonderful insight from her.

This break was so wonderful. I now feel replenished and refreshed. I am so thankful for the wonderful people in my life. I have so much to be thankful and love home, but I also love coming back to Hope. I am glad I am now back in the swing of things and loving my time here!

Have a great weekend!