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!

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,

Some Essentials for Routine

Happy Thursday to you, Readers! Only one more day until Friday for ya, WAHOO!!

So I’ve been in Ireland for a couple of weeks now, and have finally gotten into a routine. Classes have started, I know my way around the city (well, kind of), and I’m getting into the groove of cooking for myself. Saying this, I thought it would be helpful to put out a post of a few essentials that you need to pack with you if ever you find yourself traveling or studying abroad so that you can get into a routine faster. Routine is something that makes us feel at home, and it’s important to know yourself well so that you can pack the right things that’ll make you feel at home.

  1. Pictures from home. For me, these have been absolutely necessary. My program didn’t allow me to hang anything on my bedroom walls, so I hung all my pictures and homey things in my closet. It’s nice like this because every time I go to get dressed, I get a small taste of back home. It’s a nice little reminder of where I came from and what I have to look forward to when I go home.

    This is what I get to look at whenever I open my closet! So many great memories.
    This is what I get to look at whenever I open my closet! So many great memories.
  2. Good music to run/walk to. Living in a city, or any place for that matter, for an extended period of time gives you ample opportunities to go exploring. You can explore by sticking in your ear buds and going on a run/walk! It’s a great way to find places where you want to go later, especially if you get lost. You have to be safe obviously, but getting lost is the best way to find your way back home, and having good music that you’re used to is a good way to clear your head and make the place you’re staying your home.
  3. A journal, or at least some papers and pens. This is vital to remember your trip. TAKE IT EVERYWHERE WITH YOU. You never know when something beautiful will be said, or you’ll see something amazing and need something to write down those thoughts and first feelings in. You’ll be so grateful for this at the end of your trip when you have great stories for people because you recorded all these things.

I’m still learning what Dublin has to offer me, but because of these handy tips, I’m in a great routine that will allow me to make the most of my stay here. I hope these tips will give you as much comfort they are giving me.

Enjoy your day, readers, and enjoy lovely Holland! I know I’m missing it. This weekend I’m going to the Cliffs of Moher and Wicklow National Park, so expect some afterthoughts and pictures soon!

Until next time!

Here is some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had! Accents Coffee Lounge in Dublin is great for homework and a pastry. It's no LJ's, but it's something that's helped me get into my routine here in Dublin.
Here is some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! Accents Coffee Lounge in Dublin is great for homework and a pastry. It’s no LJ’s, but it’s something that’s helped me get into my routine here in Dublin.

Family – Grateful to Have Something Worth Missing

For most people who leave home when going to college, family becomes something different. It’s hard to describe, because they’re the same people they were when you left, but you’re not seeing each other every morning in passing on the way to work or school anymore, or eating family meals together, and you’re not getting into little arguments over laundry or other chores anymore; you’re not together anymore. In some ways, this is beneficial to your relationships, because a lot of the aspects that drove you nuts about them are out of the picture. In other ways, it creates a deep longing for home, the support system that goes along with it, the memories, and the little things that happen on a daily basis with people you trust and can tell anything to.

In college you learn to rely on yourself instead of your mom, dad, or guardian of any sort. It isn’t easy at first, and just because it happens doesn’t mean you love your family any less. I miss mine all the time, but I know that this is the time for me to grow out of my home-sized shell and into a world-sized shell, one that prepares me for life on my own even outside of Hope’s campus.

All of this being said, when I get time with my family I try to make the most of it. My mom came up to Hope this weekend for Family Weekend. There was a lot going on, but we chose to stick to our own schedule for a majority of the time. On Friday we went to a parents lunch with my sorority, shopped downtown, ate at Mizu Sushi, did some more shopping at Target and Barnes and Noble, and then went back to the hotel. We ate snacks, watched TV, talked, and I got to read a bit of a new book I bought (for fun, not for classes!). In the morning we ate brunch, went to the Family Weekend worship service at Dimnent Chapel, and then got lunch together.

It was a really relaxing weekend, and I’m really glad my mom came, but the sadness of her leaving still hits me, even as a sophomore. I don’t think it’s anything to feel embarrassed about. When you love people, you miss them, and sometimes that feeling can hurt. Other times, it reminds you of why you miss them so much in the first place – because they’re important to you, and how lovely it is to have someone worth missing so much. Whenever I feel sad when missing my family, I try to miss them in a grateful way instead.

Thanks for reading!


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,


This Feels Like Home

I arrived home on Friday; I’ll be here for a week and two days.

It feels different being home, even though most things have remained the same.

There’s one building on the downtown strip that’s been demolished and there’s different pillows on the chairs on my front porch.

There are many more things that have never changed, and probably won’t, in the rest of the time that I spend here.

But I have. I’ve changed. And I know a lot of people say that because the world is constantly in motion. People say that because they encounter experiences in their life that shape their worldview for a little bit but then they fall back into the same habits they had at the beginning when they’re placed back into the same situations and spend time with the same people.

This type of change is different, I think.

I’m running into people I’ve always known and I’m driving down the four main streets in my hometown. Everything is familiar, but everything is different. The view in my rearview mirror is different.

Instead of letting it be what it’s been to me, it became what I’ve always wanted it to be.

When I went to college as a freshman, I was looking for a fresh start. In a way, I “broke up” with my hometown like it was my ex-boyfriend and traveled a little over 405 miles to a new place with new opportunities.

And a new place with new opportunities is exactly I found when I came to Hope. I praise God for that every day, because when I walked in as a freshman, I would have never believed I would be in the place I am today – full of joy, patience, and new knowledge.

But my hometown and I had an awkward “breakup,” because there wasn’t really any resolution. Neither one of us really had an answer to some hard questions, and we left each other without really talking – falsely hoping the relationship would improve with us being further apart.

My assumption was that, by building a life somewhere else, I’d fix all the parts of me that were broken. I was incorrect.

There was a time that it didn’t get better; in fact, it probably got worse. But then, it did get better; and now, it’s the best it has ever been.

Porch Swing
So often, we swing close to the person we want ourselves to be, but when we’re working off our our own strength, we swing back to the person we were.

I’m writing from a couch in my living room, and I’m more than happy to say I have two homes.

One is Hope, and one is here. And as awesome as it would be to say that “making up” with my hometown was on me, with joy, I say it’s Jesus. He made the view in my rearview mirror clearer than it’s ever been before.

I never would have found Him without Hope.

The choices we make sometimes lead us to places where we can’t find peace. We know we messed up, but we can’t find the way out on our own. We can’t find a way to break our habits, adapt our character, and change our perspective permanently. As often as we try, we fail twice as much.

We often run away in attempt to find what we’re missing, and in effect, we gain more loss. And I wish I had a list of steps to take, a magic recipe to find that peace to keep us from running away, but I don’t. I only have one word.


I learned that instead of running from something, we have to run to something. And the only One who will stay constant enough for us to run to, the only thing that will still remain, is God. He’s permanent, He is never changing. He’s the only thing that was there before I was here and will be here long after I am gone.

For the first time in a long time, perhaps the first time in the history of ever, my house is home. And my hometown is home. And I’m at peace. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in a place that hasn’t changed, but feels brand new.

We love a God whose desire is peace, and He gives us peace because He loves us in return.

Glad I got over that breakup… thanks, Jesus.

Follow me @hopesophie17 on your social media outlets (I’m trying to get better with my Instagram, I’m really trying). If you have questions or comments about anything at all, I would love to talk. Please send them my way at

Reflections From Home

Being home makes me wish I were still in high school. I guess that’s just because I have such an awesome family and I want to be around them more. I still love Hope… just hear me out ’till the end, trust me.

So maybe you’re a senior in high school, which is who I’m thinking of as I write this, but maybe you’re not. This is still something to think about.

Home is where warm candles are lit, where vanilla scents waft up my senses constantly, and fuzzy blankets are always there to snuggle under and watch a TV program while munching on my mom’s homemade popcorn. Home is my cat and dog, cuddling into me at any moment they can. It’s my mom’s cooking: real, fresh food. Home is my brothers and my step-sisters laughing, my step-dad cracking the jokes, and my mom rolling her eyes behind it all.

Home is comforting; everything about it screams, “Stay here!”

What if I did?

Whenever I get the feeling that home is a better place than anywhere else, I ask myself this. I wouldn’t have made the friends that I have so far, learned as much about myself as I have, and learned as much about others as I have. Home is cool and all, but nothing compares to the beauty of Holland. The lakes, trees, and hills, keep me grounded. Not to mention the fresh set of friendly people that surround me.

While home may be comforting, it’s important to get out there in the world, and push yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. Without that, growth would never come. Without growth, I’d just be a stagnant person, munching on my mom’s popcorn and listening to my step-dads same corny jokes until I get old and can’t hear him anymore.

I’m exaggerating. But still.

Home is where the heart is but Hope is where my heart grows. While I wish I could have more time here, I know it’s time to get back to the books and friends that are waiting for me in Holland. Every day there is an adventure, and I need to continue mine.

Seniors: I hope that as you think about college and where you’re going to end up next year you remember to enjoy the moments you have at home right now. It’s sad but true that you will get less and less of them as time goes on. The good part is that a new chapter in your book is about to start, and whoever is at home is hopefully ready to cheer you on.

Until next time,


If you have any questions for me you can contact me at, through Hope on Facebook, or my twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

Yeah, I Live by Detroit

I’m home, I’m home (for a little over three weeks)! The place I call home? Troy, a suburb located outside of Detroit. I spent a lot of time in Detroit growing up with both of my parents working in the city. I was actually born down there and went to day-care there!

Occasionally, when I tell people that I’m from outside of Detroit, their eyes will bulge out at me, as if I’m about to pull a gun from my back pocket. At this, I crinkle my nose and try to pretend that I don’t notice. I actually live in a very nice place, and their assumption doesn’t hurt my feelings but rather batters my opinion of them.

See, the stigma associated with the city is something that really gets to me. How are we supposed to make it better if people keep putting it down and assuming the worst for it? If you were trying to make positive changes in your life, and someone kept putting you down, can you imagine how hard it would be to get off of your feet? What gets me even deeper is that some people who say nasty things about Detroit have never been there. Sure, there are bad parts, but there are also great parts. In fact, a lot is being done to make the city a better place. It’s in the first steps toward revival.

Here’s a look at some of the good parts of Detroit. I spent a lot of hours down there waiting for my stepsister to finish her exams at Wayne State University. My mom, stepdad, and I explored for a while.

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Avalon | Hugh | Source Bookseller’s

A lot of these places have been around for a few years, and a lot of people were walking around in this area. The lofts are making it a very modern and cool place to live. (And yes, like most everything, this does remind me of New Girl).


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Shinola | Willy’s | Nest

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The Fox | The Filmore | Campus Martius

If you didn’t know, they’re building the M1 Rail on Woodward along neighborhoods by the Central Business District, Midtown, New Center, and North End. It’s goal is to by the catalyst of the area, promoting growth. They’re also building a new hockey arena for the Red Wings, our hockey team.

Hitsville, USA

My stepdad is a really big music guy, and we all know how much music was made in Detroit. They recorded people like Diana Ross & the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, and Stevie Wonder. There is so much history in this city.

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Astoria | Greektown

The city life is also very alive; you can see people going out downtown to Greektown! We just went to the Astoria Bakery (mmmm!) to get some treats after dinner in Mexicantown.

It’s really clear to see how much is being done to the city when you drive through it. Keeping in mind that all cities, suburbs, and rural areas have bad parts, Detroit will never be perfect; no place or person could ever be. It can be fixed to it’s best potential, though. It’s our generation that can do this. Yes, there are bad parts (a lot of them), but it’s getting better and people need to know that.

A lot of young, college and high school kids say that they want to move to the city when the graduate. They usually mean Manhattan or Chicago, but one day, I think that they could mean Detroit too.


If you have any questions for me you can contact me at, through Facebook, or my twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

Post-Thanksgiving Coma

Happy Black Friday to all!

Now that I am slowly waking up from my Thanksgiving coma from last night, I thought I’d write about my experiences you all. First off, Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays (other than Christmas, of course). This year in particular, I am extremely thankful for my family. Even though we had our ups and downs, I know I have them always, which is incredibly comforting. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

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Every year, my family goes to our uncle’s house for a hearty meal. Per usual, I ate more than I usually do in any given day. But, this is the only time during the year that it is acceptable to gorge on food. Random side note, my favorite Thanksgiving food is stuffing. Anyway, after stuffing my mouth, I had left no room for dessert which was quite sad. But a few hours later once my food started to digest, I ate pie. I needed the pie because after dinner, my family did something crazy. WE SHOPPED FOR THE BEST DEALS.

A lot of the stores opened at 5 PM on Thanksgiving, but we only started an hour after. The country might as well call it Black Thursday rather than Friday because all of the deals were primarily for Thanksgiving Day. Although there are many who don’t believe in the shopping during Thanksgiving, to each their own, right? I had ample time to spend with my family prior to shopping, but we also made the shopping itself a family affair!

We went to so many stores. The people were just crazy, and this is an understatement. Some of the stores we hit up were Macy’s, Kohl’s, GAP, Old Navy, American Eagle, PacSun, and Target. Each store had amazing deals. I mean who doesn’t like buy 1, get 1 free? IT RARELY HAPPENS. For some stores, the sales and deals continue today, so I might have to check those stores out!

But as for today, its a perfect winter day to put up our Christmas tree, decorate the house, eat Thanksgiving leftovers (hopefully another food coma), be with family, and do homework. That’s all for now, friends! Keep checking for more posts this upcoming week!! The semester is really coming to an end!!

Red, Read.

Red hair review, read book review. There’s not much more “red/read” around here than this.

1. Goldilocks turned to Little Red Riding Hood. Over the weekend, I went home (all the way to Iowa) and while I was visiting my family, I decided to dye my hair red. See ya later, blonde hair. Hello, red.

2. Eyes Wide Open + Hacker. Two books you HAVE to read. They’re so good. Ted Dekker is an author who writes books that are Stephen King-like– mysterious and unpredictable– but if the reader searches deep beneath the surface, one can see the Biblical parables hidden within the pages.

Eyes Wide Open is the story of two teens, Christy and Austin, who find themselves caught in a case of mistaken identity. Confined in a mental hospital, they must navigate the truth of who they are embedded in the lies the doctors tell them in order to succeed in their escape. Will they fall victim to the delusion, or will they triumph in the truth?

Hacker is the story of Nyah, a teenage genius, who can hack into any database and crack through firewalls within minutes. But when one hack goes entirely wrong and the corporation she hacked begins to chase after her, she is entitled to a giant risk: the requirement to complete one last hack that will either kill her or save her. Can she go beneath the surface and believe that there is more to every situation, more than meets the eye?

Red Hair, Read Books.
Here I am, red hair and all, peeking from behind two of my favorite books by author Ted Dekker.


Is that enough “read” for one day? If not, check out my Twitter page @hopesophie17. Questions, comments, more ideas on good books to read? Comment below or email me at Have a great week!