Learning To Be Thankful One Day At A Time

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. When I tell people this, I generally get a lot of questions asking why. No, it’s not because my favorite food is mashed potatoes (though it definitely takes a nice second to puppy chow) or because I love watching the Lions lose every year. It’s the idea of taking a specific day out of your life to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but I often forget how good I truly have it. I do not lack food or shelter or a loving support system of family and friends, yet, without fail, I never tell my amazing Heavenly Father about these gifts and why I love them except on this one day a year.

Just going through my normal day provides me with enough things to be thankful for to last a lifetime.

I wake up at the cottage that I share with five of my closest friends. I cannot tell you enough how amazing they all are and how grateful I am to be able to live with them on campus. Our cottage, Mayor’s, sits right across the street from Centennial Park. The Park is beautiful during this time of year. There are so many bright and vibrant colors on the tree. I thank God for my friends, a warm house, and the colors that lighten our lives.

Female student jumps in front of wood church doors. As I walk through Hope’s campus towards my first class, I find an abundance of things to be thankful for in each glance. I pass Dimnent Chapel, my favorite place to worship, and the Bultman Student Center, where I always try to study but fail because I always see so many people that I know and love. I arrive at the DePree Art Center, my favorite building on campus. Inside it sit all my friends, ready to learn and make amazing art together. There is no shortage of inspiration here. I thank God for the places on campus that aide in making me a more rounded student and person, as well as a major (Art) that I love so much.

After class, I go to work at Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing office where I work as a student graphic designer. I enjoy making materials like posters and cards that go out to all sides of campus. It’s so fun seeing my work hanging up places. I am thankful for the opportunities there that are teaching me to become a better graphic designer, the bosses that want to see me learn, and the coworkers that always keep me smiling.

After my day is done, I return back to my cottage. Without fail, I always have at least one text on my phone for one of my family members. Even though I don’t get to see them every day, it’s nice to know that they are one ever one text or phone call away. I’m thankful for a family that is always so present, no matter where we are.

That concludes my day of thankfulness, yet it doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things that I could be thankful for.

What to Expect for First Year Advising

Freshman advising is an incredibly laid back experience. The process depends on whether you declare a major your first year.

Not sure on your major yet?

If you don’t declare a major your first year, your advisor won’t change. Your First Year Seminar professor will be your advisor until you declare your major. There’s no need to worry if you don’t know what you’re going to major in, most programs can still be completed in four years if you declare your sophomore (and in some cases, junior) year. Before classes even begin (during Orientation week), you are required to meet with your advisor to go over the classes you’re enrolled in. Then, at the end of your first semester (and all semesters to follow), you are required to again meet with your professor and go through the classes you’re planning on taking for the following semester.

Declare a major

You can request a professor from the department for your major directly on the major declaration sheet, or you may be assigned an advising professor. You should meet with your new advisor, especially if you’ve never met them before, just so the two of you can get to know each other outside of the constraints of a classroom. From there, your advisor can give you specific, thoughtful advice regarding your major, and the classes they believe would be best for you.

Your advisor is the person who can help you with just about anything and everything. They’re there for you and they want to help you, and watch you succeed. They can help you figure out what classes would be best for you and help you find internships and summer jobs. They can be excellent references on resumes, and a great source of guidance.

Your responsibilities are to take initiative in scheduling appointments and having a valid reason to meet with your advisor. Whatever you schedule an appointment for, you should be prepared for the meeting. For example, when you have your semestral meeting with your advisor regarding classes to take, you should have the classes you’re planning on taking already in mind to share with them.

Exploring majors

Hope’s liberal arts emphasis allows you to explore multiple possible majors, while still working towards graduation. This means that you’re free to take courses ranging from the arts to math, and still receive helpful credits along the way. Hope also offers a career development center where you can take tests that show you which field you would be best in. Your advisor is another great source of advice when exploring majors and planning for your future. 

Your “Back to Hope” Playlist

Over the summer I got to thinking about Hope blogging. I felt as if every year I wrote the same posts: back to school, the Pull, Winter Fantasia, Nykerk, SAC events, etc.

This year, I’m vowing to make more unconventional and creative posts. My first is this one, a playlist perfected for that perfect back to Hope College feel. These are songs that I hear around campus, give me a special Hope vibe, or are always played at any Hope social event.

I’m starting junior year off with some feel good tunes, and now you can too! Listen to it on Spotify or follow the list of songs below.

  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston
  • Brand New – Ben Rector
  • More Like Love – Ben Rector
  • I Lived – One Republic
  • Shut Up and Dance – WALK THE MOON
  • Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne
  • Wake Me up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
  • Let the Good Times Roll – Ben Rector
  • Love on Top – Beyonce
  • Put Your Records On – Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Easy Love – Original Mix – Sigala
  • I’ll Be There For You – The Rembrandts
  • Where You Lead – Carole King
  • Classic – MKTO
  • Home – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  • Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
  • Downtown – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  • I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
  • Yeah! – Usher
  • Where Is The Love – The Black Eyed Peas
  • Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) – Andy Grammar
  • Rather Be (feat. Jess Glynne) – Clean Bandit
  • Bright – Echosmith
  • Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  • I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Geronimo – Sheppard
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & The Waves
  • When Can I See You Again – Owl City

These are all songs that get me pumped to be back at Hope. I hope you enjoy listening to some of them!


A Trip to the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin

The greenhouse at the Downtown Market
The greenhouse at the Downtown Market

This past Saturday night, I went down to Calvin College with one of our chaplains, Lauren Taylor, some other girls from Hope and a faculty member and his family. Calvin hosts the Festival of Faith and Writing every year, which is probably its most redeeming quality. (They’re our big rival, in case you missed that one).

We piled into a Hope van and took off. When we got there, we got to hear Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, speak. She is a self-taught theologian from Canada.

Sarah spoke on her experience with being told that she does not have the privilege to share God’s word or her opinions on God’s word. Before her book got published, she was often told that she was unqualified to do any of this without a degree from seminary school.

She talked about how we are all qualified to share God’s word, no matter what our degree. She asked what qualifications God expects us to have to share his word.

I found this to be a very moving subject. A lot of times on Hope’s campus, faith experiences are compared and analyzed. It’s easy to tell yourself that someone else’s experience is stronger than your own, or that they have a deeper relationship with God than you do.

There are no qualifications for God’s love, besides the most basic things (ie. believing, repentance, obedience to God and His word, etc.).

I believe that as long as you are walking with the Lord, you are in a good place. Sarah Bessey really pounded that into me, even though she wasn’t directly speaking on that topic.

After hearing her speak, we went to the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids for dinner. We discussed some of the things that Bessey talked about, hearing different opinions around the table.

As we ate, I listened to opinions of my peers and sank back. I let their words, some that I wasn’t sure I agreed with, to marinate inside me. Some said that they didn’t completely agree with Bessey, because to have theory on God’s word you must know theology.

I just think that Bessey was talking about something much simpler than that; we all have a calling to live out and spread the gospel. Whether it be through writing, theology, teaching or medicine, we’re all qualified as God’s children to spread his word.

The Seven Wonders of Someone Halfway Done With College

I often find myself wishing that time would stop, or at the very least that things would shift into slow motion for at least a week or maybe five minutes.

When they say that your time in college flies by fast, they aren’t lying.

It’s scary yet exciting to know that in the same amount of time that I have already spent at Hope, I will be leaving and venturing off into the real world.

Here are seven things I wonder as I think about leaving Hope in two years:

  1. What’s the real world really like?
    • Let’s be honest, we all wonder this.
  2. Are there other places like Hope?
    • I like the welcoming and supportive atmosphere that Hope has, but will I be able to find that somewhere else?
  3. Will I find the same faith community?
    • This is one of my biggest worries about leaving Hope. I’ll have to venture out and find a faith community, perhaps even create one, instead of having one built and placed right in my lap.
  4. Will my best friends stay my best friends?
    • I’m really crossing my fingers for this one. I know some pretty great people here and I hope they’re my friends for life.
  5. Where will I live?
    • Will I go back home? Will I make somewhere new my home? The world may never know. Until I graduate.
  6. What will my job be?
    • Really though. I have my plans but the more I talk to alumni, the more I realize that you often don’t end up doing what you thought you would.
  7. Can I just stay here a little bit longer?
    • The answer is, yes, you can stay here two more years. Maybe it’ll be enough, but right now I love Hope and wouldn’t trade it for any other place.

I’m sure that incoming freshmen and graduating seniors are also wondering some of these things. Being a sophomore in the middle of it all can make the end seem blind, like it’s never coming. But it is and I have so many thoughts about it.

Thanks for reading,


Five Spring Must-Dos at Hope College

The pine grove in the sun
The Pine Grove in the sun

Never mind the fact that the ground on Hope’s campus is lightly dusted with snow right now, we’re going to talk about spring at Hope College.

There’s so much you can do when the weather starts heating up a bit. I don’t mean summer heat, I mean that nice spring warmth where the sun is shying out of its winter position and warming the earth while a light breeze brushes up against your ankles as you walk to classes.

Here are five “must-do’s” at Hope in the Spring:

  1. Studying in the Pine Grove. There’s nothing better than laying on a blanket,
    Reading in the Pine Grove
    Reading in the Pine Grove

    feeling the sun up against your back, and looking over your ten-page study guide for psychology. Just kidding about the study guide part, but being in the Pine Grove makes it a little better.

  2. Frolf. Frisbee Golf. Lots of students like to go around campus and play this fun game when it starts to get warmer out.
  3. Tulips popping up in the spring time at Hope!
    Tulips popping up in the spring time at Hope!

    Runs and walks to Windmill Island. It’s always fun to take a friend and take advantage of the nice weather by exercising. Instead of going to workout on a machine, it’s nice to breathe fresh air while getting exercise.

  4. Do an intramural. There are lots of spring intramurals going on at Hope. Some of them are soccer, softball, flag football, racquetball and ultimate frisbee.
  5. Spring Fling. I saved the best for last. This is an event put on by Hope’s Student Activities Committee every spring the weekend before finals. There’s a picnic in the pine grove, inflatables, a band with some dancing, a zip-line, a Photo Booth, laser tag, and much more.

Spring is pretty sweet at Hope. It’s a shame that we don’t get to enjoy it for long, seeing as we get out in almost a month (and it’s still snowing…).

Thanks for reading!


An Immersion Excursion: New Jersey Immersion Trip 2016

Hope’s campus is filled once again and bursting with life, especially now that the sun is out. Yet I feel a little bit lost and in the wrong, all because I’m not in New Jersey with the 12 other people I spent the last week with.

Last Saturday, our group left bright and early to drive over to New Jersey. We drove all day, finally making it to Highland Park, NJ, that night. The next day, we spent time in the church and even went to visit a Russian Orthodox church to hear a speaker talk about the Syrian refugees.

The next four days were spent serving and immersing ourselves in the church’s culture. We went out to the Jersey Shore to help a family prepare their house to be lifted, which is required by New Jersey law since Hurricane Sandy hit. We also put up dry wall in another house and painted a house in the High Land Park area.

We did other things as well, such as visit a detention center for undocumented immigrants, receive a tour of the church’s outreach in the area, and attend a seder service.

On Friday, we got to visit New York City for our day off.

It’s very hard to sum up the week in a 300-400 word blog post. I can’t elaborate on any of the deep and meaningful moments that we shared together as a group. Every morning and night we had devotionals and a breakdown of the day, which really helped to process the way that we saw God working in every day life.

I would sum up the trip by stating two things that I learned:

  1. I met and saw God working through so many people this past week. It’s incredible the way that these people give up everything for Him. I learned a lot about what it truly means to be a servant to God and lay down your life to Him.
  2. I met people with incredible stories and incredible faith. These people did not and do not lead easy lives, yet they trust in God and keep such strong faith in Him. It helped me to see what it really means to have faith in God, and also how much one can go through and still keep that faith.

I’m a little sad without my team. They’re still all around Hope’s campus, but I miss spending every day with them. I miss New Jersey and the work that we did there, but I still see God working in all of our lives here.

If you can get a chance to, sign up to go on an Immersion Trip through Campus Ministries. It truly was a life changing experience. Unfortunately the blog platform won’t upload my photos! I will try to get them up as soon as possible.

Where Do You Find Your Meaning? A Dance 42 Reflection

Last night, I went to see Dance 42, an annual show put on by the Dance Department of Hope College. I wish I had photos to share, but unfortunately photography was not allowed.  Last year, it was called Dance 41 and next year it will be called Dance 43. You get the picture, it’s been going on for a while.

Above is a video from Dance 37, the only one that I could find online.

The students audition in September. This leaves them the rest of the year up until March to work on their performances and perfect them.

I went to the show because I had friends in some of the dances, but I didn’t experience it last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Some people had told me it was really good, but some acts were sort of odd. As I watched, I understood why they could seem that way. Some of the dance moves were very interpretive and I had a hard time finding meaning in them.

When my friend, Allie, finished her performance, she came and sat with me. As the show progressed, she told me what each dance was about. They all started to make more sense to me.

What drew me in when thinking about Dance 42 was the fact that everyone has an area of life in which they create meaning or try to draw meaning from. For me, it’s literature and my religion. For others, it’s dance, science, nature, etc.

It’s beautiful how so many different paths can be used to soul-search and make something out of life. Everyone has a preference, and dance works for those who put their time and efforts into Dance 42.

Once I recognized that, I began to appreciate it so much more.


You can email me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, find me on Facebook, or check out my Twitter @hopebrooke18.

Finding My Home Church

Having a church to go to every Sunday is a little bit like having a home team, I think. A church can be a community of love, support and faith outside of the college context.

Up until recently, I’ve only attended Hope’s Chapel and Gathering services. One of my best friends, Rachel, and I decided that we want to find a traditional church in the Holland area to attend.

There are a lot to choose from. In Downtown Holland there’s Pillar Church (Christian Reformed) and the First United Methodist Church. There are others, such as Third Reformed Church, St. Frances de Sales Church, and Engedi Church. If you know anything about Holland, you know the list doesn’t end there. Those are just a few that students attend on a weekly basis.

Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime
Dimnent Chapel around Christmastime

This past Sunday, Rachel and I went to Pillar Church. We figured it would be our first shot since it’s a close walk downtown.

The service was nice, but I’m not sure it’s what I’m looking for in my home church. At home, I’m a member of the First United Methodist Church. It’s a whole lot bigger than the tiny Pillar. Maybe I’m looking for something more like that, but I’m not sure.

I guess I’m just looking for what feels right. I don’t think I’ll have any problem knowing when I’ve found the right place to call home for worship every Sunday.

Building a community in faith is extremely important. It’s easy to have that community at Hope considering how central it is to our every day lives. However, once college is over, that support system won’t be as much in tact. It’s necessary from that point to go out and make your own community of the church.

I want to be able to create that community once I leave Hope, and an important step is finding my faith outside the college.

You can email me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, find me on Facebook, or check out my twitter @hopebrooke18!

A Day in the Life of a Hope College Student

Recently on the Hope College Facebook page for admitted students, I received a message from a future student asking about my typical day. I told her that I would write a blog post about it, since other future students are probably wondering the same thing.

And that’s how this post came to be! I hope you enjoy hearing about what a typical weekday would look like for me, which is definitely different than what a typical day looks like for another student here.

Morning: On a weekday I’m either waking up for work or class. Let’s pretend it’s a Monday. I wake up at about 8:30 to get ready for class at 9:30. My routine usually starts with climbing (yes, climbing, our beds are lofted) down from my bed, rubbing my eyes and heading to the bathroom. I brush my teeth and wash my face before heading back to my room to get dressed, put some makeup on and get my bag packed. I usually eat a granola bar, fruit or oatmeal for breakfast.

Class: My first class of the day is Writing for Media, basically a journalism class. We usually have a lecture or in-class activity to do.

Chapel: On Mondays I go to Chapel after my first class. I sit with some girls in my sorority for the brief service.

Class: After Chapel, I head to my British Literature class at 11:00 a.m. This class is mostly lecture with some areas for discussion.

Lunch: On Mondays I’ll either eat with my friend Andrea at Phelps or get a take-away box from Cook if I have a lot of work to do. Cook dining is only for upper-classmen, but I have enough credits to eat there.

Break: I have a two-hour break between my second class and my last class of the day. Depending on how much sleep I got the night before and whether or not my homework is done for my next class, I’ll nap or do some homework. Thrilling, I know.

Class: My last class on Mondays is Creative Writing from 2:00 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. In this class we might have a short lecture, but most of it is discussion and sharing. We just finished our poetry unit and are now moving on to narrative!

Finally done with classes: I probably sound like a grandma because at this point, if I didn’t nap before, I’m going to nap. If I already took a nap, I’ll do homework or goof around with my roommate until dinner.

Dinner: My friends and I usually eat at 5:00 p.m. Now I must really sound like a grandma. You guys thought college was going to sound interesting, but this is my daily life.

Post-dinner: Depending on the night, I might have different things going on. Some nights I have work, some nights I have sorority events, on Tuesdays I have Bible study, or I might be meeting with a group to work on a project or writing. It’s different every day for every student, especially since there’s so much going on. My roommate is on the sailing team and in the fall she has practice every day after classes. Sometimes there are seminars around campus that I’ll go to for a class or just for fun.

And then at the end of the day I’ll shower and get ready for bed 🙂

This isn’t what every day is like at Hope College, but I’d say it’s a pretty fair representation of what I do every day this semester.

I hope this is helpful to those of you wondering what it’s like to be a daily Hope College student!

Thanks for reading,