As a small-town Iowa native, I’ve always known there had to be more to life than cornfields, one stop-light towns and driving half an hour to the nearest grocery store. I grew up wanting more than what I was given, but when it came time to move a few hours away for college, I found myself incredibly nostalgic and thankful for what I grew up with. Saying goodbye to the park I walked my dog in, the shop with my favorite bagels, the school I grew to love making music in and the parking lot I’d sit and talk with my friends in showed me just how much I loved what I had- even if I didn’t appreciate it the way I should’ve at the time.
When I began college at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, I tried my best to dive right in to all of my passions. I joined the choir at my school, I began classes to work on my journalism major and I got a job at a local coffee shop and learned to love talking with the regulars to learn more about the Peoria community outside of Bradley. I used my elective classes to realize just how passionate I was about politics and added a political science minor, and decided to fill a little more of my time with an advertising & public relations minor to give myself a more well-rounded education.
As college went on, many life changes happened along the way. I was chosen to be secretary of the Bradley Chorale, moved into a house with my best friends, joined Student Senate at Bradley and was eventually elected Chief of Staff of the student body, adopted a sweet one-eyed Siamese cat named Gus and navigated college life through a global pandemic. I gained some amazing friends, lost a few important relationships, ended my time at my job of two years, and began work at a different local coffee shop as well as a local family restaurant- both of which gave me incredible, lifelong friendships. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself. I learned just how intense my love for the little things is, my ability to do things independently, the difference calling my mom and crying could make and the importance of doing things for me. Most importantly, I learned to love my surroundings that once felt so foreign after moving from my home in Iowa.
So here I am again, preparing to say goodbye to a home I’ve loved for so long. In many ways it’s the same. I’m moving away from my home, my friends that have become family, my favorite coffee shop that plays all of my favorite songs, my cat! Everyone will still be one phone call away, but being woken up by Gus dropping a toy on my face will have to be put on pause for a few months, I will have to miss this year’s pumpkin spice season at Dunkin’ and my job will craft their fall and winter menus without me.
Sometimes, it feels impossible to feel like I’ve adequately said goodbye to all that I’ve grown to love here in the midwest. Yes, it will likely all be here for me when I get back, but how could I ever expect it to be the same?
While this is all true, the excitement I have to develop new loves for simple things in a new city in a new country on a new continent is growing by the day. While I won’t get to see the leaves change on Grandview Drive this year, I’ll find a new beautiful street to walk down in Copenhagen that I know I’ll be sad to leave come December. Hopscotch pastry Tuesday at Zion may be no longer in a few months, but I know it will only take me a few days to find another pastry to crave every morning. I have a whole new culture to learn about, filled with an endless amount of opportunities to fall in love.
Things are going to be different, but isn’t that the exciting part? I’ve worked so hard to get to this point, and I am so excited for it all to pay off.