Senior me would be shocked if she saw me right now. You see, for the longest time, I absolutely refused to commit to Iowa. As someone who grew up in Iowa City, I was so interested in going to college in other places… in fact, I literally thought I was going to go to the University of Toronto until the last week of April! It’s safe to say I was an Iowa hater. And why? For no reason other than I felt that I belonged somewhere outside of the state. I even did my research, visited the school campus, and received a scholarship, but none of this seemed to sway me. For some reason that I cannot explain today, the University of Iowa seemed like an option I could never take.
After weighing out the pros and cons of the two schools I had narrowed my choices down to (Iowa vs. Toronto), I reluctantly decided Iowa made more sense out of the two. Fast-forward to today and I’m so glad I decided to attend Iowa. I feel that it really was the best choice I could’ve made (especially when I think about how cold it will get up in Toronto). The reasons why I stand the way I do now are endless, but here’s my best go at it:
The people! Iowa really does fall in line with the Midwest stereotype that everyone here is friendly. As a local to Iowa City, I’ve always known what the community and culture are like, but I was never quite sure what it would be like in college. I’ve heard from friends that they feel like the environment here is much more welcoming than the ones they had back in their hometowns. Most people I’ve met in the short span of this first semester have been friendly and open to talking to me.
And the people here tie into the culture. Maybe it was because I didn’t live downtown, but before coming to university, I never quite realized how alive the social scene is here at Iowa. Let me just say it’s thriving. The university does a great job at creating and promoting on-campus events throughout the week. On top of that, weekends are always filled with groups of students hanging out either in the dorms or places downtown. There’s never a dull moment if you look for things to do. Certain dorms also have a liveliness to them. As a resident of Burge, I see students daily going from room to room, filling the halls with voices. While this may not be ideal for some people, I like the feeling of community this dorm creates.
Most importantly, your college experience at Iowa is what you make of it. This university provides you every opportunity to go out and do whatever it is you want to do. If you are looking for a challenge academically, many classes require that you work hard but not to the point where you become unnecessarily exhausted. No matter your interests, there is surely a group or organization that fits you. The community makes it easy to meet people as there is always something to do and social engagement is widely encouraged.
All-in-all, I feel really happy here. I’ve met so many incredible people, but because I’ve been so close to home, I’ve still kept up with some of the relationships I had before high school. I was surprised when I first moved into the dorms at how different living downtown feels compared to my home in the countryside. It’s been the perfect distance away from home to become more independent and experience a fresh, new environment while still having my family nearby. My classes have been difficult (especially Intro to Behavioral Neuroscience), but I’ve found a good balance between my devotion to academics and my social life. I guess all this is to say I’m glad I decided to go to Iowa.