the city is alive

I’ve been in big cities, suburbs, little towns, and the countryside. I’ve been in cities with the population in the millions and cities with the population under 50. And there’s something sweet about the small-town life. The people all know one another, and community events bring everyone together in the quaint little downtown for a cozy atmosphere.

Currently, I live in a small town in northwest Iowa. The population is around 7,000, and the surrounding towns are even smaller, with one nearby town totaling a population of just 275 people. It’s kind of nice sometimes. The only reason I’m living there is college. The college I attend, Dordt College, makes me feel at home despite being 12 hours away from the place I’ve always lived.

If it weren’t for this fantastic school, I would probably still be living in a more urban environment. My hometown is Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s not a huge city or anything, but at a population of a million in the metropolitan area, it ranks as the second-biggest city in Michigan.

And I’ve taken it for granted.

During my younger years, I thought I lived in the country simply because I didn’t live downtown and there were trees in my backyard. Since coming here, I have become infinitely more aware that I could not have been more wrong. And I now understand why the city/suburban life is the life for me. I have my reasons, and I think I will always argue that the city is better than the country… in my opinion, at least.

For one thing, shopping is incredibly difficult in the country. Back where I lived, there were at least 3 decent malls within 20 minutes of my house (depending on traffic). A two-story mall was a mere 5 minutes from my home, and all I had to do to get there was turn onto the main road, make a Michigan left, and turn into the parking lot. Plus, that area had several small strip malls as well as many restaurants.

Here, we have a few restaurants and a small mall consisting of maybe 10 stores (and none of my favorites, either). Oh, and a Walmart. The nearest large mall is located in another state (South Dakota) and the nearest Starbucks is an hour away. In addition, the nearest Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters are a few hours away, in Omaha, Nebraska. Do you know how hard that is for me?

Now, I have to talk about music a little bit. I am obsessed with concerts. My mom used to go to a lot of the big names when she was younger, and now I’m trying to do the same. I’ve seen Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and several others. But these people do not come to towns of 7,000. I feel like I’m missing out.

Similarly, the art scene is visibly lacking. In Grand Rapids, there is an art competition called ArtPrize held every fall, and during that time the city is completely full of art. Even when that isn’t happening, we have an art museum, as well as quite a bit of public art. In small towns, there are very few art museums and sometimes not even public art is visible.

There are more opportunities in cities, not only for art. There is an abundance of new things to try and new people to meet. I may be shy, but I love to sit and watch people and try to figure out their stories. And it’s fun to hear their conversations as they buzz around to their next destinations.

Plus, there are a lot of jobs in cities that just aren’t available in small towns. Someday, I’d like to write screenplays or commercials, and that just can’t really happen in a little farm town. So, while some people may enjoy their jobs in small towns, others just aren’t cut out for it. The city may be the only place they can fulfil their passion.

So, while small towns are sweet and safe, sometimes the risk and excitement of city life is a little better. Now that I have lived in both, I feel that I can speak on the issue from a more educated point of view. I have formed my own opinion. You don’t have to agree, but I have decided that I love the city.

Cities are the place to be.

Photo from my December trip to Chicago

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