Dubuque, I love you.

Who knew that reverse culture shock could still hit almost 5 months after returning to the USA.. (Holy cow..it’s been 5 months already???)

Most of you know that I’ve begun my final year of college. It has been nothing short of a blast so far, but also feels like the equivalent to a literal slap in the face. After working four jobs last fall and going to school full time, to going to Europe and living the “good life” where I didn’t have to work, school was a breeze, and I could travel on the weekends, to working this summer full-time at an internship…. coming back to actual school has been rough for me. I guess you could say I forgot what it was like to have actual homework and classes that require my full attention, and I forgot what it was like to be busy almost all day every day from about 8 am to 10 pm and what it’s like to not only be involved in my classes but organizations on campus as well. I am only taking four classes (12 credits) which really isn’t that much at all compared to the usual five or six that everyone else takes (and that I used to take), but yet I already feel stressed and it is only day five..

I am working a lot at the coffee shop on campus, which is really nice because I can do my homework (or blog in this case. Hello from Sylvia’s Common Ground in Dubuque, Iowa on the University of Dubuque campus!) while I work when we aren’t busy with customers, yet I feel slightly overwhelmed by how often I’m working. I’m not going to cut back on my hours though because honestly I’d rather be here and be making money than sitting at home watching Netflix (because all of my friends work multiple jobs and work all the time too so it’s not like I would be hanging out with them) but starting next week I work open to close most days with a break for class in between and I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. With working that much comes more work in the form of making sure I have everything I need for the day before I leave causing me to have a heavy backpack full of all sorts of different things, meal prepping so I don’t have to starve and also so I don’t have to order food and spend $5-$20 a day on meals, and accepting the fact that I won’t be home to do much more than shower and sleep. I’ll be okay… I’m just not ready to be back to reality. I miss the “good life” I had in Europe.

On the flip side, I am so happy to be back in Dubuque. I never realized how much I loved it here, but I do now and I am already not ready to leave in May. I missed all of my friends. I missed driving around and jamming out to songs we know all of the words to at the top of our lungs. I missed going and getting coffee and catching up with them. I missed going out for dinner. I missed UD. I missed Dubuque. I missed it’s atmosphere and big city feel (well for a small town girl like me), yet it’s feel of being small enough that I am not overwhelmed. I missed feeling completely “at home” at my “home away from home.”

Fun fact: I’m changing my major. But before you panic, let me explain!

The CGIM (Computer Graphics and Interactive Media) department has now changed to DART (Digital Art & Design). As a senior, I had the choice to stick with CGIM or switch to DART. Really the only difference for me is what will be written on my diploma. Nowadays, people in the industry think of computer graphics as programming, and I will be the first to tell you that I know absolutely nothing about that. But I do know about digital art and design, which is why I’m “changing my major”. Some of you may think it’s crazy to change your major during your senior year, but alas have no fear. I’m merely switching the title of my major and what will be printed on my diploma. My course load will still remain the same (as I only have one more class I need to graduate anyway). I’m excited to be a digital art and design student because it just feels right. I don’t know how to program or develop websites from scratch, but I do know how to design things digitally (pretty well, if I do say so myself.)

If you’re friends with me on Facebook (which you probably are if you’re reading this), you’ve been seeing a couple of posts about the new street art movement in downtown Dubuque. Anybody who knows me knows that I LOVE STREET ART. I have a slight obsession with it actually, and will go the distance to find murals in other cities I’m visiting. (For example, over New Years last year, my family and I went to Atlanta, Georgia and Tampa, Florida to visit family and I made my family walk all around downtown Atlanta to find different murals I had seen on Pinterest and I also had my mom drive about 30 minutes with me to St. Petersburg, Florida to find the street art there and a large mural of a turtle JUST so I could take a picture with it.)

Anywho, in one of my classes, we’ve been talking about and learning about the murals that are being made downtown and I honestly have been so happy. I love it. I love it so much. I love learning about them and learning about the history behind them and why the artist chose to do what they did and learning about how they did it. We were assigned to go downtown and look at the murals (worst assignment ever, right???) and find a blank wall that we think would be a good wall for a future mural, take a photo of it, and then we have to create a mural that we think would look good on that wall using Photoshop (it’s for a Photoshop class) and then photoshop our mural onto the wall we took a photo of.

Learning about the murals in downtown Dubuque (which is where I LIVE right now) made me think about all of the murals I saw in Europe (specifically the walking street art tour I took in Lisbon, Portugal and some other street art I saw in London and all over Spain.) I’m so very thankful that I got to experience the things that I did last semester, and while it sounds like all I’m going to do in this post is complain about how much I miss Europe, it’s not. I love Dubuque. I am happy to be here. My life is here right now. And I’ve never been more sure that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

IMG_1800While exploring the murals downtown yesterday, my friend Marcel and I met a man by the name of “Lee”. Lee approached us after seeing the dog we had with us, Duke. Duke is a pitbull mutt, but is one of the absolute sweetest dogs you could ever meet, full of love and kisses. The thing about Lee is, he has a prosthetic leg. Lee lost his leg in a climbing accident. He told us about how he fought in war and had a companion by the name of Mary, a chocolate lab, who passed away in the line-of-duty. It was really sad, but I could tell that Lee interacting with Duke was helpful. Lee shared about his life with us and about how he used to work at the Humane Society before being deployed and how he wishes he could get another pet but it would be too hard for him after losing Mary.

So why am I telling you this? Because you never know what God has in store for your day. If you would’ve asked me what I had planned for yesterday, I would’ve told you that I was going to go downtown and take some photos for class, go to my internet marketing class, and then go to work. That would’ve been my rundown for the day. But instead, God introduced me to Lee and gently reminded me that everybody has a story and to always be kind and be thankful and humble for all the things that you do have, because others may not be as blessed as you.

My friend Abby always tells me that “busy hands are blessed hands” and I try really hard to keep that in mind when I start to feel overwhelmed by all of the things I have going on. Do I have any idea what I’m going to be doing or where I’ll be going after I graduate in May? Nope. Will I stay in Dubuque? Will I go back home to Pella? Who knows? All I know is that right now, I live in Dubuque, Dubuque is where I am supposed to be, and I am living in the moment and enjoying every single second of my senior year because the next thing you know it’s going to be over and I’m not ready for that. So here’s to senior year and living each moment to the fullest because no matter what, God’s got a plan for my life, for your life, and a plan for everyone around us. So always be humble and kind (thanks Tim McGraw) and share God’s love and God’s light with everyone you meet because you never know what they could be going through.


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