Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pros and Cons of Living in Denver - Rachael Wauer

Going from living in a city that has a population of 9,874 (Waverly, IA) to living in a city with a population of 3,002,629 (Denver, CO) is a major change. A positive change I believe as well. My experience thus far in Denver has been incredible. I have discovered a lot of positives of living in a big city, and also some down sides. Denver has a lot to offer and I feel blessed to be able to study and work here for the semester.   
One thing I picked up on from the first week of living here was the convenience of resources. Everything is just steps away in this area. We live within walking distance from 16th street, which is filled with shops and restaurants. Need a grocery store? It’s less than a half-mile away! Starbucks are on every block and gas stations are on every corner. The options for food and shopping are endless. By living in the heart of Denver, we get to have everything in the neighborhood. It’s a nice perk and hopefully I will not go broke from this experience! There are so many places and restaurants I want to try and visit.
This brings us to our next pro, never being bored! There is so much to do in Denver and so many ways to stay busy. Some things I have done thus far include attending a comedy club, going to a rodeo, visit two breweries, attend two plays, go to a winery, and visit multiple museums. Outside of Denver, I have skied and hiked many times. I honestly just hope I can fit everything in that I want to do before the beginning of April! Big cities offer many options for fun and new activities.
They also offer exceptional exposure and experience. My work at ManorCare is great involvement, and many of us have intriguing internships that are setting us up for our futures. There are just endless opportunities in Denver. There are so many businesses, companies, and people to get connected with in larger cities. By living in a big city and getting involved in it, we are getting a solid foundation to build our future upon. On top of this, I am learning how to function in a large city setting. Learning the bus routes and safe paths to take and furthermore learning directions and resources I can get connected with. I am overall developing life long skills and getting exposed to many opportunities that will help me out further down the road.

For the cons I have found, I will just type a short paragraph. Nobody likes to focus on the negative too much! But traffic is an aggravating thing. With my road rage and impatience, this does not sit well with me. Then there is the cost of living. Housing is much more expensive in the city (although I am lucky enough to live in cheaper Wartburg housing at a prime location). But then I have noticed that groceries are more expensive. I cannot get my canned mandarin oranges anymore for just 50 cents. I have to pay 99 cents and sometimes even more! Then lastly, the safety in a larger city (Denver included) is not as high as in a smaller city usually. It is a busy city with a lot going on. I feel safe where I live and in my areas, but there are some negative occurrences in Denver on a regular basis. But putting that aside and all of the listed cons, I think the good out weighs the bad and I am happy to be here. Denver is a wonderful city and I cannot wait to discover more positives of it!  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big City Livin' - Katie Bender

The anticipation moving to Denver was big. I always loved Colorado and didn’t think I would actually ever be able to live out here until I graduated or unless I actually went to school out in Colorado. But for me that wasn’t a choice considering the out-of-state tuition was insane.  When I realized Wartburg had a program that allowed me to experience life in Colorado for a semester without the huge commitment of moving out there on my own, I fell in love and that was a point that helped me decide to be a student at Wartburg.
The thought of living in Denver didn’t scare me all that much considering I live near Chicago and frequent the city a lot and know how to get around. But right when I got to Denver I got a little overwhelmed. Denver is sort of like a small big city so it wasn’t that the city was big, it was just the fact that I was now living in a place that I was unfamiliar with and didn’t know how to find my way around frightened me a little bit. However, I was soon able to navigate my way around the city pretty easily with the help of the Bocks and of the friendly people of Denver who never had a problem with helping us out.
One of the things I had to get used to out in Denver was the people. It wasn’t that the people were rude; in fact it was the complete opposite. Everywhere we went everyone was so nice and extremely willing to help with any question we had. They would even give us recommendations on places that we should go or restaurants or other things that we should try. Another thing I had to get used to was the weather in Denver. One day it would be sunny and in the 70s, but then the next day there would be inches of snow covering the ground, although I never really complained much about the weather because I got to hear back from friends in Iowa about the weather being in the negatives. It never got too frigid in Denver.

Living in Denver has only solidified my decision to move out to Colorado after I graduate. I love every aspect of living in Colorado; the picturesque mountains behind every city or town view, the opportunity to go snowboarding when I have free time, the people who are a joy to be around seven days a week, and last but obviously not least, the laid-back lifestyle as opposed to the rushed way of life in the Midwest. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Be Open-Minded and Take Opportunities by Rachel Krug

Wartburg West has been one of the best decisions I’ve made during my college career; it actually played a major role in my decision to go to Wartburg for college. My name is Rachel Krug and I am a fourth year Social Work major from southeast Iowa with a minor in Leadership, as well as Intercultural Studies. As I write this, it is past the half way mark of the winter semester. I can’t believe we are at this point already; I’ve been so busy! As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” The Wartburg West experience has shown this adventurous spirit to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can while being open-minded. 

The sense of community is strong at Wartburg West. Our Winter 2015 group is amazing, as well as adventurous. We are always game for something to do! I’ve eaten at some amazing restaurants, watched New Year’s Eve fireworks from a rooftop, hiked the foothills of Denver, explored LoDo and South Broadway, skied at Cooper Mountain, danced the night away at a Red Rocks concert, went ice skating at the 16th Street Mall, and been captivated by musical plays. In addition, Wartburg has a strong alumni base that is very active and genuinely want to know you. Even though I had heard the alumni were involved, I underestimated how true this was. The numerous alumni events the coordinator offers have been great. I received advice about social work grad schools and licensing, been invited to dinner, got to go to the National Western Stock Show, and fulfilled my dream to see the Winter X Games on the superpipe at Buttermilk Mountain while visiting alumni in Glenwood Springs. Expectations of having a “good” term were blown out of the water into a “great, unbelievable” term because I made it a priority to be involved and develop relationships with fellow students and alumni.

Moreover, Wartburg West has given me the sense of “livin’ in the real world,” a sense of reality what professional work life will be after graduation in May. I have had the opportunity to intern at Mountain Vista Health Center on their Rehab Unit. At first I was apprehensive about my practicum site; however, expectations were once again shattered. My day consists of working on an interdisciplinary team of social workers, nurses, therapists, dieticians, activities, finances, and admissions doing patient assessments, care conferences, and discharges. I love my internship site, duties, and co-workers; it will be very hard to say goodbye in April. I immensely like the difference between scheduled classes and being able to practice social work professionally. I have become confident in my abilities, trust my judgment, and realize I am ready for the next step. This has been a great transition for me to see how well I can adapt to living in an urban environment, working 40+ hours a week, and balancing work and life. Finally, this time has proven that I love Denver, as well as what Colorado has to offer (I’ve visited in the summer for 2 weeks for the past 10 years) and will definitely be making this my home base. Take chances and embrace new possibilities for they might leave a lasting impact.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cooking Matters - Ali Schuetz

Today, I had the unique experience of volunteering for Cooking Matters, a national organization that works with adults, kids and families to educate them on how to buy groceries and cook healthy meals on low-income budgets. While cutting boards, knives, bowls, and the like were set up around the table, I surveyed the people walking in to the class: it was a melting pot of Hispanics, Caucasian, and African American adults, eagerly ready to learn.  I imagine where they’ve come from and how they were brought up, and appreciate all the unique stories this must entail and I realize this is one of my favorite things about living in an urban setting: the culture.
            To me, culture can be seen as an education. Growing up in a primarily Caucasian community, I was never subject to large majorities of other ethnic groups. With every group come different religious practices, family traditions, and ways of life. Each and every group has something to share with others, and also something to learn from others, and what better place to learn from each other than in a city?  Where building hug each other close on each side, and people brush shoulders as they walk down the sidewalks heading to work, the city is a vibrant place of interaction, a place where you can always find someone to listen to your story. During my time here at Wartburg West so far, I’ve been able to rub shoulders with a Hispanic woman, who has three kids and is a single working mother, as we sliced apples for apple walnut salad. I’ve shared librarian jokes with an older African American woman, who was a librarian and is now a grandmother, as we sautéed the stir-fry for our cooking group. Living in a place with a multitude of different types of people brings unique opportunities that you may not find elsewhere. I am just beginning to learn about the different types of people that live around me, and I feel the only best is yet to come.

            And what is the meaning of all this? While diverseness can seem intimidating, it is in reality enriching. The stereotypical fears of danger and lack of safety in the city slowly dissipates into daily adventures of listening to stories and observing different cultural norms. I find kindness in the most unsuspecting strangers, and a new sense of safety in this new home. I am extremely pleased to call this my home for the semester, and hopefully, perhaps, a permanent home in the future.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Big City to Big City - Angelo De Nubbila

Living in Denver for the past month has been an incredible experience. I have experienced many things that have truly changed the way I perceive urban life. Coming from a big city to finally a big city has been quite soothing and it has shown me what living in large city is. Out of all the experiences that I’ve had to this point, the one that I can point out the most and highlight as a great and life-changing would be the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in celebration of his birthday in January 19th. 
This day marked an incredible accomplishment in Black American history as people celebrated the man who liberated so many black people from being oppressed so many years ago. I must say that this march was something that brought a great deal of memories to my heart and mind since I have been present in marches of this sort. I remember that a couple years ago I marched along with other thousands of Colombians in a walk of peace, which the main goal was to have the guerrilla, known as the FARC, to liberate a lot of hostages that were captive in several of their camps. This walk or march also called for peace for Colombia and love from all citizens of my beautiful country. Sorry if I sound a bit bias, but something that I am extremely proud of is to call myself a Colombian.

As you can see, I am quite patriotic and love my country very much. A feeling I know a great deal of Americans can relate to when talking about the U.S. I was happy to see so many people, both black and white, marching together to celebrate the life of a hero and a man who truly changed the wrong way of thinking of the United States. Unfortunately there is still racism, not only here, but also all over the world. This is an issue that might never disappear but slowly but surely people are fighting and keeping their faith strong that one day racism will be completely obliterated from the world. On this day, I was honored to walk among other people who might even been alive during the time of MLK. What truly marked me would definitely be to see how much, a whole city, and probably a whole country, shared loved for a man like Martin Luther King Jr. I remember some words from a speech that MLK did many years ago and there are words to which he closed his speech that resonated through my head on that day. “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” This was a man who fought for equality and through his religion; he immersed himself into the politics world with the goal of freeing his people and making the world a better place. Freedom is such a broad term, but with all of the world’s problems today this phrase definitely applies to all of us, for we are all prisoners of our minds and personal problems and I know for a fact that my country needs some freedom. So as Dr. King said: “Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Finding Kindness in the Big City - Jenna Vogen

            Growing up in a small town was always a comfort to me. Everyone knew each other and could rely on one another for help or little encouraging words. This love for a tight knit community that truly facilitated relationships led me to choose Wartburg College for my undergraduate studies. It was perfect, Wartburg gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of new people and see new experiences all while keeping the safe, friendly, and nurturing community feel that I had grown so used to.
            Having always associated small town with safety, moving to a city created a little fear for me. Worries as I prepared for my semester at Wartburg West varied from as miniscule as wondering what would happen if I got lost in traffic to as extreme as if I would get mugged while walking down the street. Despite my initial unease I have come to realize that Denver is one of the friendliest and welcoming areas that I have ever encountered.
            During one of my first days here in Denver a couple of friends and I began exploring the bus system. While on the bus I noticed everyone was extremely kind, (even the bus drivers, who I give all the right in the world to be cranky seeing as they drive in traffic all day with such a massive vehicle!) people would quickly give up their seats with a big smile or would just communicate with one another to pass the time. One moment that especially stood out to me was as I was loading the bus at the busy intersection of Broadway and Colfax, I dropped my wallet without noticing. Soon a homeless woman was chasing after me with my wallet saying that I dropped it in the snow! In that moment I realized that maybe everyone in the city wasn’t as closed off and unfriendly as common stereotypes suggest.

            Within the past month I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most diverse people and hear some amazing life stories. I have come to realize that Denver is a city filled with kindness. Acts of warmth such as a woman paying for my morning coffee, authentic conversations with complete strangers, or even courteous drivers in rush hour traffic have truly restored my faith in people on a daily basis. Coming to Denver has given me the opportunity as a small town girl to see that no matter where you go in the world there will be good people near. I have been lucky to be surrounded by such unconditional kindness and thoughtfulness throughout my experience thus far.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Carless in Denver - Hilleary Reinhardt

The day I turned 16 (just kidding, I failed my first license test) I was super pumped to inherit my parents’ 2000 Saturn station wagon. Ever since that point, I have relied greatly on a car as my main mode of transportation, until I came to Denver. I decided to not bring my car for my semester at Wartburg West as I was going to force myself to really immerse myself into the urban lifestyle. My organization where I am completing my senior social work practicum is about five miles from the Wartburg West apartments, about 20 minutes by bus.

Public transportation is not new to me as I grew up occasionally riding the light rail around my home cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis; however, I am now using it as my daily form of transportation around Denver and I love it! Not only is public transportation economically efficient and sustainable, but it also has its own culture and provides its riders with human interaction. Bus culture is like nothing I have ever experienced before. Every age, race, ethnicity, and language is present on the bus…making people watching extremely entertaining and educational. It also acts as its own community; others will watch out for and help those on their bus. For instance, last week on my ride home from a local grocery store I was carrying more bags than I probably should have been. An older male saw me struggling as I was getting on the bus so he walked up to the front and asked if I needed help with my bags. I accepted his help as he carried my bags to an open seat on the bus and set them down.

Both Nelson and Bonita Bock are appreciative when students use public transportation as those who drive cars have less chances of human interaction. While riding the bus, I never wear my headphones with the hopes that someone will sit near me so that I can strike up a conversation. In some instances, people do not want to chit chat but in most cases, people on the bus love to have conversations with those close by. The things that I have learned from and about the people I have conversed with give me an insight into what their lives in urban Denver are like…and I have learned many things that I could live without knowing.

Future Wartburg Westers, I challenge you to come to Denver with no car or if you absolutely need to bring it that you use public transportation as much as possible.