College Spotlight: Hope College
Freshman Year Update
By Kylie Galloway
College Expert Counselor: Ryan Luse
Hi! My name is Kylie, and I would like to share a little bit about my experience going to school at Hope College. I’ve always been a homebody and loved Minnesota, so when I told friends and family that I wanted to go to a school in Michigan, they were shocked. When I visited Hope College in the fall of 2017, I knew it was the place for me; it felt like I could make Hope a home. Hope College is situated in Holland, Michigan, the cutest town straight out of a Hallmark movie and 14 minutes from the beaches of Lake Michigan. It has the strong academics I was looking for, but also a strong sense of community and provides an environment for a student to flourish. Hope checks all the boxes I had set for myself in my college search.
As I write this, I’m beginning my second semester at Hope, and I still love it just as much as I did when I first visited campus. I’m a Communications major with a Spanish and History double-minor, and I absolutely love my classes. This year, I am living in Dykstra Hall. Dykstra houses 260 freshman girls, and while there are co-ed options on campus, I was set on living in Dykstra because of the unique format. It is set up in clusters, so there are 6 rooms (14 girls) surrounding a living space. It created an instant community for me, and the girls from cluster 1-1 are going to be my friends for life. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more than with these girls. I’m so grateful for these girls because they are my support system. We are all experiencing similar things and it produces a certain type of comradery that is irreplaceable.
One of the reasons I came to Hope was because of its traditions. One of those is the Nykerk Cup. I’ve gotta be honest, at first I wasn’t really sure about participating in it, but I am SO glad I did. In short, the Nykerk Cup is a competition that is a combination of song, play, and oration with even and odd years competing against each other to win the cup. I was a part of even year song this year, and was even an assistant coach. The upperclassmen girls coach the underclassmen girls, so we had juniors coaching us. We learned “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele paired with all the traditional motions that have been passed down by even year “Song Girls” while wearing the traditional outfits, affectionately known as “nunfits” around campus (here’s the video). Almost everything we did was according to tradition, which builds a sense of pride for your year and the school. Along with the orator, who does an 8-minute personal speech, and the Hope-themed play, even year won! It was so exciting to be a part of something that makes up a big part of Hope (and we beat odd year’s winning streak, so that was pretty awesome too).
Something that I wasn’t expecting was the professor-student relationships that I would form, especially as a freshman. Every student takes a “First-Year Seminar” class with a theme, and mine was Paris. I love Paris, so it was a great class content wise, but my professor was even better. She is currently my advisor, and I love how much time she puts into making sure I’m getting the best education possible. She also provided me with the opportunity to take a May Term class in Paris this summer. I never imagined I could do that as a freshman. I also formed a great relationship with a history professor, who helped me declare a history minor and encouraged me immensely not only in my history studies, but also affirmed my love for history. These are only a couple of examples of Hope’s amazing academic community.
Chapel is a unique part of our campus community. For students, going to chapel isn’t required, but it is always standing room only. I love the worship and having an encouraging message as a part of my day. It is one of the reasons I chose Hope. I’m also a part of the Hope chapter of a nation-wide ministry for college girls called Delight. I have been so encouraged by the relationships and community that have been built on Friday mornings. It is a great opportunity to learn and grow with girls who are either going through the same thing as me or have experienced it before and can be a mentor for me.
As I mentioned before, Hope has a fantastic location. I live a block away from 8th Street, which is the main street in downtown Holland. Some of my favorite spots to study are the coffee shops– there are 3, and I love them all. My friends and I also enjoy going to the farmer’s market every Saturday to buy fresh flowers. The shops on 8th are SO cute and it is hard to be on a college student budget, but it is fun to browse. Holland could be the set for a Hallmark movie; we attended the Christmas tree lighting and it was exactly the same as a movie, carolers and all. My car is full of sand from the nearby beaches. We went to the beach in the early fall to spend time in the sun, but we’ve also been there recently for a campus ministries worship night.
One of the things I was worried about being so far away from home was that people would go home every weekend. This is certainly not true. Our Student Activities Committee does a great job of hosting events for students, but the community on campus also makes it hard to leave. Some of the events have been a SK80’s night, movie nights, Pinterest night, and even a day trip to Chicago. The SAC events are a great way to meet people, but I also love going with my friends. We also have “The Rivalry” with Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s quite the tradition to play Calvin, and we play them in the 200th rivalry game in February. Surprisingly enough, it is the fourth ranked rivalry by ESPN. Hope College definitely has a lot of school pride.
I think that the campus community is my favorite part of Hope. It’s a community that pushes me academically, but also spiritually. I’m challenged in my classes, but my professors want me to succeed and my friends are there to support me. We have events where students aren’t afraid to have fun and take a break from rigorous studying, yet still pursue academic excellence. I’ve made the best memories here. As cheesy as it sounds, Hope has become home for me. I can’t imagine myself in any other place with any other people. Hope College has given me so many opportunities, experiences, and lifelong friends.