If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked that question, I wouldn’t have to worry about my insane out-of-state tuition. Friends, family, and random people on the street all want to know why I would actually choose to relocate to the middle of nowhere. College usually takes people to big cities—New York, Chicago—or to a more affordable in-state university.
Well, I’m here to settle some things once and for all.
3. We are not swimming in corn
You cannot imagine how much snark I’ve gotten about how much corn I’m supposedly living in and playing with and eating. The first thing anyone thinks of when you mention Iowa is corn. These assumptions are not totally false—we do have a lot of cornfields—but corn is not the only thing we have.
For reference, I actually never see any cornfields unless I’m driving to the airport, which is thirty minutes away. I live my life very comfortably without this particular vegetable, thank you very much.
2. It’s beautiful here, and we actually have seasons
Another misconception is that Iowa is completely flat, but anyone who goes to my school would beg to differ. The first lesson a young freshman must learn is which street has the least-steep hill to climb on the way back to the dorms. I’m pretty sure the only reason we have a bus system is so students don’t perish halfway up the hills during the hot season or during the weeks of sidewalk ice.
Which brings me to my next point. I grew up in Seattle. I know all of the jokes: the one season we have here is Rain. That’s it. We might get a few weeks of sun in the summer, but everything else is a haze.
Not so in Iowa! One of the joys of my first year here was watching the seasons change. There’s something for everyone here. In summer, you get 100 degrees and brilliant shades of green throughout campus. Fall brings gorgeous colors in the trees. Winter can be chilly at -20 degrees, but the snow is a delight. Spring allows for more mild weather, with the slow awakening of new greenery.
You can’t say it’s not pretty here at some point in the year.
1. Writers write
All of that is great, but the real crux of the matter, why I decided to move to yes, Iowa, is the wonderful University here. I’m primarily a writer. I came here to write, and there has never been a more open and inviting place for that very purpose.
Did you know? The University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop was the first creative writing graduate program in the country, and it is still often considered the best. Did you know? Iowa City is one of six Cities of Literature in the world, and the only one in the country.
What does that mean? That means that on any given day, this city is teeming with creative life and energy. Writers are in and out of here constantly, giving readings and talks on the craft. Coffee shops are packed with people scribbling away. As Pulitzer-prize winning author Junot Diaz put it, “Throw a stone here and you’ll hit a writer.”
It’s true. The sheer number of connections that you can make within the program is astounding. There’s never a lack of talent, or of inspiration. I find, strangely, that I write more work when I’m at college, and I write better. Whether that’s because of the community or the excellent atmosphere of The Java House, it’s nevertheless a fact that I am grateful for.
So make all the Music Man jokes you want (believe me, I still make them). Iowa has its quirks, but it’s home—and there is no place I would rather be for school.
If you want more proof, check this out (warning: adult language).