Nadler: Perks of growing up in Iowa City

From Iowa City’s tight knit community to its college-town vibe, I am grateful to have been raised here.


David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan

Signs in downtown Iowa City pay homage to its status as a UNESCO City of Literature. Iowa City is the host for the 2018 annual meeting of the UNESCO Cities of Literature. Apr. 2, 2018 (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Zohar Nadler, Opinions Columnist

When I tell new friends of mine who are not from the Midwest that I was raised in the great town of Iowa City, their usual responses are “What is there in Iowa?” My personal favorite was when I once told a West Coast Uber driver that I go to the University of Iowa, to which the driver responded, “Oh, they have a university there? Nice.”

For my non-Midwestern friends and non-Iowa City natives, I would like to share just some of the many perks of being raised in a college town such as Iowa City — for one, the community. Iowa City has a very tight-knit community. With a population of around 75,000 people, Iowa City is a perfect small, but not too small, size. You can be sure to recognize a familiar face here and there but not to the point where everyone recognizes you at all places. A bonus of its smaller size is Iowa City has always felt safe for me. As a child, I could go on walks and play outside freely. “Iowa nice,” the notion that people in Iowa are kind, polite, and considerate, holds true when it comes to the people of Iowa City.

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In addition to Iowa City’s safety and comfortable size, the town has an amazing public-school district. I was lucky enough to go to Lincoln Elementary School, Northwest Junior High, and Iowa City West, three public schools that immensely contributed to my success as an undergraduate student. As of now, the Iowa City School District is ranked third among the best school districts in Iowa. In addition, West High has a 97 percent graduation rate and is the second best high school in the state of Iowa (Go Trojans). I am grateful for the education Iowa City has provided me.

While a tightly knit community and a great school district are crucial to Iowa City’s greatness, they do not define Iowa City in the same way as its biggest asset: the University of Iowa.  This college not only makes Iowa the Hawkeye State, it also brings diversity and livelihood to Iowa City. From the students, college football, the incredible hospital, and plenty of academics, Iowa City has a diverse range of people who encompass its area. Just about everyone knows someone or has a family member who is affiliated with the university. I particularly enjoyed being raised next to the UI because many speakers and events were brought to Iowa City through the university. For example, academic talks, shows at Hancher, and Friday night music on the Ped Mall. Iowa City has a definite liberal atmosphere that is different from other parts of Iowa.

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With a comfortable size, great public schools, and the university, I can say with certainty that Iowa City was a great place to be raised. I have been able to use my connections as a child to the university to help me throughout college. Moreover, I have been able to give back to the community that raised me by working at a local elementary school and getting involved in community events. Iowa City, you will always be home.