Hegde: Saying ‘goodbye’ to Iowa is harder than I thought

You never appreciate a place more than when you know you’re going to leave soon…


Roman Slabach

The Old Capital from the roof of UIHC in Iowa City, Iowa on March 25, 2019.

Suchaeta Hegde, Opinions Columnist

I have lived in Iowa for my entire life. Besides a childhood spent traveling, I have grown accustomed to joking about being surrounded by corn and making sure to smile at every person I pass on the street. Even while I dreamed of the grass on the other side — in my case, the skyscraping big cities on either coast of the U.S. — the Midwest managed to dig its way into my heart at some point in the last few years. Reflecting upon Iowa as I prepare to leave for a coast in the fall, I find it strange that I never stopped to reflect how lucky I was to call it my home.

In 2018, U.S. News ranked Iowa the best place to live. The ranking was based on numerous internal and external factors; somewhere between exemplary infrastructure and over-satisfactory health care, Iowa became the ideal place to settle down. Some of Iowa’s highest rankings were in education and opportunity. Coincidentally, the University of Iowa is one of the best examples of the superior education and opportunities that those in Iowa are privy to.

Spring is my favorite time to be a Hawkeye, because it is when the charisma of the university is best showcased. Without the distraction of wind chills below zero, everyone can truly appreciate everything the UI campus has to offer. For example, one can note that the thriving local businesses (not actually on campus) contain the same uplifting energy as the opportunistic students walking past them.

Or perhaps, the fact that the UI isn’t known for just one thing. There are many award-winning attributes to this quirky campus, from student writers and athletes to globally recognized graduate programs and a top-notch hospital. Similarly, the students you meet on campus dabble in a variety of activities and academic focuses; to be well-rounded is less a personality and more a lifestyle at Iowa.

Yes, the university has room to change. The #DoesUIowaLoveMe movement that arose earlier this year displays just how much Iowa needs to grow to meet the basic needs of its people of color. However, it is the bravery of the students who stepped up to appeal for change that displayed to me that the driving force of the university are those in it who demand what they deserve. 

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Looking back, Iowa was my home through my struggles and triumphs. Both the university and the state is where I have met some of the most inspiring mentors and compassionate friends. Growing up in the Midwest, it is easy to take the small things for granted and get lost in dreams of “bigger places.” However, the thing I never took time to consider is that Iowa provided me with the steppingstones to reach a point where I knew I could face the world outside of it.

Of course, I have acknowledged that many new opportunities wait for me outside of Iowa: new school, new people, new job. However, regardless of the wealth of colorful experiences that await me, I will make sure to remember that there is no richer shade of yellow than Hawkeye Gold.