If anyone told me last August, that I’d be making my home in Lincoln, Nebraska for the next five plus years, I wouldn’t believe it. I knew I would settle somewhere to start my PhD, but in my mind it was mountains or bust – the flat Midwest certainly never crossed my mind.
And yet, life has a tendency of figuring things out on its own. I discovered the program at University of Nebraska in late November, visited the school in February, and, even though what I thought was my first choice program (near the mountains) accepted me, I picked Nebraska.
The combination of a friendly department, intriguing research and a small, livable city made my decision for me. It felt like home. Here I can live in a tiny, old house with a fantastic backyard, bike to school on the city’s extensive trail system (at least until winter sets in), and make weekend journeys to a variety of prime adventure locations (admittedly with a bit of a drive).
Out here it’s a different kind of beauty. One filled with big skies, rolling hills and smiles in the checkout lines. I know all my neighbors’ names, photograph bison on the weekends and (just by driving 15 minutes out of town) can see the Milky Way whenever I want.
I’m not saying everyone should leave their houses in the mountains and move to the Midwest. But maybe that picture perfect place in your head isn’t the only place you can be happy. Maybe there’s another opportunity pounding on the door and you’re too busy staring out the window to hear it.