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Grand Rapids, Michigan | Flickr 

It wasn’t until I stepped onto unknown streets and stared at buildings I’d never seen, people I’d never known, that I realized how much weight was in my shoulders.

Being a kid who finds solace in the coun­tryside and in strict routine at college, going off-campus two hours away in a big city is about the most unlikely thing I might do, but on a chilly Sat­urday morning, I let the student activ­ities board carry me away in a bus to the drizzly streets of Grand Rapids.

The schedule they had was pretty straight­forward: arrive late morning, explore for about six hours, then drive back, picking up Chick-Fil‑A for dinner along the way. SAB members handed out pam­phlets with lists of sug­gested coffee shops, restau­rants, shopping joints, and city attrac­tions. Stu­dents were then free to roam the city with their friends or alone.

When I asked junior Abigail Patrick what she did on the trip, she described her adven­tures to me, including dining at a sushi restaurant where she was given too much food and had to enlist her friends had to help her finish and admiring the Renais­sance and Baroque section in the art museum.

She also dropped in at Madcap Coffee, and explored the downtown mar­ket­place, where she tasted dif­ferent fla­vored olive oils, such as a Tuscan blend with mint in it.

Patrick said Madcap Coffee was “the ‘it’ place to go.”

“It was super cute,” she said. “The outside was super aes­thetic but old. It was a lot of green and white and it was just like, wow.”

She said she also felt the relief just in being off campus.

“It’s so good to get away for even a day,” Patrick said. “And there are so many cities around us that have the oppor­tunity to go for the day and you can just study or go to the coffee shop or see the sights, and I think I want to do more of that.”