As of right now, I have been in Edwardsville, IL for one whole year. It's always amazing to me how time flies. This time last year my brother and I were unpacking the moving truck, and I was settling into the apartment that would be my home for at least the next two years. Now, one year into my stay here, it seems appropriate to do some reflecting and a bit of forward-looking as well. While most days I feel like I made the right decision leaving family and friends behind and moving more than 1,600 miles across the country to go to graduate school in southern Illinois, I realize that I have spent a good deal of my time here complaining about how much I don't really like this place and how much I am looking forward to the day I get to leave. True, I am not a big fan of this place, but I have to admit that it's mostly because I miss my family and friends and because I had it so good in Idaho before I came here - it's hard to beat what I had in Moscow, and it isn't really fair to compare Edwardsville to the awesome situation I was in prior to arriving here. So with that in mind, I decided to make a list of at least 5 things that I like about being in Edwardsville, just to assure myself and others that it's really not as bad as I make it out to be sometimes.
1. St. Louis, MO. Edwardsville is about a 20-30 minute drive away from St. Louis. My visits to St. Louis have been major highlights of my time here. I love being close to a major city where there is so much to do and see and so many things going on all the time. I don't make it over there very often, but I like having it nearby. (As a side note, Edwardsville is only about 4 hours away from several other major cities including Kansas City, Chicago, Memphis, and Indianapolis. I have only made it over to Kansas City once, but it's cool to think that there are so many potentially awesome places within driving distance.)
2. Madison County Bike Trails. There are dozens of miles of bike trails that extend throughout the Edwarsdville area. While it is a bit frustrating at times that they are not more conveniently placed for commuting and running errands, they are still a lot of fun to ride on and one could easily spend several days exploring them all.
3. The Farmer's Market. Not nearly as awesome as the farmer's market in Moscow, but it's still great that they have one here. It's only a few blocks from my house, so that's nice as well.
4. The Watershed Nature Center. It's a small nature preserve in close proximity to my house. I love going there and just being around nature. In fact, I was just there earlier today for an hour and a half identifying wildflowers. I've also volunteered there several times, and the people that work there are really cool.
5. My Graduate Studies and Research. The whole reason why I came here. I like doing research, and I am excited to be working with green roofs. I've also really enjoyed all my classes and I've been learning a ton. So, if nothing else, the fact that I like graduate school makes it all worth it.
On another note, have you seen the movie, Creation, yet? It's the story of Charles Darwin leading up to the publication of his ridiculously important book, On the Origin of Species, and how difficult it was for him to make the decision to publish it due to his devoutly Christian wife and the death of his firstborn daughter. The movie is really well done, and the story is pretty amazing and touching. I highly advise that everyone see this. Here's a Darwin quote from the movie:
"I am a scientist, and I dare not study for the fear of seeing more clearly what is already as plain as day to me."