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When I received my acceptance letter from GSSW to be in the Advanced Standing program, I could not have been more excited. I had grown up in a small town called Mars Hill, NC- just twenty minutes north of Asheville. I went to undergrad at Mars Hill College, five minutes from my house. I needed to go and experience new places and people. Denver, I thought, was the place to do it, and DU was my ticket. I was not disappointed.
After well over a month of meticulous research and spreadsheet making of affordable apartments in Denver, I still hadn’t found an apartment when I arrived in late June. It was difficult to find something within my price range that was available when I had planned to move, but I took a chance and moved out here anyway. It took three days of calling over 100 apartments and four viewings before we found a studio that would work. Still slightly out of my price range, but it was cozy and still affordable. It is within a fifteen minute walk from the light rail station, everything that I would need is on the same street, including a movie theater, thrift stores, dentists, grocery stores, and of course a healthy selection of coffee shops. There is a decent sized park just two minutes walking distance from my apartment and the complex was filled with bunnies and tree stumps carved into little animals. This place is just about perfect. Coming from a small town where the biggest city, is probably half the size of Denver, and where I was always in the company of nature and mountains, Denver was scary. I was no longer in the safety and comfort that my mountains from home provided. I was in a concrete city, full of people and cars, and a 30 minute drive before I could begin to feel like I was in the mountains. It wasn’t until I actually got to know Denver, that I began to feel a sense of comfort.
I moved here a week before classes started at GSSW, which gave me plenty of time to settle into my apartment and to explore Denver. I spent most of the week looking around down town Denver, standing a mile high at the Capital, people watching, and getting to know the DU campus. I used a nifty little tourist guide book, to help me create my bucket list of things to do and see in Denver. In one week I was able to check off most of them. Denver wasn’t home, but I soon realized, that is exactly what it needed to be- not home.
My experience at GSSW has been above and beyond my expectations. I have been blown away by the plethora of resources and opportunities that are available both within GSSW and in DU. I have been welcomed by everyone I have come into contact with, including my amazing cohort. I have made a lot of friends in the program, many of which I feel extremely close to. Between spur of the moment camping trips, celebrating birthdays, movie nights, all night homework sessions in the library, lunch at Illegal Pete’s, or chatting up during breaks between classes on the quad, there is always a spot to make some friends at GSSW.
Our first term at GSSW was a bit rough. Trying to cram ten weeks of material into five weeks, was daunting and a bit stressful, but the quality of the classes and professors (who truly understand and care about what we are experiencing), and the support of my cohort really helped inspire me to push through those three papers and final due in one week, the three day research paper for Seminar, and more readings than I have seen in my life. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have a hard time. I love change. Change is what motivates and excites me. Sometimes, however, it can take a while for me to readjust. It was hard to learn how to accomplish all of my responsibilities and balance that with self care,- this has never been my strength- but with the support of my cohort, and the wise words and compassion of many professors, I was able to come out with straight A’s for the first time in my college career. This gives me hope for the rest of the year and for my career. I do not feel prepared for the rest of the year, I didn’t feel prepared for this first term, but from being in GSSW I have learned to accept vulnerability with open arms and to trust that I am enough, and that GSSW has more than plenty of support to help me meet my goals.
If you are a new or incoming student to GSSW, and you have made it through to the end of this post, I hope that something in here has helped to assure you that you are in the right place. Besides what better place is there to be than among a building full of Social Workers?
If you are still having doubts or have questions feel free to reach out to me at Michael.L.Holcombe@du.edu. Talk to you soon!
I am both excited and nervous to head over to Puebla in a few days!!
Here is where the Latino Certificate students will be posting about our trip experience. Feel free to read along :)
One of my primary motivations for relocating from California to Colorado was to experience a winter season in the Rockies. I’ve been a snowboarder for as long as I can remember, and I finally felt in a place where I could relinquish my love for the Sierras to a range further east.. at least for the time being. All that being said, I was so fixated on the glory of the snow that I had completely neglected to explore what opportunities lie in a Colorado summer. Since completing my first year at GSSW, I have spent the last couple of months traipsing around this glorious city/state and it has been completely rejuvenating. Here is are some of the highlights so far
1. Steamboat Springs, CO
My first weekend of the summer, I headed west for what ended up becoming my favorite mountain town to date. Steamboat Springs is internationally renowned for its impressive ski resort, natural hot springs, and lively history of winter sports milestones. However, only in the early summer months does the entire town and surrounding peaks become engulfed with lush greenery and vibrant flowers, setting a gorgeous backdrop for various activities. While biking, kayaking, and river rafting are advertised as “absolute musts,” it’s truly a town for all interests-be it outdoorsy activities, art galleries, museums, theater, fine dining, etc. I actually participated in the Steamboat Springs Marathon (which by the way, up until a few years ago was deemed “one of the top ten most beautiful marathons in the nation by Runner’s Magazaine) which was pretty amazing. It was my first time pulling out 26.2 miles on foot, and while it may not have been my finest athletic performance, there was little to disrupt the serenity and beauty experienced in every direction of the race.
2. Manitou Springs, CO
A sleepy little town just south of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs is home to the epic Garden of the Gods Landmark and the brutally steep, “Incline Hike.” Garden of the Gods is an accessible park comprised of incredibly beautiful red rock formations. While much isn’t to be said that can’t be better stated with pictures, I found this experience to be one of a kind in its opportunities not only to hike, drive, or horseback ride through the area, but also to climb atop and rummage around upon these gorgeous natural creations.
The Incline on the other hand, was mostly pretty painful. The hike, just shy of a mile, rises over 2,000 ft in elevation from bottom to top. Thank God the views are so breathtaking when it’s all over!
3. All things RED ROCKS
Year after year, Red Rocks Amphitheater continues to be deemed the absolute BEST concert venue in the nation, as well as a great exercise locale, meditation site, and outdoor movie theater. That’s right… each week beginning in June this stellar venue provides showings of the some the finest flicks ever made, including but not limited to The Big Lebowski, Caddyshack, and my personal favorite, The Labyrinth. Whenever considering what a summer in Denver has to offer, this front range hot spot provides a plethora of too-good-to-pass-up happenings.
4. Denver PRIDE
While PRIDE Parades are not uncommon in most larger cities and/or state capitols, the Denver PRIDE celebration ranks among the top ten in the nation. It was a remarkable weekend full of celebratory parties, concerts, and delicious drag. The parade was also pretty spectacular, beginning at the heart of the city in Cheesman Park, winding through capital hill, marching down Colfax, and ending at Civic Center Park. The gorgeous weather and colorful people made for a truly memorable PRIDE weekend.
Rockies games are an absolute blast. PERIOD! And it was a heck of a way to spend my first 4th of July in the mile-high.
6. Hiking/Camping/Anything Outside
It’s no surprise that one the fittest cities in the country is clearly one of the most active. What I have been loving (and will continue to appreciate) about Colorado, specifically Denver, is the genuine enjoyment and NORMALCY of people being outside and loving all things active. Not to over-generalize too much, but it’s pretty incredible to see so many folks out and about on the weekends, experiencing the Rocky Mountains by foot, boat, bike, etc., and loving every minute of it. I fear that the summer will be over before I’m able to get all the camping/hiking/exploring in that will hold me over when school begins again. Some of my favorite trips have been up to Nederlands, Idaho Springs, and Mt. Bierstadt. Here’s hoping for another slew of gorgeous trips before the season’s end.