Semester in Spain by Sarah

There are currently a number of Dordt students studying abroad this semester in Spain! One of them is my friend Sarah Van Hulzen, a fellow education major that I've had the privilege of getting to know a bit over this past year and a half! I contacted Sarah recently and asked her to compose a blog for me to use for The Dordt Life. Graciously, she accepted and wrote up this beautiful piece. Please take a read!

Sevilla, Spain. Where do I even start? I’ve thought about sharing all of the highlights of my semester so far. Really wow you. Make you think I am living this grand life full of nonstop adventure. But while I have had some incredible adventures, the majority of my time here has been day to day living. Some good days, and some bad. I was reminded by a friend that study abroad is ‘wonderful and transformative, but it’s also normal living’. And I’ve found a beauty and a freedom in accepting each day as a miracle, whether I’m traversing through Europe, staying in sketchy hostels and hiking mountains, or sleeping in, eating too much Nutella, and lounging in my pajamas until supper time. So without further ado, I’ve decided to take you through two typical days here in Sevilla.

A typical day in the life…

I wake up at 7:15 to Elevation Worship and the sun shining through the white curtains. My roommate is reading her Bible. I walk to the bathroom, passing through the kitchen. The smell of coffee stirs me awake little by little. I’m greeted by Maria, the gem of a woman who helps around the house. “Buenos días, hija” she chimes. Three simple words and I’m reminded that I am in Spain. Shoot dang, I feel blessed. I get ready for the day, drinking a cup of coffee and eating a bowl of cereal while reading the Word before heading out of the apartment with my roommate, Bailey. Our walk to school takes a half hour, but when the sun is shining and the streets are full of people walking their pups, the walk is an absolute delight. We smile at the same man we see each morning who stands on the street corner selling tissues, we pass Mr. Pizza, our favorite spot to get giant slices of pizza for 2 euros, and we arrive at Plaza de Cuba. Crossing the bridge that takes us to the center of town, I look out over the river and see the morning sun glistening on the slow moving water. It’s 8:40 and several people are already out rowing on the river. The rest of the walk to school is down the main street of Sevilla. The city is awake a bustling. Horse and carriages are parked out front the towering cathedral, waiting for their next customers. Restaurants and bars are opening their doors and setting out tables in chairs. Baily and I leave the bustle of downtown and turn onto a side street that leads to the school.

Upon arriving at school, Ana greets us at the front desk. The school is full of students from several different universities. Although there are 14 colleges represented in the program, everyone chats with one another. Even with 40 students that didn’t know each other 3 months before, the atmosphere of the school is warm and welcoming. At 9, class starts. My lovely teacher, Carolina smiles as she walks in to find all 7 of her students ready for the day. “Hola clase! Cómo estáis?” The next three and a half hours are spent with some of my favorite people as we try to grasp new grammar concepts and speak Spanish with one another. I can honestly say that my class here is one of my favorite classes I’ve ever had in my life. We talk in the best Spanish we can muster, we are all patient with one another, Carolina makes class fun, we laugh until our abs hurt, and we learn applicable Spanish that we get to use in and out of the classroom. During our 20 minute break, we go to either a coffee shop or a pastry shop, justifying our eating habits with the fact that we walk at least 20 minutes to and from school every day.

After class is over, I head to the roof of the school to start homework and play guitar. The warm sun and gentle breeze makes my soul happy. I’m often joined by other students, some chatting, some reading, some drawing. An hour on the roof looking out over the city makes one never want to leave Sevilla. I walk home for lunch at 2. The walk home is just as interesting as the walk to school. The streets are full of people performing, singers, dancers, and artists. I pass George, a singer from Romania who sings covers of Ed Sheeran, Hozier, and Ben Howard. When I have time, I pick out a tune while he takes a break.

Once I get home, I sit down with my host mom, host sister, and Bailey. We eat a typical meal of croquetas, lentil soup, and bread. We have pleasant conversation and laugh about the day while we sit on comfy couches with the table cloth pulled over our legs and a space heater on under the table. After a dessert of either yogurt or fruit, we sobremesa (time after a meal to talk) for at least an hour. With a full stomach and a tired brain from a morning of Spanish, my bed is calling my name. Siesta time has finally arrived, and man it is oh so sweet. An hour of sleep in the middle of the day has become a guilty pleasure.

After siesta, I make my way back downtown to meet with a friend I met at church. We go out for ice cream and chat in Spanish about our week. We mosey through town, bopping in and out of stores laughing as we hold up ridiculous clothes we’d never wear, or comforting each other when we want that sweater but we don’t have any money (a consequence of too many ice cream dates). After bidding my friend ‘adios’, I spend the last bits of sunlight by the river. I’m found once again with guitar in hand and Bible beside me feeling overwhelmed by this crazy awesome life and my crazy awesome God.

I return home for supper at 9. A wonderful meal leads to an hour of homework. From there I crawl back into my bed, unmade from my siesta yet comfy as ever. My roommate and I write something on our gratitude list from the day and I go to sleep with a smile on my face.

Another very typical day in Sevilla…

I crawl out of my bed at 8:15. I’m supposed to leave the apartment at 8:30. It’s another rainy day. I throw on a flannel and grab a piece of fruit on my way out the door. I speed walk to school and plop down in my chair as class is starting. I pull out my half-finished homework and struggle to grasp what my teacher is saying. I can barely stammer out a sentence in Spanish. During our break, I realize I forgot money for coffee. After class is over, I walk out into the streets and am met by a downpour of rain. I forgot my umbrella so I walk home getting drenched. At home, my host mom has to repeat everything she says at least 3 times for me to understand what she is saying. After lunch I crawl to my bed and end up sleeping an hour longer than I wanted to. I try to do homework, but can’t seem to focus. The rain has let up, so I go for a run. 10 minutes later, I realize I need to stop making so many stops to Mr. Pizza and a pastry a day might be good for the soul, but it is bad for my heart. I shower, watch a show on Netflix, eat supper, and head to bed. I spent the day just trying to survive. I miss home and wonder what I’m doing in this foreign land and if I’ll ever actually learn the language.

These are two typical days in Spain. While one is obviously better than the other, I have come to appreciate both. Each day is different, some hard, some easier. Some wonderful, some quite difficult. I find myself struggling to control my emotions. Some days I stay positive and go through the day with gratitude and other days I feel overwhelming sad and lonely. But on both days, God remains the same. God reminds me that even though I’m human, and unstable, and emotional, He is always the same. He is my rock. He is constant. So whether I am speaking perfect Spanish, or struggling to order a smoothie, whether I am in love with Sevilla or hopelessly missing home, God reminds me that He is my home and He is guiding me through it all. On my good days and on my bad, He is molding me and He is shaping me. And for this I am so so thankful. So to any of you considering study abroad, I won’t sugar coat it. It is difficult sometimes, but it is worth it. It is transformative. From the good days to the bad, the wild adventures to the daily schedules, God will use it all to reveal Himself and help you grow in faith and wisdom.

As you can probably tell by her words, Sarah is such a neat gal. I so admire her honesty, and the way she finds God and can see him working in all situations. On the right are a collection of her photos she shared with me! Hope you enjoyed. :)



In one of my education methods classes, we are focusing on citizenship. Social studies is citizenship education, so my professor asked us today if any of us saw examples of good citizenship over spring break! To be honest, I did not think about it during spring break, but looking back on it now, I can see there were actually a lot of examples of people who demonstrated citizenship to my fellow choir members and I during tour!

1) Our bus driver dealt with 51 college students without a complaint and allowed to us watch loud movies, sing, play some pretty rowdy games, fill up the bus's bathroom a couple times (yuck,) and even drove us through snow storms, always getting us safely to our destinations, 11 days straight. I would never be able to do that, but he did it all and interacted with us, always having a basket of candy (which he refilled at least 3 times during the trip) at the front of the bus for us. What a guy. :)

one of my tour buddy and i's wonderful host families

one of my tour buddy and i's wonderful host families

2) Our host families--they were willing to pick us up late after our concerts (many even came to our concerts!) ;), give us beds to sleep in, bathrooms to use, tons of food to eat (can you spot the lunch bag in the photo on the right?,) :) and many woke up before dawn to bring us back to our bus for the next day. They were amazing, to say the least.

3) One of our road trip lunches consisted of Panda Express. My tour buddy and I happened to be talking to the guy and his wife behind us and he offered to pay for our meals. What a treat!

beautiful jellyfish from the aquarium

beautiful jellyfish from the aquarium

4) Our free afternoon was scheduled to be visiting Yosemite National Park, buuuut it was forecasted to be 23 degrees and snowing 8-25 inches in the park. Needless to say, when we packed for the Southwest, we didn't exactly bring our snow clothes along... :) So all week we had been trying to come up with other options. One of the people who attended a concert of ours the night before our free day heard our plight, and offered to pay for all of us to go see the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was absolutely gorgeous and such a generous gift.

5) Once we stayed in a hotel since we did not have a concert and host families to stay with that night. We had to be loading the bus and leaving by 6:00am the next morning, but the hotel breakfast was not scheduled to be open until 6:00. Our director asked if they would be able to open it just 10-15 minutes early for us to grab something on our way out. They willingly did. In fact, one of my choir members who had been doing homework earlier that morning said the breakfast lady had opened it already at 5:20am for us! Wow, now that is being a servant. What an incredible, selfless display of citizenship.

Thinking back to these models of hospitality, selflessness, and pure goodness inspires me to want to be a better citizen, too. I'm going to work on that more intentionally the remainder this week. :)


Reflections on Choir Tour

Hey all! It's been a long time since I've posted. I'm sorry about that! Today was our first day of classes post-spring break. For 51 students, this also means it was our first day back from choir tour! I have had the incredible blessing of being part of concert choir this year and over spring break we went on our tour! We had the privilege of singing in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Califorina, and are looking forward to our homecoming concert on campus this Friday. :) As I reflect on this trip, there are a number of notions that occurred to me. I'll give you just a few.

1. Growing up in NW Iowa, in the same town I attend college in, I never understood how students from other states and countries heard of Dordt College. I mean honestly, a town with a population about 7,000, in the middle of Iowa's cornfields? How does one come to know about it? Well going on this tour opened my eyes to the incredible amount of people who knew of and even have connections to Dordt. Every single host family my tour buddy and I stayed with had some knowledge of and/or connection to Dordt College-and we stayed with nine different families in four different states! That is quite incredible. I learned this week that Dordt has 19,000 alumni! The legacy Dordt College is leaving is amazing.

2. I am so incredibly thankful to be attending a college where we can sing praises to our Savior in our choir songs. Some of my favorite pieces we sing are anthems of praise to our amazing Lord. Each school and church that hosted us welcomed us with incredible hospitality and showed us their dedication to their faith and their church body and it was so neat to have conversations about faith with them that we otherwise likely could not have had. Honestly, our favorite places to sing on tour were some of the old churches-their acoustics were beautiful! Being able to do devotions on the bus with the choir each morning, as well as before each concert every night entirely puts my mind and heart in the right space. I cannot imagine being in a choir where we would not have that freedom.

3. Guys, the people I go to school with are so cool. :) I've always felt that choir is one of the most diverse groups of people on campus, encompassing friend groups and personalities all over the spectrum. And it is so incredibly neat to spend 250+ hours with them straight because I learned so much about each individual that made me gain a deeper appreciation for who they are, as well as for the Creator for making us so unique. I'm so thankful to sing in a choir where we can celebrate our uniqueness and yet all come together to make a joyful noise (Psalm 98.)

Basically, this week was awesome. :) Minus a little snow trouble one day, everything went so well, and I had an incredible time. If you're interested in hearing us, I strongly encourage you to join us this Friday night, March 23, and 7:30pm in the BJH! If that's not possible, but you would like to hear just bits and pieces of our concert, I have included a link from one of our tour stops this past week-Ripon, CA. I hope you enjoy. :)

If you're curious about the facial expression and such going on in some of the photos I chose, I'll just say we have some very fun warm-ups. :) Thanks to Mary VW for the photos!



Hello all :) Hope you are enjoying your Christmas break and had wonderful parties and all that jazz! Today I am going to write about a project that some Dordt students are involved in this month! Maybe you've heard of it, maybe you haven't, but it's December, and that means for these students, it's Dressember.

Since I chose not to participate in Dressember this year, two Dordt freshmen girls, Brianna and Katie, graciously answered a few questions for me about the project so I can relay it to you, for those who don't know! :) I have included the questions and answers below. :)

What is Dressember?

-Dressember is an international movement that basically tries to raise awareness and funds for victims of sex trafficking, which is actually a super big issue world wide.  In having people wear dresses, which honestly feels pretty simple, the organization creates an awesome community of people who want to see change.

-Dressember is an organization which raises awareness for human trafficking and human rights around the world. Women globally commit to wearing dresses everyday of December as both a conversation starter and a fundraiser for the cause.

this is the beautiful Brianna and Madi Shae, on the first day of Dressember :)

this is the beautiful Brianna and Madi Shae, on the first day of Dressember :)

Why did you decide to participate in Dressember? Anything specifically inspire you?

-I looked into it then and realized what a great movement it is, and knew I wanted to do it in the future.  Madi Shae asked me this year if I'd be interested, and we started a little Dordt team!  It's a really cool way to be a part of this bigger movement. Also, everyday when I put on a dress and wear it walking to class and whatever else, it constantly reminds me there's so many people hurting out there, and as cheesy as it sounds I think it makes live with a little more awareness that people around me are struggling with things too (probably not human trafficking, but it's kind of a cool unintentional way dressember can make a difference). 

-I first heard about Dressember when I visited Dordt on a campus tour my senior year of High School. I thought it was such an amazing opportunity because it was something small that I could do, but it had the potential to make such a large impact. It is worth waking up in the morning and putting on a dress instead of sweatpants because I know that women around the world are going through so much worse. 

How many years have you took part in Dressember?

-This is my first year, but I have loved doing it so far, and would be down to be a part of it again!

-This is my first year! 😊

Are you starting your own "team" to raise money for Dressember? Or encouraging others to donate to the page itself? Or just raising awareness? (Any of these are awesome😃)

-We do have a Dordt dressember page for our team where we've been raising money so far this month!  Currently we've raised just over $850 of our $1000 goal (our page is here: (: ) So hopefully we'll be able to get there by the end of the month, it's awesome how many people either support or are directly involved in this from so many different places.

-I am a part of the Dordt team, so I am directing people to the Dordt Dressember page.

Anything else you'd like to share about Dressember?

-There's a lot of sadness and brokenness in the world, and it's just awesome to see how we, a few girls in Northwest Iowa, can do something so simple and make a tangible difference in someone's life who really needs it this year.  The website is an awesome place to learn a little bit about the cause and how it started, which is an awesome story, so if you're at all curious, check out the campaign!

-It is absolutely incredible to be able to help people around the world from a small town in Iowa. I am so grateful to everyone who is spreading awareness!

Basically, what Brianna and Katie are doing, along with some of their friends, is taking part in an international fight to raise awareness and money to combat the evils of human trafficking. What started with one lady in 2013, has now grown to thousands of women participating and in 2016, raising just shy of $1,500,000. The organization's goal for this year is $2,000,000. To date, they have raised $1,355,008.70. The Dordt girls' team has raised $1,036.05 of their $1,000 goal!! (Whoop whoop!!)

Seriously people, Dressember is so cool. Such a small commitment can make such a huge difference.



What Dance Has Taught Me

I realize I just posted an Instagram picture about dance, but I am also going to write a blog about it. It's been awhile since I have written one on it, and since we are just home from competition, it's the first thing on my mind. :)

our lyrical routine from isdta

our lyrical routine from isdta

Being in dance, as any sport, teaches one so many things. Obviously we learn concepts of the sport itself, which for dance would include technique, French terminology, how to be expressive, performance value, etc. But there is so much more to a sport than just what meets the eye. Over my past year and a half of dancing at Dordt, and the 13 years of studio dance plus high school dance team before that, I have gleaned so much. Here's just five of the things dance has taught me:

1. Dance is a means of glorifying God. It is a gift. In my first studio, there is a wall decal that reads Psalm 149:3. "Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre." We use the beauty of dance to bring glory to God.

our hip hop routine from isdta

our hip hop routine from isdta

2. Dance is a way to express oneself through physical movement which is unique to its nature. Beauty, anger, grace, power, sadness, joy, and so much can be portrayed through a dance. It is also an outlet from the stress of daily life. When we walk through the door to the studio or currently to the areobics room to practice, we leave our homework, jobs, and other co-curriculars there and our minds can just focus on dance.

3. Dance instills confidence in each individual. From being on stage and performing to a teacher and coach's positive encouragement in studio class or a practice to seeing improvement in the mirrors, one's confidence is built.

our pom routine from isdta

our pom routine from isdta

4. Dance teaches hard work. As with any sport, progress doesn't just happen over night. Team turns, high leaps, and getting the precision of the movements all together takes time and has work. This instilled work ethic carries over into our school work, relationships, jobs, and more. Whether or not we come home with trophies from competitions, we can see confidence being gained and progress being made.

5. Dance friends are the best friends. We have used this statement for years, but honestly it's not wrong. From studio memories to carpooling to high school morning practices together to spending 10-15 hours a week practicing together in college, friendships are built. And they last. And it's beautiful.

These are just a few of the things I have learned from dance. No matter how long I will be involved in dance in college or beyond, I will never lose the lessons I have been taught from it and will treasure the memories and relationships forever.


Hey Defender Nation...Go Defender Nation...Atta Way

coach penner addressing his team

coach penner addressing his team

Saturday was Dordt's last football game of the season. (They won, whoop whoop!) I'm just going to share a few words on how awesome the football program is from what I have seen of it on the sidelines.

the "atta ways"

the "atta ways"

At the end of every game the team circles up and Coach Penner leads them in some closing remarks about the game (or in yesterday's case, about the season and specifically the seniors.) Following that, he encourages his players to start their "atta ways." What occurs then is one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and each week, I swear it only gets cooler. Players take turns raising their hands and Coach Penners calls on them. They stand, call out a specific teammate, group of guys, coach, etc. and accredit them with some positive comment about that specific game or week of practice (or in yesterday's case again, the season.) It concludes with either their name on the count of three, or the team doing a call-and-reponse "Hey ___, go ____, atta way" ending with two claps. These "atta ways" go on for quite some time before coach tells the team that it is their final one. Honestly though, how cool is that?! Coach Penner also takes the time to realize the support system of Dordt Football by continually thanking them each week and giving "Defender Nation" an "atta way." Yesterday ended with the coaches, spouses, and children receiving an "atta way" for their support and dedication to the football program because man oh man, it's a great one. After the "atta ways," everyone (players, coaches, and Defender Nation fans gathered on the field) gathers in to a tight huddle and places hands on one another while Coach Penner offers up a prayer of thanksgiving. What a way to witness!!

defender nation prayer

defender nation prayer

If Dordt football is not a program entirely dedicated to the work of the college-"equipping students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life" then I don't know what is. Encouragement, passion, and hard work all done with the glory given back to God. Soli deo gloria. :)

HUGE thank you to Adri Van Groningen for the awesome images.


Professors Are Not Scary

Hello, readers! Hayley here. In case you have not heard yet, just recently Dordt was ranked #1 in student engagement by the Wall Street Journal again, for the second year in a row! I have a few words to say about that-this time, dealing with professors.

Here's a pic of roomie and I taken before a history class we had together last year!

Here's a pic of roomie and I taken before a history class we had together last year!

Let's format a little story here. Once there was a girl who loved school and enjoyed learning and was a decent student growing up. Throughout grade school and high school, she was not afraid of asking questions to her teachers or classmates to help her gain better understanding of whatever concepts were being taught. Then this girl moved to college. (Dordt College, of course!) Being in classes with people she did not know and professors she had previously never met, she got scared to ask questions. In the middle of her first semester, this girl got a grade on a history paper she was really not content with. History had never come easy for her, but she was too afraid to ask questions or inquire more information, so she was not doing as well as in that class she would have liked.  Looking at her syllabus for the remainder of the semester, she was wary of one more major paper coming up that she wanted to do particularly well on, to compensate for the one on which she did not. This student talked with her teammates about her fear of her upcoming paper, and one teammate in particular highly, highly encouraged her to set up an appointment with her professor to help her get a clear understanding of how to improve her writing on her next paper. This girl dreaded the idea more than anything and really did not want to take her teammates' advice. After prompting from her teammate on multiple occasions, she did set up an appointment with her professor. She was so incredibly nervous to go to his office and admit she needed assistance, but thanks to her teammate's encouragement, she did it.

Let me spoil this story for you-this student was me. (Bet you didn't see that one coming!) Terrified as I was, I went to meet my professor who was 100%, completely, more than willing to meet with me. In fact, I vividly remember him saying in our meeting (paraphrasing here,) "This is exactly what students are supposed to do. I want students to come meet with me so I can help them format more solid outlines and thesis's for their final papers." Talk about relief!!! Leaving that meeting, not only did I feel like I was able to overcome a fear (which was a completely unnecessary one, but one nevertheless,) I also gained so much respect and appreciation for my professor, AND I felt so much less overwhelmed and better prepared in the writing of my final paper.

So, engaging. When professors list their open office hours on their syllabi, they actually want us to meet with them! Contrary to what we might think, they care deeply about our grades and are wholly invested into our learning. They want us to succeed! And that is engaging. :)


We're Baaaaack

Somehow we are five weeks into the semester already. (What??) The thing about college is, it goes so fast. My roommate, Mariah, and I were discussing that Thursday night. Every single week we make that comment and its probably gets old, but it never ceases to amaze us. Looking at our planners on Sunday's and seeing all the activities, assignments, and assessments that we will endure that week, it always almost seems like we won't be able to accomplish it all. Yet, every single week, somehow we do!

Being a sophomore this year, the transition back into college was much easier than the first time around, naturally. I would love to share with you some of the best parts about returning to Dordt this semester, this time as a sophomore. :)

In case you weren't already aware, I adore my roomies. Hehe :)

In case you weren't already aware, I adore my roomies. Hehe :)

1. OH MY WORD IT WAS SO FUN TO SEE PEOPLE AGAIN. So many "hi's" and hugs and "how's your summer been's?," and just so much love. :) I honestly did not even realize how many people I had built relationships with that I missed over the summer. Ahh, it was so fun to be back with all these amazing people again. If you had seen any of my blogs over the summer that included the surveys of my classmates, I mentioned how amazing my classmates are, and I want to reiterate that again. They are truly amazing people. Amazing.

2. I LOVE MY CLASSES. I honestly almost kind of maybe definitely did miss being in school. Not necessarily the homework part, but the schooling part. This semester, I am in one middle school education course, one math course for my math emphasis, one English course for my English emphasis, one science course for my coaching endorsement, a geography course for my major, and choir. Seriously, could it get any better?! At this point, I do not see how it could. Twenty credits is a lot, but when it is all major-specific courses or activities I love to be involved in, my classes are so enjoyable and no matter the time commitment, the homework is beneficial.

3. P&W ROCKS. I missed praise and worship so much, like hokey petes. If you have not been to Monday or Thursday night worship yet this year, 11/10 would recommend going as soon as possible. I'll leave it at that. :)

4. COMMUNITY, WHAT'S GOOD. Hey guess what, guys? We were just ranked #1 in the nation by the Wall Street Journal for school engagement for the second year a row. That's so awesome, but it is not too difficult to understand because students to professors to all the faculty and staff on campus are deeply invested in the education as well as interests of us as students. They desire for us to experience the most development in college and preparation for our future vocations and they put so much into what they do to give us the best they can and I have already been experiencing that in this first month. From the responses our teaches want after tests to the times they encourage us to come in and meet with them if we have questions, it is evident that they were so ready to be back with us and pushing us each day to become better equipped to find our calling in God's kingdom.

All in all, it is good to be back. Do I miss my summer job and different schedule? Yes. Do I wish I was getting more sleep? Absolutely. But nothing compares to being back here. I cannot wait to see what this year brings. I am going to do my best not to blink and miss it all!


Psalm 40:3-"A New Song"

As I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon, my heart is so full after an amazing weekend literally packed with both of my favorite co-curriculars.

A handful of the sophomore choir girls. :)

A handful of the sophomore choir girls. :)

As a choir, we had our "fall retreat" and spent all afternoon and evening Saturday singing and getting to know each other, and we able to cap off our time together by joining First CRC in Sioux Center this morning who graciously invited us to sing for their worship service!

I also had a dance kickoff of sorts this weekend, which included a sleepover with not a lot of sleep but a huge amount of fun. :) We were able to watch last year's routines, discuss team goals and where we are going this year, play games, eat food, and really just bond, enjoying each other's company.

Soap box here-over these last two days I became increasingly aware once again how amazing it is to be able to sing and dance for a Christian school.

At our choir retreat, our new director, Professor Smit, helped us memorize our theme verse for the school year, Psalm 40:3. It reads, "He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him." As he is joining our program, and many of us are new to concert choir, we are venturing into a new song, one that the Lord orchestrated for us. We talked about the incredible beauty of being able to sing lyrics of praise to our "great and marvelous" Lord all of the time and to be able to truly mean what we sing, and express it as well!

Most of the dance team after church this morning!

Most of the dance team after church this morning!

Also last night at the end of our dance team meeting, we were able to share joys and concerns and pray over our year together. This was a rough week for the team for a number of reasons, but through devotions Thursday and Friday at practice, and through an amazing discussion led by coach last night, it became aware to me again how much I take for granted being able to dance for a team who desires to bring all the glory to the One who gave us the ability to dance. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

This was just one weekend, friends. Wow, Dordt is such a blessing.


Confessions of a College Control Freak

Hi, everybody! I’m Emi, a sophomore digital media production major here at Dordt, and I’m new to the Dordt Life crew this semester. I like dogs, Bunsen Brew cinnamon rolls, and writing unnecessary commentary about myself in a blog post that is most certainly not a bio - but, I digress. I do actually have something of substance to share with you today.

A long time ago, in a dorm room far, far away, I was a control freak. By a long time ago, I mean last year, and by far, far away, I mean West Hall, but again, I digress.

I remember the summer before I came to Dordt, I kept reminding myself that I had to be on top of things at college. “College is for grown ups,” I told myself, “grown ups get things done on time, don’t get behind on anything, and they definitely don’t get overwhelmed. Not ever.”

Little did I know, speaking to myself in this rigid, unforgiving tone was anything but helpful in preparing me for my collegiate career. I mistakenly thought that the only road to academic success was the one paved with straight A’s.

This constant urge to be perfect quickly flooded every aspect of my life. My existence became nothing but strict checklists, immovable daily schedules - the whole nine yards. At first, it was incredible. I had absolutely everything under control, and I felt like I could handle whatever life chucked at me. That is, until life chucked some things at me.

The main problem with this mode of thinking is that you simply cannot prepare for everything that is inevitably going to come your way. It’s a heartbreaking way of operating day-to-day, and it does nothing but squeeze joy out of what ought to be some of the best years of your life. So, if my story sounds anything like your current situation, I have a few things to say:

1. Your inherent value does not lie in a grade letter.

I cannot stress this enough. Your gift of worth comes from your identity in Jesus Christ, not that Core 140 paper that you bombed last week. If you are going to strive at anything, I beg you to work on fully grounding yourself in Christ.

2. If you must plan, leave room for the un-plan-able.

Life is just plain unpredictable. If you welcome grace into your personal daily goals, you’ll find that some anxieties just melt away along with your unrealistic expectations.

3. Exercise your spontaneity muscles.

One of my fondest memories of my fall semester freshman year was when I agreed to drive with a couple friends to a Taco Bell that was twenty minutes away. It was a Wednesday afternoon in one of the busiest weeks I had that semester. To this day, I am unsure of what possessed me to tag along on this hour-long escapade when I had so many things due the very next day, but I’m sure glad I made that decision. It was this kick of spontaneity that got me through the rest of that week. I really needed that reminder that it’s okay to have fun; to go on tex-mex adventures with people I’ve only known for a month. I also needed the reminder that I had friends, people who were on my side. We were all stressed, but the friendship we shared pulled us through it.

It took me a year to realize, but - surprise, surprise - being consumed by the goal of perfection is not freedom in Christ. Of course, homework is important and you should make an effort to do it to the best of your ability. Academic success is important, but it should never be the king. Do not allow a midterm to reduce you to a desk-ridden robot.

My vision for my adult life was way outta line. I spent too much time trying to get everything under control because I thought adults were supposed to have everything together. But, actually, a big factor in personal maturity is recognizing that some things in life are simply out of human control. So: take your time, allow for mistakes, give it another try, then move on. Let your hair down. Get some burritos on the cheap. Love Jesus with your whole heart. Repeat.

- Emi

Survey Says... :) Part 7!

Well friends, this is it!! The freshmen will be moving in tomorrow and the craziness of Week of Welcome begins. :) It is going to be a busy next few days as you hop on the WOW train and get to participate in all the awesome activities that go with it! One last blog in honor of school's just a couple things to expect for this coming weekend and throughout your first year of college here at Dordt. :)

15. What is the best way to meet people when you first arrive at college?

  • Go to all the events you can and be involved as quickly as possible. Everyone is in the same boat you are. Be willing to go out of your way to talk to someone else.

  • Going to all the worship services and campus events like block parties, ice cream socials, and being out-going in classes when you sit next to strangers.

  • Go to every event that you can go to. Force yourself to be awkward and introduce yourself. Stay up late and find stuff to do with people. Sleep is for the dead.

  • Covenant Basement is lit the first month

  • Go to as many wing and campus wide events as you can! Also, don't be afraid to sit in new spots or with new people in the commons/ grille. Be open to all types of people too because friend groups can change alot in college! :)

  • Covey Basement, hands down

  • Keep your dorm door open! also go to all social events at the beginning of the year (and more!) i met my best friend at the ice cream social who then introduced me to my group of friends i am extremely close with now.

  • talk to them at the ice cream social and the first couple of meals!

  • Just go out there and meet the ones on your wing. CORE 100 really helped. So did the beginning of the year activities

  • Talk to everyone. Talk to people in your Wow group. Sit with new people for the first 2 weeks. Get to know everyone on your wing.

  • Just get out of your comfort zone! Don't be afraid to smile and say hi! And don't worry if you can't remember people's names... don't even try to fake it. Just be honest and tell them you forgot! You'll remember it the next time you see them if you just ask them again!

  • The best way to meet people is to just say hi, ask them how they are doing, and just talk with them for a couple of minutes. It's a bit overwhelming at first because of all the names you have to remember, but they are always forgiving when you ask them their name again :).

  • Go to wing/building events

4. On average, how many hours do you spend doing homework each day?

  • Depending on the time of the semester, anywhere from 3-6 hours a day.

  • Ummm.... depends on the week! Maybe like at the most 2?

  • 5

  • 3

  • 1-2

  • 3-5 hours

  • I spend about two to three hours on homework on average, from rewriting my notes every day to completing assignments that are due. Studying for tests, however, can last a lot longer. I tend to begin studying for a test about a week before the test date.

  • 4-6

  • Each day I probably spend at least two hours doing homework. Varies from day to day. Some days no time on homework and other days a lot more time on homework.

  • Probably around 6-8 hours a day, but that is with many breaks and talking with friends in between.

  • depends on the night. sometimes I don't have anything, other nights I spend a good 6 hours and have to stay up way late.

  • I would say maybe 4 hours

  • On average, about 1-2, but if I have a paper coming up, closer to 3.

  • Oofta, for sure a couple every day.

  • On days I have a lot of homework, probably 4-6. On days I don't have a lot probably 1.

  • 3 hrs.

  • 2-3 hours

  • 4

  • All afternoon with breaks for Netflix of social media

  • Probably 2-3

  • I spend between an hour and 5 hours doing homework each day.

  • 3

  • 5

  • Probably 3 or 4.

  • 4-5

  • On average I would say 2-3 hours. Some days it can be like 5 while other days I will only have a quick assignment.

  • 4-5 hrs

  • 3-4

  • Depends on the day... and how focused I am... haha. Anywhere from 1-3 hours. Some days I don't do any, and some days I do like 12 hours. Don't procrastinate, kids.

  • One to two hours a day on average (unless you are in KSP-151, then you should plan for 2-4 hours specifically for that class)

  • I am an education major with an art endorsement. I probably spend around 1 hr and a half.

  • 2

  • Maybe 2 but not every day. Just depends on how much I have

  • I spend anywhere from 2-6 hours on homework everyday.

  • 2 hours depending on the workload.

  • 5

  • 1.5-2 hours depending

  • 3-4

  • 5 hours.

  • At least 6 hours more or less.

  • I tend to overload and am a perfectionist so about 4-5 hours.

  • Usually 4-5 but when there's tests, more than that.

  • 1/2

  • 1-3. It varies!

  • 2 hours

  • Probably around 2-3 hours

  • 2

  • too much, or 4 hrs

  • About 5

  • 2

  • Usually one or less, sometimes 2-3 when I have big papers or projects due

  • 4

  • 4

5. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get a night?☺

  • Depending on the night, I usually get around 7-9 hours of sleep.

  • 7 because sleep is important to me, just ask my roommate ;)

  • 5

  • 8

  • 6-7

  • 6-7 hours

  • I get anywhere from 3 to 8 hours of sleep, depending on work, homework, studying, and scheduling of classes per day.

  • 6-9

  • I usually get about 6 or 7 hours of sleep during the week and sometimes more and sometimes less on the weekend.

  • Around 4-6. :(

  • 7 maybe

  • Seven hours

  • 7-8

  • 8 ish!! I make sure of it!! Sleep is IMPORTANT:)

  • Totally depends on the night, but probably around 5.

  • 6

  • 7 hours.

  • 6-7

  • A good night means going to bed between 12-1 and waking up at 9 every morning....

  • I try to get 8.

  • Usually between 5 and 7 on a good night. On a busy night, probably 4. But then naps come in clutch the next day.

  • 7

  • 7

  • 5 or 6

  • 6-7

  • I wish I could say around 8, but the truth is about 6 and a half hours. It is my own fault, however, because I love to socialize and save my homework for late at night.

  • 5-7

  • 7

  • Not a lot. Probably an average of 5-7 hours. I always have the best intentions to go to bed early or get up early, but they never quite work out how I intend them to.

  • Eight to nine hours :) I sometimes miss out on social gatherings, but more sleep is definitely worth it!

  • That has dwindled down alot. I used to get 8-9 now I get 5-6.

  • 6 to 8

  • 7 to 8

  • On average, I get about 6-7 hours of sleep at night. I consider it a great night when I get more than 8 :).

  • 6 hours

  • 6-7

  • 6-7 hours

  • 5

  • 5 and 1/2 to 6 usually.

  • I shoot for 7 but I don't always get that or I get lucky and get to sleep for more than that!

  • At first I usually averaged five hours of sleep, but by second semester, I am better at time management and shoot for six-seven.

  • 5-6 sometimes 8 on the weekend.

  • do naps count?😉 if naps count then 9/10 if naps don't count then 7/8

  • 8!! I know that I need my sleep, especially during the week. I also love naps :-)

  • 8-9 hours

  • Typically 5-7 hours

  • 7

  • 6 or 8

  • About 7

  • 6

  • 6-8

  • 8

Here's a fun, mostly irrelevant picture of my dance team and I from our high school camp this summer. We have been on campus now for three days currently eight practices into fall camp and are entirely stoked for this season!! :)

Here's a fun, mostly irrelevant picture of my dance team and I from our high school camp this summer. We have been on campus now for three days currently eight practices into fall camp and are entirely stoked for this season!! :)

Some nights may seem like a lot more homework than sleep, but it will be okay. :) You will survive! And remember the earlier blog question about balancing your schedule? That is a huge part of it! It will all work out. :) I am stoked to be able to hopefully meet a bunch of you in the coming weeks and months! May you have safe travels to campus and a crazy, amazing first weekend here at Dordt!!

Much love,



Survey Says... :) Part 6!

The days are counting's almost school time!! :) Textbooks are being ordered, athletes are moving in, final dorm decorations are being purchased, and it is getting suuuuper exciting!! I have a few more random but fun questions and answers for you from the survey yet! This will be the second-to-last blog in the survey says series. :)

14. What is your favorite part about your dorm room?

Here's my roomie and I in our dorm last year! So blessed to live with her again plus another amazing friend this year. :) Less than two weeks!!!

Here's my roomie and I in our dorm last year! So blessed to live with her again plus another amazing friend this year. :) Less than two weeks!!!

  • The fact that I can share it with my friend. and it has air conditioning :D

  • Ummmm the decor 😍😍 and just that it's a space where I can go to relax and just have time to be by myself and recharge.

  • the window :)

  • My couch and my roommates :)
  • Just having a place to relax and be by myself if I want to
  • My bed.

  • It's extremely roomy and air conditioned! I also love the girls in my hall.
  • My roommates
  • The bed.
  • AC and all the different ways that I can set it up.
  • my bed
  • room mate
  • having no closet doors because it is so much easier to get to our clothes that way
  • I love being in covenant and being able to decorate with another person.
  • It's the handicapped room so it's bigger and I love our Christmas lights
  • My couch! I have the comfiest couch in Covey. FYI
  • my roommates rock and so does my bed and our mini fridge
  • All of the pictures I have hanging up
  • Having our own bathroom, and being close to the classroom building
  • my roommate
  • The lighting, my roommate have put up a lot of different lighting options so we can light the room for whatever mood we are in.
  • The lighting and the coziness
  • My couch. It's the napping couch.

  • Christmas Lights... and the icecream in my freezer.
  • It is cozy, clean, and a great place to relax in :)
  • The way we set up our dorm room is nice and open.
  • My roommate
  • My favorite part about my dorm room is how you can personalize it and set it up the way you want to.
  • I love hanging out with my buddies and playing video games. It's nice to be able to chill and hangout in comfort.

  • I like the loft style beds
  • My roomies :)
  • The friends who have turned into family that fill it up :-)

  • I loved how it was set up. It was fun to buy things for the dorm and my roommate.
  • I like the way it's decorated, it's very home like and pretty I think.
  • i enjoy being with my roommate and having my own little place to decorate and relax
  • My roommate and I color coordinated it, so it feels so homey :-) it is black, white, gold, and blush. I also love our lights on the walls!
  • Our lights
  • Honestly, my roommate!
  • Being so close (location wise) to some great friends
  • the community and new friends
  • My bed
  • Living independently
  • My blacklight.
  • Being with my roommate

9. What is your favorite hot sandwich at the Defender Grille?

  • The Defender. :D

  • Teriyaki chicken on wheat

  • Defender

  • Chicken Bacon Ranch

  • The Defender!

  • The Defender

  • I like the defender on a pretzel bun.

  • Cheeseburger?

  • The Defender.

  • the Defender

  • The Defender on pretzel bun toasted without tomato. There is no other hot sandwhich at the Grille.

  • Typically the defender, but when chicken bacon ranch is offered i prefer that.


  • The Defender on Multigrain

  • The Defender on Pretzel Bun is pretty delish :)

  • Whatever the sub of the month is. You can never go wrong with that.


  • The Defender :)


  • I love the Defender on a pretzel or gluten free bun.

  • the Defender

  • The defender

  • Pizza sub



  • The Defender for days baby!!!!!!!!!!! YUM! YUM! YUM!!!! NOM NOM NOM

  • The Defender on white with no tomato.

  • The Defender, toasted, on a pretzel bun with no tomatoes. There is no other sandwhich.

  • Easy to remember and say, plain Jane on multi-grain.

  • Meatball sub, we need it more

  • The defender

  • My favorite hot sandwich is the Meatball Sub ;).

  • The Defender

  • The defender.... I don't think I've even had another sandwich before

  • #1

  • I have never gotten a hot sandwich at the Grille! I never want to eat lunch that late due to softball practice at 3 :-)

  • My go to is normally the roast beef sandwich!

  • The chicken teriyaki is pretty good!

  • chicken bacon ranch

  • The defender or teriyaki chicken!

  • The Defender

  • Defender

  • Chicken Bacon Ranch, Toasted on a Pretzil bun with no Tomatoes

  • The Defender !!!

  • The defender

  • The Cities

  • The defender

  • The Chicken Terrikaki

10. What is your favorite wing event your RA has hosted?

  • Anything involving crafts :)

  • Glow in the dark sand volleyball or cookie dough

  • Taco stand / truck night!

  • Picture scavenger hunt

  • Murder in the Rec

  • I really enjoyed when all of the covenant RA's made pancakes in the basement for valentine's day.

  • Pancakes in the lodge or painting

  • Broomball

  • Breakfast before bed. we all meet in the lobby and she has Caramel rolls for us yummyyy

  • broomball

  • Wings I love wings 😍 Honey BBQ :) just kidding...hmm I loved the planting a daisy one...even though my little Penelope never sprouted yet...she may be a late bloomer, fingers crossed!

  • Canvas painting night

  • I love it when we join other wings (like the boys wings ;) haha

  • Lasagna night.

  • Anything with food. Especially breakfast food.

  • either apple smash or going to different farms and petting different animals

  • Christmas decorating

  • My favorite wing event was when we did facials! A close runner up was a campus scavenger hunt.

  • We played tug of war in the middle of the winter and it was extremely fun.

  • Painting nails and eating cookie dough. Mostly just the cookie dough.

  • I liked the Christmas eggnog races and stuff

  • Guys and Ties. On Valentines Day, we chose a tie from a guy from a wing of North and were set up on a blind date with them! A great way to meet new people, even if you don't end up dating them :-)

  • I really liked the Sundaes on Sunday because everyone came and you got free ice cream. Also scanvenger hunts are fun.

  • photo shoot

  • Spa night!

  • Breakfast club. On Saturday mornings

  • Volleyball or Ice skating

  • manly cup

These are just a few of the things to get excited for... :) But seriously, you need to get a Defender at some point. It's amazing. And the RA's are going to rock your world!! Can't wait to see you soon!! :)


Survey Says... :) Part 5!

As the school year is quickly approaching, incoming students' class and book lists have been coming out. :) You may be wondering what "CORE 100" or "EDUC 101" or "BUAD 100" are. They may just look like a bunch of random letters and numbers, really. :) I promise you will soon learn what they mean, where your classes are, who your professors are, and it is really nothing to stress about! You may also be anxious about choosing a major if you are undecided, or you might be second guessing yourself on a major you have selected. Do not worry!! All of Dordt's professors WANT you to find your calling, and they will do everything they can to help you to find your fit. For now, I would like you to get a taste of various students' ideas of what they enjoyed most about their classes this year! Take a look. :)

11. What is the most interesting or enjoyable core class you took this year and why?

  • Core150 - I learned how to study Bible passages in depth.

  • Core 180 Responding to lit.. I usually don't enjoy lit classes, but Professor Schaap made it very interesting and enjoyable.

  • I enjoyed Core 120. I had a great teacher, and the class was enjoyable. It was a tough class and took a lot of work, but I learned how to be a better writer.

  • I really enjoyed CORE 120, Hawley is an interesting guy and class was never boring.

  • core 160 was sweet because we got to watch movies and we went on a trip to Minneapolis which was super fun.

  • Core 180 with Elgersma. Not a fan of literature, but his willingness to speak his mind made class awesome

  • Core 140-GO COSGROVE!

  • I am really enjoying Core 150 with Professor Verbruggen. He is very knowledgeable, opens up class for discussion, and is brutally honest which is very refreshing!

  • Core 100. It was very interesting to learn more about God and Dordt College as a whole. It wasn't hard, but it was enjoyable.

  • CORE 140- i dont really enjoy history but it was with Prof. Cosgrove so it was fun

  • Core 180 because I honestly love Elgersma as a prof and I enjoy writing/reading

  • I honestly have loved all of my CORE classes. It is very hard for me to decide which one was my favorite. I loved CORE 120 because my professor was so fun. It was a Tuesday-Thursday class so it was 75 minutes long. However, she was very organized and did a great job of making the class fly by and including many different activities in the class time. I also loved CORE 150 with Ben Lappenga. It changed my view on the Old Testament and I learned SO many things about the Bible. However, my favorite was probably CORE 140 with Cosgrove. To be honest, I really don't like history but his class was my favorite. It was an 8 am that I never dreaded going to because Cosgrove is the best. He has a great sense of humor and presented the information in such a meaningful and understandable way.

  • Core 271 is very interesting and Prof. Hoekstra rocks!

  • Core 100 I had Attema as a professor and he was great

  • core 150... shirley folkerts is the

  • I have really enjoyed Core 140 with Dr. Cosgrove. History is not my strong suit, but Dr. Cosgrove teaches it in a great way!

  • Core 150!!! Biblical Foundations with VerBruggen. I just loved it, 'nough said.

  • Core - 150 with Prof. Henreckson: would DEFINITELY recommend!

  • I really enjoyed alot of core classes. Core 150 with Verbruggen, because he was a very opinionated teacher but open to people thinking differently. He also made us a read a few books that made me think of things in a new way. I respected him as a pastor of the reformed Church. I also enjoyed Core 140 with Cosgrove. I enjoyed his constant jokes and pictures of his daughter. He has a true heart for history and for many other things but most of all God. I also enjoyed Matt Drissell's Drawing 101. He has such an eye and positive outlook about art. He is passionate and enthusiastic. He makes art come alive and makes sure the class is challenging. Don't expect Drawing 101 to be a breeze, it alot of work. But it was one of my favorite classes.

  • The most enjoyable core class I took this year was Core 150 with Rev. Verbruggen. He helped me see things in the Bible that I had missed, and he was a great storyteller!

12. What was the most beneficial or influential project, lab, test, or assignment you did this year and why?

  • Brand of Me paper in marketing because I had to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses. It really made me think of what I want people to think of "my brand."

  • 20 hour project in drawing - forced me to focus on something and work on one thing for a long time

  • In Core 100 we did the paper where we write about how we want to positively change our walks with God, and I chose to read my Bible everyday, which has completely changed my life for the better.

  • Most influential lab has been my zoology lab where we have done many dissections and went on a field trip to oak grove.

  • Building a bridge in engineering lab

  • Well I took a Core 180 test and got an 86/140, so it reminded me I am not invincible.

  • For my Ed. classes, we have to observe classrooms right away freshman year. I really appreciate the education program getting prospective teachers in the classroom right off the bat!

  • Truth Walker's project in Core 100 because it made me examine my faith life more closely

  • Probably my iSearch project for Ed 145 because it allowed me to dig deeper and understand more about an important topic that I am passionate about.

  • maybe the solar cooker because It was fun to do. Maybe a paper that I did on water in developing communities.

  • The No Media Challenge. For one of my communications classes, we had to go without media for 3 days. We couldn't listen to music, check Facebook, watch movies, snapchat, read books for fun, watch YouTube videos, or listen to the radio.

  • My EDUC155 Scaffolded Reading Experience. I got to plan a literature circle unit around 3 different historical fiction novels and it made me super pumped about my major (Seconday English Ed w/ a Middle School Endorsement). I loved every second of it.

  • Reading through the books Verbruggen assigned and writing papers on them made me go in depth. I also really enjoyed writing about Plato and Augustine for Core 140. It challenged me and made me appreciate them on a more personal level.

  • The most beneficial assignment I did this year was a mock-up cover letter and resume because it's applicable to real life.

  • This is a hard question. I think I liked the lab in engineering 114 where we made TLUD stoves!

  • Just learning to listen to people on a day to day. We had to do a listening log.

  • Clinicals for nursing at St Luke's hospital! I got to take care of my own patient at the hospital, making my dream of becoming a nurse be that much more real.

  • I did one about vulnerable people and I did Child Abuse. It helped me to see different areas Of the world and what areas really need the love of God spread to them.

  • I actually really liked the Brand of Me paper in Principles of Marketing. It really encouraged me to think about my good qualities, and I ended up learning a lot about myself and was in awe about how God creates everyone different. It was beneficial because you're going to need to know your qualities in your job interviews someday.

  • Core 120 final research paper. I learned how to take a ton of information. And organize it into a well thought out paper

  • An exegetical paper for core 150 and theology 110. It made me dig into Gods word and I got a lot out of it

  • Sacred space to show how important it is to help others

  • Animal Science labs. Really opens up your worldview on AG

  • Reading and giving a presentation on a biomedical engineering paper because it showed me that is what I want to do.

  • I liked core 100 because it was a great chance for me to reflect on my faith and grow during the beginning stages of college

  • Core 100! A relaxed environment that gave me the opportunity to strengthen the relationships with my Freshman Orientation group. I also built a relationship with my Core 100 prof, Glenn Bouma, who I know I could always go talk to about anything!

  • i enjoyed core 160 because i got the opportunity to take a weekend field trip to minneapolis and had a lot of fun with new people

  •  Core 120 with Professor Hawley. He taught me how to become a much better writer.

13. Have you switched your major at all this year?

  • Yes-22

  • No-19

  • Added a second major, minor, endorsements, or chose emphases-8

There is absolutely no shame in changing (or not changing!) your major! The goal of your Dordt education is to "find your place God's world," and everybody here wants to help you do exactly that! If you have questions about what a certain major consists of, or generally just any questions about classes or homework or anything, ask an upperclassman or your advisor or any professor. I guarantee they would love to talk. :)

I cannot wait to have you on campus in just over a month!! :)