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Old 10-29-2007, 09:57 PM
Location: NJ
854 posts, read 2,481,517 times
Reputation: 500



I thought I'd share my story about Garden City. Sorry if it's a little too long

I went to Garden City Community College for one semester as part of a student exchange program back in summer 2006. Originally I'm from a small town in western Germany (about 12000 people) but I always wanted to get out of there and so I moved to a bigger city (Cologne, about 1 million people) when I turned 18 in 2002.

So you might wonder why and how I ended up in Garden City. Of course, If you're an exchange student and are about to go to a country like the US, you think about Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver etc. and not about a small city in the middle of nowhere.
After I was told that I was going to stay with a hostfamily in Garden City, KS I had to check the map because I had never even heard about Garden City at all.

I think that was when it hit me. "Urgs... that doesn't look too promising! So where's the next bigger town? Wichita... 3 hours. Denver... 5 hours. I hope my hostparents don't belong to some kind of weird fanatic church or something and sleep with a gun next to them. No, please, not Garden City!" But it was a challenge I was willing to take.

August 2006;
So I arrived at the train station at about 8am in the morning after what seemed to be an endless trainride from Chicago to Garden City. As soon as I stepped out of the train I noticed this smell... if you've ever been to that area you know what I'm talking about. But hey, since I grew up next to a farm I was kinda used to it.
My hostparents were already waiting for me and eventhough I had some email-contact with them before I came to GC I didn't really know what to expect. It was a really warm welcome and they took me out to have breakfast to get to know each other. Then we went to what would be my new home for the next six months. A house a little outside of town (no, not Southwind and also not Holcomb) with a small lawn, a backyard and a garage. One of the neighbors came over to say hi and invited me over to his house for a cup of coffee in the afternoon. I gladly accepted.

After only two days of "settling down" it was time to check out the college for the first time, meet my coordinators and have a look at which classes I'd like to take. Once again a very nice welcome and after that I was sooo looking forward to attending classes and meeting more people.

By the time school started i had successfully applied for a social security no, bought a car, got my drivers license, car insurance, a bank account and was ready to start "living in the US". My hosts and college coordinators were a big help!

Before I came to GC I was told that it might be hard for me to get to know people because the "folks in those areas are not very outgoing and open to people from outside." Well that certainly wasn't the case with my hostparents, their neighbors and the staff at college, so I hoped it also wouldn't be any different with people in class.

Of course, the first time you introduce yourself in class with something like "Hi I'm from Germany" everybody stares at you like you if you were the newest attraction at the zoo, but everybody was very friendly and interested. No stupid comments or jokes at all.

"By accident" I ended up as a member of the Student Government. But let me tell you, I am soooo glad i did!!! Not only was it very interesting to be involved in all the events on campus etc, but even more important (for me personally at least) was the fact that I met so many awesome people. Never ever have I imagined to spend more time at school than I was supposed to, but working with the other members (and the staff) of the student government was just awesome! I had such a great time and made lots of friends who I was able to hang out with on the weekend. And eventhough there is no club to hang out at we had a ton of fun together! You don't wanna see the tons of pictures

Since I like to play Poker, my hostmum took me out to a place called the "American Legion" where a weekly poker tournament took place every Friday. Once again I did not know what to expect. American legion... all I could think of was a bunch of guys talking about war, illegal immigrants and guns. That didn't sound like my kind of party!

Once again I was totally wrong! People no matter what age, sex or heritage were having a good time together, playing cards, laughing, having a beer or two. And once again people were very friendly and interested, asking me a lot of questions etc. But there was one specific situation that I will never forget when thinking about this place: As usual we were playing cards on a Friday night, when all of a sudden an older man got up, raised his beer and announced that some mexican woman he was sitting with at the table had officially become a citizen of the United States of America. The very next moment, everybody, and i mean everybody got up for what seemed to be five minutes of non-stop-standing ovations. Awesome!

Oh did I mention that everybody I met was friendly and helpful?
On my way to Denver my car broke down, and it didn't take five minutes for a car to stop and assist me. When introducing me to their friends, my hostparents' grandchildren said that I was part of the family. How cute is that! And I was invited to a friend's family reunion!

Over New Years Eve there was a bad blizzard which knocked down thousands of power poles etc, so had to spend about three days without electricity in the basement in front of the chimney. But you know what? It was great! Cooking Hotdogs and Marshmallows over the fire, playing cards with my hostparents, helping my neighbors to get water etc. I would never want to miss those things!

Since college was over I was looking for a place to do help the community, a community service because I wanted to give something back to the city and its people. Once again I met nice and friendly people and was glad I was able to help people that were not as fortunate as most of us.

But along with the end of the year also came the end of my time in Garden City since I had to move to Miami, FL at the end of January in order to work as an intern for another six months before returning to Germany. To be honest, I didn't even want to go to Miami anymore! I wanted to stay another six months with my hostparents, my friends, the college etc.

But well, I also wanted to see as much of the country as possible, and I already had the job down there in FL so I had to move. It was a chance that I had to take.

So my friends and me had one last kickass-party before I invited them and my hostparents to dinner. The next morning I hopped in my car and drove all the way down to Miami.

About three months later I got an invitation from one of my friends in KS , telling me to attend their college graduation party in May. Five days later I was sitting on a plane back to Wichita KS, from there I rented a car and drove to GC just to have another awesome weekend with my friends. Oh and of course I also visited my hostparents! But they didn't know I was in town, so they were very surprised when they saw me standing in front of the door It was great!

This whole trip pretty much screwed my bank account for the upcoming weeks and months, but you know what? It was totally worth it!

Thanks to Email/Phone/Facebook etc. I still have a lot of contact to my folks back in GC eventhough I now live and work in Miami. As a matter of fact I'm invited to a wedding of two of my friends over Thanksgiving as well as to a reunion with my hostparents and their family over christmas.

Time to come to an end i guess Sorry if this text is kinda sloppy to read, but there were just so many great memories coming to my mind that I couldn't even write down all of them.

All I have to say is "Thank you Garden City for all the great memories!"

I will be back, for sure!

(a sunset in kansas)
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:43 PM
Location: IN
20,168 posts, read 34,480,827 times
Reputation: 12507
I am glad that you liked Garden City. I do not care too much for the region because I dislike dry semi-arid climates. I guess you did not notice the problem of illegal immigrants taking over the city? After seeing the meat packing and other commercial agriculture related activities in that area I have decided not to consume much in the way of meat. Most jobs are agriculturally based in that part of the state so the majority of the younger people leave.
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Old 10-30-2007, 12:46 PM
Location: Town of Herndon/DC Metro
2,266 posts, read 5,416,917 times
Reputation: 1155
That is a terrific story! Thank you for sharing it
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:59 PM
Location: IN
20,168 posts, read 34,480,827 times
Reputation: 12507
I was amused that you snapped the picture on one of the few days it actually rained in western Kansas! The summer temperatures are brutal in that area.
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Old 10-30-2007, 05:26 PM
Location: Midwest
6,739 posts, read 8,540,895 times
Reputation: 16512
It's not all that glamorous - Garden City isn't much different the Dodge City. Except for more shopping.

Plains I totally agree with you!

If These towns would do away with the meat packing plants, then perhaps - it would get some beauty to it.

Most leave the Western Towns to better their lives.

Been there done that, no regrets, not returns.
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:13 PM
Location: NJ
854 posts, read 2,481,517 times
Reputation: 500
Originally Posted by Plains10 View Post
I was amused that you snapped the picture on one of the few days it actually rained in western Kansas! The summer temperatures are brutal in that area.
It's actually not even western Kansas I took this picture a little east of Hutchinson, KS when I was on my way home from the Kansas State Fair
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:47 PM
1 posts, read 7,653 times
Reputation: 22
Default Glamour is all in the attitude

Seeing the beauty typically starts with what's in your heart. If you are bleak, so are your surroundings. You are obviously open to finding the beauty even if it is a little more difficult to find for some and impossible for others.
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