Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

A first time for everything

By Ashlee Stallinga

By ASHLEE STALLINGA

Mt. Pleasant News

There may not actually be a first time for everything, but there’s a first time for a lot of things. Some recent examples in my life include graduating from college, moving in to my first apartment and going to the first day of work at my first “real” job. And I happened to do all of the above in a span of four days.

I graduated on May 6 from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, which is so far northwest that it’s almost South Dakota. My parents — who live in the suburbs of Chicago — carted everything I own out there, only to bring it back to Mt. Pleasant the next day.

On May 7, the very first day my new apartment opened up, we moved everything in. My family left on Sunday afternoon, and I was left with everything I own scattered throughout my apartment. Looking for anything was like trying to find a needle in a haystack; or, more appropriately, a toothbrush in a haphazard pile of boxes. Nevertheless, at 8 a.m. on Monday, I started at the Mt. Pleasant News. (And I’m still here, as you can see, so I have survived two weeks and counting.)

This quick move didn’t give me a lot of time to get all the stuff done that adults have to do — things like buying car insurance, opening a bank account, or changing the utility bill into my name. It didn’t give me a lot of time to do what people who move to a different state have to do, either — things like getting a new driver’s license and license plate, or switching voter’s registration.

And that is not the only switch I had to make.

I grew up less than thirty minutes south of Chicago, in an area that — as I’m sure you can imagine — looks a lot different than Mt. Pleasant. Now, since I went to college in northwest Iowa, living in a small town isn’t too much of an adjustment. (It’s nothing like my freshman year of college, when I was still surprised that they made towns with fewer than 10,000 people.)

There are, however, things to get used to in any new town. My shift from one corner of Iowa to another is no exception.

For example, after unpacking all my packages, boxes and bags, I had quite a bit of garbage to get rid of. Specifically, I had five white, 11-gallon garbage bags full of it.

I heard that if I put my garbage out on the curb on Tuesday night, it would be picked up on Wednesday morning.

However, I missed the memo about using black, 30-gallon garbage bags, all of which require a bright green sticker. So on Wednesday afternoon, there they were: all five bags, still sitting on the curb. And for the next week, I had five white -- and now sun-baked -- 11-gallon garbage bags in my apartment.

I learned my lesson. The next day, I went out to buy garbage bags and the stickers that go with them. The bright green strips mocked me, proclaiming, “Every bag must be tagged!” Thank you, I know that…now.

But trying new things isn’t all bad. So far, my time in Mt. Pleasant has been a chaotic series of lessons, from which I’ve garnered a fair amount of life experience. And all in two weeks!

So I’m going to keep trying new things. In fact, I will try something new for every column I write (hence, the title beside my picture).

And look at that — I just wrote my first column.