The Allendale difference

The Allendale difference

Jake Keeley

From the surface, Grand Rapids and Allendale seem very distant. After living in both cities for some time now, I can confirm that they are two entirely different places.

It doesn’t take much time to notice the disparities. Allendale, and I say this affectionately, is your typical podunk, nothing-nowhere town. Grand Rapids is quite the contrast, such a lively city with much to do. As you might imagine, each city offers its unique advantages and disadvantages.

To my surprise, my time in Allendale did have some adverse effects on my health. I imagine I’ve done permanent damage to my shoulder, as it seemed that once a week a bolted door would surprise me as I would attempt to enter my apartment, only to stand me up and reject my entry.

We never kept our front door locked, as we never needed to. There were always people in and out, our neighbors must have thought we were running a trap house. While I do not suggest keeping your door unlocked, I always felt safe and secure when I was living in Allendale. Aside from that, Allendale offered a lot of open space for my friends and I to play whiffle ball, football, sports of the snow variety, and anything else we wanted to do.

Once you exert all of your energy and the clock strikes 8 p.m., your options truly narrow. I understand that the 20/20 Desk and the Grand Valley State University events page list things to do, but if I’m being honest, these are not real options. Nobody wants to go to the Kirkhof Center to catch the 9 p.m. showing of an old movie on a Friday night. This is where Allendale falters; the nightlife just doesn’t cut it.

Grand Rapids coincidentally has not been good for my health either. Living this close to Ionia Street will do that to you. A stark contrast to Allendale, there is a plethora of options to consider when deciding what to do. Whether you want to go to a sporting event, a festival or a comedy show, Grand Rapids has it all.

Aside from the main draws however, with every city comes a few hole in the wall joints and Grand Rapids does not disappoint on that front either. However, with all of that population comes a few bad eggs. As a result, I do not feel as safe as I did in Allendale. As a matter of fact, you have to pass through two doors when you enter my apartment, and I lock both. Perhaps this comes from the fact that I don’t know my neighbors either. My block is interspersed with college kids and working adults, so I am a lot more mindful when it comes to being noisy.

Furthermore, I am basically boxed in. While there is far more basketball courts within walking distance, they are rarely occupied with a game and unless you live near a park, your backyard probably does not suffice when it comes to room to run.

I suppose what I am trying to say is don’t rush out of one city to get to the next. While Grand Rapids looks glamorous, Allendale should not be disregarded. Each city has its unique draws and you have to make the most of them while you are there.