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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

East Lansing, a small 13 mile corner of the greater city of Lansing, home of the Michigan State Spartans and the place I spent the first months of my adulthood. The city of East Lansing is mostly made up of Michigan State’s campus with a total population of 46,854 people, over 60% of that being college students. Although incorporated as a city in 1907, the area was originally put to use by the State Legislature, looking to establish a college for the teaching of scientific agriculture on the banks of the Red Cedar River. The river, stretching 51 miles long, still runs through campus today. The city itself is only four miles from the state capitol, making it one of the most unique places to attend college in all of Michigan. 

Although East Lansing is considered quite small in comparison to other cities, it is inhabited by 40,483 students from over 140 different countries, which explains why it is so well known and loved all over the world. While there are so many factors that play a role in determining where someone will go to college, for me, one of the most important things was the atmosphere and environment. Even though I only visited the city once prior, I ultimately decided on Michigan State because I had never heard anyone talk about a city the way people talk about East Lansing. Regardless of the university, the stories I was told from people of all ages made me feel like East Lansing was truly a place I wanted to experience college life in. The passion and spirit that is fostered within such a small city continues to amaze me every day since moving here. 

After my first semester of being able to explore the city for myself, it was evident the passion that I had heard about could really be found in every corner of the city. Painting the rock at MSU is one of the ways I got to experience this firsthand. What Michigan State now knows as “the rock” is an 18,000 year old puddingstone, originally left behind by a glacier. Today, student organizations, clubs and other groups paint the rock in a variety of different designs as a bonding experience between the members and an advertisement for the group itself. Oftentimes, this can be seen as a direct reflection of what students on campus care about and our freedom to express it. This year, I have seen the rock painted in honor of things like Veterans day, the University of Las Vegas shooting and the current war between Israel and Hamas.

Trigger Warning: Mentions past gun violence

Despite the city typically being a place filled with so much joy, like any other city, it is not exempt from its challenges and hardships. Recently, the city of East Lansing honored the one year anniversary since the shooting that took place on campus on February 13, 2023. While I didn’t attend MSU at the time of the tragedy, on the anniversary I experienced a community come together in a way I had never seen before. As the city mourned the loss of three students in addition to all the lives forever changed by the shooting, it was obvious to me that there was so much strength and love within East Lansing. Vigils were held at the spartan statue, a landmark that continuously serves as a symbol of the city’s history and strength while support permeated throughout the community. As a result of an event no one should ever have to face, the city of East Lansing was forced to recover and continue going about life in a normal fashion just weeks later. While continuing to remember the events that took place that February, the community continues to show strength with every passing day. 

In the midst of being home to 40,483 students, facing challenges of loss and adversity and adapting to never ending changes, East Lansing continues to serve as a true representation of a city that has it all. Not only do people come here to gain an education and experience life on their own for the first time, but they continue to come back because of the environment that forms so many unique memories, relationships and experiences. 

While my transition to college this past August was challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Without a car, East Lansing felt big and I often questioned if I was even in the right place. I reminded myself of unfamiliar street names and buildings on every bus ride and frequently wondered why I hadn’t adapted as quickly as everyone else. Despite all my challenges, I think there is something so special about the place where you start to become an adult. Experiencing so much so quickly in one small place can often be confusing but I know with every moment I am slowly becoming my future self. The knowledge I gain, the people I meet and the experiences I have here will be with me forever, so as a born and raised Michigander and a first year Spartan, I am proud to call East Lansing home for the next four years.

Brooklynn is a freshman this year at Michigan State University, studying Journalism. Brooklynn grew up in West Bloomfield Michigan and graduated from West Bloomfield High School. Her favorite subjects included English, multi media arts and French. Brooklynn enjoys baking, shopping, watching movies, doing makeup, being in nature and especially writing. She is super excited to be a part of Her Campus and hopes to get creative and inspire others.