Along for the Ride: Big Rapids, MI

Ferris State campus

A Ferris Homecoming

Although we did not make it back this year to Ferris’ actual Homecoming, the hubby and I chose to plan a customized Big Rapids homecoming all our own.  With the transition back to school, we were itching for an adventure and in an effort to protest the end of summer, started mapping out our plan.  Playing by our own rules, it always seemed unfair to me that football gets to hog the Homecoming festivities, so we made arrangements to get our sporting event fix in by way of hockey (conveniently this is also the best way for both of us to actually enjoy the sporting event).  Instead of staying in a hotel, we looked into campgrounds as a more budget-friendly option, and also because one of my favorite things about Big Rapids is its accessibility to the outdoors.

This weekend planned around enjoying the best of Big Rapids provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on how grateful I am to the University, faculty, and to my Ferris Family.  In the story of my life, it’s the closest experience I have to a Hogwarts.  Originally, I chose Ferris for the Optometry program.  I chose the path to Optometry because I loved the feeling I had after seeing the world for the first time through my first pair of glasses and wanted to be the one to give others this experience (doctor pay while working normal hours was also an enticing attribute of the job).  Unfortunately, the plan became derailed when I decided to finally acknowledge that I had zero interest in science.  Luckily, after an encounter with Dumbledore, I was able to discover an alternative approach to helping others see the world that was far better suited to my interests.  I’ll never forget the fire that was ignited and how at home I felt taking my first literature class.  I try not to think about all the alternate paths I could have chosen, but it’s impossible to deny that had I made the decision to become a teacher originally, I never would have ended up at Ferris.  Western would have been the more likely candidate, where my Daria-like personality was sure to clash with the high school the sequel type environment associated with attending Western since it was much closer to home.  Instead, my unexpected discovery by taking the wrong path was a campus perfectly suited to my needs.  For an introvert like me, there is no greater selling point than the class sizes.  I had professors who knew me, and as a teacher myself, I don’t know how real teaching can occur any other way.

I felt the need to try to capture the nostalgic overload of memories that occurred with visiting the old stomping grounds to share with the rest of my Ferris Family, and perhaps even with Ferris’ students of the future.  Enjoy!

Description: Taking Exit 139 to Big Rapids, Downtown, Miller/Travis Halls, Ewigleben Sports Complex, Mitchell Creek, Hallisy Hall, Arts and Sciences Buildings, University Parke Suites, FLITE, and Hemlock Park.   

Music Notes:

Bon Iver’s 22, A Million album was released the day before we left for Big Rapids.  It was an obvious choice for a soundtrack, considering the role Bon Iver songs played in the Grand Teton video of the Yellowstone Series.  Listening to the album throughout the trip (and for several weeks after) only solidified my decision; I became obsessed.  Thank God for digital music or I swear my husband would be hiding all of my CDs from me to get out of having to hear the same songs over and over and over (yes, I’m a song leech).  That being said, with about two hours in the car each way, 22, A Million wasn’t long enough to be the sole soundtrack.  Even though these may have been the only tracks to make it to the final video cut, there were two runner-ups worth noting (if only for my sake to justify not fitting them in).

  1. Brand New– There is something about fall and Brand New that just works.  Although both The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and Daisy were released during my time at Ferris, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me was far more likely to be blasting from my iPod while walking around campus (back then, this wasn’t done on phones).  Since The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me is a top contender for my favorite album of all time, I didn’t give Daisy a fair shot initially, but over time it’s grown on me.  So much so that it got almost exclusive playtime during this trip.
  2. Myles Kennedy’s Jeff Buckley’s Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah–  Everyone has their favorite Hallelujah cover and this is mine.  It became an obsession during my time at Ferris.  I remember being so excited that my new iPod came with video and could connect to the Internet so that I could play the YouTube video (on repeat) while walking around campus (in most locations, as long as there was Wi-Fi, data was not yet a thing).  The things we take for granted nowadays.  My failure to find a spot for it in the soundtrack needed to at least me remedied with a shoutout.


  • Song 1- 22 (OVER S∞∞N) by Bon Iver (off of their 22, A Million album)
  • Song 2- 33 “GOD” by Bon Iver (22, A Million)
  • Song 3- 715 – CRΣΣKS by Bon Iver (22, A Million)
  • Song 4- 666 †  by Bon Iver (22, A Million)
  • Song 5- 29 #Strafford APTS by Bon Iver (22, A Million)
  • Song 6- ___45___ by Bon Iver (22, A Million)
  • Song 7- 00000 Million by Bon Iver (22, A Million)

 Location Facts to Note:

  1. FLITE (Ferris Library for Information, Technology, and Education) is hands down my favorite place on Ferris’ campus, and so fittingly it is featured the most in the video.  Strategically located, it serves as both a focal point and welcoming committee to the campus.  As you can see from the opening scene, it is the first sign of campus when driving into Big Rapids and is stationed in the center of the most trafficked intersection (which is at least a little poetic).  The two spots in the library where I spent a great deal of my time in while attending Ferris also had to be included in the video.  The mural footage in the song __45__ was taken in the Extended Hours section of the library.  Being somewhat nocturnal, I frequently found myself procrastinating coursework by allowing myself to be distracted by attempting different interpretations.  But, my all time favorite library location was the third floor.  When I was a freshman, my older brother, a sophomore, showed me this secret study spot and I immediately adopted it as my own.  It was the perfect place to read, nap, or people watch in between classes (I frequently did all three).  Views from the 3rd floor appear in the 00000 Million segment of the video.                     
  2. Since these videos are my version of a home movie, it was obviously important to include my many Ferris “homes” in the video.  Freshman year I called Miller Hall home, while the hubby was stationed in the neighboring Travis Hall.  Both are featured during the 33 “GOD” portion.  In an attempt to get closer to the library (seriously), I moved to Hallisy Hall for my sophomore year.  The 666 † section of the video pays homage to that year.  There was a lot of soul searching, and by the end of the year I was finally on my way to becoming a teacher.  It was also the year I fell in love…with yoga, which is why the Student Recreation Center had to be included.  Since Masselink Hall is no longer standing, the last Ferris home featured in the video during 29 #Strafford APTS is University Parke Suites, my first off-campus quarters.  There was a lot of research involved in the decision to live off-campus, but the work was all worth it in the end.  The apartment layout was ideal with each tenant getting their own bathroom and balcony.  All the important college student amenities like free tanning, gym equipment, and swimming pool were included (important at that time anyway) and rent was budget friendly.  Another added bonus being that there is no need for any kind of sleep therapy sound machine as the apartments (especially in Building E) come with the natural sounds of bullfrogs croaking each night (both vocally, and literally due to the feral cat population).  Much like those sound machines, what appears annoying at first, actually becomes quite relaxing.
  3. I’d be lying if I said there is a lot to do in Big Rapids.  We are talking about a town that has only one four-screened movie theater.  However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do.  It just requires more creativity.  Big Rapids is a perfect location for Geocaching, which I often define for my students as Pokemon GO except there are real “treasures” in place of the digital Pokemon.  Download a caching app for free, find a park, and you’re good to go (perfect activity for poor college students).  Mitchell Creek featured in 715 – CRΣΣKS was one of our Geocaching stomping grounds, as well as Hemlock Park which appears at the end of 00000 Million.

Have a Ferris experience of your own to share?  Don’t forget to leave a comment!

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