Smirror: Students blown away by booming metropolis of Sioux Falls


Staring out the window of her eighth-floor dorm in Granskou Hall and marvelling at the array of twinkling lights in the night, sophomore Chloe VanGerpen reflects on her life upon moving to Sioux Falls.

“I never thought I would become a city-slicker, but look at me now,” VanGerpen said, dreamily sighing and pointing to the skyline outside. “I never get tired of this penthouse view. Sanford’s neon-blue grid lights up the sky like the streets in Vegas.”

Walk into VanGerpen’s dorm and you’d never know she came from West River. With Coffea stickers plastered to her Mac computer, Total Drag vinyls displayed on the end of a book shelf and a Sioux Falls city flag strewn above the futon, she’s now fully converted to the big-city, East River lifestyle. She’s now a true city-slicker.

But like many small-town kids, the transition to metropolitan cool wasn’t easy. Migrating from Miller, S.D., sophomore Trey Waldrop still has trouble adjusting to the big-city scene. 

“I just get lost so easily,” Waldrop said while wandering Philips Avenue and instinctively waving to each stranger. “I didn’t realize that one-ways were a thing or that there could be such a thing as a “57th” street. Where do they fit all those streets? Listen, I’m a physics major and  I’ve quantified large spaces before, but nothing as big as Sioux Falls.”

Meanwhile, other students have had to adjust to the chic Sioux Falls fashion scene, including VanGerpen, who says her closet has dramatically transformed since moving to the city. 

“My high school softball tees, bedazzled jeans and cowgirl boots just didn’t fit the street-style look,” VanGerpen said. “I’ve opted for the sophisticated Sioux Falls city look instead, wearing tees from Target, unbedazzled jeans and Birkenstocks. It’s a real game changer. Some of my friends don’t even recognize me when I return home.” 

Waldrop, who finally called for a Lyft back to campus, said he occasionally feels homesick, too.

“Yeah, there are moments where I really miss Miller,” Waldrop said. “On days when John Morrells is doing its thing, I take a good, long whiff of the air. The smell takes me back home, back to the cows and the corn.”

Although adjusting to a metropolitan lifestyle wasn’t easy, senior Taylor Olson from New London, Minn. said it was worth it for all the vibrant events that Sioux Falls has to offer.

“There’s always something to do here,” Olson said. “You don’t have to wait for the local VFW to host an event. Instead, you can go to actual nightclubs like PAve or the Back Alley. And when you’re done dancing the night away and need to refuel, there’s an array of 24-hour drive-thrus. That’s the SuFu advantage.”

Olson also said one reason she chose to come to Augustana was because of the hot-shot artists who come to town. 

“I cried when I bought my tickets for Garth Brooks,” Olson said, teary-eyed from remembering the concert. “I applied for other big cities like Sioux City, Des Moines and Fargo. But Sioux Falls was the ultimate shining beacon for me.”

As urbanites, Olson, Waldrop and VanGerpen all say going home is now a unique experience. Most conversations at the dinner table or local drug store circle around what it’s like to live in a bustling place like Sioux Falls.

“One time I told Ma and Pa about the time I saw a cop riding a segway in the Empire Mall,” said Olson. “They thought I was making it up, so I told them they ought to visit. I told them how it really is a concrete paradise among the sea of corn.”

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