Meet Mattie Alderink; a recent college grad making a big move to the Windy City! She loves traveling and trying new things and not being afraid to take risks. She lived in York for a semester and has some local favorite gems to guide you if you ever visit. Thanks Mattie for inspiring us to go out and chase new cities (big and small)!
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU IN SCHOOL, WORK?
Right now I am sitting in the middle of my college house bedroom surrounded by piles of boxes. I’m deep in the packing and moving process. I just finished my last college final EVER a few days ago and I’m packing for my move to Chicago. It’s so surreal to think I’m done with college. So right now, I’m just trying to get my room all packed up and then I’m going to get ready to go celebrate the end of the semester with my friends! Right now it’s a day-by-day trust situation to see what’s going to happen with the next few months. I have an apartment in Chicago but I don’t have a job yet, so packing and a whole lot of trust is where I’m at.
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE LIKE? ANY UNIQUE MORNING RITUALS?
The first thing I do when I wake up is start some music and take a shower. I need all the help I can get to wake up in the morning, so some water and noise is required. I always try to wake up early enough that I have time to get ready and eat breakfast without rushing. My day starts much better when I’m not scrambling to get out the door. I also try to text my parents every morning, just to say ‘good morning’ and let them know I’m thinking about them. I may be adventurous and all over the place, but family is still very, very important to me.
WHAT DOES YOUR IDEAL DAY LOOK LIKE, FROM START TO FINISH?
My ideal day isn’t super formulaic—I think part of that is the adventurer in me always wanting everyday to be different. But if I had to create an ideal day, it would begin with waking up early and going for a run (if it’s warm enough) or going to the gym. I love to get up and get my day started. Next I would head to a coffee shop to get some work done—in Grand Rapids this would be Ferris Coffee, Early Bird Café or Lyon Street Café. It would also involve some local shopping in the afternoon with my friends, dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Donkey Taqueria or Marie Catribs), and getting a drink with my friends. I love trying out new restaurants and bars, and Grand Rapids has tons to choose from! The ideal night would end with some Netflix or movie watching in my room to unwind before starting the next day.
WHAT'S YOUR NEXT MOVE? WHAT PLACES ARE NEXT ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Well my literal next move is to Chicago! I’m so excited to start this new adventure! Since I was little I’ve been telling my parents I was going to move away after I graduated from college, and it just so happened I was able to graduate early and my best friend who lives in Chicago needed a roommate at the same time.
Oh my word there are so many places on my bucket list and it’s about time to start planning my next trip. My last trip was this past summer to Seattle and Portland, which was AMAZING. Next up on the travel bucket list are Iceland, Norway, Alaska, and New Zealand. I’m big into places with stunning scenery, which is why all these dramatic landscapes made my list.
HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE TRAIT ADVENTUROUS OTHER THAN YOUR TRAVELS? DO YOU LIKE TRYING NEW FOODS, MAKING NEW FRIENDS, ETC.?
I think the adventurous trait is present in several areas of my life! I see it in my decision to move to Chicago—I’m uprooting my entire life just to fulfill a dream I’ve had for a while to live in another city, and I see it in my desire to try new things. Recently I started hiking and wake surfing, and I’m always looking for new things to do and new organizations to be involved in. I definitely see my adventurous trait in the food I try too, which I can attribute to my time studying abroad. The United Kingdom may speak the English language, but they have several other foods and delicacies, and traveling around Europe I tried many new things. Since then I’ve made it a goal to continually try new foods. I almost always love them! It sounds so cliché, but I try to find the adventure in the everyday. I would much rather spend a Monday evening grabbing margaritas with friends or going on a midnight stargazing drive—catching all the good and golden moments in life—than sit in the midst of the mundane. I think a lot of people think that way, but I make it a priority to act on that.
SO YOU STUDIED IN YORK, DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE SPOTS THAT ARE WORTH MENTIONING? CAFES, BOOKSTORES, SHOPS, ETC.? (IN CASE WE EVER VISIT!)
I could talk about York for days. First off, for those who don’t know, it is a city in the north of England (about halfway between London and Edinburgh) and you must add it to your bucket list. It’s got the small-town feel that London doesn’t have, but many more sights and opportunities than small towns.
Must sees in York: Walk the walls (they’re thousands of years old and are wide enough for several people to walk on them, they form a 3 mile ring around the city), Clifford’s Tower, the Museum Gardens and the York Minster. As far as cafes go, Perky Peacock by Lendel Bridge—it’s in a tower—is a definite must for the chai latte, and Crumbs Cupcakery has the best cupcakes and Minster views. Bennett’s is a teahouse just outside the main entrance to the Minster and is my favorite spot in the city. The tea is amazing and the scones with clotted cream and jam are a true English treat. The House of Trembling Madness is the coolest pub I’ve ever been to, complete with animal heads and medieval candles, and Evil Eye is a bar that is known for its crazy good cocktails and for being Jonny Depp’s favorite bar in England. I have about a million more, but those are some of my top picks.
TELL US MORE ABOUT MOVING TO CHICAGO AND HOW THAT HAPPENED! ARE YOU EXCITED?
I am SO excited! I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to move to a different city for a period of time in my life, and as I entered my final semester this past fall, I told myself if I didn’t have any real ties to Grand Rapids when I graduated, I was going to do it. Don’t get me wrong—my family and college friends would be great reasons to stay, but with no boyfriend here or job prospects, I began to feel like my life was at a standstill while everyone else’s’ around me were moving on. The decision took a lot of thought and prayer, and a lot of things falling into place, but it just so happened my best friend from high school moved down to Chicago a year ago and needed a roommate come January—the exact same time I would be done with school. We’ve dreamed of living together for years and I’m so excited it has become a reality. I had the chance to go and see her a few weeks ago and I met all her friends and I really feel like this is going to be the best place for me at this phase in my life. I don’t have a job lined up yet, so I think that’s where some of the adventure comes from. I’m trusting I’m going to figure it out, and I’m taking each day as it comes.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST NERVOUS FOR IN YOUR NEAR FUTURE, HOW WILL YOU GO ABOUT HANDLING IT?
I’m nervous about two things in my near future. First, I’m nervous about finding a job in Chicago. I enjoy taking a bit of time to relax after finishing something as momentous as college, but it’s not lost on me that I’ll need income when I get to Chicago. I’m handling this stress by applying for jobs and constantly networking and building connections. I’m also nervous about the shift in relationships with my friends and family in Grand Rapids when I move. Distance always changes relationships, and I hope it won’t be too hard on my family and some of my close friends. These people are what made the decision to move difficult, but I’m so grateful for all their love and support. I see myself handling this with many FaceTIme dates and friend visits to Chicago! Really this will come down to intentionality, and I’m determined not to let my move negatively affect any of my relationships.
ASIDE FROM BEING ADVENTUROUS, WHAT ARE THREE OTHER PERSONALITY TRAITS THAT DESCRIBE YOURSELF AND HOW SO?
Ambitious—I constantly set goals for myself because I think I can take myself to bigger and better things. In high school it was to graduate in the top ten of my class, in college it was to make room to study abroad and to graduate early to get a head start on the job hunt. Now, I see it in my ambition to apply for jobs and to make a big move and get everything I want out of life.
Sassy—any of my family members can confirm this for you. Sass is my main form of humor, and while I need to keep it in check, I like to think my sass gives me an edge and helps me not to take things too seriously.
Creative—I love to generate ideas and try new creative outlets. Whether its curating my Instagram, learning the art of hand lettering, or building an ottoman, I always try to find a way to use this trait as a way to express myself and get to know other people!
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION? OR MAYBE YOU HAVE A CERTAIN PLACE OR PERFECT ENVIRONMENT?
My biggest inspiration is my family. My parents and sister constantly push me to do everything that makes me happy and fulfills my dreams, and they’ve set a great example themselves. They are my encouragers, my best friends, my comic relief, and they set the bar for who I want to be as a person. My family is comprised of the kindest, most compassionate, funniest, and loving people, and I strive to be more like them everyday.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? TEN?
I see myself being successful in the field of Communications and Brand Management, hopefully working at a company I love and believe in. I have no idea where I’ll be. It could still be Chicago, it could be back in Grand Rapids, or it could be anywhere else. My vision of myself in five or ten years doesn’t box me in. I’ll hopefully have a family or at least a husband to come home to, and I’d love to be continuing to adventure and travel with my family. Travel and adventure have always been large components of my life, and that’s not something I want to lose as I enter the adult world!
WHAT'S THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO TRAVEL THE WORLD?
You can do it inexpensively. There are thousands of great hostels out there (even in the United States), and as long as you read the reviews and make sure they really are good places to stay, I would stick with them. They immerse you in the culture and they’re really cheap.
The big cities are good to hit, but put the pretty places at the top of your list. I loved London and Paris, but by far my favorite places in Europe are Santorini, Berchtesgaden, and the Cinque Terre. The thing those places all have in common is they’re not big cities and they’re filled with stunning scenery. That’s what you’re going to be in awe of.
Don’t try to tackle too much at once. If you can afford to travel the whole world at a leisurely pace, good for you, but most of us can’t. The world isn’t a one-and-done place. You can’t go to Europe or California once and expect to see it all. Take it in smaller chunks with 2-3 days in every location, so you don’t feel like you spent your entire trip inside of planes or trains.
Check out more from Mattie below!