[media-credit name=”Megan Adams” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]When I was 18 and realized I’d be attending BYU, my native Los Angeleno self was not too pleased. I knew I’d receive a great education, but living in tiny Provo, with the nearest big city an hour away, did not have a great appeal. Add in the fact that winters here involve temperatures below 60 degrees, and I knew my life was about to be overhauled.
Fast forward three years. I’ve just returned home for a summer internship. I’m in a singles ward where the majority of members are BYU graduates. Whenever I tried to talk about how great it was to be home, all anybody wanted to talk to me about was how much they missed Provo and all the things they wish they would have done while they lived here.
And you know what? They were right.
As BYU students, we frequently hear that “The World is Our Campus,” but I think we need to realize that statement doesn’t kick in once we graduate and move around the country and the world. There are so many ways we, as Provo and Utah Valley residents, can enjoy everything this unique place has to offer. I’m not going to claim that we have all the attractions a large metropolis does, but we’re on the way.
As I represent the Life section, formerly known as the Arts & Entertainment section of The Universe, I’m starting in my area of expertise. The music in Provo’s backyard, specifically at the 100 block on University Ave, is blowing up. I’d like to personally dare anybody to turn on an alternative rock radio station, anywhere across the country, and see if you can go an hour without hearing Provo-born band Imagine Dragons’ single “It’s Time,” or one of Neon Trees’ songs. They’ve done well, but they’re not the only ones from this town with a solid amount of talent. The spotlight is on Provo’s up-and-coming bands, who are rising to the occasion.
Whatever ideas or thoughts you have about Provo’s musicians — throw them out. Until you’ve spent time at Velour Live Music Gallery, Muse Music Cafe or at an open-mic house party, you can’t understand the talent that’s around here. I can guarantee that sometime in the next few years, we’ll be bragging to our friends in other states about how we saw The New Electric Sound on top of a parking garage or hip-hop artist Apt in a tiny venue with only a few dozen other people.
Next time you’re on your way to Muse, take a look at some of the cars as you drive around — specifically, those white Utah license plates proclaiming this state has the “greatest snow on Earth.” Now I’m not one who knows how to judge the quality of snow, but I’d say that the Olympics committee is probably pretty good at it. We have the opportunity to ski and snowboard the same mountains as Olympians. You can take a whole Saturday, or just drive up on an afternoon once your classes are out. You don’t need to spend your entire paycheck traveling to get to outdoor activities. They’re right here in our backyard.
Along the same lines — camping sites like Moab, Goblin Valley, Flaming Gorge and Zion National Park are all within driving distance for a quick weekend getaway. In good weather, hiking can be one of the cheapest and funnest activities to do anywhere, and we can do it where Butch Cassidy and Sundance did. Not too shabby.
Now for those of you who do not enjoy extended time in the outdoors or live music, here are a few more reasons that Utah is cool: Provo has restaurants featuring everything from Native American to South Asian cuisine and natives who are frequently top contestants on the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance.” There’s great shopping in Salt Lake City at City Creek, or you can enjoy art at museums like the Utah Natural History Museum or Springville Museum of Art. Sundance Film Festival brings Hollywood to us each year, and the developing “Silicon Slopes” are making Utah a competitive place in today’s technology-centered world.
I know we’re constantly swamped with our schoolwork and jobs, but things are happening all around us. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
P.S. For frequent updates about what’s happening, follow @UniverseLife on Twitter.