COLUMN: Nothing to do in Mount Pleasant?

Mount Pleasant: look through the eyes of city, suburb and rural area students


Welcome to Mount Pleasant bridge, Tuesday, Jan. 9, W. High St. (CM-Life | Nico Mendoza)

For many, college is a fresh start that provides the first step towards independence as students move away from their hometowns. The transition can be both exciting and nerve-wracking as they navigate their new environment and discover new things and people. 

However, not every student finds this transition to be easy. For some, the shift from the hustle and bustle of city life to the seemingly more laid-back pace of a smaller town can be less than optimal and can pose a unique set of challenges and adjustments. 

This story will look into the perspectives of three students from different backgrounds — rural, suburban and city — after they moved from their hometowns to Mount Pleasant to attend Central Michigan University. 

Rural Perspective 

As I come from a small, rural community in the thumb of Michigan, I was used to accepting and embracing the comfortable familiarity provided by my hometown. 

Caro, Michigan has a population of roughly 4,300 people and is only 2.954 square miles – a lot smaller than Mount Pleasant.

Familiar faces and the unchanging scenery of well-known neighborhoods became a defining feature of my life.

This was something I had always found to be uniquely charming and comforting about my hometown.

Of course, the small-town life also had many drawbacks. 

For one, the town practically shut down by 9 p.m., leaving limited options for those seeking late-night activities — mostly confined to the McDonald’s and Taco Bell drive-thrus, Walmart and a couple of local bars. 

Diversity, too, was a scarce commodity, both in the people and businesses that shaped the community.

My high school graduating class of 111 had only a few students of color, compared to CMU. According to the preliminary enrollment numbers for the Fall 2023 semester, the university had 2,668 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) students and 1,734 international students.

So, while Mount Pleasant may not be the epitome of Michigan’s diversity, it stands light years apart from the homogeneity of my hometown.

As a journalism major at CMU, I have spent a lot of time talking with individuals from diverse backgrounds. These conversations have introduced me to people of varying sexual identities, races, ethnicities and religions, broadening my perspective and granting me a greater understanding of the world by sharing their stories with me. 

Considering all of this, moving to a larger city was quite a significant and eye-opening change for me and exposed me to an entirely new world of people and cultures. 

Everything is more fast paced, and everyday it seems as though there is something new and exciting happening. 

While some might find the Mount Pleasant lifestyle stifling, especially those accustomed to larger cities, for me, it has been a gateway to embracing the unknown and discovering joy in the seemingly limitless opportunities a larger community affords.

Renae King is a senior news reporter at Central Michigan Life.

City perspective

Mount Pleasant is a place that has about 21,000. Being from a city that has about 8 million people — Chicago metro area — , Mount Pleasant has been a drastic change for me. 

Not in a bad way, though. 

I have lived in the same place my whole life, and I have been used to certain habits and routines of living in the city. They aren’t the same compared to living in Mount Pleasant for the past five months. 

The first difference is that I see a lot more people I know around Mount Pleasant, since it is a college town. It is fun to go grocery shopping and just see some kids in my classes doing the same thing. 

Altough, there’s not as much to do. In Chicago you can walk everywhere; there are stores and places to go in within a block of where you live, and you can take trains from the Northside to the Southside. For Mount Pleasant, you have to rely on driving everywhere. 

On the other hand, Mount Pleasant isn’t as chaotic as Chicago or any other big city. 

For example, in Chicago there are constant trains and sirens going by, but for Mount Pleasant everything seems still and calm at night. It’s a lot quieter and has a lot more fresh air than the city. 

I love Mount Pleasant. I love living here because it’s a different vibe and a change in a good way for me because I get to experience different ways of living and adapt to different routines, like walking to the gym with my friends at the Student Activities Center at CMU. 

I consider Mount Pleasant my home because I have met so many new people that make it feel more like home than my actual house in Chicago.

Quinn Deighan is a CM Life news reporter.

Suburban perspective

Growing up 30 minutes from Detroit and smaller, but still sizable, cities, like Plymouth, Canton, Westland and Livonia, the change of scenery here at CMU is noticeable, to say the least. 

Personally, as a freshman, having a car isn’t as useful as it was when I was in a high school. The food, the local culture and the activities to do here are vastly diluted, and the closest cities to do stuff in, like Saginaw, Big Rapids and Frankenmuth, are at least 45 minutes away without traffic. 

The food in Mount Pleasant isn’t very diverse or uncommon. The variety of restaurants are mostly name-brand fast food places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell. With the exception of a rare Chinese, Korean or Mexican restaurants, there’s not many other options besides bar-and-grills. In Livonia, Asian and Mexican cuisine is just as prominent as American cuisine. 

This may be just about being a college student in general, but there are not many things to do off campus. 

While there is a casino, I think most people aren’t keen on betting, especially since college students aren’t exactly the richest. 

In Wayne County, people go to plenty of trampoline parks, escape rooms, go-kart arenas, ice rinks and other activities to do on any random weekday. 

However, in Mount Pleasant, similar things here are unnoticed because how isolated CMU is from the city itself.

Mount Pleasant doesn’t have any major cities around, the majority of diversity and cultural representation stays only in CMU.

News Reporter Bar Belian is from Livonia, Michigan.