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Journey to Appreciate My Hometown: Des Moines

Hometown of Des Moines

January 9, 2024

The day of Aug. 28, 2018, was one the most significant steps I‘ve made. On this day, around 1:30 a.m., my flight from Nepal landed at Des Moines International Airport, making a journey of around 7,500 miles. From there, I headed toward my dorm at Drake University. There were no reasons, in the beginning, for why I chose Iowa except for getting a good scholarship for a good school and Des Moines being the state's capital. When I traveled from the airport to my dorm at Drake University, I could see the beautiful downtown lights, and I was delighted to see that view, which initially verified that Des Moines looks like New York. I was excited to go downtown the next day.

The next day, when I went to Downtown Des Moines (DSM), I was speechless. My expectations and bragging about Des Moines turned into a complete surprise. For some time, I couldn't find the answer to how the state's capital could be smaller than my hometown in my home country, Nepal. To my surprise, there was one main tall building, which I couldn't necessarily call a tower. As time passed, I realized that while not New York, Des Moines holds the crown for delicious port ribs and maize. The city also holds political importance for big elections.

Slowly, I started to travel to different states to explore and see the diversity of different places. I had a resolution in 2019 that I would travel to at least 20 states before I graduated by staying a night, eating some good food and going downtown. I have reached 30 now, and surprisingly, even though I went to different states looking for my next place to move to, I still felt the urge to come back home to Des Moines. For a long time, I have wondered why this is the case, and now, I know the answer.

Connecting with People + Low Cost of Living

The people and low costs might be an apparent reason, but it is still a significant one. I have been to many places, so I have enough experience to know that the people around you matter greatly. I have been to places where I have been afraid to walk and places like Des Moines, where I feel safer. No place is perfect, but the environment here is just friendly. People here are easy to connect with, polite and calm. From my college to living in the greater Des Moines region, I see people, cheerful and welcoming, holding doors and eager to get to know each other.

Another important reason I see Des Moines as home is its affordability. This is very important for me. I have been a college student for a while, and even now, the prices for essentials and more are very affordable compared to other states like California. This is one of the main reasons most people like raising a family in Iowa. I love that the low cost of living of Des Moines has allowed me to save more.


People might be skeptical about Des Moines and Iowa as a place to make a career outside of agricultural jobs. I felt the same way for some time, especially in college, but I now see so many opportunities here. When I started working in a corporate job and became part of the Des Moines Fellowship Program, I learned about even more opportunities and continue to find out more ways to build my career in the region. I had never realized how advanced Des Moines had become in so many diverse fields, from technology to biotech. I see many great technological companies around me that significantly impact society.

If there is only one thing I could change, it is the weather. The cold here is genuinely harsh and cruel. In 2019, I saw my first snowfall and even made my first snowman.

First Iowa Snow

My wish for snow before that time has completely changed, and I now hope each snow is my last! Whenever winter is about to start, my emotions evolve, and I have to look for ways to embrace the season. From preparing for winter weather to knowing how to maintain a property during the winter months to finding places to pass time, like Brenton Skating Plaza, winter in Des Moines calls means seeking out ways to help increase mental wellness and keep the winter blues away.

Nonetheless, the worry about everything from my car to my soft skin makes it unlikely to favor the winters of Iowa. The whole state of Iowa itself is so unpredictable that it is entirely pointless to have faith in the weather applications. I can live with the pain and hatred for winter here. All the good things about Des Moines and Iowa outweigh the ruthless weather, and shopping local for cold-weather items helps, too. I am a traveler, but regardless of where I go to admire the beauty of different places and meet new people, I would still want to return to my hometown every single time.

Looking for opportunities as a young professional in Greater Des Moines (DSM)? The DSM Fellowship Program is the preeminent professional development initiative attracting, developing and retaining a diverse community of top-tier graduates to the region. You can also connect with other young professionals and emerging leaders through Young Professionals Connection (YPC) events and committees.

Ajal RC

I'm Ajal RC from Nepal, a graduate of Drake University with a major in Mathematics and Computer Science and a minor in Physics. Currently a Tech Associate at Wellmark, I'm completing my final rotation as a Cybersecurity Analyst. Join me as I share my journey of navigating the unknowns and falling in love with my hometown.