As Cobbers, we are lucky to attend a school that provides everything we could possibly need: tasty food, comfy accommodations and more than 100 student organizations. It is all too easy for us to hole ourselves up in The Maize with our french fries and our Grocery Bingo.
But there is a world of opportunities beyond Eighth Street and 12th Avenue South. In fact, there has never been a better time to live in Fargo-Moorhead (especially for millennials). We’ve seen an influx of locally owned restaurants and retailers, and we’re making massive strides in both the arts and STEM fields. The F-M community is vibrant, diverse and welcoming. Here are a few ways that you can burst through the Concordia bubble and be engaged in the community!
Try something new
I work in downtown Fargo, where parking is limited to 90-minute slots. I’m not complaining, though. I see those walks to and from my car as mini-adventures, opportunities to explore the city I’ve called home for 20 years. Every day, it seems, I stumble upon a store or coffee shop that was not there before. I challenge you to go looking for those new places, the holes-in-the-wall. Skip lunch in DS and take a trip to BernBaum’s bagel shop (I recommend the seeded bagel with herb cream cheese). Grab a latte at 20 Below Coffee and sit down at a table alone – a barista or friendly stranger is guaranteed to strike up a conversation. Grab a book by a local author at Zandbroz. Try to find one new place a week – I dare you.
Find a faith community (if that’s your thing)
For many, belonging to a faith community can be a source of great comfort. Concordia is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, but that doesn’t mean that all Cobbers are Lutheran – only 55%, in fact. All students, regardless of faith tradition, are welcome to attend Concordia’s chapel services and outreach programs. But for those looking to join a specific congregation or explore their own faith, Fargo-Moorhead has plenty of opportunities. Our diverse religious community includes Baptist, Catholic and Episcopal churches, a Jewish synagogue and an Islamic center. Concordia’s Office of Ministry offers a comprehensive list of all places of worship in the F-M area – check it out and find one that fits you.
Engage in the entrepreneurial community
Fargo has established itself as a tech hub of the Midwest thanks, in large part, to the work of local nonprofit Emerging Prairie (where I’m currently interning – not that I’m biased or anything). Even if you are not a techie, Emerging Prairie’s programming can hook you up with Fargo’s best and brightest. Every Wednesday morning at The Stage at Island Park, they host 1 Million Cups, a weekly opportunity for entrepreneurs to present their product and connect with the community. 1MC is an excellent networking opportunity AND there is free coffee – talk about BREWing! Emerging Prairie also runs the Prairie Den, a co-working and event space located above King House Buffet on Broadway. A home for the bold, the Den offers memberships to entrepreneurs, freelancers and, yes, students. There’s no better place to meet the people who make Fargo, Fargo.
Support a cause
Volunteering is the perfect way to meet people with whom you share a common goal. If you’re passionate about puppies, volunteer to be a dog socializer at Homeward Animal Shelter (if you’re more of a cat person, don’t worry – they have those, too). To join the fight against human trafficking, check out Unseen Ministries. To lend a hand to our homeless community, volunteer with Churches United for the Homeless. There is a lot to gain from the Fargo-Moorhead area, but there is even more to give.
Count yourself in
No matter how you decide to get engaged in the community, I offer you this one piece of advice: count yourself in. It is easy to get stuck in the comfort of Concordia. On the other hand, it can be scary to attend events in an unfamiliar city and strike up conversations with strangers. But those events can lead to job offers and those conversations can lead to lifelong friendships. So take a deep breath, take that first step past Prexy’s, and jump headfirst into Fargo-Moorhead. The community will be there to catch you.
Katie Beedy '18 is a communication studies and multimedia journalism double major.