Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding home away from the heartland - Leah De Graaf

New York City can be a daunting place to live and work, especially for those originally from rural areas. For Leah De Graaf, a native of northwest Iowa, the crowds and energy of New York have been a stark contrast from the farmland and open skies of America’s heartland.

“I’d say the hardest adjustment for me is not having open spaces,” De Graaf says with a laugh. “It’s so hard to get away from people here!”

The concrete jungle of New York is certainly home to more people than northwest Iowa. (All of Iowa, to be specific.) But while De Graaf frequents Central Park and Hudson River running trails to escape the noise and chaos of city life, New York has been treating the Iowan quite well.

An intern at Real Simple this summer, De Graaf has immersed herself in New York life, even though she admits that she still has a lot to see. "There's always something new to discover," she says. "I feel like I haven't even really seen anything."

But even though she is thousands of miles away from the open spaces of the Midwest, De Graaf feels home at Real Simple, especially because of the magazine's welcoming staff. 

"You can go to anyone at the magazine and ask questions," she says. "You can pretty much walk into anyone's office."

At Real Simple, De Graaf is in the research department, spending most of her time fact-checking stories. Real Simple harkens back to home, as De Graaf says that a lot of people from her area enjoy reading the magazine. She also enjoys its mission to improve the lives of women, as well as its visual elements. 

De Graaf's journalistic interests are broad, and she says she isn't quite sure what she wants to do after she graduates from Iowa State. But she knows that she'd like to work with people who have the characteristics of Real Simple's staff. 

"I know I'll find something I love to do," she says. "I just want to work in a place where everyone is genuine and friendly."

By Stanley Kay, Northwestern University, The Washingtonian
Edited by Bryan Bumgardner, West Virginia University, Scientific American Magazine 

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