Boise: Bits & Pieces of My Passport

Growing up in Boise, I could hardly wait to leave Idaho. I dreamt of a big world with exciting people doing extraordinary things who were just waiting for me to join them. So I did. I spent a year as an exchange student in Spain, a summer interning in New York City, a semester abroad in France, a summer in Indonesia, and another semester interning in Zagreb, Croatia. In between my travels, I studied in Northern Idaho and rarely made it back down to Boise. I was knee-deep in the eye-opening world of the university and constantly planning my next trip to Destination Incredible.

I loved many aspects of all the cities and countries I’ve lived in but I also knew all that shimmered was not gold. Here’s why Boise is the perfect mash-up of all the people, languages, and literal flavors of life I’ve tasted elsewhere.

There is room for me. New York City is the most thrilling and exciting city I have lived in, but it’s also the most perplexing.  New Yorkers speak of the city like a separate living, breathing entity but without taking any ownership of their individual contribution to making New York, New York. I love Boise the way it is but I also love being caught in the momentum to make it better. Boise is filled with self-starters who aren’t looking for the greatest city in the Northwest, they’re looking to grow one of the greatest cities in the Northwest, and everyone gets to contribute.

It’s the little things. Zagreb has the best “café culture” of any city I’ve ever been in. There was hardly a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar without a terrace full of people sitting, talking, and just enjoying life for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Although our American culture is a bit more fast-paced than that of the Croatians, Boise still knows how to stop and smell the roses (and people watch).                                 

Pride of place. The French are well-aware of their stereotype as stubbornly proud ambassadors of their culture and language. While this leaves many foreigners feeling extra touristy and on the outside, I found the French’s fierce love for where they live to be a beautiful quality. People who live and work in Boise are similar; they will be the first to shower Boise in compliments and support all that is local.                   

Buen aproveche! Oh, how I ate and drank my way through Spain. Croquetas, sangria, jamon, paella, tapas, cerveza, tortilla Española, albondigas, sidra, the list goes on and on. Fortunately, I can please my Spanish palate at the Basque Block, the hub of Boise’s surprisingly large Spanish Basque population. Outside of the Basque Block, Boise’s foodie culture has matured quite nicely and offers other ethnic cuisine, farm to fork cafes, fusion restaurants as well as some interesting local breweries.

Deep respect for fellow humans. I’ve never seen so many layers to a society as I did in Indonesia. Despite the fragments, they still (mostly) co-exist with their neighbors and demonstrate a deep respect for each other that goes above and beyond friendliness. I’m grateful Idaho hasn’t had to deal with such divisions, but the respect and generosity I received and witnessed among the Indonesians was reminiscent of that of Boiseans. I don’t believe there are many places where people won’t steal your bikes if you leave them unlocked, or most importantly, where people with diverse thoughts on life can peacefully co-exist like they do in Boise.
People. are. so. nice. I was raised to say hello to people who walk by on the street and that attitude was confirmed by my collegiate experience in small-town Moscow, Idaho. The charm of Idaho is you can make friends with whoever bags your groceries, or ask someone next to you at a restaurant what divine dish they are having without getting an abrasive look in return. I loved the Moscow community for their open spirits and that holds true in Boise, as well.
I’ve always loved leaving Boise to see some new corner of the Earth or a new aspect of the human experience. I’ve also always loved coming back the genuinely good people just trying to live well and leave a positive imprint for others to follow in Boise. I’m sure I’ll leave Boise again at some point, but it’s comforting to know where I’ll always be glad to come back home to.