Before starting my internship, I’d heard friends say that Rochester was “in the middle of nowhere.” After driving past hours of Wisconsin farm fields, I was inclined to believe them. After almost ten hours in the car, I stepped foot on the Mayo campus for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised by the bustling city. Though Rochester is the third largest city in Minnesota, it feels somewhat smaller. Its thoughtful design makes it very easy for pedestrians to navigate. The downtown plays host to a number of high-rises that house stores, hotels, and most of the Mayo Clinic buildings. One of the first features I notice are the Skyways: glass walkways connect the second story of most main buildings. There’s also an elaborate underground system of walking tunnels referred to as the Subway, interlacing all of the Mayo buildings. The two help connect the large campus, and protect patients, employees, and visitors from harsh Minnesotan winters.
Minnesota, known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, prides itself on its waterways. However, Olmsted County, where Rochester is located, is the only county in the state with no natural lakes. Instead, the main natural feature in Rochester is the Zumbro River, which flows through the middle of downtown, flanked by bike trails and parks. One of the things I love most about Rochester is the amount of green space, including the three small reservoirs where locals kayak, fish, and swim. I’m excited to check out the trails as I explore my new home.
It’s hard to step foot in Rochester without hearing about the DMC. In 2013, the Mayo Clinic partnered with state officials to start the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative, in order to develop Rochester into a city where people from around the globe come to be treated. Even after only five years, the effects are obvious. On all corners of town, construction of new apartment buildings and stores is underway to make room for more patients, staff, and their families.
In addition to new infrastructure development, the community is very focused on making Rochester a great place to live through unique events. Thursdays on 1st and 3rd is a weekly summertime gathering featuring food trucks, art vendors, and free music downtown. Down by the Riverside is a free concert series that occurs in July and August. The county fair and Rochesterfest are two week-long festivals that locals get excited for.
While Rochester might be located in a rural area, I’m beginning to see the truth to one of the DMC’s slogans: “in the middle of everywhere.” My coworkers hail from places like Columbia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Bosnia. Rochester is a lively, multicultural city, and I’m looking forward to making the most of it.