Indiana? That’s a Foreign Land

“They live in igloos… you’re gonna freeze, and they’re not going to give you sweet tea.”

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Transcript for Indiana? That’s a Foreign Land

I am originally from a small, rural area in southeast Arkansas. I live on a farm. But I went to school in a small town called Stuttgart. It’s got about ten thousand people in it, so it’s mostly a rural community: lots of farmers, people that work with grain processing, truck drivers, we get all kinds of people like that.

I heard about Valpo through — one of my friends actually went here, friends from Stuttgart actually went here. So, he introduced me to the school and I said, “Ok, I’ll come visit.” It was one of two choice for me. The conversation when I described it to friends about—described the college to friends was, “In Indiana? That’s a foreign land. We don’t know that exists.” So, like, going to Indiana for school was like, “You’re crazy.” I would say, “Yeah, it’s probably because people don’t tend to leave Arkansas.” And plus, it was a northern state close to Chicago, places most people just hadn’t been to before. It was really, really different to hear, you know, “I’m going to Valparaiso.” Like, “Where the heck is that?”

I would say my friends mostly — the stereotypes and assumptions about the north were: they live in igloos kind of deal, it’s really cold — it’s going to be really cold up there, you’re going to freeze, they’re not going to give you sweet tea, and Yankees are really mean. My assumptions were lived out a little bit, mostly off campus. People are very different. They’re more terse. It was very cold my freshman year. It was, I believe they call it ‘Snowpocalypse.’ We had several feet of snow; I’d never seen that much snow in my life. But you know, most of them did not pan out. You know, the students I met were — yes, I could definitely tell that they did not come from the same background. At the same time, it wasn’t like, such a huge discrepancy that we couldn’t, like, associate.

First coming here and then trying to fit in was…it wasn’t really a big problem for me. I’m a pretty reserved person, but getting to know people was easy for me because I had a lot of outgoing people on my floor who were willing to say, “Hey, come hang out with us,” so I said, “Ok, sounds good.” If someone does appear terse to you, you can either take it personally or you can just tell yourself that, “Hey, this person doesn’t know who I am so maybe they’re just as nervous as I am. So I’m just going to let it go.” Taking it like that made it a lot easier to deal with just the different culture — I would definitely say there’s definitely a different culture up here. And as far as feeling, like, welcome, I mean, most of the time you’re not going to — when you associate with someone like, at a gas station or a restaurant, they’re not there to get to know you, and you just have to accept that. But, like, on campus, yeah, it takes a little while because you’re working with—you’re living with the students and working with the professors, so you got to kind of take it slow and let it — let it come to you, I would say.