Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I was a stranger to big lots of land and unaware that people ate fried fish on Fridays.
Living close to a metropolitan area, I was familiar with utilizing public transportation and enjoyed the seven-minute drive to the mall. Therefore, when I began my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, I was not prepared for the culture shock I would soon experience living in Central Wisconsin.
My first week living on campus taught me that many people prefer country to pop and indie music. I also came to understand that there was a new set of norms in Wisconsin that I would have to get used to.
As I tried to navigate through my first semester of college and make friends, I quickly realized that I was surrounded by a lot of people that grew up in small towns and rolled their eyes at the mention of a big city.
I was feeling out of place and making naive judgments until I started to become friends with people that I would have thought I had nothing in common.
One of the best friends I made in college was initially intimidated by where I came from, but after getting to know me we realized that we share many of the same interests.
Though I still miss riding the train to the city and taking trips to the mall, I started to realize that I don’t hate all country music and enjoy spending time outdoors. As I gained new interests, I lost my ignorance.
Beyond all the vital information that I learned in the class room, spending four years at UWSP has helped me understand that there is life outside of the big city.
I’m never going to wear camouflage or buy a gun, but I am also not going to make preconceived judgments about those that choose to.
Now that graduation is approaching and I am writing my final article for The Pointer, I realize how thankful I am to have spent four years in Central Wisconsin. Not only has this experience given me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, but it has made me respect diversity of thought.
Thank you, Stevens Point, for becoming another place that I feel comfortable to call home.