Whenever I told somebody that I was going to college in Wisconsin, I inevitably received one of three responses:
• “Wow, it’s cold there. Why?”
• “The state with all the cheese? Why?”
I’d like to answer each of those now. Yes, it is cold. However, it’s not like I’m going to wear my California-girl denim shorts and a t-shirt in negative-20-degree weather. Yes, Wisconsin does have lots of cheese. That in and of itself is a reason to move there. Why? Well, I’m attending a school in Wisconsin because of the school, not the location. The location is the bonus.
My school, Lawrence University, is nestled into the industrial city of Appleton, Wisconsin, through which runs the disgustingly polluted Fox River. There are tons of trees that turn from gorgeous fall colors in October to cold skeletons by December. The weather is temperamental and pretty much always some degree of cold. And yet, I am so happy to be attending college here.
For one, the food in Wisconsin is incredible, and I’m not talking about my college cafeteria food, which is disheartening. Wisconsinites religiously consume massive quantities of cheese, fried food and fried cheese. I can’t think of a more wonderful diet. Not only that, but Culver’s, the go-to Wisconsin chain restaurant, is good enough to rival In-N-Out (please don’t crucify me) with its delicious “butterburgers” and addictive concrete mixers (frozen custard shakes with mix-ins). Wisconsin food is the definition of comfort food, and I love it.
Another redeeming quality of Wisconsin is the people, who are so kind. Southern Hospitality is one thing, but the Midwestern Nice is something completely different. Midwesterners will inevitably over-share in response to any question you ask. They are always kind, even when they probably shouldn’t be. It’s cultural, and most of my friends brought up in the less populated parts of the Midwest have essentially been trained to always smile and be warm to everyone.
I am a white girl raised in a diverse, highly populated city, surrounded by like-minded liberals. I can try to understand the people who voted for President Trump, but coming to Wisconsin has given me a window into what these people really think.
I haven’t encountered many conservatives at Lawrence, which is a small liberal-arts school, but the surrounding areas of Appleton and the Fox Cities are full of people with conservative beliefs.
In talking to people who feel like the rest of the country has forgotten about them, who feel like the rest of the country doesn’t care about their loss of industry and economic decline, I realized that in part the urban liberals could be blamed for the election of President Trump in their blatant dismissal of the people of the Midwest.
I can never truly know what it is like to have grown up in a town of 500 with cows and cornfields as the closest neighbors, but I can say that I have realized that these people can’t be ignored. And that’s why, despite all the downsides to Wisconsin, I’m really glad I am spending my college time here.