I like to think I’m a good person – I participate in my community, I care a lot for my friends, etc. I don’t usually find myself in situations where I am an outsider. But college has opened my eyes to a lot more of those predicaments.
I’m a total flatlander; I already know that and I’ve already written about it. I call soda “pop” and if asked, I don’t know what a rotary is. Back in Indiana, it’s just a roundabout. And if you head a bit downstate, they’ll pronounce Missouri as “Missour-uh”.
When I told my Vermonter and New Hampshirite friends these fun little facts about our dialect, they laughed at how stupid midwestern terms sounded. Besides the teasing, things like this interest me. The differences between where I grew up and where I now live is huge. None of my friends around here even know what a Culver’s is.
So, when I moved to Vermont about 2 months ago, I decided to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been hiking a lot recently, which I’ve never done in my life. My midwestern lifestyle couldn’t accommodate hiking – our version of hiking is walking through cornfields.
I knew the leaves were going to be pretty, that’s one of the things Vermont is known for, but that’s not why I came here. While the environment and natural beauty is a part of why I chose this place, the leaves were just a very beautiful addition to that.
I mainly came to Vermont because of the small-town lifestyle. I like that type of thing. I moved to Vermont because I knew it was a great place to raise your family, to start a life. But nobody is supposed to know my entire life story by seeing my license plate.
That makes driving, or any interaction, a tiny bit worse during this time of year. I put on some Vermont bumper stickers to try and counteract the tourist look of my car.
I think that made it worse, though.
When interacting with people outside of the university, sometimes I bring up how I’m from Indiana. I’ve been doing that less to try and counteract anything. Mainly due to insecurity, as all my Vermonter friends rant about leaf peepers when given the chance. I’ve never seen anything like Vermont’s autumn before, but I’d like to avoid annoying my friends.
Thankfully, I’m not a bad driver. I drive at good speeds, I’m aware of the people around me on the road, etc. So, I do have that going for me. It hasn’t stopped cars from riding my bumper on Route 4, but that’s ok.
Being a non-native kind of sucks. Being new to an entire region of the country sucks, too. It’s ok being an outsider, in the same way it’s ok to not like leaf peepers. I do wish I grew up someplace like this, compared to the Chicago metropolitan area, but I can’t change that.
You’ll see my Indiana plate on the road, but just remember: I’m not a leaf peeper.