8 Things Small Town Living Taught Me
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8 Things Small Town Living Taught Me

some people will never understand

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8 Things Small Town Living Taught Me

I come from a small town of 2200 people (with a college that adds another 1500), with less than 100 students in my graduating class. The streets and fields are regularly populated with children who still play outdoors, farming families, and Amish. Visiting my town, you'll see many friendly faces always saying hello, you're likely to drive on brick roads, and you'll need to quickly figure out the best way to pass Amish buggies (even over double yellow lines). This is the community I have called home since I was in third grade.

Now, I go to college in a town with a population of 3600 (where the university adds an additional 7500). To many people this is still a small town, but I know what a real small town really feels like. In a small town, you constantly pass people who know not only you, but also your parents, siblings, cousins, and even your dog by name. Going to school in a place so much bigger than my hometown, I've been able to become truly appreciative of what home has taught me.

1. Small populations are the biggest support systems.

Every time I go back home on break from school, I'm sure to run into several people who want to know how school is going and how I'm doing. But they don't want to hear the normal "school is good, I'm doing well." They actually want to know. If you're struggling in a class, they want to tell you that their nephew is a math teacher who would be happy to work with you one-on-one. If you're feeling isolated, they want to plan a trip with their kids to come visit you at work on a slow day. Why? Because they know you're Jimmy's kid, and Jimmy's bother's best friend once did the same thing for them so it's only fair to return the favor in some way.

2. I know what it's like to feel safe.

University life: walking to your car with your keys between your fingers. Never going anywhere alone at night. Hiding anything of value in your car under blankets. Home life: walking anywhere you want carefree, whether it's down the street or a mile away. Rarely worrying about locking your house up and never needing to lock your car doors because no one is going to break in. Small towns like mine have next to no crime and teach you to live carefree because you are undoubtedly always safe.

3. Close-knit communities come together in times of tragedy.

Several times our little town has experienced the loss of someone much too young. In these times, we band together. These are the times when the hallways of the high school are silent. Where the sporting events are filled with a crowd of people from our town as well as the surrounding community, all wearing the same color in support of the person who has passed. We fundraise for the families and regardless of how close we were to the person, we pay our respects and hold our friends up to keep them going. There is no feeling of unity like a community mourning as one.

4. You really know everyone.

Sometimes it sucks. That girl three years younger than you who you've never actually spoken to knows everything about your latest breakup and you know that the boy two years older than you got in huge trouble with his parents for coming home drunk last week. But it's also awesome. The timid freshman on your softball team knows you've been depressed lately and she pulls you aside to ask if you're okay and lets you know she'll always be there if you need her. You always have class with someone you're friends with because, really, you're friends with everyone (mostly because you don't have much of a choice). There's a large number of moms who you refer to as your second mom because it's normal to have six people who you refer to as your best friend. There's no sense of fitting in quite like that.

5. You'll never see anything like small town sports.

I have goosebumps just thinking about it, and I'm not exaggerating for effect. For my high school, it was football. Boys wore their jerseys to school on game days and let the girls wear their opposite jerseys. The stadium was absolutely packed at every game, whether it was home or away. I, myself, was a cheerleader so it was a really surreal experience for me. I had the pleasure of standing in front of that crowd and seeing the chaos break loose (in a good way). People of all ages surge with energy. Parents bring their infant children because it's just the normal thing to to. Middle schoolers chase each other around the concession stand, the boys wearing their own football jerseys that used to belong to the high school players. High schoolers squeeze into the "student section" waving signs about wildly, body paint having just dried on their faces and chests. Elementary school girls stand at the fence in front of the track, trying to learn the cheers the older cheerleaders do and chanting along with every word. Electricity basically crackles in the air and I doubt there's any drug in the world that can compete with that feeling.

6. TRADITION TRADITION TRADITION!

You know what I mean... those festivals that don't happen anywhere else, the burgers that the shop on the corner makes that are better than any other burger in the world, the little stores that only exist in your town. The trademarks of tradition make our towns unique and give us a real sense of belonging. My town is one where we can say "hey, are you going to the Apple Castle festival next week?" and no one looks at you funny because, um, yes they're going to the Apple Castle festival.

7. The teachers.

Teachers at small schools are a rare breed. Not only do they teach their classes but they coach sports teams, ask about your personal life, and are always willing to stay after school to tutor you. They stay involved and are so supportive of their students. Plus class sizes are super small so they actually care to get to know everyone (even if you're sometimes labeled for who your older siblings are).

8. Anywhere else is culture shock.

Big cities are scary to me. Not knowing who's walking around me and every street name in the vicinity is so strange and uncomfortable. Sure it's awe-inspiring and bright lights are hypnotizing and fun, but I'll take dirt roads and bonfires over billboards any day.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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