Growing Up As A Small Town Girl

Growing Up As A Small Town Girl

Life moves a lot slower when you're stuck driving behind a tractor.

Kouts, Indiana. It's where I grew up. Have you ever heard of it? Probably not.

I graduated with 53 students total, and I had been going to school with a majority of them since preschool. I live with cornfields surrounding my house, and I'm definitely not the only one. On the last day of school, the farmers drive their tractors and line them up in the parking lot. For fun, we had to go to the town over, because that is where the movie theatre and all the restaurants are. And, if your parents also grew up in Kouts, there is a good chance that half of the teachers you have also taught your mom and dad in high school. Growing up here, things were a little different.

Kouts has one main road that runs through the entire town, deemed Main Street. Main Street holds all that Kouts has to offer in the way of shopping and eating. Save a Lot and Dollar General are the two grocery stores we have, and usually, you don't go there unless your mom forgot to get something from the Walmart that is 30 minutes away. Family Express is the only gas station that is within a 25-mile radius and is the hub for late night snacks and Redbox movies.

Moser Tire and Great Value Hardware store are both family owned, and the only time you'll see the men who own it not in flannels and workbooks is Sunday morning in the pews at church. George's Koffee Kup is a little diner open for breakfast and lunch, and a town favorite. Groups of friends gather there for breakfast on Wednesdays, because school starts 40 minutes later, and my brother swears that one day he'll be one of the old men who sit at the same table every day to drink coffee and swap farm stories.

There's an antique shop and a library. And, of course, Birky's Bakery. In the majority of Kouts, you're either a Birky or you're related to one. Driving through this town takes you a total of five minutes, and then it is gone. But, this little town is my home.

Going to a small high school means everyone knows your business. What you did last night, who your parents are, what mistake you made 6 years ago, and how you looked when you went through those awkward middle school years


This school is where I learned that I am not a sporty girl, where I made some of my truest friends, and even where I had my first kiss. Your teachers were Mr. and Mrs. at school, but when they were your friends' parents, or at church on Sunday they were Jack and Susan. Our teachers cared about us, and they took time to make sure that you were being the best person that you could possibly be.

There were cliques, jocks, popular girls, nerds, and farmers(who had to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to do chores before they came to school.) But, we were all friends. The nerds dated the jocks and the populars made efforts to ask the outcasts to sit with them at lunch. Bullying wasn't tolerated and we created a bond that we didn't even know we were creating. "I can't wait to get out of this school." "I am getting out of this town as soon as I can."

These are statements that were often said, and sometimes by me. But this school is where we found each other. They say that you make your real friends at college, and while this may be true, you meet your first friends in high school. And those are the ones who help you learn how to be a better person. At prom, we held hands in a circle and looked around at the people who helped shape us into the adults we became. As I looked at each of their faces, they morphed into the babies that we once were and I knew that I'd never forget them.

The world moves a lot faster outside of Kouts, Indiana. There's no doubt about that. And, now that I live in West Lafayette, I know that there is more to the world than the little bubble of farmland that I was raised in. But, as John Cougar Mellencamp once said, "my bed is in a small town. And that's good enough for me."

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Joining My Sorority Changed My Life

There is more to Greek life than meets the eye.

When I started my first semester of college, I was shy, nervous and a little lost. I made some mistakes, lost my footing and attempted to get my act together. Moving eight hours away to a place where I knew absolutely nobody was the scariest thing I've ever done, but the one thing that made it ten times more bearable was the decision to rush.

Since move-in weekend, the "The Possibilities Are Endless" recruitment fall 2017 flyers were hung up in every hallway from my dorm to my classrooms. Coming into Ohio, I said I would never rush. Greek life has had a bad reputation among many and it didn't seem like the right thing for me. But I kept stopping by to read those flyers, paying attention to the block letter sweaters that sorority girls wore to class, and couldn't help but stare as I walked past the sorority houses on campus.

Ultimately, I decided to rush. What should hold me back? Nothing.

So I stepped out of my safe little bubble and walked into 10 houses of girls screaming the "Go Greek" song at the top of their lungs for two weekends in a row, and man it was the best decision I've ever made. Walking out of Alpha Omicron Pi for the last time before bid day, I never would've imagined what an impact this chapter would have on my life in such a short period of time.

After one semester, I had met my closest friends, not only in college but life in general.

Since day one, these girls have treated me better than the shallow friends I had known for years back home in high school. Throughout the entire first semester, if I ever needed anything, ran into trouble, needed advice or a shoulder to cry on after a bad week, all I had to was say the word and my sisters would be waiting for me in their rooms. They are the reason I made it through those first difficult months away from home, that bad exam or that one aching heartbreak.

What so many people don't realize is that the awful stigmas, stereotypes and bad reputations that Greek life has are not true at all. From the outside, it's easy to brand us as shallow girls who all wear the same clothes and act the same way. But we all know that you can't judge a book by its cover, and the same thing applies for judging sororities.

You can't know what it's like unless you've gone through recruitment or have joined yourself,

Recruitment teaches us valuable conversational skills, how to look nice, and present ourselves in the best image possible. All these qualities are important life skills when it comes to future job interviews. We host charity events for our philanthropy, helping those in need, and have mandatory service/volunteer hours we must complete each semester. Every chapter has a minimum GPA that their members must meet in order to remain in the organization.

The general idea that those who are in Greek life are not serious about their studies, slack off and don't get good grades is one of the biggest lies I've ever heard. Here at Ohio University, the average GPA of members in Greek life is actually higher than the overall GPA of the rest of the student body.

If that doesn't speak for itself, then I don't know what will.

Being in a sorority teaches us how to balance sisterhood and studies. Older sisters are always willing to lend help to the new freshmen if they're struggling with a difficult class the others have taken before. We always put our academics first, and social life second.

My sorority taught me how to lift each other up, to tell your sisters you're proud of them, to tell them you love and appreciate everything they do.

With these amazing women, I've had the time of my life in college. From date parties, to bid day, family dinners and socials, these are the memories I will cherish forever. It's made me a better, more dedicated and happier person. Thanks to my chapter, many opportunities have opened up to me.

I know I'll always have a home there and friends who run to me with open arms after being away for an entire month over break. And it means the world to have such loving people who worry about you and miss you every day when you're away.

There truly is no way to express my gratitude for Alpha Omicron Pi, and I hope that others will see this and realize there is so much more to sororities than meets the eye.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Kropov

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Thoughts About A 21st Birthday

Turning twenty-one has its pros and cons.

In life, we all have the "useless" birthdays. These birthdays are nothing but a celebration of turning another year older. This is kind of how I felt last year when, in February, I became twenty. But twenty-one is considered a milestone, especially for American youth. In the long run, how unique is gaining another responsibility?

I only question this, and slightly dread it, because there is more that comes with being twenty-one. For myself, a female, being this old means I am required to receive Pap smears in South Carolina, a procedure I do not like in the least. If you don't know what this is, well, they put a plastic thing inside you to open the region up and check the cervix for cancer. It isn't pleasant for me for multiple reasons.

But, back to what everyone knows about this age: drinking and the ability to purchase whatever kind you like.

I will probably enjoy being able to drink here. Thing is: I've had alcohol before. In Europe and Mexico, everything is a bit more relaxed, and it is indeed an excellent experience to learn what wine tastes like, or alcohol in general, and how to be a responsible drinker. Have I snuck some vodka in a tea before while on a trip? Yeah, and it was good. So, in hindsight, I've already had a taste of that part. But I'm celebrating regardless of experience.

Also, I'm going to be happy to be twenty for the next little bit. Do I know what I'm doing with my life? Not necessarily. And it will be a while until I do. But that is the point of being at this stage. And another year won't change that.

Yeah, I'm happy it is coming up, and that I get to see my friends and family, but I have only lived a short part of my life. More milestones will top this one, and they might not even be birthdays. But I'm still glad to be able to celebrate with those I love.

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