Going To School In The South From The Midwest

The Midwestern Girl's Guide To Surviving And Thriving In The Bayou State

College is scary, especially if it takes you eight hours to get there.

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Last year, I made the switch from the boring Midwest to the exciting bayou. Yes, college is scary (especially if it takes you an 8-hour road trip to get there). But I chose to go out-of-state for college for a reason, and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Hopefully, this post gives you some insight on how to handle being in a strange new environment.

1. Put yourself out there

Taylor Kellogg

I already know what you're thinking: this one is cheesy. Yes, telling you to get involved on campus and reach out to make new friends is very overplayed at this point — you've heard it from parents, school counselors, YouTubers. BUT, it is completely necessary. Getting involved in an activity or club at school makes campus feel not so vast. Whether it's student government, a Greek organization or the Quidditch team, having that built-in support group is key. At first, I was very against joining a sorority... but after taking the leap and joining one last year, I wouldn't change a thing. BONUS: No matter what you choose to do, there's almost always free food!!!

2. Lay off the netflix

Taylor Kellogg

Whenever you get into a homesick slump (trust me, it WILL happen), your instinct might be to curl up in your dorm room and binge "Stranger Things." PRO TIP: DON'T DO THIS. Sure, everyone needs a little study break with some Netflix once in a while, but if you resort to hiding in bed all the time, college will pass you by. If you're feeling down, there's plenty of things to do on campus — duh, you're paying for it, after all. Go for a walk around campus, take a workout class at the gym, ask your roommate to go to the mall, sit in your friends' dorm and watch them play Fortnite, whatever you have to do to get your mind off of things.

3. Call your mom

You're bound to miss your family when you're that far away from them. For me, it was the hardest with my two little brothers. It's a strange thing to go from sleeping down the hall from your parents to being on the other side of the country from them. The best thing to do is to make sure you take time to update them on your life. Even a 20-minute phone call every Sunday reassures them (and you) that everything is OK. As much as you miss them, they miss you more. Bonus points if your mom puts the family dog on FaceTime.

4. Explore your new home

Taylor Kellogg

This one is my favorite: get out and see your new home!!! You aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto (almost literally). You chose your college for a reason, and one of them is most likely the location. This means that you have free reign to explore this new environment you're in and make the most of your college experience. For me, that meant going to New Orleans on the weekends and admiring the street art, live music, and delicious food (I even experienced Mardi Gras for the first time). My biggest piece of advice is to get all you can out of your new place and make all your mom's friends on Facebook jealous!!!

Cover Image Credit:

Taylor Kellogg

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Abandoned America: Four Places You Never Knew Existed

A Luxury Resort, A Water Park, A City On Fire, And A Secret Military Project
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Think about the town you live in. Now, if you can, recall how many new construction sites you passed on your way to work or to the grocery store today. Chances are you have passed at least one. Now, what would you say if I were to tell you that right now, as you drive by that new house being built or the new shopping center going up, there are entire cities in America that have been abandoned and left for nature to reclaim them? Seems like a plot for a movie or a video game doesn’t it? I agree and I’m completely fascinated. In this new monthly series, I plan to explore and introduce places across this great nation that have long since been forgotten.

1. The Wonderland Club Hotel; Great Smoky Mountains; Elkmont, Tennessee

This is the amazingly beautiful Wonderland Club, or rather, what it looked like in its heyday when its guest list read like a who’s who in Tennessee society. Built by Knoxville business men in 1919, the Wonderland Club was the go to vacation spot for the wealthy. This gorgeous hotel boasted fifty rooms, each with its own décor theme and bathroom, some rooms even had claw foot tubs in their bathrooms. In addition to the luxury hotel there were cottages on the property.

The Wonderland Club flourished and was the choice spot among those who graced the society pages until the government formed the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in 1934. Those who owned the cottages were offered a lifetime lease on their property, meaning they could stay but when the last person living in the structure passed away the government would assume ownership. Eventually, these leases were revoked and turned into ones with twenty year limits and the national park service refused to renew the leases when they expired. As time progressed the once majestic hotel suffered severe structural failure and collapsed.

This is all that remains today:

2. Centralia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1866, Centralia was once a booming town which flourished on the back of its lucrative coal mining industry. In the early 1900’s the demand for the type of coal found in Centralia’s mines diminished and as a result the population dwindled from a once staggering 2800 persons to about 2000. In 1962, a fire which was intended to reduce the amount of waste in a landfill, traveled underground into Centralia’s network of mines and because of the existence of so many vents and openings to these mines it has resisted all attempts at being extinguished. Centralia is quite literally a city on fire and most likely it will continue to burn well into the future. Because of unsafe conditions residents were evacuated and relocated to neighboring towns. Those who did stay had their land and houses seized under eminent domain by the Pennsylvania government.

Today Centralia boasts a population of ten residents whose dedication to their beloved town far outweighs their concerns of safety. This ghost town is so creepy to most people who visit it that it actually inspired the movie and video game “Silent Hill”.

You can learn more about Centralia, its history, as well as the remaining residents by clicking here.

3. River Country; Disney World Resort; Orlando, Florida

Unless you have lived in total isolation your whole life, you have heard of Disney World. I would even be willing to wager that the majority of you reading this have visited or vacationed there at least once in your lifetime. However, I’d also be willing to bet that only a handful of you have ever heard of River Country. Chances are, unless you are over the age of about 25, you would not know that the current Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are not Disney World’s first ventures into the land of water parks.

River Country opened to the public in June 1976 and was highly popular in its day. It was built with the intent to be a model of somewhere Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn would have gone for a swim and featured a sandy bottom "lake", water slides, and a unique water filtration system which drew water directly from the adjacent Bay Lake to fill up its two pools. Visitors loved River Country and it was among Disney World’s most popular and busiest park within the resort for many years.

In November 2001 the park was closed for the season as it always was and the public was expecting it reopen the following spring. With the decline in the number of guests all over the resort, Disney made the executive decision to delay the opening of River Country in the spring of 2002. In appeared as though the fate of the attraction was in limbo. It remained as such until the year 2005 when Disney announced River Country would be closed for good. Since that time it has been left in its current state, untouched, and seemingly forgotten. Disney announced plans earlier this year to drain the remaining water in the pools, but as of today there are no plans to demolish what remains or reuse the land for another attraction.

4. The Elko Tract; Henrico County; Richmond, Virginia

Okay, I admit I may be biased as this is located in my home state, but I do believe this is the most interesting one on the list. I say this because not a whole lot is known about it and not many pictures of what actually exists there today can be found easily online without a lot of digging around. Most of the information that actually exists online is comprised of speculation and urban legends. Curious about the picture above? Let me explain.

In the 1940’s VA was kind of a big deal militarily speaking. In Norfolk, the naval base was a hub for warships and the various air bases were vital to the war effort as well. One of these air bases was Richmond’s Byrd airport. Well, urban legend has it that the government was concerned about possible air raids by German and other Axis forces. In an effort to protect Richmond and her air base a fake city was built not far from Richmond’s city limits. This decoy city supposedly had houses, paved streets, and even a large air field.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting and where the picture above really comes into play. The idea was that when the enemy attacked Richmond and her surrounding cities would go completely black, save for this decoy. The enemy would subsequently fire on this uninhabited city thus saving Richmond and her vital air base. Again, most of this is hearsay, but nevertheless this little town does appear to exist. It’s exact purpose though remains unknown to this day.

Cover Image Credit: Centralia.org

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5 Things About Bama You WON'T Miss Over The Summer

What you won't be missing from Tuscaloosa over break.

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With summer break arriving, students will be leaving for home, vacation or internships until its time for their return in August. So I have compiled a list of things we college students will not miss during our time away from Tuscaloosa.

1. Cooking for ourselves every night

Those of us who are known by name at the food court or has no meal swipes will especially be happy about this over the summer

2. McFarland Traffic in the morning and afternoon

At 8 am and around 5 p.m. on weekdays when you either need backroads or leave for your destination ten minutes early just so you can arrive on time

3. The students who walk three across on the sidewalks

When your stuck behind or heading to a group of students who decide there allowed to all walk next to each other on the destination and won't move over at all.

4. Looking for parking on campus

The struggles of finding parking near the bus stop or your building after the first morning classes started as all the good parking spots are already taken or you have to battle another car for that one great spot.

5. Class

No more waking up early to be in class or staying up all night just to study

Even though this will only be a small break it is still one that is needed. But in the end no matter what we all can not wait until August when we are back to rolling with the tide.

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