Things People Who Live In A Small Town Know

Things People Who Live In A Small Town Know

It's kind of a struggle but we love it.
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Good ole small town USA.

There's a decent amount of small towns scattered across the United States. Some in New York, New Hampshire, Colorado, Maine, the list goes on and on. It has its ups and downs, there's good and bad in everything, right? I'm from Beacon, New York, which is a small town upstate in the Hudson Valley. From my experience, I can tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of living in a small town.

1. NO ONE knows where your town actually is.

Trying to explain to new friends where your from is such a headache. Usually your response is "Yeah, its like near (insert popular town near you) but not really." Eventually you'll get sick of it and start telling people you're from the popular town near you.

2. Everyone knows everyone.


Most of the older generations who live in your small town have been there since they were born, and their not leaving. Your mom's best friend's son, is probably your best friend's boyfriend.

3. Everyone knows your business.

It's just about impossible to keep things a secret. Everyone knows what color your car is, who you went to prom with, and who your dating.

4. Dating can get weird.


Since your town is small, there's probably not a whole lot of people. The problem with that is you have to be careful who you choose to date, cause they might be your like your fifth cousin or something.

5. There's not a lot of things to do.


Everyone goes to the same bars on your main street and weekends can get repetitive. Spending money is the only way you can actually get out of the house. (Starbucks trips, diner trips, mall trips.)

6. Friend groups are cliquey.


You've been friends with the same group of girls/boys since you started pre-school. When new people come into your town its like their from a different planet.

7. There's never much traffic.


The only time traffic hits is when its rush hour and it's a walk in the park. There's always somewhere to park and no one is ever blocking your driveway.

8. It's quiet.


Small towns are always so laid back and your neighborhood is peacefully quiet. If you ever need to sit back, relax, and drink a glass of wine you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

9. We stick up for each other.


If we ever hear other towns talking bad about people in our town, we always stick up for them. It could be the person you absolutely hate because they hit you in the head with a soccer ball in middle school but ain't NOBODY messing with your hometown squad.

10. Life is easier.


You have your community right at your finger tips. The local grocery store, gas station, and best friends house is all less than ten minutes away. Everyone knows each other and quality time means more.

Cover Image Credit: beacononhudson.com

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Beyond Mardi Gras: The Untold Story Of New Orleans And Hurricane Katrina

Almost 14 years after Hurricane Katrina, this city is still recovering.

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This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to go down to New Orleans with a wonderful group of students from my college. This city is undeniably bursting with life, culture, and fun.

But there is so much more.

My first encounter with the Big Easy was last summer on a similar service-oriented alternative break run through JMU. Before this break, I thought Hurricane Katrina was just a really bad storm, but I was so wrong. Katrina highlighted the mistreatment of the lower-income areas and minorities of New Orleans. Homes were destroyed. Families were forced out with nowhere to go, and still no home to come back to even 14 years later.

When I went to New Orleans for a second time this past week, I learned even more about this not-so-natural disaster. It was so frustrating for me to learn that Katrina was made exponentially worse due to the blatant disregard of the people.

There was a hurricane simulation done months before Katrina struck, named Hurricane Pam. The purpose of this simulation was to warn people about the potential hurricane crisis and its outcomes. The Hurricane Pam simulation predicted that over 60,000 people would be killed with several thousand more becoming injured or ill. Even with these alarmingly high numbers, there was a shocking lack of response.

Another man-made issue that drastically increased the devastating effects of Katrina was the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, otherwise known as MR-GO. MR-GO was constructed in order to provide a shorter route between the Gulf of Mexico and the Industrial Canal, New Orleans' inner harbor; however, when Katrina hit, MR-GO channeled the storm surge into New Orleans and significantly contributed to the breaching of the levees. The levees were not properly designed, constructed, nor maintained and when they failed, several billion gallons of water flooded into New Orleans.

When I told people that I was going to New Orleans to volunteer, the most frequent response I got was "Oh, did they have another hurricane?"

No. Almost 14 years after Hurricane Katrina, 35,000 abandoned lots still remain where people's homes used to be.

I still have a lot to learn, but that is exactly why I am writing this article: to invite you all to learn with me. It is so incredibly important that we are educated on this topic because a lot of people fail to realize that New Orleans is still recovering. Many people who I have spoken to thought that everything was fixed immediately after Katrina, but that is not the case.

Driving around the Lower Ninth Ward and seeing all the empty lots that are now overgrown with tall grass and trees, it is hard to imagine that someone's home used to be there. A home that was passed down through the generations. A home where memories were made.

And then it hits you. And it is heartbreaking.

So, what now? The first step that everyone can take is doing their research. Learn about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina so that you can be better oriented and prepared to give what is needed, not what you think is needed. A lot of the rebuilding that has happened since Katrina has gentrified the lower-income areas of New Orleans. So now, the people who once lived there can no longer afford it.

The next step is to get involved. Whether it's sacrificing a Starbucks run or two each month to donate a few bucks to non-profit organizations that help in rebuilding efforts or physically going down to New Orleans to give some hands-on help. Any little thing you can do to help is so impactful even if you don't realize it.

SBP is a wonderful non-profit organization that I had the pleasure of working with this past week. Their mission is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery through five interventions: Rebuilding, Sharing, Preparing, Advising, and Advocating. To learn more about SBP and to get involved, check out their website here.

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