What It's Like Living in Indiana, Being from New Jersey
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Politics and Activism

What It's Like Living in Indiana, Being from New Jersey

By a true Jersey girl.

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What It's Like Living in Indiana, Being from New Jersey

First off, let me say that because I grew up on the east coast, the midwest never appealed to me. I couldn’t have pointed out Indiana on a map to save my life. Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, all the same right? When I was applying to colleges to transfer, I just felt drawn to Indiana for some reason. Like all I could see in my near future was cream and crimson. I obviously knew it would be a different lifestyle from my East Coast one, but having been here for two months, I can now articulate how it feels and what the differences are.

What is the deal with biscuits and gravy? I thought that was a southern thing, but apparently it’s a midwestern thing too. I didn’t realize the extent of it until I started working at one of the dining halls here and all everyone wants for breakfast everyday is biscuits and gravy! I tried them for the first time and I give it one thumb up. Not my first choice, that’s all.


The roads are definitely different. You can’t just make a left turn onto a street in New Jersey, especially in the middle of a highway. You have to pass the street you want to turn left on and go around a jughandle so that you end up on the street you initially wanted to turn left on. In a lot of cases in New Jersey, you can’t turn right onto a highway either, you have to turn right before the light so that you enter through a separate entrance to the highway that has a yield sign rather than a light. However, no matter how small the Jersey town is, the traffic lights never become stop lights after a certain hour. Here in Bloomington, after around 8 p.m, the lights just become a blinking red, signifying a stop and look before continuing, so that people aren’t waiting too long at red lights. It makes sense efficiency wise, I just think it’s interesting that this also happens on highways and not just residential roads. The first time I saw this, I thought all of the lights were broken in Bloomington!

I’ve never seen so many churches in a 20 mile radius. My hometown in New Jersey has less than a quarter of Bloomington’s population and we have a Jewish temple, a Buddhist temple, a Muslim mosque, a Catholic church, and a few churches for other Christian denominations. It seems like there is a church on every corner here and I don’t know where the other religions’ worship places are hiding! Also, I’d never seen anti pro-choice religious parishioners protesting outside of churches before I moved here. Really weird and not at all what I expected/wanted to see in a college town.

In New Jersey, the atmosphere of the different towns seems to be similar. Here in Indiana, there is a very clear distinction between Bloomington and anywhere outside of city limits. I went hiking in Spencer, Indiana, which is a half hour from Bloomington and I thought I had been transported to the deep south. Scary.

The first thing everyone wants to know when I tell them I’m from New Jersey is if people are nicer here. The answer is yes and no. People are definitely more likely to just wave and say hi if they pass you on the street and the homeless community is not as verbally and physically aggressive here. In fact, they barely approach people that aren't homeless. But in terms of overall welcome and friendliness, I have to say there’s no difference. I’ve experienced both sides of the coin. My first weekend here, I nearly had a breakdown at an air pump because I kept accidentally deflating my bike tires and this kind lady gave me quarters to keep trying and helped me pump the air correctly. She was sweet as pie. On the other hand, I will never again return to the Atlas because I have never experienced such a bad attitude from bartenders anywhere in my life. My friend and I went there because on Saturday nights they’re supposed to have $1 “shame shots” where the bartender chooses which shot you take. We asked for them and the bartender said, “no shame shots tonight, you’re going to have to spend more than a dollar.” Okay.

I asked for a whiskey cocktail that they didn’t know how to make. I looked it up on my phone to make sure I had the accurate contents and they said they were not going to make me anything that I had to look up on my phone. The rudeness during this entire exchange was unfathomable and I’m happy to say that I’ve never left a bar feeling that uncomfortable on the East Coast.


Some differences are subtle, while others are common and noticeable. The midwest has been very welcoming to my east coast tendencies, but you know what they say; You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl.

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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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