I remember it all too well. The days were withering away faster than I had anticipated, and in just a few short weeks, I would begin my college journey. Summer was ending and fall was moving in quickly. Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, fall meant one thing: football. If we’re being honest, the hype had nothing to do with the sport, since just trying to understand what a first down is was the equivalent of calculus for most of us girls. The real excitement came with picking out your season’s collection of sundresses, statement necklaces, and the best cowboy boots. My computer had become an uncontrollable stream of internet browser tabs as I scoped out all the tailgate-worthy fashions.
With my extravagant tailgate fashions in tow, I moved away to college and began the best four years of my life. After successfully managing my first week of college, it was time for football season, and I could not have been any more excited. Saturday came and I was up bright and early, prepared to get all dolled up for my first football game at Indiana University.
With Country Music Hits on my Pandora Radio, my curling iron heating up, and my dress hanging on my mirror, I was officially in the tailgating spirit. One hour later, I was all ready to go in my sundress and boots with perfectly tousled tresses to compliment my red statement necklace. I turned off my country music, only to hear the overbearing blasting of EDM from every other room in my hall. Feeling slightly out of my element among the bass drops and techno dings and rings, I left for the tailgating fields. The walk to the field made me feel even more out of place, as every girl I passed seemed to be wearing cutoff jean shorts coupled with a school spirit crop top to match the candy striped bow in their hair. An endless array of high top converse and knee-high socks made my outfit feel like a million dollar ball gown.
Feeling like every passerby was glaring daggers at me as I approached the tailgating fields, I became more and more self-conscious. This was culture shock at its finest. Is this what tailgating is like here? Where are all of the sundresses? Where are all the coolers and country music? Nowhere to be found. The tailgating field was one big mess of skimpily dressed girls dancing and yelling along to the sounds of EDM atop speakers, makeshift bars, or any other elevated surfaces they could find. This is the north. This is tailgating outside the SEC. It felt like a foreign country.
So to all my fellow southern girls heading north for college, let me save you the embarrassment, and certainly a lot of money. Don’t bother with the sundresses, jewelry, and boots. Up north, it’s about the experience, not the presentation. Wear the candy stripe overalls and put paint on your face. You may not look like a beauty queen, but you’ll have the time of your life.