Photo Caption: "My mom and I during the road trip from New Jersey to College Station. Photo taken in Memphis, TN."
The most common question I’ve gotten since moving here has been “How do you like College Station?”- every time, upon every introduction. It’s a pretty fair question for any newcomer to any city, but it also does seem a little loaded whenever I am asked it often because it’s preceded by me sharing that I’m a new graduate student and that I am not from Texas. This is my first time living in a non-metropolitan area, in a city centered around a university. I grew up in Bergen County, New Jersey, a 30-minute car ride outside of Manhattan (when traffic was favorable) and I went to undergrad at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. My hometown is small and very suburban yet very densely populated much like the rest of the state of New Jersey; and while, my alma mater was located in a suburb as well, it was at the center of a very interconnected series of neighborhoods that make up the richly cultural and cosmopolitan city of Miami.
Texas is very different for me. I’m used to major highways with terrible rush hour traffic trying to get somewhere downtown, whereas here, local roads get backed up at one traffic light. I’m used to the same highways practically running through people’s backyards, that you can’t drive anywhere without seeing lots of stores or houses on the side of the road. Here, if you drive in any direction to leave College Station, you’re surrounded by cattle farms and open land. Most stores and restaurants here are chains, people drive gigantic souped-up trucks, but everyone will greet you with a warm “Howdy” when you walk in the door. Where I come from and where I’ve lived in the past people are not as openly friendly to one another. They stick to the people they know and don’t necessarily go out of your way to invite you into their circles.
So, to answer that question, I would say College Station is and continues to be an adjustment for me. Y’all* don’t have Trader Joe’s and you can’t find a good New York bagel anywhere around, but people are so friendly. I told myself I wouldn’t catch on to the “Howdy” greeting no matter how long I lived here, but just the other day after only a month of living here, I found myself impulsively saying it in response to someone. Y’all are getting in my head!
*To clarify, my father is from Northern Florida. Because of him, I’ve been saying “y’all” my whole life practically. So, that one’s got nothing to do with Texas. ;)
Danielle is a 96 Hour PhD Student in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.