States of Mind: Reflecting on Our Home States

Don't forget that Ohio is for lovers (via

Don’t forget that Ohio is for lovers (via

With spring break coming on fast at the end of this week, we are all holding out collective breaths, scrambling through midterms, and thinking eagerly of packing up and heading off for a week of relaxation. Some of us may be sticking around campus, befriending the deer and (I assume) building a snow castle on Ransom lawn, while some of us will be heading out to exciting vacation destinations (I know someone out there has to be going to Disney Land, and I am consistently low-level bitter about it). A lot of us, however, are heading back home, to the places that had to see us through some pretty unflattering childhoods, and I for one couldn’t be happier. And maybe a lot of that is due the intense Netflix marathons I am looking forward to, but I’m also just jazzed to be back in my home state of South Dakota, the land of chislic and the world-famous Corn Palace.

You know your state better than anyone else–and that can become especially apparent at Kenyon, where we’re from all over the country (and beyond). At some point or another, you’re going to meet people who’ve never been to Nebraska, or have weird ideas about New Orleans, or just don’t  understand what it’s like to be from Wisconsin. Knowing this, the Thrill solicited the student body this last week, asking for one thing: tell us about your home state. And the responses poured in:

Some people had a bone to pick with the pre-conceived notions people had about their state.

William Pounds ’17, Iowa: 

No, small towns in Iowa (FYI more people live in cities in Iowa than anywhere else) are not missing anything that large cities have, that we cannot replace. We probably have a better public school system than your state. Most people in Iowa are genuinely nice and trustworthy (even strangers). It is actually a pretty great place to live even if you are not a farmer (who are 99% of the time awesome people by the way). P.S. Gambier is not a small town. You do not learn what it is like living in a small town by living in Gambier.

Ann Marie Devine ’18, New York: 

Yes, I live in New York. No, I do not live in New York City. It continually baffles me that people seem to forget that the rest of the twenty seventh largest state exists at all. I mean, you can drive six hours and still be in New York (though I will say you can drive six hours and still be in New York City limits during rush hour). Where do you think Niagara Falls is? What about the anomaly that is Buffalo and it’s weather? New York is not just Times Square, Broadway, and the Empire State Building, despite some people being convinced as such. And for God’s sake people, it’s not pop, it’s soda.

Meera White ’18, Georgia: 

You’re from Georgia? Wait, where? Oh, Atlanta? That’s not the real South. Excuse me, Northerner, since when do you get to decide where the South is and where the South isn’t? Yes, I call all sodas Coke… because Coca-Cola literally owns every drink company. And, yes, I’m wearing seventeen layers and three hats. I’m proud of the fact that I haven’t yet contracted hypothermia. Love, your local resident Southerner.

Camille Bourret ’16, Idaho: 

More often than not, when I tell someone that I’m from Idaho they tell me that I’m the first Idahoan they’ve ever met. Then they say something about potatoes, or “Idaho? No, YOU DA HO!!!” Don’t do that. We’re not just about potatoes. In fact, I don’t know a single potato farmer. Ok, the other day one of my friends posted a facebook status that started with the sentence “So yesterday I goin down the highway with a full load of potatoes in my truck”, but that’s beside the point. There’s more to Idaho than potatoes. We’ve got beautiful rivers and mountains, the second largest wilderness area in the US, more Mormons per capita than any other state (including Utah, thank you very much), the deepest gorge in the country, the biggest Basque population outside of Basque country, the world’s first nuclear power plant, the world’s first ski lift (Sun Valley represent), and neo-Nazis. Oh, and we’re not in the Midwest–stop saying that.

Others were just bursting with state pride.

Sara Stahl ’18, Texas: 

There is A LOT of state pride in Texas. It is very common to see five or six state flags lining a street in any given neighborhood. What you might not know is that Texas experiences a beautiful fall season! We also have incredible food. Our BBQ and Mexican food is unbeatable, and don’t even get me started on the fried food contests at the State Fair which happens in September. One year somebody won the contest with fried butter…people get pretty creative. We typically don’t ride horses to school, but we do wear cowboy boots. I’m very happy to be from the Lone Star State!

Kelsey Overbey ’17, Washington: 

Honestly where to even BEGIN with the glories of Washington state (defs not to be confused with Washington DC, as so many do) Also Seattle has its own cooler version of Capitol Hill that probably has the most young twenty-something hipsters per capita of any other location on the globe. Also like an inch of snow back home constitutes one or more snow days so like, alla this snow with alla this school got me bitter. Caples hall also doesn’t exist in Washington so we have that. Pretty much the only good things we don’t have back in the WA that Kenyon has is HBTs and chef Meagan. If those two things could join me back in the PNW with the mountains, ocean, mild climate, and overall chill atmosphere where I will also never have to walk more than half a city block to encounter a Starbucks #thxSeattle/HowardSchultz (the Kroger stand that closes at 9 is better than nothing but I mean come on), then I may never leave home again.

And some were just excited to have the chance to highlight the great things in their states.

Madi Thompson ’16, Missouri: 

Missouri. We are the home of Panera, and here it’s called Bread Co. (short for St. Louis Bread Company). We eat our bagels bread sliced (imagine setting a bagel down and slicing it like a loaf of bread) so often that when you go into Bread Co, they’ll ask if you want it “bread sliced or sliced in half?” St. Louis pizza is so amazing that we invented our own cheese (provel) to go on top of the cracker-crust. Nothing compares. We have the highest number of meth labs in the country, and the least strict gun laws, but we’re also home to Mark Twain’s hometown, and you can hang out in the cave where Tom Sawyer did (MO has over 6,000 caves). Also, California gets credit for earthquakes, but Missouri has had four of the largest earthquakes in North America. We also have had the most destructive tornado. Basically, Missouri tries to be sophisticated with its cities, but really it’s just a big ol’ country state with good food and bad weather.

Lauren Bailey ’16, Oregon: 

Hey, I’m from Oregon, that state crammed in between California and Washington! I love my state because every part of the country seems to pronounce it different. Or-gone, Or-e-gone, Or-e-gun, Uhr-gone. If you want to sound like a native, most of us pronounce it Or-ih-gun or Or-ih-gihn, but you keep doing you! Whenever I tell people I’m from Oregon, they ask if I live near Portland and it’s just easiest to say yes. And why not, because Portland’s awesome! Home of Powell’s, Voodoo Donuts, Extremo the Clown – it’s definitely like no other city in the country. The rest of Oregon is pretty great too, though. We’ve got beautiful mountains, lakes, rivers, and valleys, nestled right in a state that gets barely any hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or mosquitoes. Go Beavers! :)

The final takeaway from all of this? We might all try to play it off cool, but we all have a lot of intense feelings for our home states. Dweebs. To those of us heading home over break, here’s hoping for a safe and exciting return to everything we love and miss, and for those of you staying put, I hope you all get back there soon enough.

Miss out on the chance to talk allllllll about your state? Want to settle the pop vs. soda debate once and for all? Sound off in the comments!

7 responses

  1. I, too, am from Iowa, which has resulted in me knowing too much about crop rotation and pronouncing my vowels in frankly bizarre and inappropriate ways. But my favorite thing about home is how it manages to be surprisingly progressive while retaining a weird, backwoodsy midwestern charm

    For example, during the same year Iowa became fourth in the nation to legalize gay marriage, there was a trend at my high school to leave the corpses of wild animals that had frozen to death in the arctic winds on top of your friend’s car. At some point our principal had to go outside, pick up an entire frozen coyote, and chuck its carcass by the tail into the woods behind our school.

    Here is a picture of said coyote:

    Anyway, it’s a nice mix, it keeps you grounded.

  2. OMG, Missouri pizza is the best ever. Provel is so amazing and the crust is wonderful. Yeah, I’m from the Chicago area, but pizza near us can never live up to MO’s. Some of my favourite memories from my childhood are going to St. Louis to see my cousins and having twenty-two of us crammed into Cusanelli’s, ordering a shit ton of pizzas. Then my family would order all the mini frozen ones and cart them back home so we could ration them until the next time we went down.

  3. How come no one submitted anything for Illinois?

    Illinois has the biggest pension crisis in the entire country. We’re consistently rated as one of the worst states to live in according to the happiness meter (probably because of the financial state we’re in). Illinois has a history of corrupt governors (I mean, who can forget Rod Blagojevich? And he’s just the most recent).

    As a solidly blue state (mostly due to the influence of Chicago, as Southern Illinois runs deep red near the MO area), we just elected a Republican governor named Rauner, a business man with no political experience.

    Although Illinois isn’t exactly known as the home of business due to the high tax rate, the state spawned Jimmy John’s and Caterpillar construction equipment is currently headquartered in Peoria.

    Illinois claims to be “Land of Lincoln”, and we’re the home of Barack Obama. Hilary Clinton was raised in a Chicago suburb and was part of the first graduating class of Maine South High School, which has the semi-circle drive featured in The Breakfast Club.

    While most of Illinois is flat, head south and you can find the cliffs signalling the edge of where the ice was during the ice age(s). Illinois is still a major player in agriculture, and is the largest producer of soybeans in the country.

    Chicago is the best known city in Illinois. The metropolitan hub, it serves as one of the transportation nexuses of the United States every since the march westward and the train revolution. Outside of the city proper, O’Hare airport is consistently one of the busiest airports in the country (although, if I remember correctly, Atlanta is always fighting for our spot).

    Let’s not forget Chicago’s sports teams. Home to an NFL team (the Bears), an NHL team (the Blackhawks), an MLS team (the Fire), an NBA team (the Bulls), and two MLB teams (the White Sox and the Cubs), as well as a minor league NHL affiliate (the Wolves, affiliated with the St. Louis Blues), there’s sports to please everyone.

    After a dismal last season, the Bears got a front office overhaul and we’ll see what happens to the quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bulls are on a hot streak with the addition of Pau Gasol and Derick Rose finally returned from two consecutive years of knee injuries. The White Sox won the 2005 World Series, and the Blackhawks are a perennial Stanley Cup contender, with two Cups (2010 and 2013) in the last five years. Two of hockey’s best players, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, were the core of the Blackhawks’ resurgence after decades of decline.

    The Chicago Cubs are notorious for the longest championship drought in all of the United States professional sports leagues (they haven’t won a World Series since 1908), and are constantly retooling (Joe Maddon was just hired). Fans are eternally hopeful.

    And that’s Illinois (or at least the highlights). Congratulations if you read this multi-paragraph monster.

  4. Pingback: 10 o’clock list: Things Kenyon People Don’t Do Over Spring Break | The Thrill

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