So you're going to school in Ohio! Birthplace of 8 U.S. presidents, the Wright brothers and a record number of astronauts. Other notable Ohioans include Toni Morrison, Gloria Steinem, Sarah Jessica Parker and Stephen Curry — yes, that Stephen Curry. Ohio has a lot to offer amongst all the cornfields, including some pretty stellar colleges and universities. If you're attending a school in the Buckeye State, there are a few things you should know.
1. It's nice to meet you!
Midwestern friendliness is real. Ohioans love small talk, want to know about your family and will greet complete strangers as they pass. You can count on politeness from practically everyone, but this means that they expect politeness in return. You may offend someone if you don't thank them or return a smile.
2. There is plenty to do.
Though Ohio's cities aren't massive, they're full of things to do and see. Cleveland is home to a food scene on the rise as well as a longstanding tradition of excellent theater. It is also home to the Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the best museums in America — and totally free! Columbus has its fair share of museums and amazing cultural experiences, with awesome districts like Short North or Germantown. For great boutique and vintage shopping, Short North is a must. And Cincinnati boasts historic architecture, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the rockin' Bunbury Music Festival. Plus, the whole state is dotted with charming small towns to explore.
3. But sometimes, there's nothing to do.
If your school isn't near a big city, you may feel a bit stuck. It's not uncommon for suburban students to wander around Target or Walmart because they have nowhere better to be. You may find yourself spending absurd amounts of money at Applebee's, because going out to eat is all anyone seems to do for fun. The trick is to get creative. Things like board games, frisbee and movie nights are your new weekend plans.
4. That game with the beanbags.
You're going to learn to play this game, and you're going to learn to love it. It doesn't matter what you called it back at home, it's cornhole now.
5. The seasons are open to interpretation.
This spring was notable for 70 degree days followed by flower-killing frosts. It usually starts to snow in November, but there have been years with a white Halloween instead of a white Christmas. So if you won't be able to get home before Thanksgiving, bring a warm coat and boots. If you're coming from a warmer state, be prepared to walk to class in a few inches of snow. On the upside, where there is snow there are snow days! It takes some fairly treacherous weather to get a day off school in northern Ohio, but it only takes a little snowfall to cancel classes down south.
6. It's an agricultural state.
True to the stereotype of the Midwest, there are a lot of corn and soy fields in Ohio. You may start to feel like you've been driving through farmland for hours, but that's only because you have been. Odds are, you will get stuck behind a tractor or horse-drawn buggy. There is literally nothing to do but try not to scream as you crawl along the road at 20 mph.
7. Road work ahead.
Plan for delays. Those orange construction barrels along the side of the road are Ohio's unofficial state flower.
8. Speaking of roads...
Ohio drivers are generally reasonable, but people do not like to surrender their space on the highway, so drive assertively. And more importantly, pay attention on country roads. The most dangerous intersections are the ones in the middle of nowhere, where 50 mph roads meet with only stop signs to control traffic.
9. How do I order a sugary carbonated beverage?
Down south, it's soda. Up north, it's pop.
10. They shout: "O-H!"
You shout: "I-O!"
Most importantly, know that Ohioans are happy to have you here. If you take some time to look, you'll see the hidden gems of my home state. I hope you'll come to love it at least a little bit. Enjoy you time here, and good luck!
Lead Image Credit: Carlos Javier via Flickr Creative Commons