As a full-grown Nebraskan, I have spent my entire life forming a rebuttal to, "doesn't everyone there ride tractors to school?" I've learned from an early age that many people stereotype the Midwest a certain way. For those who may come to my humble abode for their college years, or perhaps just for a big ole' Husker game, I've compiled some of Nebraska's most defining traits and pinpoints everyone should know.
1. Husker Football is a religion.
Either come ready to convert, attend a Maverick's hockey game instead or roam the shopping malls. Saturday afternoons in Autumn are retail heaven.
2. Runza is your new diet.
Whether you're in it for the chicken strips, a "meal in a bunza" or that glorious nectar of the gods that they call ranch, the moment you hear "thank you for choosing Runza Restaurants," you are home.
3. The weatherman will always be wrong.
There is no such thing as a "partly sunny day" in Nebraska. Rain, snow, tornadoes and fluctuating temperatures are among the norm. Portable umbrellas and a solid boot will take you a long way.
4. The Henry Doorly Zoo is a must.
The zoo has been rated as the top in the world, expands constantly and has the greatest vanilla ice cream known to humankind. Having been a resident for 18 years, the zoo still inspires and surprises me with every visit.
5. Grocery stores are a gold mine for friendly faces.
Visiting your local HyVee is the surest way to get what you need. With a complete staff of grocers, nutritionists, pharmacists and produce experts, anyone in a button-down shirt is there to make you feel welcomed. No joke. Their assistance is constant, they are always ready to carry your groceries to your car and the floors are almost always spotless. And they have the cheapest gas stations in the state.
6. Star-gazing is not only possible but beautiful.
There is a greater sense of nature in terms of the little things. We may not have any mountain ranges or coastal areas, but there is something to be said for a wide open landscape full of possibility. Driving on back roads in the evenings starts with perfect sunsets and ends in a sky full of stars, always magical and instagram-able.
7. There is always a place to explore.
Omaha is the most obvious place to tour, with its Old Market, College World Series and Aksarben Village, but everywhere is full of local shops and attractions to keep you excited on your free weekends.
8. Honking is a kind gesture.
People will wave at you instead of doing what you want them to do, which is either adorably charming or deeply frustrating.
9. In most cities, you can get anywhere you need to be in twenty minutes or less.
Traffic is a relative term for people who started off as city-dwellers. And we are equidistant from both Disney Land and Disney World.
10. Nebraska is statistically one of the best places to raise a family.
So if you get comfy in college, you may consider sticking to the heartland for a few more years. The native Nebraskans you meet will be some of the most genuinely kind people you will ever encounter, you'll get a pretty good bang for your buck and you will feel equally at peace and enthralled in adventure everyday. We have incredible community involvement, and while opinions and politics vary from both ends of the spectrum, they are typically discussed peacefully and kindly. Of course Nebraska isn't perfect, but we make it the good life.
Lead Image Credit: Kamrin Baker