Southern Things That Seem Scary (But Actually Aren’t)
I’ll be honest: coming to the South from California made me just a tiny bit nervous. I know it’s not nearly as different as, say, coming from a foreign country might be, but it certainly is a different culture. What I’ve found, though, is that all of the things that seemed majorly intimidating when I first got here have turned out to be some of the coolest parts of moving across the country.
1) Nature happens.
People laugh when I tell them this, but I’m pretty sure the main reason I started looking at Vanderbilt was because they sent me a lot of pretty pictures of campus in the mail. Let me tell you right now: it’s even better in person. But it’s also a little bit scary.
Back in California, the only things I heard when I walked out the door at night were cars and the occasional emergency siren. So you can’t even imagine how confused I was my first night here when I walked outside to a strangely melodious combination of chirps and hums. My friends said that it was just the sound of crickets and cicadas, but I’m still a little bit convinced that it was sorcery. I will admit, it is the best soundtrack you could ask for during late-night strolls.
Another scary nature phenomenon: acorns. When I first saw the acorns here, I thought they were pretty cute. But already twice during my time here, I was walking to class when an acorn decided that it wanted to fall off a tree and smack me straight on the head. Good times.
2) SEC sports are the real deal.
Maybe it’s because my high school never had much spirit when it came to sports, but my first football game here was quite the experience. The day started bright-and-almost-too-early at 6:30, with a shuttle ride down to LP Field for the filming of the third-ever episode of SEC Nation, which is basically the pregame show for the SEC Network channel. I haven’t been able to find the episode online yet, but I’m pretty sure I was on national television for a good couple of seconds. Also Tim Tebow was there. No big deal.
All of the cheering and face paint and pom poms were certainly a new experience for me, but it was also one of the coolest things I’ve done here.
Also, at the game a couple of weeks ago, this happened:
3) Music is literally everywhere.
When I tell people back at home that I’m going to school in Nashville, the first question I get, without fail, is this: “Do you like country music?”
I never really knew how to answer them before I came here, because honestly, I had never really listened to much of it before. I was coming to Music City with an ironically low level of knowledge about music, and it kind of intimidated me.
What I’ve learned since coming here, though, is that you don’t have to know a single thing about music to be immersed in it, both on- and off-campus. And it’s all kinds of music, too: in my short time in Nashville, I’ve been to the Country Music Hall of Fame (which Vanderbilt casually rented out for our welcome celebration last month), classical concerts at Vanderbilt’s own Blair School of Music, and even an Ingrid Michaelson concert at Live on the Green. And to sweeten the deal, all of the concerts I’ve been to have been completely free. It’s pretty hard not to love the music here, even if you’re like me and know very little about it.
If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be living in the South right now, I wouldn’t have believed you. But now, every day, I find new reasons to be glad I decided to make Vanderbilt my home for the next four years. If you’re like me and you’re nervous about coming to such a different place, take a leap: you won’t look back.