Going home (kind of)
Growing up in the Northeast, my peers and I had a lot of preconceived notions about the South and Southern culture. While it is true that we assumed everyone had an accent and used “y’all” all the time, we also heard that people were more friendly “down there,” and that the overall ambiance was more relaxed and less busy. I personally had painted this idyllic picture of gleaming golden wheat fields spread out all over the place and a bunch of homey, down-to-earth people holding pinkies all the time.
So when I got on a plane to visit Vanderbilt the first time I was surprised to find an atmosphere much like the one I grew up in. Granted, Nashville was a lot smaller than Washington D.C. and although I did giggle at all the cowboy-boot stores Downtown on Broadway, I rarely heard any “Southern” accents on campus and didn’t feel very out of place.
A couple weeks ago, however, I traveled with my roommate Julianna to her home in Huntsville, Alabama, for a little weekend getaway. Now I don’t know if she lives the quintessentially Southern life, or if there even is one, but I had a wonderful weekend with her and her lovely family, and had some experiences that weren’t the norm in my own childhood / teenagehood.
Apparently, marching bands are HUGE in the South. Julianna, now a clarinet performance major at the Blair School of Music, was a drum major in her high school marching band (the super official person in the front waving their hands and directing everyone) and practiced for hours every day after school. Marching band was her life, and it was intense. We went to a football game at her high school, and although the football was the same as it is back home (not that I’m good enough at watching football to really be able to give an official statement like that), the marching band was very different. It was massive, and their formations were complex and well-executed. They had portable xylophones and bass drums — the whole nine yards. As Julianna puts it, “people don’t go to football games for the football. They go for the marching band.”
The next day, we went hiking nearby, and it was just so nice to be outside and surrounded by God’s creation and the open air after staying on campus for so long. No golden wheat fields here (cotton fields, actually!) but definitely great nature-spots!
We went to a cute artisanal tea shop after, and went shopping at “Lowe Mill” — an indoor center with local artists and crafty vendors showing their wares. Afterwards, we made Julianna’s mom’s famous pumpkin scones and cookie bars!! (Sorry, no pictures because they were too good and disappeared too fast).
Julianna has an amazing family. Her mom is so sweet and selfless, always thinking about ways she can serve others whether in her home, the church, or elsewhere, and is one of the cutest, most personable ladies I have ever met! Her dad is SUPER talented – he makes quilts and takes really good photos, and plays the tuba in her church’s orchestra! Her brother is super cute and is a sophomore in high school — he’s following in his sister’s footsteps and is in marching band as well! They are some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, so whether that’s a Southern thing or a reflection of their love for Christ or both, it was great being around them!
I’m so grateful to Vandy for connecting me with a girl who’s childhood was in many ways different from my own, but has been such a blessing in my first couple months of college. We’ve been able to help each other grow in our walks with God and she’s been such an encouraging and loving sister in the Lord.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to strangers on Facebook during the whole roommate search process — it’ my greatest hope that all of you will be able to have as great of a roommate experience as I am :)