Growing up, I lived 15 minutes away from one of the largest cities in the U.S. Needless to say, I had access to a wide variety of shopping, eating, and living experiences. I lived in a large neighborhood, just down the street from all the schools I attended growing up, our local Costco, and even my dance studio. Sometimes, I would begrudge the fact that it took me a full 15 minutes to get to whatever destination I was headed to, and wished that I lived closer.
Fast forward to my year on the road as an LC, and what a perspective shift it has been! I now have hour-long car rides with sisters to reach campus from the nearest airport, and may still be an hour away from the nearest Target. Travelling has given me a newfound appreciation for not only the distances sisters traverse to reach their destinations but just how spectacular small towns can truly be.
Local spots are more meaningful: you know the people who run the business, you go to school with their kids, you might even work there yourself. A local restaurant or business has so much emotion packed into it, and people appreciate the hard work you put in so much more than a big box store. During a drive through the small town of Marysville, Kansas, the Sigma Kappa sister driving me was able to walk up to multiple people in town, and chat away about what her family had been up to, the bank she had previously worked at, and what the town had on the calendar for later that month. We were even given a heads up on where to find a few of the hidden squirrel statues. Talk about making a small place your home!
Everybody knows everybody’s business…but everyone has an eye out for you, too. When there are such a limited number of people in your town or surrounding area, you have a much better idea of what everyone is up to, because word travels fast, far and wide. This is the case for both bad news and good. Whether you have a new job to celebrate or are graduating from college, people in a small town will know about it, and they will be there to see you through it.
Living in a small town can be bothersome at times, like when you want to go to the mall or even just find a coffee shop to study in. But what about if you want to be outdoors, to go hiking or on a run with a gorgeous view? Baseball in the backyard? Also an option when you live so close to open space and nature. I have enjoyed so many nature walks on my chapter visits, and I have small towns to thank for that.
Overall, my appreciation for small towns has grown significantly since I left the comfort zone of my big city, and has even helped shape my understanding of what’s important when looking for a place to live in the future. I know now what many sisters in various states have to wrestle with when it comes to commuting to campus, as well as preparing to go back to school at the end of a break. From planning out when you’ll be on campus to how much gas you need to get there and back, living or going to school in a small town is much more involved than I previously thought it to be. And I have my Sigma Kappa sisters to thank for that.