Embrace your small-town background

By Noah Nelson, Columnist

At the start of every semester, many professors like to play various ice breaker games with their students to learn who they are, where they come from and a fun fact about themselves. I’m always excited to learn especially where my classmates come from, but sometimes at the end of the activity, I’m a little bummed out.

Most of the time, students say they are either from out of state, another country or the Chicagoland area. It’s great mostly everyone comes from a large city, but if you’re someone like me who grew up in a small town, you know how tough it can be to find other students we relate to in that sense.

Growing up smack dab in the middle of Central Illinois in the small town of Taylorville, I never knew what it was like to live in a big city. Now attending the University for a second year, adaptation to a larger environment is key to surviving every aspect of the college experience. Nevertheless, to every student out there from a small town, never fear to embrace your background.

Small towns teach simplicity, a great tool in the kit for surviving life here at the University. Don’t let the large crowds intimidate you. Don’t let all of your school work and extracurricular activities bring you down. Enjoy the little things in life, like that recent “A” on a quiz or the company of your friends. Savor all of the little moments in college like you did living in a small town. They are what make life worth living.

In larger cities, it can be hard for some people to find a close knit group of friends. In small towns, on the other hand, everyone knows everyone, and most of the time, they are friends for life. Using those social skills makes life here at the University less chaotic. Initiate a conversation with anyone you come into contact with, join clubs and meet others in your classes. There’s no doubt you will soon find your people. 

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Coming from a small town also strengthens your sense of pride. You grew up in a small town sporting your school colors while cheering on your classmates during every Friday night football game. Being proud of your school will make your time here at the University even more worthwhile. Not everyone in the world can say they are an Illini.

College can be tough sometimes when you’re surrounded by most people who have lived in a city their whole life. Take everything you learned while growing up in a small town and incorporate it into your everyday life here at the University. 

There’s no doubt you were probably ready to leave your small town after graduating high school. It was great for a while, but you were ready for the next chapter in life. 

Small towns have their ups and downs, but at the end of the day, you’re proud it played a major role in your upbringing. Don’t shy away from your small-town background. Embrace it in everything you do here at the University, and prove to everyone around you that great people can come from the smallest corners of the world.

Noah is a sophomore in LAS.

[email protected]