The land of corn, kindness

By Gillian Dunlop, Managing Editor for Reporting

The United States is a large and diverse country with many cultures interwoven throughout the distinct terrains.

Oftentimes when people visit the U.S., they go to New York City or Los Angeles, only sometimes stopping in other major cities such as Orlando or Chicago. A privilege associated with attending the University, however, is you will have the opportunity to explore true Midwestern culture.

Although Illinois is only one state within the Midwest, it has its own distinct culture. The University is located in the heartland of the state, midway between Chicago and the southern tip.

It is a common statement to say the University is in the middle of a cornfield. For better and for worse, that statement is true. But what that really means is the people who are native to the Champaign-Urbana community and many of the students have deep roots in Midwest society.

They are home-grown and have the type of Midwestern kindness you can only find in the cornfields; kindness that is inherent to our society and makes it a welcoming environment, especially for international students.

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A part of being within the corn also means there are some corn-related activities students like to partake in every year. One of the most popular activities is barn dances. This is when a club or organization rents a barn a little ways from campus for the night. Students will put on their finest flannel shirts and jeans before boarding a bus there.

Country music is blasted, hay rides are given and people frolic in the corn fields. Nothing screams Midwestern fall in Illinois more than a corn-filled barn dance.

Another way in which the University and Illinois are unique are the ways in which the town of Champaign-Urbana are accommodating to international students.

There are a ton of different restaurants and grocery stores that cater to different cultures and traditional foods. This is particularly true of the many Asian cultures that have a strong presence on our campus.

There is a multitude of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, etc. restaurants and grocery stores that serve to make Asian international students feel more at home and to expose American students to international cuisine.

The University and Illinois are also unique in the ways in which they try to incorporate the town into campus life. Many students spend time in the downtown Champaign and Urbana areas, mixing with locals and checking out the variety of coffee shops and restaurants available to them.

There are also a number of festivals that go on throughout the year where both students and locals come together. The University encourages its students to explore their greater surroundings and really get a feel for Midwest farm culture through these different festivals and events.

Additionally, with venues such as the State Farm Center, Canopy Club and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, there are a ton of opportunities to hear different kinds of music and to see a multitude of performances. These events are a great way to become greater acquainted to the community and feel the appreciation of the arts that exist within it.

The Champaign-Urbana community is a unique place in which all students and cultures are welcomed. It is a place of learning that is situated in the heart of the Midwest and has kindness and corn permeating throughout it.

Gillian is a senior in Media.

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