As a disclaimer, this post has nothing to do with the book.
I am a Kansas City native (from the better, more functional Missouri side, not the dark, desolate Kansas side), and I used to be a fair weather fan; I didn’t want to be there when I was in high school, but when I went off to college and then graduate school, I missed it terribly. What can be said…often times, the adult longs for the crib as it were; recalling a place where life was all about coloring, watching Disney movies (without analyzing it down to the pixels), and eating cereal, laden with refined sugar.
I almost didn’t trust myself on this topic, due to the extreme bias it permits me to take, without really having to provide any empirical evidence, or legitimate scholarly insight. However, I will attempt to make this post somewhat informative, in that it will hopefully assist as a guide for how to get through the “This city is (insert colorful adjective, noun, or noun phrase here)” inner dialogue, that will without question, plague your mind at least twice a week.
I’ll start off by saying my initial impression of Bloomington was neutral, if not a few points on the positive side. Bloomington has a great selection of restaurants, so the food options are fantastic, and that’s really the first thing I look for. Because
food occupies 85% of my thoughts, and you can often times judge the cultural diversity of a location by the variety of restaurants present, Bloomington gets an A+ in the culinary diversity category.
Then I thought about it…Kansas City has this many, if not more, because it’s the biggest city in Missouri (As of a few years ago. Take that, St. Louis), there will naturally be more options for dining. However, Bloomington is a college town, so access to epi-curious cuisine tends to be a bit easier on the wallet. I will give Bloomington the point here because of the inexpe—
Wait a minute…Bloomington is not the Barbecue capital of the
world Midwest! Bloomington does not have 3 award-winning barbecue sauce brands that are shipped all over the globe. Never mind. Kansas City wins that point. The Barbeque alone really makes KC better, but as an academic, one must analyze multiple spheres for accurate comparison.
Then we get to one of the first things anyone notices about a new city: the way people drive. Kansas City drivers may not be able to host a national expo on driving properly, but Indiana should just toss the application in the garbage. I speak objectively when I state that no one in this state is capable of wielding a vehicle in any kind of weather other than clear, bright sunshine, with roads void of cars. In a region where the weather is a nonconformist in the purest sense of the word, this does not translate to a good driving record. I speculate that driver’s licenses are just handed out at birth here, and no one actually takes classes on driving. After witnessing a completely preventable 7 car pile up in front of my apartment due to ill preparedness in driving during a Midwest winter, It has become my working thesis.
Next, we have diversity break down, in terms of race. Kansas City’s diversity is pretty good. At last assessment, the ratio of White students to Persons of color were almost 1:1, and as a suburbanite, this was pretty incredible. Indiana University’s diversity break down is most likely apparent, because I have a job as an emissary to help bring in more diverse populations…it does speak for itself a little. I am used to being one of the few individuals in a class room with a certain level of marked “browness” , however, it was a bit more obvious at Indiana University, which I think it is something that shouldn’t be shirked; every rose has thorns, after all.
In terms of Diversity, Kansas City takes the point.
That is not to say that Bloomington is a bad town. It’s difficult to compare one’s hometown to one’s school town, especially if you come from a larger city. The point I’m attempting to make here is that there is no comparison. College is where you go to school, and experience a lot of growth, in both good and bad ways. Unless you have an exceptional case, I feel it is rare when a university town will win over the place where one’s cradle is.
Focus these comparisons to a space of fond recollection of your past, rather than a bitter rivalry between living spaces. Easier said than done, but I think it makes for a more enjoyable stay in Bloomington, and more realistic expectations for your return home (It probably isn’t the shining beacon of light it seemed to be when your end of semester paper was due).