By Hannah Schultz, Features Editor
Anyone who is from Kentucky knows the stereotypes: Kentuckians spend their days drinking bourbon and riding horses down the hollers. Or Kentuckians are all backwoods-livin’ rednecks who hunt their own food and never wear shoes. Or Kentuckians all sound and look like Colonel Sanders, thanks to the international fast-food chain.
“Every time I drive down a back country dirt road, my expectations are still that I’ll be shot at close range after stumbling onto a moonshine distillery,” joked junior Megan Gieske, who came to Asbury from New Jersey last semester.
For many out-of-state freshmen, this may be your mindset even now as you’re still discovering what your new home is like and battling stereotypes. But it doesn’t take long to learn what preconceived notions about the Bluegrass State are true and which are just tall-tales.
Senior Lindsay Townsend, who is from Delaware, found that her first visit to Kentucky left an odd first impression. “On the way out to see [my aunt and uncle], we had to take a car-ferry boat,” she said. “The ferryman was nice, but I just remember him saying in a rumbling voice, ‘Strange folk live in Kentucky.’ Based on what he said and the fact that everything I was seeing—the mountains, the gorges and rolling hills—was far different from anywhere I have lived, Kentucky sort of took on this fantastical quality for me—that maybe it was a little wild, a little adventurous to live here.”
While the scenery may suggest a wild, sprawling countryside, throughout her time at Asbury, Townsend learned that the real Kentucky is much more civilized and diverse. “You can go from large cities to country in a matter of miles,” she said. “You can go to an art show, a sporting event or hiking all in the same day.”
One stereotype that Kentucky does fulfill is that of southern hospitality—which means taking care of strangers in little or big ways. “I’m still surprised by the southern hospitality of Kentucky—every time someone holds a door open for me, looks me in the eye and tells me to ‘have a nice day,’ or helps me carry bags of groceries,” said Gieske. “Being from New Jersey, I still think those people are crazy and/or are trying to kill me.”
“One of my first days in Kentucky, a woman in a van offered me a ride home from a convenience store,” she said. “Against my better judgement and everything my mom ever taught me, I got in, thinking that a woman in a van full of children probably was safe. I spent the rest of the car ride with one hand on the door, planning my escape if need be. That’s just not normal in the North.”
However, fellow southerners can attest to the falsity of the stereotype that all Kentuckians are drinking, hunting, and shooting fireworks kind of people. “I knew that while some people might fit the country or hillbilly stereotype, that it wouldn’t be true for all of Kentucky, because the redneck stereotype is not true of me and certainly not true for a good many people in Texas,” said senior Claire Hill.
Some of you out-of-towners may be shocked at just how hard Kentucky pushes against classic stereotypes and how quickly you have to adjust to the bipolar weather, Canada-rivaling winters or “city” traffic. But no matter what, something about Kentucky—whether it is its diversity, the quiet pace of its rolling hills or its unique history—will draw you in and make your years here at Asbury some of your best.