When I first left Emporia State this semester, I wasn’t quite sure what my experience would be like since I was staying in the United States. Also, people typically do not think of this as “studying abroad”. But, my experience in the Southwest has definitely been different from the Midwest. I did not realize the differences until I moved here.
The funniest misconception of Kansans that I have found while being here is that we all farm, ride horses, and have seen tornadoes. Although this is true for some people in Kansas, it definitely does not define us and it is not what I thought people would think. Honestly, their response was really outlandish to me. It shocked me because I have never farmed and have only seen one tornado in my entire life.
When I think of being a Kansan, I really don’t think of myself being too different from other people in the U.S. I have always thought that Midwesterners are friendlier, but that was the only quality that I thought would be different. People in Arizona are still polite and generally nice, but they are not always the friendliest in places like grocery stores or gas stations. Instead of having a five minute conversation with a random stranger, interaction with others is pretty limited.
I think many of these misconceptions may come from the way media represents Kansas. The first that comes to mind are movies that are set in the Midwest, such as Twister. Also, people here always ask me about The Wizard of Oz, which does not surprise me because it is a classic movie with a story line in Kansas. Of course these movies are entertaining and fun, but they don’t accurately showcase how great Kansas really is.
Despite what many Arizonans think Kansas is like, the Midwest definitely offers certain qualities that the Southwest does not. Kansas is not densely populated, so people are not packed together tightly. This is great because I have never fought large amounts of traffic or have dealt with the “big city” qualities that I deal with now. Also, people in Kansas are more kind and honest when you go anywhere. Honestly, Kansas just feels very different compared to the Southwest.