The first time my father showed me around Miami University, I laughed it off. To me, it was a rural square mile of nothing at all, and my love for the overpopulation of southern New York had not yet died down.
I thought there was no chance I’d go to school here. I thought it was a beautiful campus, but I wanted to go to a city to keep enjoying what I loved.
I’m not entirely sure what happened between that visit and when it came time to apply to schools, but the beautiful campus got a hold over me. I decided I’d try something new with rural America, despite only liking Miami for its red bricks.
After my first semester on campus, I thought I had made a huge mistake. But, as my senior year at Miami approaches as fast as the Concorde across the Atlantic, I realize I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
In my three years here, I’ve experienced what my friends and I used to joke about when it comes to “the middle.” My sister still makes those jokes to this day from her apartment in Colorado.
I’ve gone on long drives on country roads, looked up to the ever-bright stars (a non-existent sight in my air-polluted home), enjoyed conversations with people whom I’d never have expected to meet and had my fair share of Cincinnati delicacies.
No longer do I look at Ohio and the rest of “the middle” as “flyover” states filled with people with whom I’d never want to speak. Like anywhere else on the planet, Ohio is rich with culture, people and stories.
I might not want to move to a town the size of my thumb after graduating, but I’ve learned that America’s big cities are not the only great places to live.
It’s here I’ve met some of the best friends of my whole life — people I know I’ll be friends with years and years into the future. It’s here I’ve learned to ground myself in ways I couldn’t have attempted before. It’s here I’ve found the “real America” people have talked about for decades.
Without the opportunities to talk to people from Ohio when reporting for The Miami Student, without the trips to Jungle Jim’s, without the chance to live in the “middle of nowhere,” I’d have gone on to live my life missing a crucial experience that has made me a much more well-rounded person.
I no longer look down on people whose political beliefs differ from my own. I no longer think living in a city is objectively the best end goal. I no longer have a one-bullet list of places where I’d love to live someday.
And, yes, I really was that coastal-elitist jackass from New York up until pretty recently. Of course, this isn’t how all — or even most — coastal city-folk act, just the lucky few of us. And when it comes to bagels, I still am.
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I have no idea who I’d have become if not for this time here at Miami. I probably would have learned a lot less about people and life and love. I probably would not have found who I was on the inside the same way I did.
For sure, I would’ve stayed that coastal elitist I was before, assuming people different from me were less or worse off.
My time here has been incredibly valuable to who I have become. I am so glad I ended up here, that these words can’t even begin to describe it. I know there are quite a few people like who I was before getting to Miami. There might even be some first-years reading this while worrying about what their life will be like so far from an urban jungle of life, art and culture.
Rest easy. This is a beautiful, imperfect, human place. You’re going to love it.
Devin Ankeney is a senior double-majoring in journalism as well as media and communication with a history minor. They have been with The Student for nearly three years and are currently the Opinion Editor, Business Manager and multi-section contributor.