Another week, another chance to learn about a different culture in a Through The Eyes Of A Local interview. This time, we’re flying across to Indianapolis, USA, courtesy of Sarah from sustainable travel blog, Suitcase Six.
1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and where you come from?
I’m Sarah, a 24 year old Harry Potter fanatic who lives on fair-trade coffee and dark chocolate. I’m from Indiana, currently living in Indianapolis.
I work in juvenile justice as the Mentoring Director for HOPE, a program that pairs college mentors with incarcerated youth in the state. We help the youth develop skills they need for employment and host facility-wide activities to do the same. I love to travel in my free time, which I was given the chance to do with this job. Over the past 2.5 years, I’ve traveled to 15 countries while working full time as a student, and then for HOPE. I blog about sustainable travel for working women over at Suitcase Six, which I hope to develop further when I move abroad this coming May.
2. How long have you lived in Indianapolis? And what brought you here?
I was born and raised (all but three years in my young-childhood) in Indiana. I’ve lived the last five years in Bloomington, Indiana where I went to college, and just recently moved back to the capital, Indianapolis. I’m moving abroad next May for that reason – I’m anxious to explore the rest of the world from a more permanent perspective. I want to live abroad for a while before I come back, eventually, to the USA.
3. What do you love most about your hometown?
I would recommend Indiana to people who love the outdoors. While it’s not as well known for its nature as places like Colorado or Florida, there are a ton of great parks, forests, lakes, and dunes scattered across the state that are really worth visiting.
4. Is there anything that frustrates or annoys you when tourists visit Indiana?
I don’t think Indiana is a huge hub for tourism, especially the regions I frequent most often, so I don’t have many tourist complaints. I think those who haven’t been to Indiana tend to recognize us as the state from which the US Vice President previously came. I can’t blame people for making that connection but I also think that from my experience, there are a lot of people who do not share Pence’s views and are not represented accurately by his association. I admire those who live in tourist hubs like London or New York – I can only imagine it’s quite exhausting after a while.
5. In your opinion, which places should be at the top of any visitor’s wishlist in Indiana?
The Bloomington campus of Indiana University is one of the most beautiful places – especially in the fall. I think everyone should come here on a game day to tailgate, hit the farmer’s market, watch a show, or go for a hike at Griffy Lake or Lake Monroe nearby. I would also recommend going to French Lick for a day, and the sand dunes up north on Lake Michigan. Depending on where you might be going in the state, there is a nearby place outdoors you should investigate. I can’t list them all but it’s a beautiful state and there’s much more to it than what meets the eye, (probably a lot of corn).
6. What foods must visitors eat when in Indiana?
In Indiana, corn is one of our biggest crops and we use it in everything. But there’s nothing better than an ear of corn-on-the-cob in the summertime, with some butter and salt. The Indiana State Fair every August is an absolute smorgasbord of Indiana local foods for the foodies out there. Almost everything is fried – deep fried twinkies, elephant ears, French fries, etc. so it’s not the place for a healthy meal, but it’s delicious.
7. What’s your favourite word in your local language? Why? What does it mean?
Hoosier! According to the movoto.com definition, it’s “Someone filled with state pride that lives in Indiana; also often used to describe someone who attended Indiana University.” I’m an IU alumnus so that definition fits me to a T. While it can be used to describe anyone from Indiana, hearing the word brings fond memories of my (recent) college years that I already miss dearly.
8. What advice would you give to somebody moving to your hometown from another country?
The Midwest has some of the lowest costs of living in the country! With what might get you a small, studio apartment in New York or San Diego, you could probably afford a 2-4 bedroom apartment or regular house payments. My rent over the past 5 years splitting a college apartment with varying numbers of roommates has been between $400-700 for all utilities included. We’ve always had a kitchen, living room, and full bathroom. I’d recommend the Midwest region for those on a tight budget or looking to spend their money on things other than rent.
Keep in mind that the US is made of 50 states that can vary tremendously in culture, cost, and offerings. I’d recommend anyone moving to the United States to also do their research into the backgrounds of the state to which they’re moving.
9. If you could describe Indianapolis in just one sentence, what would you say?
Indianapolis is a city of hardworking, caring people in the crossroads of the USA.
10. If tourists were to know one thing about Indiana’s culture, what should that be?
The Midwest in general, but Indiana in particular, is a really friendly place. For the most part, people are happy to help and will welcome you anywhere with a big greeting! We are very polite people.
Thanks Sarah – we’ve loved getting to know you and Indianapolis (and Indiana) better!
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