I went to college in big cities, but in the years since I made that decision, I’ve often thought how fun it would have been to spend a semester “abroad” in a small college town. Plenty of my friends (including our own art director) went to schools in small towns and loved the experience. At the time, it felt like it would be stifling and isolating, but now, I wish I could have had just a little taste of the cozy, recognize-everybody, anything-goes sort of life that seems to be the daily existence of college towns.
I did a quick trip last week to Iowa City to do some field research for work. The research itself was pretty strange–it involved going to people’s homes and businesses and asking them some really personal questions about loyalty, which they all willingly answered with in-depth tales of past substance abuse and a trip to a sex shop. But that wasn’t the most interesting part of my trip! No, I managed to sneak a peek or two at the quirkiness that is the small college town.
They knit sweaters for their trees. How thoughtful!
They have art theaters with both concerts and live broadcasts of Legitimate Theatah.
They have plaques on their sidewalks with quotes and images from alumni of their famous Writers’ Workshop. (Fun fact: I went to a young poets’ version of that writing workshop when I was about fourteen. Bonus fun fact: I thought “poet” was a real job when I was fourteen. That I would grow up to do. AHAHAHA ohhhhh.)
They play large-but-not-life-sized chess in the ped mall.
They paint things bright colors for no reason other than they can do whatever they want. It’s college! None of this counts!