“When I was younger and it would rain in the summer, my brothers, the neighbors down the road, and I, would swim in the ditches,” I recently told a friend I met in college.

“Wow, you are country,” was her response.

It was at that moment where I started to think about the differences between growing up in the country compared to growing up in town.  The lifestyles are completely different and as my peers become older, I personally notice the positive impact of being raised in the country. It seems to me that my peers from the same background as myself are laid back, and not afraid of a little grease under the fingernails.   While in college, I’ve become friends with individuals who were raised in the city, and I have since been able to experience their way of living. Their lifestyle is so different as they always seem to be on-the-go while keeping up with the latest trends on the street.  Side note: According to my childhood scrapbooks, keeping up with fashion was not something that ever interested me.  Thanks to my mom for allowing me to wear my cut-off jeans made into shorts, and over the ankle leather lace up boots with white socks peeking out of the top.

Growing up in the country is a fond memory, and one that I will never forget.  During my childhood, my brothers and I would play hide-and-go-seek in the cornfield, we would walk through the large tunnels at the end of the asphalt road (it was especially fun when we would lay on top of the tunnels and look at each other from opposite ends), and we would climb the wobbly wooden steps up to the hayloft in the barn just to hangout.  My three brothers were my best friends.  My greatest summer accomplishments would be to replace last years’ kiddie tractor pull trophies with new ones from local festivals, and county and state fairs, and our family vacation location depended on where my dad would be showing his antique tractors.

In the country, you’ve got to make do with that you have.  When the closest ‘big town’ is twenty miles away, a trip to town was something to look forward to for days to come.  Transportation included our bicycles that got us half a mile down the road, and sometimes if we promised to stay together we could take a long ride to grandma’s house three miles away (three miles is a long way when you’re eight years old). The individuals who I argued with, laughed with, and relied upon were my family.

After nineteen years of calling home “the middle of nowhere,” it was my time to move to college. I still remember the day I was with a friend and she saw a combine and had no idea what this “large vehicle” was, or why it was “running over the plants.”  While I’ve had the opportunity to experience both lifestyles, I look back and realize how blessed I was to grow up in the country.  My background has helped me to become the hard working individual who I am today, while learning to appreciate the small things in life.

While my friends in the city describe the country life as boring, there’s just something indescribable about sitting on the back porch looking at nothing but cornfields and bean fields for miles.

Abby Coers
U of I Graduate

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