7 Things I heard about
Wisconsin before I moved here
by Brooke Messaye
I have started to dread the question “Where are you from?” that often comes with meeting new people. The look of confusion on the face of whomever I am talking to when I explain that I was born and raised in Los Angeles is often followed by the question, “Well, why would you want to come to Wisconsin?”
This has become a tiring topic for me to discuss, but after spending the last three and a half years in Wisconsin, I have fallen in love with this state and proudly respond to all the typical questions.
1. "Where even is Wisconsin?
I can admit, when my high school college counselor first talked to me about UW–Madison, I looked at her with a blank stare — even after having to memorize and label the U.S. map and capitals for Advanced Placement U.S. History.
“Where’s Wisconsin again?” I asked.
Four years later, this haunted question is the number one thing I am asked when people hear I attend school in Wisconsin.
Now there are obviously two ways to interpret this question, one being with satire and the other being geographically, both to which I laugh off and respond: “Madison is about two hours from Chicago.”
2. "What's in Wisconsin?"
When I first thought of Wisconsin, I can admit my mind went to the typical country view of an expansive field with a red barn, like what you see on the side of a milk carton or butter tub. And while, yes, there is plenty of that, Wisconsin is so much more.
With Madison’s four major lakes and a vast number of state parks just an hour away, such as Devil’s Lake, the views are amazing. The Wisconsin Dells, an hour north of Madison, is also the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” with Noah’s Ark known as “America’s Largest Waterpark.” And let’s not forget that Milwaukee is a huge urban city with tons of opportunities and experiences at the tip of your fingers.
3. "You must love cheese!"
Yes, yes I do, and being in the cheese state has both expanded my cheese palate and provided me opportunities to do some really cool things, like milk a cow at Hinchley’s Dairy Farm. After living in Wisconsin, my favorite food is now fried cheese curds. That’s something anyone who visits must try. I am a proud cheesehead — and yes, I do own that cheese hat.
4. "UW-Madison, you must be a partier."
Ranked as one of the top five party schools consistently, I can admit that UW–Madison students can definitely “get lit,” but they also know how to pick themselves up and show out in the classroom.
Drinking is a part of the culture in Wisconsin, so of course that carries over to the university. But just as we rank well on the party scale, we also rank well academically. According to U.S. News, UW–Madison is ranked No. 10 as one of the top public schools and 38th among national universities.
5."You are going to get tired of brats and beer."
I personally am not a huge beer drinker, and I’m definitely not a fan of reminiscing on those Natty Lights from frat basements freshman year, but I have come to appreciate the flavors of a nice craft beer. There are so many beers that are special to Wisconsin, such as New Glarus beers. Brats, while I myself am not a personal fan, have such an immense variety of ways they can be made, cooked and served that there is a style for everyone.
6. "Aren't you scared to live in a conservative state?"
Wisconsin is actually a swing state and has played a vital role in many elections. Coming from a state that hasn’t been red in a presidential election since 1988, living in a swing state means that here, my vote actually counts — pushing me to be politically well-informed and to ensure that other young people are as well.
Politics can get crazy, but crazy things can happen no matter the state you live in and ultimately, it is just about the way you handle situations. UW–Madison has a vibrant history of intense political discourse on both ends of the spectrum, alongside protests in many forms, which creates an interesting and engaging environment for members of the community.
7. "Go Bucks/Packers!"
When people randomly bring up sports teams after I bring up that I go to school in Wisconsin, it always hypes me up. As a huge sports fan, talking about the Milwaukee Bucks, the Green Bay Packers or even the UW Badgers is one quick way to get me to go off on a tangent.
With the recent success of the Bucks being the 2021 NBA champions, the notoriety of the Packers having won 13 NFL championships — the most in the league — and the Badgers being a POWERHOUSE for college volleyball, it is no surprise that people who may not know much about Wisconsin immediately think about sports.
Featured photo by Perri Moran.