Displaced Iowan Adapting to Southern Life

Nick DeGroote, 1st year Epidemiology Student


Iowa’s great. We’ve got lots of things here outside of corn (I’m serious, Google “Things in Iowa That Are Not Corn” if you don’t believe me.)(Okay, that was a bad example because I just tried it and only found corn things). Did you know that we house the Bridges of Madison County and Field of Dreams was filmed there? To be honest, that’s all we have, so when I found out I was moving from Iowa to The South, I was a little excited to see what was out there.

Speaking about Google, I did a crazy amount of searches before I moved here. Some questions included “Can I ride my lawnmower on my gravel road to get to my neighbor who’s a mile away?”,” How hot is it in Atlanta and can I pull off a farmer’s tan here in November?”, and “Places in Atlanta that put deep fried foods on a stick”. Many of my searches came up with more useful information and I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system for me to move for at least two years, so I loaded up my car and drove 14 hours to get here. After spending the past eight months here, I’ve come up with a Top Five List of Things I Didn’t Know Atlanta Had:


1.)  Greenery

Seriously, there are trees EVERYWHERE. I would say it’s a safe bet to say there are 2 million trees per city block. The best thing is that they aren’t just boring oak and pine trees. Most of them have leaves that are not green!  My car is frequently covered in Cherry Blossom leaves, which makes my car look prettier than it is. Also, there’s an entire park in the middle of the city. Piedmont Park is amazing and I don’t feel comfortable saying how many times I’ve fallen asleep there while trying to study. Lastly, there’s pollen everywhere in the spring, but this is supposed to be a list of things to make you move here, so ignore that part.


2.)  Events

Atlanta has everything. It’s actually kind of scary to see how many different events there are on any given weeknight. I’ve spent far too much money buying tickets for concerts and shows here because there are so many! You could see Arcade Fire at Aaron’s Amphitheater on Monday and the next day see Miley Cyrus twerk on stage at the Phillips Arena if you really wanted to. There’s also a wealth of plays, musicals, and art galleries everywhere. The Fox Theater also hosts big name musicals like Wicked, The Lion King, and The Phantom of the Opera. The Horizon Theater Company is an smaller organization that always has awesome, adult-appropriate plays they put on, while Sips n Strokes lets you paint a picture of a flower whilst drinking a glass of wine with your friends.


3.)  Food

Southern comfort food is the best type of food period. Mary Mac’s Tea Room has the best fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, and collard greens in Atlanta. Also, some famous people like the Dalai Lama, Richard Gere, and the ever enchanting and cordial Mr. Justin Bieber (That last part was a joke if you didn’t catch it.) have visited it. Buford Highway is also home to so many different restaurants and types of food that you might be overwhelmed. The stretch of road has everything from dim sum to $10 all you can eat naan and chicken tik-ka-masala. In my experience, I’ve found that that’s a lot of naan.


4.)  History

Atlanta is a city full of history and one part you shouldn’t miss out on. You can visit the newly built Center for Civil and Human Rights and trace where the Civil Rights Movement started. You can also follow Martin Luther King Jr.’s life as you visit his birth home and the church where he served as a co-pastor with his father. Emory houses the Michael C. Carlos Museum where you can hang out with Egyptian mummies or admire some Greek artwork. Lastly, you can hike up Stone Mountain Park and get a panoramic view of Atlanta and the surrounding neighborhoods.


5.)  Tourist Attractions

I tried to not act like a tourist when I got here, but I failed miserably when I saw a 40 foot whale shark swimming in a 6.3 million gallon water tank in front of reinforced acrylic glass. Since I’ve been wanting to visit the Georgia Aquarium since the age of five when I pretended to be Captain Ahab hunting Moby Dick at the local public pool, I lost all sense of being an adult and pushed some children out of the way just to get to see them. Outside of the aquarium, there’s the World of Coca-Cola, which gives you a history of the sugary drink and Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympics. You can also go on a tour of the CNN studios, pretend you’re President Jimmy Carter in a replica of his oval office at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, and chill with some dinosaurs at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.


Simply put, Atlanta has several great things in it other than an amazing school of public health (That’s Rollins in case you ended up here by accident).

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