By: Kate Foley, 1st year Epidemiology
I was raised Saint Augustine, Florida, a small town in the northeast part of the state. To some people who read their history books, it’s the oldest city in the country. To some who have been on field trips there in grade school it’s home to the Spanish fort and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, and to others it’s a retirement destination for seniors. In reality, it’s all of these things! I went to a small private high school, had to drive 45 minutes to get to a real mall, and ran into everyone and their mother (literally) every time I went to Target.
Let’s just say my parents were a bit worried when I chose Tulane University in New Orleans to spend my four years of undergrad. My dad lovingly still refers to me as his “bumpkin” which people usually think is a cute play on “pumpkin” until they realize he actually means “country bumpkin”. But New Orleans is a much smaller city than I had imagined, especially once it started to really feel like home (and I figured out how to get places without using my GPS).
Even though I was proud that I went from a 12,000-population town to a 400,000-population real city and lived to tell the tale, I was a bit intimidated when I googled “population of Atlanta” and a giant 5,522,942 popped up on my screen. Not to mention I wasn’t sure if I could survive living anything less than 90% humidity. Luckily, after moving here and gradually settling into my new big-city life, I started to realize that Atlanta, too, was not really as big and scary as it seemed at first.
The first month or so I was here, the references to different areas of town were endless- Little Five Points, Old Fourth Ward, places I’d apparently been but had no idea that I was in a unique little pocket of the city at the time. I couldn’t keep them all straight, but slowly started to develop my sense of direction. My roommate and I played a fun game of “Get there with the GPS, get back without it” which I highly recommend for newcomers- it usually ended surprisingly successful for us!
There are certainly things about life in this sprawling metropolis that will probably frustrate me as long as I live. Some of these things are: the fact that it takes me 45 minutes to make a Walgreens run when it’s approximately half a mile from my apartment, the fact that rush “hour” makes up approximately 6-7 ours of the entire day, the fact that you have to finish your drink before you leave the bar (New Orleans spoiled me), and finding out about a concert a few days ahead of time and then learning it’s been sold out since literally two seconds after the tickets went on sale. I can honestly say I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to anticipating just how many people are everywhere all the time, competing for your job, your parking space, that table at brunch, the air you’re trying to breathe.
That being said, I absolutely love Atlanta. I can see myself here after graduation, and for much longer than that. Since I listed some of my least favorite things, here’s a short list of Atlanta things that make me happy: there is always something to do. You can go to Ponce City Market and wander around the beltline on a nice day, you can see a good country show at a small venue every weekend if you wanted, they don’t yell at you for dancing on top of the booths at Stagecoach in Buckhead, and now the big one…it snows! For this Floridian-turned-Louisianan-turned-Georgian, this is a big deal!
I could go on, but I won’t. Moral of the story: small-town kids, no fear! Atlanta will treat you well. You won’t be eaten alive by the big city- I’m living proof of that.