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Experiences

From A-town to Mad-town: Differences between my hometown and Madison

Spoiler alert: there’s a lot

Let’s start with the obvious: the cold

I feel as though I cannot write this article without stating the obvious: it’s cold here. Like, very cold. This was my biggest worry coming here from Atlanta, which is frequently referred to by non-locals as “hot-lanta” due to the ferocious heat and soul-crushing humidity levels. The last time it snowed in Atlanta was my freshman year; approximately two inches of snow caused the entire city to shut down for a few days. Considering this information, you can imagine my surprise that my friends from Wisconsin have gone to school in three feet of snow. Needless to say, my parents took me to get the longest coat and sturdiest snow boots we could find. Whether I’ll survive the winter season is to be determined.

Waffle House? Never met her.

In my two months at this school, I’ve observed quite a few differences in the food here versus in the south. Though I certainly miss the independent restaurants in Atlanta, the lack of Waffle House restaurants has possibly been the biggest absence. For those who may not know, Waffle House is a chain restaurant that serves primarily (you guessed it) waffles. It is not necessarily known for the quality of the food, but rather the quality (and sometimes absurdity) of the experiences. To paint a picture for you: there are 1,952 Waffle House locations in the United States. 430 of them are in Georgia. None of them are in Wisconsin. Back home, it was beyond rare for me to go more than a mile without passing one, yet a UW-Madison student would have to travel to Indiana for the closest Waffle House experience.

Continuing on the topic of food, what’s Culvers?

While I miss foods from home, I’m also attempting to navigate all the new eating opportunities I have here. When I’m not eating at Gordon’s Dining hall, I’ve been trying different places that were not available to me in Atlanta. My first month here, I was introduced to Raising Canes, which has become a favorite of mine. A week ago, I had Culvers for the first time. From Potbelly to Conrad’s, I can always find new places to try.

Almost no one says y’all

Despite my insistence that I don’t have a southern accent, “y’all” has always been a staple in my vocabulary. It’s easy to say and it just sounds right in all contexts. However, coming here to Wisconsin made me very conscious of how much I say it. I will not lie, I’m still a little taken aback when I hear someone say “you guys”. 

… and despite all this, the charm is still there.

The south is often known for its “southern charm” due to the kindness of the people there. You can often find people smiling at you as you pass them on the street, and the good nature of its inhabitants is infectious. Though I may be more than 800 miles away, I’ve found the same kindness here with a Midwestern twist. Though it has been an adjustment, I’m very proud to be a Wisconsin Badger.

Kate Sarvady

Wisconsin '25

Kate Sarvady is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. When she is not writing for Her Campus, she can often be found hanging out with friends, dancing, listening to music (especially Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers and Fleetwood Mac), and eating ice cream.
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