Gustafson’s story: Moving south

Beth Sewell

Kentucky is an adventure for junior Meghan Gustafson. Living all her life in Millbury, Mass., she longed for a change of state and state of mind.

She figured the most interesting change would be to go south and see what it’s really like. She sat down with her mom and began the search for a four year adventure.

It ended at Big Red Way.

“My mom fell in love with the name ‘Big Red Way’ because we don’t have quaint little names in our town,” Gustafson said. “Being a kindergarten teacher, she also loved Big Red.”

Gustafson and her mother flew to Kentucky during Spring Break of her senior year of high school to check out its adventure-like qualities.

The empty space and farm land for miles was like eye candy for them. The “oohs” and “ahhs” they found themselves saying as they walked through campus was the first sign Gustafson knew that this was it.

The attraction was instant, and within a few months Gustafson was southbound.

Her mother may have fallen in love with cute names and mascots, but Gustafson fell in love with Kentucky.

“Where I’m from, it’s all trees and population,” Gustafson said. “I really liked seeing all the farm land.”

Gustafson’s attraction to farm land carried over to farm boys. She snagged herself a country boyfriend and cuddled up to his southern accent. She felt compelled to learn more about the culture, and being knee-deep in the trenches of people who were born and bred in the Bluegrass State just seemed to make sense.

The only thing Gustafson found hard about her southern surroundings was that she stuck out. She said things like “eh” after a question and “wicked-awesome” when something was good.

Her boyfriend and his friends are quick to let her know when her northern roots are showing, but sometimes it still slips. The idea that you can take the girl out of Massachusetts, but you can’t take the Massachusetts out of the girl was very evident to her.

“They always make fun of me and are like ‘wicked-awesome huh?’ and stuff like that,” Gustafson said. “But when I took some of my friends home with me, they realized that everyone talks like that.”

Gustafson feels that after five semesters here, she has picked up a tiny southern drawl, not enough to completely blend in, but a vast improvement from the “eh” days.

Although she travels home very little, she still remains active in her hometown government. She sends in her absentee ballots before each election and likes to keep up with what’s going on in Massachusetts.

As she looks on to graduation, she isn’t sure whether she will stay in Kentucky or look for another adventure, but she does know she’ll miss the South if she leaves.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot,” Gustafson said. “It has been a wicked-awesome adventure.”