I recently moved back to the North Shore from the Madison, Wisconsin area, where my family lived for the past two years. During that time, I learned:
- A “bubbler” is a drinking fountain, right? “Right” as used here loosely translates to “Don’t you agree with me?” from Wisconsin-ese.
- Everything in the Badger State tastes better with cheese. Think fried rice topped with mozzarella.
- Hunting is widely popular – camouflage print is the new black in Wisconsin. Currently, the Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill to require the state’s Department of Public Instruction to develop a curriculum for high school students on how to handle and shoot firearms.
- How to attach and remove my bicycle tires to access the seemingly endless scenic trails.
- It can be challenging to assimilate if you’re not originally from the state or didn’t attend school there. I found Madison, home of the crown jewel of the University of Wisconsin System, more insular than I anticipated. Of course, my Bears and Cubs jerseys didn’t help matters.
- Madison isn’t as liberal as its reputation. In fact, there’s a strong evangelical presence immediately outside the city. I shouldn’t have been surprised then by the weekly Christian gathering dubbed “Jesus Lunches” that occurred adjacent to our public high school or that up to a quarter of students there attended said lunches.
- The Wisconsin Idea, the principle that the University of Wisconsin should improve lives beyond UW classrooms, manifests itself in free – yes and unbelievably free – access to scores of cultural gems, from the Chazen Museum of Art to Memorial Library.
- Chicagoans may look down their noses at Cheeseheads but the disdain goes both ways. Many Wisconsinites dislike what they perceive as the pushiness of residents, traffic gridlock, and rampant violence in Chicago. So much so that they’re willing to pay big bucks and endure multiple layovers to avoid flying out of O’Hare.
- While Badger State residents may pride themselves on being “Wisconsin Nice,” the truth is that nice and not-so-nice transcend state lines.
- Visiting a place is not the same as living there. And a related lesson – it’s hard to overstate the value of roots and connections.
- Home isn’t merely where you hang your (cheesehead) hat but where you feel most content, right?