We've lived in Kansas now for just over four months.
This is the farthest we've ever lived away from "home" before, and although Kansas and Wisconsin are both technically in the Midwest, there are some differences that immediately stand out to me. Now that we're approaching the Holiday season and nostalgia likes to come out of the woodwork, I find myself thinking about those differences often.
One thing is for certain. Kansas is flat. There may be some hills an hour or so away from us, but where we live? Nothing. Growing up in a river valley, you sort of take hills and trees for granted. Not anymore. Michael is going nuts with all the straight roads--there aren't any hills to wind the roads around here.
I may not appreciate the winds that flat lands tend to go hand in hand with, but I can't complain about the sky. I've heard the term "big sky" before, and I've always associated it with Montana or someplace similar. Not Kansas. But I really love the sunrises and sunsets here. Because there aren't any hills or many trees to get in the way, it feels like the sky goes on forever. It's breathtaking.
The temperature change isn't something to complain about either. Sadly, we'll still get snow and cold temperatures, but nothing compared to what we're used to. It's the middle of November and we had 70 degree weather yesterday! That's insane to me. But oh so very welcome.
One thing you don't really realize if you've never left the area you grew up is how greatly influenced your local area is by the ancestors that settled there. Sure, I knew that Wisconsin is a very German state (La Crosse doesn't have the World's Largest Six Pack for nothing), and I knew that my own personal ancestry is heavily Norwegian. But I never thought how much our lives--especially food--were influenced by our past.
What's one food we've always had for Thanksgiving and Christmas that I never gave much thought to? Lefse. Turns out that lovely Norwegian potato tortilla isn't known by many people. It's one of Michael's favorite foods during the Holiday season and absolutely no one sells it here. And one of my friends just tried a brat for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago. First time ever! If she had grown up in Wisconsin, that would never have flown. Don't even get me started with cheese curds. People haven't even heard of them! It's insane to me.
As much as the differences catch me off guard sometimes, I have to say that I love it. I love experiencing new places and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Kansas really isn't different from home in most ways so it's an easy box to step outside of. I just see it as preparation for where I really want to go--helllllo Europe!