Going from Small Town to the City

by Cailey Tervo


I am very much a small town girl. I moved around the country quite a bit when I was younger; I never really stayed in one town for more than a year. Eventually my family settled in the small town of Washington, Illinois, and I’ve called Washington my home for about ten years. It was there where I met lifelong friends, fell in love with art, and had my first job.

Being a small town in the middle of a cornfield, life in Washington was, at times, pretty boring. The surrounding landscape was composed of cornfields and soybeans as far as the eye can see, with a few cows here and there to add some variety. Shops and restaurants closed at 8pm, there was only one McDonalds in town and absolutely no Starbucks, and there wasn’t much to do recreational wise besides going to the library, mini-golf, and bowling. All of which closed before 8pm. However, I grew to love the quiet and calm that came along with all of it.

Of course, I had to say goodbye to Washington when I came to Columbus for school three years ago. I had to do a lot of learning when I moved here, and not just from CCAD. I had to adapt quickly to all aspects of city living, from the sounds, the late nights, and busy streets and busy days.

Where back home I had my car to rely on for transportation, here in Columbus I had to learn to utilize the bus system. It took a few trips, a few hours of being lost and trying not to panic, but after a few trips with my roommate I pretty much learned the major bus routes to get around town.

What I surprisingly missed the most while living in the city is seeing stars. Back home, I could walk out my front door and see a clear sky of stars above me. Due to the light pollution in Columbus, stars are hard to come by. I’ve combatted that by taking trips to parks outside Columbus, such as Hawking Hills. This past summer I was able to see a meteor shower while in Hawking Hills, so the hour-long trip was definitely worth it.

Adapting to the noise of the city was also a struggle when I first moved here. Not that my hometown was all too quiet at night; my house was very close to a railroad, so I was used to falling asleep to the sounds of trains, as well as local dogs and my somewhat noisy neighbors. The sounds in Columbus were a bit different to me. The sounds of cars driving by, people shouting and moving about their days, and the sirens of ambulances and fire trucks took a while to get used to. I found that sleeping with ear buds in helped drown out some of the noise, but after three years I’ve gotten used to the sound and don’t need the buds anymore.

After being here for three years, I feel less like a little fish in a big pond. I feel at home. It just took a bit of adapting. If you’re from a small town and are feeling overwhelmed by being in the city, remember to be patient. Going from small town to the city can be a lot to take in, especially on top of school, but focus on one thing at a time and remember that you’re not alone during this transition. Talk to other students from small towns to see how they have been adapting to the city, and talk to students from the city itself to get tips and tricks from city-dwellers themselves. The student population at CCAD are all in this together!

Cailey is a senior illustrator major, RA, president of the Illustration Student Collective, comic artist, and cat enthusiast. She also probably needs a nap. You can view her work on her website http://caileytervo.com/