One thing you don't think of when you go off to college is what you're going to have to tell everyone when they ask where you're from. Now, I go to a smaller college in Indianapolis, and the majority of the other students are actually from Indianapolis. The majority of the ones who aren't are at least from central Indiana. There are a few others who, like me, are from southern Indiana, but it's not many. There are even fewer out of state students, and I can't imagine what it's like for those from states other than Illinois or Ohio or Michigan.
You'd be surprised how few Hoosiers (the term for people from Indiana. How many people actually know that? I'm not the best judge being from Indiana.) from central Indiana actually know anything about southern Indiana. Let me give you a little introduction to Indiana for those of you from other places. You have central, northern, and southern Indiana. Central Indiana has Indianapolis, and so it's the most city-like of any place in Indiana. Northern Indiana is, of course, relatively close to Chicago, so it's pretty industrial. What does that leave for southern Indiana? Farming. We're basically considered the red-necks of Indiana, and we're judged harshly for it. We have Evansville and even border Louisville, but no one cares. (Okay. To be fair I get the dismissal of Evansville. If you don't know about Evansville, consider yourself lucky. I won't get into that.)
It's actually hilarious how few people from central Indiana have ever been farther than maybe an hour south from Indianapolis. If they have, it was a quick drive through. Some have been to Evansville, but they didn't enjoy it (shocking) and are quick to make fun of it.
Now, to be fair, I get it to a certain extent. We're mostly farm land. There's nothing really remarkable in southern Indiana. But, we also have to acknowledge that most of Indiana is farmland. Central Indiana may have Indianapolis, but I'm just going to let you quickly figure out what the rest of central Indiana consists primarily of.
I think the stereotype comes from bordering Kentucky. I'm not even kidding when I say that I've heard central and northern Hoosiers refer to southern Hoosiers as southerners (as in a blanket term for the South United States and not just the state). Now, I live as far south as you can get. I can see Kentucky from my bedroom window at home. I will readily admit that I live in an area where people on both sides of the Ohio River have the same culture, but you know what? That culture's not very southern. There are a few hints here and there, but those hints are all stronger on the Kentucky side. It's not that I have a problem being labeled as a southern. It's just a tad annoying when it's happening because others in your state almost seem to feel like you're from another state.
So, we've established that almost no one at my school ever seems to know anything about any place even remotely near where I grew up. Most of the time this is refreshing. Most of my former high school classmates are all at the same college right now (in lovely Evansville), and I actually get a clean slate while they continue their drama. Still, sometimes the lack of knowledge gets annoying. It's like we're the constantly dismissed portion of the state. Everyone wants to forget we exist.
I know Evansville has the most meth labs in the state. I know it has the fattest people. (I don't have actual statistic for this. It's coming out of things I've heard, but you get the reputation.) Evansville's still Indiana, but even more than that, Evansville is a tiny, tiny part of southern Indiana. I always have to use Evansville as a point of reference, so people seem to assume I'm from Evansville. I'm not. I'm from several counties over, but if southern Indiana as a whole is dismissed, anything not Evansville is dismissed even more.
This post has basically just been to to get my feelings out. There's no real point. I don't want to make it seem like this is something that really bothers me on a daily basis. It's just a slight annoyance that's grown over the years. I guess what it comes down to is that I feel like an out of state students even though I'm not. When real out of state students are involved, I feel completely included as a Hoosier, but if it's all Hoosiers, I pretty much feel like an outcast (not in an overly dramatic way but I think you can understand). It wasn't something I really thought about before coming to school here, but it's become really obvious since.
If anything, I actually consider this an interesting phenomenon. I don't think anyone from outside of Indiana will even understand, but I guess it's interesting to me to think about the dynamics within the state. Of course this is all from my experience. Other Hoosiers could have an entirely different one.