As a native Southern Californian attending university in the barren Midwest, moving so far from home was difficult. Living in a new area where all that’s visible are silos and cornfields really takes a toll on you, especially if you’re from the land of beaches, good food, and endless sun.
Purdue is located in the small town of West Lafayette, where there’s not much to do but to hang out with good company and try new things to pass the time like learning how to cook in your first apartment.
I’m proud to announce that in the past two years, I’ve accumulated a short list of alternatives to satisfy my Californian desires, and I’m here to share them with you so you don’t have to face some of the hardships I had to endure alone.
1. Trader Joes and Whole Foods
The only grocery stores in West Lafayette (and the entire Midwest) seem to be owned by Kroger, Meijer, or Walmart, and the closest Trader Joes and Whole Foods is more than an hour away in Indianapolis.
Solution: Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.
This place has a huge selection of fresh local goods, from leafy green produce to a nice selection of organic meats. It’s a 10 minute drive from Purdue, but hell, it’s worth getting lost in all of the colorful fruits and vegetables. Go buy some fancy cheese and make this freakin’ genius grilled cheese the next time you’re there.
2. The Beach
Orange County, CA is known for its beautiful beaches and amazing eats. Because the shores were in my backyard, I pretty much lived on the warm sand and listened to the soothing sounds of the waves. Who doesn’t love waking up to a calm sea breeze every morning?
Solution: Star gazing.
Grab a couple of friends and go stargazing at Purdue’s Pickett Park. It might not be the beach, but this could be the next best thing. The night skies in the Midwest are extraordinarily clear and beautiful. The absolutely stunning skies are enough to make you speechless. Make sure to stay warm and be safe with these helpful tips.
#SpoonTip: Best time to go stargazing is on a cold winter night, so pack your blankets and cuddle under the beauty of starry night skies.
Solution: Maru Sushi.
Accept the fact that you’re not going to eat fresh fish prepared by amazing Japanese sushi chefs in California. But you can easily make your own deconstructed sushi or go to Maru Sushi as an alternative. This Korean-run Japanese restaurant on Purdue’s campus will leave you pretty impressed. If you’re craving a quality roll, or ten, Maru’s is the place to go.
4. Hole-in-the-Wall Discoveries
After coming from a place filled with numerous iconic California eats, it was especially hard for me to live up to that hype of finding new eateries here in Lafayette.
Solution: DT Kirby’s.
The Midwest is popular for having awesome local burger joints, like DT Kirbys, which is located in downtown Lafayette. With its brick walls and beamed ceilings, this restaurant and pub is the perfect solution to calming my itch for In-N-Out. Order a massive burger, some fries, and a couple of beers, and you’re pretty much set for the day.
#SpoonTip: Make sure to go to the restaurant’s bathrooms. Don’t be scared and confused, just go. You’ll find yourself laughing when you do.
5. Weather above 55°F
Solution: Stay at home and turn up the heater.
Having to wear a huge Northface parka on top of multiple layers every single day for five months is really tiring, and the cold gets to you sometimes. There’s no actual solution to this other than to crank up that heater, cuddle in soft throws with your roommates, and Netflix the night away.
#SpoonTip: Watch Parks and Recreation to make your days in Indiana seem a lot more interesting.
All in all, Purdue is a community where diversity thrives. There aren’t too many distractions and you can always find yourself at Hick’s or the Krannert building, studying your life away. But when you’re not hitting the books or crying about exams, there are plenty of amazing people here who have so much to offer in every aspect of life. Purdue is the place where life-long friendships form, and there are endless opportunities to take advantage of. Because of this I am proud to be a SoCal Boilermaker, even if there isn’t an In-N-Out anywhere nearby.