The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Big City vs Small Town

    Renee Rosenow

    Two columnists, from different worlds, were recently brought together in fair Eau Claire to share their hometown experiences. Scene editor Tara Cegla is from St. Louis Park, a large suburb of Minneapolis, and claims that big cities are better places to live and grow up in. Photo editor Abby Harvey hails from Waldo, a small Wisconsin town of 450. She claims that a small town experience is superior to the big city. And the two making the final decisions: Natalie Saeger and David Taintor – Showcase editors from medium-sized communities.


    Tara: Although I’m from the Twin Cities, I live in an older suburb so my high school was small relative to others, with a graduating class of about 330 students. Yes, that is small for the Cities, since most other high schools graduate close to 800 a year. Newsweek magazine ranked St. Louis Park High School as the second best high school in the state and most other top high schools in the state were in the Cities. Progressive and forward thinking is what makes big cities a great place to get an education.

    When I was younger, going on a field trip was the greatest thing ever. Everything was just a 15 minute bus ride away when you lived in the Cities. The Science Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Guthrie Theater and so many other establishments that enabled young kids to learn a great deal about different cultures and the arts. I remember even going to a farm once and seeing a cow get milked!

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    Name an ethnic background, religion or language and it could most likely be found at Park High. My high school is very diverse, with students from low-income housing and others that came from mansions near the border of Minneapolis. I don’t think many people know that orthodox Jews can’t use any electronics or electricity from sunset on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night, I know this because we have such a high Jewish population in St. Louis Park. Have you ever seen a gathering of people walking late at night in all black to get to service, making sure they blockade the middle of the street? I saw it every Friday night. I learned so much about other cultures just walking around the halls of my high school and driving around my community. This is a unique education I received, something I doubt you were able to experience, Abby.

    Abby: Some would say that going to a small town is great because everybody knows everybody and there are no cliqués and it’s like one big happy family. I disagree, I think that the best thing about a small town high school is that dead people leave a lot of money and there are very few students to divide it by. Let me explain. In my graduating class of 150, there were only three people from my actual hometown. This may not sound all that great, especially since it’s now quite obvious that the mean age of my town of 450 people is around 65 years old. However, when old people in Waldo die, their survivors often set up scholarship funds in their name. What this means is that regardless of the fact that I am not terribly intelligent, I got a scholarship by default.

    For this debate the small town of Waldo wins, because, let’s face it, cash is king.


    T: For the underaged like myself, I like to go to uptown Minneapolis. We choose to avoid field parties, garage parties, country music parties or barn parties for that matter. Uptown is a happening place and you can always spot your favorite bum either next to the bus station or Uptown Theater. The shopping is great too, with Urban Outfitters, the North Face store, American Apparel, a two story Victoria’s Secret and other boutiques. Yes, that’s right, Abby, I only have to drive 10 minutes to find a store where clothing isn’t flannel!

    What can you do in Webster or wherever it is that you live?

    A: There are many misconceptions about small towns and one that bothers me the most is that we don’t know how to have fun. Haven’t you people been listening to country music? I would like to quote the great poet Tim McGraw: “You can have a lot of fun / in a New York minute / But there’s some things you can’t do inside those city limits / Ain’t no closing time / Ain’t no cover charge / Just country boys and girls gettin’ down on the farm.”

    I would also like to mention that you can say “ain’t” in a small town without being reprimanded. What could be more fun than that? Of course for those slower nights cow tipping is always an option.

    Excitement or Tranquility … big city takes this event. We choose to prefer delicious food and duds.


    T: Rush hour is one of the biggest drawbacks to city life. Abby, I’d like to remind you that you were rather enchanted by the amount of cars on Washington Avenue after the Twins’ game last spring, a common thing to witness everyday from 7 to 9 a.m. and again from 3 to 6 p.m., on a weekday.

    A: There are only three things that could cause traffic jams in a small town. There’s always the chance that you’ll get stuck behind a tractor, but you can generally pass those fairly quickly. Just to clarify to the city slicker here, tractors CAN drive on the road; I seem to remember that mystifying dear Tara, they need to get to the fields somehow. Teleportation hasn’t quite made its way out to the country yet. The second is a herd of cows escaping from Bobby Joe’s daddy’s farm that might take a little longer.

    The third is when four of the five roads in town are shut down for a parade. In that case, there is always that fifth road, not that anybody needs to use it, because if there’s a parade in town everybody’s there watching the big ol’ John Deeres heading down the road. Again, yes, Tara, they can do that.

    And the winner is … small town, Wisconsin. We appreciate the laid back transportation opportunities. A tractor is easier to pass than a semi.

    Community Involvement/Friendliness

    A: A small town by definition must have three things: a church, a bar and a café. My town, of course, has all three, as well as a gas station – we’re branching out. What this equates to is the simple fact that you know where absolutely everybody is at any point of the day. At night, if they’re not home they’re at the bar; in the morning, they’re having coffee at the café; and on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, they’re at the church. Of course when everybody is related to at least a third of the town, every day is like a giant family reunion. The dating pool isn’t that great, but a third cousin really doesn’t count.

    T: Community involvement? While there are many organizations and charities set up in the Twin Cities, I have a different view of the people who live in my neighborhood. Once last summer, my family and I were sitting in our living room with our door open, just minding our own business, when all of a sudden a suspicious young man approached our screen door. He asked us something along the lines of, “Yo! Can I get a dolla?” My mother doesn’t leave our front door open past 7 p.m. anymore.

    And the winner … Waldo, once again, where you can alternate between coffee, Corona and Christ all in one block.

    Open space: Skyscrapers or Silos

    A: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single episode of CSI: New York where nothing bad happens in Central Park. The worst crime committed in my town park was that one time that a guy highjacked a fire truck at the fireman’s picnic and took out all of the other fire trucks and the wall of the fire station, but that wasn’t really at the park.

    T: Coming from a larger city, I love modern architecture. The Minneapolis Public Library, Guthrie Theater and Weisman Art Museum are known for their architectual achievement, making Minneapolis a leader in modern architecture. Also, the skyline cannot be missed.

    And the winner is … big city. We’d take a little CSI-type excitement and architecture any day over a fireman’s stolen ride.

    Food quality/money/costs

    A: I can sum this up in a three simple words: Grandma’s apple pie.”

    It’s only in the country that lard is still an acceptable ingredient, and although you can feel your arteries clogging while eating it, Fabio never won a blue ribbon at the county fair with an “I can’t believe it’s not butter” piecrust. Not to mention you can buy a pack of zucchini seeds for less than a dollar and you can make anything out of zucchini. You can shoot a goose out of the bedroom window (my dad did that once) and you have a whole meal!

    T: Some of my favorite restaurants are in uptown, one very popular restaurant being Chino Latino. They serve “street food from the hot zones,” basically meaning any food from along the equator. They have some of the best sushi, Mexican/Latin and Chinese food anywhere and they also serve guinea pig.

    Big cities are accommodating to all cultures, and that is especially seen in uptown, where there’s Greek, Italian, Mexican, Japanese and Indian food all in a five-block radius. The only downside to culture is the price. It costs more to live in the Cities, to eat, to have fun and to waste time stuck in traffic.

    And the winner … small town. Nothing beats anything made by grandma. And we give props to shooting a dinner from the comforts of home.

    And so the great debate comes to an end. Small town owns the title for now with its scholarship funds, low traffic amounts, trinity of diversity in one block and dinner from the bedroom.

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