Why Nebraska?

Discovering what brings college students to the cornfields

Debbie Pinto

When we tell our friends and family we go to school in Lincoln, Nebraska, the question that most frequently follows is “Why?”. In fact, some of us may have pondered that question ourselves, yet Lincoln is home to more than 38,000 college students. How have these cornfields turned into a cornucopia of collegiates? I’ve interviewed 3 students in Lincoln to find out.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is home to 24,207 students. Known for their Big Red school spirit, UNL is home to one of the nation’s most popular college football teams: The Nebraska Cornhuskers. On Saturdays during football season, it’s common to see waves of fans dressed in red flooding the streets Lincoln’s Haymarket District.

Alleah Bouley, a chemistry pre-med major, is in her second year at UNL and loves “the football hype, the chemistry program, and the campus.” While many are skeptical when they first arrive to Lincoln, Bouley “loved it from the beginning. The only thing I don’t like are the cold winters.” When asked what her favorite part about Lincoln was, she said “the closeness of everything and, of course, the sea of red during football season.” Because Lincoln is a small city, many stores and restaurants are in close proximity, especially in downtown Lincoln where one can find boutiques, art galleries, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and various types of stores.

I was curious about her transition from the scenic views of Colorado to the flatlands of Nebraska. “It wasn't hard for me because I originally came here with my best friend. She has since moved back to Colorado but I've made lots of new friends in my classes and sorority.” Thus the big question, would she recommend other students to come to Lincoln? “I always recommend people to come here! I have loved my experience and the opportunities I've had in college and want others to have the same experience.”

12 minutes north of Union we find Nebraska Wesleyan University. Rooted in United Methodist heritage, this liberal arts university is home to approximately 2,100 college students. Kelby Bordwell graduated from Wesleyan as a psychology major this past year. Originally from Omaha, she wanted to attend a college close enough to home and as a result enjoyed living in Lincoln. When asked what her favorite part about Lincoln was, she said “the people, music scene, and coffee shop scene. Everyone is super friendly and easy to strike up a conversation with. There is a strong variety of artists that I have been able to see. And the Mill is my absolute favorite coffee shop.” Coffee shops are a popular place for students to study. Some of Lincoln’s most popular are The Mill, The Coffee House, Scooters, Cultiva, and Meadowlark. Lincoln has also hosted popular artists such as Pretty Lights, Mac Miller, Mumford and Sons, Needtobreathe, and many more.

Bordwell also mentioned how “you could literally spend all day in the Haymarket just exploring downtown Lincoln and even UNL's campus.” When it came time for the big question of whether or not she would recommend other students to come here, say responded excitedly saying “Oh most definitely!! I think Lincoln is a great place for students to go to school because there is so much to do and the educations at the schools are great!”

After talking to students around Lincoln, what about the students on our own campus? Stella Park, a biomedical science major knows the local treasures of Lincoln like the back of her hand but did not want to come study here. “I promised myself that I’d go somewhere warmer than Lincoln.” Now Stella can tell us some of the most fun and delicious places to go! “Nebraska isn’t all crop fields. Get zen at the Sunken Gardens, stroll along the brick buildings over the cobblestone roads in the Historic Haymarket district, grab a gourmet burger at Dempsey’s Burger Pub, around the world pizza at Yia Yia’s, go on a classy date to the Lied Center…. and so on! Bring your car, or find a friend with a car and Lincoln will turn out to be an incredible place filled with lots of local treasures, and great restaurants.”

And finally, when asked if she would recommend students to come to Lincoln, she said “it’s a fun place that has something for everyone...It's a moderately sized city with the perks of a small town as well as a big city. Right smack dab in the middle of the US, it's fairly close to a lot of the Midwest destinations if you love road trips.”

It’s become clear that Lincoln is more than cornfields. We may not have the ocean or skyscrapers but we are here because we want to be here. There are cool local treasures waiting to be discovered and a community of college students who are ready to have fun and explore other gems found in this small city. Lincoln, thanks for being awesome.

Debbie is a junior studying elementary education.