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I Became Midwestern

July 11, 2013 by Hailey Goplen


First arriving in Fargo

Learning to make lefse


While this blog was originally intended to reassure my family and friends that I was indeed surviving the arctic tundra of Fargo, what it turned in to was a way for me to truly experience and enjoy the place I had moved to. In the beginning, I simply wrote about what I noticed around me. The food, the weather, the language and accents, etc. Eventually however, this blog inspired me to seek out unique midwestern experiences and opportunities on my own. In fact, many of my friends who have lived in the area their entire lives have often joked how I have done more “midwestern things” than they have. What this allowed me to do was to try new things, go to new places, eat new food, and meet some of the most amazing people I have ever met. In other words, truly embrace each new experience and make the best out of what I had originally thought would be a few somewhat unpleasant years. The truth is however, even in the midst of all my midwest “adventures”, I always viewed Fargo as temporary… a filler until the next phase of my life began. Sure, I’ve had a lot of fun experiences (branding a calf, going to small town bars, driving a car on a frozen lake, and learning to make lefse and hotdish… just to name a few), but these were just supposed to keep my occupied until my inevitable escape.

Surviving winter

And then, about six or seven months ago, it hit me. Fargo was no filler until something else began and I moved away. On the contrary, something else began when I moved to Fargo. And with that

Branding a calf

revelation, I began to settle down and accept that the quick “get in and get out” was just not going to happen. To make that revelation even more permanent, I bought a house. No getting out of here quickly anymore. And while I don’t know that Fargo will be a forever home, especially with my family so far away, for right now I can’t imagine going anywhere else.

So, the theme of this blog has been for me to experience life in the midwest; to “Become Midwestern”. Without realizing it, the midwest seems to have creeped in and found a place in my life. And to be honest, when I do notice it, I still get a little startled. The other day for example, Blake was talking  to me and without batting an eye I replied, “Oh, yeah, I suppose”. We both froze. What had I just said? Or around the 4th of July I suddenly had a hankering for strawberry rhubarb pie. I had never even known what rhubarb was before moving to the midwest, led alone baked a pie from scratch before. And while this may sound ridiculous, I honestly think I am friendlier and just all around like people more since moving here.

Go Bison!

My first hotdish

You see, I think I accidentally have become somewhat midwestern. Though I will never lose the other parts of me, squished in between my east coast driver and lover of Old Bay seasoning, and my west coast need for elevation and green trees, is the midwestern me: a hotdish-making, lake-loving, snow-driving, sandbag-filling, festival-going me.  And though I now have this additional piece to me, don’t expect me to suddenly embrace negative temperatures, shoveling snow, or lutefisk.

And with that, I think it is time to close this chapter of my life. I thank everyone who has so loyally followed my blog over the past few years. I have made connections with many of you that I have never even met in person and I do believe you all have helped to contribute to my shift in mindset about staying put in Fargo for a while. But when it is time to stop something and move on, you just know. After all, I think I achieved and actually surpassed what I set out to do. I actually became midwestern.


Hailey (Adkisson) Goplen




  1. Laura says:

    Happy to see someone embrace the “upper mid-west cultures”. Best wishes.

  2. Brian says:

    I hadn’t read your blog for awhile but have always enjoyed it so today when I came to see what your latest adventures were I was sad to see you are no longer writing. You truly have a gift but I certainly understand how it could become hard to keep it going over a long time. But you are such a positive voice and we need more of that in this world and so hopefully (for selfish reasons) you someday decide to start writing again. It was always a pleasure to see what you found that was new or exciting or funny of all three combined. Anyway best of luck to you and the family and blessings to all of you.

    • Brian,
      Thanks for such kind words! I really enjoyed writing my blog and connecting to people all over the country about the Midwest. However, I wanted to end on a high note instead of scraping for things to write about. Writing is something I’m really passionate about however, and decided to start another blog a few months ago with a different twist. If you’re interested, here is the link:

      Thanks again for your following and support!

  3. Keith says:

    Wow. I discovered your blog today while trying to find evidence of the “east coasters measure distance in time while Midwesterners do it in miles” phenomenon. Didn’t quite find wait I was looking for, but many of your posts reminded me of when I first arrived here in Syracuse, NY from North Jersey almost 40 years ago.. Only 250 miles away, but what a change. I sort of think of Central NY as the gateway to the Midwest. It’s that different.

    And the winter weather? It wasn’t very long before I was making fun of the people back in Jersey who freaked out over a half inch of snow…although I do recall thinking that the time and temperature tower downtown was malfunctioning the first time I saw it display a temperature that was below 0.

  4. Don Lajoie says:

    I am sad just discovered this blog and your no longer writing. Thank you for the great info.

  5. Kory says:

    I’ll miss reading your blog. It had been quite some time since your last posting so I, like another reader thought you’d grown too busy to write. We may have been correct. It is good to see that you’ve embraced your inner uffda and made yourself at home in the area. Be well in your future endeavors and fear not, I’ve lived in ND most of my 41 years and still refuse to try lutefisk. It was meant to make a protein source shelf stable on long voyages, not as a delicacy to be relished.

    Again, be well and God bless.

  6. Karlos says:

    Typical Left Coaster. Moves to N. Dakota. Yeah, a few cold winters. Then bails on her readers. Yee Haw! You learned how to make a casserole. Whoa! You claim that you became a midwesterner. Some how, I doubt it.

  7. Andrea says:

    Your blog will surely be missed, i am so glad you have become midwestern. North Dakota just has its way and it becomes home i couldnt live anywhere else!

  8. Dave from Minnesota says:

    When your new posts became rare, I was thinking it was one of two things. Either you were no longer happy in Fargo and had decided it was time to look into going elsewhere. Or it had become home, so each day was no longer a novelty. That is a good thing.
    Happy to see it was the latter.

  9. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for your enlighting post about Fargo and the Midwest. I stumbled upon it as i too was making a transition to Fargo. You will be missed. Happy trails.

  10. Jolynn says:

    Hailey, I am sad to read that you are ending your blog. I so enjoyed reading it over the past couple of years. Best of luck to you as you continue your North Dakota adventure!

  11. Rick says:

    I have enjoyed your “growth” in becoming a “Midwesterner”. I will miss your blog updates as I think I felt you becoming one of us along the way, and was sooo happy for it. The settlers in this state were of an adventurous spirit…just like you!

    Please spend the next 70(or so)years here…

  12. Kathy says:

    Kudos to you for taking the challenge of a big move and so readily embracing the culture of the Midwest. “Bloom where you are planted”. And indeed you have. Love, Mom

  13. Joe says:

    I moved from Minot to Austin, TX 6 years ago and when I found your blog, it served as a gentle reminder the things I miss about North Dakota. I like where I live now, it’s different, but I like it. However, when experiencing new things, it’s easy to forget the familiar like hotdish and scotcheroos.

    Thanks for your blog and sense of adventure. Best of luck to you :)

  14. Jeremy says:

    As a Fargo native now on the east coast, I’ll celebrate your blog by attending a JMU game this year…in my Bison gear of course.

    Thanks for all the great stories.

  15. Wyndmere, ND says:

    I don’t know why anyone hasn’t contacted you to buy the movie rights to your blog….Julie/Julia, wouldn’t that be great! i’ve been reading your blog from the beginning and am very proud of how well you’ve adapted to our “family” here in NoDak. Take care and congratulations on finally Becomming Midwestern. Come visit us in Wyndmere Sept.14th for the annual Fall Festival and Street Dance.

  16. Terri says:

    Well said, well written! Will miss your blogs, but now you are at another GREAT chapter in your life. 😉

  17. Tom S says:

    Hailey, You blog will surely be missed by many. I am also a transplant in Fargo(but still in the midwest) and truely enjoyed all your posts. Take care and have a wonderful life. I hope you raise you kids here, it’s a great place to do so.

  18. Miki T-B says:

    Lutefisk…definitely NOT something to be embraced!

    I myself have lived in North Dakota most of my life. I wasn’t born here but moved to Jamestown with my family when I was in 1962 when I was 5. When my parents and brother moved away in 1979, I stayed because I love this state. Ever since 1982, I have lived in “small” towns…Steele, Binford, and now Cooperstown, and other than missing some amenities such as having a Wal-Mart closer than an hour away, I love living in small towns and knowing pretty much who someone is just by their walk even though they’re a couple of blocks away.

  19. Michael Burns says:

    Beautifully said! I love how you expressed your revelation. The Midwest and especially Fargo has a way of creeping into your heart and before you know it setting up shop. A shop that will never close and after living there you never want it to. I am teaching an intercultural class tomorrow and I want to let you know I am going to use your blog as an example. Your blog posts always made me smile and miss my Fargo family and home.

    • Thanks, Michael! Yep, it sucks you in and I know I’ll never be able to escape the midwest now… even if I’m not living here. I’m honored you’re using my blog in your class! Hope all is well!

  20. Brenda says:

    Awww, Welcome and so glad you feel free to call Fargo home for however long! Thanks for your great blog and allowing us all to see this area through your eyes!

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