I’m asked pretty frequently why I moved to Fargo. In fact, that very question was the inspiration for this blog and the theme of my first post aptly titled, ”Why the heck did you move to Fargo?” To really understand how I ended up in North Dakota, hundreds of miles away from family and friends, I’d have to start a few years back.
My name is Hailey Adkisson. When someone asks me where I’m from it is difficult for me to answer. You see, I was born in Washington state and still have the majority of my family located in the Pacific Northwest. However, much of my youth took place in La Plata, Maryland; a small town in Southern Maryland about 30 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. After high school, I headed down to James Madison University (GO DUKES!) located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Somewhere during that time I started dating my boyfriend (now fiancé), Blake, who is from the same town in Washington that I was born in.
I graduated with a degree in communication and decided to move back to Washington to be closer to family and the boyfriend. I spent a year working in central Washington as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Half way through my year in Washington, Blake decided to go back to school after a few years off, to finish his undergraduate degree. He soon got accepted to North Dakota State University. While this may seem random, it isn’t actually that bizarre. Both Blake’s parents, who currently live in Washington, are from North Dakota, and the majority of his extended family are still in the area. He would come visit every few years, but had never spent any extended period of time in the state and never a winter. As the end of my AmeriCorps year crept closer, the inevitable question came up: Would I move to North Dakota with him?
I began job hunting and found a VISTA position with Habitat for Humanity in Moorhead doing the PR/Marketing for the organization. (Job: Check.) We took a road trip in June 2010 and found an apartment. (Apartment: Check.) Then I had to tell my family that their youngest daughter was moving to North Dakota with a boy. (100% approval from family: Yea, that one took a little more time.)
Before I knew it, we were loading our things into a U-Haul and headed for Fargo. Since the move, my family has come around to the idea of me living in the upper midwest and are constantly sending me articles about Fargo in the news. A few have even dared to visit and were pleasantly surprised by what they found.
I began to settle in to the midwestern lifestyle, and after my year with Habitat for Humanity, I decided to stick around a little longer and earn my master’s degree in communication from NDSU. GO BISON! I am now working on my third year living in North Dakota and I realized I liked the area so much that I may as well stick around even longer. I recently accepted a permanent position with Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota working with students to encourage service learning and volunteerism.
I began writing this blog for a few reasons. First of all, I realized I was telling my stories of midwestern discoveries to my family and friends across the country over and over and over again. Rather than rack up the phone bill, I decided I should just compile my experiences in one place for them all to read. The second reason, and probably the most important reason, was to not only share an outsider’s perspective of the unique, and mostly positive, qualities that I have experienced in the upper midwest, but to also correct some of the myths associated with the area for those individuals that have never visited and assume the worst (my family included). North Dakota and the upper Midwest has a culture I have never experienced in any other part of the country. The unique food, the quirky accents and yes, even the weather, combined with the honest wholesomeness and compassion of every person I have come in contact with here, truly makes me love Becoming Midwestern.