When you’re from Minnesota, you don’t really think about what it means to be Minnesotan. In school we learn the state bird (the loon), state motto (“The Star of the North” [L’Etoile du nord]), where the capitol is located (St. Paul), and the fact that we have more than 10,000 lakes (11,842 to be exact). Some things, though, we might be guilty of taking for granted—like our change of seasons (although this year they seem to have been fall, summer, winter, winter), our arts, culture, and intellectual life, our plethora of Target stores (including the first Target ever built!), the almighty, majestic, awe-inspiring MOA, our many pro and collegiate sports teams, our abundance of rail-to-trail biking paths, Prince and Bob Dylan and F. Scott Fitzgerald (ok, we don’t take them for granted, we actually take great pride in claiming these born and/or lived-in-Minnesota heroes). We draw out our “o’s” and have nasally “a’s” and go to potlucks and bring a dish to share and talk about the weather—too humid, too hot, too cold, too much snow—don’tcha know?
Many of us live here because we grew up here and our families and friends are here and we learned early on how to take the good with the bad (we’ll put up with below-zero weather in exchange for those glorious summer months, mosquitoes and all—we’re tough). Many of us have carved out a nice little existence in Paul Bunyan’s homeland. It might be cold here, but the people sure are warm.
Why, though, do people choose to move here? And once they’re here, what is it about Minnesota that encourages them to stay? I interviewed Jessica—who moved here from sunny Florida—to hear her thoughts about Minnesota before she moved here, and what she thinks—and knows—now. Her answers might help you see the beauty of Minnesota in a different way (especially when the windchill is 30-below!)
Where did you live before moving to Minnesota? Orlando, Florida! Basically, the land of tourists, Disney World, and flip flops.
What did your friends say when you told them you were moving to Minnesota? I met my (now) husband while I was in college. He’s a Minnesota boy through-and-through. He landed a great job right out of college. I was applying to law schools at the time and realized that Minnesota would be a great place to start the next chapter of my life. My friends, however, had reactions ranging from “Wait, which state is Minnesota again?” to “Oh my gosh, it’s SO COLD there! How will you survive?!” I’m pleased to report that they now are much more understanding of where I’ve chosen to plant roots.
What were some of the misconceptions you had about this state? I didn’t realize how vibrant and active the culture would be here, even in the winter months. I fully expected to hibernate in the winter, but there is no shortage of activities going on throughout the year. Minnesota ranks in the top five on nearly every imaginable “Best Of” list, yet for whatever reason is doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
What were you expecting when you moved here? I was expecting to be the only brunette in a sea of blondes, and I was expecting a bunch of terrible Fargo accents. I was wrong on both assumptions.
What do you think of the weather? It seems like every year there’s been some crazy weather phenomenon that surpasses the record set in 1882, but I like the four distinct seasons. Summer is my favorite. (I’m still a Florida girl at heart.) Summer is a glorious time of year here.
What do you think of the people? I think it’s a known fact that Minnesotans stick together. You either grew up in the same neighborhood or went to church/elementary/middle/high school/college with 95 percent of your core group of friends. As an outsider—from the SUNSHINE state no less—it was tough to break in and meet people at first. Minnesotans are proud of their home and know why their state is so awesome, yet there is skepticism toward anyone who willingly chooses to relocate from a warmer climate. Yes, the winters are hard. Yes, it’s cold. It ties everyone together in some weird way.
The art, theater, and music scene? I come from a very musical and artsy family. I grew up dancing, my father is an artist, and he and my siblings all play music. The art/theater/music scene is incredible—there is so much top-notch artistic talent in a relatively small area. In my opinion, a lot of the local productions and shows surpass the national ones quite frequently.
The outdoor recreational opportunities? I might have grown up 30 minutes from the ocean, but Minnesotans love their outdoor recreational activities. In the summer, there are seemingly endless things to do outside (like, um, paddleboard YOGA?!), and in the winter everything is new again with ice fishing, skiing, skating, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
The job scene? Since moving here, I’ve had the good fortune and opportunity to switch jobs several times to advance my career goals. While Minnesota was not immune from the recession, it fared much better than the rest of the country.
The restaurant scene? This is probably one of my favorite aspects of living in Minnesota. The restaurant scene is something every Minnesotan should take pride in. I’ve had family in town for a week at a time and never once did we have to eat at a chain restaurant. My family and friends comment time and again that they dream of dishes and food they’ve eaten here. The quality, creativity, and variety rivals that of New York City (and whoops, Chicago by a long shot).
What are some of the things you do/places you go when you have out-of-town family or friends visiting Minnesota for the first time? It depends on how much time we have and the time of year, but we’ve taken friends and family to: Lake Calhoun/Isles, Uptown, Minneapolis Institute of Arts – the sculpture garden, downtown Minneapolis (especially the skyways and Nicollet mall), the Stone Arch Bridge/Mill City/Guthrie, Minnehaha Falls (always a favorite), the Arboretum, downtown Wayzata, Stillwater, Summit Avenue in St. Paul/Basilica, the state Capitol, the Science Museum and the Minnesota History Center. I hate to say it, but everyone wants to go to the Mall of America, too, and it’s not so bad. The North Shore is one of my favorite places to visit—even my hard-to-please grandmother thought Lake Superior was breathtaking.
What have they liked/disliked? Our visitors have liked everything that they’ve done here. The only dislike is that they didn’t have the chance to stay longer!