I grew up and attended university on the East Coast. I don't know what I was thinking when I matriculated at a graduate program in the Midwest-- perhaps I thought that having lived in diverse settings would be a good life experience or something (?) ... Well, what's done is done, and I'm here for the next three years. Please help me better deal with this culture shock!
I want to give the Midwest a chance, and I've made an effort to connect with my community through volunteering activities, visiting museums, and participating in community-oriented events... but my impression isn't changing. I feel like everyone basically grew up around here, hasn't ever been outside of the US, only speaks English, gets married relatively early (not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was a shock to me), and doesn't have many intellectual interests... On top of that, the Midwest (outside of Chicago and the Twin Cities) is not very diverse. I'm a minority, so that has also made things a bit more challenging.
I admit that the Ivy / Northeast culture can be equally bubble-like and, in addition, can be very pretentious and superficial. I definitely don't want to have that part of my background cloud my perception of things or make me a pompous elitist. I don't want to be mean or narrow-minded. But I'm just having such a hard time feeling comfortable with speaking Minnesota Nice
and feeling a real sense of community, mostly because I just find this place so... boring, stifling, and relatively conservative.
If it makes a difference: I am in a happy long-distance relationship, I am not depressed, and I like my classmates.
Any suggestions would be helpful.