Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 36 - 9 Great Things About Life in a College Town

Fall is just around the corner and I can't wait for a little chill in the night air. How about you? Is fall a favorite season? After so many years in the year-round sauna of South Florida's sweltering heat, I am genuinely tickled when I see the leaves changing colors. This marks my third actual fall season - ever. In speaking with an old friend earlier today, I found myself extolling the many virtues of life here in Murray, KY. I figure it's probably time I lay out some love (PR) for my town. Here's a list of the very best features:

  1. Location, location, location: Nestled in Western Kentucky's "boot-heel," just an hour from Paducah (the closest large city), Murray is also only 10-20 minutes from the Tennessee border, and it's less than two-hours to Nashville and Music City. Murray is also convenient to St. Louis, Louisville, parts of Illinois and Indiana. When you think about it, this is an incredible central location.

  2. Breathtaking scenery: This part of the country is described in books as "lush, rolling farm country," and that's a pretty accurate description. For much of the year, the landscape here is green, teaming with flora and fauna. Even in winter, the MSU campus remains immaculately landscaped. (I adore walking across the quad to class no matter what the weather.) As part of my last job, I had to tour 15 other campuses throughout this region, and I can report that MSU is by far the best looking.

    The historical "Land Between the Lakes" is less than 20 minutes from campus, along with two enormous lakes (Kentucky and Barclay) for fishing and boating, and four nearby rivers. Every season brings a new vista and a brand new set of colors. From horse country to the mountains, just taking a drive is a feast for the senses.

  3. Safe and sound: The crime rate in Murray is far below that of any city I've previously lived in, and security equals peace of mind. Like everyone, I like feeling safe in my own home. This is not something I could say for Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or even Gainesville.

  4. Low Cost of Living: In times like these, when every penny counts, college students and their families will appreciate that Murray offers highly affordable housing and services.

  5. The Court Square: Murray, the town proper, is also home to a quaint old square in the heart of downtown. A stately courthouse sits in the center surrounded by landscaped walkways and an array of intriguing shops. There are no fast food or chain outlets here. The first time I saw this, I felt I had stepped back in time to when American was a better place.

  6. A top-ranked university: Murray State has been listed among US News & World Report's top schools in the nation for the past 17 years. This is but one in a long list of honors which make MSU a highly desirable school to call one's alma mater.

  7. The Regional Special Events Center (RSEC): Big name entertainment visits here year-round. In just a couple of weeks, I actually have a ticket to see .38 Special and Kansas in concert. For some of you, Maroon 5 may be more appealing, and they will be performing next month. Lovett Live is another venue on campus (among others) that attracts amazing artists to our unique small town. Between art exhibits, international films, plays and musical tours, there is always some type of first-class entertainment available.

  8. Driving is a breeze: Compared with other cities, Murray has no traffic to speak of. I mean that. I can be anywhere in this town in less than five minutes (even during the semester), and whenever the university has a break, the roads are empty! Traffic is one thing I don't miss.

  9. Friendly neighbors: I've written so much in the past about the incredible warmth of Murray's people. Both on campus and in town, this is a really friendly town for a medium-sized college. People in Murray want to get to know one another. Even I, a virtual newcomer, manage to run into someone I know on every trip to the post office or Kroger's. In a town with more than 10,000 students, this is a feature that makes a single person like me feel more connected. Yes, there is much to be said for life in a small college town.
The week ahead will be a hectic one for this student. Tonight, however, it's the Emmy's. Hooray for Hollywood!

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