I’M FROM CALIFORNIA, I’m a senior at Macalester, and I don’t own a pair of winter boots. These facts often prove difficult to reconcile. Asking anyone from my friend group back home to point to Minnesota on a map is roughly equivalent to asking someone to play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” with an extra-thick blindfold. One of my closest friends once asked me if I ever “pop down to Chicago” for the day. At one point, my best friend sent me a daily side-by-side comparison of the weather with a frown face covering my half. In short, explaining that St. Paul, Minnesota, is a wonderful city has proved to be an ongoing process.

My fellow student blogger Emma Pulido ’14 wrote a great blog about coming to Mac from New York City, so I figured I would add the West Coast perspective. I was lucky to grow up in the San Francisco Bay area with the Pacific Ocean a stone’s throw away and a weather report that rarely read anything lower than 50 degrees. That said, at first glance, my decision to attend Macalester seems pretty transparent. My college search culminated with a small list of similar schools across the country. As a high school senior, I knew I was looking for a liberal arts experience with rigorous academics, a strong history program, and a chance to play baseball. Macalester fit the bill, and I was blown away by my visit. On paper, my choice to attend Mac makes perfect sense.

Yet no matter how hard I’ve tried, I always get the same question: “Wait, you went from California to Minnesota?” Yes, I did. And I would make the same choice again. I came to Macalester because I knew I would be afforded opportunities here that I truly wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Mac has brought together a community of students, faculty, and staff that has constantly astounded me. I’ve had the chance to pursue my passions to the fullest, take leadership positions on the field and in the classroom, and explore two brand new cities. I’ve met fascinating people from around the country and the world, and Mac has lived up to my expectations in every way imaginable.

People in California often complain that it’s difficult to tell when the seasons are changing. They simply blend into one another and are maybe marked by a slight difference in temperature. That certainly isn’t the case in Minnesota, and I’ve come to love the fact that my Macalester experience changes with the seasons.

Summer in St. Paul is the Minnesota State Fair, local baseball, and a whole bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies. Winter is a student-constructed igloo outside Turck Hall, strings of lights on Grand Avenue, and concerts at First Avenue. Spring is weeknights at the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field, home games with a barbecue, and studying on the lawn. Fall is the changing of the leaves, the first snow, and wearing flip-flops and shorts in 40-degree weather.

So, to every Californian who doesn’t own a winter coat, and to every Floridian who has never seen snow, I offer these few, humble words: It’s worth it. Sure, you may have to explain to a few wide-eyed friends back home that Minnesota is in fact located in the United States, but the experience you will have here is well worth the extra few minutes it takes to lace up a pair of good winter boots. Speaking of which, remind me to get around to buying a pair of those…

ROSS BRONFENBRENNER ’14, from San Anselmo, Calif., is a history major and a member of the baseball team. This piece first appeared in a student blog on the Macalester Admissions website. In recent years, the college has admitted more Californians than Minnesotans.

April 29 2014

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