"Western New York? There is no such thing as Western New York."
Someone has actually told me this.
"Rochester? Oh, so you mean, you're from outside of the universe."
Oh, the surprises of wandering from your home region.
Upon my arrival at UAlbany, I learned an important geographical fact: that Long Island is the center of everything. Prior to this, I had considered anything that wasn't directly connected to the large part of the state to be the same thing. In other words, Long Island, New York City, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island... all the same to me. No difference, whatsoever.
Yet here I am, an upstate-dweller, at an upstate school, the regional minority. I get labeled a redneck and a farmer and sheltered because I'm not familiar with the greatest city on earth. Downstate kids deal with probably more intense labels - although the few that like to advertise their home as "Strong Island" certainly do not negate their labels of "douchebags" and "assholes".
Sometimes I wish I could take everyone at UAlbany to my hometown, Le Roy, for a day. While we might not have sky scrapers or exciting clubs, there is undoubtedly a charm and romance to living in a rural area, as I've described in several previous blogs. Maybe some day these downstate kids will visit Western New York and learn not only that it exists, but also that it's not such a horrible place to grow up. Until then, I'll just have to live with the frustration of my portion of the state being invaded by southerners.