Melissa Mauldin - DatelineCarolina

Spring 2006

Melissa Mauldin

When the winding highways of New York met the Amish town’s narrow roads and horse-and-buggy lanes, I knew I was in for some culture shock.

My friend left our hometown in Aiken, S.C. because there was nothing to do there and moved to New York. Yet not only was she getting married off a rinky-dink cornfield in Pike, N.Y., but she was also forcing her wedding party to sweat and toil in a cabin on the farm that should have been condemned in the 1960s.

That night on my U-shaped bunk mattress far down a pothole-riddled dirt road, I could only think it ungodly that there was no air conditioning for the 80-degree weather and that the only bath water came directly from unnaturally icy well water.

On this 21-year-old’s second trip out of the southeast, my preconceived notions about the North stripped me naked. New York is not teeming with skyscrapers, subways and businessmen in black suits like I imagined. Not once did I see a police car or a cell phone. Most of the state is covered with farmland and the equivalent of South Carolina’s rednecks.

Last summer I realized I have experienced and seen only a microscopic part of the world’s people and places. I have been so deeply rooted in my own culture that to unexpectedly experience another caught me off guard.

The opportunity to travel and to interact with different people makes me excited about a career as a journalist. I am not exactly sure what I want to do with my degree or the rest of my life, except that by the end of May I will be Melissa Simmons instead of Melissa Mauldin. I like copyediting, reporting and most of all graphic design, so I hope it will broaden my options in the journalistic field.

If all else fails, there’s always broadcast. Hello, Jon Stewart.

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