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From The 49th to the Lower 48

Alaska to Kansas

Kansan writer Harry Whited details why he chose to move from Alaska to Kansas for college.

I get the same response every time I tell someone where I’m from: “Oh my God! You’re from Alaska? How the hell did you end up here?”

It’s a very good question, and one I keep asking myself more and more as I begin to adjust to life in Kansas. Sometimes I look around and think I am on another planet. That doesn’t just apply to the landscape I’m used to, but the food, the weather, and of course, the people.

Growing up in Alaska, wonder and possibility are two feelings you do not have to look hard for. You could wake up out of bed, get in your car, drive 30 minutes in a certain direction and be somewhere completely remote. You could be isolated. For the longest time that intrigued me, as it does with everyone who has experienced the feeling of being in a remote environment. Alaska is a playground for the curious and for the people who find joy in getting lost and adventuring.

It was my privilege to call it home for 19 years.

Now, I wake up and look out my window, and instead of watching my sunrise over the mountains, I see the sun crest over Frasier Hall. That question keeps popping back into my head: “How the hell did you end up here?”

I could give you the technical reasons why I chose KU. How I have family in Overland Park I can go see when I need to escape from busy life and loud roommates. How the school mesmerized me on my first visit with the large and bustling college campus, and the intoxicating feeling of awe I felt when I walked into Allen Fieldhouse for the first time.

Those are technical and artistic examples. The real reason I chose to travel almost three thousand miles to a place I have never known to meet people I have never met was simply because I had to leave.

The adventure that is encapsulated around Alaska could put a spell on anyone, but after 19 years, the allure to the state became stale. My mom always told me that no matter what you want to do in life, leave home. When you leave home, you either realize how much you miss your home, or you leave and discover a whole new life that you love.

Transitioning has been different. Not only am I far away and in a place that is as familiar to me as the surface of the moon, but I am also making the leap that every student has feared. I find myself comfortable, though. There is a feeling of warmth the campus brings, and the community has accepted me with open arms. It is easy to meet people when you say you’re from Alaska; it’s like wearing a shirt that says, “I’m cool.”

I’m getting more used to the heat. My blood is still a little thick for the heat down here, but I’m getting better at adapting to it. I enjoy the cool early morning breeze and the rich smells filling my morning walk to campus.

I’m far from home and doing something I have never done before, but I am happy. I miss home and I always will, but it makes me feel better knowing I am branching out to unfamiliar experiences. It is all so exciting.

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.

 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.

Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 

Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*

Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.

Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.

Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.

Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.

Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 

Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?

Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.

Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 

Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!

Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?

Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?

Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?

Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.

Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.

Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.

Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing

Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.

Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know

Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.

Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.

Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.

Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat

Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?

Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.

Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.

Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?

Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.

Girl: She's not in class this semester.

Guy: Maybe she's dead.

Girl: Or studying abroad.

Girl: They're like oil and water.

Guy: Wow, you're so good with analogies.