A Guide to “The College Life” in Indiana

(Here's what you need to know)

The University of Notre Dame Campus with Golden Dome, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and Washington Hall.

Welcome to college in Indiana. No matter if you’re brand new around here or you’re a lifelong Hoosier, you’re in for a real treat.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for a life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it, and make sure you're covered with an affordable renters insurance policy.

Chapter One: Indiana Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to Indiana is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life Indianan, you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on populations and state birds and all. You need to go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try out a few of these conversation starters:

  • “Lotta corn around here, huh?” In fact, 90% of the world’s popcorn supply comes from Indiana alone. There’s so much corn here that in some parts of the state folks give directions based on the fields, like “turn at the third corn field on the left,” and so on.
  • “Where’s the nearest Steak ‘n Shake?” Around here, you just can’t beat a good visit to a Steak ‘n Shake headquartered right in Indianapolis. The steakburgers are pressed and cooked perfectly, the fries are shoestring thin, and the shakes … don’t get us started. You mention a Steak ‘n Shake and you’ve got yourself a few new friends for life.
  • “Soooooo, do you like baseball?” In Indiana, the answer is almost always yes. Has been for years dating back to the first professional baseball game being played here in 1871. And even now there are five professional teams throughout the state, but none in the majors however.

Chapter Two: Where to Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

According to rentcafe, the home of Indiana University, Bloomington, has  one-bedroom apartments going for around $1,129/month. And in West Lafayette, home to Purdue University, you can expect rent to be about the same — around $1,185/month. But of course that’s right inside the city, and you can always find lower prices out in a number of nearby suburbs or neighboring cities for a few hundred less.

PRO TIP: If you put two to three bunk beds in every room and grab a bunch more roommates, your rent will be dirt cheap!

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among Hoosiers, it’s best if you understand them. Locals say there's a "small town vibe that follows you throughout the state" even in its biggest cities. They also pride themselves on being friendly and maintaining lifelong friendships with the people in their hometown — kinda like a John Mellencamp song from right here in the heartland. Locals also boast about how safe they feel around here and don't feel the need to lock their doors at night or anything.

There are plenty of residents who like to say that it rains or is overcast almost all the time and that the sun hardly ever comes out. (It seems that it officially does rain about half of the year with bestplaces.net reporting an average of 186 sunny days per year in Indianapolis.) 

There are plenty of other residents, still, who say that the state's weather is some of the best and mildest in the country, and that they wouldn't trade it for the world. Whatever it is, it sure does help the corn grow, so you can’t be mad about that.

Chapter Four: Where to “Study” around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into Indiana life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • City West Ghost Town: Located within Indiana Dunes State Park is what remains of a city that was supposed to rival Chicago but for some bad circumstances. But hey, a ghost town — at least there won’t be any distractions.
  • In the middle of a cornfield: Silent except for the crows, you can’t beat the solitude of studying smack dab in the center of an Indiana cornfield.
  • Conner Prairie Interactive State Park: A throwback to life in the 19th century, this place has actors who play every bit of the part of life-back-when. Immerse yourself in a time where there were no cell phones and social media to distract you from getting your work done.
  • “Spirit of Jasper” train: Hop on, find your seat, and let the rattle of the tracks put you in the zone to get your work done. This 18-mile round trip will even provide dinner in case you get a little peckish from all that studying.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around Indiana

One of the best things about college are the weekends. And Indiana has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • Covered Bridge Festival: Rockville is the home of the largest festival in Indiana. The town’s brick-lined streets and antique shops offer a certain charm, with vendors and crafters along the surrounding streets for all the shopping, entertainment,and (of course) food you can handle.
  • Lotus World Music + Arts Festival: Held in Bloomington, this annual festival fills four days with music and art meant to "create opportunities to experience, celebrate and explore the diversity of the world's cultures through music and the arts." The town's streets are lined with visual art, while visitors' ears are filled with the music of its many performers.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Home to the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indy 500 race is 200 laps long and lasts about 500 miles. Catch a race and enjoy the on-site museum and daytime tours for your own opportunity to "kiss the bricks"— the famous finish line. 
  • The World's Largest Ball of Paint: A roadside attraction sure to stop you in your tracks in Alexandria is none other than the world's largest ball of paint. It all started with a simple baseball that got coat after coat of paint applied to it day after day, year after year, finishing at more than 25,000 coats. It now hangs from a chain and is 14 feet tall weighing a whopping 2.5 tons.

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local market and which careers are hot right now around town.

For starters, the state has a low unemployment rate of 3.4% despite a minimum wage that matches the federal minimum of $7.25/hour.

As far as career fields are concerned, some of the fastest-growing jobs in Indiana right now are: occupational therapist, web developer, physical therapist, music therapist, nurse, and home health aid. But if you’re looking for the bigger bucks, you might want to try out some of the state’s highest-paid positions like: anesthesiologist, surgeon, psychiatrist, and dentist. 

Indiana was ranked #2 on usnews's list of "The 10 Most Affordable States" in 2018. This place has a crazy low cost of living. So, don't let that minimum wage worry you too much, You won't have to do much penny-pinching here.

Chapter Seven: Pack Your Popcorn Butter, ‘Cuz Here You Come

All right folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to the Indiana college life. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And remember to find an affordable renters insurance policy.

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