Welcome to college in Kentucky. No matter if you’re brand new around here or you’re a life-long stablehand, 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: Kentucky Conversation Starters
Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to Kentucky is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life Kentuckian, 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 gotta go for a way, way deeper dive.
When trying to assimilate to local culture, try out a few of these conversation starters:
- “Not all whiskey is bourbon, but all bourbon is whiskey.” In order to be bourbon, the whiskey has to be at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak barrels, and made in Kentucky (though the last recently changed). And remember, bourbon is for sippin’.
- “Pass the burgoo.” Around here, you just can’t beat a good bowl of burgoo, a local stew everyone loves that’s packed with meats and veggies and MUST come with a side of cornbread.
- “Where are you watching the game?” Around here, entire towns shut down when the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team has a game. So it’s not a question of if you’re going to watch the game, it’s where.
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 the University of Kentucky, Lexington, has one-bedroom apartments going for around $922/month. And in Louisville, home to the University of, you can expect rent to be about the same — around $972/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?
The people in Kentucky are as varied and special as the surplus of interests their state holds. With the Appalachian Mountains running right through the state, you can imagine that all sorts of outdoor activities center around exploring them. Hunters around the state also take full advantage of the wide open spaces every season.
Southern hospitality is still alive and well throughout the state. From the rolling hills of horse country to the Appalachian region in the east and the northern metropolitan area, you’ll find proud Kentuckians happy to welcome newcomers to their beautiful state.
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Chapter Four: Where to “Study” around Town
Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into Kentucky 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:
- The National Quilt Museum: Right in Paducah, KY, rests a place that quilters from all over the world have visited to experience unique twists on quilt artwork. Just imagine snuggling up with one or three of those quilts all cozy. It’d be perfect for studying. Unfortunately, the quilts are all hung on the walls, and we imagine they don’t want you removing them. But at least you can dream.
- Mammoth Cave: Named to reference its size and not the furry ancestors of elephants, this place is a jaw-dropping site that goes deep into the underground parts of Kentucky. Find yourself a nice quiet spot and hunker down with your textbooks, ‘cuz the Wi-Fi is a bit spotty down there.
- A Cup of Common Wealth coffee: Right in Lexington is this perfect little spot for studying with a bit of a buzz. The walls are decked out with local art, with super-friendly baristas, and a soy latte that’s out of this world.
Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around Kentucky
One of the best things about college are the weekends. And Kentucky 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:
- Tour of the Horse Tracks: Racetracks around here are like Starbucks with one on about every corner. Make a nice little weekend road trip out of it.
- Kentucky Derby: The first Saturday in May is a massive deal around here. Everyone gets dolled up no matter if they’re going to the races or having a watch party in their backyard. But going to Churchill Downs for the actual race will be something you’ll never forget.
- Louisville Slugger Museum: Louisville is the home to by far the most legendary bats of all time, the Louisville Slugger. And to chronicle their history, the museum has put on an incredible display that celebrates their heritage. And you can’t miss it either, with the giant baseball bat statue standing out front.
- Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Now, once you’re good and 21 years of age, you’ve gotta try out this tour that celebrates some of Kentucky’s finest creations to mankind. You’ll stop at nine different distilleries to learn the history, the process, and the tastes of these unique local bourbons.
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.
A study done by Wallet Hub ranked Kentucky 48th in its rating of the best states for jobs based on opportunities and economic environment. It may not be the ranking you’re looking for, but with the right attitude you can turn anything into the opportunity you’re looking for.
On the greener side, the Louisville metro area does have an unemployment rate a bit lower than the rest of the state (which is on par with the national average of 4.1%) at 3.9%. This is mostly due to increases in jobs in health care, business, tourism, and tech. If you’re thinking of making Kentucky your perma-home, those industries would be the ones to look at.
Chapter Seven: Pack Your Stirrups, ‘Cuz Here You Come
All right folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to the Kentucky 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 make sure you have an affordable renters insurance policy.