Before students came to Wilkes University, they were kids growing up back home. Some of the 2,000 undergraduates are from down the block, but others came from far and wide to pursue their Wilkes education. These are their hometowns in their words.
Are (pronounced ooh-ray) is located about eight hours north of Stockholm, near Sweden’s border with Norway. It’s the hometown of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. “That’s why I’m a Rangers fan, actually, is because of Henrik. I used to follow him in the Swedish Elite League,” Gelso said.
What do people like to eat in Are?
Reindeer. Whenever you see steak on a menu, it’s not beef. It’s reindeer. And sushi, they freaking love sushi. There’s not really Swedish cuisine, but they love everyone else’s cuisine.
What are Sweden’s biggest sports?
They’re real big into skiing and of course hockey, but apparently they’re real into soccer, which I didn’t know. I thought when I went to shops there that I would find tons of hockey stuff, but no, I found tons of soccer apparel and no hockey stuff. They’re actually quite bad at soccer, but I guess it’s an European thing. They love the sport.
What’s one big difference between Sweden and the United States?
If somebody’s walking behind you and you’re going into a building, you hold the door open for them, right? Here, of course you do. Over there, you never do. I would hold the door open for somebody and they could totally tell I was visiting from America.
Is Are always cold?
Honestly, it’s about the same as Wilkes-Barre. It might be a little bit colder just because the elevation is a little bit higher – they do a lot of skiing there – but all of Sweden is pretty much our temperature. Normally it’s colder here than it is in Stockholm.
Do they get more snow than Wilkes-Barre?
It’s more consistent. They’ll get an inch of snow a day. We go back and forth between rain and snow, for them it’s just snow.
Is there anything in Wilkes-Barre that reminds you of Sweden?
Sometimes the architecture reminds me of Sweden, but it really depends on where you go. In Stockholm, all the buildings are flat. I have no idea why they made all the buildings flat when you get a foot of snow on top of them. You’ll be walking down the streets in Stockholm and they’ll be shoveling snow off the top of the buildings and people will get hit with giant snow piles flying off buildings.
Evanston, Ill., is a city of about 75,000 located just north of Chicago on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is the home of Northwestern University and actor John Cusack.
What’s it like in Evanston?
It’s a suburb of Chicago. On the north side of Evanston it’s really rich, upper-class people. On the South side, it’s lower class. It’s a mix, depending on where you go. I was from the South.
What did you do for fun there?
There’s a downtown area, so me and my friends would go down there. There were a lot of coffee shops and bookstores, a movie theater. We did that kind of stuff, just hung around.
What was your favorite place to hang out?
I remember sophomore and junior year of high school we would go to this place called Kafein. It’s a late-night coffee house that had karaoke.
What would you like to bring to Wilkes-Barre from Evanston?
I think more places for teenagers to go. I realize that all the teenagers have down here is the movie theater. Friday night you go down there and they are all there.
Do you get back home often?
About twice a year, usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes it’s just Christmas. Then I go home for summer. Sometime when there’s something going on at home that I really wish I could be there for, I get a little home sick. I’ve always wanted to go out and see everything, so I don’t tend to get home sick too much.
How close is Evanston to Chicago?
Well, from where I live, it’s about five minutes. You walk three blocks and you’re within the city limits. If I wanted to go see a concert or go see the Cubs play, I went to Chicago. There’s good shopping there.
Does Evanston cheer more for the Cubs or the White Sox?
I would say the Cubs, but that might just be because I’m biased. You do see the White Sox sometimes, but in Chicago it’s north side – Cubs, south side – White Sox. Evanston is on the north, so it’s mostly Cubs, except for a lot of the richer kids actually like the Sox. I don’t know why that was.
Given the town’s close proximity to Yale University, people from Madison, Conn., are a little biased when it comes to Yale vs. Harvard. UConn men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun also hails from Madison, a town of nearly 19,000 on the shore of Long Island Sound.
What’s it like in Madison?
It’s a really small town; we only have two stores to buy groceries in and a few shops. We’re a beach town, so all the richer people live around the beach. There’s just one main strip downtown where the high school is. It’s pretty low-key, pretty cool.
What did you do for fun in Madison?
The beach. There’s not a lot to do in Madison, but there’s a lot of big towns around us that we go to. But the beach is definitely the hot spot, it’s the best thing about the town.
Do you go to the beach often?
During the summer, yeah. But the water doesn’t get warm until August because we’re on Long Island Sound, so the warm water doesn’t get to us until really late. So you go there, but you basically just hang out on the actual beach, not in the water.
What’s the nicest car you’ve seen in town?
There are no pro sports in Connecticut, so whom do you cheer for?
Well, a lot of Connecticut people cheer for the Patriots and the Yankees. I cheer for the Colts and the Red Sox. But people love UConn; they’re basically the pro team.
Madison is 20 minutes away from Yale. Is Yale better than Harvard?
Absolutely. Yale’s just a better school. They have different colleges and dorms and compete in a ton of different competitions. It’s just so much more fun of a place.
If you could bring something from Madison to Wilkes-Barre, what would it be?
Well the beach, but we have a state sponsored national park, Hammonasset State Park. It’s a huge beach and a huge marshland with a lot of protected animals with a ton of areas to camp out. It’s really sweet.