Since my experience away from the Midwest was such an interesting time for myself, I often think about other people who have left the Midwest and what their experiences are like. I decided to launch a series called "Midwest Expat" where I chat with a Midwesterner who has moved elsewhere to see how their Midwest is showing.
I met Allegra in the later half of my college years when she and I both worked at Bop. I can't remember when we transformed from coworkers to friends (and pen pals), but I'm so glad we did. When I first moved to New York City, she was living there also – most of my favorite first memories and experiences in the city involve Allegra. Now she lives in San Jose, California with her dog, Rue, and even though she insists she's not cool enough for this article, I beg to differ. She's one of the smartest and most interesting people I've ever met, and I know she's killing it in California, giving Midwesterners a great name.
My Midwest Is Showing: Where do you work, and what does your job entail?
Allegra Dimperio: I work for Netflix, where I edit the Help Center. I'm essentially responsible for ensuring that every help article we have is editorially sound, consistent in terms of voice and layout, and written in Global English so it can be easily translated into 20+ languages for our customers around the world. I'm the first person to have my role, so even almost three years in there are no dull days!
MMWIS: You graduated from UW-Madison. What was your major, and how has it helped in your career?
AD: I studied Journalism at UW, and I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am today without that degree. Right after I graduated I thought I had made a huge mistake by following my passion instead of getting a "practical" degree, but I've managed to find jobs that actually value skills like writing to a style guide and producing copy in HTML. Every company has some sort of editorial function, even if it isn't expressly labeled as such, so I've been fortunate to find those journalism-focused positions outside of journalism itself.
MMWIS: What is your hometown, and where do you live now?
AD: I'm from a small town outside Madison, and now I live in San Jose, California. My hometown had something like 5,000 people and San Jose has over a million, so while it isn't Manhattan or Paris, I think I could do worse!
MMWIS: What's your lifestyle like? Describe a typical day.
AD: My lifestyle is a teensy bit stereotypical in this area, meaning my main activities are work, yoga, and going on hikes around the Bay Area with my dog. I can also be found at the farmer's market the weekends I'm in town, or flying to see my friends back home the weekends I'm not. A message to anyone planning on moving away: Pick a favorite airline - you're going to need the frequent flyer points!
MMWIS: Favorite thing about where you live now?
AD: The ocean, hands down. I don't live right on it, but I make it a point to go to a beach at least once a month, as not everyone can just get in their car and see the Pacific. There's an amazing dog beach in San Francisco called Fort Funston where you climb down bluffs to a miles-long beach and just have beautiful views the whole time. I will miss it terribly if I ever leave.
MMWIS: What do you miss most about the Midwest?
AD: I primarily miss my friends and family, but I also miss summers on the lake and cheese curds (the fried kind). I'm pretty into having nice weather all the time, but summer in Wisconsin is just something else! People here think I'm crazy for missing the thunderstorms and the humidity, but I would absolutely live in Wisconsin from June through August if that was an option.
MMWIS: What don't you miss?
AD: I don't miss how homogenous Wisconsin was/is, and that's the best way I can say that!
MMWIS: What's something you know now that you didn't know living in the Midwest?
AD: I now know that people know nothing about the Midwest! People truly consider the 27 states that don't have ocean coastline to be flyover states not worth visiting, and cannot reliably identify Midwestern states on a map (this is not hyperbole - Buzzfeed proved it). When I tell a non-Midwesterner I'm from Wisconsin, their eyes either go blank or they start talking about Making a Murderer, Paul Ryan, or cheese (not a good look y'all). I sometimes try to point out all the great things from Wisconsin (La Croix! The Packers! Kendra Scott! Cheese!), but will abandon that cause if they give me a Minnesotan "eh" (this happens more than you would think).
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show in your new location?
AD: My Midwest shows when I say the word "sure," and when I tell my boss I'm going to see my family, again. I fly home to see them at least twice a year, because it just wouldn't occur to me not to. I don't think the Midwest has a monopoly on family ties or anything, but I call those trips "going home," and that's what they are. I love living in California, but I also love that being from the Midwest gives me a different lens and helps me appreciate things that native Californians take for granted, like kiwi being in season in December. I will never say I'm from California and I will never stop trying to prove that Wisconsin is more than the setting for That 70s Show. I will also never stop being frustrated that a quarter inch of rain causes hours of bumper to bumper traffic. What do you expect? I'm from Wisconsin.