Aside from the unmatched culture that Southwest has to offer, the best perk of job is the flight benefits. Since the end of May, I have traveled all around the United States to visit friends and explore cities I have never been to. In the last two months, I visited San Antonio where I went for a walk on the Riverwalk and stopped for some Mexican food along the way. I also flew to see my roommate in Chicago, had some deep-dish pizza, and paid a visit to the Bean in Millennium Park. On one particular Friday night, a few coworkers and I flew out to New Orleans where we celebrated a friend’s birthday on Bourbon street. Although it was unusual to not spend Fourth of July on a lake in Michigan, it was cool to spend it in Austin where my current roommates go to school at the University of Texas. I have also been to Cincinnati where I got to see its historic German heritage and taste its famous chili dogs. On my last excursion, I met a group of friends in Nashville where we went out on Broadway and saw handfuls of live bands perform. As nice as it has been to explore new places, my favorite part about being able to fly every weekend is that I get to scout each city and gauge whether or not I want to live there after graduation. For example, I now know that Austin is way too hot for me and despite how much I like the city, I could not stand the heat in the long run. After all my travels, my top prospects include Cincinnati, Nashville, and of course Dallas.
Having driven through Ohio on several occasions, I never thought I would consider living there at any point in my life, especially right out of college. The mundane scenery and never-ending road work turned me away from the entire state. Since then, I discovered Cincinnati, the hidden gem of Ohio and a city so nice that I had to visit twice. Cincy is a surprisingly young city that is full of life and excitement. There is always something going on and despite how big it is, it seems like a very close-knit community. It is also close enough to Kentucky for some Southern charm to rub off on people to the point that they’re always kind. It is home to some great restaurants including the famous Skyline Chili and although Cincy’s “world-renowned” Grater’s black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream isn’t comparable to Michigan’s Moonies, it is still respectable. My favorite tidbit about Cincinnati is that it’s considered Munich’s sister city and has a large German population. German culture is so popular there that they host the biggest Oktoberfest in the United States every year. As a big fan of Germany and its beer, this only makes me want to live in Cincy that much more.
Alongside Cincy and near the top of my list is the city of Nashville. Although I only spent one weekend there, I have a feeling that I would enjoy life in the Music City. Perhaps it’s the Southern hospitality that got to me or the mouth-watering Bison burger I had for dinner, but something drew me in and made me not want to leave. Like Cincy, I liked how many young people were out and about in Nashville. With its endless supply of live-music on Broadway Street, Nashville seems like a great city to transition from college and into adulthood. According to a few locals, the temperature in Nashville is more moderate than what we experience in Michigan. As someone who is trying to escape freezing winters, Nashville’s climate is very alluring.
A couple characteristics stuck out to me in both cities. One is how close each city is to its airport, making traveling a lot easier. Another is how easy it is to get into the city from the suburbs. I could see myself living in a quiet part of town and going downtown whenever I felt like it thanks to the ease of access. Additionally, both cities are big enough to have events going on all the time but not too big to the point where living there would be overwhelming.
Of all the places that I have visited, I spent the most time in Dallas. Although I don’t like it as much as Cincy and Nashville, it’s still a cool city. Southern culture is very prominent here and makes life a bit happier. The food here is outstanding as well and with a wide variety ranging from sushi to BBQ you will never get bored of going out to eat. My favorite aspect of Dallas is how diverse the city is. To my surprise, I have seen people of all different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Life in a melting pot like Dallas is more fun. The variety keeps each day exciting and allows me to learn more about other people. On top of all this, Dallas is home to Southwest’s headquarters which is one of its most appealing selling points. As a home to one of the most liked companies in the country, Dallas is naturally a good option for a college graduate to live in.
As fun as it has been to travel and explore the United States, the constant flying has taken a toll on me and my fellow interns. With only a few weekends of flight benefits left, I plan to slow down slightly and take some easier day trips. Although I don’t plan on scouting out many more cities, my plans often change with seat availability. With that being said, I just may come across a city that I like more than the ones I listed above.