CCU News / Opinion / World

50 States for 50 Students: Alaska

What is your name? 

Maddie Schmeling. 

Which state are you from? 


Have you lived there your whole life? 

No, I lived in Alaska until I was eleven. I moved to Colorado and then moved back to Alaska.  

Describe your state in three words. 

Beautiful, cold, and awe-inspiring.  

Describe the people in your state in three words. 

Tough, outdoorsy, and creative. 

Are you proud of being from your home state? Why or why not? 

Yes, I am proud of being from Alaska. I feel like Alaska is a state that people have a lot of pride in because it’s so beautiful but it’s also a really different place to live in. It has its challenges but when you live there it feels like you’re putting in work for it and it’s worth it. It’s also so beautiful and has amazing nature.  

How did growing up in your state affect your childhood? 

Growing up in Alaska made me have a really big love for the outdoors. When I was little, I would go out into the woods and play all day. Instead of spending all day watching TV, I spent all day outside. So I have a big appreciation for the outdoors. Living in Colorado has made me appreciate and miss Alaska nature even more.  



The neighbors were a little crazy. 



What kind of local traditions did your town have? 

  • In Anchorage, we’d watch the start of the Iditarod, which is the famous sled dog race. We also had the Furrendevouz, which is a winter festival in Anchorage. Some of our other local traditions are fishing and hunting. Fishing season is a big deal in the summer. Everyone goes to the river during opening day.  


What was the culture like in your home state / town? 

In Alaska, people have a more independent culture than the rest of the states. People are very strong willed and independent. There’s a Libertarian feeling. People are very, very proud of Alaska. I’ve met very few people in Alaska who aren’t proud of it. There’s a high value of nature and taking care of nature. The people have strong beliefs about taking care of the state so they’re really invested in politics. Small businesses are also a big part of the state.  

What kind of relationship did you have with your neighbors? 

I’ve lived in a couple different neighborhoods. When I was little, we lived far from our closest neighbors, but we had a very good relationship with them. They had alpacas and chickens. In my other neighborhood when I was older, the neighbors were a little crazy. I was homeschooled and I did homeschool with some of my neighbors’ kids.  

What was your favorite thing to do in your home state / town? 

Hiking. There’s a lot of great hikes that are really close. When we’re bored, we’d go all the time. During the summer, we’d even go hiking at 11pm because the hikes are so close and it’s still light out from the midnight sun. 



“Do you live in igloos? Do you have electricity?” 



Are there any foods that your state is famous for? 

Alaska is famous for fresh salmon. Since everyone hunts, moose meat is also popular. Everyone’s freezer is full of moose meat. Also ice cream – we just really like ice cream. We also have a lot of coffee huts. You can’t go a half mile without coffee huts and the coffee’s really good. There’s also reindeer sausage. At all the restaurants, you can either have bacon, ham, or reindeer sausage. And we eat reindeer dogs instead of hot dogs.  


Is there any slang from your home state that you use frequently? 

We say “the lower 48” for the 48 contiguous states. Snowbirds are people who go south to escape the Alaskan winters. Termination dust is the first snow you see on the mountains in the distance. We say snow machines instead of snowmobiles. You sound Canadian if you say snowmobile. The bush are the villages in Alaska. Breakup season happens during the spring when everything is melting. 

Do you have any local celebrities? 

Sarah Palin. There’s the winners of the Iditarod. Oh, and Bob Ross!  

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your home state? 

My favorite part about Alaska is the summer! They are so much fun. It’s so pretty there. Even the mountains in Colorado are just not the same. Anchorage is cool because you get to live by the mountains and the ocean. I just love the feeling of Alaska – the independence and the outdoor focus. People will get off of work and go on a hike. My least favorite part about Alaska is the darkness and length of the winters. They drag on. I also don’t like our earthquakes. We get a lot of earthquakes and we’ve gotten some bad ones so now they scare me.  

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of Colorado? 

My favorite part about Colorado is the nature here. Even though it’s not Alaska, it’s really pretty. The shopping is nice. We don’t have that in Alaska. Everything feels more central here. There’s more community here. I really like how warm it is here too.  

My least favorite thing about Colorado is that there’s no ocean. I don’t like the 100 degree summers and the traffic either. Also, how inconsistent the weather is.  

What drew you to CCU / Colorado? 

I was drawn to Colorado because it has a similar feeling to Alaska. I also wanted to have that smaller, Christian community and I wanted to leave home.  



We eat reindeer dogs instead of hot dogs.  



How has living in Colorado changed your lifestyle? 

Living in Colorado has forced me to plan more before going on adventures because of the traffic. The driving always makes me feel rushed.  

If someone were to visit your home state, what would you recommend they do? 

It depends on the season. If it’s summer, go fishing, go hiking, go camping in the Seward or Homer. Go to Denali national park to see the wildlife. If you go during the winter, go to Fairbanks and see the northern lights.  

After graduation, do you plan on staying in Colorado, returning to your home state, or going somewhere else? 

I don’t know yet. It’s probably gonna be between Colorado and Alaska. When I’m in Alaska, I think “how could I ever leave here?” But when I’m in Colorado, I think “Alaska is so far away!” 

What are the most common stereotypes about your state and are they true? 

People always ask, “Do you live in igloos? Do you have electricity?” They think it’s Antarctica. I tell people we have Walmart, Costco, and Target and then they seem to understand better. People also expect me to be able to handle the cold and I think that’s true. If it’s 40 or 50 degrees in Alaska, people are wearing shorts and shirts.  

What is something surprising about your state that most people don’t know? 

People don’t usually know how chill we are with the wildlife. We see moose all the time walking downtown. The wildlife is so integrated into the culture and city life. The mountains and the ocean and the wildlife are all right there.  

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