From farm boy to city kid: Sometimes the city just sticks

Juston Bents grew up in Worthington, Minnesota, a town of 13,000 where farming, fishing and forestry are top industries. But Bents wanted more than farms.

Bents, a junior studying nursing at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, moved to Minneapolis in 2016 after graduating with a class of 200 people—one of the largest at Worthington High School.

Just over five miles away from his house is the Iowa border. And another few miles away is the South Dakota border. His home in Worthington is about as southwestern Minnesotan as it gets, set in the middle of the Corn Belt.

With the slightest southern accent and a confident tone, Bents is proud to say he’s a “farm boy” through and through.  

Juston Bents, a junior at the University of Minnesota, said his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, is a great fit for him, who didn’t feel he fit in with any of the fraternities on the St. Paul campus, where he lived freshman year.

Photo Credit: Samantha Freeman

That’s the nickname many of his Kappa Sigma brothers have given him, along with the other—“hillbillies of the frat”—that he shares with a couple of other members from Greater Minnesota.

Bents doesn’t mind. He’s good-natured about the teasing. He knows his fraternity brothers like him, and he’s proud of his roots. But he also knows his move to Minneapolis has indelibly changed him, turning him into a city kid and making it unlikely he’ll ever move back home for good again.

This doesn’t mean transitioning to the university has been simple.

For him, college has been a series of adjustments and readjustments he never expected. He said he finds himself in a curious yo-yo mode: Adapting to city life has taken some time and reverting to his rural life, when he goes back home, is just as challenging.

Making his way to the Twin Cities campus was one of his clear goals. In high school, he thrived in extracurricular activities and sports—snagging the lead in the senior musical “The Little Mermaid,” partaking in competitive speech as well as track and field, serving as an officer for student council and the president of the STEM club.

He applied to the university’s nursing program and was accepted.  

When he moved to the campus, the experience was like doing a complete 180, he said. His view of wind turbines was replaced by tall buildings, and he felt like a child on Christmas morning, he said.

“It was like I was in a candy store,” Bents said. “I loved it!”

While his friends may have felt a little homesickness, Bents always wanted more of the city.  The hardest transition, he said, was learning to navigate public transportation and paying for parking, which was “weird to him.”

“We don’t have to do that at home,” Bents said.

He also said, returning back home has been more difficult due to the slower pace of things.

Juston Bents, a student at the University of Minnesota, is from Worthington, Minn. He grew up in a rural town, but said he’s happy now in Minneapolis, with most of his friends coming from urban or suburban areas.

Photo Credit: Samantha Freeman

Instead of the beautiful Minneapolis skyline, he now sees the usual two pig farms and not much else.

Winter break, spring break and summer tend to be the only times he makes the four-hour drive back home, which tends to be quite tedious since he doesn’t have a car on campus. His parents and grandparents make the drive up to Minneapolis to pick him up, which gives them ample time to catch up. But, excluding the conversation, the drive is anything but exciting.

He said he’ll revert back to one lifestyle if he’s in that place for an extended period of time, especially during summer and winter breaks. Instead of being go-go-go, he drives a big truck and listens to Rascal Flatts—and his Minnesotan accent tends to come out more. And while it’s always nice to be back home, Bents said it feels like he’s not “in his element.”

“I designate Mankato as the start and end of civilization,” Bents said. “After Mankato, there’s nothing… The buildings are gone. It’s a depressing last hour and a half [home].”

Upon graduation, Bents hopes to stay in a city, whether that’s Minneapolis or not. He said he’s excited to get into the real world.

“Nothing is the same between my hometown and the cities,” Bents said. “It’s the complete opposite [in Minneapolis], but I love it.”