The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Opinion: The A&M effect

Photo by Photo by Kalena Agpasan

The War Hymn Statue outside Kyle Field on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.

My first semester at Texas A&M felt like a culture shock. 

From professors starting classes with a boisterous “Howdy!” to students stomping their cowboy boots and swinging 12th Man towels at football games, it was like a new world to me.

This is largely due to the fact that I’m not the most “down-home” Texan you’ll ever meet — even though I’ve lived in this state for the past 16 years of my life.

For one, I’m from Austin. Yes, the accursed land of t.u., but also a city that’s like a lone island, detached from the rest of the south. Indie rock plays on the radio instead of country music, Doc Martens are the boot of choice and Whole Foods outnumber Whataburgers … the list of differences goes on. 

Thus, moving to College Station felt like an abrupt immersion into southern culture which I somehow managed to evade for over a decade and a half. However, I expected as much  — A&M isn’t necessarily known for being the hippest, most urban spot in the country. What I didn’t anticipate? That the Aggie lifestyle would change me. 

To begin, the “Howdy.” Honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to use A&M’s classic greeting at the start of my freshman year. I didn’t understand how students and professors used the phrase without cringing, and envisioned remaining the only member of the Aggie community that never added the word into my daily vocabulary. 

How wrong I was. A few weeks ago, I realized the word flowed naturally while speaking and writing, whether it be at the start of my emails, when greeting others or to get the attention of a room. This discovery caused a moment of reflection — when did the southern colloquialism creep up on me? How did a mere year change my previously obstinate stance? I can’t pinpoint the exact moment in which my dislike for the greeting turned into appreciation, but all I know is that even when I go back home to Austin, it feels unnatural not to address strangers with a “Howdy.” I don’t think my freshman-year self would believe me if I told her the news.

Something else she wouldn’t believe? That I own a pair of cowboy boots. 

Yep, standing proudly next to my Converse and Nike shoes reside the brown leather boots which I bought — almost as a rite of passage — for my birthday last year. As my second-generation Aggie roommate put it when we walked out of Cavender’s, purchase in hand: “Welcome to A&M, you officially drank the Kool-Aid.” I couldn’t agree more. 

However, the simple act of donning the iconic footwear pales in comparison to one of the most prominent contrasts to my pre-A&M identity: football games. 

I’ve never been a huge fan of sports, much less football. Yet here I am, sports pass and all, eagerly awaiting the next home game in Kyle Field. I don’t know whether it’s the unrivaled energy of the 12th Man or the fact that we have one of the largest college football stadiums in the country, but I actually look forward to attending games and cheering along with the crowd as our team makes the occasional touchdown. This weekend, I even convinced my family to watch the Alabama game on TV — the last few seconds had us all at the edge of our seats. 

A newfound interest in football, “Howdy,” cowboy boots … These are all products of a phenomenon I’ve begun to call “The Aggie Effect.” You may not realize it at first, but the unique spirit at our university slowly sneaks up on you, powerful enough to transform even the most Austinite, non-country student such as myself.  

No, I don’t mean this in a cultish, indoctrination type of way — on the contrary, the “effect” is what unites the Aggie community, highlighting our differences yet bringing together people of all backgrounds and interests. As the old saying goes, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

To be honest? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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