Eugene, Oregon: Birkenstocks, Dread Locks and Tie-Dye

Only after traveling around the world do I now feel that I can truly appreciate Eugene as a worthy destination for returning Eugenians and visitors alike.

Eugene Oregon
UNSPLASH Casey Olsen

When trying to describe my hometown, I frequently resort to using Portland as a substitute. Thanks to Portlandia and various hipster jokes, Portland has become more and more well known within the past decade. Eugene, Oregon is two hours south of Portland and it deserves more credit than a town that is often overshadowed by its famous neighbor. Frequently, it takes leaving a place to truly understand its character and charm. Only after traveling around the world do I now feel that I can truly appreciate Eugene as a worthy destination for returning Eugenians and visitors alike.

Growing up, I thought that hair-wraps and dread locks were absolutely normal, tie-dye was an essential activity when confronted with a piece of white clothing and that Birkenstocks were cool. After four years in California, I have finally accepted that Birkenstocks can, in no circumstances, be considered formal footwear but my well-loved pair still come out, admittedly, far too frequently (the toes of both the left and right shoe are completely worn and the heel of one has an ever-expanding hole).

My version of Eugene is rather consolidated to the South Eugene area – which includes the University of Oregon. A college known for parties and football makes for an interesting town-gown relation with a city that seems to be stuck in the 60’s. But somehow, it works. Walking around campus, you can spot the U of O pride, centered in the middle of a green and yellow tie-dye shirts and students gather for outdoor activities like ultimate Frisbee and slack lining.

Though campus is notably separate from the rest of the town, this doesn’t mean that duck fanship stops with the students. Everyone in Eugene has some relationship to the University and almost everyone is raised a duck. It’s a funny sight when hippies rally for football but come game day, a majority of the town gathers to pack Autzen stadium.

Traveling allows us to fall in love with new places, people and things, but it also helps us to appreciate the things we leave behind. Although my friends and family continue to scatter out of Eugene, this city will always be a refreshing home base for me to return to from any of my travels.

Lizzy Monroe

Originally from Eugene, OR, Lizzy graduated from Stanford University. She's a coffee & street market enthusiast, her travel style involves planning ahead but never hesitating to improvise. Her favorite country is South Africa, she never travels without her Swiss Army Knife - mostly because of the hidden pen, tweezers and corkscrew.

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