It all started with a summer trip to Folly Beach. The Southern charm and the hospitality were enough to make Southern California native Walden Brown fall in love with Charleston.

The junior political science major and entrepreneurship minor at the College of Charleston grew up on the West Coast and moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, at around age 15. There, he got into skiing and hiking and developed a love for the outdoors. Although he disliked the small town feel of Salt Lake City, something about Charleston felt like home.

“I mean Charleston is small, but it’s the perfect size,” Brown says. “It’s like the perfect Goldilocks range of not too big, not too small. The beach is only 10 minutes away. I love it.”

For Brown, the biggest difference between West Coast and East Coast has been discovering just how friendly Southerners really are, from walking down the street as strangers say hello to striking up conversations while checking out at the grocery store.

“I used to hate it my freshman year when I was waiting in line at the store because on the West Coast you’re in, you’re out. Now I chat with the clerks and say, ‘How are you? What’s good? Lets talk,’” he says with a laugh. “Everyone down here is so kind and so patient.”

Brown has not only fallen for the city and its people, but he’s also thrilled with the education he’s receiving at the College.

“There’s a good economy of ideas in the political science department here,” he says. “I’m taking a really cool interdisciplinary course right now with instructor Deborah Bidwell called biomimicry. It’s the idea that products should be designed with nature in mind. In this way, we don’t have to come up with new solutions because they’re already present if we look to the world around us. I’m also enrolled in a class with Dr. Brian Fisher, who is the director of the Office of Sustainability. Sustainability, especially in relation to Charleston, has been really interesting to learn about.”

Brown notes that his classes this semester are heavily focused on the environment, and he’s excited to see where this newfound knowledge might lead him. In terms of post-graduation plans, Brown is not sure what he wants to do or where he wants to go. Whatever happens, Brown will always carry a piece of the Lowcountry with him.

“That’s what I love about the South,” Brown says. “The hospitality rubs off on you whether you want it to or not.”

Featured image: Political science major Walden Brown stands outside Towell Library on the College of Charleston campus.

Lauren Vega is a senior from Huntington, West Virginia, studying arts management and international studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston.