A frank talk about ‘Joisey’

Lauren Ferrara

Who doesn’t love the underdog? New Jersey is the official underdog extraordinaire of the United States. No other state takes so much abuse from so many (who know little about it).

As the butt of numerous jokes in movies, television and music, Jersey is the ultimate unoriginal fallback. The old cliché, “What exit are you off the turnpike?” got old about two days into my freshman year at Villanova. I just stood there when someone would ask, waiting patiently for the humorous punch line to be delivered.

So, as a straight-up South Jersey girl, I am here to defend the state that I love and am proud to inhabit. Below are some common misconceptions about Jersey that every person should know are false.

Myth: The turnpike is the only way to get anywhere in New Jersey.

Reality: Although some people spend their hard-earned dollars using the New Jersey Turnpike, the reality is that many do not. Typical Villanova freshmen from New Jersey probably don’t even know what exit they live near until they are until a few months into college.

“I have no clue what exit I live off. I never use the turnpike,” freshman Ashley Kazmerowski said. “I guess I should probably know, but I never use it.”

Generally, those passing through the state are the ones who use the turnpike most often. However, there has been a counter-attack about the Turnpike, saying it was created in order to get New Yorkers out of our state as quickly as possible.

Myth: New Jersey is dirty and it smells.

Reality: While I am willing to admit that the areas surrounding Newark are not as aesthetically pleasing as the campus of Villanova, one should not base one’s opinion of an entire state on one city. Those who refer to New Jersey as “Dirty Jerzy” often base their opinion on a sole excursion to the Newark airport. Hardly anyone bases their entire concept of California on an hour’s visit to Compton.

“When people say, ‘It smells like Jersey in here,’ I strongly believe that they are confused about the aroma of New York City or Philadelphia wafting into our clean air supply,” sophomore Katie Ardington said.

Myth: New Jersey is overrun with Mafia.

Reality: In a world in love with HBO’s “The Sopranos,” this stereotype is hard to fend off. The entertainment industry feeds the image of Jersey as the meeting grounds for organized crime. The truth of the matter is that the mob is not as prevalent as it is depicted. Although Jersey may have 24-hour diners and pizza shops on every corner, often they are not run as a front for the family’s “real business.”

“I live in Jersey and my last name ends in a vowel,” freshman Ali Bartolino said, “and my father and mother are both physical therapists. I think I may have a distant cousin in the mob, though…”

I will admit that if you wanted to contact a member of the mafia, you could probably do so by searching a few key areas up north.

I will have to come to terms with the fact that my beloved Jersey will probably never escape its fate as the ultimate scapegoat of the states. People will continue to judge us by the conditions of our old cities, the entertainment industry will continue to feed into the stereotypes, and the jokes will surely continue.

Those who know it best will just smile, knowing that those people have it all wrong. Maybe the negative image will work to our advantage one day and fend off outsiders. As junior Kate Gilland put it, “I mean if people think New Jersey sucks so much, how come every time I turn around I hear a New York accent at our shore and in our casinos? I mean honestly, stand by your opinion and stay out!”

If you have Jersey pride or would like to know more about the Garden State checkout these websites: