Home Natalie Britton: Live Teach Alaska Finding Your Inner Mouse in Rural Alaska

Finding Your Inner Mouse in Rural Alaska


Yesterday, I read “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” to my kindergarten students. For those of you who missed out on this childhood classic, the story is about a city-dwelling mouse who visits his cousin in the country and vice versa.
After both having unpleasant experiences, each mouse permanently returns to his own home. The tale is commonly used in classrooms nowadays to help children learn about comparing and contrasting.
While reading the narrative to my students, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast my own experiences over the past year living in a foreign city of three and a half million before moving to a Bush Village of approximately 150.
Upon my reflection, I wondered what I would call myself: a town mouse, or a country mouse?
I moved to Busan, South Korea, in August of 2012 with high hopes of embodying Hollywood’s portrait of the slick urbanite. I bought new dresses and three pairs of shiny, high-heeled boots before making my appearance downtown. During my first few weeks, I had a blast going out to eat and enjoying the nightlife. However, I quickly realized that a mega-city like Busan had a good many downsides as well.
For example, on the bus, one must endure being elbowed in the back and stomach several dozen times on the way to work. Then there’s the length of the commute: forty-five minutes with no traffic (if you’re lucky) with two transfers in a typhoon to boot. Aside from that, there’s the lack of stars, the roaring freeway outside your bedroom window, and the pollution you’re forced to inhale every time you step outdoors.
finding you inner mouse 1
Needless to say, when I arrived in Rural Alaska, I was literally taking a breath of fresh air. After a year of living in the second largest city in overcrowded South Korea, I felt an immediate freedom as soon as I stepped off the Bush plane. I traded in my dresses for Cabela’s fleeces and my high-heeled boots for a pair of Bogs. Although I’m giving up fine Korean cuisine for fresh moose meat (not a bad trade in my opinion), my commute has been cut from forty-five minutes to forty-five steps. As far as the stars go, they shine like nothing I’ve never seen. The perpetual hum of the freeway has been replaced with absolute silence. And pollution? What’s that?
finding you inner mouse 2
All right, I’d imagine it’s pretty easy for you to guess what kind of mouse I am. I’m not subtle. Don’t take me as ignorant, though- I’m not saying country life goes without its headaches. I’ve already endured shipping complications and a White Socks bite infection. However, after weighing city life against country life, there’s no contest. I’d much rather suffer a grocery delivery delay than face the horn-honking, elbow-throwing masses.
Though I’ve only lived in Newhalen for a month and a half, I’ve discovered that I am a country mouse at heart. For me, there’s no substitute for mountains in your backyard or a loaf of fresh-baked bread straight from the oven. I delight in simple pleasures only to be found in the Bush. I am overjoyed to finally be living in a place where my soul finds rest: Alaska.
Read more at Natalie Britton’s personal blog, Live Teach Alaska.


  1. I love the story and the analogy, I’m definitely a country mouse (as my girlfriend would point out to me every time I visited Anchorage). I can’t imagine surviving in a crowded South Korean city.