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Experiences

4 Differences between the East Coast and the Midwest

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I was born and raised in Minnesota. However, I chose to come to college across the country in Washington, DC. While I had traveled all around the country before college, I had never truly experienced another place other than the Midwest. Obviously, I knew there would be some differences between the East Coast and the Midwest. I was fully prepared to have people notice my ‘Minnesotan’ accent and to notice some other small differences, but I was surprised to realize that there were so many more differences than I was expecting. Here are the four biggest differences that I noticed. 

  1. No Caribou Coffee

In all honesty, the first time that I tried Dunkin Donuts was my senior year of high school (there weren’t any Dunkin Stores in Minnesota until then). When I visited colleges on the East Coast, I was shocked to see a Dunkin on every corner. I was even more shocked that no one had ever heard of Caribou Coffee. Caribou Coffee is a huge coffee chain in Minnesota and in the Midwest. Now living on the East Coast, I haven’t been able to enjoy a ‘Mint Condition Mocha’ or a ‘Northern Lite Latte’ in a long time. I can’t even mention the name because no one knows that the chain exists. 

  1. Trains

I obviously knew that trains existed and that they were still used; however, I was completely unaware of how popular they were until I came to DC. Everyone around me talked about how long of a train ride it was to get home and referenced taking trains to get to places like New York and Boston for vacations. I was genuinely shocked to find this out. I was completely oblivious to the fact that people used trains so often and that they were so popular. In the Midwest, there are very few passenger trains, and the ones that do exist aren’t very popular at all. I took my first train ride with my freshman year roommate and I was ecstatic. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced and I quickly realized why they’re so popular. They’re incredibly convenient and cost effective. I never realized how much the Midwest was missing out on. 

  1. Accents/Words used

I never believed that the ‘Minnesotan Accent’ was real – until I came to DC. Many of my friends here noticed instantly that I (apparently) say some words differently. The first time I said the word ‘bag,’ everyone freaked out. Apparently, I pronounce it in a funny way. The more time I spent here, the more I started noticing the differences in our speech. Now, when talking to friends and family from home I can hear some of the ‘Minnesotan Accent.’  I’ve also noticed the lack of phrases such as ‘ope,’ ‘hotdish,’ and ‘uff-da.’  These were all words people used on a regular basis; however, they are non-existent on the East Coast. 

  1. No ‘Minnesota Nice’

One of the biggest differences between the Midwest and the East Coast is the way people act with one another. In the Midwest, and in particular in Minnesota, there’s a culture of politeness and being ‘nice’ to one another. It took a while to notice, but that culture does not exist here. No one makes small talk with the cashier at the grocery store or acts overly polite. The differences in people here are very subtle. Not everyone on the East Coast is outwardly rude, but there is definitely a difference in how people treat one another. People are a lot more direct and harsh than they are in the Midwest. It took me a while to realize this, but I slowly started noticing how people were different here. The way people act on the East Coast is wildly different than in the Midwest. 

Moving from the Midwest to the East Coast was definitely a big adjustment. There were a lot of subtle and obvious differences between both the geography and the people. While some of the differences were hard to get used to, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. I love all the differences and all the challenges that come with living in a new place. Adjusting to different places and new people has caused me to grow and change in ways I would’ve never imagined. I can easily say that I would be a different person if I would’ve stayed in the Midwest. 

Hey! I'm a current Economics student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.! I love Spotify playlists, hammocking, coffee, and expressing my voice through writing!
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