The South...From a Northerner's Perspective

I've been to nine countries, 22 states and more cities than I can count. I've been to the Westminster dog show, lived in Australia for a summer and walked the grounds of a Nazi Death camp. I've been lucky enough to see the world, but nothing prepared me for my new home of Martin, Tennessee.

There are a few things that just don't translate when you move from the north to the south, and despite the complete “How to Speak Southern” book I received as a graduation gift, I was thoroughly confused my first few weeks at UTM. Here are 10 things that confused the hell out of me when I moved south…and kind of still do.

1. Wait...people are nice?

This one will never get old. People smile here? You can ask for directions without fearing your life? I got three invitations for Thanksgiving Dinner before I was even here a month! This is definitely something I love about living in Martin, but boy did it take some getting used to.

2. Where are all the Dunks?!

This is definitely not something I like about Martin. Back in Boston, I would pass three Dunkin’ Donuts on the single road between school and home, and those were still too busy to stop in if I wanted to actually be on time for first period...I was late for first period a lot. Here I have to drive an hour to get my Medium Caramel Iced Coffee with Almond Milk, and yes I have driven it before.

3. Is “Y’all” actually grammatically correct?

I still don't know the answer this one, but I go with it.

4. Why are the roads SO straight?

They call us Massholes for a reason; I learned to drive on hairpin turns and among the angriest drivers in the country. Needless to say, the roads here are drastically different.

5. What are tennis shoes? I don't play tennis?

I will call them sneakers forever, even if my roommate kills me for it.  

6. Where do I put things when I put them “up”?

This one took me a while to learn. I kept looking “up” for a place to put things, but I have adopted it, and the word “up” has now replaced “away.”

7. Really? Nothing is open on Sunday?

This is part of small town living that I expected, but it still caught me off guard. I knew businesses would be closed, but I didn't realize HOW closed they would be until I wanted a decent cup of coffee on a Sunday at noon.

8. So…everything is fried?

I've never consumed more fried food than I have since I got here. I truly believe I have more salt in my body than the Dead Sea, and I totally blame a lack of self control and southern food. Mostly the food, though.

9. How far is the closest mall?

Granted, we don't have as many malls as Dunkin’ Donuts back home, but there were two within walking distance of each other and another a few towns over. In Martin, the mall being an hour’s drive means I've been doing a lot of online shopping. The good news is that it's in the same town as the dunks and, well, I guess that gives me twice the reason to go.

10. Am I really the first Jewish person you've met?

This last one shouldn't surprise me, but it does. Multiple people have told me that I’m the first Jewish person they've ever met. Don't get me wrong, Jews aren't too common back home, either, but I definitely wasn't the only one.

Moving to Martin has definitely been an experience; I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. I have come to love everything about life here, but if you come across a freshman with a Boston accent - give her a break when she says wicked and wears a patriots sweatshirt. Some habits are harder to break than others.

Photo Source: Becca.