One of the best decisions I have made in my life has been to spread my wings and to learn to fly on my own, and that happened for me by attending college out of state. It is also one of the scariest decisions I have ever had to make, especially knowing that I would be in for such an extreme culture shock moving from my home in rural Louisiana to my new home at Hopkins. As much as adjusting has been hard and probably will continue, it has been the most fulfilling experience of my life and I would not change a thing. If anything, the main thing I have learned through this experience is to embrace your what you may believe to be your shortcomings, because they just may help you in the long run. Here are a list of the five things that have proven to be so true about southern and northern stereotypes and that have ultimately guided my transition to having two homes.
1. People will think you have an accent
As much as you have tried to deny it your whole life, or hide it while transitioning to college, a southern accent is not as bad as it seems. Back home, I was always told about how proper I spoke and how I must not be from around here (even though I had lived in the same town for 18 years). Once at Hopkins, out of nowhere, I started receiving weird stares, tilted heads, and wide eyes, all followed by the question “where are you from?” I started being told that I had such a strong southern accent and that I had to be from the deep south, which made absolutely no sense to me. After coping with new realization, I quickly learned to embrace it, to love telling people about where I am from, and most, proud to be a little bit different.
2. People actually do walk everywhere
In every movie I have ever seen with a city involved, people just walk everywhere, and I just never understood that. I have just grown accustomed to hopping in a car anytime I needed to get anywhere (sometimes even just to get to my neighbors house). I honestly never realized how out of shape I was until I was expected to walk to get things I needed and to go to the places I needed to go to.
Side note, crosswalks are a scary time if you are from the south and have never experienced them, and you can forget even attempting to drive in the city.
3. People will stereotype you
As much as southern stereotypes do not seem like a thing when you are actually in the south, they are all too common and all too true in the north. I cannot count the numerous amount of times I have received questions such as, “Have you seen an alligator before?” or “Have you ever eaten deer?” or “Have you ever been on a tractor?”, which are actually all things I reluctantly answer yes to. Although I am completely against stereotypes, it is hard to get mad when most things people think are crazy questions actually end up being true of the south.
4. People will not know where you are from
One of the things I realized right away during orientation week of my freshman year is that I honestly cannot explain to people where I am from. I have cleverly learned to tell people I am from “the middle of nowhere” in Louisiana, and then await their response which always includes them thinking I am from near New Orleans (which I am not). I have become so used to just explaining that I live in a very small town, and then people just telling me what big city in the northeast they are from.
5. People will not understand why you miss home
After all of this explaining about how you are from the middle of nowhere and that you have to drive to get anywhere, people are always quick to believe that you did not enjoy living in the south, and that is why you left, but that is not it all. People never tend to understand why I miss paying for gas to drive to a friends house, or why it was okay that I did not have WiFi at my house, or why being from the south and being southern is more than just what meets the eye. To me, being southern is about being a person who loves their neighbors, pets, and classmates like they are family. To me, being southern is about being okay with things not going your way and about things not going as quickly as you want them, but to enjoy the time waiting. To me, being southern is more than what you see on Duck Dynasty or Swamp People, it was what taught me to love everyone, love my life, and to always hope and dream about where I am going, but to never forget where I began.