Saturday, August 04, 2007

Culture Shock

Culture shock - now here's a term that has made its way into the regular rotation of words, not clothes, that I am using these days. I thought it might be a good time to explain exactly what the shock has been, and how it might be different from what most of you New Yawkuhs expected.

The pace of life is different in SC. It's slower than in NY, yes, but it doesn't mean it's dumber. There are plenty of Republicans but I see just as many W crossed out bumper stickers as I see "Bush 04" and Mitt Romney stickers. And speaking of bumper stickers, they are extremely popular here in Cola. A good Columbian will have the standard Palmetto tree and crescent moon image, the USC/Clemson window sticker, and if you're a woman, a monogram sticker as well.

The lifestyle is different. As I've told many of you already, I've gone running more in the past three months than in the past three years. I've also been doing some swimming and it looks like I might be joining a couple of book clubs soon. Still, we've hung on to a few traditions like Sunday brunch (actually, we usually do Saturday brunch too), and eating out at different restaurants and last night I was out until about 2 am so actually I guess I haven't given up my old lifestyle too much.

What's interesting about culture shock (and I use the term "interesting" in an all-encompassing way, like the way it's used in the workplace as a reaction to an idea/problem/solution) is that it's not a slap in the face. It happens very gradually and is peppered throughout the days and weeks. I glance at a license plate assuming it's New York, but in fact it's Georgia. The blue and red plate isn't Massachusetts, it's Alabama. The man who owns the deli by my office calls all the women who are regulars "Miss Jean" and "Miss Shirley." People look at you rather than past you.

The experience is not as aggressive as the word "shock" implies, but that doesn't make it any less intense.


Virginia Belle said...

LOL i like hearing about outsiders' views of SC. i'm originally from Va, but have lived in lots of places. i've been here for 5 years. i still have moments where i think, "OMG, really???"

so yes, it does take a long time to acclimate yourself.

if you need any restaurant recs, let me know. i've eaten pretty much everywhere by now.

welcome to the South, honey. ;)

Electra said...

Hi Caroline,
Stumbled on to your blog. Hope you are enjoying Southern hospitality. Should you ever want one of those monogrammed car decals or monogrammed stickers- swing on over to my site! Lots of boutiques in about 14 states carry my line...including, brace yourself- at least New York! Who woulda guessed! Best of luck to you, Electra PS- go to Devine Foods!!! Delish!!!