Here's what you should know.
1. People cannot drive to save their lives.
So, you've been to San Francisco? Oh, you've been to New York? I'm so sorry to hear that the traffic was atrocious. Guess what? NOTHING can compare to the insanity of Utah drivers. It's not that the traffic's bad. Oh no, that would be an improvement. You see, deep in the Wasatch Mountains, the speed limit is a mere suggestion, red lights are seen as a recommendation, and blinkers are deemed unnecessary. People weave in and out of traffic like it's their job, and when the clock strikes midnight, Bangerter Highway transforms into an autobahn for the incredibly loud motorcycles and coal rollers. In this state, you'll want to look left, right, and left again before hitting the gas on that green light. Don't worry, the driver in front of you will be busy texting, so you'll have at least thirty seconds to do so. It doesn't matter if you know how to use YOUR blinker, keep an eye on that car in the next lane over. They might just try to merge at the same time, and you'll have no way of knowing. But don't get too comfortable just yet...Our roads are designed to defy the lessons taught in 49 other states. With lanes that venture in the direction of oncoming traffic and roundabouts that require the driver inside to yield, you'll be as frustrated as Hades by the time you reach your destination.
2. Salt Lake City is a grid.
You'll hear it ALL. THE. TIME. Among the many things that locals praise, the grid-like design of Salt Lake City is on the top of the list. Every street has a clearly marked numerical name that intersects with another, and in this way, it's very difficult to get lost. In a city so small, this grid is home to easily identifiable buildings like the Courthouse, Convention Center, Grand America Hotel, City Creek Mall and State Capitol. These landmarks will form the compass by which you navigate. "Salt Lake City is a grid". Remind yourself of this as you fear for your life on the way into town.
3. Public transportation is a blessing.
It's true that public transportation is never a barrel of monkeys, but as far as public transportation goes, the UTA TRAX is consistently acclaimed for it's service and is definitely worth praising. Free for college students and affordable for others, a ride on the train will be a relief to both your wallet and peace of mind. Which view would you prefer before your business meeting? The beautiful sunrise and the promise of arriving 30 minutes early, or accidents and stopped traffic minutes after your meeting started?
4. People will assume.
Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Unfortunately, when in Utah, wearing a ring of any kind, on any finger, often prompts one question: "so what's his name?" This is the question I was asked five times on my first day in Utah, simply because I wore a single band on the middle finger of my right hand. Truly, this is a kind-hearted gesture. Seeing as though many Utahns get married at a young age, the person asking only wishes to congratulate you on what they hope to be your recent engagement. So sure, if you're recently engaged, the stunning diamond on your left hand is probably your best friend. But if you're not, you may feel uncomfortable explaining to this person that you're single and happen to like sparkles, rings, and rings with a little sparkle.
5. The best places are the ones you can't find.
This may come as a surprise, but Salt Lake City's main street is NOT home to everything. In fact, the best places are usually the ones you can't find. Don't let your first impressions of main street disappoint. Instead, spend some extra time driving around and you will surely find a perfect hole-in-the-wall. Just a tip: The Pie Pizzeria has the best pizza I've ever tasted, and Dolcetti's has gelato to die for. Another tip: neither are on Main Street :)
6. Two words: fry sauce.
Fry sauce. I don't really need to say more, but I'm going to anyways. You don't realize that fry sauce is a Utah "thing" until you sit down for your first meal at a local restaurant. Life as you know it changes when the server brings your fries, and they are accompanied with the most wonderful condiment that is fry sauce. It's not mayonnaise. It's not ketchup. Oh, no. It's mayonnaise AND ketchup. It's a Utah thing, and it's a match made in heaven.
7. You're not as lucky as you think.
Fry sauce, a grid-like city, affordable public transportation. You're probably feeling pretty lucky to be in Utah right now. Maybe you'd like to celebrate by purchasing a lottery ticket. You've been so lucky this far, why not try your luck again? I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but you won't find a single lottery ticket in Utah. See the gif above? Yeah, that's the same face I made. Sorry to those of you turning 18. You'll have to commemorate your big day in some other way.
8. You must choose a side.
While it's true that Salt Lake City is home to countless colleges and their alumni, when it comes to The Holy War between Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, you MUST choose a side. These two universities maintain a rivalry unlike any other, and the allegiance of each Utahn is made clear by the color of their wardrobe, license plate and car decals. Here, you either bleed red, or bleed blue, and when The Holy War comes around, you better know where you stand.
9. As written, life is elevated.
"Life elevated". It's the first thing you'll see on our license plates, and while Salt Like City doesn't rest at the HIGHEST elevation possible, living here is a one-way ticket to Cloud 9. For those who can't decide whether they're city folk or mountain people, rest assured, the choice is yours. Our beautiful city, though small, offers simple pleasures identical to those of others, yet in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains, the great outdoors are just minutes away. You can enjoy dinner inside your downtown loft, or you can bring dinner to The Living Room. Don't be fooled, The Living Room isn't a five-star eating establishment. But it is a living room, made entirely of stone, complete with couches and a five-star view of the city. It'd be a wonderful place to visit on the extra vacation days that July, 24th brings. Consider it an indication of the breathtaking views you're bound to see when you venture to Utah's national parks. After all, Arches and Zion are only four hours away. Whatever you decide, decide that life has been elevated since moving here.
10. Our seasons have different names: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, INVERSION.
Question for you: have you ever been to Beijing, China in the wintertime? How about Salt Lake City, Utah? You see, it doesn't really matter your answer to the former question. If the answer to the latter is "yes", then you're familiar with our "inversion" season, and in many ways, have spent some time in Beijing. No, I'm just kidding. It's not THAT bad. But when winter hits and you awake to find a beautiful silver fog cascading through the valley, just know this: Salt Lake City is a bowl, and that's not fog. Unlike other cities where smog accumulates in a thin layer above the skyline, the sloped landscape of Salt Lake sends clouds of pollution deep into the city. For some, the smog brings coughing fits or migraines, and therefore, many sport masks as they walk around town. Fear not, though, inversion only comes with the colder temperatures of the wintertime.
Life in Utah. There's some quirks. There's some perks. I like to believe that the perks exceed the quirks, but that's for you to decide after a drive on I-15, some amazing hikes, and your first taste of fry sauce.