Growing up right outside of New York City was always a delight when I was younger. If I ever wanted to trade in my quiet suburb for the hustle and bustle of angry cab drivers and knockoff handbag salesmen, Grand Central Station was just a handful of train stops away. Despite the beauty of autumn in upstate New York and the addictive energy of Downtown Manhattan, come winter time you would find me frantically Zillow searching cheap bungalows in Bali until my toes defrost by mid Spring.
Luckily, the College of Charleston became my opportunity to get away from the cold by going as far down south as I could manage before hitting the Atlantic. While there are several cultural differences between the north and south apparent on the surface level, I was genuinely surprised upon discovering some of the things I'm about to discuss. These are 11 things I've observed during my time at college in South Carolina.
1. Accents mean nothing
First and foremost, let me quickly put this stereotype to rest. Before moving to Charleston, I naively thought could tell a lot about a person exclusively based on the thickness of their drawl. Whether you grew up with a southern twang or you pronounce it ‘New Joisey,’ the way a person speaks says literally nothing about their political opinions or intelligence levels.
2. People walk slow
It’s true that everything is slower in the south. To be able to stop and smell the roses is a cultural quality that I truly admire. Coming from a place where everyone gets from point A to B in a caffeine-induced frenzy, it's refreshing to see that people will still go for a casual stroll on a sunny afternoon.
3. There are so many blondes
Coming from a place where monochromatic outfits paired with jet black hair has become apart of an unwritten dress code, I’m sure you can imagine the culture shock I experienced upon moving to the land of Goldilocks and pastels. whatever hex us women in this city are under, I can guarantee that the longer we stay in Charleston South Carolina, the blonder and blonder we become.
4. We still have differing opinions on Abe Lincoln
This is by far the most random on this list, but one night, when delving deep into a boozed soaked conversation with friends, we all somehow reached the topic of Honest Abe and the opinions in the room immediately polarized. My friends from the north proudly stood by Abe’s achievements while my friends from the south dismissed the president as ‘overrated.’ I suppose the differing ideologies between the north and south have in fact maintained a hint of bad blood over the years after all.
5. Sweet tea is not as important as I expected
Storytime: Before moving down south I would hear rumors about how waiters and waitresses carry around pitchers of sweet tea like water and will substitute your bottomless glass of water with that sweet liquid gold, free of charge. It took one embarrassing trip to Toast of Charleston to learn that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
6. Apparently, some people think the Confederacy is still a thing
Sorry not sorry, you guys lost the war. Just take the huge, waving symbol of racism and oppression off the back of your pickup truck and we'll call it a day.
7. Feminism is a dirty word
Let me start by saying, as a self-proclaimed feme-nazi, I want you all to preach socioeconomic equality of men and women from the mountaintops. After growing up in a Blue state and attending a primarily liberal public High school I was surprised to hear people in my college classes apologizing before making a comment, simply because they’re too afraid of sounding like a feminist. Like gender equality is a bad thing?
8. Zaxby's isn’t a restaurant but a way of life
This fast food chain/heaven on earth has become its very own category on the food pyramid for college kids. My friends and I will drive down to the one on Folly Road whenever we’re feeling like loving ourselves a little extra that day. Why would anyone have to decide between a Nibbler Meal and a Chicken Finger Plate when you can just order one of everything on the menu?
9. People are beyond nice
No one threatens my life when I jaywalk anymore! I consider that a win, point blank period.
10. Northerners are more straightforward
If a New Yorker has something they want you to know, they will use the most direct language they can think of to tell you. Sometimes we can seem brusque, but hey, we know how to be efficient. Time is money after all.
11. ...But southerners know how to talk
You stop on the streets to help someone with directions and all of a sudden you know their maiden name, alma mater and you’ve agreed to be the plus one to their cousin's wedding.