I moved to South Carolina in 1998 to attend college, and aside from a few brief periods living in Wichita, Kansas and my parents’ basement in Scituate, MA, I have remained in the South ever since. Although there are definitely stereotypes – both true and untrue – regarding “The Bible Belt”, the goes for us New Englanders. Here are a few differences I’ve come to discover about life in the South compared to life in Massachusetts.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in South Carolina is that the rumor that Southern life is slower and more laid back is definitely TRUE. Stopping at a rest area McDonalds took about three times as long as it would have in MA. The workers chatted and meandered about behind the counter, casually gathering our food. In Boston those employees would have been run over, screamed at, then fired!
However, that same McDonalds trip taught me that yet another Southern stereotype holds true – they are WAY more friendly and polite! Now, that is just in general, I know some horrible Southerners and some amazingly kind New Englanders. However, courtesy is something that is ingrained into the Southern way of life.
Little boys hold doors for women and shyly reply “Yes, ma’am” when you thank them (it’s adorable). When you walk into a bank, post office, convenience store, etc. you are likely to be greeted with a “Hey there! How are you today?” followed by a full, polite conversation as you conduct your business. In MA, you’re lucky if the clerk makes eye contact or grunts at you when you leave.
Have you ever heard that the Southern way of speaking is almost it’s own separate language? Well, that one is true, too! But in defense of the Southerners out there, they feel the same way about us. My college friends used to beg me to put my mother on speakerphone when she called so they could giggle at her powerful Boston accent.
Not only do they have a drawl down here, they also use words and phrases you never hear up North. For example, you do not “turn on the light”, you “cut it on”. You do not “press a button”, you “mash it”. Oh, and that thingy you put your groceries in at the store – it’s not a “cart”, it’s a “buggy”. I could go on and on, but remember, Chowdaheadz, as weird as their colloquial language seems to you, they feel the same about you saying “wicked”!
The final drastic difference down here in Dixie is the weather. South Carolina has two seasons – sticky, face of the sun Summer, and chilly but mild Winter. Fall is completely non existent in the majestic way we know it in New England, and Spring is really just a foot note for a few days before the blazing heat starts up.
When I head out to my car on a January morning in a light Fall coat, I adore the Southern weather, but every October I desperately long for the crisp beauty of New England. Also, every step you take outdoors during a South Carolina Summer could potentially kill you – the state is packed with poisonous snakes, spiders and flesh eating fire ants. Massachusetts basically has the upper hand in every season except Winter as far as this Masshole is concerned.
So there you have it, my take on life as a Massachusetts gal living in a South Carolina world. The moral of the story is, there’s a whole amazing planet out there to see, but there’s no place like home – especially when your home is New England!