Culture Shock: Alabama, USA

When I turned 18, I moved to Alabama to peruse my Bachelors degree. I lived there for 3.5 years and, even though It’s been three years since I’ve been back in the Netherlands, I still have some thoughts on the (Southern) American culture. It took me a while to get used to them and even to understand them, but a fried green tomato is one of my favorite things ever and that is about as Southern as it gets.

1. Dating
So, in the Netherlands and many other countries, dating someone means that you are in a relationship and going on dates with your love. Yet, dating in the United States and being in a relationship can be two different things. Being in a relationship means commitment, titles, the whole  girlfriend-boyfriend thing. “Dating,” however, can mean testing the waters out. It’s the stage before being in a relationship, and some even date more than one person at the same time. Also, in the American dating world, many men and women can be very straight forward.

2. Flags
United States likes to remind you where you are. The flag is EVERYWHERE. From post offices to McDonalds. It’s everywhere. It’s the star of any place and you won’t escape it. You will learn to love it and, well, after a while you forget it’s even there.

3. Like OMG
“So, like, yesterday I went to the store and OMG I found the perfect jeans.” Yes, this is a “correct” English sentence, and even though I have been back for years I can’t leave the likes, OMGs and the thoughs out of my sentences. That big of an impact these words had on my life.

4. Welcome, Y’all
As a “mean” European I found it annoying that every time I would come in the store I would be greeted as if I was a celebrity. Now back in Europe I feel left behind. I miss it. Southern Americans emphasize courtesy, and are very sweet and kind. You’ll learn to appreciate it.

5. “Bless your heart”
This one is my favorite. The ‘bless your heart’ response depends on to whom you are speaking and what you’re talking about. It could either be a real positive wish or a curse said in a nice way. You need to pay close attention to the context in which it’s stated.

6. “Let’s meet up soon”
When this magical sentence is said, you will probably never see the person who uttered it ever again. That or it’ll take months. Not everyone uses this sentence in such a way, but let’s say I’ve heard this phrase and experienced the not-so-nice side of it more than 4 times with 4 different people. So, either my people-choosing skills are poor, these people didn’t like me, or it’s just a cultural thing.

These shocks are enough for now and I do have a lot more than these six culture shocks. I will post them in a different blog post.

❤️ Mayanoraa

Have you been to the States? If so, what was your culture shock?