11 Unexpected Experiences and Observations of Southerners Visiting the North

The classic cultural differences between North and South are often a source of jokes and stereotypes, from the North vs. South civil war to the East Coast vs. West Coast hip-hop rivalry.

But for those who have lived in the South their whole lives, a visit to the North can be filled with more than just the usual culture shocks. Here are the biggest revelations of Southerners in an online forum who have made the trip up North:

1. Chicago Snow

Beautiful snowy winter night in the center of Chicago.People enjoying amazing atmosphere in Millennium park.Street lights reflect in a Cloud Gate sculpture.
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The snow shocked a South Carolinian who once went to Chicago in October. “It snowed sideways,” they laugh, also noting how they once had a heat stroke during the same month back home. That’s America for you — every climate on the planet.

2. Liquor Laws in New Jersey

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Some Southerners find getting their liquor a hassle in New Jersey due to some curious liquor-vending licensing. “Yeah, liquor licenses are a huge deal here,” says a resident who agrees with the disdain. “It’s a racket.” It isn’t only New Jersey; many other northern states have European-style liquor licensing rules.

3. Kentucky Takes Election Day Seriously

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The state bans selling alcohol on election day, according to the responses. “I was surprised when I was in Kentucky,” complains a nonplussed citizen, “and all the liquor stores were closed on a random Tuesday.” It turns out that Tuesday was Election Day in KY. Kentucky is one of several states that practice temperance.

4. Confederate Flags

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A Georgia native couldn’t believe their eyes when visiting the more remote parts of Appalachian Pennsylvania. Even someone whose house was built by a Confederate veteran and whose forebears “served in the CSA and CSN” sees fewer of the divisive flags in their own neighborhood in Atlanta.

5. Racism Exists up North Too

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Some Southerners even swear the racism in one northern region is worse than they ever experienced down south — and the region in question? New England. Southerners have stronger memories of racism in their past; this could be why it is better hidden, believes the contributor.

6. Cornfields in Some City Suburbs

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Visiting a friend who grew up in a far-out Chicago suburb was eye-opening for one Chicagoan native. However, we must remember how young America’s cities are, compared to those in Europe, where space disappears quickly. Even a Southside resident notes how on one side of his street is a cornfield; on the other, Cook County.

7. Upstate New York is Wild

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Adirondack Park is the largest state or national park in the Lower 48, and New York State has its fair share of rural populations. New York State is the fourth food producer in the land and has some remote villages too.

8. Empty Streets in Wichita

Aerial View of the Population Center of Wichita, Kansas
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Californians and rural Kansas cities are not natural bedfellows, so when a native from the Golden State visited Wichita for work, he was puzzled when the streets were empty one Sunday afternoon. “Church,” locals told them when they asked why. “Or hiding in their homes so their neighbors didn’t know they hadn’t gone to church.”

9. Buying a Six-Pack From A Bar?

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Another Californian was nonplussed when told they had to buy a six-pack of beer from a bar — not a grocery store while in Pennsylvania. Compared to California’s sell-anywhere mentality, this must have been frustrating.

10. Long Island Iciness

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“My first day or two in Long Island, I terrified people because I’d walk down the street and say hello to people as I passed,” comments one blessed Mississippian. I love hearing from people like this. You keep being friendly, young Southerner. It’s the people of Long Island who need enlightening here.

11. Mason-Dixon Line of Politeness

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After spending four days in Manhattan, one Southerner observed that the people don’t say “you’re welcome” at all. “I don’t think they were being rude, it’s just not part of the culture I guess,” adds the same person.

But beyond the typical polite behavior, one user pointed out that it also includes the speed at which people move in general. “I think some people perceive the ‘rush’ from the North as rude. But some Northerners perceive the slowness as inconsiderately taking up other people’s time.”

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