Being a military brat, I have experienced my share of culture shock for a greater portion of my life: being born in California, living at various military bases throughout Germany, and having grandparents that don’t speak English. I have also had my share of cultural challenges in my life, but I am able to cope with those challenges as they are presented. When I moved from North Dakota to Virginia, however, it was like moving to a completely different country. The food, the culture, even the language is different. Trying to understand the southern twang of many people has been a challenge, as well growing accustomed to the use of “ya’ll.” If you said “ya’ll” up north people would look at you very funny. I guess it would be the same look I get when I use the word “Ufftah.” Even the thick southern accents some people speak with sound like another language. Please don’t hold it against me if I ask you to repeat what you said because I don’t speak southern. After all, I am from the great white north where everyone carries their o’s in every word and end each sentence in “Eh.”
Travel has been somewhat of a challenge since my move from North Dakota, but I do appreciate not having to plug in my car anymore to keep the engine fluids from freezing over in the -50 degree temperatures, and not having to make sure I keep a snow shovel in my car to dig out when a snowplow decides to bury my car. However, I do fear for my life everyday as the fast-paced drivers of Virginia race along I-64 like it is the Grand Prix. There are only 2 interstates in North Dakota and both are 4 lanes (2 in each direction): I-29 and I-94. Whereas, Virginia has interstates that are sometimes 12 lanes across. Do I take I-64, I-264, I-564, or I-664, and why does everything have to end in 64? Like the interstate system here isn’t already hard enough to understand, and that is only in the regional area! In spite of all the headaches I get driving my 75 mile round-trip commute every day, I will take the HRBT race track over the icy roads of North Dakota any day.
The move out to Virginia has been a blessing for my family and me, as we are no longer sheltered in our homes under blankets for 8 months out of the year. We actually now have the opportunity to travel and visit locations all over the East Coast without having to worry about snow and ice conditions. Being able to spend more than a few months out of the year outside in the fresh air is going to be a true gift. Though I will miss the 18 hours of sunlight during those few months out of the year up north, I will gladly trade that for not ever again having to deal with the 6 hours of daylight during the winter months. This was a wonderful move for my family and me, and we cannot wait to see what all Virginia has to offer.