Whenever I tell people that I moved to Small Town, Tennessee from Chicago, they say, "Well! That must be a big change for you! Do you like it here?"
That's not an easy question to answer. On the one hand, it is nice to walk around without random guys yelling lewd things at me or trying to grope me, like they did on the streets of Chicago. Here in Small Town one day, some guys driving a pickup truck pulled up next to me when I was waiting to cross the street and yelled, "God bless you!" And I thought, WTF?
Here are some things I've observed about Small Town so far:
The drivers in this town might as well refer to themselves as "Tailgating is my middle name."
Only the devil's children go out after nine P.M. (which is why everything closes by then, except the bars) or drive faster than 25 mph in the left lane.
Several people in this town want to shake hands with Donald Trump (I try not to scream in terror or run in the opposite direction when they tell me this).
"Hon," "honey," "ma'am," and "y'all" are Southerners' favorite words (because everyone has a Southern accent).
Many of the girls at the school where I teach wear pearls and skirts to class, and several of the boys drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag license plates.
Several of the students have gun collections and enjoy hunting or fishing.
Apparently even the younger people in this town think they'll live longer if they walk (and drive) as slowly as possible.
I've started swearing a lot more (with the windows rolled up in my car so no one can hear me) ever since I moved here.
The only way to cook meat is to fry it or barbecue it.
Many people have wide front porches with rocking chairs and porch swings, which makes it easier for them to sit outside and wave to newcomers like me while gossiping about them.
Spitting in public isn't rude. It's just common sense.
People in this town also apparently have the motto, "Why give a straightforward answer to a question, when I can take ten minutes to answer it?"
In Chicago, people are all, "Don't look at me don't look at me don't look at me BACK OFF!" But here in Small Town, I can't go anywhere without people staring at me and making comments under their breath, because it's pretty clear that I'm not from here.
This place is pretty much the opposite of Chicago. I can't help wondering when or if this place will ever feel like home, especially since I still miss Chicago terribly.
What about you? Have you ever felt like an outsider in a place that you visited or lived in, or have you ever experienced culture shock?
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