It has been a little over two weeks since I have lived in Columbia, South Carolina! I thought I would share some of my first perspectives of living in the south in the United States.
1. Southern pride is real and contagious. Locals in Columbia are proud to be from here and proud of what the south offers. Southern pride is both positive and negative, as it provides a sense of community, but it stems from the Civil War that divided the United States. The latest controversy about the Confederate flag at the Columbia capitol building has been interesting to watch, as it marks a monumental time in history for the south. Taking down the Confederate flag symbolizes the progression of the south and equality of all people.
2. Dress like you are ready to be seen. This could be influenced from my business school experience, but it seems that most people walking in the Columbia streets are well-dressed and well-manicured. This is refreshing as a graduate student, compared to my undergraduate experience which was very casual. Dressing well translates into feeling poised and polished at all times.
3. Sunshine is year-round! This is a huge perk for those of us from the north who are used to gray, cloudy days. I have really appreciated waking up to sunshine every day. I have also been reminded that with southern sunshine comes immense southern heat and humidity. However, just likely I have adapted to the frigid cold days of winter in the north, I have been able to adapt to the extremely hot days in the south.
4. Chivalry is alive and well. While in the north I often feared that chivalry was dying, particularly among the younger generations, I have been reminded that it still exists in the south. I notice that much more often men will open the door for me, offer their chair, and speak to me in a respectful manner (rather than with cat calls). It is refreshing to know that this traditional respect is passing on to the current youth.
5. The United States regions are much more assimilated than many of us think. I have realized that the south is not that much different from the north. I can still find the same conveniences, the same cordial behavior, and the same patriotism. I have realized that this is one of the beauties of the United States, which I am grateful to call home.
With all of these southern insights, I am reminded of the importance of keeping an open mind when moving to a new place. I am learning every day just by walking around with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart. I am now thinking of my graduate school experience not only as an opportunity to advance my career, but also to advance my understanding of the world, my surroundings, and the fascinating people around me.