Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Initial Observations.

Well folks, we have been in PA for a month now (WOW!), and I just wanted to write about my initial observations about this foreign land.  It is so funny how crossing 5 state lines can bring about such a different way of life.  Okay, so things aren't THAT different, but my Okie ways are imbedded into my bloodstream, so any little difference is a big difference!  And the further north you travel, my how things change.  I think I've murmured, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" 72 times over the past month.  Haha!

* The biggest difference I have noticed is overall friendliness.  Now don't get me wrong, people are nice enough, but I come from Oklahoma.  Where people are chatty.  And super friendly.

I was wandering around somewhere in New York the other day and needed directions.  I was literally in no mans land and I saw a man standing outside his little eatery, and I stopped to ask him which way to go.

"That way. You'll see a sign."

"So, do I just keep going down this road?  How far?  Is there more than one sign?  Is it big? Will I miss it?"

"Nope.  You'll see a sign.  That way."

"How far?"

"About a mile."

Nice enough.  But not what I'm used to.  In Oklahoma it would go a little something like this,

"Yeaaaahh! When you pull out of here turn left and go down the road a little ways until you pass the big red barn.  When you see the barn you are almost there.  It's a beautiful barn - my cousin owns it.  Stop by there if you get a chance, they sell the best blueberry preserves there.  Tell them Ralph sent ya and maybe you'll get a complimentary loaf of homemade bread!  It's a 87 year old recipe - can't be beat!  But yes, there are signs that you can't miss - there might actually be a couple.  Just keep going down this road and in about a mile and a half you'll be there.  Here.  Actually, let me just jump in my truck and drive down and show you.  Follow me!"

Hahaha!  No, but seriously ... that is the type of stuff I'm used to.

Also, my very friendly 5 year old is having a hard time getting through to the cashiers around here.  He chats them up at every store and tells them where we are from and that we are new to town and we get blank stares almost every time.  And then they look at me like, "why is your kid talking to me?" Oh, it infuriates me.  Please just answer my child.  He's a conversationalist, never met a stranger, and he just wants to talk!

The other day we were checking out a Target and Levi strikes up a conversation.  Much to my surprise, the lady starts talking his leg off, telling him stories, listening to his, and engaging my precious son!  Oh, I was so happy!  And shocked! Then he proceeded to tell her we were from Oklahoma and she nearly had a heart attack, telling us she was from Lawton, Oklahoma.  And then it all made sense.  :)

So yeah, the people are nice.  They're just not real FRIENDLY.  There's a difference!

* STYROFOAM CUPS.

Heaven help me, I can't find a styrofoam cup to save my life.

I need a Route 44 unsweet ice tea from Sonic in THE WORST way, and there is no substitute around here.  And all the cups are plastic.  And plastic sweats.  I can't even handle it.  I finally found one the other day in a gas station when I drove by and saw a sign for the styrofoam cups.  I whipped in there as fast as I could.  The sign read "Polar Pop! Stays cold longer!"  It's as if styrofoam is a new and novel concept here and I just can't understand.  I mean, what's going on?!

* Tex Mex.

There is none.  There are a couple good authentic mexican restaurants in town which I'm happy to have, but sometimes I just need me some good old fashioned Tex Mex.  With yellow queso.  *sigh*

Oh, and my dad ordered a side of queso at Taco Bell when he was here and they legitimately did NOT know what he meant.  They had never heard of it.  Where am I???

* Not every place has brewed tea.  I can't grasp this concept either.  "We have tea, but it's not the brewed tea.  And it's flavored and sweet."  Um.... I'm in the North!  Tea should NEVER be sweet here!

Clearly, I have tea issues.

* There are donuts everywhere.  Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons ... it's seriously a donut haven.

* The churches don't have Sunday School!  Every church we have visited or found online - doesn't have Sunday School.  Again, I don't get it.  The church we found offers Bible study groups in the morning before worship, so at least there's that.  But hmmm.... I do not want Sunday School to become a thing of the past!  Up here it seems to be.  Also, it's 85% Catholic here.  Protestant churches are few and far between.  Toto, we're not in the Bible Belt anymore.

* The speed limits are SLOW.  They are about to increase the limit to 70 on two stretches of highway up here and everyone is up in ARMS about it.  Most highway limits are between 55 and 65 here.  Nothing more.  I'm used to getting on an interstate and going no less than 75 so this is weird for me.

So, you guys, these are the biggest differences that have stuck out at me so far.  I think I'll spend my energy this year bringing brewed tea in styrofoam, yellow queso, Sunday School, faster speed limits, and conversation between strangers to this place.  Ready, set, OKIFY! :)


46 comments:

  1. Oh Whitney. Yes, a tragic thing about being north of the M-D is lack of personality unless you are in NYC - LOT of personality there lol. I chat up the cashiers too and most look at me like I am nuts. I chat up the Amish and until the local ones got to know me they just kind of grudgingly held conversation. I just keep smiling at them not caring if they think I am the loon. You never know, yours and Levi's may be the only smile they see that day. Churches, hmmm that's strange you can't find Sunday School. Have you tried an Assemblies of God church? Most of them always have Sunday School or a children's program. Ahh Sonic, I love Sonic and their Styrofoam cups and magic ice (seriously it IS all about the ice). I live in very southern PA and still have to drive at least 30 minutes to get to a Sonic. Yes, the sweet tea comes from the fountain. ugh. If you ever make it down to Amish Country, hit me up. Or down to Maryland, there is a pretty good mexican place just over the line (in MD). Wishing you the best on your new adventures!!

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    1. Thank you!!! I'm so jealous you have Sonic. :)

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  2. You are cracking me up! First time commenter, but long time follower. I live in Cleveland (2.5 hours south of Erie) but am a transplant from Boston. When I first moved to Ohio I thought everyone here was SO FRIENDLY!! Way less hustley than New England. The mid west is a strange place but I love it. I hope you guys have an awesome stay and if you need ideas for things to do shoot me a message! This area is totally underrated.

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    1. Thanks girl! Aren't regional differences bizarre?!

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  3. I live in Ohio. I think you've just gotten some cuddly duds on the talking! we have lots of sonics here. we have Sunday school just for kids though my in laws church is small and has it for all. if you make it to Columbus, I could find you some Tex Mex and get you a 44 oz sonic tea. yes, I totally agree about tea needing to be brewed and unsweetened.

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    1. I think it's time to high tail it to Columbus for tex mex & sonic!

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  4. Where in PA? I am 15 mins from Center City Philly. Altho you mentioned Tim Horton's so I am thinking western PA? Could be wrong.

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  5. We moved from NJ to TX three years ago and I get exactly what you're talking about...in reverse! It freaked me out how friendly people were; we were from a NYC suburb where you don't even make eye contact with people you don't know. Oh, and the styrofoam is an environmental thing (at least it was in NJ...the northeast is much more "green").

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    1. Too funny! And yes, I definitely notice the green thing. Which is great! I just miss my styrofoam that keeps my tea cold all day! :)

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  6. I'm from Iowa, born and raised. Moved to Missouri about 12 years ago and still feel like I'm in a foreign land. I never wanted to live here but alas this is where I am lol. Even though there's a 6-hour difference between my hometown and current city (by car) it's very different. My sister moved to PA for a few years and recently moved back to our hometown. She was in the mountains and loved all the stuff there was to do there but there's just nothin' like home!

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  7. Erie First Assembly of God on Oliver Road - just off upper Peach Street heading south toward Waterford. They have Sunday School, small groups during the week, Royal Rangers and Missionettes for children on Wednesday evenings. This church is huge, and there is literally something for everyone. Oh, and the pastoral staff is outstanding as well.

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  8. Embrace the differences Whitney. These are not weird, they are just different to YOU. Keep an open mind. Change your mindset. If you don't, it will be a very long year for you. Don't make disparaging comments about things in Erie to your boys. If they know Mommy isn't going with the flow, they won't either. You know you will ONLY be there for one year, roll with it, embrace it!!! I will admit, I'm Catholic and your comments offended me. We are a real religion, not some cult that you are shocked to find so many of. Live your faith in all that you do.

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    1. I'm astounded! I never said anything derogatory against Catholics!? I am Protestant so obviously that's where I will worship. I'm not sure how that's offensive as I was stating a fact about the town...it's primarily Catholic. Also, this post was meant to be lighthearted. Obviously styrofoam and queso aren't going to ruin my year.

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    2. Well, if that makes you feel better keep on thinking that....I'm just stating a fact as how it came across to me!! Parts of the post did come across as lighthearted but other parts not so much....just you complaining about having to leave your bubble!

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    3. Cheryl, I just read your comments. I truly don't see how you could interpret Whitney's words in that context. But, I'm a writer and know that what we read in text is very different from what we HEAR when someone speaks the same words. If you knew Whitney's heart, you would know how she meant for this to come across. I hope you can understand that.

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  9. The no Sunday School thing is different. I love hearing about all the differences. I'm going to say this a million times over the next year, but I'm living vicariously through you. I love hearing about your Erie experiences!

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    1. Haha! It's definitely an adventure!

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  11. I think it's so crazy how different regional cultures are! I've never lived in the Midwest but my parents are from the Midwest so I've inherited their tendencies to talk to everyone. Some people talk back and others look at me like I'm crazy.

    I will admit I was shocked when you mentioned Styrofoam cups! I can't even remember the last time I saw one of those - I didn't even know restaurants still had them!! I definitely agree with the commenter above who said it is an environmental thing. At least where we are in Maryland, the plastic cups are recyclable. And you can get fresh brewed tea here - if you go to a regular restaurant. Although I do feel like more are moving to the fountain tea - maybe because Coke and Pepsi own those fountains and they are starting to move in on the "fresh brewed" market?

    And we definitely have Sunday School - although I'm Catholic, most of my non-Catholic friends have their kids in Sunday school and Awanas and many other kid programs. That's weird that you haven't found a church that offers that.

    Good luck! It must be hard trying to adjust knowing that you are only going to be there a year. I've moved around a lot, but it's easier to just forget the old customs and embrace the knew ones when you know you aren't going back to the old location.

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    1. Hi! :) We did find a church that offers Awana (YAY!), but we can't find to find one with Sunday school before church. Not bad, just not what we are used to. But I'm just happy to have found one with a good children's ministry. :)

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  12. Don't feel bad. I'm a Texas girl, and Texans like Okies will talk to a wall! We smile. We wave. We tell complete strangers half of our life story. And I'll add that I didn't find anything offensive in any of your comments. I mean it's different. Will you adjust? Yes. But if feel exactly the same way. But riddle me this, how exactly do they fix tea? Is it instant? Blech. Brewed, unsweetened, unflavored . . . Amen

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  13. HaHa...this made my day! My teenage daughter and I moved to Georgia from Louisiana a year ago(just after I married my honey who lived there). We experienced the same culture shock as you but slightly different. We actually found that the folks in Georgia are even nicer than the Louisiana foks(don't tell them back home) but the highways.....Oyvey! If you don't drive 80 you will get left in their dust. That was quite the adjustment for me but after living here a year I have adjusted very nicely and speed down the interstate comfortably with the rest of them :) The only negative thing we have dealt with is the food differences. We still have not found good Cajun food here or Louisiana style bbq.

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  14. My husband wants to move back to his hometown and I totally feel like I'm in a different world up there. I've been going up there for 8 years and I still have no idea where I'm at or how to get anywhere.

    I've enjoyed seeing all your adventures and outings and hope you can find some Sonic and good Tex Mex soon! xo

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  15. I live east of Pittsburgh (and have for 8 years) and it is just.not,normal around here!! I totally feel your pain! My husband and I just can't get over it. We still ask people if they have email. Like, people do not even have computers in their houses around here! It's insane. I have a friend that went to Walnut Creek Baptist Church in Erie and I just checked their website and they do have Sunday School :) Some churches call it Adult Bible Fellowships but it is the same thing. I'm going to email you specifics, I don't want to put it out here for the world :)

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  17. Glamwife, how dare you blaspheme the catholic religion by stating that they have a lot of churches! How do you sleep at night knowing you've said such things? The horror!

    Cheryl, if you don't enjoy the author's tongue-in-cheek observations regarding a state she's living in and paying taxes to - perhaps you should stop reading them. Never have I witnessed someone get so hot and bothered over incredibly menial comments that weren't even remotely derogatory. Are you from the region? If so, I understand why the author can't wait to get back below the Mason Dixon as soon as humanly possible.

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    1. Preach, AnitasAnger! GEEZE LOUISE!!

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    2. And THANK YOU. you can't write anything on this thing without being attacked. It's exhausting.

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  18. Give it time. The Lord has provided this journey for your family.

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  19. We northerners are definitely less chatty and friendly than the midwest or south, it's true! I'm from south central PA (from a fairly friendly region in general) and spent time in Alabama years ago and also in NYC. So, so different! Sometimes I think we're less out-going and chatty in general b/c there are more of crammed into smaller spaces (I think the more rural or small townish the area in the north east and mid-atlantic region, the more friendly people are, less so in urban or metropolitan areas). Once you figure out the norm, you at least won't be shocked, and then when you go back to OK, you'll experience reverse culture shock. :) And don't let us more reserved northerners keep you from reaching out and making friends!

    I have some good friends from Texas who live in DE and they talk about a bunch of the same things you've mentioned. Queso (never heard of it until I met someone from Texas!), Tex Mex and Sonic, for example. And keep the stories coming. As a northerner who has spent time elsewhere, I like hearing about people's cross-cultural experiences and viewpoints!

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  20. As an Okie, this post had me totally cracking up! We got to Hawaii for a week and I start missing Tex-Mex, so I cannot imagine a year! :)

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  21. Go big or go home. You should start watching Fargo and Twin Peaks while drinking yeungling and eating sauerkraut. You should also start believing in Big Foot immediately. Also, I found these over-the-top youtubes on Pennyslvania culture...I think I learned something. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcKyQJXwaFc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhFHqNKnfes

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  22. Funny. I'm from northern Michigan, which, even though it's in the north, is a lot like southern towns when it comes to friendliness, I think. Iced tea (unsweetened) is available almost everywhere, but sweet tea is becoming more popular. I don't know what Tex Mex is though. And as for styrofoam cups, I've never looked for them anywhere. I get kind of angry when I see them because I wish people would use their own cups and save the environment. Cause I'm a bit of a tree hugger. :)

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    1. O+h, and a lot of churches in our area have children's programs. But not the Catholic churches...they want the kids in the service.

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  23. This post cracked me up! For one reason, because I know you. For another, I know the northerners. My dad's parents were both born in Canada and he was raised near the border in Michigan. My mom's parents settled in New York and she was raised there. We NEVER had sweet tea growing up (another thing you would have had in common with my mom). My dad was the typical northerner in the not-so-talkative type, but my mom … she broke the mold for northerners!!!!! She was like Levi, talking and getting to know EVERYONE. I know, when we visited New England a couple years ago, I noticed so many differences. Isn't it grand how God created us all so very different? Loving hearing your stories of adventure, Whit. Keep 'em coming! And give my boys a great big hug!!!! (Oh, and I guess I should change my Google name.)

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  24. I couldn't help but laugh at so much of this post as we moved from the south to NY last summer. So much of what you said, has repeatedly come out of my own mouth over and over the past year! I hear you on the styrofoam…to me it makes the perfect fountain drink. Our closest Sonic is 25 mins away and Chick Fil-a is 45 mins away in a mall food court. No styrofoam for this girl :(. I even ordered a fountain drink at a drive thru here once and they only gave me ONE piece of ice. There is no queso here as well. Do these people not know what they are missing?!

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  25. First time visitor and I so enjoyed reading this post. Where I'm from, EVERYONE is friendly and my grandma never missed a chance to chat with cashiers, clerks, etc. Enjoy this adventure.

    Oh, as I type this, I'm drinking sweet tea from my jumbo styrofoam cup.It's a must-have for keeping my tea cold all day. ;)

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  26. I had to laugh at this. I am Catholic and I grew up in PA (Bucks County) so I could have been offended by this post but I was not. I understand your frustrations. I live in Texas now and you are right...by comparison the people are not as openly friendly in PA and the food is different and it isn't the Bible Belt. But once you get to know them, the people will be so kind and fiercely loyal and good friends. And change is good. You will learn to adapt and grow this year in ways you maybe didn't want to but maybe needed to. I bet if you look hard enough you will find some things in PA that are even better than OK. Try to list 2-3 things a day in a notebook that you are grateful for and I bet things will get easier for you there. Hope it gets better soon.

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  27. I saw this on Facebook today and thought of you. It isn't bad, but watch without kiddos nearby. The LAST part is about Southern women giving directions and cracked me up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNWt6Wd9gXU

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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