Thursday, December 21, 2006

Culture Shock

I have lived away from North Dakota for about five years now. Each winter when I return home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, I rarely notice the unique culture that exists in this little nook of the country. However, this is the first time that I have had a small dose of culture shock as I return to my cold, friendly, and laid back hometown.

At the grocery store this morning, I pulled up at 8AM. In Philadelphia, this would be a mental death wish because people would be getting all the things that they need for their morning meetings, like coffee and muffins. It would be a pretty busy place. However, the grocery store is calm and quiet. Just a few elderly people pushing their carts, eyeing the baked goods in the famous bakery. As I carry my bags to the car that I had locked out of habit, I see at least three cars that are running without any people in them. Each of them runs a good chance of being unlocked too. This would NEVER happen in Philly.

I was driving down what is Grand Forks's busiest road when I realized that there was no need for me to drive so aggressively. There wasn't any traffic although it was about 9 AM. Later in the day as I drove my mom to Starbucks, I merged between two cars. She scolded me to "squeezing in", but it is my natural way of driving now. Here in North Dakota, one puts on their signal for a long while, waits until there is at least room for four cars, and then slowly merges. Who can blame me? I have had to adapt to a new way of driving in Philly.

Don't get me wrong. I love North Dakota. I also really enjoy Philadelphia. There is something about this calm, kind, and relaxed way of life that I am thankful that I get to enjoy at least once a year. I am sure that there will be more moments during my week here, but for now, I will just adapt.

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