The Southern Difference Travel Guide

For the past three years, I have attended university in Conway, SC at Coastal Carolina University. I do enjoy it, however, there are a some major differences from living in a midsize city in Massachusetts and living just outside of Myrtle Beach. I can happily say that I have traveled to every state on the Atlantic from Maine all the way to Florida. I find it intriguing how every state has their own special customs and traditions that differ from their closest border. Below there will be a list of ten items that I have picked up on throughout the time living in the southeastern region on the United States.

The Southern Difference

10. Car Accidents vs. Wrecks

If you have ever driven on the roads south of Maryland you will recognize that the driving styles vary from state to state. When I say “vary” I mean get worse and worse. There are a lot of car accidents in South Carolina; It might have to do with the awful pattern of traffic signals or it might have to do with the way they were taught in drivers education. All I know is that I pray every time I get into the car, and I am not religious. A year ago one of my fraternity brothers called me to let me know he got into a “wreck” down the street and needed me to come. At first I did not know what a wreck was and I also didn’t know what he was saying (southern accented). Later in this forum you will see how the southern dialect varies from other dialects. Time goes by and I show up to his pinned location and he got into a car accident. He still continues to call them wrecks and OH HOW I HAVE LEARNED.

9. Rain Storms

In the north we say it’s going to rain or it’s going to thunder and lightning, on the other hand, in the south they say it’s going to “storm.” Living in South Carolina the weather is extremely unpredictable and even if there is a 0% chance of precipitation you should wear your rain boots, wack on your rain jacket, and pack an umbrella. If you have ever listened to country music (big fan) there is a song called “When It Rains, It Pours” by Luke Combs. Luke is from Asheville, NC, which isn’t too far of a trek from Myrtle Beach, and man oh man does he know what is up. If there is a chance of rain you know for a good fact its going to pour and it is pouring to the point where you cannot see five feet in front of you.

8. Natural Disaster Alerts

Driving on the roads in New England from mid-December until late March you will notice that there a little blue flashing lights placed on stop lights and such. These lights indicate that you should change your radio to the 1030AM station to hear the most up-to-date information for upcoming snow storms. In the south, from September into early October, you will be outside walking around, going for a drive into town, or at the beach and you will begin to hear a loud siren. This siren indicates that there is a tornado coming to your area and to take cover. If you are someone like me and does not watch the news, hearing that siren while at the beach is quite horrific.

7. Water Fountains

I have begun to realize that what this section is more focused on Boston and it’s surrounding cities more than anything. In Massachusetts if you are thirsty and need to take a drink from a water fountain (perhaps in school) you ask the professor if you can go to the bubbler. In the south, or any other state I have come to find, if you ask to go to the bubbler NO ONE has an idea of what you are talking about. It is strictly called a water fountain. So in this case, what are you doing Massachusetts?!

6. Fresh Vegetable(Food) Stands

Much of New England has fertile ground which means we have a large amount of apple picking farms and corn stalks. Driving on the road you will find stands or trucks with loads of fresh corn and other yummy veggies. As you go south you will notice that these corn stands turn into peach stands. Some locations in the south, especially near Charleston, you will even find basket weaving stands made out of palm leaves and sweet grass.

5. Dogs named after Booze not Designers

Coming across a pup in Boston is quite different the coming across a dog in Myrtle Beach. Going for a day in Boston and coming across a dog in the streets you have to think to yourself “does that owner look friendly enough to ask to pet their animal?” The answer usually is “NO.” In the odd case where they do look friendly and unbothered the dogs are usually well groomed, clothed, and attached to an $800 dog leash. Some dogs have casual names and some have more extravagant callings. I have met a handful of dogs names after big brands like Louis, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, etc. In the south, most dogs are a little bit more scruffy, usually have a duck in their mouth after hunting, and are trained well enough that they don’t need leashes. In Myrtle Beach I have met more dogs named after beer brands like Bud Light, Coors, Samuel Adams, etc. One of my friends at school has a dog named Coors. When I heard his name for the first time I automatically replied with “OH, after Michael Kors!” I was sadly mistaken. 

4. Time for drinks

Other than receiving a great education, college is about socializing, making life-long friends, and going out on the weekends. Before any college buccaneer can go out for a night on the town you pregame for what is to come. Most of pregaming involves mixed drinks, handles of vodka, bottles of wine, and nips. Nips for a northerner is a small bottle filled with alcohol, however in the south they are called “mini-bottles.” Well yes they are miniature sized bottles, but nips is more fun to say and an iconic method of intoxication. 

3. Put-Put

On a summer or spring night in the north you might want to go and do some outdoor activities. One of my favorite things to do when I was younger, or in those early teen years bringing girls on dates, is to go mini-golfing. The humor in this is that southerns also love mini-golf, or what they call put-put. The first time I heard of put-put I was in a condo with a few of my fraternity brothers for my big brother’s twenty first birthday. He was talking about how his father and sisters were driving down from Virginia to celebrate and that they next day we were all to go play put-put. Never hearing the term I felt dumb for asking “what in the world is put-put?”. It was just mini-golf… BUT instead of just saying “mini-golf” they went on to explain the game of mini-golf because they only knew it as put-put.

2. The way we say things

Granted the way we say things is going to be different considering our region of growing up and dialects that we are exposed to. In South Carolina many individuals have a southern accent in which they speak slower, mix their vowels together, drop their g’s, and speak with a lilt. Where I come from many speak with a Boston accent, where we drop our r’s and replace them with an “ah” sound. For the most common example, “Pahk tha cah in hahvahd yahd.” Sometimes when speaking to heavily southern rooted individuals a lot gets lost in translation and things are misunderstood. Going to a university where half of the students attending are from out of state there are many more accents and dialects to listen for and understand bit by bit.

1. What county are you from?

Typically when someone asks me where I’m from in South Carolina, they don’t actually ask because they can already tell by my accent. If I am already in Massachusetts and I am asked I will simply reply with the city I live in. However, when a southern is asked where they are from they do not reply with their town and state; They respond with their area code or their county. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked individuals where they are from and they respond with “Horry County” or “Georgetown County” or “from the 803.” I find this really wild and interesting to see that when one southerner hears this response they know exactly where the individual they are speaking to is from.

I hope you enjoyed my whit and humor in this post, but it’s all too true! If you are someone who travels a lot and find things different over borders compared to what you call home, drop it in the comments.

//Probably Rob

recreated from post on 1/19/19,

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