Becoming a Midwest Girl

After a few trips back and forth, and making some new friends over in Michigan, I’ve noticed some striking differences in general fashion style, life pace, attitudes, etc.

I’m trying my best to adjust to the fact that I will be moving to Michigan. It’s been taking awhile, but it’s getting harder as the time till the move shortens.

One thing, is Midwest peoples move at more a leisurely pace. Which I think is wonderful! Seems like they really take their time and enjoy moments in life.
However, unfortunately, I’m a person who thrives in the fast-paced lifestyles of international metropolitan like NYC, London, and Taipei. When walking on a sidewalk, it is truly more of a human motorway. It’s like cars, but you’re on your feet. If a person behind you starts coming up faster (we don’t have rear view mirrors, but you can hear by the footsteps, coughing signaling, and breathing), then you need to let them pass. If you’re rearing up to a person at a slower pace in front of you, then you “switch lanes” and pass them. This is the patterns and survival techniques in a city.

When one person comes out of Grand Central station or 30th Street Station, and large streams of people merge or diverge, you need to keep your eyes straight, high alert mode, to get to where you’re going without bumping and hitting or tripping on anyone, and there will be many many people walking in opposite directions, horizontal directions, 45 degree, anything.

In these hyper cities, if you’re just a little bit slower, they will honk at you, and if you’re not being honked at, you will assume that all is fine. Honking is our way of communicating, “please move forward; wait, I’m here; please move up so I can turn; please move more to the right so I can pass on the left; please move, just move.”  In the Midwest, most people don’t utilize the awesome horn function on their car, except for emergency situations (which I think is the proper etiquette… however, in hyper cities, everything is an emergency…)

I’ve also noticed that people speak slower. No joke, I’m completely serious. They take more time between words, pauses, sentences. They add more tones and additional ad-libs and information (most of the time just small talk and/or stuff), etc.

When I’m there, I stick out like a sore thumb. I talk to fast. I get to the point, I want them to get to the point. My voice isn’t soft or gentle. I’m straightfoward. I pair my “Hi, How are you, ” immediately with  my next sentence, “I was wondering/ I had a question/ Can I order”.

I remember when I used to live in Pittsburgh, I was a different person. I think I used to be one of the Midwesterners. I used to talk slower, walk slower (just a bit though, I was always a fast walker), I used to not feel like every second of my day was delaying the next seconds of my day. I used to add small talk and ad-libs and random non-important information…

I changed, into something slightly different when I started living in Philly. I don’t mind it, I fit right in.

But now that I look at the difference… I think there’s going to be a lot more adjusting that’s coming up.

But alas, as with most Third Culture Kids, this is nothing new.

But the million dollar question is: Who am I really? And what style is my preference or fits me better? I have the ability to morph into any international or local culture necessary, but what is MY style?

Am I East Coast? or am I Midwest?

Maybe I’m East Coast. I think I’m east coast (or hyper metropolitan, whatever you want to call it). I think I will always feel like I’m in the right place when I walk at high speed. I think I will always have a small sense of excitement when I’m living in the high paced life. I am re-energized and I feel alive when I’m zooming around.

Or maybe I’m Midwest? I do look forward to the time I can finally buy my SUV in Michigan (a staple item of the suburb/midwest lifestyle…), and have large areas of parking, a driveway, and the ability to drive everywhere, instead of learning all the complicated public mass transit systems in all different cities (Boston, London, Taipei, Rome, SF, Philadelphia, NYC, New Jersey Transit, Hsinchu, woot!).

But I don’t know… because I love knowing (and memorizing) all the mass transit systems and maps…

We’ll see… We have to move again in 3 years when his residency program is done. Maybe we’ll get to try the south next… (omg…)

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One thought on “Becoming a Midwest Girl

  1. I am not a third culture kid but my kids are and I am from Chicago area originally. Spent most of my life in Chicago suburbs (and college in Chi Town) until we moved to Costa Rica 8 years ago. I hate the midwest. I love the midwest. But if I had to pick, I think I love the midwest. It’s beautiful when you are not in the SUV parking lot suburban regions. I’ll be interested to know the verdict.

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