America is a beautiful country, but what makes it even better is that every state has its own distinct culture. To say I did not experience any culture shock when moving to Minnesota for my studies would be a lie. I was quite apprehensive at first when I settled in because everyone was so nice. After a while, I got used to their hospitable ways and began to think that this is how communities should be. Warm, welcoming and genuine. That’s not to say that there aren’t any nice people back home in New York, but things are a little different in Minnesota.
Minnesota is like a little Canada
I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Canadian culture until I moved to Minnesota and met friends who explained that they share a sort of kinship with America’s neighbour. A running joke they have is to see who can out-polite the other, and isn’t that just the most wholesome thing in the world?
Now I’m not saying that New Yorkers are rude, we’re just straight to the point because it’s a fast paced city. Everyone’s always rushing to get somewhere so we have perfected the art of being curt and concise. In Minnesota, that’s seen as very rude. When people say goodbye, it’s a 30 minute long affair because they don’t want to come across as mean or unfriendly. They don’t want people to feel unwanted or left out and this is something that I really cherish during my time in Minnesota.
Learning the ins and outs of living alone
Being the New Yorker that I am, I chose to rent a small studio so I didn’t have to share with others. I thought it would be a great way for me to learn how to be independent but it was really hard. By my third week, I had already broken down and was crying on campus, telling my family that I wasn’t cut out to live alone. There were so many things that I felt unprepared for. I didn’t understand how billing works, I was a nightmare in the kitchen and knew nothing about budgeting.
As you could imagine, a fellow Minnesotan student took pity on me and funnily enough, I didn’t feel embarrassed about pouring my heart out to him. He told me he’s never left Minnesota so he didn’t know how I felt, but he could help me with everything else since he’s a local. The one conversation changed my entire experience and I’d be forever grateful. He told me about what a budget template is and how helpful it can be, he told me the best way to pay my bills, which churches had the best communities and even what restaurants were good. By the time we were done, I had become fast friends with him and his group of friends.
It’s funny that I had never had the same kind of friendship back home, so I have come to the conclusion that there’s a slice of heaven for everyone and I think I found mine at the University of Minnesota.