Thursday, August 25, 2011

Space Effecting Perception

As a newcomer to the south, I actually find a lot of things similar to my life back home. Really the only significant differences are weather, architecture of buildings, and retail stores. In the north, we are fortunate to experience seasons. It’s nearly guaranteed to see color on the leaves in the fall, snow on the ground and freezing temperatures in the winter, and sunny days and tourists as spring rolls into summer. From what I can tell in my little time down here, it’s fairly warm and sunny year round, accompanied by much more drastic rainstorms at random points in the day. Additionally, tourism is highlighted in the winter days, where northerners such as myself vacation down south to escape the cold. As for architecture, where I’m staying I witness a lot of Spanish-Mediterranean style buildings and houses. The look is from the 16th century, where in the north it’s more colonial and late victorian style seen in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Even the new, more luxurious homes down south reflect this Spanish-Mediterranean design. As a person interested in architecture, I appreciate both eras/designs. The retail and economic aspect in common to different places anywhere. There’s obviously many hometown restaurants and historic places popular to individual locations worldwide. What’s really interesting is to see store chains that exist back north. It makes me feel back home when I see a “Walgreens” or “Subway.” So essentially, the human interest and needs are the same down here, just accommodated somewhat differently by various companies/businesses.

Despite these differences, I find the people for the most part the same. Accents are a little different, but if theirs is unique to me, then mine is unique to them. That “southern hospitality” isn’t as strongly present as I expected. In fact, I found it more apparent in states such as Virginia and the Carolinas, where I have traveled before. Maybe it just hasn’t made its way down to Florida? People’s personalities are similar to those back north as well. I am surrounded by determined people with common educational and life goals. We come from various backgrounds but have similar values and experiences. It’s pretty cool to talk to northerners in my situation as well to hear their opinions on the difference in lifestyle. The common opinion? The weather is so much warmer.

From my many observations I’ve made over the past week or so I have drawn some interesting conclusions. For one, people in the U.S. are the same in many places. Only in isolated places do people exhibit very different lifestyles. Other than them, we are quite similar. In one way, that can be attributed to the educational system us Americans have in common. You could also say the media and pop culture has affected us in a certain way too. We watch the same TV shows and movies, buy the same cars and food, belong to the same social networks, and have similar social problems. One other conclusion is that I don’t expect to miss the things from back home (other than my family and friends) quite as much as I thought I would when I was on my way down here. A lot is truly the same. What I make of my surroundings and how I adapt to the southern environment will determine how easy I find life here, ultimately shaping my successes and failures. From now until I move somewhere else, the rest is just an experience to come.