In all of the areas featured in these blogs, no place seems to prompt greater culture shock than the Midwest states. If you’re planning a long-distance move to the midwest: Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio or Michigan, we’ve got you covered for your move and the intel to fit in with the locals.
Here’s the rundown on Midwest Culture
The reasons for said culture shock don’t appear obvious at first; after all, it’s just five states east of the Mid-Atlantic region, how much difference could there be?
Want a coke? Ask for a pop. Feeling the urge to drink a soda? You’ll still need to ask for a pop. When moving to the Midwest, you’ll have to come to terms with the notion of referring to soda as pop, a small but sometimes annoying terminology change.
For untold generations, the argument for this term choice has been thus: soda makes a popping sound when opened, so it gets called “pop.” Soda does many things when opened: hisses, whooshes, splutters, occasionally spits, and erupts when shaken, so the “pro-pop” argument has been met with heavy skepticism outside of the Midwest.
The counter argument, summarized thusly, is “No, it goes pop.”
The counter-counter argument will be, “No, it doesn’t.”
And so it will go. Accept the pop. It’s just simpler.
Going to the beach in the Midwest will, in reality, mean going to a lake. It won’t matter which lake; the Midwest has plenty to choose from. This may seem quaint to anyone familiar with coastal living, but there will be sand, there will be water, and there will be many opportunities to get a sunburn. True, you may not see too many spring breakers running around in their swimsuits in the Midwest, but you also won’t run the risk of stumbling upon a Nudist Beach for Individuals Who Should Not Be Nude, so there’s that.
(Side note: Most nudist beaches qualify as a Nudist Beach for Individuals Who Should Not Be Nude. Sorry. And you’re welcome.)
New Midwest residents may also experience something new when they venture outside: all four acts of Mother Nature’s performance. No more perpetual summers or mild springs; the Midwest will give you a front-row seat to all four seasons. This can be a wonderful thing, especially if you’re a fan of the spring/fall transition periods between summer and winter when the weather starts changing and encourages more outdoor time. The leaves changing color, sunsets by a lake, and generally pleasant weather; those will be your reality in the Midwest.
On the other hand, it will also mean having to deal with snow, ice, sleet, and all that other fun winter stuff in all their terrible glory. As such, you will become intimately familiar with things like snow tires, ice scrapers, and letting the car run for several minutes so the inside will be warm when you finally start driving. Also, ice on roads, rude snowmen designs, and yellow snow; those will be permanent fixtures, too.
Speaking of permanent fixtures, you will have to deal with the near-endless fields of corn growing all over the place. True, there are farms in the Midwest that grow things beside corn, but corn will be a regular sight.
It should be stated the corn fields here do not, as of a current Google news search, involve anything as shown in film, so if you’re expecting aliens, possessed children, or a disembodied voice urging strangers to knock down the corn and build a baseball stadium, you’ll probably be disappointed. Also, don’t buy any merchandise that states “I Heart Corn.” Those are used by the locals to identify tourists.
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Moving to Illinois
Fun fact: Illinois reportedly generates more nuclear power than any other state. Now put down that radiation suit and stop shaking.
It’s difficult to discuss Illinois culture without talking about Chicago culture, a subject which would take up several blog posts on its own. To save time, let’s hit the highlights: pizza here looks like pie, beautiful Wrigley Field actually sits in a neighborhood, the only professional sport they don’t have a team for seems to be rodeo, and the salt that gets put down on the streets during winter will eat through shoes over time.
Moving to Indiana
Bad joke: what two types of music to you get in Indiana? Answer: both kinds, country AND western.
Hunting for buck will be a popular activity. Of course, when we say hunting, we do mean shooting; you don’t go hunting for buck like you go hunting for lost car keys, and you can’t make venison jerky without the venison. However, if you’ve never gone hunting, please don’t go wandering into the woods with a gun.
Moving to Michigan
Yes, Detroit still gets referred to as the car capital of the world, but the village of Colon (snort) sports the largest magic shop in the world. Chevrolet just can’t compete with that.
But it’s also the home of Motown, the Michigan wolverines, and the Midwest tradition of ice fishing. This is a curious activity where people go out to frozen lakes in the winter, cut a hole in the ice, and drop their lures in. As with many outdoor activities, ice fishing appears designed to get people back into nature through the cunning use of inactivity disguised as activity and drinking beer.
Moving to Ohio
Quick, name something Ohio State has in common with the University of Miami. The answer: Most of the fans didn’t actually go to school there.
But that’s not a bad thing. Midwest residents take great pride in collegiate athletics, and their enthusiasm can be something to behold; we’ve been to Ohio weddings where the entire wedding party kept sneaking away to watch the Buckeyes game.
Speaking of sports…
Moving to Wisconsin
By and large, Midwest residents enjoy a reputation of being friendly and easy-going, although that reputation does occasionally get tested during football season.
Still, if you’re moving to Wisconsin, you will have to accept the realities of fall weekends being dominated by yellow and green for the Green Bay Packers and of something called cheese curds.
Briefly defined, cheese curds are the moist pieces of curdled milk, either eaten alone as a snack or used for other things. The only real difference between cheese curds and the cheese blocks found at supermarkets is the form; blocks and wheels get placed under weights to push out the whey and create the shape, while curds do not. They may look weird, but try them anyway.