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Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Appalachian Highlands

Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Appalachian Highlands
October 15, 2018

Because the Appalachian Mountain range runs through several states, the Appalachian Highlands region could include several states listed in other territories. Depending on where your long distance move takes you, the Appalachians will offer startling views, cold mountain rains, and a general sense of serene elevation to disguise the fact your nearest neighbor might be on the other side of a mountain. A rustic exterior displays a culture that embraces white water rafting and zip-lining while hiding artisans and musicians in broad daylight. Long Distance Moving to A New Region

This area has a long history of mining, forestry, and heavy industry, and features some of the best music and food in the United States. Parts of the region remain very rural, lacking in basic infrastructure like roads and sewer systems.

However, anyone relocating to the Appalachian region may also experience some mild culture shock from the local terminology and the expanse of outdoor activities available in the area.

Moving to Kentucky

Anyone looking to relocate to Kentucky should keep in mind that travel times will alter significantly when the journey involves a mountain. When your destination involves driving up and down a mountain, a ten-mile drive can take over an hour. Relocating to Louisville can be like hitting the jackpot of Kentuckian culture, as the city pays tribute to the Kentucky Derby while also offering some of the best local food in the state.

Take care when getting together with the neighbors. The term “meeting” in Kentucky sometimes refers to gathering for religious purposes, popularized in general culture as tent revivals where the minister/preacher/reverend handles venomous snakes during the sermon. The term still applies to your run-of-the-mill meetings, including PTA meetings, booster meetings, fundraiser meetings, and public meetings; you’re just less likely to see someone handle a snake and preach at those gatherings.

Moving to North Carolina

There’s an old Appalachian saying about the weather: “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” In terms of warnings, it’s not as ominous as “Winter is Coming,” but it is just as important to keep in mind. Mountain rains can be extremely cold even during the summer months and flooding can be a major problem in bad weather, so don’t be tempted to layout (be absent) from making preparations.

But don’t be afraid of the outdoors. If hiking and mountain biking don’t sound appealing, there’s also rafting, fishing, and kayaking. We know what you’re probably thinking. “White water rafting? What, like in ‘Deliverance?’”

First of all, that was Georgia. Second of all, stereotypes hurt, so knock it off. You won’t make any new friends with that kind of attitude. Finally, not trying any of these water sports would rob a new arrival to really get a firsthand understanding of the region’s inherent beauty.Long Distance Moving to North Carolina

Plus, it’s considered the height of ruggedness to catch and prepare your own food for a meal. And freshly-caught fish tastes better after a day of rafting.

Moving to Tennessee

Speaking of the outdoor life, people relocating to Tennessee will find the practice of outdoor activities popular and plentiful in that state, too. In addition to the Great Smoky Mountains, the state also serves as home to several national forests in the area, creating no limit to the outdoor activities available.

As with any new hobbies, try to find professional instruction in how to operate the tools and equipment before going out to the wilderness on your own. Nobody wants to be the person who throws the chain off their new mountain bike just as a bear decides to wander over.

Also, a pancake will sometimes be referred to as a “flannel cake.” There is no rule in the Tennessee Handbook that forbids the practice of wearing flannel while enjoying a flannel cake, and it’s a safe bet at least one local does so on a regular basis.

Moving to Virginia

It should be noted that, despite all the outdoor activities offered in the Appalachian region, moving to any of them does not require someone to suddenly take an interest in these activities. That would be like moving to Texas and expecting to be issued cowboy boots, a football helmet, and a gun rack at the border.

(Note: the state of Texas does not currently offer those items as relocation incentives, although many state vendors will happily sell you boots, helmet, and a gun rack at reasonable prices).

Take Virginia, for example. Like North Carolina, Virginia residents get to enjoy access to the Atlantic Ocean and the mountain offerings of the state’s interior. It also offers easy access to the State Capital, just in case you move to the state and decide to take a road trip to see Washington DC or go yell at your state representatives.

A serving of food in Virginia can be referred to as “fixins.” The term also gets used to indicate a plan to do something, as in “I’m fixin to head up the mountain soon.” This term will probably be the most recognizable to people who have just moved to the Appalachian region, as it’s been used in popular culture by characters that live in mountain areas. It is not cool or hip to say “I’m fixin to get some fixins.”

Moving to West Virginia

Rolling hills, valleys, and using the term “swan” to declare to be true, as in “I swan that bear must have eaten everything in the camper last night.”

Relocating to West Virginia make also make you familiar with the term “palings,” (pronounced like pail-ings) which refers to homemade fence posts. Usually made from various kinds of wood but not necessarily resembling beams. If a neighbor asks for help dealing with his palings, please be aware he’s looking for help with his fence and not asking you to talk to his teenage children who wear all black and seldom go outdoors. Relocating to West Virginia

When the weather gets right for planting, you will also hear the term “scald” being used to describe poor or useless land or plants. Rotten food can be said to be “scalded food.” If you decide to try your hand at gardening after relocating to West Virginia but find that you don’t have the ability to keep the plants alive for long, you can offer the excuse that the land is scalded. The locals probably won’t believe you, though.


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