North to South: Tips for Any Transplant (& Entertainment for any Southerner)
I am a Boston girl through and through: I was raised in a Metrowest suburb, attended Tufts for undergrad, and spent the last year living in and working in Cambridge. More tellingly, I’m a die-hard Celtics fan, am fiercely loyal to Dunkin Donuts, and believe turn signals are somewhat optional. And while I was thrilled to be attending Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, I was also a little nervous about the culture shock of the South and Tennessee in particular. The Northeast was all I knew, as almost my entire family lives there as well. How would I survive in this unfamiliar and totally foreign environment?
Well, for any other transplants out there (or Southerners looking for a bit of entertainment), let me share a bit of the knowledge I’ve gleaned after just a week down in Nashville.
First- Southern hospitality is real, and it’s a continual surprise when you hail from a place where the iciness of its people pre-coffee is rivaled only by its fiercest winters. Down here, clerks and salespeople greet you with genuine enthusiasm and really do want to hear about how you’re holding up in this heat. I continually have to remind myself to smile and to respond when people say hello; since we’re perfect strangers, I’m assuming they couldn’t possibly be talking to me. This likely causes everyone to perceive me as rude and/or slightly hard of hearing, so I’ll have to be sure to work on this in the future.
Second- I am the first to profess that you can’t have too much of a good thing. Why have just one scoop of ice cream when you can have three? I do, however, draw the line at Department of Motor Vehicles offices…but here Nashville and I seem to disagree, since this city inexplicably boasts three separate offices to accomplish what one Mass DMV churns out. I mean three totally distinct offices (the actual DMV, the county clerk’s office, and the Department of Safety licensing office) to accomplish what I equate with DMV-like activities. Suffice to say I’ve spent much of the last week running from location to location, often horribly over-caffeinated and under-equipped with the ever-changing array of documentation required. There is a learning curve, my friends. Do not underestimate it.
Third- driving here is amazing! I know that recently locals have been complaining about a large increase traffic, but I have yet to experience the bumper-to-bumper pull-out-your-phone-and-order-a-pizza-and-eat-it-too sort of traffic jam that was all too familiar driving in the Boston rush hour madness. What’s more, drivers down here actually use their turn signals! (Boston drivers seem to think this ruins the fun by giving away what you’re about to do next). And, even better, there are far fewer traffic lights- who can’t get on board with that? I think I’ve made more left turns across four lanes of traffic this week than I had in my entire pre-Nashville life.
In all seriousness, though, I am absolutely thrilled to have come to Nashville and to be starting at Vanderbilt in just a few days. While I’ve learned plenty from the city alone, I’m looking forward to everything that medical school will teach me- and looking forward to sharing it with you as well!