Subjectivity is an interesting thing, and it is something you notice a lot more when you are traveling. When I was in Europe, I noticed a lot of interesting cultural differences, but even as I travel within the US I recognize some regional differences that I wasn’t aware of before. We often times don’t realize how much where we live or grow up affects us.
One of the most talked about differences since I have arrived here is accents. Apparently to the west-coasters, us midwesters have thick accents. It is bizarre because I don’t hear an accent when they speak, but it is easy for them to pick up on our accents. I guess us Michiganders are known for our long, hard vowels sounds when we speak — in words like “water” and pretty much any word that begins with a vowel. I also have gotten called out (by my French friend, who is not even a native English speaker!) for not pronouncing the “t” in certain words like “mountain” and even my last name “Morton.” I now know that omitting certain consonants is also a midwest thing.
Another HUGE thing that I noticed in Oregon (that I really enjoy) is the amount of eco-concerned living. In Michigan, our phenomenological reality does not include a lot of what is offered here, so as an outsider looking I really noticed the differences. I love all of the markets, vegetarian/vegan friendly food, and recycling/composting available throughout the city. I think eco-living is something we need more of in the Midwest, but at the same time, as a whole the subjective reality of midwesterners is not ready to support this amount of eco-friendlyness. I do believe though that if more people from the midwest were to see how easy it can be to make the steps towards living green, we could and would implement these changes.
Acceptance — for some reason I feel that people here are much more accepting of one another. I have noticed that people treat each other as people not so much as their societal label. I think the acceptance I have seen here comes from the community that is built by the people.
These few examples just begin to shed light on the differences that are created by the place we live or grow up in. It is important to understand these differences when traveling to new places. Whether the destination be abroad or within your own country, it is important to have an open-mind when experiencing new things.