Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Is this the South?!

In July, I went to Delaware with some friends.  Alas, there are no pictures from the trip.  Well, there are a few pictures taken out the window at 70 mph on my cell phone.  We’re just going to pretend they don’t exist.

Delaware is a state I know little about.  I never lived there or in an adjoining state.  What I know of Delaware is that it was one of the original colonies, it’s on the East Cost and one of those small, little states that are a pain to label on the map.  I didn’t think much about the fact that Delaware was on the coast and thus had a lot of fresh seafood.   As one of my traveling companions was on a quest to eat crab cakes as often as possible, I must have missed the memo.  I was glad that I had developed a taste for seafood over the years or it would have been a lot of hamburgers that weekend.

What really surprised me was encountering the Southern accent.  A female server even asked “what would yous like to drink?”  Delaware was north of Virginia, which from my time in Alabama clearly meant that they were Northerners.  Yankees.  I was hearing “y’all” and being offered grits. My mental map was being redrawn.  I mentioned this my traveling companions and one of them-a librarian-told me that Delaware was south of the Mason-Dixon Line.  Clearly, they were Southern.  Just as a point of clarity, I looked.  Delaware is not below the Mason-Dixon Line.  They were even on the side of the Union during The War Between States.  They are Yankees.

No, I really don’t think of the Civil War that way.  I just was so surprised by hearing a Southern accent in a place where I expected them to sound more like Bostonians or New Yorkers.  In a lot of ways, Delaware reminded me of Missouri.  Hot. Humid. Heat-index.  Next time, I think I’ll pass.


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In the land of ice & Converse

I made my first venture out of the country last week. I boarded a plane and 17 hours, 3 plane changes and one misplaced suitcase later, I arrived in Göteborg, Sweden.  Thankfully, my suitcase was only delayed in Helsinki, Finland and not in the Bahamas.  My connecting flight from JFK to Helsinki spent an extra 50 minutes on the tarmac.  Of course, my flight from Helsinki to Göteborg only had a 40 minute layover.  I’m thankful that I wasn’t stuck waiting for the next flight like my suitcase was.

Everyone asks me, why Sweden?  A friend of mine from college is from the area and it seemed as good a time as any to make the venture. A place I’ve never been and a free place to crash.  I was in.

It is true that most Swedes do speak English, I was still surprised by how overwhelmed I felt in the first couple of days.  Everything was a half-step off from what I was used to at home. My host was trying to be helpful when pointing out the differences between our cultures but in a way that was even more overwhelming.  The feeling of almost but not quite was more disorientating than I expected it to be. Even before I got off the plane I felt a little too loud, a little too bright.  A little too American.

The natives tend towards neutral colors.  Lots of white, some variation of beige and black.  And white high-top Converse.   My bright purple and pink were definitely out of sync. As a rule, white is a color I refuse to wear.  I tend to spill something on it, like an entire bottle of Coke.

After the first couple of days things eased out.  A random stranger at the “beach” started up a conversation.  The Amnesty International boys whose faces lit up to talk to a native English speaker.  The girl at the Lush store who taught me to say “my name is Alyson.”  (Jag heter Alyson. In case you’re curious.) I found it easiest to start conversation with a very clear “hello,” there is no mistaking that.  If someone spoke to me I smiled and said “I’m sorry, I don’t understand Swedish.”  Except for the older woman in the yarn store, they were all able to switch to English.

As for being too American, that feeling faded.  My friend shook his head in amusement every time he saw me chatting with some random stranger.  While I am an American, I’ve always been a little loud and a little bright.  I rather like that about myself.

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Intro posts are the Universe’s way of asking, “are you sure you want to do this?”  If you can get through the first post the rest, well it might not be cake, but the ice has been broken and we can finally get underway.  At least this is how I feel about writing the first of anything: first paragraph of a paper, bio for a new group, the first post of a blog.

I’ve done a fair bit of traveling in my life.  Until I was 15 my dad was an officer in the US Navy.  Like most military brats, I moved when my dad’s tour of duty was over. On average, we moved every 2 years.  Some places we lived longer than other.  The shortest time living somewhere was 10 months in Alabama and the longest being nearly 5 years in Hawai’i.  When my dad retired my family moved back to St. Louis, which is where my folks are originally from.  After graduating from college, I stayed in St. Louis as well.  At least that’s where my mailing address is.

This is going to be a place to put my accounts of either living or visiting a place.  Some details have been lost to the passage of time and some places will be from the perspective of a child.  Not everything will be looking so far in the past.  I have several trips planned for this summer, including my first trip out of the country.  I also do a bit of traveling of traveling for my job.

So what does the picture have to do with anything?  That is the squadron patch for the “Screaming Eagles,” which was my dad’s last flight squadron .  There are many other patches that were on my dad’s flight jacket over the years but this is the one I remember the most clearly.  My father often wears a medallion that was based off of that patch.

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