The Same, But Different


To say we are culture shocked is an overstatement when coming from Canada to America. We share too much with our southern neighbors to induce such strong feelings, but it is without question markedly different.

As it is from one area of America to another. Most of our previous time in the US has been spent enjoying exciting big cities, and we committed to three months in rural Wisconsin with the expectation that it would be a bit like my childhood home: plenty of untamed wilderness, friendly and down-to-earth folks, and a healthy dose of quiet seclusion.

It has all of that, and more. And it is also kinda the same as home, but divergent enough to make us draw comparisons, to spark conversation of the good and bad of ‘the different‘.

Even just during the four hour drive from Minneapolis to our current house-sit, we paid strict attention to all that was passing by. We were dismayed at some sights, delighted at others, and some made us smile with thoughts of home.

(Will be interesting to know if YOU can guess which observation invoked which emotion?!)

~~ One gas station stop had me shrinking under the watchful gaze of dozens of taxidermied animal heads.

~~ We paid $3.42 per gallon for regular gas (or $0.90 per litre).

~~ American flags floated on lengthy poles standing alone on the side of the road, or on fence posts, or on front porches (or, sometimes all of the above).

American Flag

Photo by Flickr user: The Suss-Man

~~ An endless stream of radio stations played an endless stream of hits from the eighties.

~~ Romney-Ryan signs were predominant along the road. One giant billboard showed the presidents on Mount Rushmore giving Obama the boot.

~~ Each tiny town we passed had a full scale McDonalds.

~~ We paused at railroad tracks to let a Canadian National train roll by.

Bald Eagle~~ Street numbers go up by halves (i.e. 21 and 1/2 street) – seeing them always made us giggle.

~~ Wild turkeys wandered along the side of the road. Pete excitedly pointed out a bald eagle that swept low over yellowed corn stems that were still standing tall in the field outside his window.

One thing is for certain, on that trek home, the friendliness of the people shone bright. Store clerks were extremely attentive, and as we drove nearer our house-sit, kindly waves greeted us. This was not entirely unexpected, but it was definitely enough to make a big impression.

‘Culture shocked’ or not, we are sure we are going to like it here. (Hint: also because the gas is so much cheaper.)


14 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Mom
    November 7 2012

    Must have been the CN train….or was it McDonalds?

    • November 8 2012

      McDonalds is like Canada’s Tim Hortons down here – they are EVERYWHERE! I don’t think it’s like that at home, at least, McDonalds tends to only be in the bigger centers. But here, they exist even in the small towns.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    November 8 2012

    I have never visited Wisconsin, but I completely agree with what you are saying about how “culture shock” when Canadians visit the U.S. is very slow and sneaky: When I moved to Nashville, TN for graduate school in 2005, I thought it would be no big deal because on all my visits to the U.S. before it had never really felt like I was traveling “abroad”. So you can imagine how weird it felt to suddenly find myself desperately homesick, missing all these things I never thought twice about in Canada after about 6 weeks there!

    And after living there for 7 years, now of course, all the things I thought were weird and unusual there feel like home and Canada is the place that doesn’t quite fit!

    Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures in Wisconsin!

    • November 8 2012

      ‘Slow and sneaky’ – that’s one way to describe it – haha! I always find it fascinating, no matter where we are in the world, how different things can be when borders are just a few miles away. The same is here, it’s just not always as obvious. πŸ™‚

  • November 9 2012

    Living in Chicago, Wisconsin is my backyard, especially when I am looking for outdoor activities. What is the closest town?
    Traveling Ted recently posted..The other side of Tenerife

    • November 9 2012

      We’re in the north Ted! Closest(ish) town is Hayward. Any trips planned this way?

  • November 9 2012

    I will be in Hayward for the Birkebeiner cross-country ski Marathon in February. Not sure if you will still be there then. The town triples in size during Birkie weekend. It is crazy. It is February 23rd.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..The other side of Tenerife

    • November 10 2012

      I wish we were still here for that! But we’ll be gone mid-January.

  • November 11 2012

    Street Numbers going up by halves? Thats surely the first time I have heard it, so interesting!!
    Arti recently posted..Riding the Bullet: My Ticket to Kyoto

    • November 11 2012

      I know! I don’t know why that amuses us so much, but it does. πŸ™‚

  • B
    November 11 2012

    You two will have a great time!! Make sure you enjoy the american delicacy of white gravy and biscuits!! Oh yeah!!
    B recently posted..It’s a new day with the same yesterday behind us…

    • November 11 2012

      Uhhh, we just tried Deep Fried Cheese Curds, and I think we’ll have to wait awhile for that heart congestion to clear before we dig into the gravy! πŸ™‚

  • November 17 2012

    Either I’ve been living outside of the US for way too long or gas is incredibly expensive in Canda because I just verbally gasped at the $3.42 price tag. Good grief! I remember when I started driving at 16 that gas was $.97 per gallon. What is happening?!
    Jennifer recently posted..The World’s Largest Pumpkin Festival

    • November 18 2012

      Gas is ridiculously expensive and Canada, and has to be even moreso for you over there?!

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