I travel for work quite a lot. Mostly this involves attending conferences or training sessions in different countries, usually because of something to do with digital forensics.
Currently I’m in South Carolina, which is about as travelly as I’ve been so far.
There were a few things that confused me when I first got here.
1. A lot of the cabs don’t have seatbelts, and the seats just behind the driver tend to move around a bit. I got used to it eventually.
2. Everything here is big and spaced out. Every store has a parking lot. People don’t walk. Public transport isn’t really a thing. The food portions are also huge.
Like I said, everything is wider here. Even the rivers. It makes the Thames look like a little brook.
4. There are hand sanitiser dispensers everywhere. In public places, in cafes and restaurants, in motel reception areas… all over the place.
5. There are really big gaps under the toilet cubicles here. Seriously, people. How could that possibly be necessary?
6. I can confirm that Southern hospitality is a thing. People are polite here to the point of disbelief. And it’s a different kind of politeness from what you see in London. When people here say “Hi, how are you?” they actually expect you to reply.
In a strange way, it reminds me of Dublin. Just the general chattiness of the people and the willingness to smile and help you out.
7. The clouds are amazing. I never knew that clouds in other places would look so different from clouds in the UK. They seem more substantial somehow, and at night they light up like they’re on fire from the inside.
8. The bugs here are huge. In the UK I’m only afraid of the larger house spiders. Over here, I discovered a water bug in my room late one night and now that’s been added to the list of creepy-crawlies I don’t like. It was so big that the lady on night duty had to wrap it in a towel to get rid of it.
9. The motorbikes are awesome.
There are all these modified Harley Davidsons that are about twice the size of the ones you’d see in the UK. They have boomboxes on the backs and blast out rap music late at night.
(I’m staying in the less pricey part of town)
10. ‘Murica is a thing. I’d always assumed it was a movie stereotype that people would strap two US flags to the fronts of their pickup trucks and drive around blasting country music.
Nope. It’s a thing here. And I don’t think it’s an ironic thing, either.
They’re less apologetic about what they like in general, too. In England we apologise for everything, and even if we get excited about something it tends to be in kind of an apologetic way. “Whoops, terribly sorry, I seem to have smiled a bit too widely there, do forgive me.”
I need a camera with better zoom.
11. It’s less polluted here. That surprised me somehow.
I guess the pavements aren’t as full of litter because people don’t walk around so often.
The river has its own team of volunteers who wander around making sure it’s doing OK, going onto the beaches on the islands and checking for litter left at campsites, and cleaning it up.
The ocean is clear. You can see the clouds reflected in it. When you’re swimming, you can see under the water.
12. The accents are amazing. My favourite cab driver told me he grew up in North Carolina “huntin’ and fishin'” and he had this wonderful Southern drawl. I could have listened to it all day.
13. They don’t add tax to their prices until you get to the till, so I spent the whole week underestimating how much I was spending.
In summary: I’m a little bit in love with South Carolina.
Except the bugs.