As ORANGE’s last installment of “A Whole New World,” student Stephanie Rothman describes the major culture differences she has experienced in her transition from New York to Texas in this op-ed piece.
By Stephanie Rothman
“Y’all come back now, ya hear?!”
This is not a phrase one pictures their parents using as a send-off when their daughter leaves for college, especially when she is from New York. My parents were joking, of course, but the “down home” taunting never ceases to entertain them. They and everyone else I know in New York joke about the fact that I go to school in Texas. They imagine me line dancing around campus in my boots as I tip my hat to fellow cowgirls on their way to class. Obviously, this is far from the reality of living in Texas, but the mockery carries on out of good fun.
Yes, there are some parts of this great state that hold true to southern stereotypes, but here in Austin I have come to find a much more modern Texan lifestyle, one that I truly admire. I love living in a city that’s a center for politics, the arts and sciences, yet still manages to encompass a down-to-earth southern charm.
Some stereotypes are pleasantly surprising to me – particularly the whole “southern hospitality” thing. I’m not going to lie, it still amazes me when a guy holds a door open for me. I have to say the northern sterotype of people being mean spirited isn’t so far from the truth compared to people down here. I admire the genuine kindness the Austin community has to offer. I’ve found that not only have I taken to the relaxed personalities, but I have altered some minor things to my persona in order to adapt to my surroundings. The list varies from my vocabulary and manners to my wardrobe. Especially my wardrobe.
Sometimes I find choosing a “New York” outfit difficult due to my new athletic, laid-back style that I picked up here in Austin. The first time my mother saw my new dress code, she asked if I had just gotten out of bed. This seems harsh, but understandable, considering I was nominated for “Best Dressed” at my high school. I was never caught in anything made out of stretchy material, which is funny, because that’s all I wear these days. Not only is it more comfortable, but it makes me feel more accepted by my peers.
The fact that I have to make the decision to dress differently speaks volumes to me about the culture differences. If I wake up for class and choose to swap my usual Nike shorts for jean shorts or maybe even a dress, my friends send me confused stares and ask, “Are you going somewhere?” to which I reply with a giggle and a half-smile, “No, I just decided to dress up today.” Its amazing how as simple as just dressing different can peak someone’s interest around here.
The slightest bit of culture shock is eye opening, as I have learned from my time in Texas. If there’s one thing I’ve taken from my experiences at UT thus far, its that you just have to roll with the punches. There’s no right way of doing something. I don’t need to change everything about myself because I moved from New York to Texas, I just have to accept the new things and make sure I don’t let go of the old ones at the same time. I like to think of myself as a fusion of north and south. Though some things about me have changed, I don’t deny them; I accept them and grow with them.
That’s what college is all about, right? Changing. Adapting. We come here not only to learn but, to mold ourselves into a bettered version of who we want to be. That’s why I came to Texas.