Culture Clash: Are Southerns and Northerners Really That Different?

by Emery W. 

“I didn’t know people could say the word ‘y’all’ so much!”

Back in 2011, my roommate was a guy straight out of Racine, Wisconsin, and the one thing that each of us hated about the other was the way we pronounced words. I was unfortunate enough to mispronounce his hometown as Ray-seen instead of Ruh-seen, and he threw a fit. I can almost hear his exact words now, “Why is it that all Southerners feel the need to give all vowels the long sound? It sounds ridiculous.”

First off, I found his outburst to be extremely rude, and condescending (a trait lots of our mutual friends hated about him). I didn’t know that he wasn’t being rude. He was just being a Northerner.

I’m a born and raised Texan; I’m southern through-and-through, but not country. There is a difference. I’d only been to the north once in my life, and I only spent a few days there, but everywhere I turned someone was saying, “Oh wow! I didn’t know people could say the word ‘y’all’ so much!” or “Sorry, we only have Mr. Pibb.” I was so homesick after the first night, I wanted to cry.

I got home, and it dawned on me that even though we all live in the same country, our lifestyles are completely different. I decided to ask a couple of friends to help me out with a little questionnaire to help me prove if Northerners and Southerners are as different as I think they are.

A short disclaimer; as always these opinions are those of the individuals. Not all Northern and Southern women think the way these two women happen to think. As always, the On the Edge inbox is open, and available for questions, comments, and feedback.

Representing the south is our very own Editor-in-Chief, Kirsten. She currently lives in Georgia.

For the north, my good friend Amanda who lives in New Jersey, will be giving us her opinion.

What do you put on a sandwich with peanut butter (besides jelly)?

Amanda: Um, sometimes I’ll do peanut butter and fluff, or Nutella. But it’s not a regular thing. PB&J is still the standard.

Kirsten: Honey! Nothing beats a PB + honey sandwich!

What’s your go-to “going-out” outfit?

A: Jeans and a cute top.

K: Tights/leggings, plaid button down, boots OR skirt, top, tights and boots!

What’s your favorite sport?

A: To play, soccer. To watch, football

K: College football. GO DAWGS!


How do you like your tea?

A: I use cream and sugar in my tea. Specifically, French vanilla creamer.

K: I actually hate sweet tea, but I love hot tea!

What do you call a carbonated beverage?

A: Soda

K: Coke

What’s a Southern stereotype you hear all of the time?

A: That they’re all friendly, and stuck in the past

K’s response: -  It’s a fake nice in some cases. Like, we’re polite but at the same time we can be evil as hell. I believe that there are parts of southern history that need to go away (I.e. Racism, classism, tea parties). However, there are parts of Southern tradition that are wonderful. Like being kind to your neighbors, having Sunday family dinner and just knowing how to have a good time at a football game!

What’s a Northern stereotype you hear all of the time?

K: That they’re all rude as hell.

A’s response: Not in general, no. But obviously it varies by place. Like New Yorkers are rude. But people from Medford Lakes aren’t. Also, in comparison to southerners, we all look rude. But things are also slower paced in the south. So while you guys may have the chance to catch up with the guy at your local shop in the mornings, we don’t. And if we try to, it messes up the pace for everyone else. Everything is subjective.


So sure, the stereotype is that all Southerners love sweet tea, and live for the football game that follows Sunday dinner at Big Mama’s house, but that doesn’t mean it’s true. Not any more than the rumor that Northern women dress in leggings and watch hockey is true. Our roots, and where we’re from plays a major role in who we become as people, but doesn’t distinguish all of our interests and tastes. My best friend loves George Strait and hockey whereas Country music makes me cringe, and football season is my favorite thing about Fall. Yeah we were both raised in the same city in Texas, but a lot of the time, we don’t like the same things.

So the answer to this Culture Clash is yes, Southerners and Northerners are different; we prepare for the changing of the seasons differently, and have our respective major convenient store chains (Buc-cees, meet Wa Wa. Your Northern counterpart), but at the end of the day, we’re all American, and I believe that’s something we all enjoy having in common.