Coast Cultures


“Stop calling me sir.”


I was not prepared for the reverse culture shock when I went back to Oregon for spring break. To be fair, moving is a bit of a one-way street, but it’s hard to believe 5 months ago I had no idea I would not be graduating high school in Portland, Oregon. 


While there are a million cultural differences between there and Memphis, of course the biggest one has been language. “Sir,” “ma’am,” and “y’all,” do not exist in the vocabulary of Portlanders. In fact, as I mentioned experiencing, many Oregon residents would prefer to not be referred to as sir or ma’am. 


The justification of the man I met my first day or spring break was that it made him “feel like a cop.” Other Hutchison students I shared that story with have experienced similar challenges in their own travels North. 


Another big difference in language between Portland and Memphis is swearing. I’ve noticed that it is far more normalized in Oregon rather than here.


I’m also sure much of why visiting the city I spent the last 10 years of my life felt like such a step backward is because of covid. The varying regional responses to covid are constantly on the forefront of the media. 


Hutchison classmates I talk to are always surprised when they hear how states such as Oregon have handled the coronavirus over the last year. Portland is months behind where we are in terms of a return to normalcy. There were no school sports or in person school of any kind until February.


It definitely made the comparison between my two homes harder that Portland feels frozen in March 2020 type isolation, but as the US continues to progress I’m sure the differences will become more material.


 Like how big the trees are in Oregon. It’s actually crazy.