I moved more than 1,000 miles away from home and I’m scared of winter

I think I have always romanticized the idea of a cross-country move.

My father did it in his 20s when he blazed down to Houston from Iowa to work selling elevators, and my mentor from my first news internship hightailed it from northern Minnesota down to Houma, Louisiana for his first job reporting.

When I was fifteen I elected to become a foreign exchange student and found myself across the Atlantic Ocean, in Denmark. I didn’t know a soul or speak a word of Danish when I arrived.

So when I was finishing school and looking for a job, I sent my resume to editors in every nook and cranny of the United States and landed me and my loyal mutt, Maxine, in south-central Minnesota. There are fewer people in this region than the suburb of Houston I was raised in.

I overheard one of the editors at the paper I work at make a joke about my putting my two weeks notice in at some point in January when the temperatures hit rock bottom. He later said if I go home to Texas for Christmas I likely will not get on the plane back to the Midwest.

The fact that I know I have never experienced anything like a Minnesota winter makes me all the more determined to get through it without a single exclamation of “Wow! it’s cold out!” Don’t worry, Minnesota, I am studying. I will not freeze.

So here are some things I have learned in the six weeks since moving up to what for, all intents and purposes, will become a frozen tundra in a few months.

  1. Minnesotan’s love food.

Every culture loves their food, but this is special. They have things here like “hot dish” and “Scotcharoos,” that get people pretty riled up about proper preparation and naming. There is an article running in the magazine next month about the merits of two variations of a peanut butter and cereal bar topped with chocolate called either a “Scotcharoo” or a “Special K Bar.” There was an in-office face-off.

2. Minnesotans love beer.

There are breweries everywhere.

3. Minnesotans speak and behave quite a bit like the characters in the Coen brother’s “Fargo.”

They won’t admit it willingly, but the film representation of the state is spot on, the volume is just turned up a bit. I watched the movie again just to be sure.

Also, I hear “you bet’cha” three times a day. Minimum.

4. Minnesota is beautiful.

All of the rivers and lakes and bluffs shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago make for a diverse and beautiful landscape that I’ve enjoyed seeing in my time off.

5. Minnesota Nice is real.

As a reporter, I’m pretty used to people not returning calls in a timely way, not picking up the phone when they see mobile phone’s foreign area code, or telling me to go look on their website instead of talking to me face-to-face. I don’t know if it is because I’m no longer a student or because of Minnesota, but that has not been my experience as a reporter here.

At a coffee shop a few weeks ago an older woman asked me where I was from after hearing my telling accent. When I told her I had recently moved she gave me her number and told me to call if I needed anything. Minnesota Nice is real.

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