photo by brittany murdock

photo by brittany murdock

It’s 5:30 A.M. and I’m walking into the elevator of my building on my way to teach my first yoga class in Raleigh. My nerves are running rampant but, with tired eyes, I barely notice that there is anyone else in the elevator with me. “I’m going out to grab a coffee—do you want one?” the gentleman asks me.

Excuse me, what? My building offers complimentary beverages as we’re heading out the door and a total (friendly) stranger is offering to grab one for me with no ulterior motives? Wow. From that moment, it was evident I was no longer a New Jersey resident. I moved down to Raleigh in May and, while I am having the time of my life, I’m also constantly noticing drastic differences between here and the Tri-state. Here I am to debunk some of the stigmas of North Carolina and share a few of the differences that have stuck out to me in my first two months here. 

How is it possible that everyone is SO FRIENDLY?

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Let me begin by getting this out of the way:  Southern hospitality is real down here. Aside from my surprising, friendly elevator experience, I’ve been welcomed with open arms everywhere I’ve been. I just moved here from the land of hustle and bustle, where everyone is too busy to tell you what time it is. Do not expect a ‘thank you’ after holding the door for someone. Definitely don’t ask for directions. In North Carolina, I find myself going out of my way to speak to a friendly face at the gym or spark up conversations after overhearing someone else’s. The best part? Each time has been a success.

Research Triangle Park is not a park for your enjoyment.

Which leads me to my next difference: Research Triangle Park. My best conversation began when I had no idea what “Research Triangle Park” referred to. I continued the conversation with, “Are they dog-friendly?” That got a pretty hearty chuckle out of the group of people I was talking to. For your information, Research Triangle Park is not exactly dog-friendly. Instead, Research Triangle Park, usually referred to simply as RTP, is a hub for major technology companies. While RTP has been around for more than 50 years, Raleigh saw a 38 percent increase in technology jobs between 2010 and 2015, making RTP part of your daily conversation. It does help that three of the nation’s top schools surround this area—Duke University, N.C. State University, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. So in the end, the answer was no, I cannot walk my dog there.

It’s Raleigh or Durham, not Raleigh/Durham.

You don’t live in Raleigh-Durham. You either live in Raleigh or Durham. Using the term Raleigh-Durham is a definite way to stand out like a sore thumb. Two totally different cities with totally different vibes. Each unique and special in its own way.

I’ve been eating … a lot.

 The food is top notch. Don’t get me wrong, I was spoiled with delicious pizza and hole-in-the-wall eateries back north. Now, I’m really lucky to live in the heart of downtown and in walking distance to some of the most unique concepts around. I’ve truly never seen anything as spectacular as Brewery Bhavana—flower shop, bookstore, brewery, and amazing dumplings. How is it possible that they do each one so well? While the food is great around here, the beer is even better. I moved down to North Carolina and suddenly became a beer snob. I catch myself reading through beer descriptions over and over again, broadening my horizons each time I go out. No more Yuengling or watered down Bud Light for me!

There’s access to beaches and mountains. Yes, it snows.

Just because we’re “down South” doesn’t mean it’s sunny and 80+ degrees every day; we’re South, but we’re not in Florida. Similar to the Tri-state, I still have access to surfing and snowboarding. Raleigh is so conveniently located that some of the best beaches and mountains are only a couple hours away. It may not snow significantly in Raleigh, but I’ll still be able to experience the winter conditions of New Jersey up in Boone (so I’m told). Also, if I’m feeling adventurous, I can experience the mountains in Asheville. I almost forgot to mention:  Beaches are FREE, which means I don’t have to do everything in my power to pass as a 13-year-old.

It’s true: College sports may be a bigger deal than professional sports around here.

As a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I’ve been counting down the days until football season returns. Sure, everyone is excited for their typical Sunday Funday, but college basketball is what Raleighites really want. Not surprised, considering Duke and UNC are two of the  premier basketball colleges in the nation. Go Blue Devils / GoTarheels?

My advice for anyone new to Raleigh is to embrace every single second and go into each situation with an openmind. Make it a point to check out all the events going on in and around Raleigh, because the feeling of community is unmatched. Do not ignore someone when they ask how your day is. I clearly see why every local is filled with pride for being here. Last thing, if you’re wondering why this area is known as “The Triangle”  don’t worry, I was to. The Triangle refers to an entire region made up of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Now you are a true Raleighite—get out there.

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