Home Lifestyle Travel Midwesterners from Detroit, Indiana, Chicago on being surprised by US

Midwesterners from Detroit, Indiana, Chicago on being surprised by US

2 min read

The coasts are faster paced than the middle of the country.

Bryan Bedder/ Stringer

Although I grew up in the Detroit area, I always considered myself more of an East Coaster at heart.

I lived Washington, DC for a newspaper internship after my junior year of college, and I thought I had finally found my place.

I felt happy to be in a city where people who stood on the wrong side of the escalator weren’t tolerated and where people had pushed themselves to live outside of what I judged as bland “flyover country.” Unlike in my suburb, it was no longer required to constantly banter with everyone who passed by on the street. I was certain that I would fit right in.

Until people started asking me where in Canada I’m from.

My strong Midwestern accent confused my coastal colleagues. Unless they already knew I was from Michigan, lots of people assumed I was Canadian.

People from Michigan and other Midwest states, as a Rice University study found, tend to pronounce words like “bag,” “damn,” and “man” like byag, dyam, and myan. And of course, soda is “pop.” (I’ve lost the most pointed parts of this accent, but I still have to stop myself before I ask a non-Midwestern friend if she wants a pop.)

I asked more than two dozen Midwesterners who moved elsewhere about the US outside of their home region, and what surprised them the most.

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