• Jayne Duignan

Looks Like We're Not in Jersey Anymore!

These are the main culture shocks I experienced as a New Jersey girl going to college in Alabama.


Me, Chick-fil-A sandwich in hand, ready for the game to start.


As the wise Zac Brown Band once said, you know I like my chicken fried!


I never realized how truly blessed I was to experience New Jersey pizza and bagels until I left for college. Instead of ordering delicious food from Gigi’s, Attilio’s, or the numerous Italian restaurants I used to be surrounded by, the best option to fix a pizza craving is Domino’s. Or Papa Johns.


In New Jersey, just the thought of ordering from either of those pizza chain restaurants is insulting.

While the area lacks quality Italian restaurants, it makes up for it with barbecue, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, and banana pudding. These Southern staples have become my new favorite and something I did not mind getting used to. The Southern cooking secret is a whole bunch of love (and butter).


Have you seen a Jersey girl pump gas? There’s a reason you probably haven’t…


The statement “Jersey girls don’t pump gas” exists for a reason- it’s illegal in New Jersey to pump your own gas- and I am thankful for that.


One of my favorite aspects about living in New Jersey has been this luxury, and I used to take pride in being able to say “I have never pumped gas by myself.” At school, I would purposefully drive my friends' around just to end up at the gas station, in hopes they would do it for me. It worked in a few instances, but the inevitable time arrived when I was forced to swallow that pride, and learned how to pump gas for myself.


Unfortunately, I continue to get hit with the following series of questions: Wait, so people pump your gas for you? When you pull into the gas station someone is standing there to help you? Why can’t you do it yourself? What happens if you get out of the car and do it?


Now that I have mastered being able to pump gas on my own, I am going to answer those questions one last time: Yes. Yes. It is illegal. I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.



As the saying in Jersey goes, "we don't pump gas, we pump fists."


People that are sweeter than the tea.


New Jersey people are not known for their friendliness, rather, the opposite. I am used to stand-off, reserved strangers, and I am also used to being stand-off and reserved. Especially on the Garden State Parkway, where the classic New Jersey attitude is best expressed by honking and getting flipped off.


That is why hospitality in the South is the biggest culture shock.

The people express kindness and friendliness in Alabama that goes unmatched. I’ve had conversations with complete strangers at the grocery store as if they were my neighbors or as if I had known them since I was a baby. When you walk down the street, you don’t receive weird glares, but warm smiles and greetings.


People in the community are the type to take the shirt off of their backs for you.

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