Terms and conditions of my exile from the South

By ADDY PERLMAN | November 1, 2018

1. Try not to sound too Southern. You don’t want your peers making assumptions on the first day of classes in Baltimore.

2. Look both ways before crossing the street. An elementary skill but one I’d never had to use before coming to Hopkins. After all, you don’t have to look before crossing desolate dirt roads.

3. Prepare yourself for questions about the South. Think about your answers. Again, you don’t want others to judge you. 

4. If you don’t have the accent they’re expecting, be prepared for questions as to why not.

5. Remember to always walk places with other people. At home, walking at any time day or night was safe because you knew everyone. This is a city; you can’t do that. You can’t walk alone anymore.

6. Always try to follow rule five, but especially at night.

7. Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to who is around you and what is happening. You aren’t in Mayberry with Andy Griffith anymore.

8. Don’t be nervous about meeting other Jewish kids; they will be accepting. Don’t be afraid that you are not “Jewish enough” because there is no such thing. 

9. Know that some may judge you based on where you come from but still make the effort to get to know them. They will change their minds eventually. 

10. Be prepared for questions like: How did you live there? Is it super conservative? Was it terrible?

11. You can still love your home. Even if there are aspects of it you don’t agree with, you can still love it as it will always be home.

12. If you are from the South, understand that going home the first few times may be very difficult. The people in Baltimore are different. They share many of your beliefs, political orientations and views of the world, and, for the first time, you may feel like you belong, which is great. But this means that when you go home, you may feel like more of a visitor than a resident.

13. But remember that you are the person you are because of where you came from. Yes, people will say the South is backward, and, while in some respects you may agree, the South made you polite, considerate and gave you that twang of Southern hospitality to boot. The South helped shape you.

14. Also, while you may have felt like the black sheep of your hometown, being a black sheep for so long taught you how to handle anything.

15. Laugh at your upbringing. Share your stories. Tell people about the tractors, the dirt roads and the Friday night football games because what they know as television material is what you lived. Be proud of it. Remember that all places have their positive and negative facets. While you’re away from home, hold onto the positives, and don’t let the negatives overshadow them.

16. You aren’t really in exile because you are in a place you belong. Don’t keep your two worlds separate. Allow them to merge even if it’s only a small amount. Allow yourself to identify as a Southerner turned Northerner; it’s a unique blend — treasure that. 

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