Lakes. Lutefisk. Uff-da.

February 6 2018

When I applied for the internship that would eventually bring me to Minnesota, I didn’t pay much attention to where it was located, so when I received an email inviting me to interview, I had to go back and look it up. It was in Minneapolis.

“Minneapolis…Is that in Minnesota? Or Michigan? It’s definitely in one of those ‘M’ states up north…I think?”

I had to turn to Google for confirmation that it was, indeed, in Minnesota. (For the record, my next search was, “Are there a lot of moose in Minnesota?”)

Three weeks later, I was packing my bags to move to the Midwest.

And what a journey it’s been for this expatriate of the South. Uff-da.

But despite the fact that this place is a frozen tundra wasteland most of the year save for a few Targets, I have since developed quite the love for this quirky, under-appreciated state, its culture and, namely, its accents. It was not a immediate love, no, and it was with reluctance on my part, but the place has grown on me — albeit much like a fungus.

Here are 25 things I’ve learned about Minnesota and its people:

1. Minnesota Nice: It’s real. Maybe too real. The people are friendly and are going to talk to you whether you like it or not. A random man, for example, will tell you about his recently deceased cat at the bus stop, and you will be obliged to comfort him. (In loving memory of Mr. Whiskers…)

Your neighbor will stop you on the street to introduce himself and insist on swapping phone numbers “in case you ever need anything,” and you’ll have no idea if he’s really neighborly or really creepy. (This one goes out to you, Eddy).

And speaking of,

2. Minnesotans are always ready to discuss the weather, dontcha know. Mention that you’re not from MN, and they’ll immediately tell you about the Halloween Day blizzard of ‘91. I honestly feel like I lived through it myself at this point.

3. I moved here during the summer and immediately became suspicious when my coworkers spoke of heading to the beach after work. Don’t these loons know they live in a landlocked state?

Turns out they meant the lake…they’re heading to hang out on a tiny patch of sand beside one of the many lakes. It’s cute, really.

Which leads me to…cabins.

4. They all have summer cabins up north. I’ve never seen them, so this could be a lie, but that’s what they claim.

5. People will wear shorts when it hits 20 degrees. This is not a myth.

6. Minnesotans feel the same about Wisconsinites that Danes feel about Swedes or Lucy feels about Charlie Brown (Charles Shultz was Minnesotan — see what I did there?). It’s a love/hate relationship.

7. They pronounce “bag” as “bayyyyggg,” and it literally never gets old.

8. People have very strong opinions about which Juicy Lucy — a burger with melted cheese in the middle — is the best. (The correct answer is the one from 5-8 Club, don’t @ me)

9. The cliché about MN having 2 seasons, winter and construction, is painfully true. You can never drive unimpeded in Minnesota.

10. Minnesota style pizza is 14/10 a thing. It is 10/10 just average. Stick to your hotdish, MN. (Yeah, I said it).

11. Every male you meet grew up playing hockey.

12. Caribou Coffee reigns supreme.

13. They’re obsessed with pho. I don’t know why, but at least it’s a thousand times better than lutefisk.

14. Any and all desserts can and will be baked into bars.

15. They will literally throw a festival for anything, any time of the year. Grumpy Old Men Festival? It exists.

16. They put peanut butter on burgers. This one really disturbs me. I need you to not, MN.

17. They think they know barbecue. They do not know barbecue.

18. Soda is called pop, and it will never stop sounding ridiculous to non-natives.

19. They name their neighborhoods things like “Dinkytown” and “Frogtown.”

20. Highway lanes just end with no warning. You’re just driving along and, all of a sudden, the lane you were in doesn’t exist anymore.

21. They say sh*t like “can you borrow me a…..?”

…Excuse me, what?

22. Suffering from sunburn and frostbite in the same day is a very real danger.

23. They will punch you if you say, “Oh, so it’s basically a casserole?” in reference to hotdish.

24. They can literally do any normal activity in the middle of a blizzard. Biking, jogging, driving…ya, it’s all good.

25. Aside from Prince, The Coen Brothers and Bob Dylan, MN brought you many of the things you love, and you probably don’t even know it: General Mills. Tostino’s pizza rolls. Land O’Lakes butter (ohhhhh that’s where the name came from…). TARGET. Best Buy (admittedly in decline). Did I mention Target? Indoor shopping malls. 3M (aka scotch tape and post-it notes). Open heart surgery. Target. The Honeycrisp apple (thanks U of M!). Target. The ‘Stranger Things’ dinosaur hoodie you all freaked out over. And the list goes on and on and on. It seems the world would be a sadder place without the ingenuity of Minnesotans.


Anddd here are 20 very real truths I’ve learned about living here:

1. During the winter, everything you own is caked in salt and brine. Once I had to pull over in the middle of driving just to clean my windshield by hand (almost lost my hands to frostbite in the process) because I literally couldn’t see out of it, and I was too dumb to know to put a different kind of windshield washer fluid in my car before it got cold.

2. There’s no such thing as a snow day. 4 feet of snow? -10 with a windchill of -35? Better leave early to get to work on time!


3. Snow emergencies are a thing. Also known as, “Oh sh*t, I’ve gotta go move my car in the middle of a blizzard.”

4. You will master the art of scraping just enough ice off your windshield so that you can kind of see well enough drive somewhat successfully to work.

5. You will end up with a frick ton of Canadian coins.

6. Parking garages are called parking ramps. This one, while seemingly simple, threw me.

7. My accent stands out more here than it ever has anywhere else before. And Minnesotans aren’t shy about pointing it out.

8. It’s not caddy-corner. It’s kitty-corner.

9. You will get so cold that you will wonder if you will ever not be cold again.

10. MN winter fashion is not a trend. It’s an actual necessity. I now have quite the collection of sweaters, wool socks, real boots (not those weak things I used to call boots), and toboggans with little floofs on top.

11. Dogs are even more adorable in boots. Oh, for cute!

12. It’s not Minneapolis and St. Paul. It’s Minneapolis St. Paul.

13. Things can freeze that you never realized could freeze: steering wheels, locks, the moisture in your nose, lotion, your entire car, your tears…

14. You will inevitably get stuck in or fall into a snowbank.

15. You should really keep a small shovel in your car for when you need to dig through the snow. I recently had to use a dustpan instead and it was far from lucrative.

16. Minnesotans will rub off on you and soon you’ll be running around using “y’all” and “oof” in the same sentence. Oof, y’all.

17. You haven’t lived in Minnesota if someone hasn’t aggressively shouted “skol!” in your face.

18. Speaking of which, if you move here, you will become a Vikings fan just in time for the Vikings to break your heart.

19. Minnesotans think North Carolina and South Carolina are the same thing. To which I reply, “Ohh, so you’re from Wisconsin?”

20. You will learn to truly appreciate warm weather (and by warm weather, I mean anything over 25 degrees F).

But let me tell you the most important thing I’ve learned about Minnesotans:

They are deeply proud of their heritage and culture. And yet, they are warm and kind and welcoming like no other. “All are welcome” signs are staked in yards and pushed up against windows. Their neighborhoods are diverse and their people friendly. Neighbors shovel each others’ walkways and strangers push each others’ cars out of snow drifts. They volunteer regularly and give back to their communities more than any other people I’ve ever seen. Maybe Minnesota Nice isn’t always as overtly charming as the Southern hospitality we’re known for down South, but their acceptance of others in general far outdoes ours. We could learn a thing or two, I think.

And despite the fact that I rag on MN a lot, (*mumbles*) I kinda love it.

I am thankful to be learning so much about a state I knew absolutely nothing about just one year ago. Who would’ve ever thought I’d be here of all places? Certainly not me.


Stay wild, Minnesota. And thanks for having me.  ❤

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