Alright, so I'm in the middle of my 3rd year of living in Alabama. Honestly I didn't think we'd be here this long! The first year felt like survival mode. I didn't have a whole lot of culture shock - I was just trying to do my job and get through the year. The second year was when it all "went down." I had some horrible experiences last year, I hated my job, and I wanted to be anywhere but here! This year has been a bit more relaxed. I spent the summer finding inspiration and motivation to continue in my career, and I've been much happier this school year.
It's true that I felt much more culture shock moving to Alabama than when I moved to Brazil. I've always been drawn to and felt comfortable with the Latin cultures. Alabama is the epitome of "The Deep South," and it was a struggle to adjust to living here. I've slowly gotten used to the way of life here, but there are still a few things that I still find a bit "shocking."
I'm still not used to hearing Southern accents all the time and I'm still not used to hearing "y'all" all the time. I hear it all day, every day, but I'm still not used to it!
People are just a bit more formal here than I'm used to. It's not a bad thing. I'm just not used to it.
Seriously... there are no words...
The low cost of living
This is one main reason why we moved here. And it's what's kept us here for several years. I'm still amazed at how inexpensive our rent is and how nice our house is for the low price we pay!
So here in the South we don't really get all 4 seasons. But we get much more "weather" than I'm used to. I grew up in Southern California where the seasons are "hot" and "dry" and "hot and dry." Alabama does get cold in the winter (it freezes occasionally) and it gets hot and humid in the summer. Personally, I love humidity. But we also get really bad thunderstorms and tornadoes. OMG just the word "tornadoes" freaks me out. I get borderline panic attacks when I hear a tornado siren. Coupled with the fact that we don't have basements or shelters here... it's a bit scary. I have nightmares about tornadoes now.
Overall, living here has been a positive experience. We have grown as a couple, we have grown in our careers, and we have met some really great people. We have also met some really not-great people, but I'm choosing to focus on the positives. Here is where we got our first "baby," and for that I will be forever grateful! While we don't plan on staying here forever, I am thankful for the times we have had here so far!