Things that are different in South Jersey
Traffic. We don’t see heavy traffic here (as long as we avoid the AC Expressway during shore-traffic peaks), but there are different customs. Everybody passes on the right. You just don’t even slow down for someone making a left turn, you cross that solid white line and roar through on the shoulder.
Roads. Excepting the stuff around the river, Wichita is grid-oriented, and so is Kansas. Not here. Everything is cowpathed. There are crazy five- and six-way intersections where streets come together at just any old angle. Navigation is… entertaining. Your compass will not help you here.
Trees. South Jersey is a coastal plain, very flat, but except for the back bay areas it’s all forested. Oak, pinelands, that sort of thing. I didn’t realize how much I expect a band of trees to be cottonwoods, or 1950’s-planted Siberian elms in urban areas, until we got here. Oak trees look funny to me now.
Ticks. Good gravy, the ticks. We’d been warned, but it still didn’t prepare us. The aforementioned forests start ten feet from the house (we’re right on the edge of the complex) and the ticks start even closer. Today there was one caught in a spiderweb attached to the front door frame. RIGHT THERE.
Daddy-long-legs. We had these in Indiana, and I had forgotten just how rare they were in Kansas until I saw them all over here. There was an enormous one (legspan over three inches) just hanging out on the wall when we did our walkthrough, to the great discomfort of the apartment manager.
Restaurants. The Italian influence is heavy here. Really heavy. Close behind that is Greek. In Wichita it was Mexican, Lebanese, and Southeast Asian.
The accents. So many accents. I grew up visiting relatives in Wilkes-Barre and Philly every summer, so some of the accents just take me right back. The Philly influence is strong, but there’s also a lot of Italian and Greek and various New York City sprinkled in.
The groceries. Wichita was dominated by Dillons, regional chain now owned by Kroger. Around here it’s ShopRite and, well, ShopRite. And produce/deli stores. The kitchen isn’t fully unpacked yet so I haven’t made a full shopping trip, but I made a quick scouting run when Carl got a stomach bug and we needed Gatorade and various other remedies. The deli section is huge, and the seafood section had maybe five varieties of live clams, just for starters. I love seafood; the rest of the family less so.
Ethnic diversity. I think the proportion of African-American to white is roughly the same as Wichita’s, but it’s not nearly as segregated here. I see black families at the restaurants far more often here, and our (not at all cheap) apartment complex has a fair number of black residents. This makes me wonder all sorts of things about how the economic demographics relate to Wichita: I’m betting that there are far more middle-class blacks here than in Wichita. Outside of that, the ethnic diversity is as the restaurant situation would indicate: far fewer Hispanics/Latinos and Asians.
Manners. People are nice here. Oh, I’ve already seen a pedestrian flip off a driver in a parking lot, and horns get used regularly. But people are actually pretty nice about merging and things like that (exception: they will come in off an on-ramp and expect you to get out of their way, but that’s exactly like Wichita). Outside our cars, they seem just as friendly as Wichitans so far - though it’s all very small-town around here, and maybe people up in Camden/Philly aren’t quite so phatic.