Transplant Profile: Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock

Nothing makes the South shine like seeing it through the eyes of a Southerner-by-choice. While Transplant Profiles usually feature born-and-raised Southerners living outside the region, this week’s contributor is a Midwesterner who moved South six years ago. Funny thing about people from the Midwest – they’re hard to impress. If anyone rivals Southerners for having pride of place, it’s Midwesterners. “New” Southerner and author of The Catholic Wife blog, Katie Sciba, shares her experience in adopting “y’all” into her vocabulary as well as a few other worthwhile adaptations she’s made since putting down roots in Louisiana.
@TheCatholicWife and Southerner by choice, Katie Sciba talks sweet tea, Southern vocab and beating culture shock today on the blog! | StayingSouthern.net

(Photo credit: Chip Methvin)

Name: Katie Sciba

Born in: Newport News, VA but grown in Omaha, NE (military brat)

Occupation: Columnist and at-home mom

I currently live in: Shreveport, LA

I transplanted because: Visiting future in-laws with my husband Easter of 2008, he was introduced to the principal at the local Catholic high school. By the end of the conversation, he had a job offer. Two weeks after our wedding in June, we filled a Uhaul and drove down to start a brand new life.

Similarities I found between the South and other places I lived: I’ve described both Midwesterners and Southerners as the nicest people I’ve ever met. Both will bend over backwards to make sure you’re taken care of in times of need and the abundance of care and concern is humbling. It’s been a real blessing to have experienced in both places.

The most drastic difference between the South and other places: The PACE, good grief, the PACE!! In the Midwest, there’s not much time to chat in passing because the work ethic dictates that play comes later. Every man is on his mission and people go go go til quittin’ time. Down here, life is slower, which drove me bananas at first. I remember pushing a cart (what they’d call a buggy here) at Target, getting stuck behind a pair of sauntering Southern belles in a narrow aisle. Cruising at a pace slightly faster than a turtle, I couldn’t get over how much they weren’t in a rush. It wasn’t until I learned to slow down myself that the culture shock wore off.

A Southern habit or value I adopted: It’s almost embarrassing, but I say y’all now. My whole life I made fun of it, and now I’ve proudly added to my vernacular.  The Midwestern counterpart “you guys,” still slips in here and there, but “y’all” feels much more natural. I’m also a huge fan of Sweet Tea and so enchanted by the flavor of Southern life.

How living in the South has changed me: It’s expanded my horizons – I just tore apart and ate crawfish for the first time a couple weekends ago (after living here for nearly 6 years). It’s been fantastic experiencing things outside of what I knew during my upbringing. And I really have learned to slow down, generally speaking, to enjoy life instead of rushing through it like I did before.

Morsel of wisdom to other “new” Southerners: Give your A/C a tune up for the 6-month long summer. I’ll never forget how shockingly hot it was when we moved down here, and how long it lingered into what was “supposed” to be autumn. Other than that? Just dive in. It might not make sense at first, but every nuance of the South has some delightful reason behind it that’s worth savoring.

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Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, California

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter

Stinson’s novel, False River, is available on Amazon.


Name:
Stinson Carter

Born in: Shreveport, Louisiana

Occupation: Screenwriter, Journalist, and Novelist

I currently live in: Los Angeles, CA

When I go back, I always: Eat Southern Maid Donuts and a Herby-K shrimp buster. And I appreciate the time I get to spend with elderly family members. I listen to their stories like it’s the last time they’ll ever be told.

I miss: Family. And being in a place where I have a past. In Los Angeles I feel anonymous most of the time, but in Shreveport I feel like I’m part of a lineage, and there’s a deep comfort wrapped up in that.

Similarities I find between the South and where I live now: There is a kinship between ex-pat Southerners that I enjoy whenever I meet them in California. I’m working on a script with the producer of The Help right now, who is from Jackson, Mississippi. I think the fact that our hometowns are only a couple hundred miles apart definitely helped me get the job.

A Southern value I keep: I value knowing how to cook, and how to be a good host. A modest spread by Southern standards goes a long way in Southern California. Also, being accountable for what you say you’re going to do. In Hollywood you don’t make real plans. For example, you might say to a friend, “Let’s get lunch this week,” and they’ll say, “Yeah, that’d be great!” (Everything is great in Los Angeles.) But of course you don’t actually get lunch. What you’re really doing is just both agreeing that the idea of lunch sounds nice at that moment. There’s an old joke in Hollywood that goes like this:

“Did you hear that so-and-so died?”
“No!”
“Yep”
“That’s a shame. We’ve been meaning to get lunch.”

Being Southern has helped me: Keep a fundamental baseline for my values, and preserve my integrity in a city and within an industry that doesn’t exactly reward it.

Morsel of wisdom to other transplant Southerners: Don’t forget who you are. If you have a strong work ethic and treat people well, then you will make the kind of friends who will root for your success.

Transplant Profile: Stinson Carter in Los Angeles, CaliforniaRead Stinson Carter’s novel, False River, available for download on Amazon now.

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