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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Dreams of Greener Grass

    Alright, so here's the backstory:

    I'm a Finnish guy living in Finland, Helsinki, but I feel like I don't fit or belong here. I've been dreaming of the day I can move out of my student apartment and at some point started thinking about even moving abroad. I don't speak any languages apart from Finnish and English, so my scope isn't that wide inside Europe. As a disclaimer: this thread is all about fantasy and speculation at the moment.

    While I claim my ignorance of countries that are English-speaking and not American, I've been mostly thinking about the United States. I'll allow () anyone to speak their point nonetheless. Truth be told, I've been thinking about England/Britain/the druidic warrior-land, but haven't heard many real accounts of the life there

    When I think about the US, it strikes to me that the states have to be really different, even from the size alone. Almost like small countries with the same language and most of the same culture. So I'd like to hear first-hand stories or descriptions of different places from anyone willing to contribute

    Naturally, I have some things I love and hate about the culture I've grown up in (Finland / Helsinki) which I'd prefer and prefer not to see in my new fantasy home.

    Pros:
    - High level of education overall
    - Free education
    (-- Low amount of religious pressure in public matters)
    - High social security
    - Equality (I feel being black/gay/bi/asian/green/gray/kryptonian is a non-issue)
    - Working public transport
    (- The four seasons)
    - Living near bodies of water (even if I don't see it that often, It is a relaxing thing)(Finland is also called the land of thousands of lakes)

    Cons:
    - Antisocial atmosphere
    -- People are very reserved and the culture is that everyone has a large private space (if you get near someone you're either hitting on or threatening him/her)
    --- It can be hard to illustrate, but a good example is that in Finland there is no "last call", instead any bar will just flicker the lights saying "no more drinks" - you'll have to order your last round some minutes early assuming your watch is on sync with the bar's
    - High level of bureaucracy
    -- Everything is strictly done by some broader rules, no exceptions are done anywhere

    The last one can be both a pro and a con, but:
    - Living in a small country means every scene is small. The market for any product is minimal, and the people in niche A is a small group of people. So far it has been mostly a con for me.
    Last edited by TubaMortim; 2013-09-20 at 04:39 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    You might want to check out Minneapolis, friend. According to Wikipedia, our winters are a little colder and our summers warmer. We're one of the most literate, highly educated cities in the country. The suburbs can be kind of, I don't know, weird I guess. There's this concept of 'Minnesota nice', that might be what you're referring to with the typical anti-social Finnish behavior, where people are polite at the expense of being honest.

    People in the city proper tend to be more liberal, more LGBT friendly and keener on multiculturalism. We have a pretty solid public transit system and after Portland, OR we're the most bike friendly town in the country. I walk everywhere and my only complaint about it is January. For recreation, there's some cool stuff. Lots of parks, lots of lakes. We're an obligatory stop on pretty much every decent musical group's touring schedules, thanks to venues like First Ave. There's a robust local music scene, but I'm not really tuned into it anymore.

    If you get homesick, lots of people have Scandinavian ancestry, and you can still find some older people who grew up speaking Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish as their first language. Most of them are older, but Minneapolis is big and cosmopolitan and I'm sure there's some kind of community of expat Finns.

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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    It sounds like you might like Canada to be honest, they certainly beat Britain and Ireland for lakes (although we have plenty of sea).

    There aren't many places in the world with the same level of social security as Scandinavia, and with it comes the bureaucracy that you want to avoid. It's nigh impossible to have one without the other (as far as I've seen)

    Working public transport, high social security and equality may well rule out large parts of the US as well. From my experience the public transport system in the US of A is uh, poor. At best.

    I've visited Finland before to visit a friend and it was absolutely lovely. It may have helped that it was midsummer, I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy the perpetual darkness winter brings.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Well, I live in the U.S., and I've wanted to visit Finland for many, many years. Greener grass aside, it really does seem like a gorgeous place. Maybe it's because I really love forests and lakes.



    As for the states in the U.S. being like different countries...wow. Yes. I've literally had more culture shock in certain states than I've had in some developing nations.

    A long generation ago, my mother had the same experience. She grew up in a part of the country that considers itself The South, for historical reasons we won't get into, and when my parents were married they moved up to a state which is very definitely in The North. In many, many ways, it was like moving to another country, and a tremendous shock for her.

    Much of how we look at our own differences today is deeply colored by fervent and increasingly bitter politics. That aside, there are also immense differences in culture...most of which, unfortunately, also end up becoming political.

    There are tremendous disparities across the continent, in just about every aspect of our lives; but we're also extremely mobile between states, thanks to a dense network of interstate highways and generally affordable (if often very uncomfortable) air travel between virtually all corners of the nation. One thing you'll find is that we're very casual about driving distances that the Brits, for instance, simply faint at thinking about.

    One thing we don't do very well is trains. I don't know what the train system is like in Finland, but if it's anything like Sweden, Germany, France or the Netherlands, then you should probably lower your expectations on that score down to about zero. We love our cars too much to devote ourselves to trains.

    As for public transportation, it really depends where you are. I was a Metro commuter in the D.C. area for years, and while I loathed the buses, I really enjoyed the rail system itself, which was a far better option than driving into work. But apart from large urban areas like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, etc., public transportation is a spottier thing.

    And the country really is huge. Our subcultures have subcultures. Distances are immense.

    And wherever I go, I manage to find really nice people. Sometimes it takes a while to find them (lookin' at you, D.C. metro area) but they're here.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Thanks for the answers, guys.

    What I had to think of is: what's the catch with Minneapolis then? It can't be as perfect as you and the wikipedia page tell it is

    Also, as a contrast to the "Minnesota nice", there is in fact a counterpart in Finland that is often praised by foreigners. Often people describe it as "what you see is what you get", and what that means is that when someone says something, he actually means it. That is actually something I really do like - not having to doubt people when they 'promise' something - almost anything you say is interpreted as a promise and not fulfilling that, you can easily get a stigma of being either straightout a liar or someone whose word cannot be trusted.

    The social security and bureaucracy probably do go hand in hand, and cannot be avoided. Maybe the problem I experience is that Finland emphasizes on punishing students while supporting those permanently unemployed

    Finland can sure be nice, especially outside the capital area during the summer. However, most people live in that area and rarely see the 'majestic lakes and forests' outside holidays if even during those. And outside those four weeks of summer, I really do feel like this is the promised land of alcoholism and depression. Example A: this OP.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Pros:
    - High level of education overall

    We have some of the best colleges. Good luck affording them.

    - Free education

    High school diplomas come out of your taxes.


    (-- Low amount of religious pressure in public matters)

    I'd say it's definitely a factor, but one that doesn't get a whole lot of attention in the abstract.

    - High social security

    Our social security is a pyramid scheme.

    - Equality (I feel being black/gay/bi/asian/green/gray/kryptonian is a non-issue)

    Depends on what circles you walk.

    - Working public transport

    Hell no (with the exception of DC (Edit: and NY)).

    That said, many cities I've visited have bus systems which run infrequently.


    (- The four seasons)

    Stay away from the northern and southern edges of the country.

    - Living near bodies of water (even if I don't see it that often, It is a relaxing thing)(Finland is also called the land of thousands of lakes)

    Lakeside homes cost a considerable amount.

    Cons:
    - Antisocial atmosphere
    -- People are very reserved and the culture is that everyone has a large private space (if you get near someone you're either hitting on or threatening him/her)

    Depends on what circles you walk. I'm guessing that's an exaggeration, but some are a little like that. Others are very social.


    --- It can be hard to illustrate, but a good example is that in Finland there is no "last call", instead any bar will just flicker the lights saying "no more drinks" - you'll have to order your last round some minutes early assuming your watch is on sync with the bar's

    Oh, the alcohol flows so freely.

    - High level of bureaucracy
    -- Everything is strictly done by some broader rules, no exceptions are done anywhere

    Laws, in my opinion, swing wildly between lax and strict. We don't have the most consistent legal system.

    The last one can be both a pro and a con, but:
    - Living in a small country means every scene is small. The market for any product is minimal, and the people in niche A is a small group of people. So far it has been mostly a con for me.

    Depends on the scene in question.
    Last edited by Grinner; 2013-09-20 at 06:18 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Quote Originally Posted by TubaMortim View Post
    What I had to think of is: what's the catch with Minneapolis then? It can't be as perfect as you and the wikipedia page tell it is
    Yeah. There's downsides too. The cost of living is kind of high. I pay more here for a similar apartment in a comparable neighborhood (as far as security, amenties, location) as I did in Chicago, and I make less money. Downtown Minneapolis is dirty and boring and kind of creepy, actually. And groceries are more expensive. Also, liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Usually, the biggest kicker is that the winters are awful but you're halfway to the arctic circle, so you'll probably just think everyone here is a wimp.
    Last edited by Morgarion; 2013-09-20 at 07:04 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Winters in the midwest as the easy part. Just wear enough wool to be readily mistaken for a sheep, make sure you don't hate anybody sharing your immediate living space, and keep a couple days of food on hand at all times in case shopping is rendered impossible. If you don't have to drive, and don't have to tend livestock, they're really a piece of cake.

    The summers we've been having the last couple of years though, those are a different story. I can do without the week straight of upper nineties and high humidity. It's like living in a giant armpit.

    The thing that'll get to a person about the midwest is that the interesting parts of the country are, generally speaking, on the edges. Instead we have corn, and, unless you pick your location well, no topography to speak of. It's a nice place to live, so long as you don't mind a certain level of non-excitement at all times.

    And it's worth picking where you live carefully. The midwest runs the gamut from feeling pretty progressive, to extremely traditional farmers, to serious rural poverty. You'll get back to the land vegans living across the road from folks who can't afford hamburger, and hunt most of their meat.
    Happiness yesterday and happiness tomorrow, but never today... It can't be because it's only an illusion after all, and illusions only look real from a distance. We're over, my dreamy lost love, over, and that's the best thing of all, because it's the only thing that makes it good.

    George RR Martin, Dying of the Light, 1977.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    I'm sure FinnLassie (currently resident in Scotland) could give a better idea of the differences between the UK and Finland, but from the list you gave I'd say it's mostly similar. The main difference is population, of course--we have more than ten times as many people crammed into around three-quarters the land area. That gives you a much larger market for things, of course, but it also makes the "personal space" issue somewhat different; a Brit isn't going to care if you're walking near them on a crowded street, but if there's plenty of space available they'll be a bit suspicious if you're staying close, and you definitely do NOT touch someone except to shake their hand on being introduced, or if you know them well.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Damn it Factotum I was trying to avoid posting in this thread, there's another Finn here and I don't want to invade their personal space!

    Unfortunately, it's not similar. There's similarities, but calling it similar.. Naw. That's taking things a bit too far.

    My brain is fuzz at the moment (woke up like two seconds ago), but I'll attempt giving a more proper answer than "naw" later today. Or tomorrow. What even is life, why am I awake before 10am on a Saturday.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Quote Originally Posted by TubaMortim View Post
    Also, as a contrast to the "Minnesota nice", there is in fact a counterpart in Finland that is often praised by foreigners. Often people describe it as "what you see is what you get", and what that means is that when someone says something, he actually means it. That is actually something I really do like - not having to doubt people when they 'promise' something - almost anything you say is interpreted as a promise and not fulfilling that, you can easily get a stigma of being either straightout a liar or someone whose word cannot be trusted.
    England, or at least the southeastern end of it, is not very what-you-see-is-what-you-get; in fact, our habit of understatement may drive you mad. We're not so much wilfully dishonest, as we're fond of circumlocutions which can be confusing and annoying for outsiders... hints, and euphemisms, and orders-couched-politely-as-suggestions, and all that other nonsense. At the same time, we also don't tolerate people who promise more than they deliver - the cultural expectation is very much to promise less. Excessive boasts or promises; appeals to nebulous bull**** like "national pride"; failing to be suitably self-deprecative; all of this will generally only make people the fruit of mockery (although the very witty or forceful can get away with avoiding the last of those three).

    In Northern towns and cities, and in the countryside nationwide, people tend to be a bit more plain-speaking and up-front. Also there tends to be less of a social distance in the North; one generalisation I've heard is that "Northerners tend to be less polite and more friendly"; and more of a social distance in the countryside (where people are accustomed to their space).

    I'll let other people comment on how their own cultures compare...

    EDIT: Overall, you might like Cumbria (aside from the tourists, perhaps), or a largish city that's within easy reach of it, such as Manchester. Also, Scotland in general, and maybe Edinburgh in particular. (Scotland has more lakes, and less people-per-square-km, than England; but still many more people-per-square-km than Finland). Although looking at Google maps, even the most lake-rich parts of Scotland are a lot less so than Finland...
    Last edited by paddyfool; 2013-09-21 at 03:31 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Hi, there!

    I'm originally from Mexico and I moved into the United States (Wisconsin) just like you're looking into doing, for very similar reasons. I always felt like I just didn't fit in where I lived and wanted to find greener grass, as I was constantly depressed living there.

    I've been living in the States for two years now and can give you some perspective on what it's like as a foreigner. First off, your impression on how different States are is spot-on: States right next to each other tend to share a lot of similarities, but if you compare New York, California, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia you might as well be comparing different cultures. The place is the size of Europe.

    As America has a great deal of influence on the rest of the world you probably have some preconceptions on what the culture is like. My advice is to disregard these preconceptions, Americans behave very differently within their own country than they do in the media (seriously, TV ruins everyone's impression of this country). Most Americans I have found to be incredibly friendly and welcoming, and genuinely interested in my culture and heritage, as well as those of my fellow international students from very different cultures.


    Your list of cons:

    - Antisocial atmosphere
    Not at all! The atmosphere is not anti-social, it just approaches social interactions differently. People like spending time with friends and co-workers.

    -- People are very reserved and the culture is that everyone has a large private space (if you get near someone you're either hitting on or threatening him/her)
    Somewhat true, but not entirely. People do like to keep a certain distance, but there's nothing wrong with sitting next to someone.

    - High level of bureaucracy
    Lower than I expected. In most scenarios I've been in, when I mess up paperwork or I forget to submit something, they will take it late or help me fix it. I have never found myself in a situation where I ended up badly because I forgot to sign a form.

    -- Everything is strictly done by some broader rules, no exceptions are done anywhere
    Exceptions, exceptions everywhere. If your situation calls for it, exceptions are made all the time. They made a lot of exceptions for me because I needed them when I first transferred into school and they keep doing them if it's due to situations beyond your control.
    I wouldn't push my luck with this one, especially with legal paperwork (like applying for your visa), but I've found really fast that if you need an exception done, it doesn't hurt to ask.


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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Hiro Protagonest's Avatar

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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    It all depends on where you live.

    Last night, I got to thinking about the attitudes of areas: the south, the north, lower Canada, upper Canada. And I realized that we can't even generalize how places are to within a single state. I'm not going to get into what the landscapes are like, but let's take Iowa. Mostly Republican state, but it depends on the farmland. Those that have rich land that gives consistent yields are proud of their ability to make a living on their own, even though they're relying on the rich soil. Those who have poorer farmland rely on government funding, and don't care if they have to pay higher taxes because they'll be getting more back. And it's all sitting right next to Minnesota, which... actually, I have no frickin' clue what our political situation is like, because we never talk about ourselves other than why our current governor or senator is good or bad, other than the fact that we really don't want tollbooths here and would rather pay higher taxes and so we're probably Democratic.

    There's also state laws, the strength of the police versus the criminal underground, and all that stuff.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Originally Posted by Morgarion
    Downtown Minneapolis is dirty and boring and kind of creepy, actually. ...Usually, the biggest kicker is that the winters are awful but you're halfway to the arctic circle....
    Uh-huh. I'm both a Southern boy and a child of suburbia, so "creepy downtown with awful winters" just doesn't work for me.

    Originally Posted by warty goblin
    Winters in the midwest [are] the easy part. Just wear enough wool to be readily mistaken for a sheep, make sure you don't hate anybody sharing your immediate living space, and keep a couple days of food on hand at all times in case shopping is rendered impossible. If you don't have to drive, and don't have to tend livestock, they're really a piece of cake.
    This is hilarious, at least to read, as long as I don't have to live through it.

    Where I live, school is cancelled if we get an inch of snow. Yes, you read that right. 1" = school closures. Back in the eighties we had a "blizzard" with three whole feet of snow, and it's still remembered as a tremendous thing.

    However, your snow preparations sound a lot like our hurricane preparations, except we have to stock up on fresh water as well. And we don't wear wool.

    Originally Posted by warty goblin
    The summers we've been having the last couple of years though, those are a different story. I can do without the week straight of upper nineties and high humidity.
    This is my native habitat. I love it. When it's 95 degrees and 95% humidity, I'm on a mountain bike for hours at a time, hydrating madly and enjoying that subtropical air. Keep your snow, woolly northerner.



    Originally Posted by Haruki-kun
    ...seriously, TV ruins everyone's impression of this country....
    Well, TV and some very embarrassing American tourists overseas. And when I say "embarrassing," I mean that I was embarrassed to identify myself as coming from the same country as those people. Fortunately I'm frequently confused for a Canadian.

    Originally Posted by Haruki-kun
    States right next to each other tend to share a lot of similarities, but if you compare New York, California, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia you might as well be comparing different cultures.
    So, so true--at least in those cases; but it really depends on the states you're comparing. Georgia and Florida, for instance, have very different demographics, and sometimes radically different internal dynamics. (Granted, northernmost Florida has a lot in common with southern Georgia, but the further south you go, the more things will change.)

    We do have a tremendous variety of regional and subregional cultures, and in some ways each state is almost a separate country in itself. (And there are some which still like to think they really are....) We're more or less bound together, however, by a shared media and material culture. For better or for worse, I can walk into a Target in northern Virginia, central Ohio or southern California, and find essentially the same items at roughly the same prices. (As Morgarion noted, however, grocery prices can vary dramatically around the country, depending on local demographics and the distance from both source and distribution centers.)

    Also, we may be a huge country, but in general we tend to move around it quite a bit, and our families are often scattered clear across the continent. In the case of my family, we have a nexus of relatives in Virginia and North Carolina, but I also have an uncle and his family who live in Texas, and another uncle who lives in California, and a cousin and his new family in the Pacific Northwest, another dense nexus of cousins in Ohio, and so on. And that's just on my mother's side.

    Originally Posted by Jade Dragon
    And I realized that we can't even generalize how places are to within a single state.
    This is very, very true. In Virginia, the southwestern part of the state is firmly Appalachian, a fundamentally different world from the high-density urban mass around D.C. Even a relatively small state like Maryland has tremendous differences between its eastern regions around the Chesapeake and the western mountains, which have more in common with southwestern Virginia than the suburban corridors of central Maryland.

    Originally Posted by Jade Dragon
    There's also state laws....
    And this is one other important aspect I was meaning to comment on, since this in particular may be very different from what TubaMortim is used to in Finland. Every state has broad latitude to write and enforce its own laws, set its own funding priorities, and in general run its own shop the way state residents think it ought to be run. (At least, that's the theory.) This approach, combined with dramatic disparities on just about every socioeconomic fault line across the board, means that the nation as a whole is a mad patchwork of contrary laws. Without going into details, sometimes what's legal in one state is a crime in another, and what's tolerated in one community is not looked on kindly across the border.

    Sometimes that difference in state laws and funding priorities is as simple (and annoying) as different standards for state and local highways. For years, the joke in my area was that you could always tell when you crossed from Virginia to North Carolina, because the highways instantly got better at the state border. Virginia's improved since then (a little) but there are often real differences in the quality and maintenance of infrastructure between the states.

    .
    Last edited by Palanan; 2013-09-21 at 02:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Well, TV and some very embarrassing American tourists overseas. And when I say "embarrassing," I mean that I was embarrassed to identify myself as coming from the same country as those people. Fortunately I'm frequently confused for a Canadian.
    Which I find sad. No one should be embarrassed for being any nationality they are.


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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    This is hilarious, at least to read, as long as I don't have to live through it.

    Where I live, school is cancelled if we get an inch of snow. Yes, you read that right. 1" = school closures. Back in the eighties we had a "blizzard" with three whole feet of snow, and it's still remembered as a tremendous thing.

    However, your snow preparations sound a lot like our hurricane preparations, except we have to stock up on fresh water as well. And we don't wear wool.
    Three feet at a go is kinda major in most places. It's fairly hard to move the stuff off the roads in a timely fashion, even if you live in a part of the world that keeps the appropriate equipment on hand.

    Unfortunately we don't really get the cold winters any more, not like when I was a kid. I don't think it's even gotten below -20 F for the last four or five years, and it used to scrap -30 with some regularity. I've even seen -40 a couple of times - which is serious cold. Just means everybody sits real close to the woodstove, and you go through firewood like a mad thing.

    This is my native habitat. I love it. When it's 95 degrees and 95% humidity, I'm on a mountain bike for hours at a time, hydrating madly and enjoying that subtropical air. Keep your snow, woolly northerner.
    Urg. Heat is horrible. Particularly if you don't have air conditioning. Which for most of my life I haven't.
    Happiness yesterday and happiness tomorrow, but never today... It can't be because it's only an illusion after all, and illusions only look real from a distance. We're over, my dreamy lost love, over, and that's the best thing of all, because it's the only thing that makes it good.

    George RR Martin, Dying of the Light, 1977.

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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Not sure if it's been mentioned yet, but Washington(the west one) is nice.
    Our weather is usually fairly temperate, but it varies from area to area.
    One thing that often seems overlooked is just how lush it is here, we even have a small(temperate to cold) rainforest, and many cities have trees and vines interspacing the buildings(The Seattle region is a good example[Seattle itself, and Woodinville in particular], as is the area around Bellingham, and for smaller towns there's Jefferson county, with places such as Port Townsend)

    edit: for the "you can't really generalize areas within the same state", Washington is a good example of that too our western side is largely coastal and lush(there's even a temperate rainforest), while righter over the mountains into the eastern half(though, to be honest, I've only traveled to eastern Washington 3-4 times, and then, only for a day a t most) it turns into a land-locked plains & mountains sort of place.
    Last edited by Togath; 2013-09-25 at 01:50 AM.
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    Default Re: Dreams of Greener Grass

    Originally Posted by Togath
    One thing that often seems overlooked is just how lush it is here, we even have a small(temperate to cold) rainforest....
    Which I would love to see. I've briefly poked around Alaska, but flew right over the Pacific Northwest. It's the one part of the country I haven't really explored, and it sounds fantastic.

    Originally Posted by Togath
    ...for the "you can't really generalize areas within the same state", Washington is a good example of that too....
    Or, think of Colorado. Mind-numbingly flat in the eastern half, majestically rugged in the west.

    And then there's Illinois. 90% corn and 10% Chicago.


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    Another Minneapolis (well, St. Paul) native, though I'm currently living elsewhere for school. One of the neat things about Minneapolis is that there's a whole nother city, right across the river. Minneapolis and St. Paul are known as the twin cities, and while there are distinct differences between the two, they're so close geographically and culturally, that they function as one giant metropolitan area, so you can live in one and have full access to the amenities of the other.

    Personally, I would prefer living in Minneapolis, because their park system is one of the best in the entire country (and they have cross country ski trails! I don't have any ski trails near my house, it's awful!).

    I don't think our public transit is worth writing home about, but I don't really live in a neighborhood where I can take full advantage of them. Most things I can get to by walking or bumming rides, but I've ridden the bus enough to report that it's nothing special. I hear the light rail is pretty nice, but I've never used it. My brother works in downtown Minneapolis, and it takes him almost an hour to commute via public transportation, so he's going to be moving downtown at some point.

    But yea, the summers have been awful these past few years. My first week of college, it was over 95 for a solid week with no air conditioning. It sucked.

    FWIW, winters have been pretty mild to my recollection. We didn't get any snow, so I didn't have to wear boots (and couldn't ski, break my heart, why don't cha?) and I never had to break out the parka-I wore my light fall jacket all season.

    EDIT: Also, what other people have said about a lack of stuff to do is true. There's always something going on in "The Cities," but once you get outstate, your options are "stay in with Netflix" or "go out and fall through the ice." Although I would recommend moving to America just for Netflix. It's great.
    Last edited by Mammal; 2013-09-25 at 09:48 AM.

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    @The OP: What field do you want to go into? If you're pining to be a geologist, there will be significantly different areas of opportunity for you than for a would-be magazine editor.

    Hi! I'm posting from the southwestern portion of Michigan! Like the others in the thread, Michigan boasts colder winters (really? Your average temp in January is 20 F?) and warmer summers. Due to the presence of Lake Michigan, we also get quite a bit of snowfall!

    Michigan is a relatively hill, green, and frequently forested area. Absolutely gorgeous countryside, great for sledding. Admittedly, our state has yet to legalize gay marriage, so politically we're not as saavy as we might be, but I have a number of openly gay friends and they've frequently remarked on how surprisingly supportive people were when they came out, so socially we're probably a lot further along than our legislation might suggest.

    Without having closely analyzed the relative cultures, I can't say whether we're more or less reclusive than the Finns, however. Traditionally, the Northern states tend to have a reputation for being more insular, and the Southern more opening and welcoming, but that's an old stereotype and I haven't traveled enough to know how it applies.

    I think it's an america-wide thing that most people don't normally strike up conversations with strangers, but it's also not forbidden- I occasionally chat with people on the bus, and they usually respond fairly warmly.
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    Also from Michigan here, although more... mid-southern, I suppose. My general assessment of my state is that the countryside and the land are quite nice, some of the people are and some of them aren't, and everything else isn't much to write home about. I basically like living here, however. I wouldn't choose to live anywhere else in the United States.

    If you like lots of woods and lakes and nature, the upper part of the lower peninsula or the upper peninsula is probably the way to go -- unless you also want large cities, because all of our large cities are in the lower part of the lower peninsula. There are still many trees and rivers and smaller lakes in the lower part of the state, but if you're looking for natural beauty you want somewhere along one of the Great Lakes. We don't have any mountains, so that may or may not be a minus. I don't know.

    Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and East Lansing (where I live, seperate from Lansing and at this point I'd say slightly nicer), are all fairly decent cities that have plenty of trees and such in city limits. That is one of the nice things about Michigan -- unless you're going to Detroit, you'll see plenty of trees even when in a city.

    Possibly proving the whole "greener grass" thing, but I admit to wondering why someone would want to move into the United States rather than out. Anyhow, here goes on the list:

    Quote Originally Posted by TubaMortim View Post
    Pros:
    - High level of education overall
    Theoretically. We have universities and such. I live right next to one of them, but as far as I can tell the majority of students spend the majority of their time partying, and there are some remarkably uneducated opinions slung about at times. This may be a common thing in general. I know not.

    - Free education
    Give up on this one in the United States. Not going to happen. You'll be lucky if you're not a ridiculous amount in debt, if you're talking college level education.

    (-- Low amount of religious pressure in public matters)
    Less than some states, but also more than some. It somewhat depends on where exactly you are. The area right around where I live isn't too bad, but some places are a bit worse.

    - High social security
    Another thing you're not going to get in the U.S.

    - Equality (I feel being black/gay/bi/asian/green/gray/kryptonian is a non-issue)
    Spotty. Mostly where I live is fine (although as shadow_archmagi pointed out, we have some state-wide equality problems), but some places are worse.

    - Working public transport
    I'm told that our bus system is one of the better ones in the nation (although it is the bus company who says that, so I take it with a grain of salt). It runs every half hour and if you're really lucky the last three buses won't have all piled up together in traffic. It goes a fair amount of places. You can get by train to Chicago, and then get other places from Chicago. Other than that, we don't really have public transportation... but unless you go to Chicago, Washington D.C., or New York City, you're pretty out of luck about that in general in the U.S.

    (- The four seasons)
    Ah, now this we do well! I'm told that some consider our winter a bit long, but we do have four distinct seasons and the fall is quite nice. If you don't mind winter being about half the year, it's a good deal.

    Winter typically lasts from around late October to mid March. It gets coldest in January, often getting down between -10 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit (sometimes as low as -20). It can be expected to snow off and on all throughout that winter, but we don't usually get more than 6-12 inches of snow at a time where I am (although repeated snowfalls can, of course, end up with a deal more on the ground). Spring and fall are pretty nice, averaging between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and summer is usually decent with a week or two in late July or August that gets up in the 80s or higher. Of course, the last few years everything has been getting a bit warmer, but I'd still say all that is pretty typical.

    The more northerly parts are noticably colder and get more snow. Make those estimates 10-15 degrees cooler and add more snow if you're thinking of the northern parts of the state.

    - Living near bodies of water (even if I don't see it that often, It is a relaxing thing)(Finland is also called the land of thousands of lakes)
    Being surrounded by the Great Lakes and having many smaller lakes, Michigan has this covered pretty well.

    Cons:
    - Antisocial atmosphere
    I'm not a very social person. I prefer that people mostly leave me alone. They don't do this as much as I would like, therefore I assume that we have a social atmosphere here. The further north you go the more that seems to be the case.

    -- People are very reserved and the culture is that everyone has a large private space (if you get near someone you're either hitting on or threatening him/her)
    Not sure about this. See above.

    --- It can be hard to illustrate, but a good example is that in Finland there is no "last call", instead any bar will just flicker the lights saying "no more drinks" - you'll have to order your last round some minutes early assuming your watch is on sync with the bar's
    As far as I know, there's simply a closing time on bars (typically 2:00 AM) and then they close. I don't believe there are any warnings, but I've only once been out to one anywhere near that late.

    - High level of bureaucracy
    Bureaucracy is everywhere. I am probably a bad person to ask about this if you don't want the chaotic viewpoint, so I'll just say that it's not as bad as it could be, but it's way worse than I think it should be.

    -- Everything is strictly done by some broader rules, no exceptions are done anywhere
    I think there are exceptions. Not always good ones, but they are there.

    The last one can be both a pro and a con, but:
    - Living in a small country means every scene is small. The market for any product is minimal, and the people in niche A is a small group of people. So far it has been mostly a con for me.
    I have not lived in a small country, but in many ways each state tends to act like this. State laws vary rather widely, and taxes and such are also different by state. You must have different licences to sell things in different states, and many things end up confined more or less by state lines.

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    Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi
    I think it's an america-wide thing that most people don't normally strike up conversations with strangers....
    Au contraire. Some of my best conversations have been with total strangers.

    One of the most interesting was on a bike trail in Arlington, Virginia, when a retired-age man suddenly asked, "Excuse me, do you speak English?"

    --Northern Virginia, mind you. But it turned out he was a Russian émigré who wanted to practice his English, so we had an excellent conversation for the next couple of hours on the bike trail. (I was actually on foot that day, so we just walked along.) I won't detail the conversation, since it involved a lot of history, politics and cultural issues, but it was a fantastic exchange.

    Originally Posted by Remmirath
    ...East Lansing (where I live, seperate from Lansing and at this point I'd say slightly nicer)....
    As it happens, I worked for a summer in East Lansing, doing field surveys in southern Michigan. Ahh, the cosmopolitan wonders of Niles and Buchanan.

    Never got up to the UP, but my, southern Michigan is flat.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    Never got up to the UP, but my, southern Michigan is flat.

    Wait, what? We've got rolling hills all over the place. (Also, hurray Niles! I went to their library occasionally)

    We're only flat compared to, say, one of the more mountainous states. Does Montana have mountains these days? Compared to Nebraska we're a veritable cornucopia of inclines.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    As it happens, I worked for a summer in East Lansing, doing field surveys in southern Michigan. Ahh, the cosmopolitan wonders of Niles and Buchanan.
    Ah, interesting. Niles I have only ever been through on the train, and Buchanan never at all. I wouldn't say East Lansing is the best place in Michigan to live -- but the only other place I've lived is Lansing, so I can't say too much to that. Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor seem nice, and from visiting the northern portions of the mitten and the UP, they seem nice also.

    Never got up to the UP, but my, southern Michigan is flat.

    It is rather flat. There are hills, yes, but no mountains at all and only some large hills in the northern part of the peninsula. The UP is actually a good deal less flat, as at least in the west it picks up the Porcupine Mountains and the Huron Mountains, and it's a bit more rugged all over. It's got a good deal of waterfalls and such, and noticable cliffs throughout.

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    Wait, what? We've got rolling hills all over the place. (Also, hurray Niles! I went to their library occasionally)

    We're only flat compared to, say, one of the more mountainous states. Does Montana have mountains these days? Compared to Nebraska we're a veritable cornucopia of inclines.
    The lower peninsula is only not flat compared to places like Kansas, and even then they have some hills also. And, actually, Montana does have mountains. A fair amount of mountains. Nebraska, from what I know, is about the same level of flatness as Michigan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paddyfool View Post
    England, or at least the southeastern end of it, is not very what-you-see-is-what-you-get; in fact, our habit of understatement may drive you mad. We're not so much wilfully dishonest, as we're fond of circumlocutions which can be confusing and annoying for outsiders... hints, and euphemisms, and orders-couched-politely-as-suggestions, and all that other nonsense. At the same time, we also don't tolerate people who promise more than they deliver - the cultural expectation is very much to promise less. Excessive boasts or promises; appeals to nebulous bull**** like "national pride"; failing to be suitably self-deprecative; all of this will generally only make people the fruit of mockery (although the very witty or forceful can get away with avoiding the last of those three).
    Australia (at least the part I'm from) has much the same conventions. When I moved to the US it took me quite a while to adapt - in Australia, if someone asks you to do something and you say, "Oh, I'm not very good at X, but sure I'll give it a go", you're being appropriately modest and lowering expectations. In the US, if you say that, people take you seriously - and respond with "Oh well if you're not very good at it I'll just ask someone else, don't worry".

    (It's a major issue in job/fellowship interviews: in the US you are expected to sing your own praises in those situations, and explain (as a scientist) how your work is Critical To The Future Of Humanity and you are the Best Person In All The World To Carry It Out. (At one point I was giving a short presentation on my research to a group of business luminaries; the example I was given for a good speech literally began "It's a terrible thing for a child to die of cancer".) When you have a lifetime of cultural training to be self-deprecating and modestly play down your own achievements, this is really difficult.)

    In Australia, even factual statements of past accomplishments in response to a direct question can be viewed as boasting. I didn't realize how much mental overhead I was expending on appropriately defensive circumlocutions for "Yes, I am in fact very good at what I do" until I found a place where none of that was expected. Blew my mind.

    I may be ridiculously leftie-liberal by US standards, and a lot of the laws here horrify me, but the lack of tall poppy syndrome (at least in the parts where I've lived) is worth a lot to me. For the people who were wondering why anyone would move to the US
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    Originally Posted by Remmirath
    The lower peninsula is only not flat compared to places like Kansas, and even then they have some hills also.
    That was pretty much my impression. I was mainly in far southern and southwestern Michigan, and it was painfully level. A couple times I drove right into Indiana without realizing it. All the corn looks the same.

    Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi
    Compared to Nebraska we're a veritable cornucopia of inclines.
    This, however, is quite hilarious.





    Originally Posted by Ifni
    It's a major issue in job/fellowship interviews: in the US you are expected to sing your own praises in those situations....
    This is sadly true. In the U.S. you have to be an aggressive, self-promoting extrovert. I hate that.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ifni View Post
    I may be ridiculously leftie-liberal by US standards, and a lot of the laws here horrify me, but the lack of tall poppy syndrome (at least in the parts where I've lived) is worth a lot to me. For the people who were wondering why anyone would move to the US
    I had never actually heard that term before, so I had to look it up. I would say that it is in fact present here, although I've no idea whether or not it is more present in other countries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Palanan View Post
    This is sadly true. In the U.S. you have to be an aggressive, self-promoting extrovert. I hate that.

    Yes, I hate that also.

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    Pros:
    - High level of education overall

    We have good colleges. Again, good luck affording it.

    - Free education

    Yeah...

    (-- Low amount of religious pressure in public matters)

    It depends. From my perspective it mostly boils down to people basing their opinions on religious beliefs, which'll happen anywhere.

    - High social security

    For now

    - Equality (I feel being black/gay/bi/asian/green/gray/kryptonian is a non-issue)

    Depends on the state. LGBT is the only major debate there.

    - Working public transport

    I've hardly used public transportation

    (- The four seasons)

    We have 3 seasons in Nebraska. The state picks a random one to skip each year.

    - Living near bodies of water (even if I don't see it that often, It is a relaxing thing)(Finland is also called the land of thousands of lakes)

    You can probably find a lake somewhere nearby... Do nature preserves in general count?

    Cons:
    - Antisocial atmosphere

    Come to Nebraska. We have plenty of Midwest hospitality

    -- People are very reserved and the culture is that everyone has a large private space (if you get near someone you're either hitting on or threatening him/her)

    Nebraska... (are you getting the point here that I love the state?)

    - High level of bureaucracy

    This one really depends. I've only seen bureaucracy in advising offices in college and the DMV.

    -- Everything is strictly done by some broader rules, no exceptions are done anywhere

    Depends (wow, I'm noticing a theme). But I do feel like in the Midwest, people are more likely to be friendly and make exceptions.

    The last one can be both a pro and a con, but:
    - Living in a small country means every scene is small. The market for any product is minimal, and the people in niche A is a small group of people. So far it has been mostly a con for me.

    For once Nebraska isn't the answer. Try to go to one of our cities and not one of the towns that are smaller than my graduating class.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remmirath View Post
    The lower peninsula is only not flat compared to places like Kansas, and even then they have some hills also. And, actually, Montana does have mountains. A fair amount of mountains. Nebraska, from what I know, is about the same level of flatness as Michigan.
    I've never been to Michigan, but I can attest that most of Nebraska is flat. Although I've heard rumors that the panhandle gets a lot hillier, as you approach the Rockies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    @The OP: What field do you want to go into? If you're pining to be a geologist, there will be significantly different areas of opportunity for you than for a would-be magazine editor.
    I would say this is an important factor to consider: different cities are better suited for different career paths. To name a couple examples: for the movies, it's all about Chicago and Hollywood, for video games or the latest hot tech it's all about San Fransisco/the Sillicon Valley (although Denver is becoming quite popular too), for the military or government D.C. is the place to be, etc.

    Depending on what you want to do, it will be significantly easier to find people of similar interest (and to find jobs) in some cities vs others. I'm not saying it should be criteria #1 for picking a place to live, but it should definitely by one of the top priorities.

    On the subject of the drawbacks of Minneapolis: it's cold. If that bothers you (I figure it probably doesn't), then that's the biggest drawback.
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