People From Alaska & Hawaii Share How Different Life Is From Mainland USA.
The United States of America is one of the biggest superpowers in the world with a country covering 9.8 million square kilometres of land. When you see it on a map you can't help but go, "Woah, is that one whole country?" Isn't not just that though! If you look up to the left a bit and over, you'll find two parts of the US that are sometimes easy to forget about.
People on Reddit who live in Alaska or Hawaii were asked: "What's the biggest difference between you and the rest of mainland USA?" These are some of the best answers.
In Hawaii, people will stop for you while driving. Even with people behind them. They (mostly) always wave/Shaka as a thank you. I've gotten in multiple friendly "fights" with other drivers, insisting I would go, me refusing, them insisting, etc.
I've moved to Los Angeles since then, and when you stop for other cars to go, they don't. They don't know what the hell you're doing. Then the cars behind you are honking as quickly as your break lights show pretty much.
We love spam. Fry it up with some shoyu (soy sauce) and put it with white sticky rice and seaweed wrapped around it, the magic of musubi! Even McDonald's here has spam sms rice for breakfast. We eat more spam than the mainland combined. We even have a spam festival.
I live in Anchorage, AK. I think the biggest difference is mostly the intensity of the wild life. Just the other day I biked to my friends house, and out the trees comes a fully grown bull moose. He was no more than 20 feet away from me. I booked it the other way and luckily he wasn't angry. He only trotted after me but just as easily could have charged after me.
The fact that I brought my daughter home from the hospital on an ATV.
That probably only applies to the Alaskan bush though. The biggest difference is the price for things like groceries is way higher. And if the barge doesn't come on time stores can have entire isles that are empty.
The cost of every-day items. A pack of pens in Kodiak, Alaska, like 3 crappy pens, are nearly $10. Sometimes more.
Aloha shirts are formal attire. You go to the capitol, all the senators are in aloha shirts and slacks. If you wear a suit you're a weirdo. And you'll die of heatstroke.
People don't really honk their horns nearly as often as on the mainland. If someone honks their horn, it means they're really ticked off. The other night my Uber driver almost took a left turn at a green light without yielding to oncoming traffic, and almost smashed into the other two cars going forward, but nobody honked. They just shook their heads and motioned angrily and drove past. If you're on the freeway and hear somebody honk, everyone looks around like "Who the hell is honking? It better not be at me."
I moved from Kansas to Anchorage, AK four years ago. It's honestly not that different here. Anchorage is definitely Alaska in easy mode, though - it's pretty much just like any other big city. Most of the differences I've noticed are things like the weather, the increased cost of living, and the change in wildlife. Stuff you'd see in just about any big move, though I do like the fact that there's nothing small and dangerous here - I'm much less concerned about a bear than I was snakes and spiders that could be hiding just about anywhere.
I've noticed three real cultural differences.
There are a lot more guns around up here, both because the place is quite pro-guns in a libertarian way, and because they're more necessary. We had guns on the farm where I grew up, but they weren't culturally significant - we had them because there were dangerous animals around and sometimes you had to deal with that. Up here there's more of a gun culture, or at least I see it more. I see people wearing pistols fairly regularly just around town, but I don't recall ever seeing that in Kansas. People have guns for when they go hiking (bear guns, as they're called up here, which means a large pistol) but they also just... carry them, for no real reason I've been able to find.
There's also a lot more Native people up here. They're Native Alaskan, not Native American. I'm used to a large Hispanic community, but that doesn't really exist up here in any meaningful size.
Oh, and customer service in Alaska is just crap. Seriously awful. People ignore you in stores, contractors make an appointment and then show up hours late or never at all. It's ridiculous.
In Hawaii it's totally acceptable to address people by their race since it's such a diverse makeup.
We don't really consider ourselves Americans; we think of ourselves as Alaskans instead. America just happens to own Alaska currently.
My husband was born and raised in Alaska, and we returned here 9 years ago after living in Seattle for 20 years. The biggest and most awesome difference I've noticed (as a non-native) is the spirit of most people here. There is a distinct mind-your-own-business vibe, in the best way possible. I'd equate it to: if you get drunk, it's your business, if you get drunk and run over my dog, you make it my business. I love it, it's sort of an old-fashioned way of being. This seems to bleed over to other things, i.e., the weird bossiness and tribalism that seems to occur in urban settings is absent.
Here in Hawaii, the term "Hawaiian" only refers to Native Hawaiians. It can't be used the same way that "Californian" refers to someone who hails from California.
Someone who grew up here but isn't Native Hawaiian is a local, kamaina, or even just "from Hawaii". If you ask someone from here "Are you Hawaiian?", they will say no unless they have native ancestry.
I grew up in a small Alaskan town. All through high school I never had a snow day. I often drove by car crashes and didn't think much of it. After I went out of state for college I learned this was not normal.
Hawai'i is a lot smaller than other places, and I do not just mean in size or population. I have a co-worker that 9 times out of 10, even with people she has just met, if they are a local from Hawaii, she knows someone that knows them. It's a running joke now.
It's really weird hearing and reading about the insane political clashes and demonstrations and issues happening down there, because absolutely none of that happens up here. The racial issues, the political demonstrations, the alt-right "pepe" stuff, the radical feminist stuff, riots, looting, etc. I could keep going.
Alaska has its issues but its absolutely nowhere near the scale the rest of the country is at. So while I go outside and every day is another boring day where nothing happens, and I got on here and see another clash between political extremists, and even though I hate living up here sometimes, I'm so, so glad I don't have to live with the insanity happening elsewhere.
Grew up in Hawaii. The local fauna is pretty different (not to mention the sea life, of course). No squirrels, racoons, snakes, to name a few. We do have mongooses, which were brought over to help eliminate rats, which are an invasive species on Hawaii, and were killing off the local birds. Too bad mongooses are diurnal, and rats nocturnal. Oops.
We think that people from Hawaii are a LOT nicer than people from the mainland. I've been told that many times and I agree. When I worked at a restaurant me and my coworkers would dread getting anyone who was clearly from the mainland because they tend to be extremely rude. Even my French teacher who moved here from the mainland said that she couldn't believe how much nicer the people were here.
One thing I've noticed growing up here is that while Alaska is a red state, it's definitely more of a "I do my thing, you do yours." People here have a lot of diverse opinions on national issues, but generally seem to respect that others have different opinions.
I wear slippers to work and walk around barefoot most of the day.
Winters = long and dark for most of the day depending on where you are in the state. The further up north the less daylight. Depending on where you are, Anchorage get between -10 to 30 F on average during the winter, while Fairbanks gets down to -50+ on average. Fun fact Fairbanks has a huge temperature swing, winters are between -60 to -20 while summer is 60 to 90 on average.
We have a lot of chickens. The schools in Hawaii aren't in large buildings, but are often made up of these one or two story long rows of classrooms. So basically you've got chickens running around everywhere, including on school campus.
After living in the lower 48 and then moving here, I just feel free. Besides Anchorage and Fairbanks, there are barely any cops on the road so you can fly whenever you're on the highway. Plus it's an amazing feeling knowing you can literally pull over anywhere to take a piss when nature calls.
In AK there are monopolies on EVERYTHING. Electricity, commercial flights, garbage service, medical care, you name it, it's either a monopoly or is price hiked across the board because they can.
I live in a land locked town which means there is no such thing as shopping around for services. It's a unique aspect, thank goodness for Target and Amazon Prime shipping.
It's rare that people from Hawaii can read maps or know the four principal directions. We give driving directions by finding the closest landmark the person knows and give directions from there. On Oahu, the four "principal directions" are mauka (to the mountains), makai (to the sea), diamond head (or town side/east), and ewa (or Waianae/Kapolei/west).
Some of this material has been edited for clarity.
Racism is an insidious, and unfortunately prevalent, force in all of our daily lives. Maybe we're on the receiving end of it, being treated differently and losing opportunities because of others' preconceived notions.
Or maybe we're on the other side of things. Even those who aren't actively racist or discriminatory still have to process the world through the filters of the things they've been told about people who are different.