Hey, I’m new here

Portland, OR

When I thought we were going to move to Stockholm, I was excited to start a recurring post called “Hej, I’m new here” to document all the new experiences I’d be having in that city. (“Hej” is hello in Swedish.) Okay, so I’m no longer abroad. But I’d like to share some “what is going on here” moments I’ve had in Portland already. The list is a little different than my first impressions in that it’s things I’m noticing as I spend more time here. I know Portland is weird, but these things are really weird to me. Like…

  • Everyone drives the speed limit. I don’t get it. Don’t people know the speed limit is the lower limit of how fast to drive?
  • Everyone forgets how to drive in the rain. Um. It rains here almost everyday. You would think everyone would be used to it and barrel along on the expressway like normal. Because it is normal. Not the case. Brake lights galore.
  • If you are a motorist and let a pedestrian cross the street on a crosswalk (which is, you know, the law), 99% of them will do that awkward half-run/half-walk as they pass in front of you. Why? I’m not going to run you down. It’s quite amusing once we started to notice this “shuffle”.
  • Parts of town resemble what I imagine Zombieland to look like. Yes, meth addiction is prevalent here, which is very, very sad. And sometimes scary when you see people yelling at themselves and scratching their faces.
  • The city is dead during the day. Not in the Zombieland way mentioned above, but I hardly see anyone else walking around like I do. I can be on a street, look both directions and not see a soul. I find that strange for this urban environment, especially the uptown area where we currently live.
  • You know why else it’s dead? Because free-loading punks with dead souls are all over the place. With cardboard signs like “I’m homeless, Need money for Beer” or “Give me money or F you”. I’m not kidding. It’s infuriating.
  • For all the wonderfully kind and friendly people I’ve met here, there are equally unfriendly types I’ve had the misfortune to come across. I’ll be writing more about that in a separate post.

Those are just a few examples. And looking at it, it’s mostly negative. Sorry bout that. Thing is, I’m pretty sure I only notice all this because I’m new. I have no doubt it will all blend together once this place feels like home.


P.S. What is home? 

P.P.S. I started Yelping to rate places I try out. You can click over via that bubble on my sidebar to see what I have to say!


5 thoughts on “Hey, I’m new here

  1. I think your post shows how different the U.S. can be from one area to the next. I’m always asked to classify how “we” do things in the U.S. in my German class, but it really is like a whole series of separate countries in itself! I’ve never been to Portland, but I’m sure you’ll feel more settled in with time. Also, start watching Portlandia if you haven’t already – having others point out the weird things for you can only help you adjust!

    • Thanks, Sam! It has been very eye-opening to live in a new part of the States and realize how different it can be. Not quite Europe, though. I miss it.

  2. Hi Julie,

    I have loved reading your blog, as I am hoping to move to Amsterdam next year. I had to say though, that as a person who has grown up in the NW, we scurry across the crosswalk as a courtesy to the driver who has stopped for us. Just a funny way to say thanks for not running me over, and I’ll hurry up and get out of your way now! 🙂 Similar to the “Washington Wave,” used when somebody lets you out into the notoriously bad Seattle traffic, you wave to them as you pull in front as a thank you. I hope you are enjoying the amazing NW, make sure to visit Seattle!

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