A Wisconsin Yankee in Kentucky’s Court

“Yes, ma’am.”

“No, ma’am.”

“Right away, ma’am.”

Every time I have a talk with a student, their immediate reaction is to call me “ma’am.” My internal reaction to that? How dare you talk back to me you sassy snot! But then I remember again that I live in Kentucky now, and not Wisconsin, where kids have been raised with manners that include respecting adults with “ma’am” and “sir.” It’s going to take a while, though, for me to stop thinking they’re being sassy.

The daily culture shock led me to think about the other way I feel like a Wisconsin Yankee in the Kentucky Court. 


The first difference is the too-expensive cheese and lack of variety. Sure, I see the old stand-bys at Kroger (Pick N’Save): Sartori parmesan, Sargento shredded cheddar, cheese whiz down the cracker aisle. But do you know what I can’t find? Reasonably priced port wine cheese spread. Port wine cheese is a delightful cheddar cheese spread with port wine swirled in, giving the dip/spread a delicious and addicting flavor with a bitter after taste. I once made hard salami and port wine cheese sandwiches for my siblings, the cheese sticking to the top of our mouths like artery-blocking peanut butter. And now this staple in my diet is officially cut out. (Good for my physical health, bad for my spiritual).

I also can’t seem to get used to warm nights. I take Luna out every night, and no matter what, I think I need a sweatshirt before I go outside because Wisconsin nights almost always cooled off. Then I step outside and a wall of sticky humidity slaps me in the face. Let’s just say I started counting down to Christmas and cannot wait until December when it starts to get cooler here.

“Where did you go to school?” is a question that in most places means, “Where did you go to college?” When I first started meeting people around the city, I quickly realized that high school pride is much more important to people in Louisville – even if the person went to college too. With that being said though, people in Louisville have deep, deep ties to their college sports, and you are in one of two camps: University of Louisville (red) or University of Kentucky (blue).

And lastly, speaking of loyalties, the county differences seem to be especially important in Kentucky. In Wisconsin, if someone would have asked me where I was from, I would say “Plymouth” or “about an hour north of Milwaukee.” But down here, the differences between counties are a focus. One hypothesis I have about this is that it stems from the school districts being broken up by county. Where in other states towns might have full school districts, in Kentucky the county is the school district and just might have hundreds of schools instead of seven or eight. With the emphasis on high school v. high school rivalry, the county v. county rivalry grows too.

So, those are just a few differences and ways I still feel out of place in my new home. In another post, I’ll share some of the great things about living in Kentucky! (I might just wait until the weather is a little bit cooler to make that list though).

Thanks for making it all the way down here! Like what you read or have a question to ask? Comment here!

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