Well, technically, things I’ve noticed about Northern Virginia.
1.) People wear flip-flops. A lot. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it sure beats stilettos.
2.) Dress is casual. Very casual. I have always dressed like an American wherever I live, but I like that here I can go to the grocery store in shorts and t-shirt and not look out of place. Yep, these are my t-shirt wearing, flip-flopping peeps, right here.
3.) My gym is amazing. It is big, clean, doesn’t smell like unwashed gym clothes, has tons of equipment, and there is air conditioning that they actually turn on!
4.) Hardly anyone smokes. You can’t smoke in any restaurant or bar, and many buildings have signs saying no smoking in the doorways. No more walking through a cloud of smoke to enter a store or office building. Even public parks have no smoking signs. I never cared much one way or another about cigarette smoke until I got to Vienna and the smell (and the butts) were everywhere. Now, I really appreciate getting away from the filthy habit!
5.) Public transportation is lame, but well-used. If you build it, they will come. And they even get very excited about a new subway line. Last weekend, I saw whole families riding the Silver Line together just to say they did. It’s kind of sweet.
6.) The food is both awful and wonderful. At our temporary apartment we were greeted with a basket of junk food on the kitchen counter, and they were giving away cupcakes and sugary iced coffee in the lobby at happy hour for some reason. But on the other hand, there is great produce at the grocery store, lots of healthy, tasty, not-schnitzel food in restaurants, and the salads don’t have potatoes in them. You can have a chicken Caesar salad or noodle bowl for dinner or you can scarf free cupcakes. Your choice.
7.) At grocery stores the cashiers are friendly, and they actually bag your groceries instead of shoving them at you as fast as they can, then glaring at you while you frantically try to get them bagged before paying. I freaking love American grocery stores.
8.) At all stores they will give you approximately 937 plastic bags at the checkout unless you bring your own and/or plead with them not to give you so many bags. (It’s a lot more difficult to plead with a self-checkout terminal which is why I hardly ever use them.)
9.) Beer is really expensive compared to Vienna, and they won’t let my 18 year old drink it. But they will let him buy cigarettes. Go figure.
10.) Everything else is very cheap compared to Vienna. Everything.