Advice for a Lowcountry newcomer

Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC | Photo by @sarahweisbrod

By: Beret Skorpen-Tifft, writer + independent health care broker in Mt. Pleasant. This is a contributor-submitted Voices piece. Want to join the conversation? We invite you to write for us. Learn how to share your voice here

My family moved to the Charleston area 6 years ago from Maine. Our 2 teens slipped into their new culture like fish into water. As did my husband. The heat in August? He loved it. The police ushering traffic for Sunday morning church services? How interesting. A Lowcountry Boil? Dig in. As if choreographed, they fell naturally into step.

So, who remained but this deer-in-the-headlights Northerner trying to navigate my new world, both literally + figuratively? My family was off making leaps with their acclimation, but I held back, taking baby steps — cautious of what the South offered in terms of community, in the broadest of definitions.

Beret + her husband on IOP
Beret + her husband on IOP | Photo via Beret Skorpen-Tifft

Six years later, here is what I can offer for advice to save a new transplant some small amount of grief:

  • You don’t have to become a Clemson or Gamecock fan but do not ever disparage either team.
  • Stop saying Isle of Palms as quickly as you possibly can and replace it with “IOP.”
  • If the temperature falls below 50°, wipe that smile off your face and put on a hat + jacket like everyone else.
  • Buy a jar of Duke’s.
  • When you see a dolphin swimming in Shem Creek, resist the instinct to jump up + down. Stay calm — impressed, but not surprised — by the lovely gift of nature.
  • Pop-ups. Enough said. Know where your umbrella is housed.

Go into your new chapter paying attention to the oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, the earth which farmers tend and soldiers once marched, the ancient buildings which have withstood hurricanes, and iron gates mapping boundaries + you will leave having respect for the history heavily saturated within. Remember, you are but one of many who have passed through and have called this land home.

Welcome home, y’all. 🌴