Outside My Southern Comfort Zone


silicon_valleyAs a college student, one of the biggest choices I’ve had to make was where to work after I graduate.  Last year, I was lucky enough to land an internship with a technology company in Silicon Valley, California and get a taste of work life.  I was excited to be in the heart of technological innovation, but I didn’t realize was how different the community would be.

The first time it really hit me that Silicon Valley is very different from my home state of Texas was at a company party.  The party was “country” themed and I was extremely excited to two-step the night away.  Once I got to the party, I realized that this “country” themed party was not what I expected at all.  People were wearing comical combinations of plaid and animal print, the barbecue had pineapples in it, the cornbread was dry, and nobody sang when the band played “Sweet Home Alabama”.  My coworkers, most of whom were from Asia, California, or the North-Eastern United States, asked me if that was what Texas is actually like. I couldn’t say no fast enough.

One thing that really stuck with me was that nobody seemed to have even recognized any of the country music, not even the pop-country artists like Carrie Underwood or Lady Antebellum.  In fact, many of the Americans seemed to actively avoid country music.  To them, country music is associated with ultra-conservative hillbillies who spend their days drinking beer and cleaning guns which is definitely not the type of person a liberal California techie can identify with.  My other coworkers, who hailed from Korea, Japan, India and China, had never even been exposed to country music before.  Even after showing them some of my favorite country songs, they weren’t keen to start listening to country music because the songs weren’t relatable for them.  There are almost no Asian country artists and many of the subjects of country music like big trucks, football, small towns, and American patriotism did not resonate with them.

After the party I was feeling very homesick. How could I live and work in a place where so few people share the love of the music I’ve grown up with?  Eventually I came to realize that there were many people from different cultures at my workplace who also wanted to share their own favorite music.  Even though nobody else could name a George Strait song, we were all able to bond over our universal love for music and appreciation for each other’s cultures.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Class work, Reflection

3 Responses to Outside My Southern Comfort Zone

  1. Lee Allen

    I actually laughed at the Sweet Home Alabama part, everyone has to sing along to that one! And congrats on that internship, that’s so cool! Also, kudos to you for standing up for Texas and the true meaning of country. Whenever I go to Ohio to visit my grandparents, all of my friends that I’ve made there continue to think I wear plaid and ride a horse. It’s pretty wild how uneducated some people can be about such a simple subject. I’m intrigued at the part where your “audience” couldn’t relate to country music, since really it’s just lyrics to express something with an instrument in the back. You’re totally right that some people just don’t want to listen to it and won’t give it a chance when it’s heard. All in all, this was an awesome blog post, and I really enjoyed how you concluded with realizing that everyone is a little different but music in general can bring you together.

  2. Adrian Ortiz

    First off I wanted to say that I know that feeling when people have the completely wrong idea of what something you really like actually is and it sucks! But I have to say that I personally don’t know much about country music and I have to admit that I used to be one of those guys that associated country music with hillbillies drinking beer, cleaning their guns, among other stereotypes, but don’t worry I know better know. It was nice to read that you realized that you were able to relate to your coworkers through music and embrace their cultures, even if it wasn’t through country music. Anyway, this was a great post, I really enjoyed it, thanks for sharing.

  3. mjh3964

    I thought this started off a little stiff, but it really picked up as it went on. I found it very enjoyable to see what other people see of Texas country fans. I am not going to lie, before getting here I shared a bit of that stereotype, but it was quickly abandoned my first day down here. Almost like a country song you really told a great story, I could really see you working with Taylor Swift or somebody to tell the story of other’s perceptions of country. With Taylor’s comeback to country I am getting a little away from how fun of a read your peace was. After the ball got rolling it was really an enjoyable read, and so maybe find a better initial hook next time? I know that is nit picking there is not a lot more you could do to make me enjoy this blog post

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