As Someone Who Was Born And Raised In Hawaii, These 15 Things Had Me In Total Shock When I Moved To The Mainland

Hi! I'm Jen, and I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. I lived in the islands for the first 18 years of my life, until I moved to Los Angeles for college, and then New York for post-grad life.

I don't think I could even fit all of the differences between Hawaii and the rest of the United States in this post alone, but I'll start with the 15 biggest ones I could think of.

Before we get into the post, I want to disclaim that these are just general observations I've made over the years, and not all of these points will define everyone's life experience, so please keep that in mind.

Without further ado, here are some of the biggest "culture shock" moments I had after moving to the mainland for the first time:

1.In Hawaii, I grew up surrounded by people who came from many different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. When I moved out of the state, I noticed that racial diversity was not as common as it was back home.

A multicultural family smiling and all wearing white

2.Another thing that shocked me was that so many Americans don't understand the distinction between Native Hawaiians and Hawaii residents.

The Hawaiian flag

3.Back home, the poke is served fresh, and is usually eaten alone, with rice, or 'ulu (breadfruit) chips. In most places on the mainland, poke is mixed in with lots of toppings like edamame, cucumber, and seaweed, and then drenched in sauce(s) of your choosing.

Bowls of poke

It's no hate, but I will prefer Hawaii-style poke over the mainland style every time.

Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

4.In California, they're called flip flops. In Hawaii, they're called slippers.

Someone's feet in flip flops

5.There are so many squirrels in California. There are none in Hawaii.

A squirrel on a tree

6.Ikea, Trader Joe's, Chipotle, and Panera Bread — they don't have 'em in Hawaii.

People entering Trader Joe's

I endured the first 18 years of my life without these things. What a simple life it was.

Sundry Photography / Getty Images

7.Free shipping, or in some cases, shipping at all, was a rarity in the islands.

Packages in a warehouse

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to buy something online only to have the screen say, "We only offer shipping to the continental United States." In hindsight, that probably saved me from a lot of unnecessary purchases.

Whitejack / Getty Images

8.Every state in the US observes daylight savings. Except Hawaii and Arizona.

Closeup of a clock on a town street

I remember the pure confusion I felt after waking up one morning in Los Angeles and realizing the entire state had lost an hour of daylight. I mean, what a wild concept! We certainly did not have to change our clocks in Hawaii.

Medianews Group / MediaNews Group via Getty Images

9.At high school and college graduations in Hawaii, there's always a portion of the ceremony dedicated to giving graduates leis.

Graduates in leis and flower wreaths

10.What do you call your best friend's mom? In Hawaii, you'd call them "aunty."

Cartoon of three generations of women hugging with a heart above them

11.Most people on the mainland think spam is nasty.

A hand holding spam musubi

12.The driving culture in Hawaii is a lot kinder than it is on the mainland.

A Hawaiian bobble dash ornament

13.Back home, its pretty much an unspoken rule that you'd take off your shoes before entering someone's home. On the mainland, I noticed that this is a lot less common.

Bare feet on a pink carpet

14.This might only apply to states where it gets cold, but I had no idea that there was such a thing as a "snow day."

Snow piled on a bus

My 10-year-old self would've LOVED missing a few school days here and there because of a snowstorm.

Marcia Straub / Getty Images

15.And finally, in Hawaii, they're called Aloha shirts, and it's pretty common for people to wear them to work and semi-formal events.

A man in an Aloha Shirt

Although, the Aloha shirts people wear to work usually aren't sprayed with tacky neon colors like the "Hawaiian shirts" people wear as a costume. The colors and prints on a real Aloha shirt are usually pretty muted and elegant, like the one pictured above!

Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa / Getty Images

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

PS: Keep up with me on Instagram and TikTok, if you'd like.