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8 Ways You'll Be Stereotyped for Living in Alaska

by Valerie Stimac Bailey Oct 19, 2016

1. “Do you have a pet penguin/polar bear?”

Let’s look past the fact that penguins aren’t native to the northern hemisphere in any way, and consider the fact that wild animals should not be pets. It takes one close encounter with a mother moose with a calf or bear with cubs to realize that while they may be cute, animals in Alaska do best when you stay a really reasonable distance away from them.

2. “Do you ride a dog sled to school?”

Growing up in Alaska, whenever I visited friends or family in the Lower 48, everybody wanted to know about transit options. Last I checked, yellow school buses in Alaska work just fine — they just put chains on their studded tires and dash student dreams by never allowing a snow day.

3. “Do you ever even feel cold?”

Actually, I learned from an early age to put on tons of layers in the right order. I assure you, I feel the cold as much as the next person, but only in the strategic places I’ve chosen to expose or when I forget that extra base layer.

4. “Can you see Russia from your house too?”

Thanks for this one, Sarah Palin.

In case you haven’t looked at a map lately, the only place you can see Russia from is the island of Little Diomede, less than two miles from its sister island Big Diomede on the Russian side of the International Date Line.

5. “Do you speak Spanish since Alaska is right next to Mexico?”

Speaking of maps, the fact that Alaska is often shrunk and squished down next to the U.S.-Mexico border leads to a lot of confusion about culture, weather, and the languages Alaskans can speak — which includes Spanish as well as Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Central Alaskan Yup’ik, Alutiiq, Unangax, Dena’ina, Deg Xinag, Holikachuk, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim, Gwich’in, Tanana, Upper Tanana, Tanacross, Hän, Ahtna, Eyak, Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian.

6. “Do you actually live in total darkness all winter?”

Some parts of Alaska do get extended darkness in winter, namely the northernmost town of Barrow. Most parts of Alaska have at least some light during each day and a lot more than that during the summer.

7. “Where is your survival stash?”

While there are lots of Alaskans who do have equipment set aside for emergencies or the potential zombie apocalypse, at least 90% of them have already been featured on reality TV shows about Alaska. The rest of us are just reasonably prepared for getting stuck in snow ditches or weekend camping trips.

8. “Have you ever eaten (insert unusual animal meat here)?”

Actually, this one might not be a stereotype. Alaska has plenty of hunting and fishing opportunities and the last I checked, I have eaten caribou, whale, moose, salmon, halibut, and musk ox.

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