1. Refer to the other 49 states as ‘Outside.’
For example: “I’m going Outside for Christmas” or “Lindsey went Outside for university.”
2. Just call them ‘the lights.’
It’s less of a mouthful than adding ‘Northern.’ And we never say ‘Aurora Borealis,’ that’s nonsense.
3. Remember, it’s a snow machine.
Snow machine. Not snowmobile. We’re cooler than that.
4. Live in a dry cabin.
That means without running water. Lick your dishes clean after each meal so you can keep using the same ones, shower at work, and bless whoever invented the foam toilet seat that protects your sensitive bum from the shock of wood, plastic, or porcelain in a negative whatever degree outhouse.
5. Only mention that a day is cold if it is -10F or below.
Add a few layers of Carhartt and invest in some Smartwools. You’ll adjust, I promise.
6. Only drink black coffee.
In 2005, Anchorage had the most coffee shops per capita (2.8 shops per 1,000 residents) of any city in the country. So yeah, coffee is a major vice for us.
7. Whatever you consider to be casual clothing, take it down at least two notches.
If an event lists attire as “Fairbanks casual” feel free to don those unwashed jeans or only-kinda-stained pants you wear around the house. Basically, shoot for an overall look along the lines of “clean lumberjack” and you’ll be good to go.
8. Furnish your life from the transfer station.
The boroughs (Alaska has boroughs, not counties) set up sites called transfer stations. They’re filled with dumpsters for households to bring their trash to. Many of the larger transfer stations also have covered areas to leave things still deemed usable. People leave everything from mismatched Tupperware to clothing to furniture. I found nearly my whole “clean lumberjack” outfit there along with rugs, kitchen gadgets, and much of my food.
9. Invest in a winter hobby.
Because you’re probably losing more than 6 minutes of daylight every 24 hours. Come winter solstice you’ll be down to 4.5 hours. When it hurts to go outside and on top of that it’s dark all the time, you will need something to keep your spirits up.
10. Actually stay for the winter.
You’re not truly Alaskan until you’ve stayed a winter here. And staying in Anchorage doesn’t count.
11. Embrace your natural insulative qualities.
If you’re male and genetically capable, grow a beard. Not only will it help you fit in here, it’ll protect your face. And ladies, let’s be real, we’ll be wearing pants and long sleeves for the foreseeable future and probably be showering at work because we don’t have running water at home — so no shaving necessary.
12. Add a foraging element to every summer outing.
Food from the grocery store is expensive and probably going to go bad soon because it was shipped from so far away. Food from your backyard or neighborhood is free and tasty. Plus, nothing compares to fiddleheads sauteed in garlic.
13. Develop your moose-themed stories.
Because everyone has a moose story.
14. Just forget about high-speed internet.
Be thankful that it’s no longer dial up and dream of the day when Google Fiber weaves the world together.
15. Whenever someone says they’re from Anchorage say: “What? North Seattle?”
Just like the Alaskan saying says, Anchorage is the closest city outside of Alaska.
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