Dear Locals: Queries From A Portland Newcomer

Portland is undeniably a wonderful city. From its beautiful mountains, serene bodies of water, stunning city lights, fun bike trails and parks, to its friendly people. But as someone who just moved here, there were a few things that caught my attention. For example, what’s with the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan? Why is no one using an umbrella—where are they? What’s with the hot HOT and cold COLD weather? Voodoo Donuts??

Disclaimer: The following does not include any intentions of being rude or impudent and are all based on personal observations and experiences. 

“Keep Portland Weird”?

Before anything else, I just wanna ask, why “Keep Portland Weird”? Is Portland really that bizarre compared to other places or states? It’s weird in some ways, but everyday life seems pretty normal to me. I did some research and asked a few locals and this is what I’ve found out.  

“Portland likes to be quirky,” Scarlett Judson (10) stated.

Portland is home to the most strip clubs per capita in the nation and it’s one of the few states that legalized the use of cannabis. You’ll see billboards of strip clubs and pot shops almost everywhere in the city.  You can also find the world’s smallest park here! And of course, let’s not forget the Unipiper and Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride where thousands of nude cyclists pedal through the streets to protest against oil dependency. 

What’s With the Weird Weather?

Portland’s weather is also somewhat weird. I came from the Philippines, and the heat during our summer there is the WORST. However, during my first summer here, it felt like the hottest summer I’ve ever experienced. It even came to the point that the air conditioner in my room is turned on for almost 24 hours. I’m not sure if I’m just exaggerating because obviously winter just passed by, but it was really hot! Speaking of winter, why does everybody or the whole city in general panic when it snows? I know it rarely snows here, but what’s with the panic-buying and delaying of school hours? Not that I’m complaining about the latter!

Where Are The Umbrellas?

As everyone knows, it rains most of the time during winter in Portland. But why is no one using an umbrella? I came from a tropical country and we always use an umbrella. When I say always, I mean that we use umbrellas during sunny and rainy seasons. It was an essential! We hate getting wet from the rain and we also don’t like to get sunburned by the blazing sun. But ever since I got here, I am now embarrassed to use umbrellas because apparently locals look down on umbrella users. Yikes! I also get shy if some of my friends who are also new offer me an umbrella when it rains. No one in my family owns an umbrella either, and I ain’t complaining since I’ve learned how to love and get used to being soaked by the rain, plus waterproof puffer jackets do the trick!

Summer Clothes in Winter?

My next question is something I’ve noticed that’s also weather related. I don’t know if this applies to everybody, but why are SOME people still wearing shorts and summer clothes outside on a cold chilly winter day? If that would be me, I’d definitely freeze to death or catch hypothermia. I guess living here long enough could make you get immune to the weather. I honestly can’t wait!

Do Locals Really Hate Voodoo Doughnuts??

Prior to moving, I came across a video from Buzzfeed where they said Voodoo Doughnuts are the most popular food in the state.  Most locals disagreed and argued that you’re lame or uncool if you like this particular brand. You either like it or hate it. But as a junk food enthusiast, this went straight to my bucket list! It stayed and camped there for a while, but I finally got to try it before the exhausting 2020 ended. Contrary to popular local beliefs, it actually tasted pretty good! 

Moving to a foreign place can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Questioning the unfamiliar environment is part of it!  I left most of the questions unanswered because who knows? I haven’t been here long enough to question more things about the city. I also haven’t explored much of Portland yet but I’d absolutely love to!

The usage of umbrellas in Portland is almost non-existent. Illustration by Ayanna Villanueva.

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