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lm0913

Non-Utah Mormon attending BYU

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Has anyone here NOT from Utah attended BYU? How did you like it?

I keep hearing about the difference between "utah mormons" and other mormons. Can anyone give a good explanation of this?

I am a recent convert who will be attending law school this fall. BYU is obviously a great option, but I'm wondering how adjusting to life in Provo would be, especially as a non-Utah convert.

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There's Mormonism (beliefs, teachings) & then there's Mormon Culture (appearances) ... by the very nature of the beast, BYU strongly promotes the culture.

"Utah Mormons" vs "other Mormons" .... yeah, the church, rather the members of the church in Utah are somewhat different then it is elsewhere.

I'm not sure I can express or explain the difference, though the old adage, "The church is true even if the people aren't" can be whole heartedly applied.

The movie "Mobsters & Mormons" comes to mind ...

I also recall in the months leading up to the Olympics in Utah the First Presidency really emphasized judgment free acceptance of others & friendship & the very basics of fellowship to the Utah congregations ... yet those concepts are taught & held to throughout the church, so why the need to emphasize it so strongly to the "Utah Mormons"?

My wife, being a non-Utah convert, felt very judged when we lived in Utah. Being a convert she did not have all the "Mormon protocols" that most "Utah Mormons" are raised with ... so often she felt that someone's interpretation of the rules (&/or the "proper appearances") trumped the importance of the individual member/person.

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What's different about their appearance?

Well, if you are talking physical appearance, no facial hair, short hair, dressing modestly, etc ... though appearance goes far beyond the physical, it goes to what others see/how you are seen in your actions & as an entire being.

That's not a bad thing, though many many times when an environment (or a culture) promotes appearances people put a lot more into appearances & less into the substance of who one really is or what one really believes.

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I'm not sure where you'll be coming from, or anything about you, really...what religion you converted from, what ethnicity you may be, what your family or socio-economic background is, etc. All of those will contribute to how you view things.

Please note that everything I share should be taken with a grain of salt. I have a notorious history of disliking "Utah Mormon Culture," so my comments will likely be mostly negative, particularly to those who are native Utahns, or do like living there. Please note that I know there are exceptions to everything I say below, and my comments are largely generalized. None of these is directed at any one person, either on LDS.net or in "real life." They are all a culmination of several years of experience and observation.

Personal observations:

(1) At least one out of every three billboards is related to plastic surgery or some other form of body alteration.

(2) Utah is highly hedonistic.

(3) There is more "keeping up with the Joneses" in Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley than I've seen anywhere else I've lived (six different states, with areas including Orange County, San Jose, and Litchfield County, CT).

(4) There are a lot of people "faking it." That is, putting on a good face for others.

(5) Many BYU students are highly self-righteous.

(6) There is a lack of experience outside "the bubble" or "Happy Valley." It leads to ignorance in conversation, awareness, and adaptability.

(7) Utahns assume. If you live there, they'll assume you're Mormon, Republican, and very similar to them.

(8) Access to temples and Church History is unparalleled.

(9) If you're single and looking, there's a lot of opportunities. Make sure you're choosy.

(10) Utah is beautiful. I miss it for the mountains quite often.

(11) Driving and directions are easier because of a fairly rigid grid setup.*

*I actually have the opposite experience. I have a hard time with the address and directional construct of Utah, no matter how many times people have tried explaining it to me. Where I live in Cleveland, so many Utahns complain about how they're so directionally challenged here because we lack a grid. I moved here from rural New England, where everything is state routes or smaller roads that wind with the land. I love the mostly-gridded layout here!!

Edited by Wingnut
Emphasize disclaimer

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Personal observations:

(1) At least one out of every three billboards is related to plastic surgery or some other form of body alteration.

(2) Utah is highly hedonistic.

(3) There is more "keeping up with the Joneses" in Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley than I've seen anywhere else I've lived (six different states).

(4) There are a lot of people "faking it." That is, putting on a good face for others.

(5) Many BYU students are highly self-righteous.

(6) There is a lack of experience outside "the bubble" or "Happy Valley." It leads to ignorance in conversation, awareness, and adaptability.

(7) Utahns assume. If you live there, they'll assume you're Mormon, Republican, and very similar to them.

(8) Access to temples and Church History is unparalleled.

(9) If you're single and looking, there's a lot of opportunities. Make sure you're choosy.

(10) Utah is beautiful. I miss it for the mountains quite often.

(11) Driving and directions are easier because of a fairly rigid grid setup.*

That really sums it up well. Thanks Wingnut!

I especially appreciate the frankness in items 1 thru 6.

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(1) At least one out of every three billboards is related to plastic surgery or some other form of body alteration.

!

Ever since you posted this awhile back on another thread, I have become very aware of billboards as I travel from Salt Lake Co. to Utah Co. I still only see these on rare occasions. Not one out of every three as you state.

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Ever since you posted this awhile back on another thread, I have become very aware of billboards as I travel from Salt Lake Co. to Utah Co. I still only see these on rare occasions. Not one out of every three as you state.

It probably isn't 1 in 3 but I have to side with Wingnut that they do seem to be much more prevalent (or maybe presented in a way they stand out more) on the Wasatch Front then any other metro area I've been.

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Ever since you posted this awhile back on another thread, I have become very aware of billboards as I travel from Salt Lake Co. to Utah Co. I still only see these on rare occasions. Not one out of every three as you state.

I was going to say "every other," but realized that was probably exaggeration. The last two times I was in Utah, those were the only billboards I seemed to see. Maybe it's because I'm not accustomed to them, they stood out more. I've talked with other people who don't live in Utah, but visit from time to time, and they've observed the same thing. Coming from many other areas, it will feel like at least one in three. That number may be high, but it is very noticeable.

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I also recall in the months leading up to the Olympics in Utah the First Presidency really emphasized judgment free acceptance of others & friendship & the very basics of fellowship to the Utah congregations ... yet those concepts are taught & held to throughout the church, so why the need to emphasize it so strongly to the "Utah Mormons"?

Because the Olympics, a very high profile event with the potential to reflect either positively or negatively on the Church in an area with a high LDS population, were held in Utah. You had a huge influx of visitors and public attention and they easily would have focused on any negative experiences, an education push makes sense even if hypothetically Utah Mormons were better fellow-shippers. It's akin to a city making an extra effort to clean the streets when the President comes to visit. It isn't an indicator that said city has dirtier streets than other cities. Are Utah Mormons worse, the same, or better fellow-shippers than other Mormons? I don't know, but the push you reference doesn't really tell you one way or the other considering it makes sense regardless of which particular case is true.

I will say this though, even if the rate of bad fellow-shippers is the same across the Church the sheer number of Mormons in Utah means in absolute terms Utah has more of them and since you are probably going to interact with more Mormons in Utah than elsewhere (baring some other spots in the Jello Belt), you'd be more likely to encounter such.

Edited by Dravin

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I'm not sure where you'll be coming from, or anything about you, really...what religion you converted from, what ethnicity you may be, what your family or socio-economic background is, etc. All of those will contribute to how you view things.

Please note that everything I share should be taken with a grain of salt. I have a notorious history of disliking "Utah Mormon Culture," so my comments will likely be mostly negative, particularly to those who are native Utahns, or do like living there. Please note that I know there are exceptions to everything I say below, and my comments are largely generalized. None of these is directed at any one person, either on LDS.net or in "real life." They are all a culmination of several years of experience and observation.

Personal observations:

(1) At least one out of every three billboards is related to plastic surgery or some other form of body alteration.

(2) Utah is highly hedonistic.

(3) There is more "keeping up with the Joneses" in Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley than I've seen anywhere else I've lived (six different states, with areas including Orange County, San Jose, and Litchfield County, CT).

(4) There are a lot of people "faking it." That is, putting on a good face for others.

(5) Many BYU students are highly self-righteous.

(6) There is a lack of experience outside "the bubble" or "Happy Valley." It leads to ignorance in conversation, awareness, and adaptability.

(7) Utahns assume. If you live there, they'll assume you're Mormon, Republican, and very similar to them.

(8) Access to temples and Church History is unparalleled.

(9) If you're single and looking, there's a lot of opportunities. Make sure you're choosy.

(10) Utah is beautiful. I miss it for the mountains quite often.

(11) Driving and directions are easier because of a fairly rigid grid setup.*

*I actually have the opposite experience. I have a hard time with the address and directional construct of Utah, no matter how many times people have tried explaining it to me. Where I live in Cleveland, so many Utahns complain about how they're so directionally challenged here because we lack a grid. I moved here from rural New England, where everything is state routes or smaller roads that wind with the land. I love the mostly-gridded layout here!!

Large Grain of Salt taken.

I truly hope there is someone in the world without such a poor opinion of Utah Mormons who has had more experience with Mormons in Utah outside Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley (which is less than 50% LDS).

Hedonisitc? Seriously? I don't know a Mormon who is hedonistic. Definition: he·don·is·tic

ˌhēdnˈistik/Submit

adjective

1.

engaged in the pursuit of pleasure; sensually self-indulgent.

"a hedonistic existence of drink, drugs, and parties"

synonyms: self-indulgent, pleasure-seeking, sybaritic, lotus-eating, epicurean, good-time; More

Edited by applepansy

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Large Grain of Salt taken.

I gave fair warning, and tried to end on positive things. :)

I truly hope there is someone in the world without such a poor opinion of Utah Mormons who has had more experience with Mormons in Utah outside Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley (which is less than 50% LDS).

Oh I'm sure there is. That's why I added in my disclaimer. My opinions in this area are not reflective of the norm. That said, the OP is planning to attend BYU. So as pertains to this discussion, those are the relevant areas.

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I use hedonistic somewhat interchangeably with materialistic in this sense. The largest homes, the latest fashions, the "bigger and better" attitude, the plastic surgery, are all things I've observed prevalently.

Also note that on that item, I said, "Utah is highly hedonistic" and not "Mormons are highly hedonistic."

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I truly hope there is someone in the world without such a poor opinion of Utah Mormons who has had more experience with Mormons in Utah outside Utah County and the Salt Lake Valley (which is less than 50% LDS).

I like Utahn Mormons just fine, I lived there for a few years and my parents still live there. They have their quirks, flaws, and strengths. Mormons outside of Utah also have their quirks, their flaws, and their strengths. Some of those are the same and some of those are different. By and large I think a lot of complaints from either direction stem from disliking, or having a hard time understanding, that which is alien and preferring the familiar.

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There is a cultural issues, no doubt. Non LDS residents of Utah (who stay) usually do so because they like the culture. They like the attitude of service. If you sit on a corner in SLC very long you'll see random acts of kindness to strangers that you won't see elsewhere. Get out of SLC and you'll see it more, even in Ogden. :)

People of out of state have often criticized Utah drivers as the worst in the States. Yet statistics show that Utah is in the top ten States for safest drivers. I think some of the animosity towards Utah Mormons is based on stereotype and not actual fact.

I have friends who send their children to BYU from out of State on purpose.

Its just not as bad as protrayed. The billboard issue? The population along the Wasatch Front has the lowest percentage of Mormons than anywhere in Utah. Around 50%. Utah Mormons I know are offended by these billboards. Only one has been removed because of community pressure (from Mormons and other Chrisitans.) Utah Mormons are strong defenders of the rights of others. Its more than cultural, its bred into them from their pioneer ancestors.

I'm saddened that Utah Mormons have been so poorly portrayed. I hope there is someone here at LDS.net who lives out of State and has a higher opinion of us.

The one thing I do agree with is Utah Valley. I wouldn't live there if I was given a house. And its not a Utah Mormon thing. Its a University attitude that because they have BYU we're smarter and more cultured. I've been surprised at running into this attitude every year for over 10 years that we spent a weekend in Provo at State High School Sporting tournaments. But... there again. Not all Utah Valley Mormons have that attitude. Some really do live their religion.

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I use hedonistic somewhat interchangeably with materialistic in this sense. The largest homes, the latest fashions, the "bigger and better" attitude, the plastic surgery, are all things I've observed prevalently.

Also note that on that item, I said, "Utah is highly hedonistic" and not "Mormons are highly hedonistic."

Then use materialistic.

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I'm saddened that Utah Mormons have been so poorly portrayed. I hope there is someone here at LDS.net who lives out of State and has a higher opinion of us.

I'm just the only one who's rally spoke up so far. Others are certainly welcome to do so. As Sharky said, I was being very frank. For someone who is nervous and uncertain, they should know many of the pros and cons. Unfortunately, I don't have many pros to share, though I tried. Someone else needs to do that.

Then use materialistic.

Materialistic didn't feel strong enough for what I was thinking. I chose hedonistic deliberately, and though I can't put my finger on exactly why, I feel it's an accurate reflection of my personal observations and experiences.

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I gave fair warning, and tried to end on positive things. :)

Oh I'm sure there is. That's why I added in my disclaimer. My opinions in this area are not reflective of the norm. That said, the OP is planning to attend BYU. So as pertains to this discussion, those are the relevant areas.

With all honesty Wingnut. I like you! But maybe your disclaimer should have come first. You are very biased in your opinions of Utah Mormons or Mormons who don't agree with you on any topic. :)

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I have to agree with hedonism :D

Utah is one of the only places (outside of a military base) where I can stick my head into a room full of strangers (restaurant, gas station, etc.) and ask if anyone wants to go do XYZ... And get at least half a room of volunteers. With bright/eager faces and fist pumps, even.

I love Utah.

In no small part, because total strangers will jump to their feet and go halfsies (or 1/5th, 1/10th, etc) on renting a boat, dune buggy, rapelling equipment, etc. and a whole party is made with people shaking hands and introducing themselves to everyone else in the parking lot.

While hedonism often gets coupled with vice, vice isn't fun for everyone.

The ability to make anything, no matter how awful, fun ...

And the desire to have fun whenever possible....

Is both a military habit, and an ethos I've found in most parts of Utah.

Q

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I did the majority of my first three decades in Utah. 92.753% of my experiences with Utah Mormons are unremarkable. Regular encounters with regular people. The remaining experiences are memorable enough to fuel our human desire to create stereotypes.

I've personally experienced everything on Wingnut's list, although I'd make the following modifications to turn it into my list:

(1) Lots of cleavage and sin billboards on I-15.

(2) I've met some people in Utah that come across as hedonistic.

(3) "Yew are too materialistic" is a common judgement passed by Utahn's I've met (both LDS and non).

(4) When I was a teen in the '80's, I invented the term "plastic clip-on people". Maybe I would have invented the same term growing up in another state, maybe not. You gotta admit it's an interesting coincidence with Wingnut's #4.

(5) Colleges are full of idealistic, clueless, ignorant, deluded, self-righteous idiots. BYU is no exception.

(6) People who are culturally sheltered to the point of being socially awkward, are fun to interact with, and easy to make uncomfortable. The population of Utah Mormons who are culturally sheltered, are certainly no exception.

(7) Yeah, some Utahns assume. But I've had much more assumed about me in Utah, than Wingnut's #7.

(8) Yep, access to temples and Church History is unparalleled.

(9) If you're single and looking, there are still plenty of ways to miss out on a dating life.

(10) Utah is beautiful, in all the different ways a piece of Earth can be beautiful. In some places, numerous different ways are within a few hours drive of each other.

(11) I-15 drivers stink worse than any other place I've been on earth. I think it's the combination of fast rich entitled kids meeting the slow old fogeys. At the top of my game, I got very good at "innocently" ticking off the fast people until they'd become outwardly enraged. Good times.

Edited by Loudmouth_Mormon

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Materialistic didn't feel strong enough for what I was thinking. I chose hedonistic deliberately, and though I can't put my finger on exactly why, I feel it's an accurate reflection of my personal observations and experiences.

Wingnut, you may be looking for Epicureanism rather than hedonism.

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I think Dravin hit on a good point ... Mormons are large in numbers in Utah, subsequently the Mormon quirks & irritants tend to be more prevalent too.

I raised my older kids in Utah (at least fro their early formative years) growing up on the Wasatch Front. A couple have elected to go to college in Utah, 1 to BYU 2 to USU.

I found it interesting when the BYUer boy home for the holidays commented about how the out-of-state students at BYU seem to have more realistic ideas of what to expect in/of life, a more realistic view of the outcomes of their decisions.

He also commented that many of the Utah-raised students don't seem to have very solid self-images, like they believe they have to be good Mormons to have friends and/or fit in.

I do hope there are people out there that are not from Utah that can shed some positives about "Utah Mormons", but when a 22-year old attending BYU comments about "realistic views" or lack there of & self-image/self-esteem being tied to being a good Mormon, it makes me seriously wonder.

Edited by Sharky

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With all honesty Wingnut. I like you! But maybe your disclaimer should have come first. You are very biased in your opinions of Utah Mormons or Mormons who don't agree with you on any topic. :)

It did...

Edited by Wingnut

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Thank you for all your candid responses! I think I'm starting to get a good idea of the differences people talk about. Don't worry, Utah-natives, I'm taking all the negative comments with a grain of salt. I think this seems like something I'd have to investigate in person, through a visit, but I definitely want to go in prepared and aware haha.

I'm a cultural minority from LA County, so I guess the biggest thing I would have to get used to is the lack of diversity and probably sticking out of a mostly white population. But I guess we'll see :)

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