However, my first time in a non-Happy Valley YSA ward has portrayed some notable differences from a typical Utah County YSA ward. For example:
- Obviously, there's this school in Salt Lake that a lot of people are loyal to. . . . However, my entire bishopric graduated from BYU, so when BYU lost to Utah, there was pain at the pulpit that day rather than gloating. As it should be.
- Those of us up north actually get to meet in a real church, rather than a classroom on campus. No sacrament meeting in the testing center for us.
- The very first speaker at our adult session of stake conference last week had a full-blown Mohawk. There is no way a BYU bishop/stake president would have allowed that to happen, but in Salt Lake it isn't really cause for concern. (He gave a very good talk, by the way. And his closing line was classic: "I'm trying to get into law school, I play guitar in a band, and I love to ski; I'm a Mormon.")
- Stake/regional conferences often take place in the Conference Center downtown. As much as I like the Marriott Center, the Conference Center is way cooler. Yesterday I sat in like the 8th row of the bottom section and could actually see the speakers, the chairs are way more comfortable, and I'm pretty sure Elder Bednar looked at me directly when he was waving good-bye to the congregation at large.
- At BYU, all we ever talked about was dating, marriage, and marriage. My SLC ward still has its obligatory relationships class, but our theme from the start has centered on missionary work. It is refreshing to be relieved of the marriage pressure thing, but I'm no better at the missionary work thing, so, frankly, I can't decide which one is more annoying.
- This may be because I always lived south of campus, but the average age was much younger in Provo than it is in SLC. At 24, I would have been considered ancient and way past marriageable age in Provo, but in Salt Lake I am one of many in the mid-to-late twenties. I can't express enough how nice that is.
- A lot of famous (Mormon) people live in the Salt Lake area. Utah County gets its fair share of Mormon celebrities, but most of them call the Salt Lake area home. My ward specifically has already hosted firesides for Thurl Bailey, Elizabeth Smart, an ex-Oakland Raiders football player that I can't remember the name of, and many other big names.
- Utah County still only has one operating temple; Salt Lake County has got at least five.
- Facial hair and "extravagant" fashion styles aren't frowned upon in Salt Lake.