By, Francine Thompson
Snow, rich background, trees that are not of the palm variety.
The East Coast and Midwest are radically different than the West Coast, and that is why I love them (and maybe why many should reconsider their instate university tetherings.)
The seasons are more pronounced. The people have distinct attitudes. The colleges and institutes of higher education are more prestigious. Everything has more history.
However, that is not to say that California lacks backstory. Countless Native American tribes occupied California for thousands of years before explorers gave the state a European title. The state got its name from a 16th century Spanish romance novel that described an island, called ‘California’, inhabited by Amazon warriors who used only gold weapons. We get our Spanish-named cities and heavy Spanish influence from the country’s explorers who surveyed the area in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Mexican-American War finally gave the Sun Belt state to the United States in 1850.
But now consider the East Coast. The very idea of the United States emerged and blossomed in 13 not-so-humble colonies on the eastern shores of the country. Buildings where our nation’s first leaders lived and philosophized still stand. Some of the country’s happiest and most tragic moments happened on the easternmost part of the nation. Talk about history.
I have lived in Southern California for the entirety of my 17 years, embracing all it has to offer. I visited all of the good beaches, absorbed all of the sunny San Diego I could take, and eaten the local cuisine. But after almost two decades here, it is all too familiar. With the exception of some quirky little neighborhoods that dot the region, SoCal appears so beige, so bland. When observed from an airplane or Google Earth, Southern California and other parts of the West Coast appear winding and monotonous. (This is where images of Levittowns and 1950s suburbia should pop into your mind.) Again, that’s not to say that the West Coast is entirely dull, because some areas are most certainly not.
Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that the West Coast is no longer for me. After trips to Minneapolis, Minnesota and Washington D.C. a couple weeks ago, Southern California makes me feel like a big fish in a very small (and very warm) pond. I feel more at home in the Frost Belt or among the East Coast’s historic and welcoming red brick buildings. I like glancing at New York’s below freezing temperatures in a weather app and thinking about having my first white Christmas. I am also most certainly tired of seeing people wearing flip-flops in the pouring rain and sweating in November because it is 80 degrees.
Although I’m fully aware of the fact that California has much to offer, the Midwest and Appalachian regions provide the perfect amount of contrast and unfamiliarity that a young adult needs to grow and thrive. When you are not busy comparing instate and out of state tuition fees, I would highly recommend exploring the qualities that the other side of the Rockies possess because you might just fall in love.