California Love ⟩
January 24, 2024, by Jaida
California. The Golden State. Never would I have thought that I would be calling this place ‘home’ for 3 years. Filled with numerous beaches, palm trees, and sunshine for days, this state has more to offer than I realized. As someone who is not a local, I can recognize where my own understanding of this unique environment falls short of the experiences that make this place so special to Californians. I can also recognize where my own biases and upbringings as a Southerner have impacted my perception of the people here (I had no idea what an ‘Erewhon’ or ‘Cava’ was).
Here are some of my own takeaways about California that you should be mindful of and how you can take advantage of your new home!
Be mindful of:
- Traffic/Driving: “It’s only 5 miles away. The drive can’t be that bad.” That’s what I’m used to saying when driving around home in Arkansas. I was so quick to judge my friends here who would complain about driving (I am humble enough to say now I have learned the error of my ways; sorry friends). Driving in California is not for the weak; there will be days where you will spend more time on the road than at your actual destination. Californians have unspoken rules about driving that as an outsider, until you get yourself on the road, you won’t understand until you’ve experienced it. Tip: call a friend/loved one while you’re waiting in traffic! You know they’ve been dying to hear all about your life in the program and it’ll make you feel better. You can also listen to podcasts or take it as an opportunity to practice some of the mindfulness techniques you will soon learn from RRE class!
- Prices: I remember as I was driving from Arkansas to California, the progressive increase in gas prices as I got closer and closer, had me shaking my head the entire time. The days of cheap items and tax-free weekends were over. Since then, I have accepted my new reality of the high cost of living here, but understand now that California would not be what it is today without it. Tip: if you can, sign up for EBT to receive monetary assistance for buying groceries.
Take advantage of:
- Fun Experiences: My bank account hated me for the amount of money I was spending at Disneyland and Universal, but just like a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t help myself! Although I love all the nature activities there are to do back home, being able to go to amusement parks and beaches whenever I want is a plus in my eyes. Cool events like themed club nights (High School Musical and One Direction night made teenage Jaida so happy) and shows at the Hollywood Bowl are ones that I would’ve never experienced back home and I am grateful to be living in a state that gives me access to new and exciting experiences.
- New Cuisines: Being raised in the South, I pride myself on the delectable cuisine that is ‘Southern/Soul food’. Comprised of foods such as ribs, fried chicken, cornbread, baked beans, mac & cheese, I was a bit saddened to know the “southern food” here will never taste like how it is back home. However, I have been able to try so many different cuisines that are not as widely present in Arkansas (shoutout to cohort A for introducing me to Korean bbq, pho, and chilaquiles!).
While your experience may be completely different than mine, I hope that this advice can help you in preparing for your transition to living in California.