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Culture shock -- East Coast vs. West

CountingDownCountingDown Registered User Posts: 13,013 Senior Member
edited November 2010 in Parents Forum
Would be really curious to hear from parents (and students) about how one handles the culture shock (if any) of moving from the East Coast to the West Coast. *Is* there a big difference in culture? Lifestyle? Intensity? Does weather make that big a difference to people?

DS1 (a junior) is looking at a variety of schools (both coasts and in-between), but hasn't taken much notice of these things. He's been focused more on how each school "fits" him and the programs he's interested in. Is the right vs. left coast thing something he needs to actively think about or since he's generally an adaptable sort who isn't picky about these things, is it OK to let it slide?

FYI -- we have friends out west that we visit every summer, and we camp/travel a lot, so he's been exposed to a lot of different places. Moving 3,000 miles away doesn't seem to faze him. Just wondering if this is something he needs to give serious consideration to in his planning process.

(P.S. I am OK with the distance, though I will miss him tremendously. We told our kids they needed to pick colleges in good vacation areas!) :*)
Post edited by CountingDown on

Replies to: Culture shock -- East Coast vs. West

  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom - Posts: 13,158 Senior Member
    what part of west coast, because seattle weather is a bit different from San Diego's

    And LA is different from SF from Portland, with regards to culture, attitudes, etc

    Most likely, one of the biggest difference is that us left coasters are probably more casual in our dress, and we were flipflops alot

    I grew up in upstate NY and have lived in Portland Ore and San Francisco....from freezing winters to freezing summers

    Don't think there will be much difference, but what is interesting is that my D shows absolutely no interest in attending any California school- none whatsoever- she wants to do east coast, and "worse case" Portland or Seattle as fall backs

    I think more of the consideration is the school itself- and something to consider is ease of transportation back east
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,944 Senior Member
    I grew up in Buffalo, went to college in the East, and grad school in northern California. One of my sisters went to college in California, the other in Arizona; my brother went to college in Buffalo and grad school in Arizona. I would say that I had the hardest time adjusting to the West. It took me almost three weeks. But that was because I was an Eastern snob.

    Seriously. It's very nice in California (and elsewhere in the West). That's why people love it so much and keep moving there and staying there.

    And people are pretty much people everywhere. Easterners and Californians (and Southerners, and Midwesterners) have much more in common than they have differences.
  • weenieweenie Registered User Posts: 5,793 Senior Member
    There are cultural differences all over America. Easterners are not all the same, as I presume westerners are all different. I live in upstate NY and had culture shock in college just by going to school 160 miles downstate.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,152 Senior Member
    I grew up traveling. (Father was a diplomat.) The biggest culture shock for me was going from tiny American and International schools overseas to a giant junior high. That said, I spent my high school and college years on the East Coast. My then boyfriend (now husband) did his graduate work at Caltech. I loved every second I lived in Pasadena. I think a lot of it is about attitude. I liked the car culture, I loved the architecture and the landscape. I loved being with driving distance of the beach, the mountains and the desert. I never felt people were either more or less laid back there.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 12,284 Senior Member
    D of our best friends grew up in Maine and is now attending Berkeley. She was surprised by other Californians' perception of Maine -- basically they expected her to be more of a hick. Another D of close friends grew up in California and is now at Madison -- she can't believe how nice everyone is in the midwest. "And I thought Californians are supposed to be friendly" she says. She also thinks the mid-west accent is cute. And then there's my nice, a California girl now at Princeton, who says people there are "go-getters" (which she likes) and "a little arrogant" (which she likes less.)

    Note, all these girls are very happy where they're at.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 71,701 Senior Member
    DD grew up on the east coast living in one place most of her life. She is now in college on the west coast. To be honest, the school was her focus...not the location (although she did want warm weather...). I think it was a bigger "culture shock" for DS to go to an urban college 110 miles away than for DD to go to her smaller LAC type school 3000 miles away.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 12,284 Senior Member
    Also, my observation has been that north/south differences and culture shocks are more pronounced and even severe than east/west.
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 12,284 Senior Member
    Mathmom, I also like the architecture of the Pasadena area. Its architectural richess is not something widely known about SoCal.
  • citygirlsmomcitygirlsmom - Posts: 13,158 Senior Member
    I think the biggest culture shock will be the slang, come up to SF and learn about the hyphy and thizz music, learn to say "hella", and discover we don't have accents, unless to moved here from elsewhere, natives, we could all be TV anchors
  • ldmom06ldmom06 Registered User Posts: 5,564 Senior Member
    Hey...'hella' is a pretty common phrase for the kids here in Texas....'hella this'....'hella that'... CGM...maybe you can tell me...what exactly are the kids trying to say?
  • patientpatient Registered User Posts: 1,458 Member
    I did the reverse: from southern California to the northeast; also, to France. I personally experienced more culture shock between California and Cambridge, Mass than between California and France. I think it will be different for each person, a little bit. There was also an issue of going from a very small town to a city.

    The things that I found the most different were the lack of eye contact with strangers on the street in the northeast as compared to California, a stronger sense of class in the northeast and the WEATHER. California is just a much much more fluid, diverse population, which has advantages and disadvantages. I think there is a much greater sense of possibility, openness, innovation here. But there is also less a sense of rootedness/connectedness.

    I like the seasons in the east up until you get to the predominant season (winter), and I do not at all like the climate of southern California. To me, northern California is perfect--temperate, clean air, a hint of seasons (good fall colors where we live, and lots of cold and rain in the winter) without the great discomfort. Blossoms on the trees in February and a sun-kissed feeling most of the year.
  • ariesathenaariesathena Registered User Posts: 5,087 Senior Member
    Really depends on where you're moving to and from. San Fran, for some reason, reminds me a lot of New York (and Chicago). San Diego is tough for a lot of East Coast people (especially New Englanders).

    If "fit" is the issue, though, don't worry too much - fit is related to the surrounding area and the student body. Encourage tours and tell him to go with his gut. Also, please understand that students who go to grad school usually do one of three things: go away to college, return for grad school (they miss home and want to settle there); go away to college, go away to grad school (they like their adopted city); or stay home for college, go away to grad school (because they don't really know if they want to stay in their home city and, heck, they are in their 20s and want to see the country before committing to a certain area).
  • sjmom2329sjmom2329 Registered User Posts: 2,930 Member
    I grew up in Southern California, and have lived in Vancouver, B.C., Minnesota and the Boston area. There are differences, of course, but I felt comfortable in each location after a short period of time. There really are nice people everywhere.

    I would imagine that college kids are the same around the country. Unless your son is thinking of attending an in-state school with very few kids from out of state, it almost doesn't matter where he goes to college. My older son attends college in New Hampshire, but has friends from California, Oregon, Washington, Tennesee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Pakistan and China. (Just those that I've met.)

    I think the overall fit of a school is more important than where it's located.
  • Little MotherLittle Mother Registered User Posts: 1,890 Senior Member
    Both S and D went from Greater Boston to SoCal for college. S, now out of school, continues to live and work in LA and has remarked about the Hollywood superficiality of some of the people whom he has met as well as traffic, sprawl, etc. Both kids miss the changing of the season, especially the fall, but have also begun camping, something to which they were vehemently opposed back home when they were younger. ;)

    H and I felt it was important for them to attend college in an area that appealed to them. If SoCal was it, at least they would experience a different atmosphere in an environment that was relatively safe (school).

    I agree that the fit of the school is much more important than its location, but sometimes the location, e.g., near an ocean, in a sunny clime, can prove to be an asset as well.
  • katwkittenskatwkittens Registered User Posts: 2,274 Senior Member
    Middle son went from northern Cali to Vegas (Vegas BABY!!) then rural NC and is now in New Jersey. His older sis same route except ended up in NM instead of NJ. Both agree the biggest change/difference was the west coast to very rural southern NC. Would make for a great sitcom!

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