Friday, August 14, 2020
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California: Two States for the Price of One

transparent caliBy Summer Wong

For seventeen years, the Silicon Valley has been my home, yet despite these origins, Southern California has been an integral part of my life since coming to UC Irvine. Even though NorCal and SoCal are part of the same state, the drastic differences between lifestyles, weather, language and culture is staggering.  

Anyone who’s been to both NorCal and SoCal will tell you the dramatic contrast in weather. I feel like I’m stepping into the Sahara Desert whenever I’m in Los Angeles. During the summer, the scorching heat leaves me sweating profusely, while my parched throat constantly itches for the smallest drop of water. I break out in my classic denim shorts, spaghetti strap crop top, rainbow flip flops, a sun hat atop my head and my Ray-Ban sunglasses perched on the rim of my nose. The air conditioner blasts 24/7, I splatter SPF 50 Neutrogena sunscreen to combat the sun’s harsh rays and I dump ice into my Diet Pepsi to cool me down.

The unbearable weather contrasts with weather in San Francisco, with foggy coasts, heavy rain and cooler temperatures. A wool sweater, heavy coat, scarf, denim jeans, double layers of knee socks and Ugg boots would have been the minimum of what I wear outside to combat the chilly breeze. I snuggle under the comforts of a giant wool blanket, crash on the couch, crank up the heater and watch television with some friends while sipping hot cocoa.

Yes, we say “hella” up here in Northern California. Slang like “hella,” “chill,” or “yee” are incorporated into our daily conversational lingo. When I came to UC Irvine, a school dominated by students from Southern California, people peered at me with strange faces whenever I said things like, “There was hella people at Spectrum today.”

Northern California is known for its suburban, slow and quiet lifestyle compared to the urban, fast-paced Hollywood lifestyle in Southern California. In Los Angeles, I pant furiously trying to keep up with peo
ple’s lightening strides while walking along the streets. It’s a lot different than the dilly-dallied pace I was used to back at home. SoCal has twice as many people in a much smaller land area, making it extremely congested compared to the rural, remote, and open lifestyle up at NorCal. Have fun with Los Angeles traffic, but in NorCal, you hardly have to deal with traffic jams.

Growing up in the Silicon Valley, the startup of global technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple, I have always been surrounded by competitive, driven and technological brainiacs. I felt the competition arise mostly in high school, where all the students were neck-in-neck to get into the Ivy League colleges. I immersed myself with the most driven, intelligent, and talented people I’ll ever meet.

It’s the smallest things that set Northern California and Southern California apart. Since coming to college in SoCal, I learned that when we refer to the highway, we say we get on the 5, instead of getting on “Highway 5” like we’d say in NorCal. It’s not only that. Growing up in NorCal, I’ve never heard of Cotton On, which is a huge destination for SoCal shoppers. On top of that, it shocked me to learn that none of my SoCal friends knew what Safeway or Westfield Valley Fair are, destinations of which there are perhaps a million up here in NorCal. Up at NorCal, avid sports fans support the Giants for baseball, the San Francisco 49ers for football, and the Golden State Warriors for basketball, while in Southern California, people rave for the Angels, the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Both NorCal and SoCal have aspects to it that make them great places to live or vacation. There is no winner on which area is better because if you’re able to live in the beautiful state of California, you’ve already won.