It’s not just a place; it’s a state of mind.
I was born and raised in California Bay Area. Since the first thing we Bay natives do is throw out regions and hometowns, I’ll get more specific: south of San Francisco, “down on the Peninsula,” Silicon Valley, the small suburb of San Carlos.
When the time to choose a college came around, I picked the University of Oregon for the same reasons most out-of-staters did: adventure, new experiences, and of course, Duck football.
I’ve heard it said that over half of the University of Oregon’s students are from California. I have met people who come from hundreds of miles away, people who were born right there in Eugene, and people who turned out to be from two towns over from where I was.
However, one thing became apparent: Californians were not exactly welcomed with open arms in the Pacific Northwest. The native Oregonians held certain judgments about us and whether or not we “belonged there.” I’m not going to argue with the stereotypes they have about people from California, because frankly, they’re kind of true. I hear people say that we’re spoiled, materialistic, food snobs, reckless drivers, obsessed with things like juice cleanses, and can’t handle the rain. I fit more of those categories than I care to admit, and I can’t deny that there is a certain “California state of mind” that’s hard to explain.
Every time I would go home for breaks, I would be reminded of what I come from. I’m also coming to realize that there’s a reason why we’re exactly what people say we are: because we’ve never known any differently.
We’re food snobs in regards to three things: produce, Mexican food, and whether or not something is organic. California is the largest producer of fruit in the country, so we grew up eating only the freshest organic produce. Given our high population of Mexican immigrants, it was never hard to find delicious authentic Mexican food.
We’re spoiled because that’s simply the culture. I can’t speak for southern California, but Silicon Valley affluence is a phenomenon unto itself. Palo Alto, the second-most expensive residence in the country, is two towns over from where I grew up. I can’t explain it, and I didn’t even realize how inherent it was until I went away to college, but there’s this assumption that everything you want is just one quick shopping trip away.
The weather thing is self-explanatory. There’s not much rain and while I grew up with the famous Bay Area fog (catch @KarlTheFog on Twitter), it was a massive shock to find out it happened almost daily. I confess that I had no idea Ugg boots weren’t waterproof until I stepped into a deep puddle.
You don’t appreciate home until you leave it, and I’m proud to be “one of those Californians.” We like sunshine, avocados, and taking things for granted. We drive like maniacs, say “hella,” and consider anything below 55 degrees to be the next Ice Age. And I wouldn’t change it, because it’s who we are.