I spent most of my life in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, so people were appalled when they heard that I was even considering going all the way to the East Coast for college. “You’re too nice,” they would tell me, “and they’ll eat you alive.”
Despite the culture shock, I’ve made it to my second semester and I am ready to pass on some of the wisdom I have gained from my time. Here’s what you have to prepare for:
1. Finally experiencing seasons
If the West Coast has seasons, the East Coast has SEASONS. Hot, humid summers, crisp falls with beautiful foliage, and inhumanly cold winters (even without snow).
2. People trying to convert you to Dunkin’
It won’t work. Especially coming from Seattle, the divide is real. I was used to seeing at least one Starbucks per block, but here all I can find is Dunkin’. While all my East Coast friends swear by Dunkin‘ (and I do admit that their donuts are a definite plus), Starbs will always have my heart.
#SpoonTip: Starbucks also now serves alcohol
3. Discovering that prep school and PG years are not just on the Upper East Side
Attending private school is pretty rare where I’m from, let alone prep or boarding school. For those of you as confused as I was, PG stands for post-graduate (read: taking a fifth year of high school to get grades up or for athletes to improve before going to college) Unheard of. On the East Coast, however, it feels like everyone and their mother went to prep school. Talk to the hockey team about PG years.
4. Being totally awed by all the history
Everything on the East Coast is so old. Some of the buildings were here before America gained its independence – how crazy is that? Also, the brick is ~beautiful~.
For more history on something both coasts can agree on, check out how Smirnoff Vodka got started.
5. Trading “hella” for “wicked”
Word of advice: if you’re trying to fit in over here, go for the Boston “wicked” (hint: it’s a good thing) over the classic “hella.”
6. Rejoicing that people actually know what lacrosse is
They probably played at prep school. It’s so nice not having to explain to the airport TSA agents why you’re checking that strange metal pole.
7. Coming to terms with the fact that cars don’t yield for pedestrians
There are lots of cars with places to be on the road, and they’re all in a rush. Waiting for people to cross the street is not on their agenda, so be careful.
8. Finding out that “mountain” actually means “hill”
Mountains east of the Mississippi pale in comparison to their West Coast counterparts. While both are beautiful, the mountains in the west are much bigger and – let’s face it – way better.
Planning on taking on one of these hills? Make sure you snack right.
9. Learning that jeans and a Patagonia are no longer acceptable in every situation
While on the West Coast, it may be okay to rock jeans and a Patagonia everywhere from a day at the park to dinner at a nice restaurant, that doesn’t fly on the East Coast.
10. Tearing up because you can’t ski and beach in the same day
The West Coast terrain is so versatile that you can drive to the mountains and ski in the morning, and then spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach. The Claremont Colleges in California even have a Ski-Beach Day organized by the school.
11. Swearing never to take good Mexican food for granted again
All along the West Coast – especially in California – people know and love their Mexican food and have strong opinions on the best taco truck. On the East Coast? Not so much. Expect Chipotle to be recommended.
While the two coasts definitely have their differences, they are both great places to be. Exploring a new environment is exciting and opens up many new possibilities. If you’re thinking about going somewhere far from home for college, take my advice and go for it – you’ll learn a lot along the way.