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Surf’s not up, bro

| Thursday, February 21, 2019

Did you know that California has more than three major cities? It is hard to believe, but Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are only a small portion of what California has to offer. As a Californian living in the Midwest, I like to think I have heard all of the stereotypes about us West Coasters. But, even as a junior, I have conversations about what people think the Golden State is all about. I have realized that, at this point, it would be helpful to make a cheat sheet to remind everyone that California is more than beaches and babes.

First, there’s the misconception about celebrity sightings. No, I do not live next to Zac Efron. I have never seen Kylie Jenner. I have never been an extra in a movie. Sorry to break it to everyone, but Californians don’t all live in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Surfing. Granted, the waves down south are stellar and there are some great surfing spots for beachy Californians with time on their hands. However, the other 98 percent of the state has never touched, no less used, a surfboard. I cannot surf, and even paddleboarding would be a stretch.

The third misconception centers around California’s general geography. Oddly enough, if you look at the map, the state encompasses more than just the coastline. The eastern portion of the mainland is actually quite substantial. Crazy, I know. While looking at a map of California, peel your eyes off LA for just a second. To the east and north, there’s a huge range of mountains called the Sierra Nevadas. There you will find Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in the continental United States. Moving north is the San Joaquin Valley, my homeland, followed by wine country and more mountains. California has desert, mountains and valley, not just beach. And here’s the kicker: people live there, too!

The last misconception worth mentioning is the weather, or more specifically, the snow. It should not be surprising to Midwesterners that I had experienced snow before moving to South Bend. I had seen, touched and eaten snow — the whole shebang. Remember the Sierra Nevadas? Or Lake Tahoe might ring a bell. Because of the mountain ranges, many Californians are familiar with snow, even if it isn’t a normal occurrence where they live. Many people spend time in the snowy mountains in cabins, either camping or skiing. Of course, the snow in California is nothing compared to the literal arctic tempest we endured two weeks ago, but I definitely understand the principle of that white, frozen annoyance.

Also, we’re not all hippies.

I guess the moral of the story is when you meet someone from California, try not to assume. Then again, that should go for everyone from everywhere. I have no doubt made my own assumptions about individuals from the southern states, Midwest or northern Michigan. Ope! If there is one thing for you to remember let it be this: we’re not all from the beach!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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