11 Culture Shocks West Coast Students Experience At East Coast Schools

11 Culture Shocks West Coast Students Experience At East Coast Schools

One should not judge by stereotypes.

Besides the weather, the East and West Coast share many obvious differences that offer compelling perspectives. These views broaden one's thinking and allow one to perceive ideas beyond the bubble of a hometown. These enclosed environments can serve to nurture the youth, but they can create dangerous illusions through seemingly solid foundations of ideals. The "flawless beliefs" will be challenged when one exposes oneself to polar settings, especially with the exchange of students across the country.

1. Spring clothing

Boston Globe

The West and East Coasts possess conflicting personalities in terms of weather -- the former can be identified as moderate, while the latter extreme. West Coast students can expect to dress in light clothing, at most a sweater or jacket. They usually can anticipate and prepare for most weather. On the other side of the U.S., students can experience a range of conditions and clothing sold there, adjusting appropriately (with waterproof or durable qualities). A friend could be wearing a t-shirt and shorts for a day, switching to layers of clothing the next.

2. Friendly, favorable, and forgiving


When I encountered other students on three college campuses in the East Coast, all of them offered assistance without hesitation even though helping me would delay their plans. One simply needs to ask. Admittedly, their behavior may have been influenced by the self-fulfilling prophecy. Regardless of impact, one should appreciate this kindness often unseen in any setting.

3. Ethnic makeup


Considering that the Bay Area contains a higher percentage of Asians and other foreigners than most parts of the U.S., the East Coast typically registers with a dominant percentage of natives. For instance, a census taken for Massachusetts features 80.4 percent as the percentage for white people and 5.3 percent Asian people. With a smaller Asian population, fewer restaurants subsequently cater to that particular group.

4. Hustle and bustle


I noticed that students at East Coast schools tend to engage in work even during week-long breaks, possibly due to the inhospitable weather or exams. Nonetheless, I found it shocking because my high school reflected this similar mentality, though I had believed it to be exclusive to my school. Both environments also featured outside cities as places for leisure, allowing for one to relax and enjoy one's experiences.

5. The lack of outdoor pools

Boston Magazine

Students on the West Coast (or in any other pedestrian city) can expect to relax by the pool or swim outdoors without the irritation of hail or snow (thunderstorms occur rarely but prevent further swimming). One can still find indoor pools in this part of the country; however, on the East Coast, one does not have the luxury of exercising outside in unpredictable, extreme weather. Forced to swim inside, athletes do not experience the bone-chilling feeling of entering the sheer cold water and leaving in a shiver. As a warning, colleges need to properly maintain the air quality or face a toxic incident, similar to what occurred in Greensboro.

6. Direct mannerisms


The East Coast tends to be very straightforward with words and actions. On the West Coast, civilians will try to couch their feelings in a subtle fashion. This approach can appear to be elusive and passive-aggressive to East Coast individuals, where they believe it. It would be best to be frank and simple than trying to attempt circumlocution.

7. Emphasis on historical architecture


Admittedly, one can find historical sites across the West Coast and admire such developed anecdotes. However, the East Coast contains easily accessible places that create a sort of academic, patriotic vibe. Synthesized with flourishing restaurants and diverse aspects, one can appreciate the smorgasbord of settings.

8. The popularity of Dunkin' Donuts

Restaurant News

West Coast college towns (or cities) do not promote Dunkin' Donuts as much as East Coast cities do. To liken the success of this franchise, one can allude to Starbucks. West Coast residents poke fun at this latter coffee shop because Starbucks can be found on every corner. Dunkin' Donuts recently established some locations on the West Coast, but this franchise has yet to match the popularity of Starbucks.

9. Uptight stereotypes


When regarding the East Coast (New York or other major cities), West Coast students typically refer to the cold climate or beautiful sightseeing. Rough neighborhoods and high prices (both depending on a specific area) also tend to be mentioned. I noticed that on the East Coast, students will usually discuss (with regard to stereotypes) the temperament of a group on the West Coast or elsewhere. In fact, they tend to follow the out-group homogeneity and bias, perceiving individuals in outside groups as similar and negative. For instance, Harvard students can be regarded as elitist, a characteristic that obviously does not apply to all students within the group. Undoubtedly, these psychological perspectives can be discovered within any group.

10. The prospering expansion of mass transit

Massachusetts Vacation

Students can access shuttles and other means of transport to nearby cities. Unlike the huge sizes of states on the West Coast, the East Coast features smaller states that allow for visits across borders within mere hours. Thus, one does not need to worry about finding ways to explore the sights of the East Coast. Parking, on the other hand, can be a pest with consistent surveillance and high fees in cities like Cambridge, Mass.

11. Liberal arts college knowledge

Huffington Post

West Coast college applicants search for a wide range of universities to ally with. The best known colleges include the UCs, state schools, and the Ivy League (or similarly ranked universities). Liberal arts or private colleges tend to be unknown because the media does little to mention these schools. East Coast students definitely know of the colleges mentioned above, but the geography shifts and other factors allow for exposure to different schools. When I mentioned "Brandeis University," only a few of my peers and teachers had actually heard of this college, due to research or knowledge of the location. In contrast, strangers on the East Coast react with acknowledgement.

As a disclaimer, these statements should be only considered as mere observations. One should not judge by stereotypes and strive to understand historical backgrounds or to experience events firsthand before forming an opinion.

Cover Image Credit: Globe Staff

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