15 Midwestern Thoughts On The West Coast

15 Midwestern Thoughts On The West Coast

"Wait, so you're telling me it's this warm all year?"

Growing up and living in the midwest your entire life has its perks. We experience all four seasons to their fullest, call that fizzy carbonated beverage "pop," and have miles and miles of absolutely nothing but cows. When all you know are corn fields and cold weather, anything else will likely flip your world upside down and inside out. Welcome to the mind of a midwesterner taking on the west coast for the first time...

1. "Does everyone here have a dog? Because I think everyone here has a dog."

Big dogs, small dogs, dogs on a leash, dogs in a basket; They are seriously everywhere. Everyone and their mother (and their mother) has some sort of dog. Look to your right? Dog. Look to your left? Weird, another dog. Little do you know, the majority of them are really freakin' adorable puppies.

2. "Why are you so close to my bumper? You seriously could not be any closer to me, dude."

Driving on the west coast is similar to an intense game of Mario Kart. Ask someone what a "speed limit" is and they'll probably look at you like you're speaking a foreign language. People won't slow down until the last possible second and end up mere centimeters from your bumper.

3. "Oh dang, it's kinda hot out here."

If you're outside during the day, don't wear a t-shirt or anything with sleeves because you'll end up with pit stains in 0.00761 seconds. If you're lucky, you'll get some perfect days where the temperature is "just right."

4. "Why is traffic a thing?"

It's everywhere and it's unavoidable. It comes out of absolutely nowhere and you can expect some sort of delay anywhere you go.

5. "Ooooh, that's a fun tree. We don't have those where I live."

Some of the trees look like they come from out of movies. I'm not just talking palm trees, I'm talking crazy, twisting, bark-less trees, like weird branches and leaves. Wait, it's from Australia? Yep, definitely don't have those where I come from.

6. "Sunsets like this actually exist in real life?"

There's something about a sunset over the ocean that makes you feel some type of way. Watching it from a pier on the beach or 2,000 feet up on a mountain, it's impossible to have a bad experience or poor view.

7. "How are you so tan?"

This one seems obvious, but you don't realize how pale you are until you're surrounded by thousands of sun-kissed people. Do you live outside? Do you not do anything but lay on the beach and love your life 24/7? I look like a marshmallow. This is not fair.

8. "But seriously, though, is everyone here attractive?"

You know when you see someone once in awhile and think, "Wow, they're really good looking"? It happens constantly out here. Because that "someone" is "everyone." All the guys have chiseled bods, the ladies have long legs and toned physiques, and everyone has a pretty face. Not only do I look as pale as a marshmallow, but now I feel like a frumpy potato. A marshotato.

9. "Is it truly necessary to have five yoga studios on the same street? I think not."

Drive down any populated street to find yoga studios everywhere. Even three on the same block. For real, though, why?

10. "OMG, a lizard!"

This is a legitimate thing to get stoked about because clearly in the midwest we don't have these. We have boxelder bugs and yes, we will trade you.

11. "Holy crap, this place is freakin' cool."

You have mountains to hike? Beaches to relax on? Farmer's markets to explore? In-N-Out Burgers? Tons of celebrities? Endless puppies? Perfect weather? Is there anything you don't have at your disposal?

12. "Why is everyone's car so spotless and clean? The last time I got a car wash was...never."

Do people actually get car washes? Isn't that what rain is for? No? Oh...

13. "What do you mean it doesn't really rain here?"

When it does rain, people lose it and most forget how to drive. It's like the world is about to end or something. On some spots of the west coast, the most they'll get is a light sprinkle for a few minutes but nothing like the raging winds and sideways rain we get in the midwest.

14. "Do you work out, too?"

You won't be able to find a time of day where your gym isn't packed. Everyone is shredding away the fat, building up the muscle, and getting their swole on at all times of the day. If they're not in the gym, they're running outside or getting in a sweat sesh on the beach. Tough life, huh?

15. "Do I have to go home? Are you sure?"

After spending a week on the west coast, the reality of my cold and cloudy midwest home didn't sound so appealing.The west coast has its vacation-like qualities, but it's safe to say the midwest will always be home.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Abroad 'Grew' Me

Change can not even begin to describe it


"Abroad changed me."

It's the cliche, all-encompassing, slightly asshole-ish phrase that any student returning from a study abroad experience is bound to let slip at least once. As ironic and annoying as it may sound, especially when repeated 100 times, it's definitely not false. However, I believe it best gets its point across when modified slightly.

The one slight correction that can be made to this statement is the word "changed". I know for a fact that my study abroad experience opened my eyes to new cultures, new perspectives, and new possibilities. I was able to branch out and pursue areas of interest I had never imagined. However, I am still me. I did not morph into a new person or lose anything I once had before I boarded that plane. If anything the correct phrase (although not grammatically proper) should be "Abroad grew me". The path I followed in my experience, every twist, turn, and bump that hit me along the journey, helped me to become something more of myself.

My problem-solving, communication and overall interpersonal skills have become so much stronger than those which I left JFK Airport within early September. All of this combined, my confidence has grown tenfold. In terms of my self-confidence, I have never felt more validated or reassured of who I am, what my values are, and what I want out of this life. All of these things are due to the situation I was put into, but I would not call them changes. Because the word "change" insinuates I never had any of these skills or characteristics before.

Being brave, for example, is not something I typically would label myself as. But when you are lost in the streets of Morocco, frantically running in circles to find a blue building (in what is known as the "Blue City") when your bus is leaving in under 5 minutes, the act of going up to a complete stranger and getting your Spanish to somehow coincide with their Arabic is not just a show of bravery, but a necessity. It is how you survive. Although I quickly learned that after a few too many travel fiascos, I also came to realize how much better life can become when you let this bravery into other aspects of your life - not just the emergencies. The little parts like trying new foods, volunteering to make a fool of yourself and flamenco dance, stopping at the street corner to converse with the woman selling flowers, these are the small things that shaped my entire experience. And these are the biggest things that helped me to grow. This bravery was something that I always had, just never to the extent at which I tapped into during my time abroad.

Yes, coming back from studying abroad I feel like the world around me and my normal life have changed. I never could have expected it to stand still just because I was absent. However, I do not feel that I have "changed" from who I was before. A desire for a challenge is what led me to go abroad in the first place and I am extremely blessed to be able to say that my wish was fulfilled. With each new experience, I expanded my horizons, and piece by piece I watched myself morph into what I would now call a confident and well-rounded individual. This growth has brought me to where I am today, but it is only the starting point on my adventure to further explore cultures, the world, and where my place is in it all.

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