california culture shock: an “idiots” guide to l.a.

culture shock

The journey didn’t start when I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan.

Nor did it start when I crossed “listen to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA’ when I land at LAX for the first time” off my bucket list.

It more so started when I hit the infamous traffic on the 405 and 101, and my expectations were slightly crushed. Nothing looked as glamorous or as exciting as it did on television, and after 23 days, I have yet to see a “celebrity” with my own eyes.

OK, OK, so that’s not the reason I came out to the Pacific Coast … but still.

With my bustling and artsy hometown of Doylestown 3,000 miles away, I’ve had to make necessary lifestyle adjustments to feel fully ingrained in this foreign society.

Here are some key cultural differences any tourist or potential resident needs to appreciate in order to love the Golden Coast:

1. Get used to earth tones

Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are in the middle of a drought. Besides the palm trees and colorful Jacaranda trees in bloom, you have to embrace the fact that brown is beautiful. The cliffs of Santa Monica aren’t lush like the hills of the Poconos. They’re just covered in dirt and rocks; however, as long as there are no mudslides or forest fires, one can say they’re still beautiful.

2. Grass not always greener

Even though I just mentioned that L.A. is in a drought and citizens should be conserving water, there are always multiple houses that have perfectly conditioned green, lush lawns, while neighbors have lawns of hay.

3. Watch Fido carefully

I’m not saying domestic animals get along with wild creatures back East, but circumstances seem to be even rougher out West. For example, coyotes can (and will) attack pets like cats. Also, did you know there are rattlesnake venom shots and an entire protocol people actually follow if their pet gets bit?

4. Classes have class

I recently graduated from Central Bucks East, a typical, single-building high school that sometimes felt like a jail. Out here, California schools seem to have so much freedom. Due to the dry weather conditions (and many other factors), it is much more feasible for schools to have bungalow classroom buildings, offices and outdoor walkways available for students to shuffle between classes.

5. Urban sprawl at its best

Los Angeles is unlike the condensed, 142 square miles of Philadelphia. L.A. is extremely spread out, and there is no single “city” where Hollywood movie magic or record deals happens. The city expands 468 square miles, with Hollywood right smack in the middle. There are 16 regions in Los Angeles County, with numerous neighborhoods in each.

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