SoCal vs. NorCal: in the eyes of a Berkeley student

Living in Southern California my entire life, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about moving to Northern California. I was excited to experience different weather and to have “the city” refer to San Francisco instead of Los Angeles, but I didn’t think there would be too many differences besides those two. I wasn’t too worried about the adjustment to this new location being too difficult. They’re both California, how different could they be? The answer is – very different. I’ll highlight some differences I’ve noticed after living in Berkeley for a semester.

A BIG thing that I’ve noticed about Northern California is the food. There are unique restaurants and new things to try everywhere you look, while in Southern California you mostly find chain restaurants or fast food drive-thrus. This would be a big plus for NorCal, except for the fact that it is severely lacking in Mexican restaurants, which are definitely a SoCal staple. I never realized how much I loved a good bean and cheese burrito until I was completely deprived of them in Berkeley. Yes, there’s La Burrita, but hot take – La Burrita just can’t compare to the good, authentic Mexican food we have back in SoCal.

Another thing I’ve noticed is the extreme weather difference between NorCal and SoCal. I’m not just from Southern California, I’m from the Inland Empire of Southern California, which usually averages around 95-100 degrees in the summer, and 85-90 degrees in the fall. I just checked the weather as I write this blog, and there is a good 10 degree difference between Riverside and Berkeley right now. Because it was so hot and sunny all the time back home, I never really appreciated it. I found myself hating the heat and longing for a rainy day. Now, I’ve done a complete 180 on my weather preferences. After a week straight of rain, I find myself absolutely overjoyed when I look outside in the morning and see that the sun is out, especially knowing it won’t be hotter than a nice 75 degrees. It’s made me really appreciate all that you can do when it’s warm and sunny out (like lay out on Memorial Glade with your friends between classes). I think a NorCal sunny day truly beats a SoCal sunny day, and with spring break coming up, I find myself not too excited to return to a 95 degree-Riverside.

Another difference I’ve noticed between the two is the difference in public transportation, and the amount that people walk places in here in Berkeley. In SoCal, I would drive my car everywhere. I never walked or took a bus to any nearby location. Now that I live in Clark Kerr campus and have to walk almost a mile just to get to my classes, I feel pretty ridiculous about the fact that I would drive two minutes down the street just to get Chipotle back home. Because I don’t have my car at college, I walk or take the bus absolutely everywhere. I was pretty afraid of taking the bus or walking alone before coming to school, but now it has become a part of my every day here at Cal.

These are just a few things I’ve noticed that really surprised me regarding the differences between Northern and Southern California. Honestly, I feel like I live in two different states going back and forth between Berkeley and Riverside. I’m excited to find more differences between the two as I continue my time here at Cal.

Author: Kalysta Garland

Hi! My name is Kalysta Garland, and I am an incoming sophomore at Cal majoring in Legal Studies and intending to minor in Human Rights. On campus I am a part of Greek Life and work as a Campus Ambassador.