I have lived my entire life on the east coast. I lived on Long Island, New York for the first 11 years of my life and then moved to Delray Beach, Florida. I was actually even planning to stay on the east coast! However, I’m blessed to find myself here at the number one public university in the world. Berkeley was so tempting that I switched coasts for it! I’m so thankful for this opportunity to be here surrounded by such intelligent people and initiatives!
The most obvious adjustment for me was the time-zone. A difference of three hours actually does a lot for you. In Florida, I usually woke up at 12 pm when I could anyway, so the adjustment just made me have a better sleep schedule when I’m in California. Now, I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier too. The vice is that when I’m home, my new bedtime is 3 am, as it would be midnight in California, or maybe that’s just an excuse to stay up all night!
The best difference between the east and the west coast is the amount of care for the environment. All around campus and in the state of California there are three trash bins to separate trash: recycling, waste, and compost. In Florida, it would be a feat to see a recycling bin alongside the standard trash receptacle. I found that west coasters are way more conscious of where their waste ends up and what they can do to better the environment. Almost everyone on Berkeley’s campus uses a reusable water bottle, so much so that it has become a trend. Students put stickers on their reusable water bottles to make it their own, represent their club or a topic they’re passionate about.
I wrote a song about pollution to raise money for a turtle organization and led an effort to recycle bottle caps into a bench on campus at my high school. I tried to change the east coast’s environmental awareness and seeing the west coast’s dedication to change invigorated me and made me hopeful for the future.
Of course, as a newly inaugurated west coaster, I must discuss the variances in the “vibe” of each coast. My original college plan had me placed in the middle of hustling and bustling New York City. Now I can see that being in a high-tension city isn’t the best option for all stages of life.
Berkeley allowed me the best of both worlds, the middle ground between what I wanted and what I really needed. I needed California to show me how to relax and how to be passionate about what I believe in while avoiding high anxiety levels. Life doesn’t have to consist of trying to exist and work so hard, it can be filled with experiences that make you happy. I found this in football games, club meetings, social activities and study nights! Berkeley-time also taught me that rigidity isn’t the most important thing in life. It’s truly the intensity of passion, effort, and enthusiasm that make the most difference in this world.
I don’t have to confine myself to one area of the world for all my life. The world is huge and we all deserve to observe and understand what is outside our comfort zones. While the east coast is definitely still prevalent in my life and most likely will be in my future, the west coast is a haven of passion, drive and determinism that is encapsulated and personified by Berkeley. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Go Bears!