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Posted at 1:48 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Culture shock? Proud East Coaster now a West Coast college student

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

A few weeks ago, midwesterner Valerie Roder told us about adjusting to college life in the Big Apple. Today's guest blogger is Brianne Jones, a New Jersey native who is now a freshman at Santa Clara University.

For the next four years, I will be living more than 3,000 miles away from home. So why did someone from Moorestown, N.J., enroll at Santa Clara University?

2818_050.JPGI knew since I toured colleges on the West Coast in my freshman year in high school that I wanted to go to school here. I always had a vision of myself studying outside in the middle of the winter, soaking in the sun, going to outdoor concerts in the fall and winter, wearing flip-flops until December and going for runs outside all year round. Such things may be trivial, but they all add up.

I was also ready to put behind me winter lacrosse practices, which make you turn into an icicle. But the main reason I felt the West Coast was a good decision for me was I thought that by exposing myself to a new coast, new people and perhaps a whole new lifestyle, I could become more independent. It felt like a perfect fit for my personality and aspirations.

Only three of the 400 kids in my graduating high school class took advantage of the opportunity to go to college in California. I think parents set boundaries and some kids worry that they won't be able to get home quickly -- or that they'll get sick, miss their siblings or run out of money.

If you're thinking about going to school on the West Coast, narrow your list by size and fit and then visit a few colleges. Sit in on a class, spend a night with a student, eat at the cafeteria and go to the bookstore.

Then, if you decide on a West Coast school, the adjustment isn't that hard. Once you get into the college schedule and start loving college live, your school becomes your own little bubble. For some strange reason, this bubble doesn't make distance seem all that great.

And adjusting to the distance from family and friends is easier with Skype, Facebook and texting. The minute you get homesick you can simply log onto Skype and see your parents and your pets! But you'll be so busy, you won't have time to be homesick. Time flies in college, and the minute you get adjusted you are back home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, not to mention spring and summer breaks.

Going to school across the country is no doubt very expensive. The biggest expenses are travel and shipping costs. Buy airline tickets early to save money. Pack carefully so you don't have to have things shipped later.

There really aren't that many other extra expenses, but there are differences East Coast students have to adjust to:

* Out west, you'll get amazing Mexican food, but forget about finding a good bagel.

* The traffic in New Jersey is bad, but the traffic in California is absurd. It's one big road race out here.

* You have to pump your own gas; in New Jersey I never have to get out of the car.

* The West Coast has more diverse fast food options, like Weinershnietzal, Del Taco, Carl's Jr., In-N-Out, Jack-In-The-Box and Fatburger.

* California's sales tax is out of control at 9.5 percent.

* You can go to outdoor concerts on the West Coast all year round.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark http://washingtonpost.com/campus-overload. You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | February 7, 2011; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Admissions  | Tags:  Santa Clara University  
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Next: Take this ring... and my in-state tuition discount

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