California college campuses
California college campuses are a culture of their own (Image via College Choice)

The Top 9 Things You’ll Find on California College Campuses

While images of palm trees might come to mind, there are other sights commonly found on California college campuses that non-natives might not know about.

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California college campuses
California college campuses are a culture of their own (Image via College Choice)

While images of palm trees might come to mind, there are other sights commonly found on California college campuses that non-natives might not know about.

It’s 2018, and one thing that hasn’t been left in the past is the West Coast vs. East Coast debate. On the West Coast, California is known for many things: pop culture, warm weather and Silicon Valley, just to name a few.

To outsiders, though, it may come off as a weird state that seemingly can’t make up its mind. However, California is not without its perks: Los Angeles is home to Hollywood and Orange County is known for the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland.

Head up north and you’ll find a different kind of vibe near the San Francisco Bay area. There, you can go to the beach and soak up the sun’s rays or travel a few miles and go skiing on the snow-covered mountains on the weekends.

Whether you’re from San Francisco or LA, below are nine things that nearly all college students attending institutions in the Golden State can identify with and agree on.

1. Longboards on campus, surfboards off campus

Perfect for getting between classes in rapid speed. While bikes can be a hassle to lock up and protect from preying thieves, longboards serve as functional modes of transport to get people from Point A to Point B easily. On days when students don’t have lectures, they can be found cruising down the boardwalks on their longboards; if you are looking to get a good quality longboard, head to Legit Boardshop online.

Yes, the popular stereotype of Californians spending nearly all their free time at the beach definitely applies here. It comes as no surprise, then, that in Surfer Magazine’s top 10 list of the best surf colleges in America, they listed seven from California.

2. Acai bowls

Behold the acai bowl, a California college must-have that doubles as an enviable, artsy Instagram photo sure to garner tons of likes.

Only on a California college campus can you get away with eating an acai bowl topped with fresh strawberries, coconut shavings and chia seeds and call it a meal. With green juices, whole fruit smoothies and other superfoods, the state is known for hyping up all the latest health trends, and better yet, making it stick.

In addition to the avocado toast fad and the matcha tea trend, acai bowls have become a staple in California. Gone are the days of grabbing a Nature Valley granola bar before slogging off to your chemistry lab.

3. In-N-Out

On that dime, we can’t leave out the popular fast food hamburger restaurant, In-N-Out. Sorry, Shake Shack, but we’d rather order a Double-Double animal style with a side of fries and a vanilla shake.

Due to its popularity, California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand has become ingrained into the culture of college campuses. While the chain hasn’t released any of its popular joints on an actual college campus, that still doesn’t stop students from placing their orders.

4. Flip-flops all year around

Sunny California calls for relaxed, beachy fashion choices, even if they’re not the most practical for long-distance sprints or crossing puddles.

When not wearing Nikes or Stan Smiths, Californians opt for flip-flops. Here, the choice in footwear never coordinates properly with the weather; during the rainy seasons, you can spot people sporting Rainbow sandals or Havaianas.

5. Earthquake Preparedness Workshops

Californians are used to ducking under their desks for scheduled earthquake drills to avoid any potential damage caused by the shifting of the Pacific and North American plates.

Here on California college campuses, it’s become routine to stop, duck and cover in case of any quakes that registers above a 5.0 on the Richter scale. In fact, students are so used to the routine that they could probably execute it in their sleep.

6. The Occasional Celebrity

While at college, you might spot on campus the familiar faces of some celebrities. “iCarly” superstar Miranda Cosgrove is majoring in film at USC; Olympian swimmer Katie Ledecky is currently at Stanford and roommates with fellow athlete, Simone Manuel; Arial Winter from “Modern Family” is a political science major at UCLA; and Jacqueline Emerson from “The Hunger Games” trilogy is back at Stanford after taking a gap year.

While it might be difficult and downright impractical to wait outside the library in hopes of pinning down your favorite celebrities, it certainly makes for an interesting conversation starter when so-and-so goes to the same school as you.

7. Patagonia and other West Coast brands

In the same way that Lilly Pulitzer prints and Vineyard Vines have become synonymous with culture on the East Coast, many other brands have been gaining traction, especially on college campuses.

Walk around for a second and you’re sure to see students wearing brands like Patagonia jackets paired with Lululemon leggings; others can be founds clutching their Hydroflasks at their side and wearing Brandy Melville cardigans.

It might be a little basic and repetitive, but hey, that’s college culture for you in California.

8. Slang

A public service announcement to non-natives: no Californians actually call their home state, “Cali.” However, visit a college campus, and you’ll soon pick up on some strange yet endearing jargon.

Up north, they say things like “hella,” which means “very,” “really,” or “a lot,” ‘yee’ as an affirmative and ‘slaps’ in reference to a good song. In southern California, you will catch students use terms such as ‘fam’, ‘bruh’ and ‘dude’ to refer to their closest friends, and ‘clutch’, which means having what you need at the right moment.

9. Theme park annual passes

When they’re not studying, college students can be found going to amusement parks. Whether it’s Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal Studios, Legoland, Six Flags, California’s Great America and more, buying an annual pass can save money in the future if you frequent these theme parks often.

Some students who have annual passes have even reported to have studied for finals from one of the cafes at Disneyland. Talk about a Californian luxury!

Writer Profile

Bonnie Wong

University of Southern California

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