I never thought I’d be the type of person to say the word dope. Growing up in New York, this was a dorky word my parents used when referring to weed (No hope in dope!). Yet a few months into my first semester at Chapman, I went home for spring break and there I was, complaining about the snow as I trudged through it in my Sperry’s and telling my friends how dope my new school was.
I transferred to Chapman halfway through my sophomore year, originally going to Sarah Lawrence College, a tiny liberal arts school about a half hour from New York City. What I remember most about the school was the snow. I was used to the snow, as I had lived my entire life about forty minutes away, but there was something about the soul-crushing blizzards as a college student that felt different.
That winter of my freshman year, I remember a two-week period where classes were cancelled due to snow eight times out of the ten school days. I would be awoken by a phone call around 6am, the room still pitch black, and hear that automated message that became all too familiar.
For the rest of the day, I would not leave my dorm building. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it was just too cold outside. My friends and I would pass the time blasting music, playing cards, and searching for any source of entertainment. There were no parties, no school-run activities, nothing.
Although classes soon picked back up, the rest stayed the same. Life was very dull and dreary for the most part. It was strange to look outside the window of my college dorm room and not see a single person walking around outside. Thoughts of transferring began creeping into the back of my mind.
I arrived at Chapman in late January of 2015, a few days before my classes began. It was my second time in California and my first time in Orange. The first thing I noticed when I walked through the Circle was so cliché, that it was hard not to laugh. Everyone was so nice. People smiled as they walked past me, greeting me with a “Good afternoon,” and “How are you?” I’m not saying that this never happened in New York, but here, it happened with every single person I saw.
As I strolled through the town, I approached an intersection. Although the Do Not Walk sign was on, there were no cars in sight, and I paid little mind, as I prepared to step out into the street. I was about to cross, when I noticed a large group of people standing on the other side, patiently waiting for the light to change. This caused me to hesitate (though just for a moment, before I walked quickly across the street).
The air was comforting and warm, and about 40 degrees higher than it had been when I boarded the plane in New York. I was in heaven. I would walk around in 60-degree weather in my shorts and T-shirt, laughing to myself at the sight of kids in oversized sweaters and long pants.
The next year of my life felt like my childhood dream: eternal summer vacation. However, it wasn’t vacation. For my first semester at Chapman, I got the worst grades I had ever received in my life. My mind felt tricked by the perfect weather, lulling me into a state of relaxation, as I was surrounded by people who seemed to all be living in perpetual states of happiness with no worries or problems.
Yet, I soon realized this was not the case. Although the weather caused every day to feel like a vacation, it was still school. A year and a half later, I can genuinely say that I miss snow.
While the weather and people did stand out as the largest differences between the two coasts, I would not be able to finish writing this column without mentioning two very important things.
Pizza and bagels.
I know I can’t say it without sounding like a complete snob, but I don’t care. The bagels here are awful, and the pizza isn’t much better. I miss my small town in New York that consisted of only one street, yet still boasted three family-run pizza parlors. My final point on this is that you fold pizza when you eat it; don’t tell me otherwise.