Tag Archives: america

A State of California

By Jason Her

As a California native, I know Californians often take pride in where we are from using terms such as NorCal for Northern California, Bay Area, CenCal for Central California, and SoCal for Southern California to represent our hometowns. All of these have their own unique identity that make these terms special because of the culture, diversity, agriculture, scenery, national parks, and overall history of these areas we live in.

Photo from Pixabay

Northern California 

NorCal, a region located in northern California, is most easily recognized by the city of Sacramento, the state capital where Arnold Schwarzenegger once served as the governor. Aside from the capital, NorCal is also known for being a “foodie heaven”- as the birthplace of the farm-to-table movement, home of wine country, and the location of four of the 12 restaurants to receive three Michelin-stars in the United States. It houses the largest railroad museum in North America where restored engines and cars are exhibited. It is home to some of the tallest trees in the world located in Redwood National Park. In addition to these infamous trees, this region has one of the largest concentrations of ski resorts in the world in the city of Tahoe. With an abundance of outdoor activities available year-round and gastronomy culture, NorCal a great place to visit if the great outdoors and food are your thing.

Bay Area

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Bay Area is a region located along the northern coast of the Pacific around the San Francisco Bay, Oakland and San Jose. Significant landmarks include the notorious prison of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Aside from these landmarks, cable cars and Levi’s jeans were invented here. One of the oldest and most established Chinatown’s in the United States is located here, with origins dating back to the Gold Rush. Controversial claims about the invention of fortune cookies were created in this Chinatown area as well. The Bay Area is also home to Stanford, one of the world’s leading research universities. One section of the Bay Area, known as Silicon Valley, houses some of the top tech companies of the world including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Tesla. While this developed tech sector makes the Bay Area the most expensive region in the United States, it is still a paradise for anyone looking to get into a major tech company.  

Central California

Photo from PublicDomainPictures

Though CenCal is a region often overlooked because of its location, it is not lacking in culture and identity. Known as the Great Valley of California, agriculture is the primary industry producing an array of fruits and vegetables with Fresno proclaiming itself as the ‘Raisin Capital of the World’. The world’s largest trees are located at Sequoia National Park and the highest peak in the lower 48 states, is Mount Whitney. Of all the universities in California, the latest one was built in Merced, located near Yosemite National Park. It is a major tourist attraction and famous for the Half Dome where The North Face apparel company fashions its company logo from. In Madera, the Fossil Discovery Center is the site of one of the largest middle-Pleistocene fossil excavations in North America; while in Atwater, the Castle Air Museum has the largest display of military aircraft in the state. Although known by few, CenCal is surrounded by everything and growing.

Southern California

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

SoCal is known for many reasons, from the bright lights of Hollywood, to Disneyland, to the San Diego Zoo. Aside from these attractions, Los Angeles is the only city in California to have all four major professional sports and previously hosted the Summer Olympics of 1984 and will again in the year 2028. The world’s first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1940 in San Bernardino and has spread throughout the world, while In-N-Out Burger has become an icon eatery of SoCal. Death Valley is one of the hottest and driest places in America, with the lowest point below sea level being located there as well. Fallbrook is known as the Avocado Capital of the World. With more than 150 breweries, San Diego held the title of Craft Beer Capital of America, crafting flavors of all sorts. With so much to do in SoCal, it is ideal for anyone regardless of age.

Each part of California is unique and different, with a rich history and culture that distinguishes the differences amongst each area, California is truly a state like no other, a place for anyone who plans to visit or live. 

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons

Jason is first year of graduate school majoring in Social Work. He was born in Fresno, CA but raised in Merced, CA. He comes from a huge family with parents who are immigrants of the Vietnam war. Because of this, Jason understands the importance of education and the struggles some may go through to achieve their education. Shortly after high school, Jason joined the Marines, serving for nearly 10 years. While in the Marines, he had the opportunity to travel the world and experience the various cultures showing him how important the English language is to some. In his free time, Jason likes to train martial arts and workout for mud obstacles races such as Tough Mudder and Spartan. He loves the outdoors such as hiking and camping. Aside from the outdoors, Jason often likes to keep up with current events and research what is happening around the world to help him get a better understanding of world conflict. He looks forward to working with international students and being a support for them by showing them they belong her

Witnessing the American Landscape through my Car Window

By Amber Heldreth-Miller

The United States is a large country in terms of physical size. Many countries throughout the world, especially in Europe, are small and you can drive from one side to another in a single day–but not America. Not only is it physically large, but there are many different cultures, ways of living, and people scattered across the land.

The summer before last, I drove cross country from the West Coast to the East Coast, an experience that gave me the opportunity to see the vast change in landscape throughout the country, visit small towns and large cities, and really see the country that I live in. It was a long drive that I did in five days, so I did not have much time to explore each place that I visited, but I got a glimpse of the country through my car window.

We started in Arizona where it is hot–hotter than LA most days–and where saguaros (tall green cacti) sprinkle the desert with their beauty. From there, we drove east towards New Mexico and then headed north to the city of Santa Fe. It was crazy how even this relatively small distance took us from a view of saguaros as far as the eye could see to their sudden disappearance as the land became more rocky. When we reached Santa Fe it was like being in a whole new world–even though we were technically still in the desert, we were now viewing evergreen covered mountains instead of cactus country. We then drove east again on small little roads that felt like we were in the middle of nowhere (that is how many of the roads in the middle of the country made me feel.)

We drove through northern Texas, where it was flat dirt and farms, and then into Oklahoma, where more flat dirt made way to flat grass. Then, all of a sudden, small hills and trees started to appear and, for the rest of the trip, there were big trees lining all the roads. In Oklahoma, we passed through many Indian Nations, which is another example of different cultures that make up this melting pot of the US.

East we drove on, through Arkansas and Tennessee. Since we were on the highway and we were not driving through towns–we were surrounded by wilderness for most of the way. Trees and trees filled my vision in the car.

My favorite part of the entire trip was driving from Tennessee to North Carolina through the beautiful Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. We literally drove through the mountains, with the road winding back and forth surrounded by the beauty of nature. We stopped in Ashville for the night, which is a beautiful, hilly, artistic town in North Carolina. I ate the most amazing shrimp and grits I have ever had in my life–actually it was the first time I have ever had it–but it is a specialty of many southern states. I highly recommend it!

We continued our journey through West Virginia and through Maryland and then Washington DC. For most of the country, there was wilderness surrounding the area. As soon as we drove to Washington DC, and through Delaware and New Jersey–the roads became much more crowded with cars and the trees and, just like that, the wilderness gave way to houses and supermarkets. New Jersey is the state in the US with the most population density, a fact made apparent from just driving through it.

Even though I was not able to spend a lot of time in each city that I passed through, driving across the country was an incredible experience where I was able to see all the terrain and diversity that the US has.

Featured image from NeedPix

Amber is from southern Arizona but she spent the last year and a half in upstate New York. Even though Amber is from the desert, she loves the ocean and hopes to one day live on the beach. She is studying environmental science and hopes to minor in the dramatic arts, as she is interested in creating films, especially for social change. Amber love cats, eating food, swimming, sleeping and laying in the grass and staring at the clouds. She loves traveling and exploring the world– so far, she has traveled to Costa Rica, Canada, and all over Europe.

“Welcome to Texas, Y’all!”

By Chirsten Ellis

Two years before coming to Los Angeles to study at USC, my family and I moved from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas., a state where two things are undeniable: 1:. That barbeque is doggone good. 2. That the infamous slogan, “Everything is Bigger in Texas” is an understatement! I also quickly learned that Texans are not ashamed of greeting anyone with a hearty ‘Hey Y’all’!  Y’all is an American slang word, an abbreviation of the term “You all,” and is mainly used in the southern parts of the U.S.

Photo by SETShots on Flickr

I was also surprised at another phenomenal here: fried food!  Sure, I had heard of fried chicken and fried shrimp, but never in my life had I ever come across fried butter!  Lo and behold leave it to Texans to transform the butter you spread so smoothly on toast into a fried dish worth writing about. I found out about fried butter and other remarkable treats when I spent a day at the Annual Texas State Fair.

Every fall, the Texas State Fair takes place in Fair Park, near downtown Dallas. After living in Dallas for two months, my family and I decided to go out and take part in something new and entertaining. On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in October, we were in for a very amusing treat. On this particular day, the fair hosted the Red River Rivalry Classic Football Game which is a historically, well-known matchup between the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the notable Cotton Bowl Stadium.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, this two team matchup has the same intensity and energetic fan base as a USC vs UCLA rivalry game. Many in the crowds were dressed in either orange for their support of the Longhorns or red for the Oklahoma Sooners. I wore a gray Texas Longhorns shirt to show some love for the home state.

When I first walked into the fair entrance, I was amazed at the array of tall flag poles arranged in a semicircle each representing a flag of a different country. While walking through the fair event, there were food booths located on each side. In the air I could smell a variety of many flavors, not one short of pure deliciousness. On our sightseeing and food tasting journey, we also made a stop at the animal farm, where I saw live chickens, geese, roosters, and turkeys right in front of me. I had actually never seen these animals up close before. We also visited small shops selling a unique collection of handmade jewelry, paintings and cowboy/western clothes and memorabilia. The highlight of my afternoon was taking a picture of the grandest Texan of all named Big Tex (pictured above). He’s a cultural icon for both the city of Dallas and Texas in general and he stands an incredible 55 feet tall.

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