As I write this, I am realizing that this semester will be my final one as an undergraduate attending the University of Southern California. It’s been quite a journey from being a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman to being a nonplussed engineer with bags under his eyes. Living in Los Angeles has taught me so much about the world as well as myself. Its many charms have won me over despite some of its flaws. However, as the time until graduation slips ever closer, my mind wanders towards my first home in the Southern part of the United States.
I was born in Blytheville, Arkansas, at 11:37 pm on October 28th. Blytheville is on the northeastern side of Arkansas, so if you wanted to take a quick vacation, Tennessee and Missouri are only minutes away. Arkansas itself has a few interesting, noteworthy quirks. The state gem is a diamond due to the fact that Arkansas is the only state that produces diamonds, and it produces more rice than any other state. Also, for some reason, our state beverage is milk.
Blytheville only has a population of around 15,000 people-that’s smaller than USC’s current undergraduate population and almost 3 times smaller than USC’s total student population! If that astonishes you, then you would be surprised to know that the neighboring town of Dell, Arkansas, has a population of only 250 people. Blytheville is a town that takes pride in agriculture and small town charm. You only have to drive a few minutes outside of town before riding along cotton or wheat fields at your side just waiting to be harvested. A benefit of living in a small town is that you get to know everyone in your community. It reminds me of an old television show that would air late at night called Cheers. The theme song would say, “…where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” To me, that’s Blytheville.
However, the downside to living in a small town is, ironically, that everyone in the community knows you and your family. If you happen to get into trouble at school, your family will probably hear the story from five different people by the time you get home. So, you have plenty of incentive to be on your best behavior.
I am not a California native. I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. However, after living in Southern California for close to five years, I have gotten used to one of the common words and phrases used here. Some of these are not California-specific, and can aid any non-native English speaker in communicating with or understanding others on the West Coast.
“Angeleno” is a noun, and represents a native or inhabitant of Los Angeles. This is sometimes used for those living outside of Los Angeles, if they are still in the Los Angeles region. Even city documents will mention implementing changes for Angelenos.
“Cali” is an abbreviation of “California” that only non-Californians use. Nearly every other U.S. state calls California “Cali,” but Californians hate this. Avoid using “Cali” if you want to seem like a native Californian.
“Rad” was used more frequently by Californians a few years ago, but you may still hear it today. This is used as an adjective to describe something that is cool. Northern Californians often say “hella rad”, meaning very cool.
“Gnarly” is used predominantly by surfers in California, but because I lived in Huntington Beach for a few years (also known as Surf City), I have heard it quite a bit. Gnarly is often used to describe good waves, and can also be used to describe something that is cool. Gnarly, rad, and “sick,” are interchangeable slang terms, that are generally used in a positive way.
If someone is excited for something, you may hear them say that they are “stoked.” But if they are not stoked, they may “bail,” meaning that they will skip something; not show up, or leave. This phrase is heard in California but can be heard in certain places around the United States.
While many states use the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” California generally does not get rain in the Spring. Instead, you will hear, “June gloom” in California. This refers to the sky being cloudy and overcast most of the day, especially in the mornings. By July, Southern California usually returns to its normal sunny self.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Academic and Professional English Language Instruction