Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don’t fear looking out of state for college


By Dashiell Young-Saver
Southern California and New England. The Southwest and the Northeast. One is very new, and the other, despite the “New” in its name, is very old.
One might believe that a person from one coast—a region so unlike the other in terms of climate, geography and tradition (or lack thereof)—would grow up to be very different from a person on the other coast.
I visit New England almost every summer and winter break to see extended family. Whenever I go, including this past month, I expect to see the kids my age lighting wax candles in their Victorian libraries, preparing to read volumes of exhilarating books about the growth of moss or the process of paint drying.
Similarly, a kid from New England may expect young people from Southern California to be dudes and dudettes whose alphabets consist solely of the letters SPF and whose career choices are given the same name as their footwear: flip-flops.

It is not surprising that, in a place where meteorologists are paid to point to a green screen and say “sun” seven days a week and where the only precipitation is from overused sprinklers, young people are thought to personify the “surfer-dude” life.
But those of us from Southern California know that, although there are many who “chillax” on the beach daily, the majority do not. We’re just as driven to succeed and be involved as teens from other parts of the country.
I’ve certainly made generalizations about New England youths that aren’t true. Every time I go there, I meet kids who are just as casual and fun-loving as my friends here.
There are many more similarities than differences. They may go ice-skating and we may go rollerblading, but it’s all about having fun on dangerous shoes.
My last trip especially revealed the similarities. While touring colleges, I found myself comfortable in areas outside the confines of Thousand Oaks, the Conejo Valley, and California. Strange.
Sure, there are differences— like in a radio ad for the New York Lottery. After the announcer described how to play and the amount one could win, he said in the thickest New York accent: “The New York Lottery: Hey, ya never know.”
It was straight to the point. It was like saying, “You probably won’t win, but you got a shot, bub, so buy a ticket or get lost.” You would never hear that brutal honesty in the Sunshine State of butterflies and rainbows.
Drug companies often use the phrase “including but not limited to” before listing side effects that are worse than the symptoms the drug hopes to relieve. I will use the same phrase as a warning.
People growing up in Southern California include, but are not limited to, lazy surfer-dudes, and people growing up in New England include, but are not limited to, uptight bookworms. The same goes for the “hillbillies” of the South, the “hicks” of the Midwest and the “granola eaters” in the Pacific Northwest.
Warning: If not used with caution, regional stereotypes may induce side effects including, but not limited to, close-mindedness toward different people and places.
I know that many of my peers who grew up in the Conejo Valley are thinking locally for college, but I encourage them to simply take a look outside the state. Southern California is awesome, but other places may have something new to offer.
Just take a look because, “Hey, ya never know.”
Dashiell Young-Saver is an incoming senior at Westlake High School. He was the managing editor of the school newspaper, The Arrow, last year. During the summer, he’ll contribute columns to the Acorn from the perspective of a teenager growing up in the Conejo Valley.


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