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Culture Shock: A Midwestern Boy Comes to California

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

I was born and raised in Indiana. I lived in Houston, Texas for nearly 4 years after college. For those considering moving to California, know that there will be a culture shock.

You won't feel it at first.

It will come slowly as you settle in. Many native Californians will not understand your confusion or shock because many have not lived outside or visited much outside the state. When I meet others who moved here from out of state, we instantly connect of the...let's call it...uniqueness of California.Texas has its pride. New York has its attitude. The South has its charm among other things. But they all feel like America.

California is truly out on its own.

Some of its good. Some of its just different. Here are just some of the things I didn't know and had to a just

  • I didn't know how conservative I was until I moved to California.

  • I didn’t know ordering soda was a sin or that people called “pop” or "coke" soda for that matter.

  • I didn’t realize people would vote to increase gas prices.

  • I couldn’t imagine paying for grocery bags, something people again voted for.

  • I didn’t know straws were public enemy number one.

  • I didn’t know Disneyland was better than Disney World, according to people have not been to Disney World.

  • I didn’t know there were people who had never heard of or tasted chicken and waffles. Or chicken biscuits.

  • I never imagined 90% of my friend group would be Mexican.

  • I have never been mistaken for being Dominican or Puerto Rican ever in my life.

  • I didn’t know how much I love bachata music and that it's basically R&B music in Spanish.

  • I had never been mistaken for a Marine, apparently not many black men in San Diego that aren’t in the military.

  • I didn’t realize how out of shape and unsightly my appearance and body was.

  • I didn’t know celery water was a thing.

  • I didn’t know how much I would enjoy dancing to bachata and salsa.

  • I didn’t know how much I love BBQ until I moved to California and have yet to find any good BBQ (Phil’s BBQ is trash).

  • I didn’t know vegan 4th of July BBQs were a thing.

  • I didn’t know dogs were on the same level as humans in terms of value of life and preferred over having children.

  • I didn’t know how much I would love being a beach bum.

  • I didn’t know the people I would meet in my late 20’s might be the best friends I have for life.

  • I didn’t know difference in the reality and the perception of Los Angeles would be so jarring.

  • I didn’t know I would have my first car accident (totaled) and car broken into (twice, one time in San Fran in a rental car).

  • I didn’t know being direct or honest could be perceived as offensive.

  • I didn’t know people associate the words “hiking” and “fun”.

  • I didn’t know I would be baptizing people in the ocean.

  • I didn’t know people actually, genuinely cared for me outside my family.

  • I didn’t know I would minister a wedding for a couple who met in my bible group.

  • I didn’t know how much I would LOVE Mexican food (apparently the Mexican food I grew up eating in Indiana that I hated wasn’t real Mexican food, who knew?).

  • I didn’t know I would be used by God so much since moving here.

  • I didn’t know I would be so involved and in so many ministries in leadership roles at church.

  • I didn’t know Leroy was pronounced LeRoy.

  • I didn’t know homelessness was unsolvable, apparently.

  • I didn’t know how truly difficult and painful snowboarding could be.

  • I didn’t know studio apartments could go $2500+.

  • I didn’t know speeding tickets could be almost $400.

  • I didn’t know there was a thing as a sunshine tax.

  • I didn’t know how there were places this beautiful in America.

I say all of this with love and appreciation. It has challenged me to grow and evaluate who I am and want to be. I have adjusted and adapted some of the Californian ways. But my roots will always be Midwestern.

To more experiences, lived and learned.

Overlooking La Jolla Shores by Mt Soledad during the red tide
Overlooking La Jolla Shores by Mt Soledad

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