Coastal Shock: A personal account of adjusting to New England life

Those of us who are not from New England have attempted to adjust to life on the East Coast; from the changing weather to the unusual language, it has taken some time to get used to life on this side of the country.

Growing up in Northern California (not Los Angeles), there are many elements to the East Coast that came as a shock when I first stepped onto campus back in 2017. One of the biggest differences I noticed was, of course, the weather. I vividly remember taking a Snapchat of my friend and me in full-blown parkas when it was in the 40s. Little did I know that the 40s were a luxury in comparison to the negative temperatures on bone-chilling winter days. At the time, I was a complete rookie to the harsh New England winters.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where winters consisted of occasional rainstorms and temperatures in the low 50s. Going to school across the country in New Hampshire, you can only imagine how I’ve adjusted to the winters here. The answer is: I haven’t. Each year it seems as if the weather gets worse during the cold months, something that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. After asking around, I realized I was not alone in my struggles.

UNH junior Delaney Mckee is actually from my town in California. Over the past two years she’s had to adjust as well. “I woke up to the sound of snowplows freshman year and was startled.” Ah, yes, one of the many things I have yet to get used to is the peaceful sound of the snow plows right outside my window in the early morning, usually indicating copious amounts of snow outside making it even more of a pain to get from one destination to another.

I know I am not the only non-native New Englander who is still not used to the bitter cold during the winter. Senior Kennedi Smith comes from Texas where it’s warm year-round. “I thought it was cool that I actually got to experience the four seasons because at home it’s pretty much warm all the time,” she said. “But the cold weather is something that was a huge change for me because I definitely prefer the heat over the cold.”

Another unexpected encounter that I had was with the language. What’s the deal with the excessive use of the word “wicked?” I couldn’t adopt that word into my vocabulary even if I tried. For me, “hella” has been my go-to, usually when talking about something that’s really good or cool. It just flows so much better than “wicked” in my opinion. I guess it really depends on where you grew up and the language corresponds with that area.

Kennedi immediately noticed the use of the word “wicked” as well. “People would always say ‘wicked’ and I thought it was so weird because I had never heard anyone say something was ‘wicked’ cool,” she said. “I’m from Texas and I say ‘y’all’ a lot and people thought it was so funny that I would say that.”

So I guess it kind of makes sense: New Englanders think that people outside the area use weird language and us “foreigners” think the same of their vocabulary.

I could complain all day about the winters and weird lingo but on the other hand, it’s actually really nice to get to experience watching the seasons change. I would definitely say my favorite is fall due to the setting for impromptu photoshoots and bright colored leaves. Also, for me, there’s nothing better than snuggling up in your cozy bed with a hot drink and watching Halloween movies with your best friends. Back home, the weather pretty much stayed the same, except in the summers where temperatures would skyrocket into the 90s and, much to my dismay, sometimes even to the low 100’s. I have always wanted to experience seasons, one of my deciding factors in choosing to go to school on the East Coast.

There are many positive changes that I’ve adjusted to here, including the life-long friends I have made. I lucked out in my forced triple dorm in Williamson Hall freshman year. Even with the tight space and the fact that we were basically living on top of each other, we came out of it best friends. I am forever grateful to UNH for bringing them to me.

I’ll also have to say there are a lot of friendly people in New Hampshire. One of the first things I noticed when I got here was people holding the door for me. It’s such a small gesture, but I noticed it immediately after coming from the West Coast where usually people would not even think twice about holding a door open for a stranger.

UNH junior Antonia Schmitz comes all the way from Germany. “When I first came to UNH, I loved how open, friendly and just sweet everyone was (compared to Germany because people there are just judgmental and rude—at least the majority),” she said. “Also, people are interested in getting to know you and don’t just care about how you look but who you are as a person. I was so scared I wasn’t going to fit in and that people wouldn’t like me but the friends I made my freshman year are still my best friends to this day and they are so loving and amazing and really helped me make UNH my home and showed me how things were done here.”

For me, life in New Hampshire is vastly different from life at home in California, but I think that both the East and West Coasts each have their own special qualities. I will always be a West Coast girl at heart, but I still love being here in the East and meeting new people of different backgrounds.

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