Choosing Universities- Part 1 (North California vs South California)

“California girls, they’re undeniable, daisy dukes, bikinis on top.” Katy Perry’s voice was the soundtrack of my summer in 2013, all geared up with flip-flops and denim shorts, ready to head out to the green lands of California for my first year at UC Berkeley. The funny thing was, as a born-and-bred Malaysian, I did not realize that California is almost twice as large as the entire Malaysian Peninsula. Needless to say, I felt just a little lied to when I found out that not all of California is sunshine and rainbows. And that in fact, Northern California (NorCal), was very, VERY different from Southern California (SoCal).

Que in what felt like the most cold and miserable fall semester of my life. I ended up having to purchase a whole new wardrobe made of boots and giant coats, while my bikinis and crop-tops were left to gather dust. But once I got over the shock that California in itself feels like an entire country, I began to appreciate the differences between the two half-states.

The Bay Area, located very snuggly in NorCal, is the heart of all things technology and start-ups. Silicon Valley is home to the infamous Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix, and almost every tech company you have heard of. Naturally, the people around this area also tend to be a generation of incredibly intelligent, creative hippies. I have seen more strangely dressed individuals in the last 3 years, than I have ever in my lifetime. If you want quirky, open, passionate, driven people to be around, NorCal is the place for you. We even have the Golden State Warriors to boast about! The more notable universities on this side of the Golden State would be Stanford and Berkeley.

SoCal on the other hand, is the kind of California that you hear in songs and see in movies. Beautiful weather all year round with gorgeous beaches and wonderful views. The people are bronzed, fit and wonderfully dressed. Here, in the heart of Los Angeles lies Hollywood, so don’t be surprised if you see famous celebrities going about their day every once in awhile. I do have to admit, being in the City of Angels sometimes felt like being back in high school where the pressure to fit in and look good was reasonably high, but the beauty of the city makes it all worth it. The University of Southern California, UCLA and Caltech are the popular universities located in SoCal.

At the end of the day, Los Angeles and San Francisco are two incredibly fantastic cities that have their own personalities, each because of their fame and size, have become representatives of SoCal and NorCal respectively. My suggestion, visit them both! Stay for a week or so and get a feel for the people and the environment. They are so different that you wouldn’t think you were in the same country, much less the same state. Either way, I love both of them and I think that most of you would too.

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Fung Ying

Quintessential Consultancy