I quickly realized that my apartment was an anomaly (which means different from the norm for my uneducated friends) since I was paying only (yes, only) $950 a month and got my own room, bathroom, and an underground parking spot. Plus free laundry was in the apartment (not the complex, the actual apartment). And it was nice and new. Turns out there aren’t a lot of old things in Los Angeles. Spoiled.
The apartment was located in West LA where it meets Brentwood and Santa Monica. Sounds great, right? It was. 3 miles from the beach and right on Santa Monica Boulevard. Being that I’ve never lived closer than 200+ miles from the beach, this was unsurprisingly awesome.
I lived with a guy (also 22) and a girl (28). None of us knew each other ahead of time which made for an interesting dynamic. It worked out great though – we all got along but also did our own thing. And we all had our own bathrooms.
Living in California, or at least Southern California and Los Angeles, was completely different than what I was used to. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, it was weird not seeing a cow or cornfield for two months. Here’s what I learned.
1. The grocery store is called Ralph’s. Which is ironic. Since ralph means puke.
2. Everyone is beautiful or on drugs.
3. People will just tell you things. I understand now why Northeasterners have a reputation of being cold. I once showed my ID to the cashier at the grocery store when buying beer (yes, you can buy beer in the grocery store there, Pennsylvania lawmakers) and she told me that my birthday is special to her. After asking why, I was informed that it is the day she stopped doing drugs. Congratulations, receipt in the bag please.
4. Don’t think about taking public transit because everyone drives. And if you want to take public transit good luck finding it.
5. Because everyone in the second largest city in America drives, there is traffic at every hour of the day. And it’s either stopped or flying down a 6 lane highway at 80 miles per hour. Which is fun, in a life-threatening kind of way.
5a. Speaking of highways, they all start with “the”. And everyone talks about how they get places. “I take the 10 to the 405, the 405 to the 105, and then get off on the PCH.” is how I would tell people I got to work. And it sticks. I still say “the” when referring to those highways (which is never, since I live in Pittsburgh).
6. Most days it’s 75 and sunny. Some days it gets down to 73. Some days it goes up to 77. My first week there everyone was talking about the “heat wave” LA was experiencing. It was 83.
7. Oh there’s no humidity either.
8. There’s also no rain. One day a few coworkers and I were walking to lunch and a few raindrops (4) fell on me during our 5 minute walk. They complained about it. It hadn’t rained there for 3 months. Not kidding.
9. Mexican food is everywhere and is amazing. I no longer trust any “authentic” Mexican food from a state that doesn’t touch Mexico.
9a. I lived across from a late night taco shop called Benito’s. Stay tuned for some interesting stories to come out of there.
10. Weed. Everywhere.
11. A ton of people ride their bikes there. It’s not like here in the East, where the streets are so narrow you have to pull over to let someone pass or you’ll hit them and the car parked on the side of the street at the same time. All major roads there have at least two lanes that also include a bike lane AND a parking lane. My personal heaven.
12. Things there matter. I have never seen more Audis, BMWs, Mercedes, and so on in my life. My Honda Accord did not live up to LA standards.
13. They don’t really care about sports. Even the Olympics seemed not to matter that much. Of course, I come from a city that is so obsessed with their teams that I know numerous people currently watching old hockey games from past seasons because of the NHL lockout. BLACK AND YELLOW.
14. People say “photo”, not “picture”. For example: “Will you take a photo?” “I uploaded that photo to Instagram.”
I learned a lot more than that, but those were the biggies, culturally. Overall, I loved it. Would I move back? Yes. Right now? Probably not. It’s so expensive (when I left in August gas was over $4 a gallon in a city where everything is at least 20 minutes away). However, under the right circumstances (or close enough circumstances) I would. The three hour time difference from family and friends would be tough, but by the end two months I was used to it. And really, when places like Malibu, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Manhattan Beach are less than 20 minutes away, how could you not want to live there?
Well I guess if you hate being awesome.