Outsider looking in: Reflections on a senior year move from Washington to California

“Moving here has taught me brand names, boba places, and emotional intelligence. All in all, it’s been an experience I would never give up.”


David Allen, class of 2020, reflects on his move from Washington state to California for his senior year, and his introduction to the Bay Area.

David Allen, Co-Editor-in-Chief

This year – my senior year in high school – is my first year as an official resident of California, and I can’t express how grateful I am for the experience. Although I miss Washington state, a fantastic place to live, there is a certain vibe about the Bay Area that is keenly attractive. With all its icons and influence and history and industry, California makes a gratifying home. That aside, here are my foreigner impressions to the Californian lifestyle.

  • The pace of life: Unlike the thoughtful and slow style of a small town, the Bay Area moves in a constant hustle. Plans are spontaneous, not sweated over. The Bay is an incredible oasis of opportunity, but the amount of things to do is perpetually overwhelming. It takes some time to adjust to the new speed.
  • The palm trees: I know I’m in California when I see these top-heavy trees break into the skyline. They give a perfect sense of warmth and luxury, especially on the backdrop of a clear blue sky. I can’t get over how cool these are.
  • The weather: In Eastern Washington (the location of WSU), the climate is extremely seasonal: Heat in summer, high winds in autumn, snowfall in winter, and thunderstorms in spring. 

Here in California, the weather is much less varied. Any day here is one that can be spent outdoors (except for the occasional fire day). While this means sports training can continue year-round, it’s hard to give up the excitement of a dramatic climate. 

Where I used to live, December meant I had to wake up early and shovel snow out of the driveway. We could go sledding and build snowmen in our backyard in winter. The frozen fog would leave tiny white icicles all on every exposed surface. 

Although California is pleasant, with sunny days late in the year, it’s not quite Christmas here on December 25.

  • The people: Washingtonians are reserved, they keep to themselves. In Seattle they tend to be passive-aggressive instead of openly angry. There is a robust reliance on “common sense”, and mistakes are generally not tolerated. Even at a young age children call out mishaps, starting with harmless typos and butchered words in grade schools to unclear instructions and poor planning in high schools. 

Here in California, the people are much less uptight. They are noticeably open and friendly. The tradeoff is that life here can be chaotic and disorganized, but the atmosphere is overall sunny and warm.

  • The food: While California may have In-and-Out and avocados, there’s nothing like Starbucks and donuts on a cool cloudy day in Seattle.

Life isn’t better or worse here, it’s just different. While my heart will always be in the Evergreen State, there’s something satisfying in being called Californian. Moving here has taught me brand names, boba places, and emotional intelligence. All in all, it’s been an experience I would never give up.