Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities. (Northridge vs. Santa Barbara)

This post should be pretty un-biased since I'm from neither of these places. I do live in Northridge, but I am fully aware of its cons as opposed to its pros. 

Simply put, Northridge is a city located within the San Fernando Valley, otherwise known as "the valley". Quintessential suburban lifestyle resides here. An endless sprawl of In-N-Outs, Medicinal Marijuana Depots, Wal-Marts, Costcos, and a "cookie cutter" layout of neighborhoods. In my opinion this just spells: bland. Even though there is no culture, there is a culture. Valley culture. 

I've come to realize the comfort of having a 7-Eleven on every other corner. Believe me, late night 7-Eleven runs are definitely life savers. Unfortunately mass transit can't even compare to New York's vast and expansive Bus and Subway system. It serves its purpose, it is not there to wow you but to just get you from point A to point B (hopefully in a timely fashion.) 

A new experience for me is the mountain view. I lived in a valley back in New York but it cant compare to the landscape of the SF valley. I have fallen in love with looking out of my window and seeing a mountain; pretty cool and definitely something that natives take for granted. 

There is a definite car culture here. In general, California is drive first, walk last. There's a song called "Nobody Walks in LA". This definitely rings true in Northridge. Some of the loneliest sidewalks I have ever seen can be found in Northridge. Culture-shock. Walking anywhere is a chore and finding partners to walk with is even more of a chore. 

Me: Hey, I'm gonna walk to the mall to go get some applications. Wanna Join? 
Friend: Dude, how far is the mall from here? 
Me: Uhhhh.. about 2 miles or so. It's only a 30 minute walk. 
Friend: Hell no! Are you serious? That's too far! 

^^^They wouldn't survive a day in NY with that attitude. On a good day I walk 30-40 blocks in the city. My record is 70 in a day. 

I absolutely love the variety of food available in the valley, I've tried so many new things. From Mongolian BBQ to Italian, Vietnamese to Mexican, there's never a dull eating experience to be had. 

I'm pretty confident that nobody is going to argue with me on this. Northridge does not have much of a party scene, dorm parties are.... well, they are dorm parties. Parties off campus end pretty quickly with the ever vigilant Northridge Police Force knocking at your door at 10pm saying "Clear out, party's over."  

Theres not much stuff to say about Northridge. It really is Suburbs: Personified. 

Northridge is an interesting change from my life in New York. There are pros and cons but on an overall level I have made the most of my experience. 

 SB. A nice coastal area with beautiful vistas from cliffs, an air of relaxation, a sub-culture of free-spiritism (is that even a word?), and a get away from the hustle and bustle of LA. Cool temperatures year round and cool vibes. What could be wrong with this place? 

I'm going to take this comparison to the community of Isla Vista, some may know this place by the initials: IV and others may know it because of the University of California: Santa Barbara campus. To me this is like the total opposite of Northridge. A different level of what is considered normal. 

Cars aren't really needed within the city, in fact, the pedestrians rule the streets. J-Walking is tame in comparison. Walking in the middle of the streets at night is normal and the cars are cautioned. Another popular mode of transportation, is the bicycle. Never have I seen so many bikes in my life. An incredible sight to say the least. Even though SB may not have a very developed mass transit system, you won't be stranded without a car. Stores and restaurants are in close proximity to the school and apartments/houses.    

The PREMIERE party scene in SoCal is up at UCSB. I'm sure that many people will argue their school is better, but I'm pretty convinced this is one of the best.  When a small community can have thousands of people come to party for Halloween weekend, it says something. It gets pretty insane, my first time wasn't as crazy as prior years but for my first exposure it was intense. You'd be surprised how easy it is to mistake drunken hoards of horny half-naked college students as a group of zombies. When I tell you that people party here.. there is no understatement. 

Many of the parties take place on one street. Del Playa. Many of the houses and apartments have balconies which hang over a steep cliff that leads to the beach. Now that spells danger for many drunk people. Yah. Cliff dives are not uncommon here. In my second visit to the area I witnessed the aftermath of a guy who fell over a balcony head first, one story, to the balcony below. Forehead completely skinned off and swollen, he was so numb from inebriation he felt no pain. He walked away with the help of a few people. That was just a taste! 

On a lighter, less serious note, food here is pretty healthy and organic and open LATE! A feature that Northridge lacks severely. It is Americanized to a degree and a little less authentic but most places are mom & pop establishments and the community has been able to stave off commercialization for a long time. 

All in all. If one were to choose the better place to live. I could not tell them to pick one over the other. It really depends on who YOU are as a person. Like parties? SB is for you. Like a more urban yet suburban environment ? Northridge is for you. 

Or just flip a coin and surprise yourself, perhaps you'll notice something I didn't. 


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