By Aurelia d'Andrea
What’s it like to study — and live — in California
You’ve made the exciting decision to study abroad in the United States, and now comes the hard part: deciding which of the 50 states to call home! Every year, more than 150,000 international students choose to expand their academic horizons in the country’s third-largest state, California. Here are just a few reasons why you might consider putting the Golden State at the top of your list, too.
Education + innovation
California is globally recognized as an incubator for innovation — it’s the birthplace of the skateboard, the self-driving car, and the internet, after all — and more than a few Nobel Prize winners, politicians, and best-selling authors have earned their diplomas here. Whether you study at a tiny liberal arts college or a sprawling state university, the California tradition of generous higher-education spending means having access to the latest tools to advance your brilliant ideas.
The great outdoors
With 280 state parks and 840 miles of sparkling coastline, California is unrivaled when it comes to natural beauty. Iconic landmarks like Yosemite’s El Capitan and Death Valley’s cactus-studded deserts are Instagram favorites, however, the key to maximizing your California experience is to engage with the environment. Don’t just snap selfies against these majestic backdrops; do like the locals and hop on your bike, lace up your hiking boots, and grab your surfboard. Adventure is calling!
California’s culture of tolerance and its reputation as a haven for self-expression stretch back to the Gold Rush era, when newcomers flocked to the West Coast in search of personal freedom and economic opportunity. A little more than a century later, the Free Speech movement paved the way for underrepresented voices to be heard, and gave rise to that uniquely Californian “You Do You” ethos. If joining a subculture is on your bucket list, you’ll find your tribe here!
As one of just six majority-minority states — 67% of the population identifies as non-white — California is king when it comes to cultural mash-ups. Elements from Asian, Latinx, Black, and Indigenous communities are remixed and reimagined not only in the local cuisine, but in art, music, and street style. If you’ve never tasted kimchi tacos or listened to Mexican rap music, opportunities await.
Flip-flops and shorts are year-round wardrobe staples in Southern California, but up north in San Francisco — where the fog is so famous it even has its own Twitter account — you’ll need a winter coat handy all year round! Even with microclimate peculiarities, there’s no escaping the California sunshine, which beams down an average of 278 days a year in Los Angeles, 265 in the state capital of Sacramento, and a whopping 350 in Palm Springs.
The fun factor
If you like rollercoasters, you’re in luck: California boasts 87 of them, more than any other state! Off-campus thrills aren’t limited to amusement parks, though. Catch Lizzo singing her heart out at Outside Lands music festival, cheer on the Lakers at the Staples Center, or settle into a seat in a darkened theater to watch a local production of Hamilton. However you define fun, you’ll find it here.
You reached this point and yet you are still undecided? You might want to talk to our Advising Team and get more information and make the right choice.
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