Having been lucky enough to spend some time on the East Coast of America on exchange at Boston University, I thought I had developed some sort of understanding about American culture that could be transposed in the city of LA. Having taken my chances on a big jet plane, I soon realised my perceptions were incredibly wrong.
Whilst the East Coast/West Coast divide vocalised for decades in the workings of Tupac and Biggie holds true to some extent, the very nature of contrasting lifestyles between the East and West Coast could not be more noticeable. Take New York for example- a high paced, densely packed, centralised city that serves your every need within walking distance. LA is much different. My rose-coloured perception that I would be riding around campus, to and from the beach and quite possibly to work on a Friday morning, was shot down by the reality of how widely spread out LA actually is.
The reality is that LA maintains a highly dominant car culture, which when coming from the East Coast, where transport is both cheap and readily accessible, was a rude awakening. Whilst the mere fifteen-kilometre journey to Marina Del Ray where Sony is headquartered can take up to an hour and a half on the bus, it has led me to some of the most interesting and confronting experiences of my life.
It has led to numerous chats about psychology, Amelia Earhart conspiracies Australian politics, American politics, JFK conspiracies, library books, employment opportunities, and, believe it or not, why we shouldn’t trust western medicine. The cross-section of society that the bus system provides resembles that of an open-cut mine, and if people watching were an Olympic Sport, LA buses would be the Athens equivalent.
Aside from all these strange and wonderful experiences on LA’s transport system, the city itself is entirely different to any city that I have encountered and offers so much in terms of diversity, culture and food. Every corner exhibits a different cuisine-fusion upon fusion, constantly challenging our Western pallets to dive into the wonderful flavours of Korean-Chinese-American-Indonesian in one dish.
More contrastingly though is the relaxed culture that I believe is an inherent characteristic of the West Coast. People are much more laid back- ties and even suits are relatively uncommon, having only had to wear mine once on my first day. The iconic images of palm trees, beautiful sunsets and exceptionally large cars holds true, so in closing, I’d like to leave you some eye-candy that was snapped from the balcony of our apartment...